I don't understand the faith people put in religious texts

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I don't understand the faith people put in religious texts

Postby alfa » Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:35 pm UTC

Just to say two things before getting into the meat of this topic:

Firstly, I don't mean to offend anyone, I'm asking this because it is something I don't understand.
Secondly, this could probably be put in the general religion topic, but I'm not bringing up faith in/proof of any one or two particular religions or anything, just one part the physical side of religion rather than the more intangible of sides, and I'd rather not derail the current discussion.

Anyway, I don't understand why people believe, to the degree they will quote word for word, various religious texts, which are often hundreds, if not thousands of years old and have been translated and printed a number of times since their initial creation.

Between the degree to which memory is known to be unreliable, the tendency people have to try and get themselves the best lot in life (and manipulating religious texts to put out their personal beliefs doesn't seem too unlikely to say the least) and general human error that comes in translating and recording texts, especially those from different eras where different mindsets and phrases would have been in use so that things could be interpreted drastically differently. Throw all this in with how many opportunities people must have had to do this with the amount of time that has passed since the conception of many religious texts and I don't understand why people can have the faith they do in these words.

As an example, saying "I believe in God" is one thing (one thing I'm not going to argue with or say that you're better/worse for doing it or not) but saying that the Bible is word for word correct to the smallest detail just seems to jump out to me as a foolish thing to do.

Sorry to bring up what's probably been bought up before, but this has been bugging me the past fortnight and I've been wanting to get it out of my system.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:02 pm UTC

It's not really very complicated. They believe it to be the Word of God. Some believe it to be the literal Word of God - ie Prophecy: God has spoken directly to people (whether they realise it or not). And some believe it merely to be the writings of people who had close personal relationships with God - ie the writings and thoughts of men - but divinely inspired none-the-less.

If you're then going to ask why they believe that - well, that's like asking why they're a Christian/Muslim/Whatever. That'll surely be a more complicated answer.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby lucrezaborgia » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

Faith does not have to be logical.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:46 pm UTC

Exactly. The whole point of it is that it is a miracle - like water being turned into wine.

The rationale usually goes:
- I believe in [The Christian] God
- [The Christian] God tells me the Bible is his inspired Word
- Therefore I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God

Yes, it's circular logic to a great extent but how could something faith-based really be otherwise? The question is then why the person believes in God to begin with - and that could well be different for every person.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby aoeu » Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:46 pm UTC

People are stupid. They can do anything for any reason.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby lucrezaborgia » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:20 pm UTC

aoeu wrote:People are stupid. They can do anything for any reason.


Ah...but a lot of very intelligent people are religious/spiritual. The Vatican has an astronomer FFS.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby aoeu » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:22 pm UTC

lucrezaborgia wrote:
aoeu wrote:People are stupid. They can do anything for any reason.


Ah...but a lot of very intelligent people are religious/spiritual. The Vatican has an astronomer FFS.

I'd prefer to call them less stupid than the rest.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby lucrezaborgia » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:48 pm UTC

aoeu wrote:
lucrezaborgia wrote:
aoeu wrote:People are stupid. They can do anything for any reason.


Ah...but a lot of very intelligent people are religious/spiritual. The Vatican has an astronomer FFS.

I'd prefer to call them less stupid than the rest.


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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Adam H » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:57 pm UTC

alfa wrote:saying that the Bible is word for word correct to the smallest detail just seems to jump out to me as a foolish thing to do.
People do that? What about different translations?

We have found fragments of the bible (and I assume many religious texts) that are dated close to when the original was written. And they tend to match pretty well (from what I understand). Some manuscripts leave out or add in a sentence or two from what we'd say is the "legitimate" bible. And there are entire books of the bible that the catholic church and orthodox churches differ on whether they're part of the "bible" or not (Like the awesomely named "Bel and the Dragon").

But it's not foolish to say that Paul (or one of Paul's followers, or someone similar to Paul who lived in the same time period, or whatever) wrote something similar to what we know today as most of the new testament.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Роберт » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:
alfa wrote:saying that the Bible is word for word correct to the smallest detail just seems to jump out to me as a foolish thing to do.
People do that? What about different translations?

KJV was an "inspired" translation; it is the one, true English translation of the Bible. Yes, people believe this. Yes, I face-palm violently when I encounter them.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby lucrezaborgia » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:
Adam H wrote:
alfa wrote:saying that the Bible is word for word correct to the smallest detail just seems to jump out to me as a foolish thing to do.
People do that? What about different translations?

