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

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

Postby Dark567 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:12 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote: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.
Why is it more reasonable? If you reject my previous argument, I see no reason why you would have more faith in our senses then anything else.
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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 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:16 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote: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.
Why is it more reasonable? If you reject my previous argument, I see no reason why you would have more faith in our senses then anything else.
I didn't say it is more reasonable, just that it seems more reasonable! I imagine it seems that way because it requires less effort to just believe what I'm seeing reflects reality, rather than being the product of a malfunction or some form of deception.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Bharrata » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:59 am UTC

The way I'm viewing it right now, I can trust my senses (even though Hume's philosophy is upsetting still) but because I live in a physical world it's as if I have to have faith in those senses existing in the first place just so that I myself can exist; the use of my senses demands a faith that I cannot even question because they are a part of my definition.

As I understand it, as we mature we learn how to interact with others and the world in a better way by learning the behaviors which are most beneficial or productive. Now, if a lesson I read in an ancient religious text teaches me, or reinforces in me, a beneficial behavior when I practice it, why shouldn't I have faith that the text I learned it from was correct that it is an important lesson?

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

Postby Noc » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:34 am UTC

I dunno if I agree with you, HIppo. Science isn't so much about "trust in the senses" as it is about consistency, and making reliable and accurate predictions. Even if what our senses show us is an illusion, observation still allows us to figure out how the illusion works (if it does so on a consistent basis).

The difference between science and faith is that extra step of observation and experimentation. It's founded upon the idea that just because something seems like it makes sense doesn't make it necessarily true. The thing with theology (and most nonscientific approaches to this sort of thing) is that they stop at the first step. "Hey! It just occurred to me, it would totally make sense if things worked this way!" Such methods can produce a model that is entirely reasonable and internally consistent -- and may even be rather elegant and intuitive. But there's no reason to believe that such a model has anything to do with reality, except maybe by coincidence.

Like, if you had a fever dream that revealed to you the heliocentric nature of the solar system? Okay, awesome. You may have even gotten lucky and hallucinated up an accurate model! But there's no reason to believe that that model is accurate until and unless you can use it to reliably make some specific predictions about the movements of the cosmos. More specifically, your predictions have to be more specific and more reliable than the other models before we'll have any reason to choose yours over theirs.

It's entirely natural to wish to believe something solely because it makes sense to you. It's comfortable! It avoids digging into the world of weird, complicated, counterintuitive systems, or statistics, or degrees of certainty and uncertainty. It's still stupid: there's nothing valid about it.

(Or, rather: there's nothing valid about constructing a worldview this way, because the world is very big and very complicated. We can often get through our daily lives alright without forcing our decisions to meet standards of rigor and evidence. We can leave all that to other people, and just trust what they tell us. Actually, this delegation of fact-finding is entirely necessary, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't subject your sources of knowledge to some critical analysis. It's their job to give you good information, so you need to make sure they aren't bullshitting you, intentionally or otherwise.)

. . .

Another thing the scientific method depends on (as mentioned above) is the idea that given the same starting conditions, the same action will have the same effect. The important thing here is that this is not equivalent to "it worked once, so it'll work every time!" Rather, what this means is that if you take the same action and start getting different results, you know that the starting conditions must have changed -- which means you can get to work figuring out what the difference is between both circumstances, until you can reliably predict which conditions will produce which result.

The other thing is that this is not a falsifiable assumption. There is no way to tell the difference between a rational universe (where apparent randomness is due to a change in background conditions you aren't measuring) and an irrational universe (where apparent randomness is because things change for literally no reason). And given the vast, vast number of things that we have historically believed were just the whims of gods or spirits, unknowable and fickle and maybe related to these rituals we keep doing I guess -- given the number of these things that turned out to be the result of measurable and predictable phenomena that remain so to this day? The rational universe seems to have a pretty good track record so far.

. . .

A FURTHER thing to mention is about Occam's Razor. A way to look at it so it makes more sense is, "how many unproven assumptions do we have to make in order for this to be true?"

For instance, suppose I see a SPOOKY APPARITION. It's a ghost! Except, for it to be a ghost, ghosts would have to exist. The human mind would have to have some presence beyond its meaty nature, which is capable of remaining on the world after its death (or making an impression on a place), and this spirit/impression would have to be both capable of mobility and action, and also capable of interacting with the physical world in such a way as to make it visible to me. There's no particular reason to believe that any of these prerequisites are true, in and of themselves. On the other hand, there's plenty of very well documented cases of the human mind hallucinating things that aren't there due to some internal condition, so by Occam's Razor it makes more sense to figure, tentatively, that I had some kind of hallucination than to believe that I saw a ghost. We don't know that it was a hallucination for sure, but Occam's Razor provides a "best guess" in lieu of contradictory evidence.

If we could find some ways of interacting with this apparition, to gather evidence that suggests that it exists independent of whatever brain-fart I had? Then awesome: with more evidence, we can start to modify our tentative conclusion. An important part of the scientific method is accepting this tentativeness: of being willing to say "Yeah, I'm not really sure what it was. This is our best guess, but it's not very good." And then hopefully saying, "Fortunately this conclusion is falsifiable, so let me put together an experiment to see if I can't nail it down one way or the other."

Religion and superstition don't do that. They say "Oh, yeah! I know exactly what it was. It was definitely this thing I have heard of previously that sounds similar. It makes perfect sense! Furthermore, given this, I can tell you exactly what it means and what you should do about it." Which is immensely more satisfying to hear, as opposed to science's shrug and resolution to keep working on it. It's a quick, satisfying, easy answer that is -- as often as not -- wrong. Occam's Razor is useful, but it's not a substitute for a reliable, empirically proven model.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:56 pm UTC

Noc wrote:I dunno if I agree with you, HIppo. Science isn't so much about "trust in the senses" as it is about consistency, and making reliable and accurate predictions. Even if what our senses show us is an illusion, observation still allows us to figure out how the illusion works (if it does so on a consistent basis).
That's fair; science doesn't care if my senses are deceiving me--it's trying to figure out everything it can about the world I perceive with my senses, whether they're lying or not. And when we're arguing about what the most rational method to understand the world presented to us by our senses is, I'll always argue in favor of science. There are no empirical proofs for God--no logical proofs--no reasonable amount of evidence which demonstrates a partially or wholly supernatural universe.

