26. Thinking about Christmas: 1. Thinking about Science. Thinking about Faith

It is Christmas Eve, so I am going to take a short detour toward religion.  However, I am not completely off topic.  In my last several posts I have centered on the role of religion in the development of Bayesian statistics.  From much that I have read, this topic seems to be a source of discomfort among modern Bayesians who align themselves with atheism or a general neutrality towards issues of religious faith.  Some have been apologetic to the presence of God in the writings of early probability theorists.  Some, — Bayesian atheists — have used Bayesian probability to argue against God and faith.  This is irony writ large given that Bayes’ work was initially seen as a method that might demonstrate the presence of the Divine.

Today we struggle with the notion of whether we should let science and religion touch or whether they are, by design, mutually exclusive.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I believe in science and no one has ever accused me of being overly religious.

Like most moderates, however, I am uncomfortable with extremism.  I find extreme religiosity as equally as repelling as extreme atheism or scientism.  All are tedious.

Deal with human suffering long enough and you eventually feel there is little that can be know with complete confidence.  Over time — as you walk in doubt  — that feeling of uncertainty becomes somewhat comforting. You do your best to understand and help others within the limits of your knowledge and you begin to accept that many things are simply unknown.

Sometimes your only tools are kindness and compassion and to offer others small slivers of hope.

Label that belief whatever you wish.

Merry Christmas.

26. Christmas Mandelbrot