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The Ënd of Faith"' argument,
Posted: 07 February 2005 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“SkepticX”]That’s why he specifies that faith is the problem. The reason Harris says moderate religion is problematic is that it fosters and enables faith.

I do not see Faith itself as a problem. It is “blind” faith, or faith that trumps what we can actually verify that is a problem. It is not that faith is inherently wrong, but that it can be misapplied. However, since I do not see faith but human nature as the ultimate issue, eliminating faith does not address the problem. And I think we lose something valuable if we abandon faith entirely. The role of faith should be to fill in the gaps between what we know, and we should always be willing to make the necessary changes as what we know evolves.

[quote author=“SkepticX”] Interesting—it seems you identify human nature rather than religion as the source of the problem, but then give religion rather than human nature credit for curbing the problem.

Yes, I do. If you thought there was a contradition here, I don’t see it. I want faith and a healthy sense of skepticism. We are jumping back and forth a bit using the terms faith and religion somewhat interchangebly. My biggest problem with religion is that we tend to get caught up in the trappings (baptism by running water or is a sprinkler okay, do you have to be circumcised, do you pray quietly or in public, does transubstantiation occur during communion) and this all serves as a distraction from the real message. The Christian ideal (and I acknowledge this as not uniquely Christian) is the golden rule, which is so simple to understand but difficult and demanding to apply. We would perfer to argue about doctrine. Still, I think without any sense of religion, no soul or someone to judge it, no promise of an existence or consequence after our lives, our focus will tend overwhelmingly to be on our own selfish interests. If that happens, our problems now will look like a day at grandma’s house.

And perhaps that is the big question. If we give up faith, what do we have in exchange? I get a sense that there is a utopian view that eliminating faith will allow some wonderful state of human relations to emerge—ironically, if that isn’t a faith-based idea, I don’t know what is.

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Posted: 07 February 2005 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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Still, I think without any sense of religion, no soul or someone to judge it, no promise of an existence or consequence after our lives, our focus will tend overwhelmingly to be on our own selfish interests.

So, if I understand you correctly, religion controls behavior by guilt and fear!  Sorry, I dont buy the premis of original sin, or that we need the aformentioned to keep from eating our neighbors.  Hunter-gatherer societies existed for thousands of years before religion.  We just dont need that bullshit any more!

If you want comfort, get a teddy bear.

Pete

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Posted: 07 February 2005 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“hampsteadpete”]So, if I understand you correctly, religion controls behavior by guilt and fear!  Sorry, I dont buy the premis of original sin, or that we need the aformentioned to keep from eating our neighbors.  Hunter-gatherer societies existed for thousands of years before religion.  We just dont need that bullshit any more!

No, you don’t understand me correctly. It isn’t that religion controls behavior, but that it opens us up to the idea that there is something bigger than ourselves. If any sense of conscience must be guilt, then I will just have to accept that as part of the mix, although I don’t see it that way. And I’m more interested in empathy than fear. You don’t need to believe in original sin to see how human nature expresses itself in the real world—for the most part, it isn’t very pretty. We have little to no idea what hunter-gatherer societies thought, and cave paintings suggest that some sort of magic-based belief system was active as far back as we have anything. Even the burying of weapons with the dead allows for the possibility of something approaching religion. In fact, prior to the 20th century, is there any documented example of a society without religion in some recognizable form?

[quote author=“hampsteadpete”]If you want comfort, get a teddy bear.

I don’t have much faith in my teddy bear. And if faith does give comfort, what do you have without it?

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Posted: 07 February 2005 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“JAS”]I do not see Faith itself as a problem. It is “blind” faith, or faith that trumps what we can actually verify that is a problem.

That’s the fundamental nature of faith—to override evidence and/or the lack thereof so a believer has an illusory sense of justification for an invalid belief. It’s only when there’s no valid basis for a belief that it believers invoke faith. Most objections to this are equivocations—re-definitions of faith deployed to protect it because it’s presumed good and virtuous based upon socialization.

