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Belief vs. Faith, Religion vs. Sex
Posted: 17 February 2007 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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[quote author=“Hippasus”][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.

:wink:

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Posted: 18 February 2007 12:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]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.

Thanks for putting up with us morons, burt.

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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: 18 February 2007 05:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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I am impressed with the level and range of honest and passionate thinking in this forum. I have some general thoughts I’d like to share in response to all the posts. Please forgive me for not responding directly to individual posts, it is solely in the interest of brevity.

It is my understanding that human nature leads us to seek both answers and justification for our beliefs from an authority, whether it be the Bible, a dictionary, or Sam’s book. In reality, we take from those resources only that which is consistent with reason, if we are honest. The dictionary, for instance, is just a history book; it gives us the historical meanings of words. New words and new meanings for old words evolve every day and are consistent with the evolutionary nature of the universe, and ultimately with the evolutionary nature of truth.

Faith to me is that which we trust to be true which cannot be verified. A belief to me is faith crystallized and hardened into dogma which cannot be evolutionary and is therefore inconsistent with the nature of the universe and with truth itself.

Faith springs out of the condition where we can never know as much as we can believe. We have no idea where life comes from or where it goes. To attempt to answer those questions requires a statement of faith. Whether we believe there is a God, or whether we believe there isn’t, is a statement of faith. The question which needs to be addressed is whether our faith is at the highest possible level; is it at the foremost evolutionary attainment we can each individually achieve?

The highest level of faith I have found to date is this: There is no bad in the universe from which good does not spring; and there always comes a time when the good outweighs the bad.

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Posted: 18 February 2007 06:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Reading through this thread brings to my thoughts the elasticity of meaning concerning these two words, ‘faith’ and ‘belief, and in general to all words.

What are both faith and belief aiming at, is it the same intended thing or not?  Straight-forwardly, both terms appear to be describing a certain way to get to truth.  This of course assumes from the outset that ‘the truth’ is really out there just waiting to be grasped, but that’s another discourse.  It seems to me that burt has couched these terms in regard to the degree one depends on evidence or dogma in accepting a certain path to truth.  With regard to ‘belief’ burt claims that evidence (perhaps flimsy at best) and dogma play a decisive role in choosing whether to believe or not (hence his claim that this path is about external conditions).  In his unraveling of the meaning of ‘faith’ burt appears to claim that there is no such dependence on external factors (evidence or dogma), but that faith is more like an internal commitment (perhaps intuitive) that just throws you onto that certain path to truth (now he doesn’t say more, but perhaps evidence and dogma can then follow from this sort of personal commitment (leap) in making that ‘leap’ seem appropriate or misguided?).

However, if the above is how burt’s semantics on the subject actually work, then in fact ‘faith’ sort of blindly precedes ‘belief.’  If you have no faith, of that intuitive internal kind, then belief really cannot take hold on behalf of other propositions.  Yet, oddly enough, burt claims to have this innate faith, but he calmly and rationally is able to reject the dogma and flimsy evidence that accompany belief.  Is this possible?

We have to ask then, “what is the concerned target of burt’s faith?”  Does burt simply hope that his own faculties are rationally (or intellectually) competent enough to pick out the truth when he stumbles upon it, in which case the source and the destination of his faith (a hope really) are completely internal (a matter of personal competence).  Is burt’s faith even more provocative, casting its net wider to hope that the rational capacity of all people (humankind) is such that they will all be capable of picking out the truth when they stumble upon it?  This sort of “faith in the goodness of humanity” does have an internal component as its source (I am intuitively a good truth seeker), but the destination of this faith (hope) makes that internal source external (everyone is intuitively a good truth seeker) in that it is aimed at all (or most) human beings in general. 

No, it appears that burt’s faith is directed to the existence of a deity.  It seems at first glance that this is an entirely external goal.  This externality would entail that the god to which burt’s faith is cast is a supernatural entity endowed with certain powers and capacities.  Yet, burt does not adhere to that sort of faith - he would call that belief, as it is wrapped up in dogma and flimsy evidence indeed!  No, burt’s god is definitely something quite internal - like the aesthetic experience of feeling the essence of a rose enter into your body through all the relevant senses.  As the “rose-ness” enters your body, you will feel the presence of god becoming present within you.  Perhaps for burt, when he feels the empathy of recognizing the compassion of one person helping to save another person from suffering, then in a more intellectual way, he feels the presence of god entering into the conscious awareness of burt.  So when burt says “I have faith in god” - it is nothing like the same thing that religious people mean when they say they have the same faith. No, burt’s faith in god is quite simply a faith in being able to recognize the best human potential that exists in the particular human agent, also exists in all human agents regardless of their “other beliefs.”  But this is the basic hope of the atheist, we all have this sort of “faith” that the best aspects of who we are (intellectually, sensually, emotionally, aesthetically, empathically) as individuals are also present in every human being on every corner of this planet.  (Calling this hope “god” is a deceptive ploy aimed at provoking alarm amongst the humanists, and also it is a vain attempt to put oneself “above” everyone else by claiming for an authority where no such external thing exists.)

