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Author Topic: Religion. Again.
kmbboots
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It's a place to start.
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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:

Not so yay for the people who choose less good stuff. I don't understand those people. Nor do I understand the people who don't know that they choose. Of course we do.

I guess I have to think not so yay about you, because I just choose to have a God who is WAY better than yours. I think you ought to consider choosing my version, since I have decided that it is more yay. I can't imagine a reason you'd disagree.
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natural_mystic
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Which yay scale did you use?
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Point taken.

Thanks. I think that this is an enormous mistake that is made by the biblical literalists as well. They try to read the gospels as if they were contemporary newspapers or history books instead of a collection of records of an oral history that wasn't so much about "fact" as it was about "truth" and incorporates a story telling tradition that is rich in metaphor and symbolism.
While I do not necessarily disagree with that statement, I think one should be careful to not dismiss all scriptures as so bereft of any literal truth that it's all simply opinion and bias.

People often ask, how can we trust anything the gospel writers wrote as actually happening as they wrote years after the fact, and were biased. I think the scriptures John 14:25-26 and 2 Peter 1:19-21 are instructive,

"These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

I understand these scriptures to mean that under certain circumstances those writing or uttering the words of God were given from God the words they ought to write/say. This allows for the possibility that the gospel writers in a few, many, or even all circumstances wrote exactly what Jesus said and did without error. This does not prove it of course, nor does it disallow interpolations by scribes down the road, but I do think it provides support for the idea that the Bible is not in essence a long drawn out game of telephone in book form, with nothing more than truthiness to it.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:

Not so yay for the people who choose less good stuff. I don't understand those people. Nor do I understand the people who don't know that they choose. Of course we do.

I guess I have to think not so yay about you, because I just choose to have a God who is WAY better than yours. I think you ought to consider choosing my version, since I have decided that it is more yay. I can't imagine a reason you'd disagree.
Well, now there is a discussion. More yay how? We could debate that looking at actual yayness.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
My point is that people don't (for the most part) have to believe in a God that they don't think is good.

It's funny; some religious people are always accusing secular people of having no moral center, of believing whatever they want to do is okay. And here we have the theists actually arguing "everyone should just believe what they want, don't try to figure out if what you believe is true or not, just believe what your "judgment" tells you, believe what you want to believe".

What you are arguing flies square in the face of a huge number of religious people; people who believe the Bible or the Koran or whatever, not because it's convenient, or because it makes them happy, but because they think it's true. I would argue that their way of determining what is true is faulty, but ignoring a conclusion, not becuase you think it false, but because you think it is unpleasant, or inconvenient, is a very, very bad idea.

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kmbboots
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Oh, I do think it is true. But my starting premiss - that God exists and is good - is not something which can be finally proved or disproved. Evidence beyond that is weighed against that premiss.
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MrSquicky
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swb,
You seem to be treating "Believing something that you can't prove is true" as equivalent to "Believing something is true despite very good evidence to the contrary." I'd suggest that these are very different things.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
swb,
You seem to be treating "Believing something that you can't prove is true" as equivalent to "Believing something is true despite very good evidence to the contrary." I'd suggest that these are very different things.

In reality, they are not all that different. Once you unmoor your beliefs from reality tests, it is very hard to change them, even when reality-testable evidence is available.

How many people think they have a 'system' for gambling, and lose everything rather than admit their system was flawed? How many people change their beliefs based on contradictory evidence, as opposed to explaining away the contradictions? How many people pray that God will heal their loved ones, and then it doesn't happen. A few people will lose their faith for that, but the vast majority will not.

For the most part, only people who make a concious point of being rigorous in knowing why they believe what they believe will adapt to new evidence by altering their conclusions.

KMBoots specifically said "If you can't be irrefutably certain, believe what you want." Well, nothing in life is 100% sure. But lots of it is 99.999% sure. That's not "there's no evidence either way". That's "the case is as well made is is humanly possible", and KM still reserves the right to ignore that and believe what she likes. Yay to global warming being nothing to worry about!

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kmbboots
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There is a lot of evidence for global climate change; what evidence do you have to show that God does not exist?

As for people who people who can't change their beliefs even in the face of irrefutable evidence, don't you think that recognizing that they are choosing that beliefs would make it easier to evaluate evidence?

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
There is a lot of evidence for global climate change; what evidence do you have to show that God does not exist?