[quote author=“JAS”]It is not that faith is inherently wrong, but that it can be misapplied.

What would be a proper application of faith?

[quote author=“JAS”]However, since I do not see faith but human nature as the ultimate issue, eliminating faith does not address the problem.

I agree, but faith is a construct that contributes to the problem. It encourages us to turn off our normal intellectual perceptions/filters in order to make room for a presumed truth or set of truths, so we have to reject our own nature in order to embrace it. By doing this we disable our means of correcting the error at the same time.

[quote author=“JAS”]And I think we lose something valuable if we abandon faith entirely. The role of faith should be to fill in the gaps between what we know, and we should always be willing to make the necessary changes as what we know evolves.

What do you mean, exactly, by “fill the gaps between what we know?” And why not accept unknowns for what they are and see if we can’t figure them out?

[quote author=“SkepticX”] Interesting—it seems you identify human nature rather than religion as the source of the problem, but then give religion rather than human nature credit for curbing the problem.

Yes, I do. If you thought there was a contradition here, I don’t see it.


It’s human nature when it’s bad, faith when it’s good. That’s one of the cancerous intellectual mainfestations of faith. Our nature is responsible for the good as well as the bad.

But I think much of our disagreement is probably dependent upon the definition of faith (and avoiding equivocation), so we should probably hold off on delving deeper into this discusion until we’re on the same sheet of music on that.

Byron

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Posted: 07 February 2005 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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Jaz, in your search for something “bigger than ourselves” why is it necessary to go to the extreme of having faith in a deity?  I can think of many things “bigger” that should make us humble nature, gravity, the sun, the earth, human understanding of the universe.  Now perhaps you require something bigger-with-intelligence to give you the true humbling experience, however if your god is the Christian, Islamic or Jewish one, then intelligence is not a strong point of either (if you read the words they’ve passed down). If your god is the ephemeral voice that echoes through your head now and then - that Jaz is your own voice (naturally built out of a millenial history of other human voices that have sedimented into your conscience as you learned this language from those who taught you and those who taught them, etc.).

I have faith in human beings and in their ability to comprehend the complexities and mysteriousness of our world.  I get comfort from that faith and a hope that one like you will join us - and the world will be as one (to quote John Lennon).

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Bob

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Posted: 07 February 2005 08:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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Before we describe religion as a “human construct” and deal with it as if it was a product of thoughtful consideration, we should backtrack through time to locate its origins.  Freud dealt with the issue of it’s commonality in human culture, in “Totem and Taboo,” by observing that human beings are all “wired” the same and have, early in their developement, tended to recognize the same mysteries and supply, generally, the same answers to those mysteries.  In the first sentence to “Critique of Pure Reason,” Kant observes, as I imperfectly recall, “human reason must deal with questions that it can’t avoid because they are a product of it’s own nature but that it cannot answer because they transcend all experience.”  I think that the religion that we find in all cultures evolved from it’s beginnings when man was at his most ignorant and superstitious.  Conclusions based on that ignorance and superstition are a very large part of all religions of which I am aware.

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Posted: 07 February 2005 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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I’ve been working with the notion that just maybe what we now consider to be either supernatural or non-existent when it comes to understanding ‘god,’ will be discovered hundreds, thousands of years from now to actually be quite natural and scientific.  Try to explain radio, magnetic or micro waves to the medieval man.  He was either oblivious to their existence (as in radio and micro waves) or mystified by them, such as his belief that the Northern Lights (magnetic waves) were supernatural.  Examples such as these suggest to me that feelings/concepts such as love and compassion, emotions in general, could have at their source some kind of force that we just haven’t figured out yet.  The religious would ascribe their supernatural explanations, the atheists are oblivious to its existence and the agnostics feel something’s there, but neither of the other two groups explains it to their satisfaction.  This energy force is just there, inside and surrounding everything that’s alive, and is open for anyone to access. It doesn’t judge us in any conscious way; it just hangs around waiting for us to notice it like all the other forces of nature at work in the world.  Leaves plenty of room for both the Arts and Sciences to be involved - imagination to break down the barriers and scientific method to provide the evidence. 