KJV was an "inspired" translation; it is the one, true English translation of the Bible. Yes, people believe this. Yes, I face-palm violently when I encounter them.


...but it was revised many times since the original printing. :roll:
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:51 pm UTC

aoeu wrote:People are stupid.
No. People are not stupid. They're irrational. Huge difference.

People put their faith in religious texts because it's important to them--who they are, where they came from, where they're going. These things are, often enough, more important to them than intellectual rigor, critical thinking, or logic--which is fine and good. I don't demand the people around me refrain from holding irrational beliefs, except when those irrational beliefs directly concern my well-being.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:19 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:
alfa wrote:saying that the Bible is word for word correct to the smallest detail just seems to jump out to me as a foolish thing to do.
People do that? What about different translations?

We have found fragments of the bible (and I assume many religious texts) that are dated close to when the original was written. And they tend to match pretty well (from what I understand). Some manuscripts leave out or add in a sentence or two from what we'd say is the "legitimate" bible. And there are entire books of the bible that the catholic church and orthodox churches differ on whether they're part of the "bible" or not (Like the awesomely named "Bel and the Dragon").

But it's not foolish to say that Paul (or one of Paul's followers, or someone similar to Paul who lived in the same time period, or whatever) wrote something similar to what we know today as most of the new testament.


Depends... the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example have some substantial differences to canon:

The biblical manuscripts from Qumran, which include at least fragments from every book of the Old Testament, except perhaps for the Book of Esther, provide a far older cross section of scriptural tradition than that available to scholars before. While some of the Qumran biblical manuscripts are nearly identical to the Masoretic, or traditional, Hebrew text of the Old Testament, some manuscripts of the books of Exodus and Samuel found in Cave Four exhibit dramatic differences in both language and content. In their astonishing range of textual variants, the Qumran biblical discoveries have prompted scholars to reconsider the once-accepted theories of the development of the modern biblical text from only three manuscript families: of the Masoretic text, of the Hebrew original of the Septuagint, and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Old Testament scripture was extremely fluid until its canonization around A.D. 100.[33]


Many other biblical accounts are almost certainly later additions, such as Mark 16:9-20 (Jesus' ascension according to Mark), and Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. The book Misquoting Jesus deals with this subject pretty well.

alfa wrote:Anyway, I don't understand why people believe, to the degree they will quote word for word, various religious texts, which are often hundreds, if not thousands of years old and have been translated and printed a number of times since their initial creation.


I think you're looking at the problem backwards. People don't normally come to their faith from reading a religious text. The majority of people adopt the religious system of their parents (and other things too--if your parents vote Republican, there's a very high probability that you will as well, for example). The parents establish a certain set of axioms as true (eg. God exists, He is perfect, He wrote the Bible), and once those axioms are established, the brain will naturally try to harmonize what you learn with what you already know rather than completely shifting its overall understanding of what you know. This is a fairly well-documented phenomenon in psychology (I can dig up some cites if you really need). Consequently, if you, a priori, accept that God exists, then when you read the religious text associated with your God, it is far more likely that you will read it in such a way as to be consistent with what you already believe, rather than in a way that will challenge your accepted beliefs. This is also why it is so hard to deconvert people--it requires them to completely reassess their way of thinking about reality; something which the brain naturally shies away from.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:20 pm UTC

lucrezaborgia wrote:Faith does not have to be logical.
Which is why we should always ignore faith.

Faith is not a virtue, but a vice.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:24 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:Which is why we should always ignore faith.

Faith is not a virtue, but a vice.
Do you believe what you're currently seeing is real? Why? Couldn't your eyes be malfunctioning? Couldn't you just be a brain in a jar being directly fed false input? Couldn't you just be a program written by aliens?

You have faith that the information your eyes are feeding you are real; you have faith that the things you observe have some basis in a reality that exists outside of your ability to perceive them. Many religious people believe in another world--one that resists observation by our standard senses. 'Religious experiences' are the medium by which they make their observations about this world.

Putting your faith in such a world isn't nonsense, nor a vice. These worlds are just as real to them as our 'perceived material world' is to us. I think that's important, and should be acknowledged.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:34 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Do you believe what you're currently seeing is real? Why? Couldn't your eyes be malfunctioning? Couldn't you just be a brain in a jar being directly fed false input? Couldn't you just be a program written by aliens?
Occam's razor suggest that these things aren't true. The lack of evidence for any of these thing being true is evidence that they are not. I don't have faith in my eyes working correctly, I have evidence supporting that they do. I believe they work correctly, because of that evidence. I am fairly even willing to say I have knowledge(which is strong belief) that my eyes work correctly. I do not have faith*(believe without evidence) they work correctly.

