Tuesday, December 22, 2009

About the blog (and the blogger)

There is an ongoing war between scientists and religious philosophers waged on many different fronts (epistemological, moral, and political). Combatants on both sides believe that they can beat the enemy. But as one side builds their arsenal, the other grows in numbers and both become increasingly entrenched in their own views.
This blog is not about the war per se, but about the delusion that the war could be won. It is first and foremost about exploring the declarations of certainty, propagated by both sides, and dissecting each morsel of Truth to the point of agnosticism. 

But first, I must come clean about my own allegiances. I was born and raised a Chassidic Jew, indoctrinated in the ways of the Torah from the moment I was conceived. When I was two years old, I wandered away from my home to a nearby Mikveh – the ritual bathhouse where observant men immerse themselves in holy water to purify their souls. At the time, my parents took this as a sign of my spiritual nature, abundantly apparent in me even in diapers. But more than anything else, the incident foreshadowed my tendency to stray from the faith and to challenge any notion of Truth that was handed down to me. 

I have since made the departure from Chassidic Judaism (my journey is documented in the film Leaving the Fold) and I am now a self-proclaimed agnostic. But in the interest of being up-front, I am strongly inclined towards atheism and the reductive-materialist view of nature perpetuated by the natural sciences (a likely topic for future posts). 

I am currently an MA student in Clinical and Experimental Psychology and I endorse the scientific method wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, I am also inclined to challenge convention (indeed, the science that most interests me is the sort that does just that) and so I will attempt to explore here the pitfalls of endorsing scientific views tout court

Admittedly, most of the posts will probably point the guns in the other direction (it’s an easier target), but the objective of the blog is to demonstrate this: certainty and doubt, knowledge and belief, proof and faith lie much closer together along the epistemological continuum than we typically think. The vehemence with which researchers endorse their theories is often just as unfounded as the fervor with which the faithful endorse their gods. Similarly, the sense of spiritual fulfillment and subjective well-being that is garnered from a religious journey can also be obtained in the quest toward scientific discovery. 

Ultimately, the objective of this blog is to encourage others to turn their critical eye inward and to champion the idea that the surest route to epistemological progress is systematic doubt. But certainly, this approach too has its drawbacks.

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