Reading Philosophy

Jan 10, 2005 21:53 # 31166

kaizley *** wants to know...

Faith

60% | 3

I know this has been done several times before, because I have read them, but I need a little assistance.

“Some people say that religious beliefs can be neither justified nor refuted by reason. However, while sometimes this claim is used as a reason for rejecting religious beliefs, at other times it is used to conclude that these beliefs are established by faith. To what extent is faith a legitimate basis of knowledge claims, in religious and different Areas of Knowledge?”

That's my essay question. I'm not asking for answers I have my answers, but thoughts. What do you think about faith? How do you think faith affect society? How do you get faith?

If you were wondering, the areas of knowledge are natural sciences, human sciences, mathematics, art, ethics and... I think that's it.

and too afraid, you're too afraid to fall for anything. and too afraid, much too afraid to sing.

Jan 11, 2005 04:15 # 31181

ReallyCoolDude *** mindlessly drivels...

Re: Faith

81% | 3

Faith is directly proportional to fear. Or, maybe not. Let's see, I will try to present my hypothesis below.

[Pre-condition: you must believe in evolution. If you are a creationist, just ignore my post, as for a creationist, faith is simply a blind belief, with no reasoning at all.]

Scientists say that one of the differences between the apes and the humans is that humans could stand upright and could run on grounds at higher speeds. And, when this started happening in evolution, the human species became a hunter. They started making tools via which they could hunt their preys. And, due to this step in the evolution, the human parents, especially mothers started leaving their newborns for some time on their own. Earlier, when we were apes, the ape-children used to be with their mothers in the infancy stage all the time, using their hairy body to climb on their mother's backs. But, when human mothers decided to leave their babies alone for some time, the babies needed some support or some assurance that they are safe. This fear in both the mothers and the infants led to the formation of first form of speech called the "motherese". This is a language which we little know about but mothers still use it to talk to their babies and its just a combination of some sounds that will assure the baby that its safe. The formation of speech was one of the key steps in evolution and the child started having faith in their parents even when they would leave the child alone. This fear led to the formation of first form of faith.

How did society get formed? Most of the other dangerous species the humans were living with were more powerful then the humans. And, the only way the humans could reign supreme were to apply their new-found knowledge (applying their brains, making tools, forming strategies, speech) and stay in groups. When the human species started living in groups (whether they were hunters or farmers), the only way to keep a person tied to a clan was to put fear in their minds. (Has anyone seen "The Village"?) The village/clan elders decided to invent "faith" as set of rules to be followed, and if everyone in the clan followed the rules no harm would come to them, thus resulting in a tightly--coupled group who would do anything for their faith. For any unexplained phenomenon "God" was invented, God was someone who had answers for everything that the humans didn't have any idea about.

Now, blind faith (faith without reason) stems from two things. One: Fear and Ignorance - things that are still inexplicable. Well, if there is no scientific explanation for it, whatever the clergy says must be true, because there is no way the scientists can disprove what they are saying.
Two: Power - the power of faith is enormous. People as a group can achieve anything in this world. If you are divided and correct, you are bound to perish. If you are together but wrong, you will succeed in life. This is the basis of survival. This is the reason why faith has succeeded in this world for centuries and eons. So, there you go, Faith is fear, ignorance, and power, all three combined.

Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye opener.

This post was edited by ReallyCoolDude on Jan 11, 2005.

Jan 12, 2005 13:54 # 31231

ecthelion33 *** has an idea...

Re: Faith

87% | 3

If you are a creationist, just ignore my post, as for a creationist, faith is simply a blind belief, with no reasoning at all.

I would like to submit for everyone's consideration the possibility that creationist belief is not simply blind belief without reasoning. If it were, I would not be a creationist, and for that matter possibly not a Christian.

The concept of creationism is grounded in not so fully grounded in "fear, ignorance and power" as you assert. The reason I believe in it and not in evolution is not because I was simply brought up that way. It is merely a logically sound choice.

