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Belief vs. Faith, Religion vs. Sex
Posted: 17 February 2007 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“Joad”]I think what I am trying to get at is:

The actual is far more awesome than it’s mystical interpretation.

If we were to examine a rose in a clinical, detached, scientific way…We would have an achievent that far surpasses any ‘magical’ interpretation.

The struggle of a seed to become germinated and grow into a flower makes a diety creating a universive seem trivial.

I wonder if some of us could agree that a mystical view is precisely that which does not attempt ANY interpretation. Instead of explaining or interpreting, the mystical view seeks to perceive directly with all perceptive systems turned on.
How to turn those perceptual systems on more fully is what spiritual teachings and practices are about, as burt pointed out.
The mystical part, the mystery, is the recognition of how ‘the actual’ keeps going beyond our perception and our ability to explain.
Comparing a seed transforming into a flower with a STORY of a ‘diety’ creating a universe is very precise and poetic.
A scientific description of the process can be very useful, but does not convey the power of that transformation nearly as well as being out in the garden, participating in the creation of the universe at this very moment. 
The experience itself is the magic.
Conceptual interpretation is the veil.
Can we use that veil without getting lost under it?

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Posted: 17 February 2007 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]Whatever the fanatics call their beliefs, that does not make them faith (I had this argument years ago with fundamentalist christians posting in a chat group on evolution).  If you want to buy into their abuse of language that’s fine, but any real attempt at rational discussion has to start off with an accurate definition of terms.

Mia, haven’t you heard? Burt has these terms all figured out. Apparently, all we need to do is to stop and listen carefully, then the whole English-speaking world will fall in line with his preferred usage.

Get real, Burt. Words mean what they mean by way of use. Nothing else, unless you’re an 18th-century linguistically ignorant dictionary writer.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 17 February 2007 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]On your second claim, if it were true that “Neither Christianity nor Islam is divisible from its bloody, violent, unalterable verses, and that indivisibility will always make faith a ticking time bomb” then every Christian or Moslem is a ticking time bomb and ought to be shunned—you never know when that mild mannered elderly lady in the back pew is going to explode—or perhaps put into concentration camps and forcibly re-educated.

Joe E. Terrorist, complete with unkempt, black beard and wild eyes scares me a little, I must admit. But the quiet elderly lady in the back of the church scares me more because she has so many millions of counterparts praying for guidance from on high, and voting with the resultant feelings of great peace they achieve through their imaginary prayer sessions.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 17 February 2007 09:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Thanks, h. I’m always at a loss when the helpless little old lady gets trotted out. . . but the fact is that every person who believes the world is at the mercy of a supernatural being, and that decisions must be made and votes cast based upon the idea of pleasing and appeasing that being, then we have a problem. And we do.


Besides, in claiming “Whatever the fanatics call their beliefs, that does not make them faith”, burt stands in denial of the dictionary. Faith and belief are synonymous.

From The American Heritage:

faith (fāth)
n.

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See synonyms at belief, trust.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure 5. belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
6. A set of principles or beliefs.


burt. . . if you think I “buy into” a fanatics way of doing anything—whether it’s language usage, or what he’s using/abusing that language to refer to—then I direct you to my sig. But you embarrass yourself when you profess a faith in anything supernatural, without conceding that yours is no different from the next guy’s supernatural construct.

[quote author=“burt”]
On your second claim, if it were true that “Neither Christianity nor Islam is divisible from its bloody, violent, unalterable verses, and that indivisibility will always make faith a ticking time bomb” then every Christian or Moslem is a ticking time bomb and ought to be shunned. . .

 

Shunning is equivalent to willfully placing oneself in denial, and that generally gets us nowhere but deeper into a problem. Rather, people need to be openly and consistently reminded that their faith/belief is their own personal deal, no one else’s. . . and that if they either demonstrate or lend support to efforts that impose faith/belief on those who are disinclined, then they have crossed a line and are potentially dangerous. Enabling those who impose religion on others—enabling the bomb-builders, in effect, by agreeing that gods demand  things of us, some sort of action on our part—that is a big part of the problem. If the little old lady votes for actions that limit my liberty, because God tells her to, she is plenty dangerous.