*The word faith, is particularly mutable. Sometimes as a synonym for belief, but other times meaning belief without evidence, which is it's usage when concerning religion.
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Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:39 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:Occam's razor suggest that these things aren't true.
Occam's razor is something that works only because all the evidence you've acquired through your potentially faulty sensory apparatus tells you so. It might just be one more part of the trap you're in. I'm talking about the very scaffolding of your senses; you can't drag out observations you've made with those senses as evidence that those senses aren't faulty. If your senses are compromised, all the observations you've made with them are suspect.

I realize this is some Matrix bullshit, but it's just to illustrate a point: Faith is a necessary component of human experience. To throw it aside as superfluous, stupid, a vice--that's just nonsense. There are times when faith is a bad idea, and there are times when it's a good idea.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:48 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Dark567 wrote:Occam's razor suggest that these things aren't true.
Occam's razor is something that works only because all the evidence you've acquired through your potentially faulty sensory apparatus tells you so. It might just be one more part of the trap you're in. I'm talking about the very scaffolding of your senses; you can't drag out observations you've made with those senses as evidence that those senses aren't faulty. If your senses are compromised, all the observations you've made with them are suspect.
I don't justify Occam's razor via evidence. I do so logically. Wittgenstein puts it better then I ever could
Ludwig Wittgenstien wrote:5.47321 Occam's razor is, of course, not an arbitrary rule nor one justified by its practical success. It simply says that unnecessary elements in a symbolism mean nothing. Signs which serve one purpose are logically equivalent, signs which serve no purpose are logically meaningless.
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Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:01 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:I don't justify Occam's razor via evidence. I do so logically.
Of course you justify Occam's razor with evidence. Your evidence is all the facts that lead you to conclude that a non-faulty, non-deceptive sensory apparatus is the simplest, most plausible assumption. I'm saying that on some level, you take that evidence on faith, not reason. Besides, why are we even talking about Occam's razor? It's just a description of a trend. It doesn't 'prove' anything.

We're all trapped inside of our own boxes, unable to escape our personal narratives. While I see science, reason--trusting in my senses--as the most rational approach to understanding the world outside of my box, I don't therefore conclude that all other approaches are wrong and should be dismissed. I think science, materialism, and empiricism offer the clearest answers, but that's only because I put faith in my eyes and ears and assume that anything you can't measure with your senses is irrelevant.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:10 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Dark567 wrote:I don't justify Occam's razor via evidence. I do so logically.
Of course you justify Occam's razor with evidence. Your evidence is all the facts that lead you to conclude that a non-faulty, non-deceptive sensory apparatus is the simplest, most plausible assumption. I'm saying that on some level, you take that evidence on faith, not reason. Besides, why are we even talking about Occam's razor? It's just a description of a trend. It doesn't 'prove' anything.
Right, but it's the correct way to interpret evidence or the lack of evidence. Read Wittgenstien's quote, Occam's razor isn't justified by it's practical success(i.e. evidence), its stating that unnecessary entities are meaningless until they become necessary. If you had no evidence that the world was built out of atoms, Occam's razor would say you are unjustified in believing it. Until someone provided evidence that it was built from atoms, then you would be justified. Occam's razor isn't a trend, its part of the proper way to interpret evidence.
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Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby lucrezaborgia » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:11 pm UTC

Not all religious texts are equal. Is the OP limiting this discussion to Western texts?

I find Buddhist and Hindu texts fascinating.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby philsov » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:13 pm UTC

I think science, materialism, and empiricism offer the clearest answers, but that's only because I put faith in my eyes and ears and assume that anything you can't measure with your senses is irrelevant.


Additionally, any conclusion drawn via scientific method is based (faithly) on the assumption that things in the past will act like things in the future under identical circumstances. It may be a reasonable stance, but it's still faith-based at its core and is impossible to prove for as soon evidence is gathered it immediately enters the "past" pile.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Bharrata » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:18 pm UTC

alfa wrote:Between the degree to which memory is known to be unreliable, the tendency people have to try and get themselves the best lot in life (and manipulating religious texts to put out their personal beliefs doesn't seem too unlikely to say the least) and general human error that comes in translating and recording texts, especially those from different eras where different mindsets and phrases would have been in use so that things could be interpreted drastically differently. Throw all this in with how many opportunities people must have had to do this with the amount of time that has passed since the conception of many religious texts and I don't understand why people can have the faith they do in these words.