If you discuss this with a scientist, you will most likely find that he will grow very angry, but at the same time, unable to explain away your claims. This is because most of the scientific community now accepts Darwinian theory without much further scrutinization. Therefore let me voice explain my problems with evolution before I discuss the logic of creationism.

Evolution is, of course, a process that stretches over the course of billions of years. As such it is not an observed event, because the changes--if they really do take place--are too minute and unnoticeable to be observed. Therefore we are left to the only tools available to us: fossil records, comparative anatomy, biochemistry of differing organisms, and so on. Evolutionary biologists claim that these methods strongly support the claims of Darwin, and those of the rest of the scientific community. But since the birth of Darwinian philosophy, these records have not been remarkably forthcoming. We see records of creatures suspended in time, with massive gaps before and after them, where an intermediary ought to exist, but does not.

From approximately 600 million years ago, very little exists in the form of fossil records, but then suddenly a large number of biological organisms, systems, etc. all come into existence, without a hint of evolution. From here on out, most species that enter this supposed process of evolution enter fully intact, and then leave (die out) completely unchanged, millions of years later. There is no growth--there is stasis.

Now, on to creationism. You make an interesting claim, 'cooldude', that "faith is fear, ignorance, and power, all three combined", and that "for a creationist, faith is simply a blind belief, with no reasoning at all". I feel compelled to ask if you have ever even asked a creationist if they believe proof exists to support their beliefs. For my part, faith is never merely blind belief. It is a conclusion, based in inference and careful thought on the matter, restrained only by the fact that the thing being subjected to 'faith' is not actually present for me to see with my own eyes, and touch with my own two hands. It is inadequate, the stereotypical profile for religious believers (or the simply faithful) that they all subscribe to that ludicrous philosophy that "I believe because it is absurd."

A key scientific development of the past decade or so that you have overlooked is Intelligent Design Theory. Most scientists would scoff and name this idea "religion in scientific shoes". But based on various inconsistencies in evolutionary thought, intelligent design seems a more logical choice to many. This is not religion--rather it is merely the observation of various patterned reocurrencies in nature, and the rest of the cosmos. This leaves open the possibility of creationism, with full logical support, as well as agnosticism, and nearly any other 'faith' across the globe with a creation story. More logical support than evolution, in fact.

So I would just suggest that before you go making such grand sweeping statements about the religious community and the nature of their beliefs, you specifically ask for and look for sound reasoning behind them. Because you will find them. Even if evolution is right--you must admit, it is far from perect.

-ecthelion-

Jan 13, 2005 03:15 # 31254

ReallyCoolDude *** replies...

Re: Faith

I guess I touched your nerve out there. Well, I specifically asked to ignore my post if you are creationist. None of my points would matter to a creationist, and hence I wanted to avoid a confrontation. My reply was solely my opinion for Kaizley to help with his homework - a view from a evolutionist's point of view.

However, since the discussion has turned into a creationism vs. evolution debate, I would definitely like to reply to your mail. Let me gather my thoughts and would write a detailed reply to your post. Till then, take care my friend!

Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye opener.

Jan 13, 2005 14:44 # 31261

ecthelion33 *** replies...

Re: Faith

?% | 1

Im sorry if you got the impression that I was trying to be hostile. I was just suggesting that your analysis of creationist faith was wrong. It is fine if you want to present a view that creationists might not be interested in, but when you begin making such statements about creationism--which your post is allegedly unrelated to--you can expect a response.

I did not want to turn this into a creationism vs. evolution debate. I merely wanted to avoid creationists being cast in a negative light. That is, I wanted to avoid them being described continually as 'ignorant', when the issue is so divisive.

-ecthelion-

This post was edited by ecthelion33 on Jan 13, 2005.

Jan 14, 2005 06:04 # 31278

Bunk *** rants...

Re: Faith

84% | 3

I did not want to turn this into a creationism vs. evolution debate. I merely wanted to avoid creationists being cast in a negative light. That is, I wanted to avoid them being described continually as 'ignorant', when the issue is so divisive.