Susan

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Posted: 07 February 2005 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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[quote author=“SkepticX”] That’s the fundamental nature of faith—to override evidence and/or the lack thereof so a believer has an illusory sense of justification for an invalid belief. It’s only when there’s no valid basis for a belief that it believers invoke faith. Most objections to this are equivocations—re-definitions of faith deployed to protect it because it’s presumed good and virtuous based upon socialization.

I disagree. You are presuming that all faith is of one particular kind, absolute and unyielding. While I think skepticism can be healthy, it too can be taken to extremes, and deny useful evidence that is plausible if not conclusive. Whether or not it is illusionary is arguing your own beliefs. If you are dealing with a situation where there is evidence being overridden, you might well have a point, but what are you arguing when you have a lack of evidence?

[quote author=“SkepticX”]What would be a proper application of faith?

I think a proper application of faith would be any situation where it does not override reasonable evidence and the resulting conclusions—and produces no harmful effects, at least relative to its benefits. I can give you lots of examples, none of which you may find persuasive, but will limit it to two. My grandmother found great comfort in her faith, especially during her final declining years. She endured two painful surgeries substantially because of it—those were her repeated feelings. If there was a downside, I never saw it. I also had a friend who was raised Catholic, but never had any particular sense of commitment to religion. During his final years in school, he decided that he did not believe anything he was being taught in terms of religion and although he kept it somewhat hidden (he was still attending a Catholic school), he became an increasingly passionate atheist. Over the years, we often discussed (and sometimes argued, in the literal sense) the relative merits or demerits of religion and atheism. (This was made somewhat less difficult since I am not Catholic and have lots of problems with many aspects of Catholicism.) Unfortunately, his fondness for a few beers, which started in high-school, blossomed into full-tilt alcoholism. I do not know precisely when this happened, but it was probably long before it was evident (particularly since I do not drink and therefore did not really see how much he was doing so). It slowly eroded his quality of life, costing him jobs, a marriage, and separating him from a daughter who would no longer speak to him. He went regularly to AA, but it didn’t seem to work for him, and he kept lapsing into his old habits. Finally, at a particularly low moment in his life, he seriously considered suicide. Fortunately, he opted instead to try the one thing AA had always encouraged but he had never seriously tried, admitting his inability to control the problem and giving the whole thing over to some higher power. (For people who are already religiously-inclined, this tenant is stated somewhat more concretely, but they do what they can to allow non-religious people to embrace it as well.) Initially, he tried to do so without putting a specific identity on this higher power, but eventually it just seemed more effective when he fell back towards what he was already familiar with. Although he had a few slips, he was amazed at the effect and eventually abandoned his atheism, although he is now Protestant. He has now been “sober” for nearly a decade, and now argues with me because his religious views are generally more conservative than mine. He has remarried and reestablished connections to his daughter. I cannot bring myself to discard as inherently undesirable something which can provide such beneficial results. You can call it what you like, but they both called it faith, and I see no reason to dispute the point.

In my own case, I have nothing nearly so dramatic to offer. In general, I think faith is a personal matter and not readily transferable, which is why I avoid the whole testimony movement that leads so many to stand up and make showy displays of “finding Jesus.”

[quote author=“SkepticX”] I agree [about the more fundamental problem of human nature], but faith is a construct that contributes to the problem. It encourages us to turn off our normal intellectual perceptions/filters in order to make room for a presumed truth or set of truths, so we have to reject our own nature in order to embrace it. By doing this we disable our means of correcting the error at the same time.

My faith does not encourage me to turn off my normal intellectual perceptions. My religious views have always been pretty liberal, and I do not view the Bible as the absolute, complete and infallible word of God. It take is as a book which is chiefly the work of men, even if these are men who were seeking the ultimate good (and sometimes profoundly failing). What you are decrying is self-imposed ignorance, and while many religious people do fall into this trap, they have no exclusive claim to the problem.