I think what fascinates me, though, are perspectives that step outside the range of common senses. Purposefully screwing with your senses--by taking drugs, or by inflicting certain conditions on your body, or engaging in lucid dreaming--these can awaken entire new worlds outside the one we've crafted from our unaltered sensory apparatus. And I think that these worlds are just as 'real' as the world we craft with our senses (which, again, keep in mind--is only a reflection of the reality we can never truly know).

The fact is, we're all just basically hallucinating in our own little box. We are all trapped inside of our skulls with no real idea of what's outside of them beyond what our bodies have told us (and our bodies are translating reality into electrical pulses, which are then translated into sensations, which are then translated into a coherent 'narrative'--this is like having a room described to you in Greek, translated to Russian, translated to English--done by Babelfish). When someone's narrative wildly diverges from the norm, we can make one of several conclusions--maybe they're poor at interpreting their sensory input (they interpret the sight of a guy in a sheet as a 'spooky ghost', ignoring all the information they have that implies ghosts aren't real), maybe they just don't have enough sensory input (insufficient education to conclude that ghosts aren't real), or maybe they're tripping like crazy and their sensory input is feeding them new data that doesn't fit the mold ("Okay, now the guy in the sheet is flying and passing through walls and he has EYES MADE OF TEETH"). Or maybe they're not even playing by the rules of empiricism; maybe the existence of ghosts are part of their inner world.

People talk about the beauty of science and the wonders it offers compared to the wonders of theology, but what we don't seem to get is that the beauty we see is a product of our own minds. We receive sensory input, we extrapolate it into data that we can consume, and then we proceed to admire that data. I find the universe startling in its breadth and size; I find the fact that we can extrapolate so much of its shape and history merely from the infinitesimal amount of radiation that happens to cross the lenses we've pointed upward on our tiny blue speck to be an inexpressible wonder. But I also think someone can find that same wonder in the world of theology--because for those people, the world of Gods and Goddesses and scripture is just as real, and just as vast. The only real distinction is that we've derived one of these things from a rational analysis of our senses--and the other is derived from an irrational analysis of them. Both come from the same place--just one of them will (hopefully!) give us flying cars.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:21 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:People talk about the beauty of science and the wonders it offers compared to the wonders of theology, but what we don't seem to get is that the beauty we see is a product of our own minds. We receive sensory input, we extrapolate it into data that we can consume, and then we proceed to admire that data. I find the universe startling in its breadth and size; I find the fact that we can extrapolate so much of its shape and history merely from the infinitesimal amount of radiation that happens to cross the lenses we've pointed upward on our tiny blue speck to be an inexpressible wonder. But I also think someone can find that same wonder in the world of theology--because for those people, the world of Gods and Goddesses and scripture is just as real, and just as vast.


If only because I see this a lot, I feel I have to address it; beauty and wonderment are subjective. That seems to be what Hippo is saying, but I want to elaborate a bit. Anyone who says "but (science/religion) is so much more wonderful and beautiful than (science/religion)" is making an argument on par with "but (pancakes/waffles) are so much more delicious than (pancakes/waffles)." It is an essentially irrational reason for choosing science over religion, or vice versa. "It's more beautiful because it's true" is just an argument for a definition of beauty, and one I think is extremely silly (is fiction less beautiful than non-fiction?); I also don't think you have to agree that science is more beautiful in order to choose it over religion (I will also say I don't believe you necessarily have to choose one over the other, but that debate is a thread derail and something I would not wish to discuss here). I think rational arguments on the subject of science and religion are possible, but this is not one of them.

More on topic, I think it's pretty safe to say that if you believe "God works in mysterious ways," it isn't hard to justify believing in the divinity of a text that has been altered over time.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Tomo » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:49 pm UTC

The argument regarding the requisite of faith for a belief in your senses has been done on this forum before, but there was a point that stuck out at me then as well. Doesn't faith imply an absolute? I can't prove absolutely that the evidence I get from my senses is real, I could be in the matrix. I accept that possibility.

Most religious people don't go around saying "Well I can't prove god definitely exists, maybe he doesn't." They often don't accept the possibility.

On topic - basically what the above poster said. If you believe God did even half the things the major religions claim he did, then inspiring a couple of recent translators to get an up to date copy of his words printed is hardly far fetched.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:05 pm UTC

Tomo wrote:The argument regarding the requisite of faith for a belief in your senses has been done on this forum before, but there was a point that stuck out at me then as well. Doesn't faith imply an absolute? I can't prove absolutely that the evidence I get from my senses is real, I could be in the matrix. I accept that possibility.

Most religious people don't go around saying "Well I can't prove god definitely exists, maybe he doesn't." They often don't accept the possibility.


This is one of those things where my experience seems to differ completely from other people's. This may be a self-selecting issue, but I run into religious people who say roughly that all the time. Doubt and questioning go hand-in-hand with faith for many people, and they were cornerstones of both my religious education and the sermons I heard as a child (the end result was to turn me into a non-Catholic, which I don't think was their intention, but questioning of God and religious leaders was always encouraged).
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby philsov » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:51 pm UTC

Greyarcher wrote: [Evidence-based conclusions are] 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.

...

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.