I really think you need to define what you mean by "Creationism". You see, when you say "Creationism", people think Genesis. Now, I read Genesis, and frankly it was ridiculous. Give me ten minutes to make up something more believable, and less dull (it'll have raining fire, titanic battles, exploding galaxies, etc). Genesis is simply not presentable as an alternative to Evolutionary theory, and every comment RCD made applies in full.

I'm not one to prejudge, so please elaborate on the Intelligent Design Theory. I'm almost certain you can do a better job than David Warren (an acerbic local newspaper columnist of some popularity, hopefully you've never heard of him).

Recently, he has written a series of editorials on this subject. But in fact, all he has done is talk trash trying to sound smart while taking lame shots at the minor details of Evolutionism.

He also spent time attacking it from a moral standpoint. I quote:

"Evolutionism is mainly just a comfort mechanism for people. If everything is just random, why bother to have morals?"

"The evolutionary hypothesis is the chief source of the illusion that somehow we can gain control -- and make God finally answerable to man, instead of vice versa."

This is the logic he employs. Statement one suggests that morality is only worthwhile if it gets us into heaven. Furthermore, it seems to assume that man will only act decently if he feels it is God's will that he does so. Statement two is confused. In the bible, it is stated that the earth was created for man to rule. Evolution teaches that we are simply one of many in a vast community of ever changing creatures, not that seperate from the apes. Which is more humble, a leading member of a tight knit community or a ruler made in God's own image? He says the latter.

I am fully interested in gaining an understanding of science behind the Intelligent Design Theory. But don't reduce yourself to Mr. Warren's moral panderings. Moral high-ground is made of quicksand: you can claim it for a moment, but no planted flag will stand too long upon it.

"History is more or less bunk." - Henry Ford

Jan 16, 2005 08:05 # 31386

betty *** replies...

Faith????

?% | 1

The following is a journal entry about my own questions about faith. Glean what you will. Most likely this will not help much, but it's my 2 cents.

An interesting thing happened on the way to enlightenment.

When I was studying Art History during my short stint as an Art major, I was introduced to the Buddhist Mandala in the form of a short film taped in San Franciso at a Buddhist temple, not so long ago. In the film, a small group of shorn men travelled around the nation building an intricate sand painting that would take days to complete, then destroy the beautiful work hours after completion. They would then take the sand and pour it into a body of water, then start the process all over again. And get this, once a Mandala man, always a Mandala man. The act of making the intricate and painstaking work and then destroying it is supposed to bring one closer to enlightenment, so they do this day in and day out until they die. Now that is dedication. I can see it now, "Hey, Xin, wanna go to the beach? I heard there are supposed to be some sick waves today," "Naw, man, I'm making my Mandala today, maybe I'll go with you in my next lifetime."
This, and many other things got me thinking. I have never felt dedicated or pulled to anything spiritual, unless it is a friday night and flaming Dr. Peppers are on special. It's not for a lack of searching, or openmindedness either.
I remember as a little girl, being dragged to CCD (Catholacism's answer to Sunday School) and Mass every Sunday, I would cut class and hang out behind the giant Mary statue in the courtyard and pick petals off of roses that had dried at Mary's stoney feet. I was 8 years old when I realized that for years I had been attending Bible study and I couldn't remember the names of any of the Saints, or how they had come to be Saints in the first place.
After receiving communion I knew in my heart of hearts that religion was a fraud because all I had to do was memorize a few biblical phrases and wear a white dress and the powers that be let me into their exclusive club of the "saved". How I hoped that the instant the priest placed the thin tastless wafer (that was supposed to represent the body of Christ) on my little tongue, the Holy Spirit would pop up next to me,slap me on the back and show me the secret handshake.I wanted him to make my heart swell with love and acceptance and make me want to sing hymns at the top of my lungs. But all I got was a wafer on my tongue that slowly became stuck to the roof of my mouth, and a light shove from the priest because I had paused too long after receiving my wafer and I was holding up the line.
I remember walking back to my mom and dad, who were sitting on the hard oak pew bulging with pride.My parents were bulging with pride, not the pew. I don't think the pew cared either way whether I had been given salvation or not. My mom was so full, pride leaked out of the corner of her eyes in liquid form.
I felt nothing. I was afraid to chew the wafer, because I was unsure if it was disrespectful to masticate the body of Christ. It all sounded so gruesome to me; so Donner-ish. I guess I did feel something. I felt dissappointment.
It wasn't long after receiving communion that my mom gave my brother and I the choice whether or not we wanted to go to church or not. Just now, I realized something. See that period right before the word 'Just' in the previous sentence? That is the exact point of my realization, which I will share with you now.
After my brother and I instantly made our decisions, before the question had completely left my mother's mouth, my entire family quit going to church. We used to all get up early, scrub the ranch leavin's from under our little nails and from behind our ears, put on our Sunday Best, and trudge off to church. Everyone: Mom, Dad, Brother, Me, Grandma and Grandpa. After church we would all go to Denny's for breakfast along with the other families that had managed to accomplish the task of togetherness in silence for 2 hours. But after Bubba and I said "NO Thanks" to the Big-G, everyone would sleep in on Sunday. All of us. Then Dad started working Sundays.I think my brother and I were the only reason the family was going to Mass. They must have felt it was their duty to put up a united front and give the two of us a good religious upbringing. That is until we were deamed old enough to make the decision for ourselves.
I was in 6th grade when we quit going to church. I was 10 years old when I decided that I didn't feel the need for religion. I am torn on how to think about this. Do I become reverant in my knowledge that I was not a sheep, that I was so spiritually aware at the age of 10 that I KNEW Christianity is a hollow, last ditch attempt at immortality for beings who are terrified of death? Or do I become angry at my parents for not giving me the religious support that I needed desperately at that particular time in my life? Do I blame my parents for causing me to feel detached from any type of theology that could make me feel bonded with other beings of my species?
I prefer to think that everyone is blameless. This is just the way it worked out. I don't know what I believe at this point in my life. I want to believe that I am destined for some epiphany in the not-so-far future; that the Hand of God will slap me out of my Godless reverie one day and make me part of something that I sense is beyond my reach and yet was under my nose the entire time