Are you coming at this problem from an Abrahamic bias? It seems to me, and I am not the first one to bring this up - I'd suggest Huston Smith's The World's Religions or Philip Novak's World's Wisdom, that each major religion, or even every spiritual system ever created, is an attempt to order the chaos which we experience and take part in everyday.

What I mean is, each uses symbols to point and interrelate different aspects of the truth about reality, in the same way mathematics does (mathematics has subjectively vacant value symbols).

So, we can read the mistranslated and many times handed down stories from thousands of years ago and still see the human element that connects us to our ancestors. It may not be perfect, but it helps reassure us that the human condition can be salvaged for purpose and joy, though we may never be told exactly what to do, we can be pointed towards it. "The Way that can be spoken is not the Eternal Way"...no? 8) So in that way, why shouldn't people turn to religious texts for guidance? (I agree there shouldn't be blind faith in them or in another's interpretation, especially when that interpretation creates a negative, perhaps violent, worldview)


The parents establish a certain set of axioms as true (eg. God exists, He is perfect, He wrote the Bible), and once those axioms are established, the brain will naturally try to harmonize what you learn with what you already know rather than completely shifting its overall understanding of what you know. This is a fairly well-documented phenomenon in psychology (I can dig up some cites if you really need). Consequently, if you, a priori, accept that God exists, then when you read the religious text associated with your God, it is far more likely that you will read it in such a way as to be consistent with what you already believe, rather than in a way that will challenge your accepted beliefs. This is also why it is so hard to deconvert people--it requires them to completely reassess their way of thinking about reality; something which the brain naturally shies away from.


I think it's important to keep in mind that if you apriori accept that God or higher truth does not exist, you will, in all probability, tend toward the same behavior of confirming your fairly new (I'm assuming) conviction.

This is not to say atheists or believers are right or wrong, only that we all suffer from the problems of having faith in our world-view as unique and correct. Most of us are not John Dewey-style Pragmatists when it comes to the big questions....Kierkegaard seemed to come up with the best solution to this problem with the idea of the authentic questioning individual creating their own unique perspective based on questioning, accepting those traditions handed down to them which they agreed with and creating new ones where they see fit, but never staying static, complacent and rigid OR being a rebel just for the sake of being a rebel.



lucrezaborgia wrote:Not all religious texts are equal. Is the OP limiting this discussion to Western texts?

I find Buddhist and Hindu texts fascinating.


Hinduism is like open-source theology....Christianity (when done right) is very very close, if not the same, as the bhakti path to enlightenment in Hinduism, or the path to god through love.


But, that's not even bringing up the absolutely horrible track record that the caste system gives to Hinduism.




final edit: "God is the sacred lie." - Nietzsche :lol:
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:38 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:Right, but it's the correct way to interpret evidence or the lack of evidence. Read Wittgenstien's quote, Occam's razor isn't justified by it's practical success(i.e. evidence), its stating that unnecessary entities are meaningless until they become necessary. If you had no evidence that the world was built out of atoms, Occam's razor would say you are unjustified in believing it. Until someone provided evidence that it was built from atoms, then you would be justified. Occam's razor isn't a trend, its part of the proper way to interpret evidence.
Why is it the proper way to interpret evidence? Because a dead guy said so? If I have a fever-dream, and imagine that the earth revolves around the sun long before anyone knows better--and argue passionately for this being the case--am I somehow 'wrong'? Does the fact that I got my evidence from a fever dream somehow make me any less right?

Don't get me wrong; I love science and reason. But I think it's good and fine to respect other approaches. We've all got different ways of figuring out what's outside of our box. Since none of us can never actually, truly know what's on the other side of our skulls, I'm fine with people building their own methods of extrapolation.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Bharrata » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:53 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Why is it the proper way to interpret evidence? Because a dead guy said so? If I have a fever-dream, and imagine that the earth revolves around the sun long before anyone knows better--and argue passionately for this being the case--am I somehow 'wrong'? Does the fact that I got my evidence from a fever dream somehow make me any less right?


I actually think you're in agreement with that dead guy. He doesn't say you need physical evidence, rather that unnecessary elements mean nothing.

Wittgenstein wrote:Occam's razor is, of course, not an arbitrary rule nor one justified by its practical success. It simply says that unnecessary elements in a symbolism mean nothing. Signs which serve one purpose are logically equivalent, signs which serve no purpose are logically meaningless.