When there is no compelling, certain, irrefutable evidence to the contrary - such as the case that global warming is a dire threat that we ought to worry about- I get to choose. Yay! I choose good stuff. Not worrying about global warming is good stuff.

There is no 100% certainty on any side of any question. That doesn't mean that it's a good idea to ignore the side that has 99% of the evidence. No, not even if the 99% side is dreary, and has no good stuff.

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kmbboots
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Okay. Now you are just being petulant. I think that the evidence for global climate change* is pretty compelling, as certain as can be expected and has not been reliably refuted. Also the downside to my believing that is to do what I probably should be doing anyway.

ETA: Also you are ignoring the point (and there is no reason you shouldn't know this) that science and faith are different and are useful for different things.

*That it is something to worry about and address.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Okay. Now you are just being petulant.

I am assuming that as an adult, you understand the meaning of the words that you use. The last thing I am going to do is assume that you don't mean what you say, and instead assume that you mean something that I think you should mean, or that I want you to mean.

quote:
I think that the evidence for global climate change* is pretty compelling, as certain as can be expected and has not been reliably refuted.
"As certain as can be expected" is not the same as "certain". You wrote "certain. "Not reliably refuted" is not the same as "irrefutable". You wrote "irrefutable".

So the claim does not meet your previously stated caveats, and therefore, by your own argument, I am correct in believing in "the good stuff".

Do you see why maybe you should stop trying to justify your own irrationality? There's no way of doing this without defending a whole boatload of horrendous irrationality propagated by others.

quote:
ETA: Also you are ignoring the point (and there is no reason you shouldn't know this) that science and faith are different and are useful for different things.
Reason and evidence are useful for all forms of knowledge where accuracy matters. Eschewing reality testing in arenas where accuracy matters is a very, very bad idea. If you want to formally admit that your religoius beliefs have absoltuely no overlap with any area of human activity where being right is beneficial, and being incorrect is detrimental, you might as well go on and do this. I'm not suite sure what this leaves you with, some aspects of art, perhaps.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:

As a single example, for years, there were virtually no women in classical music. Heads of orchestras thought they were honestly picking the best players, and women rarely made the cut. Everyone trusted their judgement, and conlcuded that overall, few women were top flight musicians.

Then musicians started auditionaing behind screens, or on numbered tapes, so that orchestra heads didn't know who was male, and who was female. All of a sudden, women started to dominate orchestras. It's not because a whole slew of top flight women mucisians magically appeared, it's because the people hiring were biased the whole time.

If you're referring to the New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, he cites specifically trumpet and french horn players, I believe- because it was thought that women were not physically suited to playing those instruments. Women had long been more accepted playing strings, woodwinds, percussion, and singing. Bias against women trumpet players continues today when young girls are not encouraged to pick up the instrument for fear that they will not have the strength to play it- and because there are fewer female role models for the instrument.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:

ETA: Also you are ignoring the point (and there is no reason you shouldn't know this) that science and faith are different and are useful for different things.

I, for one, wish only for those who choose to put their faith in such things, as much nonsense as they are to me, not attempt to construe that faith as being in any way equivalent to my belief in, and understanding of science and reasoning. Because when I say "belief," you need to understand that I'm not talking about "faith." Our collocation of vocabulary on this subject is a disservice to those who understand and care about the difference between faith and reason.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
It's funny; some religious people are always accusing secular people of having no moral center, of believing whatever they want to do is okay. And here we have the theists actually arguing "everyone should just believe what they want, don't try to figure out if what you believe is true or not, just believe what your "judgment" tells you, believe what you want to believe".

If you're of the mind that religious people sacrifice their own sense of self worth and self-determination in order to allow themselves to be governed by a set of beliefs they themselves are not responsible for understanding or satisfactorily interpreting, in order to avoid personal responsibility for their own actions, feelings, beliefs, and inner contradictions, then this isn't *so* surprising.

I am of that mind. I find it particularly fascinating that conservative Christians bear such resemblance in that subservience to an unseen collective power, to communists. I think that's the reason this country (CZ) has remained so secular. There are plenty of people still alive to observed their neighbors, friends, family, and their collective culture swayed first by religion, and then in the very same way, with even more dire consequences, towards the dominion of communism. The bitter taste of Stalinist communism lingers, for the Czechs, in the rituals of religious institutions- they are more often viewed as enemies of liberated thinking and reason.