I am just me, searching for simplicity.........and a good hair stylist

Jan 16, 2005 17:07 # 31396

Hawkeye *** replies...

Re: Faith????

93% | 4

I notice a lot of you bring up religion. While faith doesn't necessarily pertain to religion, you would be right to assume a connection. Religion is perhaps the word that describes the state of having faith.

Though, the big problem with religion is that nobody can prove it wrong. Logic is like a fly, and religion is like a speeding car. *SPLAT!* There can be no logic in religion, because faith by its own definition dictates that it is believing something without fact or reason.

Herein lies the problem. Science, in a way, is like a religion, with the major exception is that it is dependent upon fact and reason. So scientists, for the life of them, cannot figure out why a devout religious person would possibly believe the things that he or she does for the lacking in logic. They make folly attempts to make this person understand science, but fail in the attempts because a religious person cannot be swayed in his or her beliefs.

Likewise, theologians might make the attempt to convert a scientist and hit the same brick wall, except this time, the scientists ask for proof. In the absence of proof that these theologians can provide, the scientists laugh and continue about their laboratory experiments.

Faith is a funny thing, really.

I respect RCD's attempts to explain faith through evolutionism, but there is that irony that you explain faith through facts. It's like oil and water. Such is the nature of faith.

If the world should blow itself up,the last audible voice would be an expert saying it can't be done

Jan 17, 2005 08:42 # 31423

ContingencyPlan * shakes his head...

Re: Faith - A (VERY long) treatise

100% | 4

First, let me describe my view on "faith." I will save my views on evolution vs. creationism for another post, as both replies are likely to be quite lengthy.

I must respectfully disagree with ReallyCoolDude's view on faith:

Faith is fear, ignorance, and power, all three combined.

Personally, I think of faith in the following terms: We take a set of facts, interpret them according to our own subjective reasoning, and come to a conclusion or "thesis." We often reach that conclusion without knowing all the facts - without being able to entirely prove the thesis. The facts we do know indicate a general "trend" towards the conclusion, but a gap exists between what we can fully prove logically and the conclusion we reach. Faith bridges this gap.