[quote author=“SkepticX”] What do you mean, exactly, by “fill the gaps between what we know?” And why not accept unknowns for what they are and see if we can’t figure them out?

If we can figure them out, then that is all well and good. Unfortunately, better minds than mine have devoted long years to solving such “spiritual” issues of why we are here, do our lives have meaning, etc. I haven’t found any better answers thus far than accounted for by faith.

[quote author=“SkepticX”] It’s human nature when it’s bad, faith when it’s good. That’s one of the cancerous intellectual manifestations of faith. Our nature is responsible for the good as well as the bad.

That actually isn’t a contradiction, unless you presume faith as an expression of our natures. I can see where selfishness comes from, both in myself and in observing others, but the source of altruism is more elusive. Maybe it is a biological creation to keep us from destroying ourselves, as some have suggested, or maybe it is the influence of what for lack of a better term I will grant the label of “The Holy Spirit.” Can you prove one over the other?

[quote author=“SkepticX”] But I think much of our disagreement is probably dependent upon the definition of faith (and avoiding equivocation), so we should probably hold off on delving deeper into this discussion until we’re on the same sheet of music on that.

I’m not sure that we really can be on the same sheet of music on these points, although one can hope that we can at least see what song the other is singing.

Oh, and in keeping my promise, I did by the book today. I hope to do more than dip into a few pages here and there once I finish my own book (on an entirely different subject) and finally have more time on my hands.

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Posted: 07 February 2005 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“CanZen”]Jaz, in your search for something “bigger than ourselves” why is it necessary to go to the extreme of having faith in a deity?  I can think of many things “bigger” that should make us humble: nature, gravity, the sun, the earth, human understanding of the universe.  Now perhaps you require something bigger-with-intelligence to give you the true humbling experience, however if your god is the Christian, Islamic or Jewish one, then intelligence is not a strong point of either (if you read the words they’ve passed down). If your god is the ephemeral voice that echoes through your head now and then - that Jaz is your own voice (naturally built out of a millenial history of other human voices that have sedimented into your conscience as you learned this language from those who taught you and those who taught them, etc.).

First, I want to be careful not to reduce this to what you or I, as individuals, are personally searching for. If you want a world view which will have meaningful impact, you need to consider how people respond in larger numbers. The point isn’t just that there is something “bigger” in size or power, but “bigger” in the sense of importance, something that trumps a purely selfish view. Yes, nature is breathtakingly bigger, but if all I have is this life, and when I die it is all over, what is the argument that people should be genuinely decent to each other? Rousseau’s social contract just doesn’t cut it for me. The ideal situation would seem to be a person taking full advantage of the “good” people around him, while avoiding overt punishment for breaking the rules. My brother does exactly this, while I have tried to do better—but it is a struggle, and why should I bother?

[quote author=“CanZen”] I have faith in human beings and in their ability to comprehend the complexities and mysteriousness of our world.  I get comfort from that faith and a hope that one like you will join us - and the world will be as one (to quote John Lennon).

As a student of history, I think you will be hard-pressed to provide much support for your faith in human nature. We need only look at the recent elections to see that a large number of people were pretty clearly unable to comprehend complexity or the “mysteriousness” of our world. Instead, most of us apparently voted for the guy who was willing to sell us the most attractive lie . . . but I should perhaps avoid further digression into politics. I find no persuasive message in John Lennon or his song “Imagination,” which seems to me to be exactly that, imaginary.

Sigh . . . this is all making me rather depressed.

I’m guessing that there is a limit to how many posts I can make as “guest” here—perhaps that’s a good thing.

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Posted: 07 February 2005 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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Jas, you sounded sort of deflated toward the end of your last post, but I don’t see that as entirely bad.  If a person is over inflated or perhaps too “pressed” (as in under pressure), over certain crucial questions (like “what is the true meaning of life?”), then a bit of deflation or depression is certainly a good thing.  Comic genuises like Jon Stewart can give your depression the kind of lift that makes it worthwhile and even encouraging.