Bob

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Posted: 18 February 2007 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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when burt says “I have faith in god” - it is nothing like the same thing that religious people mean when they say they have the same faith. No, burt’s faith in god is quite simply a faith in being able to recognize the best human potential that exists in the particular human agent, also exists in all human agents regardless of their “other beliefs.” But this is the basic hope of the atheist, we all have this sort of “faith” that the best aspects of who we are (intellectually, sensually, emotionally, aesthetically, empathically) as individuals are also present in every human being on every corner of this planet. (Calling this hope “god” is a deceptive ploy aimed at provoking alarm amongst the humanists, and also it is a vain attempt to put oneself “above” everyone else by claiming for an authority where no such external thing exists.)

You’re my new hero in this soap opera. You recognize that flying this particular faith-flag is always aimed at convincing others of one’s own ‘enlightenment’. However one attains it, voluble professing of it is not a signal. Those who say, don’t know… Intellectual integrity is hard to achieve, but I think you have it.

There’s that “lateral” (as opposed to “vertical”) stuff, again.

Me, I’m just a curmudgeonly scientist, all lateral and no bones about it, and short on faith in the best that human beings are capable of… I don’t need faith in it: Empirical to the end, I know it when I see it.

A cartoon appeared in a newspaper long ago. In its single frame, a mynah bird is conversing with an orangutan:

MB: Faith is an irrational belief in the impossible.

OR: I believe you.

rolleyes

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Posted: 18 February 2007 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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CanZen, some of your analysis applies but I think that some correction is required.  In my view, if a person has faith there is no need of belief although if a person wishes they can choose an appropriate belief with knowledge that that is all they are doing.  (Recall Don Juan recommending that Castenada choose a “path with heart.”)  I like the classification of philosophic schools given by Sextus Empiricus: the Dogmatists believe that their doctrine is the Truth.  The Academics deny the existence of Truth.  The Skeptics neither affirm nor deny the possibility of attaining Truth but continue the search.  So I would count myself among the Skeptics in that classification, and connect it to Diotima’s speech to Socrates in the Symposium.  Whether or not I would call the object of my faith “god” is another question—depends on how the term is to be defined.  Drawing from another thread where Dennett’s comments on “Thank Goodness” was posted, I might be willing to say that I have faith in the Good.

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Posted: 19 February 2007 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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“...this is the basic hope of the atheist, we all have this sort of “faith” that the best aspects of who we are (intellectually, sensually, emotionally, aesthetically, empathically) as individuals are also present in every human being on every corner of this planet.”

Eloquent, CanZen. Leads me to wonder what your thoughts are on afterlife.

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Posted: 19 February 2007 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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IN your opening post andonstop, you wrote

    ” Regarding God’s omniscience and omnipotence, please consider that if one does not limit oneself to thinking things must be fair within each short human life, the holistic potentialities of eternal life begin to make sense.”

Unless you are talking about our particular entries on the internet living on forever after we die, I’m not quite sure what the “holistic potentialities of eternal life” actually means?

If you really want my thoughts- grab a seat (I will be brief)

The dichotomy of experience can be mapped onto a Newtonian science where space and time serve as the invisible, but real, matrix of materials in motion.  Broken down to a subject versus object duality those things that are the physical objects of our perceptions appear to occupy space and those durational phenomena (sound, light, gravity, forces) that enter our perceptual organs (physical systems) appear to occupy time . . . but our awareness (or consciousness) itself is a physical system, in fact our living bodies are neither merely physical objects nor merely durational phenomena, they are actually events that occupy both space and time in a holistic way.  Consciousness is but one particular event (or action) produced by the larger event known as a living body.