No, that was pretty much my point. So when someone says "we should always ignore faith" they are suggesting we should also ignore anything that can construed as human progress, and thus are wrong in that statement.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:07 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I didn't say it is more reasonable, just that it seems more reasonable! I imagine it seems that way because it requires less effort to just believe what I'm seeing reflects reality, rather than being the product of a malfunction or some form of deception.
If you understand that it only seems more reasonable, but isn't actually, then why do you still believe it? Why would it be reasonable to do what seems reasonable? It isn't. Really, you have just stumbled upon Occam's Razor again. If there is no evidence that there is malfunction or deception, don't believe there is. Let's say that we are being deceived and in a matrix; that doesn't mean everything we have learned through our senses and science is wrong, it just means there is a world outside this one where the rules might be different. Science and our sense would still be very useful if were stuck in here.
People talk about the beauty of science and the wonders it offers compared to the wonders of theology, but what we don't seem to get is that the beauty we see is a product of our own minds. We receive sensory input, we extrapolate it into data that we can consume, and then we proceed to admire that data. I find the universe startling in its breadth and size; I find the fact that we can extrapolate so much of its shape and history merely from the infinitesimal amount of radiation that happens to cross the lenses we've pointed upward on our tiny blue speck to be an inexpressible wonder. But I also think someone can find that same wonder in the world of theology--because for those people, the world of Gods and Goddesses and scripture is just as real, and just as vast. The only real distinction is that we've derived one of these things from a rational analysis of our senses--and the other is derived from an irrational analysis of them.
(My bold for emphasize.) Here you say one is a rational analysis and one isn't, not that one seems so and one seems not? Why?



philsov wrote:No, that was pretty much my point. So when someone says "we should always ignore faith" they are suggesting we should also ignore anything that can construed as human progress, and thus are wrong in that statement.
I disagree. We don't need belief without evidence for human progress. Faith is not needed for human progress.
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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 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:18 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:I didn't say it is more reasonable, just that it seems more reasonable! I imagine it seems that way because it requires less effort to just believe what I'm seeing reflects reality, rather than being the product of a malfunction or some form of deception.
If you understand that it only seems more reasonable, but isn't actually, then why do you still believe it?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby dataguy » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:51 pm UTC

Try this out:

Imagine life as a great ocean.

When you arrive, one of your first tasks is to craft a vessel for your journey.

There are a variety of designs for ocean-going vessels.
You may choose to build a sailboat. It requires very little fuel, but is limited in speed and direction by the prevailing winds.
You may choose to build a speedboat. It is very fast but requires much fuel and provides a rather harsh ride.
You may choose to build a large yacht. It is very comfortable, but is very expensive to build and maintain.

There are other possible vessels, limited mainly by your imagination.

The craft you choose is analogous to the religious beliefs you choose.
It doesn't have to be the same as someone else's.
If you are satisfied with the way your vessel handles the journey, then it's right for you.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:41 pm UTC

dataguy wrote:The craft you choose is analogous to the religious beliefs you choose.
No, it isn't. Choosing a craft is purely an opinion on how you want to go through your journey. There is no belief(other then that the craft might be the most enjoyable for you). Religions have belief, which is the psychological state in which an individual hold a certain fact to be true. Believing in a particular religion is believing in a certain state of the world, picking a craft is not.
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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 dataguy » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:54 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:
dataguy wrote:The craft you choose is analogous to the religious beliefs you choose.
Believing in a particular religion is believing in a certain state of the world, picking a craft is not.

If you follow the original analogy, you choose a craft based on your belief about the nature of the ocean (life).
If you believe that it is tumultuous and full of hidden danger, you will choose one type of craft.
If you believe that it is relatively calm and predictable, you will choose another type.

I think the analogy holds.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:06 pm UTC

dataguy wrote:
Dark567 wrote:
dataguy wrote:The craft you choose is analogous to the religious beliefs you choose.


Believing in a particular religion is believing in a certain state of the world, picking a craft is not.

If you follow the original analogy, you choose a craft based on your belief about the nature of the ocean (life).
If you believe that it is tumultuous and full of hidden danger, you will choose one type of craft.
If you believe that it is relatively calm and predictable, you will choose another type.

I think the analogy holds.


The problem is that most people don't choose their religious beliefs because of how they perceive the world to operate. They choose* their religious beliefs, and then try to fit how the world works into the narrative that they've chosen. Moreover, at different times in their lives people experience the world differently; if different religions are like different boats, why don't we see more people jumping ship when they realise that they're in a pleasure cruise at a time when maybe a battleship would be better?

[*]Exactly how much choice people have in their religious system is somewhat debatable anyway. I think it is probably more accurate to say that most people inherit their belief system.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Greyarcher » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:54 pm UTC

philsov wrote:No, that was pretty much my point. So when someone says "we should always ignore faith" they are suggesting we should also ignore anything that can construed as human progress, and thus are wrong in that statement.
I think I was unclear. My point was that it's misleading to characterize that assumption as "faith-based"...especially with all the baggage that word carries in religious discussions.

The assumption is more like a practical axiom than a faith-based belief. We need not believe or disbelieve it; no faith is required. Since it's at the limit of reason and evidence, I'm not even sure why we would believe it. As an axiom, it simply lays groundwork for the rest of our thoughts, inferences, and beliefs.

LaserGuy wrote:[*]Exactly how much choice people have in their religious system is somewhat debatable anyway. I think it is probably more accurate to say that most people inherit their belief system.
Probably! Converting children is naturally easier than converting adults. And, with aging, that means the rest of their views and reasoning will grow around the religious presumption and be built to accommodate it. Dislodging that presumption, or calling it an issue of choice, would be a touch unfair.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:18 pm UTC

Greyarcher wrote:We need not believe or disbelieve it; no faith is required. Since it's at the limit of reason and evidence, I'm not even sure why we would believe it. As an axiom, it simply lays groundwork for the rest of our thoughts, inferences, and beliefs.

And that's what the God and the Bible are to religious people: Axioms. Axioms they are loathe to part with? Sure. Axioms that are superfluous to explaining how the world works? Quite possibly. But axioms - ie assumed truths none-the-less.

Wikipedia wrote:In traditional logic, an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proven or demonstrated but considered either to be self-evident or to define and delimit the realm of analysis. In other words, an axiom is a logical statement that is assumed to be true. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths.

...

Unlike theorems, axioms (unless redundant) cannot be derived by principles of deduction, nor are they demonstrable by mathematical proofs, simply because they are starting points; there is nothing else from which they logically follow (otherwise they would be classified as theorems).

