The Usefulness of Faith

 
 
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Thalamus
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05 June 2009 09:01
 

First off, I would like to announce that I am a great admirer of Harris’ work; I think he is, undeniably and despite his still young career, one of the most compelling and intellectually equipped writers of modern time.

Anyway, off to my point.

Harris mentions in his book and rather frequently during his debates that one of the three ways in which the faithful tend to rise to the defense God is by invoking the usefulness of such belief. He then rightly argues that the social or personal utility of a faith based claim is a complete non sequitur to the question of whether such claim is true or false. I utterly agree.

However, Harris also identifies himself as a consequentialist. So, my question would be” If a belief in, say, pink unicorns, turns out to actually make people feel good, if it helps them get through their day with equanimity, if it induces a feeling of compassion towards their neighbors, and if it ultimately causes them to behave better as civilized human beings, would this proposition be, although certainly intellectually indefensible, morally defensible in his eyes?

In other words, If a preposterous belief, no matter how ludicrous, were IN FACT useful and conducive to human happiness, would it merit some public promotion?

 
 
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GAD
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05 June 2009 09:58
 
Thalamus - 05 June 2009 01:01 PM

In other words, If a preposterous belief, no matter how ludicrous, were IN FACT useful and conducive to human happiness, would it merit some public promotion?

preposterous beliefs are publicly promoted every second of every day! The problem is after you read all the books, paid for all the devices and eaten all the pills, and nothing changed, you more fucked then you were before, and of course then your off to the next fake fix…........

 
 
 
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Platin
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23 December 2011 11:11
 

<<<Without it, you don’t have a guide how to pass your journey of LIFE>>>

You don’t? There are thousands of philosophies to look up. Real philosophers who had their own contribution to the quest of life and living on this planet.
Why did you choose theism? Why the Bible? 
Why not humanism or existentialism or objectivism? 
Why “nothing” instead of “something?”

 
 
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Nick_A
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31 March 2012 13:56
 

It’s amazing the difference two letter words can make for meaning.

The faith OF Christ is a human potential. it is the abilty to consciously connect levels of reality.  Jesus spoke highly of the faith of the Centurion because the Centurion realized that even though he was master over 100 men, he was nothing compared to a higher reality. He had the beginnings of real faith. He felt himeslf as a middle between “As above, so below.”

Faith IN one thing or another is just an acquired conditioned belief.

Even though the Disciples believed IN Jesus, they lacked the “faith of Christ.”  They had not yet acuired a quality of consciousness where the potential for the faith OF Christ becomes actualized and sustained during the trials of life as we experience it.

 
 
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samjcr
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01 April 2012 21:30
 

First, what are we saying? That it is ok to promote LIES, because they might be useful.  Gandhi said “There is no God higher than truth”. Actually all the major religions were generated from a bedrock of LIES.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLIx0g1nvh0
How all the major religions were created upon a bedrock of lies. Christianity: Two Popes admitted that Christ was a fable (Pope Leo X, and Pope Paul III). Moses was based upon the life and legends of Sargon the Great, King of Akkad. Moses never existed, and there is no evidence in Egypt of 600,000 men, women, and children leaving to escape Pharaoh. Mormonism: The founder, Joseph Smith, was convicted of being an impostor, a fraud in 1826. In 1827 he produced the Book of Mormon. Islam: You decide: is the Qur’an the exact words of Allah given to the Angel Gabriel who dictated them to Muhammad?

 
 
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Noggin
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23 May 2012 18:23
 
samjcr - 01 April 2012 09:30 PM

First, what are we saying? That it is ok to promote LIES, because they might be useful.  Gandhi said “There is no God higher than truth”. Actually all the major religions were generated from a bedrock of LIES.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLIx0g1nvh0
How all the major religions were created upon a bedrock of lies. Christianity: Two Popes admitted that Christ was a fable (Pope Leo X, and Pope Paul III). Moses was based upon the life and legends of Sargon the Great, King of Akkad. Moses never existed, and there is no evidence in Egypt of 600,000 men, women, and children leaving to escape Pharaoh. Mormonism: The founder, Joseph Smith, was convicted of being an impostor, a fraud in 1826. In 1827 he produced the Book of Mormon. Islam: You decide: is the Qur’an the exact words of Allah given to the Angel Gabriel who dictated them to Muhammad?

