Victims of Vanity

Archeology is a funny science.  It is inherently non-testable, the evidence is always changing and hypotheses are constantly revised.  When rummaging through the rubble of the Ancients we should also remember that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.   Yet archeology is covetously defended by many and used by some to “prove” the non-existence of God.  (We partially addressed that here.)  But the best we can really hope for with Archeology is to believe a theory that is consistent with the data.  The problem is choosing a consistent theory; there are almost always more than one.  And this is true in many aspects of our lives.

We can all approach the same experience and draw very different conclusions.  A man struggling to get by pays an honest tithe and gets two job offers the following week.  He shouts praises to the Most High while his friend calls him petty and condescendingly recites, “post hoc ergo propter hoc.”  The thing is, it’s all in the past.  It is no longer a testable hypothesis for either party.  Yet both will feel satisfied, the one with reverence and the other with pride.

Religious or not we believe the explanation that is consistent with the data and our bias.  Our confidence in our own rightness is fortified.  The problem is, once we’ve accepted a set of premises that regulate our bias, the conclusions that follow rest upon something that cannot be proven.  So let’s at least be honest enough to admit the possibility that another theory is consistent with the data even though it aggravates our own bias.

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Filed under Philosophy, Science, Various and Sundry

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