Honestly, that's a pretty good definition of faith really: A statement assumed to be true and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other truths - which cannot be derived by principles of deduction with nothing else from which they logically follow.

We assume certain mathematical axioms because they're interesting and useful. Sometimes people will add in different axioms just to see where the maths then leads to. Sometimes it leads to even more interesting and useful places.

Well, to a religious person, his religious axioms are true too - and lead to (to him) interesting and useful conclusions on life and how to manage a path through it.

That's all really.

Now, a mathematician has the self-awareness that his axioms are mere tools, and, in particular, might well not be true. Most religious people also have this self-awareness - assuming their beliefs are true but aware they might not be. Very very few religious people never doubt or analyse their beliefs at all, I'd warrant.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:36 am UTC

That's meant to be a tangent, right? I don't really disagree.

Sure, you could call belief in God and the BIble axioms. However, they're also properly considered beliefs--by pretty much everyone. And since they're also superfluous, they're not really defensible in the manner of the other assumption. So the negative connotations of "faith" still apply.


Tangentially, I was recently interested in the notion of religion as--not beliefs or axioms--but as identity, and social activities as a means of maintaining and reinforcing identity. Since I've always tended towards rational analysis of belief statements themselves, it never occurred to me to look at the non-rational social aspects of religion and their impact on holding religious beliefs.

I'm not sure what light that puts on the "faith in religious texts" issue. I've never been socially involved in religion so I can't properly analyze the influences on the psyche it would have.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby elasto » Wed Jan 18, 2012 8:12 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:That's meant to be a tangent, right? I don't really disagree.

No, not really. It's a partial explanation as to why people believe in God - from which flows why people believe in religious texts.

Sure, you could call belief in God and the BIble axioms. However, they're also properly considered beliefs--by pretty much everyone. And since they're also superfluous, they're not really defensible in the manner of the other assumption. So the negative connotations of "faith" still apply.

They might be superfluous to you but they presumably aren't to the people that believe them. They might not derive interesting and useful results for you but they presumably do to the people who believe in them.

Hence, I repeat: Just as mathematical axioms are chosen because interesting and useful results can be derived, so, to believers, they have their religious axioms because interesting or useful things result for them - a decision made perhaps not consciously and rationally but unconsciously and irrationally.

It's important to note that people often rationalise backwards - typically without even being aware of the process: They reach a conclusion and then work out the justification that makes it so. And if one of the justifications is unfalsifiable - well, so much the better! That makes it harder for anyone to overturn the conclusion!
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Puppyclaws » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:24 pm UTC

elasto wrote:It's important to note that people always rationalise backwards - typically without even being aware of the process: They reach a conclusion and then work out the justification that makes it so.


Fixed for accuracy.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Scyrus » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:34 pm UTC

About faith in religious texts (original topic):
There are two main reasons for people to put their faith in a religious text. One is that they don't know any better, because they were taught since children that that is the way the world was and grew up in comfort with that fact. These people are analogous to the prisioners in Plato's Allegory of the Cavern, they see not the truth, they see the shadows they are fed, and with them they construct their own logical world - within those shadows. As was stated before, these beliefs are inherited from parents and peers.
The other reason people believe in religious texts is because it makes them feel good. Safer, if you will, or lets them rationalize their actions or disregard certain truths because they are ugly and/or those people can't handle those truths. These people are those who did not grow up with religion at their side, but rather explored it's texts after having perceived a bit of the natural world, in a time of need or doubt, which is completely inevitable in the human condition. At that time, these people's minds came to the conclusion that a certain extent (or all of) the holy books made sense within their world, perhaps because they did not experience enough of the world, or because their minds wanted to cloister themselves in a bed of comfort, as a fail-safe to prevent mental stress.


About religion and the church:
Any religion has dogmas which any rational mind can totally accept as good or true, as they offer some social or moral guidelines that are true from any standpoint. Unfortuanetely, they also offer a lot of biased opinions and downright illogical points. It's up to you to discern fact from fiction and good from bad. These holy texts were the first sources of order, and were written in order to explain the natural world as perceived by people who lived a long time ago and had no tools or means to know any different. These are the books. Religion is the way people choose to interpret them. Perhaps they believe them out of comfort, or maybe out of habit. A truth is that it provides people with hope in times of war, crime, pestilence, famin and corruption.

A Church, which is often mistaken for religion as a whole, is a tool the powerful use to pervert true religion through the use of fallacies and circular logic. It claims dominion over souls and trick the weak minded. Though sometimes they are tricked into doing something good. Other times they are deceived into setting astronomers and alchemists on fire. People only seem to look at the that last part when bashing religion, and at the first one when defending it.


On to a clarification about science and faith:
Science is the study of the natural world. It is the way we study quantity, change, and the rules that govern the reality we live in. As we perceive it. To take any scientific law as a truth, you must first accept that you are choosing to believe that this world is real and not some mental projection or lie. This requires faith. Faith that what you see, smell, taste, touch and hear is the truth. It may be and it may not, we may never actually find out. However, given that this is the only reality we have access to, the only correct option is to avoid doing things that jeopardize your existance in it. That is why sane people aren't throwing themselves off of cliff ledges expecting to fly. So, in a way, science studies the rules by which you can safely play the game of life. Nothing states that you can't be a scientist and spiritual, as long as your spiritual views do not hinder your progress.


On Occam's Razor:
I see Occam's Razor being thrown a lot nowadays. And I believe it is sometimes abused because it is used as a judge of absolute power. It should be used as an advice or guideline, not as a "your hypothesis makes one or two unnecessary assumptions, so it is proven invalid because of the Razor". The Razor proves nothing, it is more of a reminder that a theory that makes more assumptions than needed is LESS PROBABLE to be true than a simpler one. It does not make it impossible or invalid. As has been stated before also, care with the use of the Razor, lest you cut yourself.