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Scott R
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quote:
Our collocation of vocabulary on this subject is a disservice to those who understand and care about the difference between faith and reason.
Sorry; the greater culture uses belief and faith as almost-synonyms. If you want to discuss the topic with the greater culture, generally, it's not their responsibility to use YOUR (minority) understanding of the vocabulary.

I do not accept that reasoning is limited to secular thinking, any more than I accept that morality is the singular province of the religious.

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Raymond Arnold
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Reasoning does not have to be limited to secular thinking. But reasoning DOES require you, well, reason. And saying "this seems true to me because it just does" is not reasoning.

And it's largely irrelevant to the point in question how the majority defines faith, belief, and reason. The point is there is a world of difference between the faith required to believe in the Judeo-Christian God and the "faith" required to believe in the value of the scientific method. It is the responsibility of anyone engaging in a debate about the two to clarify that the two things are not the same thing. If you use them without clarifying that, and then try to present one as equivalent to the other (as Tres frequently tries to do) you are being intellectually dishonest.

[ March 05, 2010, 11:09 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Scott R
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No argument there. I think, though, that most folks have reasons for believing what they do; is articulation necessary?
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Raymond Arnold
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(Note my edit)

Tres explained why he believes what he does. His explanation consisted of "I made a judgment call. It seems that way to be." Two scenarios with equal amounts of proof (or lack thereof) - aliens and Jesus. He believes in one, and not the other, with no justification other than one appeals to him more.

The only additional caveat he mentioned later was that he had previously come to believe in God - again without evidence (at least not evidence that survives any kind of scrutiny). He uses one belief without adequate evidence as justification for another belief without adequate evidence.

There is nothing rational about this. I can understand why he does it, but to present it as a viewpoint that stems from anything other than intellectual laziness is, well, intellectually lazy.

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Scott R
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quote:
Because when I say "belief," you need to understand that I'm not talking about "faith." Our collocation of vocabulary on this subject is a disservice to those who understand and care about the difference between faith and reason.
It's fairly relevant, IMO, considering this comment.
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Raymond Arnold
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In that particular point, Orincoro starts by explaining that he defines belief as something different than faith.

Then he states that the fact that society in general has come to use a lot of words interchangeably makes it harder to have serious discussions about faith and or reason. This is a perfectly valid point.

And in response, you criticize him for not acknowledging that the greater culture uses belief and faith as almost-synonyms, and that he should be sure to define them separately. Dude, he just DID that, AND his very point was that a social norm in which belief, faith and reason are such interchangeable words is damaging to public understanding of the nature of belief, faith and reason.

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Scott R
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Belief and faith are interchangeable in popular usage; faith and reason are not, necessarily.

My point is that since belief and faith are commonly understood as synonymous, it's not reasonable for him to expect others to kowtow to his minority definitions.

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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
No argument there. I think, though, that most folks have reasons for believing what they do; is articulation necessary?

If you cannot articulate your reasons for believing something, then how do you know your reasons are good? In fact, how do you even know what they are? People do not believe for no reason, but it's not uncommon for the reason to be "I was told when I was three, and never thought about it again." I think, perhaps, most people would agree that if that's your only reason to believe, then that belief should be dropped.
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Raymond Arnold
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No. One particular definition of belief is synonymous with one particular definition of faith in popular usage. Simply declaring that because one particular combination is fairly popular is not fair to a variety of definitions of both belief and faith that are necessary for religious and philosophical discourse alike.

Saying "I believe in God" can mean either that you believe God exists, or that you believe in God's goodness and in the promises he's made.

You can believe God exists either because you have a faith based revelation, or because (correctly or not) you have examined the evidence surrounding the nature of the universe and concluded that God is its most likely cause.

You can "believe" in your child, lover, friend or role model in the sense that you think they are good people who will succeed at doing good things for the world. In this case it would be fair to say you have "faith" in them.

Those are just relating to religion and/or faith, and already there are 4 different words we're talking about. ("Faith based knowledge," "faith in a person's goodness", "belief in a person's goodness," and "belief in a person's existence.") Some of these things are similar, some are not.

Let alone that when you say "I believe in gravity," and "I believe that raising taxes is necessary to fix the national debt" you are not talking about faith at all.

Which of those uses are the most common? I don't know for sure, but I'm positive that ALL of them have been used by the majority of english speaking people at some point or another.

So no, you don't get to just lump all those different words together and say "normally people use these interchangeably, therefore trying to differentiate between these concepts in an academic debate is forcing others to kowtow before a ridiculous minority definition."