So, let's say empiricism tries to explain the world in a physical fashion with consensus and logic...whereas Zen philosophy explains the world by saying it is unexplainable, with irrationality and that only when the individual completely comes to term with reality's inexplicability do they become free.

Both systems and their signs have, at their base, the express purpose of alleviating the problems humans come across while living.

Empiricism proposes to solve it by material transformation and resource movement, while Zen proposes to solve it by showing that existence is enough in and of itself wherein no amount of rearranging the external will make the individual's internal life content.

We cannot say either system does not serve a purpose, but we can say only one system (empiricism) can be practiced in such a way that wide-spread consensus can be formed - though it should be noted that to become a Zen Master, another Master must consent to you being worthy of it. But to finish up this point, spiritual faith, if we're going to say it is logically equivalent as a system to empiricism as a system, is a sort of experiential, life-long science experiment - the results of which are unfortunately not easily replicated or shared with others.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby aoeu » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:58 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Dark567 wrote:Right, but it's the correct way to interpret evidence or the lack of evidence. Read Wittgenstien's quote, Occam's razor isn't justified by it's practical success(i.e. evidence), its stating that unnecessary entities are meaningless until they become necessary. If you had no evidence that the world was built out of atoms, Occam's razor would say you are unjustified in believing it. Until someone provided evidence that it was built from atoms, then you would be justified. Occam's razor isn't a trend, its part of the proper way to interpret evidence.
Why is it the proper way to interpret evidence? Because a dead guy said so? If I have a fever-dream, and imagine that the earth revolves around the sun long before anyone knows better--and argue passionately for this being the case--am I somehow 'wrong'? Does the fact that I got my evidence from a fever dream somehow make me any less right?

Don't get me wrong; I love science and reason. But I think it's good and fine to respect other approaches. We've all got different ways of figuring out what's outside of our box. Since none of us can never actually, truly know what's on the other side of our skulls, I'm fine with people building their own methods of extrapolation.

What is necessary and what is unnecessary is subjective as long as your theories produce the same observable predictions. Your sentences ending up shorter if you don't append "because god made it so" to everything is not a reason for disbelief. What is a reason for disbelief is that there is plenty of evidence all gods we know of have been made up.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:00 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Why is it the proper way to interpret evidence? Because a dead guy said so? If I have a fever-dream, and imagine that the earth revolves around the sun long before anyone knows better--and argue passionately for this being the case--am I somehow 'wrong'? Does the fact that I got my evidence from a fever dream somehow make me any less right?
No, that would be a terrible appeal to authority. It's because that two possible worlds, one in which I am in the matrix, and one in which I am not, present the same evidence to me. They are logical equivalent worlds to me with the evidence, the unnecessary element(the matrix) in one of these worlds is logical meaningless. The fact that you got your evidence from a fever dream makes you belief in the earths revolution around the sun unjustified.

Since none of us can never actually, truly know what's on the other side of our skulls, I'm fine with people building their own methods of extrapolation.
The cool part of science and reason is that it accepts the fact that we can't truly know what's outside our skulls, induction can never 100% prove anything only give you a probability of truth less then 1(but still possibly very high). One of the reasons other methods(many religions) are insufficient is they don't accept this and claim 100% belief.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:19 pm UTC

Bharrata wrote:I actually think you're in agreement with that dead guy. He doesn't say you need physical evidence, rather that unnecessary elements mean nothing.
Why do unnecessary elements mean nothing? Who deigns them unnecessary?
Dark567 wrote:No, that would be a terrible appeal to authority. It's because that two possible worlds, one in which I am in the matrix, and one in which I am not, present the same evidence to me. They are logical equivalent worlds to me with the evidence, the unnecessary element(the matrix) in one of these worlds is logical meaningless. The fact that you got your evidence from a fever dream makes you belief in the earths revolution around the sun unjustified.
Right, what I'm asking is what makes it unjustified. "Occam's razor says so" isn't enough; why does Occam's razor make my belief unjustified? Or more specifically, why should I care what Occam's razor says about my beliefs? Why is Occam's razor the 'correct method' to interpret evidence?
Dark567 wrote:The cool part of science and reason is that it accepts the fact that we can't truly know what's outside our skulls, induction can never 100% prove anything only give you a probability of truth less then 1(but still possibly very high). One of the reasons other methods(many religions) are insufficient is they don't accept this and claim 100% belief.
That's one of the reasons I love science, yes; but I don't think it follows that religions are therefore bullshit. I think religions are bullshit if we're talking about empiricism, materialism, and measuring the world with our senses, yes--but if you step out of that sphere and begin discussing the world outside of empirical observation, there's still room for religious experience.