PS: I am agnostic. And I believe people should only be religious or atheist as long as they do not use it as a means to justify attacks on each other.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Dark567 » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:21 pm UTC

Scyrus wrote:I see Occam's Razor being thrown a lot nowadays. And I believe it is sometimes abused because it is used as a judge of absolute power. It should be used as an advice or guideline, not as a "your hypothesis makes one or two unnecessary assumptions, so it is proven invalid because of the Razor". The Razor proves nothing, it is more of a reminder that a theory that makes more assumptions than needed is LESS PROBABLE to be true than a simpler one.
Right, it's a method of what is and isn't rational to believe in, not a system of proof. Occam's Razor does seem to suggest faith in God is irrational.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Scyrus » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:43 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:
Scyrus wrote:I see Occam's Razor being thrown a lot nowadays. And I believe it is sometimes abused because it is used as a judge of absolute power. It should be used as an advice or guideline, not as a "your hypothesis makes one or two unnecessary assumptions, so it is proven invalid because of the Razor". The Razor proves nothing, it is more of a reminder that a theory that makes more assumptions than needed is LESS PROBABLE to be true than a simpler one.
Right, it's a method of what is and isn't rational to believe in, not a system of proof. Occam's Razor does seem to suggest faith in God is irrational.


Sure, but I see it being used as a system of proof many times, I was just saying it shouldn't be so.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby userxp » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:13 am UTC

OP is assuming that people are rational. That's irrational. This question is as meaningless as asking "Why don't dogs speak English?". Well, what makes you think they should?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Deland » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:29 am UTC

And besides science may Prove Gods existence,You can never get something from nothing,and you cant turn something to nothing.What this means is, since we are it is therefore true that there has always been something in existence forever.Also matter and energy are interchangeable so who's to say the The big bang,which I believe in,wasn't a controlled release of his pure energy.
Science has stated that if the big bang were any weaker it would have collapsed back in on itself. Conversely if it were any more powerful it wouldn't have been able to combine its matter in such a way as to be able to form stars galaxies planets etc.etc.This in itself suggests an controlled explosion by an intelligent being.
Like I said if you seek understanding it will be granted,just don't blind yourself with pre-misconceptions. A lot of people are of the belief that science disproves God,I on the other hand have found the more I learn about science the more I see His mark upon creation.
Also Biblical scripture tells us some pretty scientific truths long before proven by science.Such as "the Earth is a sphere hanging upon nothing".When it comes to scriptures like these which there are a few the Bible has proven itself reliable time after time.Archaeologists have even found cities secular history doesn't mention based on Biblical texts.

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

Postby Jave D » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:13 am UTC

It's pretty interesting to see all the posts in this thread from people who do not believe in scriptural worth purporting to explain why people who do believe believe. And Dark's reaching arguments as to why his faith in logic is superior to faith in everything else. Or the science vs religion false dichotomy - I love that one, it's cute. But none of that actually addresses the topic at hand.

I put my faith in God. And I believe God has inspired a lot, if not all (I have not read all) of the religions' scriptures. I did not grow up into a religion. I had a spiritual experience which I could not communicate effectively to other people - most especially those who currently have faith in no-God, or in faithlessness, or in science, or who are otherwise basically here to (at best) put forth guesses about why believers believe. It was something I had to experience in order to believe; there was no person, no scripture, no argument that could have changed my mind when I was an agnostic/atheist. But having had that experience, I now derive great personal meaning and find spiritual, ethical, psychological and social truths in all scriptures I read.

Which is generally why people believe anything: they derive personal meaning from such beliefs.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:56 am UTC

Jave D wrote:I put my faith in God. And I believe God has inspired a lot, if not all (I have not read all) of the religions' scriptures.


Curious on this... where do you draw the line? Is the Book of Mormon inspired? How about Ron Hubbard and Scientology? George Lucas? Why would God (or gods, depending on your choice of Scripture) provide us with so much contradictory information?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:57 am UTC

Jave D wrote:I put my faith in God. And I believe God has inspired a lot, if not all (I have not read all) of the religions' scriptures. I did not grow up into a religion. I had a spiritual experience which I could not communicate effectively to other people - most especially those who currently have faith in no-God, or in faithlessness, or in science, or who are otherwise basically here to (at best) put forth guesses about why believers believe. It was something I had to experience in order to believe; there was no person, no scripture, no argument that could have changed my mind when I was an agnostic/atheist. But having had that experience, I now derive great personal meaning and find spiritual, ethical, psychological and social truths in all scriptures I read.
This is kind of what I meant; I see religious experiences as being almost the equivalent of a drug trip. They're not part of empiricism, materialism, or logic, but they're still valid experiences through which information is bestowed (such information is not empirical--but that doesn't mean it isn't valuable). Since I can't get outside of my head to investigate the world that actually exists--since all I can do is listen to my senses and make informed determinations using them--since experience is the only language I have with which to understand the universe, and experience is always a second-hand narrative told to me by my senses, not by reality--I find it perfectly sensible to place unusual or 'magical' experiences in the 'very real' slot. Not empirically-verified, but empiricism is not the be-all end-all.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:47 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Jave D wrote:I put my faith in God. And I believe God has inspired a lot, if not all (I have not read all) of the religions' scriptures.


Curious on this... where do you draw the line? Is the Book of Mormon inspired? How about Ron Hubbard and Scientology? George Lucas? Why would God (or gods, depending on your choice of Scripture) provide us with so much contradictory information?


I haven't read the Book of Mormon, so I couldn't say. Scientology really doesn't seem very spiritually inspired from what I've seen of it and its teachings. (Rather less so than the Jedi religion. Which as far as it goes isn't exactly bad, really. One could call 'The Force' "the Holy Spirit" and it's not far off. Of course George Lucas fucked that all up with his pseudoscientific "midichlorians" crap. But oh well.) But when I say 'inspired' I do mean inspired. All scriptures are still written by humans. Humans can err. So God does not provide contradictory information - people do. It's a problem of human perception rather than the God that humans have (and can) perceive.

However, the scripture I have read doesn't contradict; most is really in line with the teachings of the other.

Gandhi wrote:I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. I believe that they are all God-given and I believe they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoints of the followers of these faiths, we should find they were at bottom all one and were helpful to one another.