I know you are capable of rational discussion, burt, but if you’re arguing for the supernatural, then we might as well have a rational discussion about Goldilocks and her trinity of bears.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]Whatever the fanatics call their beliefs, that does not make them faith (I had this argument years ago with fundamentalist christians posting in a chat group on evolution).

Maybe you should fill us in on your definition of belief and faith, Burt. The definitions I typically use are:
[list]Belief - conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon based on examination of evidence

Faith - firm belief in something for which there is no proof[/list:u]Anyone that believes in a supernatural being does so on faith alone, whether they are a suicide bomber or the old lady in the back pew.

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“Rational arguments do not work on religious people, otherwise there would be no religious people.”—Dr. House

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Posted: 17 February 2007 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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Sorry for using words in a precise sense.  If faith and belief mean the same thing, why are there two words. 

“When I use a word it means precisely what I want it to mean….  It is a matter of who is in charge, you or the words.”  Catapillar (Alice in Wonderland). 

As I use the terms, belief is a mental construction.  It can be mild and unharmful (e.g., I believe that it will rain tommorrow because the weather maps show rain moving in from the west) but it can also be a cover for underlying fears generated by ignorance (I am ignorant of what happens after death so I believe that I have to be good according to the dictates of such and such a book because otherwise I will go to hell).  In this latter case, there can be a tremendous psychological terror in even thinking that the belief might be wrong and so it will be strongly defended.  (Has anybody here ever questioned or been willing to admit that their belief in the non-existence of a spiritual level of reality, bolstered by lack of scientific evidence, might well be wrong?) 

Faith, on the other hand, is a felt sensation of confidence that does not need any external validation.  Indeed, it is quite willing to be skeptical and admit that any linguistic formulation that attempts to express it could well be wrong, or at least limited in applicability by time, place, and circumstance.  In that regard I’m in perfect agreement that it is a completely private matter and ought not be something legislated (believers are always trying to legislate their beliefs to gain more confidence from supposed agreement).

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Posted: 17 February 2007 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”]
I know you are capable of rational discussion, burt, but if you’re arguing for the supernatural, then we might as well have a rational discussion about Goldilocks and her trinity of bears.

The catch with rationality is that any reasoned argument depends on the initial assumptions and there are different initial assumptions that can be made.  I would not argue in favor of the “supernatural” unless you were to tell me that by natural you mean mechanical materiality from which everything else like mind and consciousness somehow emerge.  That, to me, is not the most reasonable assumption.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]Faith, on the other hand, is a felt sensation of confidence that does not need any external validation.

What about the person who has faith  in their beliefs? The point is simply that by the time you strap on a suicide bomb, the two have become indivisible.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”][quote author=“burt”]On your second claim, if it were true that “Neither Christianity nor Islam is divisible from its bloody, violent, unalterable verses, and that indivisibility will always make faith a ticking time bomb” then every Christian or Moslem is a ticking time bomb and ought to be shunned—you never know when that mild mannered elderly lady in the back pew is going to explode—or perhaps put into concentration camps and forcibly re-educated.

Joe E. Terrorist, complete with unkempt, black beard and wild eyes scares me a little, I must admit. But the quiet elderly lady in the back of the church scares me more because she has so many millions of counterparts praying for guidance from on high, and voting with the resultant feelings of great peace they achieve through their imaginary prayer sessions.

Actually, the little old lady I was referring to is my Aunt who was brought up as a liberal republican but has refused to vote republican ever since they made their unholy alliance with the religious right.  She favors religious tolerance, environmentalism, stem cell research, has no objection to gay marriage, and opposes troops in Iraq.  And gets her inspiration from prayer.  Glad you can equate her with the bearded and wild-eyed terrorist.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]
Actually, the little old lady I was referring to is my Aunt who was brought up as a liberal republican but has refused to vote republican ever since they made their unholy alliance with the religious right.  She favors religious tolerance, environmentalism, stem cell research, has no objection to gay marriage, and opposes troops in Iraq.  And gets her inspiration from prayer.  Glad you can equate her with the bearded and wild-eyed terrorist.