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Mike
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
Two scenarios with equal amounts of proof (or lack thereof) - aliens and Jesus.

To be fair, these two scenarios do not have equal amounts of proof, even leaving aside their inherent plausibility (or lack thereof). To wit, consider two propositions, A and B, each equally plausible. You are now presented with the following new information: proposition A is accepted by hundreds of millions of people, including many powerful people and many who are well-respected in their communities, while proposition B is only accepted by people who read periodicals like the Weekly World News. Given this new evidence, would you be justified in changing your judgement (to use the terminology of this thread) of the plausibility of A and B?

I would argue that it is far more rational to believe in religion, Jesus even, than in alien abductions, if only because so many otherwise credible people so believe (or claim to). This is particularly true for an individual who was raised in or is surrounded by a religious culture. To argue that these scenarios are somehow equivalent is disingenuous and will not convince anyone.

(Please do not take the above to be an assertion that religion is true/correct/whatever; far from it. I am just pointing out that, other things being equal, the justification "credible people believe it" is actually a pretty good one much of the time. Further, A and B are not exactly equivalent to Jesus and aliens, since in my estimation alien abductions are actually quite a bit more likely, prima facie, than Jesus's divinity.)

Don't pick at the other person's weakest arguments (I'm looking at you swbarnes [Smile] ) or willfully misinterpret their stance; rather refute their best-defended position that can be refuted, and do it soundly.

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King of Men
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In the absence of other information, "Many credible people believe this" is not a dreadful argument. But we do have other information. In particular, we are informed that, effectively, these 'credible people' believe in Jesus only because other people have believed it. Examine the causal chain that led to this belief, and it all unravels. It's all popularity; it is built on water, and cannot stand.
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malanthrop
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quote:
Originally posted by Szymon:

My question(s) is(are):
- Do some of you (Christians) belive in the fact that Saint Mary was indeed a virgin before the birth of her first Child and Joseph was not the genetical father?
- Do you belive that three days after His death, Jesus Christ ressurected and met with His followers? As a man made of flesh?

There could obviously be thousand questions like this, but its just the idea. My questions is- do you believe in this truthfully, that this indeed happened, not as a symbol or a metaphore? And if so, why? How? It is impossible! How come you dont think these are just symbols? That Jesus was a clever, good man, a martyr but just a man?

And is a belief in all these things a requirement to be considered a Christian?

I believe there is only one requirement to be a Christian. Christ died for the forgiveness of your sins. I was raised Catholic and never accepted the fact that communion was the actual flesh and blood of Christ. I've never accepted the Old Testament literally.

Prior to Christ, believers had to slaughter their prime sheep or burn their best crop for the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins required precious blood in the Judeo belief system. Christians are just Jews who believe the slaughtered lamb of God was precious enough to pay for the sins of all mankind, for eternity. The Jew's sacrificial lamb had a nice coat, nice muscle tone and paid for this weeks sin. All faiths believe there is no more eternal than god. The eternal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is the son of God.

I'll share with you my unorthodox belief as a Christian. A belief that the Church does not teach, rather my personal way of reconciling logic and religion:

The worst teachers I've had were the smartest ones. I cannot understand how a man could perform oral sex on another man for a chemical drug. I'm not a drug addict. The best teacher's I've ever had were the ones who understood the struggles of the student and could explain the concept in simple terms. If God is perfect and without sin, how can he comprehend the temptation of sin? I cannot comprehend sucking a dick for a crack rock, but if I were a crack head, I would understand.

I believe Jesus wasn't man's link to God, rather God's link to us. If I were an ex crack addict, I would be more forgiving and understanding of crack heads. Jesus was tempted so that God could experience our temptation. He was tempted just prior to being nailed upon the cross.

[ March 06, 2010, 03:08 AM: Message edited by: malanthrop ]

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Mike
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KoM, it's not all popularity. It also has the nice features that it it explains subjective spiritual experience, does something to alleviate the fear of uncertainty and death and the pain of loss, and serves as a catalyst for the formation of strong communities, among other things.

Religion comes with a very high perceived value; as such, individuals who believe are often acting rationally (or at least metarationally, i.e. in their best interests) when they hold on to their system and culture that provides these benefits, absent any better alternatives. (Note also that there are significant costs to determining whether any given alternative (belief system, lifestyle, etc.) is in fact better than the status quo.)