Islam, Christianity, Judaism, are all compatible with one another for the most part, drawing on the same sources and the same Source. I believe they are as well with Buddhism and Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and the Baha'i Faith. Where I draw the line then is when something does not jive with my conception of God or living what I would call a good life, and when there is a religious viewpoint (which I define as the viewpoint of a given believer; their own perception and conception and practice) insists it is the One True Way and that Every Other Way Is Wrong. And that type of thinking (groupthink and intolerance) is admittedly prevalent in human society (both in and out of religious contexts) and was what I focused on (and objected to) for years when I would seek out 'religious' people and 'debate' and mock them for being hypocrites, weak of mind, or just plain silly. However, I have found to my delight that such thinking is not necessary to have a greater understanding of faith and of God, and that it's actually rather counterproductive towards achieving any kind of spiritual connection, happiness or moral uprightness.

And as for "God" versus "gods," that comes down to perception. In my view there is One, but I can see how others might perceive more. The names can and do certainly change. But these are all just human words for what cannot be expressed with words. Just as I couldn't really describe to you my spiritual experience - I could tell the events, and sorta describe the feelings and thoughts and try to put it into context - but I know that if I had heard my telling of it without having lived it, it wouldn't communicate anything at all to me. It's definitely not empirical, as The Great Hippo says. But so little of true life is composed of logic and science.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby curtis95112 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:01 am UTC

You say it is not empirical. Yet you feel it and are inspired by it. Do you then believe that feelings are not a valid object of empirical study?
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby mister k » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:34 am UTC

I honestly do not believie that people believe literally in the words of a religious text. They say they do, but they don't act like it, primarily because they have not read it in detail, and because some of the proscriptions made are difficult to carry out in practice. When presented with this contradiction, apologists will put a lot of effort into explaining that the text doesn't reaallly say that, thus rather contradicting their initial claim.

On ockham's razor. The reason I believe that this is an effective truth finder is probability. P(a)>=P(a intersection b).

So the probability that my hat is red is strictly greater than or equal to the probability that my hat is red and on fire. Now the latter hypothesis has more explanatory power, and might be useful, but the more details I add to a theory, the more chance there is of it not being correct. In mathematical modeling terms, the model

y=a

will be less predictive than y=a+xb when the latter model is correct, but does, in a way, describe a part of model 2.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby curtis95112 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:04 pm UTC

mister k wrote:I honestly do not believie that people believe literally in the words of a religious text. They say they do, but they don't act like it, primarily because they have not read it in detail, and because some of the proscriptions made are difficult to carry out in practice. When presented with this contradiction, apologists will put a lot of effort into explaining that the text doesn't reaallly say that, thus rather contradicting their initial claim.

On ockham's razor. The reason I believe that this is an effective truth finder is probability. P(a)>=P(a intersection b).

So the probability that my hat is red is strictly greater than or equal to the probability that my hat is red and on fire. Now the latter hypothesis has more explanatory power, and might be useful, but the more details I add to a theory, the more chance there is of it not being correct. In mathematical modeling terms, the model

y=a

will be less predictive than y=a+xb when the latter model is correct, but does, in a way, describe a part of model 2.


Occam's razor only applies when two theories make identical predictions. When two theories differ in their predictions, you test them.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:52 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:You say it is not empirical. Yet you feel it and are inspired by it. Do you then believe that feelings are not a valid object of empirical study?
I should be specific; when I say 'empiricism', I'm thinking more of the notion of proving through testing and experimentation.
mister k wrote:I honestly do not believie that people believe literally in the words of a religious text. They say they do, but they don't act like it, primarily because they have not read it in detail, and because some of the proscriptions made are difficult to carry out in practice. When presented with this contradiction, apologists will put a lot of effort into explaining that the text doesn't reaallly say that, thus rather contradicting their initial claim.
I've met people who honestly believe the world is six thousand years old, oil is a limitless resource, and Jesus will walk the earth within their lifetime. They believe this, sincerely, with all their heart. And believing these things is of enormous importance to them.

I don't think this is hard to do. Humans are excellent at believing things. Brains are probably not designed with rational thought in mind. Confirmation bias helps; our tendency to compartmentalize (to separate aspects of ourselves--who I am as a scientist, who I am as a devout Catholic, etc) also helps.

I do believe there are people who say they believe, but don't actually believe--there's this great scene in Allan Moore's V for Vendetta where the villain feeds a poison wafer to a cardinal under the justification that if transubstantiation is real, the poison will become the flesh of Christ, and therefore harmless. There are people who will state they believe in something all the way up to the moment it's a matter of life or death--and then, suddenly, things will be different. There are probably also people who would eat that wafer without a second thought.

Put simply: People are complex.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby tsperk » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:38 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:Occam's razor only applies when two theories make identical predictions. When two theories differ in their predictions, you test them.


In my opinion this is the best statement yet made on this thread. Occam's razor should not be used to compare religion and science because these things ultimately make different predictions, people who use science to make religious predictions or who use religion to make scientific predictions are setting themselves up for failure. Instead, religion and science seek to interpret sensory (and yes, non-sensory) data in different ways, in order to form different worldviews that can be used to construct systems of thought and behavior, and to make predictions within those systems.

For example, given the earlier reference to the Big Bang, you could either say: "the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in its present continuously expanding state. (wikipedia)" or "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth". As you can see, these statements don't contradict each other, instead they interpret relatively the same data in different ways. Each statement can be used to make various predictions based on that observation, the scientific statement can be used to predict the motion of celestial objects, the statement about God's creatorship can be used to predict his qualities based on observed creation.

Hebrews 11:1 says that "Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for but as yet unseen". I suppose you can define a word in any way you choose, but the way I choose to define faith is the ability to use experienced data to make predictions about unobserved phenomena. I use faith in science to make predictions about the weather, electricity, gravity, and other things I can't directly see but that affects my life. Convsersely, I use scripture and my religious knowledge to make predictions about the nature of God, my own nature, and ethical systems of behavior. I don't use science to tell me the difference between good and evil, and I don't use religion to tell me when a star is going to go nova.