If I snort a line of LSD and end up fighting crime with the Monkey King inside my head, who's to say that wasn't a real experience? Not an empirically provable one, but it's something that happened to me, and something from which I may have derived knowledge. The value of that knowledge can be debated, but what's important here is that while you'll describe my experience as 'a series of chemical reactions that caused a hallucination', I'll describe my experience as 'fightin' crime with the mother-fuckin' Monkey King'. I don't think either of our descriptions are invalid, or of greater or lesser value--not until we start talking about the framework under which we're evaluating them (empirically, my description is less valid; religiously, your description may be less valid!).
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:26 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Роберт » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:24 pm UTC

Be careful with Occum's razor, you could cut yourself.

Isn't the "because God makes it happen" much simpler than trying to explain particle physics, gravity, and developmental biology? :P
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:29 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Be careful with Occum's razor, you could cut yourself.

Isn't the "because God makes it happen" much simpler than trying to explain particle physics, gravity, and developmental biology? :P
If Occam's razor concerned simplicity you might have a point, as it doesn't, you don't.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby aoeu » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:32 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Be careful with Occum's razor, you could cut yourself.

Isn't the "because God makes it happen" much simpler than trying to explain particle physics, gravity, and developmental biology? :P

Yes, but only if it doesn't include the parts that allow you to make predictions. Predictive power is the important thing.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby yurell » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:42 pm UTC

It reminds me of this presentation by the James Randi Foundation. The most shocking thing to someone who prizes themselves on their reasoning and logic is that some people don't think that way. Anyway, I feel the video is quite interesting and worth watching (the first two minutes says what I'm trying to say, but the video itself is half an hour long).
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Bharrata » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:49 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:Be careful with Occum's razor, you could cut yourself.

Isn't the "because God makes it happen" much simpler than trying to explain particle physics, gravity, and developmental biology? :P


True, but it's just as logically inadequate to say because we've observed particle physics, gravity and developmental biology that God doesn't exist. What I understand to be the reason for the recent popularity of religious secularism is the observations of man's inhumanity toward man during the world wars by intellectuals, which significantly disillusioned everyone.

But your point is a great one in regards to the question posed by this thread. Cutting, to say the least.



The cool part of science and reason is that it accepts the fact that we can't truly know what's outside our skulls, induction can never 100% prove anything only give you a probability of truth less then 1(but still possibly very high). One of the reasons other methods(many religions) are insufficient is they don't accept this and claim 100% belief.


There is a difference though, in what they're attempting to explain. Science explains the physical, religion explains the emotional and poetic.

There is a difference as well between science and scientism, the latter being the belief that science is the only thing which can give us answers. We're here for such a small span of time...if you choose to solely base your life on science that is all well and good on you, but there is no reason to say there are not different approaches that can be taken to how we live that are not inherently negative nor unproductive.

I can agree that blind faith is terrible and that some people retreat into it as the path of least resistance, but to broadly paint every believer as operating in such a fashion is to put down some of the great thinkers throughout history who did actual good things. Further, religion and science should not even be in the same discussion and sadly different sides of the mainstream narrative use both in erroneous ways to continue this misunderstanding over what should be simple:

let religion be there to enrich people's inner lives in a positive fashion and let science give us a greater understanding of our environment and our bodies.



Though wiki isn't such serious business, here's a bit from the Ockham's Razor wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor#History that I found interesting, and maybe contributory to the discussion.

Spoiler:
William of Ockham (c. 1285–1349) is remembered as an influential nominalist though his popular fame as a great logician rests chiefly on the maxim attributed to him and known as Ockham's razor. The term razor (the German "Ockhams Messer" translates to "Occam's knife") refers to distinguishing between two theories either by "shaving away" unnecessary assumptions or cutting apart two similar theories.

This maxim seems to represent the general tendency of Occam's philosophy, but it has not been found in any of his writings. His nearest pronouncement seems to be Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate [Plurality must never be posited without necessity], which occurs in his theological work on the Sentences of Peter Lombard (Quaestiones et decisiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi (ed. Lugd., 1495), i, dist. 27, qu. 2, K).

In his Summa Totius Logicae, i. 12, Ockham cites the principle of economy, Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora [It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer]. (Thorburn, 1918, pp. 352–3; Kneale and Kneale, 1962, p. 243.)