In the context of a higher-power-less world you pose the question, “What is the argument that people should be decent to each other?”  There is no such argument ultimately because arguments are purely rational/intellectual exercises and morally valuable actions come more from the heart and the emotional being.  But in the bigger picture in a world without god, being genuinely decent to each other is a real test of each person’s humanity.  God stands between us and our individual humanity, but take god out of the picture and you will see how much more fervently you will appreciate the person who treats you with genuine respect and real compassion.  It’s a whole different world that one lives in when god is removed because every encounter with another one is lived truly, that is, unmediated by the god or the higher power.  When two genuine intelligences meet in the flesh of a living conversation, the human dimensions touched in that experience are phenomenal.

Finally Jas, you have expressed clearly that you do not have much faith in people and invoked history (past and present) to make mine seem unfounded.  I do agree that it sometimes seems like 90% of the population is incapable of genuine empathy, compassion or understanding - and that makes believing in them (or their potential) desparately difficult.  Yet when you meet with one who is genuine and filled with integrity and hope, one who exhibits empathy, emotional respect and intelligence, then your faith in humanity will be rewarded a hundredfold.  Am I saying that such a one cannot be a theist?  Yes I am, because believing in a deity automatically compromises the true humanity of the person(s).  Believing in god is the pressure that eventually kills a person’s true spirit - but I will admit that for some people at the depths of social and self destruction this same belief can be their saving grace, but perhaps that’s because these people need to let their true humanity die and then successfully live a life of compromise.  Maybe they are just not equipped to live a life in touch with true human nature.  It is not an easy life, but the rewards are far greater than the diffculties.

There are perhaps a billion godless people living on this earth today, I think of Buddhists, Daoists and other non-thiestic peoples . . . these are genuinely decent to each other. In fact I would argue that they are demonstrably more decent than thier theistic counterparts, how does one account for that?

Bob

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Posted: 07 February 2005 02:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“JAS”]I just caught Sam Harris on Book-TV,

I caught that same Book tv presentation from a Jan 15th presentation Sam apparently gave to a Synogague, i think? 

I am catholic and could not help but notice that his arguments, and anology of one God and Zues are just plain idiotic.  My Wife whom is japanese and nominally shinto, could not find any consistent ethic in his lecture.  Contradictions abounded. 

It should be noted that Science was given to secularist by The Church, and science is proving The Church to be more correct than not. 

Also The Catholic Church is the longest living organization in history.  Anyone who studies it truthfully and honestly cannot help but see a consistent teaching, even though the church on earth is run by man, a mere imperfect creature. 

Any christian society is inherently better than a secular society where all one care about is oneself, to the neglect of charity.

Sam, Keep searching and the truth will someday set you free from this liberal poop.

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Posted: 07 February 2005 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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I feel sorry for your wife.

There was absolutely no contradiction in what Harris said.  Just because you make a blanket statement like that doesn’t make it true.  And by the way, just because you are Catholic doesn’t make you right.  Because you are religious you are already disadvantaged on a site like this.  Indeed, you are intellectually disadvantaged.  So I guess it would be unfair for us to attack you and put you in your place.

Just like all religious zealots, you cannot offer any evidence in what you spout, only sound bites that your leaders brainwash you with.

“Liberal poop”?  I’m going to tell your mommy that you are a potty mouth! LOL

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Posted: 07 February 2005 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Yes, I too watched Sam Harris’ presentation on Book-TV today.  I also have not had the benefit of reading his book, though I too intend to purchase it .

I was not able to watch every moment of the presentation, but it seemed to me that Mr. Harris quite explicitly disavowed any strict (meaning simplistic) association of secularism with goodness and decency.  He referenced “secular” movements such as communism and fascism, where dogmatic world views also resulted in a blood-letting.  And he certainly wasn’t suggesting that merely not being religious is a sufficient substitute for having good manners or being open to beauty or the fragility of life.

