- 17 Mar '15 13:38What exactly can we prove? In math there are proofs, but the real world is far different.

For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer. All that can be done is make correlations to the notion that seems most reasonable. - 17 Mar '15 13:44 / 1 edit

The real world is not math?*Originally posted by whodey***What exactly can we prove? In math there are proofs, but the real world is far different.**

For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer. All that can be done is make correlations to the notion that seems most reasonable.

Correlations between smoking and lung cancer is not math?

- 17 Mar '15 15:13

What do you think this has to do with Spirituality?*Originally posted by whodey***What exactly can we prove? In math there are proofs, but the real world is far different.**

For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer. All that can be done is make correlations to the notion that seems most reasonable. - 17 Mar '15 15:19

This is true. And as such, religion is the least reasonable explanation for anything.*Originally posted by whodey*

For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer. All that can be done is make correlations to the notion that seems most reasonable. - 17 Mar '15 15:21

They won't be mathematical proofs, but we can still prove things.*Originally posted by whodey***What exactly can we prove? In math there are proofs, but the real world is far different.**

**For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer.**

Actually, it can be proven, and has been proven. - 17 Mar '15 15:59
*Originally posted by whodey*

For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer. All that can be done is make correlations to the notion that seems most reasonable.

Smokers have a relative risk of developing fatal lung cancer of around 20, that is they are twenty times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers. The effect is huge (it's rare in medical studies that relative risks exceed 2). Irritatingly I can't find overall population figures (only for studies with <1000 people), but it looks like this is much better than 3 sigmas. It's proven. - 17 Mar '15 16:40 / 1 edit

My point here is that we operate via belief systems. We are dependent upon them. All we have are perceived facts, and those facts are useless until assigned value and correlate to other things that matter to us.*Originally posted by Rank outsider***What do you think this has to do with Spirituality?**

Essentially what makes the most sense to us influences those beliefs. - 17 Mar '15 16:43 / 1 edit

You cannot prove that smoking caused a cancer. All you can do is show the correlation between smoking and cancer.*Originally posted by twhitehead***They won't be mathematical proofs, but we can still prove things.**

[b]For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer.

Actually, it can be proven, and has been proven.[/b]

It is like saying that someone became ill because they did not wear their coat on a cold day. All you can do is show the correlation that not wearing warm cloths increases your chances of catching a cold. It well may be that someone simply sneezed in their face and caused them to become ill. - 17 Mar '15 16:45

Now we are talk'in!*Originally posted by DeepThought***What level of certainty do you want? If you want 100% certainty then it's logic and those parts of maths which don't trigger Gödel's incompleteness theorem, they're not provably consistent in those cases. In physics certain starts at around 6 standard deviations (the result could have come about by chance with a probability of 2 parts in a billion), in ...[text shortened]... r studies with <1000 people), but it looks like this is much better than 3 sigmas. It's proven.**

What is the mathematical probability that life just sprang up on its own? - 17 Mar '15 16:47
*Originally posted by whodey*

For example, most everyone believes that smoking causes cancer. The preponderance of evidence suggests such, but it cannot be proven that smoking caused cancer. All that can be done is make correlations to the notion that seems most reasonable. - 17 Mar '15 20:15

Well, we have a sample of just one so "probability" cannot be meaningfully defined in this context. We just know that at some point there was no life on Earth and now there is, so it is reasonable to assume that it arose in the interim. We can find traces of life not too long after the formation of Earth.*Originally posted by whodey***Now we are talk'in!**

What is the mathematical probability that life just sprang up on its own? - 17 Mar '15 20:56

Only because there is a lack of evidence. You equally can't prove I ate sausages yesterday. All relevant evidence is gone (or will be by the time you start the investigation).*Originally posted by whodey***You cannot prove that smoking caused a cancer.**

But it is a proven fact that smoking causes cancer.

**All you can do is show the correlation between smoking and cancer.**

To a high enough degree that there is no doubt whatsoever that smoking causes cancer.

**It is like saying that someone became ill because they did not wear their coat on a cold day. All you can do is show the correlation that not wearing warm cloths increases your chances of catching a cold. It well may be that someone simply sneezed in their face and caused them to become ill.**

Without monitoring someone's health, and studying every cell, it is often impossible to know very much about all the factors involved in a disease they have. Even relatively well known diseases often have complications unique to a given person that are difficult to identify. But failure to monitor every atom in the universe does not equate to 'nothing can be proven'.

All you are doing is saying: 'here is an example of something so complex that we don't yet know all about it, or simply do not have the ability to gather all the evidence: therefore nothing can be proven'. Sorry, but the conclusion cannot be drawn from the examples given.

Some things cannot be proven (and in the examples given it is merely due to a lack of evidence collection). But some things can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.