Put bluntly, people who are at the extreme of either side of the debate are unreasonable and irrational. Richard Dawkins is everybit as dogmatic as Jim Baker, and dogma != faith, dogma != reason.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:58 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
curtis95112 wrote:You say it is not empirical. Yet you feel it and are inspired by it. Do you then believe that feelings are not a valid object of empirical study?
I should be specific; when I say 'empiricism', I'm thinking more of the notion of proving through testing and experimentation.


Yeah, that.

The Great Hippo wrote:
mister k wrote:I honestly do not believie that people believe literally in the words of a religious text. They say they do, but they don't act like it, primarily because they have not read it in detail, and because some of the proscriptions made are difficult to carry out in practice. When presented with this contradiction, apologists will put a lot of effort into explaining that the text doesn't reaallly say that, thus rather contradicting their initial claim.
I've met people who honestly believe the world is six thousand years old, oil is a limitless resource, and Jesus will walk the earth within their lifetime.


Of course, none of these things are actually in the Bible. These are peripheral teachings, which nonetheless some people take to be the literal word of God. Just goes to show that people will believe whatever they believe.... whether it be ordained by a religious text, or just from a particular church's teachings, or something completely separate.

People believing in the words of scripture without 'acting' like they do is a simple case, not of contradictory beliefs, but of the challenge in putting belief into daily living. Few people are capable of living each day in full accordance with what they believe. For example you might believe that lying is a bad thing to do, and firmly believe that (whether because of religious reasons or a more secular sense of ethical responsibility), yet for some damned reason there'll be a situation where a lie just spills out of your mouth. It just happens. Humans aren't perfect. This too is in accordance with religious teachings. Christians ought to be the first to tell you that they are not, in fact, Christ. There is doing, and trying - this isn't a contradiction.

Generally if someone says they believe something, I take them for their word that they do believe it, even if they do not appear to live it out fully on a daily basis. Otherwise I'll be second-guessing what someone says they believe, with no evidence to prove either way, all day long. And this is certainly done by many people, hence a lot of smaller minded religious conflicts about who is a "true believer," all of which only gets in the way of living a good life as proscribed in scripture.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby curtis95112 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:58 am UTC

It seems that quite a few of you are saying that you don't use religion to make empirical predictions and only use it for introspection and thinking about the nature of God/gods. Of course, religion is a valid frame for introspection precisely because it forms a big part of you, and it's by definition a valid way of thinking about God/gods (Although many would argue your premises are false, but that's a different discussion altogether). Importantly, you don't use religion to analyze the material world. You use science for that.

Of course, this puts your religions firmly into the realm of the unfalsifiable. You're as far as you can get from religious fundamentalism without becoming atheist. I don't think that's what the OP had in mind. Nor is it how the majority of believers believe.

In any case, I have a question for all of you. Do you embrace a form of Cartesian dualism? That is, that the mind is separate from the physical body? I don't see how you can claim introspection is not empirical without it.

Edit @ tsperk: You might want to actually read Dawkins. His views are much more nuanced than they are commonly made out to be. For instance, he's perfectly willing to change his views if new information comes up. That's not dogma. Also, your chosen definition of faith seems to be equivalent to that of empiricism. Maybe you're using the wrong word.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Puppyclaws » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:55 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:Of course, this puts your religions firmly into the realm of the unfalsifiable. You're as far as you can get from religious fundamentalism without becoming atheist. I don't think that's what the OP had in mind. Nor is it how the majority of believers believe.


It's safe to say I don't see myself on a sliding scale from "religious fundamentalism" to "atheist" and I doubt the above individuals do either (maybe I'm wrong? Let me know); variations in belief are more complex than what you are suggesting. Also, I am curious as to how you know what the majority of believers believe. Collecting accurate statistical data on this is close to impossible, even with a census on individual religious belief, since even within different sects of a religion there are wide chasms of personal difference. If you have data on religious practice/belief that shows what the majority of believers believe, I would be curious to see it.

curtis95112 wrote:In any case, I have a question for all of you. Do you embrace a form of Cartesian dualism? That is, that the mind is separate from the physical body? I don't see how you can claim introspection is not empirical without it.


I think you are assuming a reductionist view of empiricism to come to this conclusion. I take an "unknown/maybe" position on the question of mind-body and mind-brain issues. People making overreaching statements aside, I find the evidence in neuroscience to be fairly inconclusive; nobody can look at a scan of a brain and tell you what that person is thinking or experiencing, and unless there is a massive explosion of new technology in the field, I doubt they ever will.

curtis95112 wrote:Edit @ tsperk: You might want to actually read Dawkins. His views are much more nuanced than they are commonly made out to be. For instance, he's perfectly willing to change his views if new information comes up. That's not dogma. Also, your chosen definition of faith seems to be equivalent to that of empiricism. Maybe you're using the wrong word.


I hate to play the mind-reading game (though it's easier to do so based on somebody's writings than based on fMRI), but I don't believe Dawkins when he says that (based on evidence!). When confronted with the fact that he depicts and describes only fundamentalist religions while simultaneously declaring his evidence rules out the possibility of all religions, he handwaves and says it doesn't matter because it's all ridiculous anyway. Which is not really an argument at all. You can dismiss Faerieology, but if you're going to argue about it, you can't say "Faeries are giant green dragons that live in Boston Common; there are no giant green dragons that live in Boston Common; therefore there are no faeries" and pretend that you have actually answered the question at hand. When people play silly games like that rather than engaging with the questions that they claim to engage with, I very much doubt their sincerity in saying that they will accept new information.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby tsperk » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:32 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:It seems that quite a few of you are saying that you don't use religion to make empirical predictions and only use it for introspection and thinking about the nature of God/gods. Of course, religion is a valid frame for introspection precisely because it forms a big part of you, and it's by definition a valid way of thinking about God/gods (Although many would argue your premises are false, but that's a different discussion altogether). Importantly, you don't use religion to analyze the material world. You use science for that.