Kant once stated that pure motion is the complete combination of space and time.  Although Kant greatly admired Newton and modelled himself on the scientist (and theist), he posited the notion that space and time are contributions that the human mind (or any form of conscious awareness) projects upon the world.  This view paved the way for Einstein to discover that indeed space and time are relative concepts (observer dependent and not real as Newton had believed) and that they are two aspects of one continuum - spacetime.  Time can be thought of as a measure of the spaces that motion encloses, and likewise, space can be thought of as the duration of time that motion separates.  But what exactly is spacetime for those phenomena that occupy it?  Perhaps it is pure motion itself - the one continuum from which both space and time are derived.

What’s this got to do with afterlife or eternity?  Well, andonstop, if time is a relative concept that is projected onto the world by its spacetime occupants (living, conscious phenomena like us), then the concept of eternity has no relevance to reality.  If time is indeed merely one relative aspect of a greater continuum, then the concept of never-ending time merely collapses into what we otherwise call ‘the present.’  This is the only eternity that will ever be presented, we’re living in it.  Eternity is what’s happening or in a more Kantian sense, it is motion itself, change, evolution.

The idea of an afterlife is, to me, complete nonsense.  Life is the living.  After living is done, then life is over.  When the motions that accomodate this phenomena called being alive are dispersed into the greater continuum of motility, all that remains of the once living are the actual traces of the living activity (like this posting) left behind in the phenomenal realm. Dispersal is complete anihilation of the once living phenomena.  What could possibly remain to continue the existence (especially if there is no eternity in which to have such an afterlife)?  If you crave a holistic creed, again, only living is holistic, it is a participation in everything.  Once death comes the anihilistic force destroys the holistic nature of being . . . and nothing remains.

Bob

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Posted: 19 February 2007 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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The way you explain your perspective, Bob, you make nothingness  seem almost poetic. I never fear it when I see it like you paint it, as a natural conclusion to our previous awareness of the passage of time.

Beautifully expressed.

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Welcome to Planet Earth, where Belief masquerades as Knowledge!

This way to the Unasked Questions—->
<—- This way to the Unquestioned Answers

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Posted: 19 February 2007 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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Kant once stated that pure motion is the complete combination of space and time. Although Kant greatly admired Newton and modelled himself on the scientist (and theist), he posited the notion that space and time are contributions that the human mind (or any form of conscious awareness) projects upon the world. This view paved the way for Einstein to discover that indeed space and time are relative concepts (observer dependent and not real as Newton had believed) and that they are two aspects of one continuum - spacetime.

The only thing that paved the way for Einstein to propose that space and time are relative concepts, were Maxwell’s equations.

The philosopher that you might say actually influenced Einstein was Ernst Mach.

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Posted: 20 February 2007 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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Deep, CanZen. Thank you for your comments. Your response leads me to another question: If matter/energy and motion survive, why not personality?

By “holistic potentialities of eternal life”, I was trying to convey this: If there is a god who is the original loving parent, who is omniscient and omnipotent, why would such a god allow so much misery on our planet, or on any other planet? To answer with a microcosmic example, I use a scenario which will probably have more meaning to those who are lucky enough to be parents.

Your beautiful and energetic young kindergarten-age son is being bullied at school. He wants to learn how to box so he can defend himself and his friends, and convince the bully to change his ways. You know you can talk to the principal and the other boy’s parents and end it, or you can allow your son and his friends to suffer a while longer while he strives toward his goal of standing up for himself and gains the evolutionary experiential advantages that honorable motives and honest effort bring.

That young boy looks into your eyes, sees into your spiritual heart, and trusts your faith that whether he succeeds or fails is irrelevant if he is courageous enough to pursue timeless motives which are pure and consistent with what is best for the eternal freedom of all people.

If life on earth is to eternal life as kindergarten is to formal education, life on earth becomes a small, but important cog in the spinning, pulsating sphere of eternal life where “fairness” can only be realized within the continuum of the holistic potentialities of eternity, and cannot realistically be expected within one short life span.

Who can say for certain the human body is not just the cocoon for the potentially eternal soul of personality survival?

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Posted: 20 February 2007 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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Meanwhile, we have culture.

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Posted: 20 February 2007 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]

It is my understanding that human nature leads us to seek both answers and justification for our beliefs from an authority, whether it be the Bible, a dictionary, or Sam’s book. In reality, we take from those resources only that which is consistent with reason, if we are honest. The dictionary, for instance, is just a history book; it gives us the historical meanings of words. New words and new meanings for old words evolve every day and are consistent with the evolutionary nature of the universe, and ultimately with the evolutionary nature of truth.