Rather, while he criticized dogmatism generally, for the purposes of the presentation (and presumably the book) his criticism was more specifically how it is that the necessity of “faith” in the religious (mythological) worldview shuts down the possibility for rational dialogue, analysis, and critique.  Faith provides the metaphysical basis for a worldview that is simultaneously and circularly legitimized by its association with some absolute truth or knowledge in the divine.  Thus, for the faithful, other people either “get it” or they “don’t.”

Unfortunately, such circularity often hardens into dogmatism and fosters a false certitude and obedience, especial as believers are en-cultured into the metaphysical worldview from childhood.  How else to explain that a majority of Americans literally believe in such fanciful creatures as angels and devils? 

Indeed, where Judeo-Christian mythology is concerned, Abraham became the “father of faith” when God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, which Abraham unblinkingly seemed prepared to do, whereas a secular individual might want to have his or her head checked before the authorities intervened.

Thus, Mr. Harris did not seem to be talking about “faith” that the sun will rise tomorrow or “faith” as a form of optimism.

Rather, it seemed to be one of Mr. Harris’ themes that there is an inherent and structural propensity in religious thinking towards dangerous forms of dogmatism that is not inherent in free thinking – which is not to say that murderous lunatics won’t still arise from time to time by capturing the imagination of some group of people in seeking to “correct” history for the glory of Mankind, rather than God (though one might speculate whether the very idea that humanity is broken and in need of repair isn’t itself a sort of religious (thought broadly) gesture in its insisting on a return to some metaphysically “necessary” order).  And this is certainly not to say that either religious or non-religious people are more likely to have good manners, decency, sensitivity, or hope.  Rather, he appeared to try to account for the seeming contradiction of why it is that people have always been willing to kill other people in the name of their God, including those who otherwise seem soft-spoken and have impeccable manners, such as Osama Bin Ladin, an account that has relevance to the wellsprings of fundamentalism found in our own country, as well as to the “free pass” that the subject of faith seems to be given, as something that cannot be questioned, brought to light, or challenged.

As for the softer and more flexible faith you pose in the alternative, yes faith helps many people get through difficult times.  But a comforting delusion, no matter how effective, no matter how comforting, still does not make it true.  It only makes it useful for those who don’t mind fooling themselves for the sake of peace of mind.  Some people need such a crutch.  I don’t mind their having it, until they use it to beat others about the head with it or try to convert others to share in the delusion, or give it value as though it were something other than a coping mechanism. 

An actual reading of his book might change the understanding put forth above.  Until then, I am not sure I can see the “Fundamental Flaw” you reference.  But I am open to further comments and observations until I am able to read Mr. Harris’ book.  And I have enjoyed the comments of others already given.

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Posted: 08 February 2005 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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[quote author=“JAS”]I disagree. You are presuming that all faith is of one particular kind, absolute and unyielding.

Actually I think you have that reversed. I’m taking issue with a specifically defined form of faith (the same that is required in order to believe in something unevidenced—Hebrews 11:1). Clearly that means I do not presume there’s only one form. It’s your position that seems to be based upon the fact that I haven’t accounted for all forms of faith, or at least others, as if it’s all part of the same package.

[quote author=“JAS”]While I think skepticism can be healthy, it too can be taken to extremes, and deny useful evidence that is plausible if not conclusive.

I agree completely, though I’d say that’s not skepticism but rather cynicism or just being a contrarian. Skepticism doesn’t allow for the arbitrary rejection of pertinent evidence (which is how I’m interpreting “useful evidence . . .”).

[quote author=“JAS”]Whether or not it is illusionary is arguing your own beliefs.

You can’t have direct evidence of the supernatural, by definition, and the nature of the indirect evidence (what it’s evidence of, if anything) cannot be known. The notion that belief in the existence of something supernatural can be valid in terms of reason or evidence is necessarily illusory.

