Why should I believe Einstein if I do not understand him?

Blog 20160615 Why should I believe Einstein if I do not understand him?

This was a question brought forth by henk korbee, who has the habit of asking questions of great philosophical as well as physical importance. We could restate it as a question of why we should believe anything at all. Now, henk is neither a presently enrolled student, nor a teacher of physics. He can afford to express skepticism mostly because he has no skin in the game. Like most skeptics, henk is unlikely to suffer consequences because of such utterances.

Of course, there are many reasons to believe Einstein without understanding him. The propaganda surrounding this one particular man has been enormous and incessant. Furthermore, he has been “proven right” almost daily since 1905. We tend to believe those we admire or are told to admire by those who we admire as well. Belief without understanding is common. Without it, religion could not survive. As Joyce Meyer exhorts us: “Don’t reason! Just obey!” Beliefs are powerful instillers and enforcers of loyalty—the primary evolutionary purpose of religion. Skepticism at the wrong moment can have fateful consequences.

In these days of “paradigm change,” much is made of skepticism, “critical thinking,” and the proposition that we need diversity in theoretical speculation. Some even believe that no single theory can possibly describe natural phenomena. This is typical of the anarchistic period that precedes all revolutions. The overthrow of a particular paradigm is perpetrated by uncompensated skeptics who simply cannot believe in what once was.

The problem with skepticism, however, is its inherent negativity and pessimism. The replacement of belief by disbelief may suit the anarchistic period, but it is not suited to building a replacement for the old paradigm. For that, we need new beliefs, in particular, a new foundation consisting of fundamental assumptions upon which we can build the new paradigm. We all need to believe in something to get things done. That is why I encourage folks to believe in "The Ten Assumptions of Science."[1] If you do not like those, gather you own, making sure they are consupponible.   

[1] Borchardt, Glenn, 2004, The ten assumptions of science: Toward a new scientific worldview: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 125 p. [http://www.scientificphilosophy.com/].

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