Part of a page from Duns Scotus' book Ordinatio: "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate", i.e., "Plurality is not to be posited without necessity"
The origins of what has come to be known as Occam's razor are traceable to the works of earlier philosophers such as Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, 1138–1204), John Duns Scotus (1265–1308), and even Aristotle (384–322 BC) (Charlesworth 1956).

The term "Occam's razor" first appeared in 1852 in the works of Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet (1788–1856), centuries after Ockham's death. Ockham did not invent this "razor"; its association with him may be due to the frequency and effectiveness with which he used it (Ariew 1976). Ockham stated the principle in various ways, but the most popular version was written by John Ponce from Cork in 1639 (Meyer 1957).

For Ockham, the only truly necessary entity is God; everything else, the whole of creation, is radically contingent through and through.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby BattleMoose » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:41 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:If I snort a line of LSD and end up fighting crime with the Monkey King inside my head, who's to say that wasn't a real experience? Not an empirically provable one, but it's something that happened to me, and something from which I may have derived knowledge. The value of that knowledge can be debated, but what's important here is that while you'll describe my experience as 'a series of chemical reactions that caused a hallucination', I'll describe my experience as 'fightin' crime with the mother-fuckin' Monkey King'. I don't think either of our descriptions are invalid, or of greater or lesser value--not until we start talking about the framework under which we're evaluating them (empirically, my description is less valid; religiously, your description may be less valid!).


It would be a real experience, because you experienced it. The word, "knowledge" carries a number of different meanings and in science the most appropriate description that I could find is from wiki and:

The development of the scientific method has made a significant contribution to how knowledge is aquired. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning and experimentation.


Now while I feel this definition might be a bit too limiting (there are many different ways of correctly doing science) it does make the point that knowledge needs to be based on a collection of data, that must be available to others. Even if a time traveling scientist came from the future and gave us all sorts of claims and truths and perhaps the Theory of Everything, and if he just gave us the claim/statement/equation it would not yet be knowledge for us for we would not know on what it depended or how it was derived. We may be able to reverse engineer it, or base our research efforts into justifying the claim made and only when we were able to do that, would it become knowledge for us.

Certainly if your LSD induced hallucinations did reveal truths about the universe to you and you were able to make correct predictions about physical phenomenon and produce a falsifiable theory then certainly that would be an important contribution to science. And certainly would be a much more fun way of doing science.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Soralin » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:54 am UTC

philsov wrote:Additionally, any conclusion drawn via scientific method is based (faithly) on the assumption that things in the past will act like things in the future under identical circumstances. It may be a reasonable stance, but it's still faith-based at its core and is impossible to prove for as soon evidence is gathered it immediately enters the "past" pile.

No, it isn't based on faith, it's based on the observation of evidence that in the past, things in the past acted like things in their future.

If instead, in the past, we observed that some things in the past did not necessarily act like things in their future, i.e. that in the past we observed that the laws of physics had changed, then we would not hold such a belief. And indeed many experiments have been carried out to try to detect if such changes in the laws of physics have happened in the past. It isn't something held by faith, it's something that we've repeatedly tested, and looked for, to try to disprove that belief.

And if nothing in the past acted like anything in the future, then we couldn't exist to make any observations at all.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:59 am UTC

Soralin wrote:No, it isn't based on faith, it's based on the observation of evidence that in the past, things in the past acted like things in their future.

If instead, in the past, we observed that some things in the past did not necessarily act like things in their future, i.e. that in the past we observed that the laws of physics had changed, then we would not hold such a belief. And indeed many experiments have been carried out to try to detect if such changes in the laws of physics have happened in the past. It isn't something held by faith, it's something that we've repeatedly tested, and looked for, to try to disprove that belief.

And if nothing in the past acted like anything in the future, then we couldn't exist to make any observations at all.
How long have we been performing these experiments? How long has the universe existed? With those two numbers in mind, do you think we've performed sufficient tests to confirm beyond any degree of reasonable doubt that the laws of physics do not change given a certain period of time?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby BattleMoose » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:17 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Soralin wrote:No, it isn't based on faith, it's based on the observation of evidence that in the past, things in the past acted like things in their future.

If instead, in the past, we observed that some things in the past did not necessarily act like things in their future, i.e. that in the past we observed that the laws of physics had changed, then we would not hold such a belief. And indeed many experiments have been carried out to try to detect if such changes in the laws of physics have happened in the past. It isn't something held by faith, it's something that we've repeatedly tested, and looked for, to try to disprove that belief.