[quote author=“JAS”]If you are dealing with a situation where there is evidence being overridden, you might well have a point, but what are you arguing when you have a lack of evidence?

Where I lack evidence I accept the unknown, as required by reason.

[quote author=“JAS”]What would be a proper application of faith?


Definition, not application.

[quote author=“JAS”]My grandmother found great comfort in her faith, especially during her final declining years. She endured two painful surgeries substantially because of it—those were her repeated feelings. If there was a downside, I never saw it.

That says precisely nothing about the validity of any belief held by faith. Whether it feels better or makes someone a happier, better person is a completely different issue (same with the other anecdote you shared).

[quote author=“JAS”]My faith does not encourage me to turn off my normal intellectual perceptions.

Really? What else do you believe based upon faith? Do you believe anything based upon faith that’s not religious in nature? Would you accept faith as a valid reason your mechanic believes he can fix your car? Would you accept faith-based weather reporting in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season if you lived on the coast of Florida?

[quote author=“JAS”][quote author=“SkepticX”]What do you mean, exactly, by “fill the gaps between what we know?” And why not accept unknowns for what they are and see if we can’t figure them out?

If we can figure them out, then that is all well and good. Unfortunately, better minds than mine have devoted long years to solving such “spiritual” issues of why we are here, do our lives have meaning, etc. I haven’t found any better answers thus far than accounted for by faith.


Are you suggesting you really have the answers to those questions? Or are you talking about ways of addressing such questions that are meaningful to you, personally (i.e. personal matters—matters of psychology, rather than articles of faith . . . a whole different ball game)?

[quote author=“JAS”][quote author=“SkepticX”]It’s human nature when it’s bad, faith when it’s good. That’s one of the cancerous intellectual manifestations of faith. Our nature is responsible for the good as well as the bad.

That actually isn’t a contradiction, unless you presume faith as an expression of our natures.


I didn’t say it was contradictory. I’d say it’s arbitrary, baseless, highly unequitable and self-loathing in nature, but it’s not necessarily contradictory. I think this is reflective of the typical religious sense of “humility,” which is more about a camouflaged sense of worthlessness—that we’re “as filthy rags” and that only by diminishing ourselves can we become worthwhile, because we’re not getting in the way and fouling things up.

[quote author=“JAS”]I can see where selfishness comes from, both in myself and in observing others, but the source of altruism is more elusive. Maybe it is a biological creation to keep us from destroying ourselves, as some have suggested, or maybe it is the influence of what for lack of a better term I will grant the label of “The Holy Spirit.” Can you prove one over the other?


Nope. I would point out, however, that the existence of biology is a rather well established fact, so there’s at least a valid basis in reality for that hypothesis (sort of—the use of the term “creation” makes it pretty problematic though). The same thing most definitely cannot be said about the “Holy Spirit.” I would further argue that hypotheses more grounded in reality, or less dependent upon presumption, are generally better—more useful.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 08 February 2005 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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Why is it that christians consistently ridicule other religious beliefs on the grounds that they are not monotheistic, yet christianity itself is polytheistic?  Somewhere along the line christianity was categorized as a monotheism and even though other gods (spirits, deities, what-have-you) populate their supernatural realm - most christians are convinced that they believe in one god.  Almost all christians believe in the existence of the devil and angels, but what the heck are all these other supernatural creatures if not gods in the strict sense of that word (especially in the context of the Ancient Greek pantheon)?

Ryan says that to equate God with Zeus is plain idiotic, while to me that analogy seems perfectly legitimate.  In the strict sense of their mere “existences” and the beliefs that support those existences, Zeus is in relation to Apollo, Aphrodite and Hermes as God is in relation to Lucifer (Satan), Gabriel and Michael. 

Even in their most desperate claims to superiority (via monotheism), christians believe in a muddled jumble of distortions and falsehoods. (And I haven’t even challenged “The Holy Trinity” mess.)  Who is Ryan to accuse Sam of spouting “liberal poop?”

Bob

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It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

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