What does anyone’s aunt have to do with it? Didn’t you simply introduce her (and all her stupendous traits—my goodness, what a saint!) so as to deflect from the fact that your lofty language argument fell flat? Language is a tool, and it can be used artfully, recklessly, ignorantly. . . there are no controls on it, sadly, and so you do not get to determine how a Muslim fundie defines ‘faith’. Actually, I couldn’t care less how he defines it, but am incredibly concerned about how he aims  it.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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My perception of the two words is that faith refers mostly to something external ( you have faith on him ..etc. ) and belief is more of an internal dogma ( you have a belief system , your belief in some matter is so and so )..

But then because english is not my native language I might be wrong.

...also note that semantics are like a fluid and words are like cups with holes.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Burt, I’m happy to hear about how decent a person your aunt is. But don’t mistake my categorization of praying little old ladies who vote according to their feelings about magical creatures who enter their fantasies, for anything other than what they are: naive—often innocent—children who mean no harm yet cause an enormous amount of harm worldwide. Do you need to be reminded of the Christian Right’s support of Bush’s war-mongering? This forum was set up to address these kinds of issues.

I love how your personal life retroactively entered into your attempts to argue. Your lack of clarity on these issues is showing.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 17 February 2007 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]Burt, I’m happy to hear about how decent a person your aunt is. But don’t mistake my categorization of praying little old ladies who vote according to their feelings about magical creatures who enter their fantasies, for anything other than what they are: naive—often innocent—children who mean no harm yet cause an enormous amount of harm worldwide. Do you need to be reminded of the Christian Right’s support of Bush’s war-mongering? This forum was set up to address these kinds of issues.

I love how your personal life retroactively entered into your attempts to argue. Your lack of clarity on these issues is showing.

What I am trying to point out is that there is a distinction between two states of consciousness, one of which I characterize as “belief” and the other as “faith.”  The first of these, when indulged in religion, has effects that range from harmless sleep to fanatical murder.  In the case of what I call “faith” a person may or may not believe in a personal god (certainly a Buddhist would not), and this faith may be in other things, such as the essential goodness of humankind.  What I see here is that some of the participants in this discussion are pretty fanatical in their rejection of the idea that a reasonable and intelligent person may choose to believe in God, as they understand the term.  To me that shows that rather than being simply rational and skeptical, they are prisoners of a belief which they use reason to justify.  In that sense, there is little difference from the creationist who trys to use reason to justify their rejection of evolution.  Certainly some of my comments have been intentionally provocative, a method of discovering where people are coming from—are they really able to carry out a rational discussion or are they simply defending a fixed belief and so unable to admit that it is just that, a belief that could be wrong.  I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that I do not know the reality of this although I do have my opinions (which differ substantially from what some here, because they lack the background to understand, may attribute to me).  What bothers me, however, is that people who claim to be devoted to reason and science react with the same sort of emotionally driven response that I get when I mention evolution to fundamentalist Christians.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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[quote author=“Hippasus”]My perception of the two words is that faith refers mostly to something external ( you have faith on him ..etc. ) and belief is more of an internal dogma ( you have a belief system , your belief in some matter is so and so )..

But then because english is not my native language I might be wrong.

...also note that semantics are like a fluid and words are like cups with holes.

An interesting twist here Hippasus, we do say “I have faith in him…” and “I believe that…”  At the same time, as I have been trying to use the words, the experience of faith refers to an internal state of consciousness that does not require belief while the experience of belief refers to a dogma that filters experiences and tries to fit them into a preestablished framework.  In other words, if I believe that such and such is the case, the automatic reaction to experience is to interpret them in terms of this belief.  On the other hand, if I have faith, I accept experience without an effort of interpretation according to any belief.

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Posted: 17 February 2007 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]  What bothers me, however, is that people who claim to be devoted to reason and science react with the same sort of emotionally driven response that I get when I mention evolution to fundamentalist Christians.

That bothers me too …and the best way to avoid it is not to lose your sense of humor.
Neither God nor Science is the ultimate glue that keeps society together…. Tolerance is.

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