With more than nine out of ten Americans believing God (Larson 278), one must speculate the philosophical reasoning behind confidence in something that is unable to been seen, felt, or heard. The Puritan philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) said, Small amounts of philosophy lead to Atheism, but larger amounts bring us back to God. When thinking in terms of ideals and values, it is equally relevant to ponder the significance between fact and faith. Faith is defined as a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. On the other hand, fact is something that actually exists and is a truth known by concrete experience or observation. For the purpose of clarification, science can be described as an image of truth and religion as an element of faith. And since existence does indeed extend beyond Americas front and backyard, its imperative to note that the three most popular sects in the world include two billion people that practice Christianity, one billion that follow Islam and one billion that are non-religious (National and World Statistics).
With the amount of religious groups totaling over four thousand, its safe to say there is a religion tailored to the needs of each person but does religion equal faith?Francis Bacons school of philosophy is empiricism, which describes a theory that emphasizes the role of sensory experience in the development of ideas. In the philosophy of science, empiricism is a theory of knowledge which emphasizes those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to experience, specially as formed through deliberate experimental arrangements. Very practical and utilitarian in nature, Bacon argued for a total separation of reason from personal interest, social conventions, human passions, etc.
This reason versus revelation idea would eventually assist in the expansion of science and furthermore the separation of church and state and religion and morality. Although Bacon was seemingly loyal to Christianity and even said, Atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of a man (Koth), his philosophical work is important footing for modern skepticism. Because of his empiricism views, Bacon would describe fact as having to be proven through the scientific method; all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world, rather than developed only on reasoning, intuition, or faith.
Bacons definition of fact is parallel to the one in Websters unabridged dictionary. Both definitions distinctly differ from that of faith; faith is not based on logical proof whereas fact is based solely on material evidence. Although its important to acknowledge and understand this separation, both definitions are able to coincide as Albert Einstein declared, Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. Einstein was remarking that taking one side in order demonize those who take the other, leads to misrepresenting the work of those on the opposing side and prevents us from exploring the issue further (Tannen 497).
Science is the knowledge of facts or principles gained by systematic study whereas philosophy is the investigation of these principles. Studying philosophy is essential in order for one to broaden their views and comprehend, if not embrace, thinking beyond superficial ideals. Ethics, metaphysics, logic, and epistemology are all topics that one should study in order to form their own opinions rather than letting their environment shape what they believe. Without understanding our meaning of thought behind particular things, we are bound to follow rather than lead; without leaders, a democracy crumbles.
At the heart of evolutionary theory is the basic idea that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time. Although a doctrine going back as far as ancient Greece, the theory of evolution was advanced extensively in the ninetieth century. The most important development that made the theory the top topic of the world of science was the book of Charles Darwin titled The Origin of Species published in 1859. According to Darwin, all living beings had a common ancestor and they diversified over time through small changes. Overwhelming evidence supports this fact. Scientists continue to argue about details of evolution, but the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago.
The history of living things is documented through multiple lines of evidence that converge to tell the story of life through time. These lines of confirmation include fossil evidence, homologies, distribution time and space, and evidence by example. A popular target for creationists is the hoax known as Piltdown Man which was a forged skull discovered in 1912 that was thought to be that of an early human. The lie was exposed in 1953 when it was found to be the lower jawbone of an orangutan combined with the skull of a fully developed, modern man. Although Piltdown Man didnt fit into the known evolutionary lines of primitive man, it does not mean that those lines do not exist and havent been proved with other evidence such as fossils.
Understanding the distinction between fact and faith as well as science and philosophy is important for academic study. The difference in fact and faith is significant for a student to understand so they are able to grasp what is real and what is imaginary. The concept of science and philosophy helps a pupil to understand what is absolute in the world and how to think vitally about living life accordingly. It is critical not only for academia but for those in a democratic society where the power is vested in the people. In order for a culture to make informed decisions, they need to acknowledge this distinction, especially concerning Americas educational system.
In terms of evolution, it is of the utmost magnitude for schoolchildren to receive accurate answers regarding where humans originated from and how the earth changed. It is not necessarily meaningful for youth to conceive original ideas of an intelligent designer but rather well rounded ideas that have a scientific basis. After all, science has taken Heaven from the skies, hell from the Earth, and angels from the air. If parents wish their children to understand the Earth in religious terms, it should be taught in the home rather than a setting where other children are subjected to ideas based on faith. Millions of American Christians and members of other religious traditions accept the theory of evolution (Larson 276) which is a step towards commonality in the classroom.
The progression of knowledge and education teach us not only that ancient texts arent meant to be taken in literal, modern terms but also that with no exploration of original thought, we are doomed to continue thinking the way of our ancestors. If history is not scrutinized and applied, it will be repeated as Kansas recently demonstrated with its embarrassing examination of science and religions place in public education. What a shame to repeat the 1925 trial of William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow in Dayton, Tennessee, which continues to echo through the century. Religious philosophy has its place, which is a Sunday morning and unfortunately for Fundamentalists, not in a biology classroom. Evolutionary philosophy on the other hand, is composed of supportive scientific date.
In summary, social evolution, rather than revealing truth, develops religious ideas. Even detached scholars have come to realize that a vast number of Americans still believe in the Bible and accept it as authoritative on matters of science. Moreover, if people accept the biblical account of special creation over the scientific theory of evolution, which is, after all, one of the core theories of modern biology, then they most likely defer to biblical authority on other matters. For Americans who do not share this religious viewpoint and who fear that Fundamentalists comprise the majority in some places, concerns about the defense of individual liberty under a government by the people seem all too familiar. Modernists can only hope that scientific intelligence prevails in the educational system. After all, Francis Bacon did assure us that knowledge is power.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v1.1). New York: Random House, Inc. 15 June 2007. Jardine, Lisa, and Alan Stewart. Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon. New York: Hill & Wang, 2000.
Kirschner, Marc and John Gerhart. The Plausability of Life: Resolving Darwins Dilemma. Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2006.
Koth, Amit. Francis Bacon Quotes. 2002. 15 June 2007. National and World Statistics. 2007. 15 June 2007. Millar, Ronald. The Piltdown Mystery: the Story behind the Worlds Greatest Archaeological Hoax. East Sussex: S.B. Publications, 1998.
Larson, Edward J. Summer for the Gods. New York: Basic Books, 2006.
Tannen, Deborah. The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue. Argument in America, p. 486-500. United States: Penguin Academics, 2004.