And if nothing in the past acted like anything in the future, then we couldn't exist to make any observations at all.
How long have we been performing these experiments? How long has the universe existed? With those two numbers in mind, do you think we've performed sufficient tests to confirm beyond any degree of reasonable doubt that the laws of physics do not change given a certain period of time?


Most laws in science cannot be proven. We have no means of proving them and may never have any. And there isn't a concept of reasonable doubt in science either. Science isn't obliged to provide a correct and proper understanding of the universe and everything, even if that is its goal and has consistently been making progress to that goal.

The laws of science are primarily based on:
1. Providing correct and accurate predictions
2. Being falsifiable (and of course a complete lack of evidence that proves a particular law as being false)

And the current set of scientific laws that we have, have never been shown to be false. And if they ever are, they will be modified or replaced by new laws that reflect our increased understanding of the universe. There is always doubt regarding all of science and science will never (probably) be able to say that, this is the way things are, at most science can only say, this is the way that we think things are. And it is a process that is clearly working.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Greyarcher » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:08 am UTC

philsov wrote:
I think science, materialism, and empiricism offer the clearest answers, but that's only because I put faith in my eyes and ears and assume that anything you can't measure with your senses is irrelevant.


Additionally, any conclusion drawn via scientific method is based (faithly) on the assumption that things in the past will act like things in the future under identical circumstances. It may be a reasonable stance, but it's still faith-based at its core and is impossible to prove for as soon evidence is gathered it immediately enters the "past" pile.
It's practicality based. It's not just science--it's about inferences in general. We must assume that, with all relevant variables being held constant, some x in the past will still be x in the future.

We couldn't even learn words without that assumption. Basic thought requires making inferences about the future based on the past. And for those inferences to make any sense we must make that underlying assumption of constancy and non-arbitrariness.

Similarly, people couldn't properly teach words without providing that constancy and non-arbitrariness to infants learning the language. And the world could not "teach" us about itself. Thus, that assumption is basic to our understanding of...pretty much everything.

Religious belief, obviously, is not like such an assumption. When religious belief is scorned as faith, it's not defended as being some practically necessary assumption that underlies our thoughts. It's a belief in old cultural stories, and it is scorned because it is believed in and passed down in an especially unintellectual manner.


Of course, it's late, and I couldn't be missing something. But I think what I've said is fairly solid.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Soralin » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:48 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Soralin wrote:No, it isn't based on faith, it's based on the observation of evidence that in the past, things in the past acted like things in their future.

If instead, in the past, we observed that some things in the past did not necessarily act like things in their future, i.e. that in the past we observed that the laws of physics had changed, then we would not hold such a belief. And indeed many experiments have been carried out to try to detect if such changes in the laws of physics have happened in the past. It isn't something held by faith, it's something that we've repeatedly tested, and looked for, to try to disprove that belief.

And if nothing in the past acted like anything in the future, then we couldn't exist to make any observations at all.
How long have we been performing these experiments? How long has the universe existed? With those two numbers in mind, do you think we've performed sufficient tests to confirm beyond any degree of reasonable doubt that the laws of physics do not change given a certain period of time?

Astronomy has a bunch of great examples there. For example how we've been looking for tiny variations in the fine structure constant, or the speed of light, by measuring the light from how the universe was over 10 billion years ago, and comparing it to what we would expect to find if the physics then were the same, or different, as they are now. Or measuring the half-lives of various elements deep in the past, by looking at the decay curves of large quantities of them that were produced by distant supernovae. Or on our own planet, things like the Oklo natural nuclear reactor, that depend on isotope ratios a few billion years ago matching up with current expected decay rates. If physics were very different in the distant past, it would be easy to notice.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:04 am UTC

Soralin wrote:Astronomy has a bunch of great examples there. For example how we've been looking for tiny variations in the fine structure constant, or the speed of light, by measuring the light from how the universe was over 10 billion years ago, and comparing it to what we would expect to find if the physics then were the same, or different, as they are now. Or measuring the half-lives of various elements deep in the past, by looking at the decay curves of large quantities of them that were produced by distant supernovae. Or on our own planet, things like the Oklo natural nuclear reactor, that depend on isotope ratios a few billion years ago matching up with current expected decay rates. If physics were very different in the distant past, it would be easy to notice.
Fair enough; I can see how astronomers can cast their predictions into the deep past to check whether or not their equations have remained relevant throughout time. I still maintain that science and empiricism require faith in our senses, but it's faith that at least seems to be more reasonable than the alternatives.
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