Of course, this puts your religions firmly into the realm of the unfalsifiable. You're as far as you can get from religious fundamentalism without becoming atheist. I don't think that's what the OP had in mind. Nor is it how the majority of believers believe.

In any case, I have a question for all of you. Do you embrace a form of Cartesian dualism? That is, that the mind is separate from the physical body? I don't see how you can claim introspection is not empirical without it.

Edit @ tsperk: You might want to actually read Dawkins. His views are much more nuanced than they are commonly made out to be. For instance, he's perfectly willing to change his views if new information comes up. That's not dogma. Also, your chosen definition of faith seems to be equivalent to that of empiricism. Maybe you're using the wrong word.


1. I specifically included my definition of the word faith because the word is so commonly misused. My understanding of the word is very close (but not exactly congruous) to empiricism, and it comes from extensive study of the Bible. If people wish to use the word faith to mean "irrational belief" then I guess that we are talking about different things. I can't say that I am completely free of irrational belief: this is a trait shared by pretty much all humans, however I don't consciously try to make it part of my world view.
2. My characterization of Richard Dawkins as dogmatic is from his very public statements that religion is always a force for evil and should be resisted/restrained by a modern/humanistic society. This viewpoint appears to be just as dogmatic as climate change skepticism.
3. I don't view myself as fundamentalist, mainly because most (Christian) fundamentalists are woefully lacking in their understanding of scripture. However I do read, study, and respect all parts of the Bible. Do I believe Jesus' miracles, Noah's ark, Garden of Eden, etc... actually happened? You becha. However I cannot prove these things happened via falsifiable scientific data. I can demonstrate from scripture that their happening are fundamental to religious truth, at least the way I understand it. However, my faith in these beliefs is part of my religious/spiritual understanding, not my scientific view of the world. So I would not expect anyone who has not studied the Bible to accept my reasoning on these things. Other commonly expressed Christian beliefs, such as hellfire, the earth being 6,000 years old, and the immortality of the soul are misunderstandings of scripture and are not part of my viewpoint.
4. Given the above statements, I consider myself a dualist. However, I often have philosophical discussions with my friends about such things, and many others who share my beliefs do not consider themselves dualists.

I know that I am probably not the typical religious believer given these viewpoints. However, the typical religious believer would not be part of this discussion, so there you have it.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby Jave D » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:38 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:In any case, I have a question for all of you. Do you embrace a form of Cartesian dualism? That is, that the mind is separate from the physical body?


I don't quite 'embrace' it, but I would agree that to an extent the mind is separate from the physical body. Psychology is not neurology, after all. And yet I recognize that the body and mind are connected and influential of each other, so I'm hesitant to say for certain they are separate; also because my conception of God is that He is all things, all people, all places - omnipresent, so in that sense nothing is truly separate from anything else.
I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
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And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad.
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Re: I don't understand the faith people put in religious tex

Postby MrPhyntch » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:59 pm UTC

First thing I need to get off my chest. This will define my post, so please keep this in mind as you read. Failure to consider this statement when responding will show how ignorant you really are. Got it? Good

Religion and science are NOT opposites. They are completely different ideas with completely different goals. Ideas explained by religion and science oftentimes overlap, and are not mutually exclusive. Plenty of religious people and science people both have got this wrong. Science is about explaining the how, the when, the where, and the what. Religion is about explaining the who and the why.

I am a strong Christian. I was raised to believe in it, and I will admit that said upbringing has drastically colored my opinion. Remember that that is not the end-all-be-all, however, plenty of people who grow up religious become atheistic or agnostic.

Speaking as one on the inside, I can affirm that a vast majority of people inside the religion believe in science as much as they believe in God. Sure, there are varying extents (I'm the only one I know who will accept evolution as a very likely and complete explanation), but to a most part, religious people believe in science.... orchestrated by a figure who is beyond the 3 dimensions that we live in (4 if you accept time as a dimension we live in...). Hell, Pope John Paul the Second said in 1996 that evolution is a valid idea, supported by evidence. The catcher? Evolution does not directly contradict Christianity, provided God is not taken out of the equation (as in, God guided evolution). Genesis says that God raised us from dust. So does evolution (minus the God part, and given a bit longer time span).

This is the key distinction between science and religion. You Atheists probably don't want to hear me say it, but it's true none the less. Atheism is as much a religion as Christianity. Remember why Christianity is not science? Because God is not infalsible. It is impossible to prove that God exists. But equally, it is impossible to prove that He does not. Atheism has just as much faith involved as Christianity. Once again, a large portion of Christians believe in modern science (those who don't are called Amish, and even among them the prominent idea is "we want to separate from modern trash," not "We don't believe the world revolves around the sun").

The key difference in religion is, once again, religion defines the WHO] and the WHY. Take a modern fact, say, the universe was made, and append it for religions. Christians believe that the universe was created by GOD, because He WAS BORED/WANTED TO SET OUR REALITY IN MOTION/ETC. Atheists believe that the universe was created by NO ONE, because IT JUST HAPPENED. The red/blue [HA!] statements cannot be proven by scientific (or really, ANY standards). Science, by definition, cannot explain the WHO or the WHY, because anyone who can create the reality we have from nothing cannot exist inside said reality (how did they create themselves?) and if they are outside of our reality, they cannot be explained by science as defined. And if we can't prove who, we can't prove why, especially because why is subjective, and once again, not science.

And the given example is a perfect reason why I put faith in religious texts. The alternative, Atheism, basically says that there's nothing beyond ourselves, and existence as we know it is simply random chance that we get to experience it, to the point that it can all be explained as a series of numbers on a chalkboard. Atheism is hopeless and has no meaning, unless you apply some sort of Buddhism to give it meaning (The meaning is what we make it, etc.). However, it still has the underlying idea that we are all we have. Most religions are based on the idea that there is more than this, and that idea gives our lives meaning more than simply existing becausethat's how things worked out, I guess. As for why I choose Christianity? See the statement above that it's how I was raised.
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