Faith to me is that which we trust to be true which cannot be verified. A belief to me is faith crystallized and hardened into dogma which cannot be evolutionary and is therefore inconsistent with the nature of the universe and with truth itself.

Faith springs out of the condition where we can never know as much as we can believe. We have no idea where life comes from or where it goes. To attempt to answer those questions requires a statement of faith. Whether we believe there is a God, or whether we believe there isn’t, is a statement of faith. The question which needs to be addressed is whether our faith is at the highest possible level; is it at the foremost evolutionary attainment we can each individually achieve?

well said.

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Posted: 23 February 2007 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]

Your beautiful and energetic young kindergarten-age son is being bullied at school. He wants to learn how to box so he can defend himself and his friends, and convince the bully to change his ways. You know you can talk to the principal and the other boy’s parents and end it, or you can allow your son and his friends to suffer a while longer while he strives toward his goal of standing up for himself and gains the evolutionary experiential advantages that honorable motives and honest effort bring.

That young boy looks into your eyes, sees into your spiritual heart, and trusts your faith that whether he succeeds or fails is irrelevant if he is courageous enough to pursue timeless motives which are pure and consistent with what is best for the eternal freedom of all people.

Kid seems remarkably enlightened under the circumstances, mate. If it was me getting my head kicked in at kindegarten everyday I’d be less interested in gazing into your eyes, seeking your spiritual heart or trusting your faith and more focussed on the bloody boxing lessons frankly - or at least on you loaning me a sock with a cue ball in it.
This idealised child is as unconvincing as your idealised view of Jesus, the Bible and faith itself - and has as little basis in reality.

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Posted: 23 February 2007 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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[quote author=“andonstop”]

It is my understanding that human nature leads us to seek both answers and justification for our beliefs from an authority, whether it be the Bible, a dictionary, or Sam’s book. In reality, we take from those resources only that which is consistent with reason, if we are honest. The dictionary, for instance, is just a history book; it gives us the historical meanings of words. New words and new meanings for old words evolve every day and are consistent with the evolutionary nature of the universe, and ultimately with the evolutionary nature of truth.

Faith to me is that which we trust to be true which cannot be verified. A belief to me is faith crystallized and hardened into dogma which cannot be evolutionary and is therefore inconsistent with the nature of the universe and with truth itself.

Faith springs out of the condition where we can never know as much as we can believe. We have no idea where life comes from or where it goes. To attempt to answer those questions requires a statement of faith. Whether we believe there is a God, or whether we believe there isn’t, is a statement of faith. The question which needs to be addressed is whether our faith is at the highest possible level; is it at the foremost evolutionary attainment we can each individually achieve?


Santa Claus, part 2.

Reading that made me think I was in the 60’s smoking a fat one and just shooting the shit about spiritualism and our existence on this earth, man, groovy stuff.

From Websters;

Faith : Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

In other words, you can have faith in a chair and put all your beliefs into it and pray to it all day, it’s your choice. ( I’m well aware that you’ve most probably heard this or a similar statement before but I’m new here so please don’t take it as an insult )

andonstop said,

It is my understanding that human nature leads us to seek both answers and justification for our beliefs from an authority, whether it be the Bible, a dictionary, or Sam’s book.

I must be the exception to that. I hesitated before reading End of Faith because I didn’t want my views and understandings skewed by someone else’s thoughts. I am very comfortable with my beliefs and need no further convincing about religion and its reasons to exist or not. You compare the bible with a dictionary, come on now. Even Sam’s book is not factual evidence of anything, besides the included facts and footnotes, the rest are Sam’s thoughts.

I understand your use of the dictionary in your example above, but…

I get confused when someone compares the bible with a factual book like a dictionary. The bible is not an account of history or of humanity or its struggles with survival, it’s based on superstition and unproven supposed accounts of incredible acts of nature. I wonder what sort of account we would be reading in your bible if the earth would have gone through a very active volcanic era, let’s say from 100bc to 100ad. Volcanoes were erupting almost weekly for 200 years. What would your god be described as in your bible? I’m sure it would’ve been misconstrued that your god and his son were very angry at Earth’s inhabitants and unleashed the volcanoes on humanity to cleanse the evil from this world blablabla, or something very similar. Untill it’s removed from your bible because science and facts always win in the end. Don’t you hate that science god…err guy? ;\

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