Edited to add: I don't mean to imply that religion explains subjective spiritual experiences accurately or in a way that makes sense to me, only that it explains them adequately for many people. Consider also the failure of science and rationality to explain the subjectivity of experience, the I-ness that everyone feels and takes as a given, on an intuitive level that most people can understand.

[ March 06, 2010, 03:31 AM: Message edited by: Mike ]

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malanthrop
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Many people in our history have chosen what they believe to be the "better alternative" or followed the "metarationally" to their demise. Let the unemployment rate fall ever farther and the masses will follow the Vimar Republic.

If he's hungry enough, a man will give up his freedom for a bowl of beans and a sack of rice. Our history is full of people who sold themselves into slavery for years,...to come to America for a chance at freedom. Soon America will be no different than the counties they want to escape. Accept the "fair" system of economic stagnation.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Sorry; the greater culture uses belief and faith as almost-synonyms. If you want to discuss the topic with the greater culture, generally, it's not their responsibility to use YOUR (minority) understanding of the vocabulary.

I do not accept that reasoning is limited to secular thinking, any more than I accept that morality is the singular province of the religious.

Sorry, but when I'm speaking, I get to define my terms clearly and as accurately as possible, for the purposes of my own speech. I also get to have my opinions about how the words are generally used, and I get to express that opinion. The poor state of our lexicon in that regard is a hindrance to me, and I am free to point that out. Does it appear that I am attempting to deny the general perception? I am certainly aware of it. I don't like it.

And anyway, I'm not talking about who's domain reasoning is. I'm saying that we need to be able to recognize the different between reasoned belief and faith based belief. I find that to be important. I think you do as well.

quote:
The point is there is a world of difference between the faith required to believe in the Judeo-Christian God and the "faith" required to believe in the value of the scientific method. It is the responsibility of anyone engaging in a debate about the two to clarify that the two things are not the same thing. If you use them without clarifying that, and then try to present one as equivalent to the other (as Tres frequently tries to do) you are being intellectually dishonest.
QFT, you beat me to it with a much more clearly stated point. Thanks.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Belief and faith are interchangeable in popular usage; faith and reason are not, necessarily.

belief |biˈlēf|
noun
1 an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists : his belief in God | a belief that solitude nourishes creativity.
• something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction : c.ontrary to popular belief, Aramaic is a living language | we're prepared to fight for our beliefs.
See note at opinion .
• a religious conviction : Christian beliefs | I'm afraid to say belief has gone | local beliefs and customs.
2 ( belief in) trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something : a belief in democratic politics | I've still got belief in myself.


faith |fāθ|
noun
1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something : this restores one's faith in politicians.
2 strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
• a system of religious belief : the Christian faith.
• a strongly held belief or theory : the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe.


The minority definition is yours, my friend. While the two clearly collocate very closely with each other, they are defined differently. The dictionary is based on usage, not on some abstract that caters to "minority" views. Arguing the narrow definition is a losing battle. The definitions *clearly* distinguish the two terms in quality. Just admit you're wrong.

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Scott R
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I don't see how referring to those definitions disproves what I was saying.

Lots of synonyms are defined differently.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding how you're using the word belief, Orincoro. What problem do you see in its usage?

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Scott R
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quote:
I'm saying that we need to be able to recognize the different between reasoned belief and faith based belief. I find that to be important.
What do you think is the difference?
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Raymond Arnold
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Well for starters, one can be communicated, demonstrated and justified to others. The other -regardless of how true or important it might be to the person experiencing it - cannot be distinguished from a delusion by outsiders who do not share the experience. (And by nature of delusions, the person experiencing it has no way of verifying whether it's a delusion either).
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Raymond Arnold
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I do agree with Mike on this point:

quote:
Religion comes with a very high perceived value; as such, individuals who believe are often acting rationally (or at least metarationally, i.e. in their best interests) when they hold on to their system and culture that provides these benefits, absent any better alternatives. (Note also that there are significant costs to determining whether any given alternative (belief system, lifestyle, etc.) is in fact better than the status quo.)
This is a decent reason for remaining in a religion, and a corollary is that if you're looking for something to make your life better and a religious group happens to offer you community, inspiration and comfort, I wouldn't necessary blame you for going with the first one you found that works for you rather than trying all kinds of philosophies to verify you were doing the best thing for your life.

But this approach has no bearing on the truth value of a religion, and if you lose sight of the fact that you HAVEN'T tried all the other religions out there, and go on to use your experience as justification that your religion is correct, you are not being rational.