But Mormonism and Islam produce an authentic life of bliss for millions.  If it is all a lie, who is anyone to say it is not justified?

“ALL” a lie is subjective.  Is all inside Christianity a lie?  Is the golden rule a lie?

Is the promotion and encouragement to love others and diminish hatred a lie?

 
thatsfinal
 
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thatsfinal
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10 July 2012 08:05
 

My first response,

Preposterous and ludicrous belief is a waste of human inteligence and time .
‘Skip’ comes to mind(...)

Mindclutter is damaging to even entertain ,unquestionably(...)

 

 

 
 
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DarkStar
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07 August 2012 16:46
 
Thalamus - 05 June 2009 09:01 AM

In other words, If a preposterous belief, no matter how ludicrous, were IN FACT useful and conducive to human happiness, would it merit some public promotion?

Of course Harris is not a pure Consequentialist.  But setting that aside…


First, I have to disagree with your terminology.  Quantum Mechanics is preposterous, Relativity is ludicrous—the validity of a belief is determined by evidence, not by credulity.  The only term that makes sense here (to me anyway) is ‘False’.  And I don’t see how a falsehood can necessarily predicate a positive consequence—seems like a category error to me.  Can you make the case that any positive consequence necessarily requires a false premise?  [assuming you agree with my terminology objection]


And I would say ‘No’—promoting false and superstitious nonsense IS harmful, in and of itself.  The tiny offset of someone randomly “feeling good” is inconsequential compared to the total level of harm such things promote.  Human brains do enough of this damage without feeding it.  It would take an infinite amount of “feeling good” to offset ONE parent praying over their sick child instead of taking them to a doctor and letting them die in the process.


Consequentialism is a good start but it must be approached from knowledge that our position in universe is one of vast ignorance.  You simply CANNOT look at a narrow band of consequences and draw any valid conclusions from it.  The totality of consequences (to the best of our ability) would have to be considered and even then, consequences alone are not sufficient.  They are just one dimension of many.  The ends do not always justify the means—there must be other limits (some easy examples are those we call Human Rights).


Let’s use as many dimensions of consideration as possible when we consider how to treat each other and not as few as we find convenient.

 
 
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DarkStar
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07 August 2012 17:00
 
Noggin - 23 May 2012 06:23 PM

Is the golden rule a lie?

The Golden Rule is a worthless platitude and it exists in societies around the world because people LOVE worthless platitudes (When you’re Right, you’re Right!).  It is harmful in EVERY case where people disagree on behaviors and tells you NOTHING in the cases where they already agree.  All it says is that whatever YOU happen to think is Right is what is Right.  Put the Golden Rule in the hands of a psychopath and you still have a psychopath.  The Silver Rule is even worse, it only proscibes a limited set of behaviors and implies that anything else is perfectly fine.


Where is any concept that someone outside of yourself might have say in how they are treated?  That they might have valid opinions that differ from your own?  That social behavior might involve two-way communication?


Please, demonstrate one moral conclusion from the Golden Rule that doesn’t come from your OWN opinion about moral behavior (much less some fact-based argument).  I can demonstrate the failure easily:


I like cutting myself and I want others to cut me—therefore I should cut others.


I’m depressed and want to die, I wish someone would kill me—therefore I should kill others who are depressed on my way out.


If I were a godless atheist who hated God I would want someone to torture me to death and convert me to save my soul—therefore Inquisition


So yeah, it is a LIE.

 
 
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NewShoe
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06 February 2013 14:50
 

The problem is that preposterous beliefs generate preposterous morality, along with preposterous rituals and practices. I finally got that from listening to Sam Harris online dialog on the topic of belief, and also from one of the books he authored.