setzer777 wrote:1. Spirituality and faith are not universally bad things. In general we should respect people's beliefs (when they do not attempt to impose them on other people).
2. When it comes to spiritual beliefs, there's no solid basis for saying that any one of them is more likely to be true than any other (except when they blatantly contradict observable facts).
3. However, there are some beliefs so patently absurd that we want to dismiss them out of hand and show them no respect (for example, suppose a genuine believer in the flying spaghetti monster).
My problem is coming up with a standard for determining when 3 is appropriate. The standard used in most societies seems to be popularity and cultural acceptance (i.e. Hinduism and Christianity are widespread and ancient, while Scientology is young and fringe).
Is there any other standard we can use to say that "X beliefs should be respected, but Y beliefs are wacky and cultish?" I do think faith can play a very positive role in some people's lives and I want to respect that. At the same time I don't want to feel compelled (by the principal of fairness) to respect every possible combination of non-empirical claims.
being a man who generally does not follow the herd of organized religion, but still remains somewhat spiritual, here is my interpretiation:
1: sprituality and faith are generally associated, but i believe them to be seperate. it is ok to be spiritual. it opens the mind to new things, and gives one a sense of power, and clarity of mind. it keeps a person focused on what is really important. blind faith on the other hand, is a bad thing. i believe that any higher being would want his (or her) creations to think for themselves, and come up with new ways of seeing. blindly believing in something because someone told you it was right or just because you want to believe in something is reckless.
2: this has been a rather large flame war over the years, and i do not want any flack coming my way for it.
i will say this: with the new research into the way quantum physics, relativity, and other things work, just about anything COULD be possible. not everything is, but a lack of evidence is not proof that something does not exist. however, if it blatantly defies a known fact, it is safe to say it is false.
this brings me to number three:
3: dismissing someones beliefs can be harsh. but, sometimes it is applicable. if someone is blindly believing something with no basis in reality, as in, it goes against confirmable, known research/facts, such as, the earth revolves around the sun and is circular is shape.
so my rule at least would be: if it can be easily disproven, it can be easily dismissed.
with the example of the flying spaghetti monster, we have yet to disprove that life cannot be made of starch based compounds. in fact, grain and the like is a plant, starch based, and alive. so there is no reason to assume that fsm cannot exist. so, i will not dismiss someone's belief in him.
as for traditionalist christians: fitting several thousand species of mammals on one boat. kinda goes against most laws of physics. so i mostly dismiss that one.
parting the red sea: one man, with supposed magic powers, parts an entire body of water, and crosses it. it shuts just in time for their pursuers to be drowned. no wheather phenomena has been observed to cause an effect like this, and no device exists to perform this action. it is highly unlikely that a omnipotent being would favor one group of humans over another and perform such a feat just to save them. it is also unclear what part of physics would allow such an action to occur all by itself. i won't dismiss it yet, but it is looking implausible.
thats just my two cents.