Sticking to Your Narrative vs. Trying to Falsify it

David J. Linden, author of The Accidental Mind, in an interview on Point of Inquiry with D. J. Grothe, 2/6/09:

Our brains are built to have us create narratives out of disparate sensory experiences or facts. We try to take fragments of information and weave them into a story. This cognitive process is the basis not just of religious faith but also of scientific thought.

The first act of science and the first act of religion are the same act. In both cases, you are making an hypothesis. You are saying, I have an incomplete set of information, and based on that incomplete set of information, I believe X to be true. Now if this is the scientific faith, you are then saying, “All right, then this could be falsified by such-and-such an experiment or such-and-such an observation.” If this is the religious faith, then you are saying, “Nope, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. That’s my faith and I’m not going to subject it to those modes of inquiry.”

Science and religion are two branches of the same cognitive stream.


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