How do we know what is true?

It turns out that what is commonly described as the scientific method really does work quite well.
  • Observe something.
  • Come up with a hypothesis to explain it.
  • Test that hypothesis to see if it is true.
  • Revise your thinking according to the results of your test.
Most people are really good at the first two elements of this process: observation and hypothesis. The problem is that they stop there and don’t bother to test whether their hypothesis is correct or not.  Maybe they don’t want to know. Or maybe they didn’t know how to test it. What often happens is that they forget it was a hypothesis and start thinking – it must be true. This seems to be the entire history of apologia (which is basically the study of why God allows bad things to happen to good people).

This is also true of any and all supernatural claims. There is no way to test them. They are supernatural and not natural. We can only test hypothesis about the nature of the universe.  This is why every claim of a “super nature” is an untested hypothesis. EVERY CLAIM!!!!

The same thing happens when people lie to prove “greater truths” that they believe are true but can’t actually prove are true.  They stop at the hypothesis stage and never bother to test.

Here’s the thing about testing and why you should be skeptical of any claim that hasn’t been proven. There is only one type of truth. The truth.  There are no “greater truths” we can’t find. There is also nothing super or extra natural. All there are are people hypothesizing about the nature of the universe and failing to follow through on the testing. 

Don’t be fooled by this sort of lazy approach to knowledge and truth. Even if someone spends a great deal of time “rationalizing” why what they hypothesize is true, if they refuse to test to find out if it is actually true, they are either afraid that they might be wrong or they are too lazy or stupid to find out.

Truth can’t be found out with reason alone. It’s an important tool that can point us in the right direction, but testing and experimentation is the final arbitrator.

For more on this – check out The British Humanist Association’s video starring the voice of Stephen Fry on how do we know what is true from a Humanist perspective.

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