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Scott R
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When I was a missionary, I met lots of people-- both in my faith, and not of my faith, and also not of ANY faith-- who I communicated, demonstrated, and justified my faith with.

It's a bit simplistic to say that faith-based belief cannot be experienced by anyone except the believer; missionary successes seem to invalidate the idea.

Rather some individuals don't or can't accept or experience the evidences given for faith-based belief. Others seem to be able to.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
When I was a missionary, I met lots of people-- both in my faith, and not of my faith, and also not of ANY faith-- who I communicated, demonstrated, and justified my faith with.
While I have an understanding of how the process by which people come to accept a religion, I'm sure it varies a lot and it may be helpful to know:

1) How did you in particular arrive at your faith (Also, I'm assuming you're Mormon but I don't remember for sure).

2) Is there a "typical" experience that most people you communicated with as a missionary went through that you could summarize?

Three years ago I was making a concerted effort to understanding Christianity, for the purpose of a) converting my fundamentalist Christian friend to agnostic theism (I was under no illusions of being able to convert him to atheism, not to mention I don't think it would have been valuable to do so), and b) clearing up misconceptions about atheism among various Christian groups.

I went to a Christian forum (crosswalk.com) to ask what people's perceptions of atheism were (a lot of people assumed I had a bad childhood and was into drugs - it was fun to be able to say "nope, childhood was pretty much perfect, I'm an Eagle Scout and have never touched alcohol"). From there we talked about why various people had come to Christianity. The recurring themes I saw were:

-

1) Someone said "Just try this out, follow the church teachings and see how it improves your life." They did, their lives got improved, and they became more open to other religious experiences from there.

2) People honestly found that everywhere they looked, they found signs from God pointing them towards Christianity.

3) Many people felt they had personally experienced God, not communicating in a blatant talking to them way, but in a more visceral way. (For example, they prayed to God about something and felt a sort of internal energy in response)

4) As a sort of combination of 2 & 3, many people had an experience in which they had been lost or in trouble, and then had a flash of insight which felt directly related to religious lessons or experience which helped them to get out of their situation.

-

At approximately the same time, I had actually been experiencing the following:

-

1) I had been lost in a subway station, with 11 minutes to get to Grand Central station if I was to make the last train home for the night. I was standing between two empty subway rails, one labeled "express" and one labeled... well, "not express" I guess.

The "not express train" arrived. I stared at it. I had no idea when the express train would arrive, or how long it would take the not-express train to reach Grand Central. I didn't know if I should get on the not-express train or not.

And then, in a sudden flash of insight, I remembered a particular famous moment in the Magic: The Gathering card game's history, in which a player had to do something that appeared to make victory even more futile, because it was the only way to set up a situation they could POSSIBLY win later on. That decision won the player $16,000.

I realized that if I got on the not-express train, I almost definitely would NOT make it home. Whereas if I waited for the express train, there was a chance it wouldn't come in time, but if it came in the next 30 seconds I'd be okay.

I waited. 30 seconds later the express train came.

And after that moment, I started seeing life-lessons-inspired-by-Magic-the-Gathering EVERYWHERE I looked. I felt like I couldn't escape them.

-

2) In an unrelated incident, I was arguing with my friend about Christianity. He was saying "God has a plan" and I was saying "well then what the heck IS the plan?" and the argument wasn't going anywhere, until I suddenly had this weird, crystalizing moment where I realized what the plan was.

It clearly wasn't for my friend to convert me to Christianity. Because that wasn't happening. It also clearly was't for me to convert my friend to atheism. That wasn't happening either. But I did feel a strong sense that we were meant to bring SOMETHING to each others lives, the way we had entangled ourselves in other's beliefs.

And what came to me, with a power that I am confident is almost exactly what any religious prophet has experienced, was that I exist in my friend's life to teach him about Zoroastrianism, the world's first monotheistic religion that had a strong influence on Judaism and later Christianity. Zoroastrianism has pretty much all the major features of Christianity, except worded in such a way that there are no glaring contradictions or absurdities that makes Christianity seem so baffling to me. And because it was the first of the religions, it seems to me far more likely to actually be true (even if, for me, "far more likely" means something like .01% instead of 0%).

I was actually excited and a little scared when this struck me, because I suddenly had a clear sense of what it must be like to experience revelation. I told my friend "Wait I think I just realized something" and explained my experience. And he basically said "No, it's my religion or nothing."

That was the last moment where I could have conceivably become religious. My friend, in his zeal to advocate his particular religion, basically ruined it. If he wasn't going to treat my religious experience seriously, why should I take his?

One of the tenants of Zoroastrianism is that God is NOT omnipotent. I decided to give Ormahzed a chance to communicate with me. I waited a few days, seriously making an attempt to pray and see if any kind of sign would come.

After 3 days, I decided that even if Ormahzed for some reason couldn't send me such a signal, I couldn't spend my whole life waiting for one. I knew from the Subway experience that moments of insight and mysterious signs didn't have to be religious in nature, and if I waited around forever eventually I'd probably experience something random that I'd misinterpret. Since then, the only religious experience I will accept as valid is the actual appearance of a miraculous entity, either appearing directly to me or in such a way that mainstream scientists cannot ignore it.

There's a little more (relating to the "feeling God's presence aspect), but I think this post is long enough and can justify my point - I've underwent most aspects of the "religious experience," not necessarily in a religious framework but in a way that I can imagine what it would be like to undergo all of them at the same time, or have them happen to me when a parent or missionary was there to reinforce them. If that happened, I can easily see myself believing them in a way that I would have difficulty abandoning. But it wouldn't make me correct.

[ March 06, 2010, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Mike
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Tenets.

But otherwise, great post. [Smile]

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Raymond Arnold
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tenets? Huh?
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fugu13
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A tenant is someone who lives somewhere. A tenet is a core belief.

Unless she has a very strange name, I doubt "God is NOT omnipotent" is a tenant of anyone [Wink]

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Raymond Arnold
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Ah, gotcha. (I think I shall leave the error there for posterior)

[Razz]

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Mike
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Posterior is a worthy cause indeed.
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Raymond Arnold
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(and yes, that part was intentional)
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Scott R
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quote:
1) How did you in particular arrive at your faith (Also, I'm assuming you're Mormon but I don't remember for sure).
Study, prayer, and obedience, mostly. A couple charismatic (read: crazy emotionally and intellectually intense experiences) cap it off. But for the most part, living the commandments that I believe in, and studying the scriptures for enlightenment is the foundation of my faith.

quote:
Is there a "typical" experience that most people you communicated with as a missionary went through that you could summarize?
I'm not sure I understand what you're asking for. Like...what elements are typical to see in a conversion to Mormonism?
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
I'm saying that we need to be able to recognize the different between reasoned belief and faith based belief. I find that to be important.
What do you think is the difference?
Seriously? It's as simple as the difference between the reasoned belief that there will be snow on the ground tomorrow because it snowed today. Faith based belief could be believing that I will see my grandmother again after I die. Those being the most simple terms- the more complex being the difference between belief in say, democracy (that is, a belief based in observation and the examination of evidence of success as well as alternatives) and faith in democracy, being the belief that democracy will solve the world's problems eventually, despite it never having done so in the past, and showing no signs of accomplishing that goal in the near future.

The difference is in the definitions I quoted. One is a view based more closely on experience, and the other is a view less easily substantiated (or wholly unsubstantiated) by evidence or experience.

You know, I don't really know why I'm bothering to go into this amount of detail here. The onnus is really not on me to prove the words are different, or that the concepts are different. They clearly are. Your position is the minority position. So in what way are faith and belief synonymous? Why can they be always taken as equivalents? If not, why not?

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Scott R
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quote:
One is a view based more closely on experience, and the other is a view less easily substantiated (or wholly unsubstantiated) by evidence or experience.
I don't think your dictionary extract proves what you think it proves, Orincoro.
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
I'm not sure I understand what you're asking for. Like...what elements are typical to see in a conversion to Mormonism?
Just after asking that question I gave a lengthy description of experiences that various Christians had had that led them to or re-affirmed their faith, and then I went on to discuss various experiences I have had that were similar. The focus of the question was "how relevant were any of the experiences I just discussed to the experiences that you have found to be common?"
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
One is a view based more closely on experience, and the other is a view less easily substantiated (or wholly unsubstantiated) by evidence or experience.
I don't think your dictionary extract proves what you think it proves, Orincoro.
:long rant about you being a dick:

Go stick your head in a bucket if you don't care to even allow others to define their terms of speech. Brat.

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Raymond Arnold
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Orin, I'm pretty sure even your significantly shortened post constitutes a TOS violation. I'm also pretty sure you could find a way to adequately express your frustration without making yourself look like the immature one.
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