To put it another, more "scientific" way, let me provide some background. I am majoring in computer science at a university. Last semester, I took a discrete math class (basically the basic mathematics that underly computer science - predicate logic, graph theory, boolean algebra, etc.). The professor that taught it is researching logic programming, specifically how to program or teach computers "common sense reasoning."

He described two types of logics in relation to this goal: monotonic, and non-monotonic. In both cases, a set of facts exist, and the individual draws a set of conclusions from those facts. In monotonic logic, when that set of facts grows, the set of conclusions cannot shrink - no contradictions can arise, because no assumptions are made. All conclusions are completely logically provable from the given set of facts. Computers use monotonic logic. In non-monotonic logic, the logic of humans, the set of conclusions can shrink with the addition of new facts. Humans come to conclusions before all possible facts are known by making assumptions. New facts can sometimes contradict these assumptions, decreasing the conclusions that can be drawn. It is "faith" that allows us to maintain belief in these assumptions. The Bible supports this.

This definition of faith applies to all areas of life, even science. I recently saw a very interesting PBS special on string theory. Currently, string theory is not proven; in fact, many think it cannot be proven using our current experimental techniques. It makes several "far-out" claims, not the least of which is that we are living in an 11-dimensional universe. However, the scientists continue to conduct research into the theory, believing that they will eventually prove the theory. I would consider this faith - they have reached a conclusion [that the theory is correct or at least close to reality] even though they lack all the evidence required to prove it.

The parental trust cited by ReallyCoolDude is another example of this kind of faith. There is evidence to support the children's belief that they will be safe - their parent(s) told them they would be safe, and the parents were correct in the past. Given that evidence, the children reach the conclusion that they will be safe the next time the children are left alone. Can this be proven logically? No - logic cannot predict the future with 100% accuracy, only indicate the trend that it is expected to follow. Faith takes this trend and draws a conclusion from it, despite the inability to prove the conclusion from the available information. The children have reached a conclusion [that they will be safe] even though they lack all the evidence required to prove it.

Based on this definition, I must also respectfully disagree with Hawkeye's definition of faith:

There can be no logic in religion, because faith by its own definition dictates that it is believing something without fact or reason.

Note that the common phrase "blind faith" is a misnomer. Belief in anything, whether a religion, a scientific theory, or anything else, without any supporting evidence is not faith, but rather foolishness. True faith requires evidence - we must have something to base our conclusions on, beyond basing them on a logic-less void.

Additionally, faith is not so certain that it should be beyond question. As Bunk put it:

Moral high-ground is made of quicksand: you can claim it for a moment, but no planted flag will stand too long upon it.

We should not reject the learning of new facts simply because they might discredit or weaken our faith in something. First, we must not deny the fact that we may be wrong. By exposing ourselves to differing views, we may find "weak spots" within our theory's armor. It is our responsibility to find those weak spots and to repair them by modifying our current view. I would strongly encourage small modifications to our conclusions over sweeping changes, lest we throw the baby (the good, valid aspects of our beliefs) with the bath water (the weak spots).

On the other hand, we must not deny the fact that we may be right. We must always remember that facts never speak for themselves - they are always interpreted subjectively. All too often, people attempt to weaken or discredit others' faith using "undeniable proof" that itself is based on faith. Ultimately, this proof is indeed undeniable, not because of the facts that led the individual to that conclusion, but because of the faith that bridges that gap between what the person can prove and what he/she has concluded. Since it cannot be logically proven using current facts, it cannot be disproven either.

These kinds of "battles" (if I may use that strong of a word) are ultimately un-winnable - neither side can be logically proven “right” or "wrong," as neither argument is based entirely on logic (and thus neither argument is "monotonic"). (Creation vs. Evolution is one such argument.) In Hawkeye's example, I am assuming that the scientist is secular, the scientist is accepting on faith that there is no God, that this life and existence is all there is, etc. It is for this reason that the scientist and the theologian will not agree - not because of inherent incompatibilities between religion and science, but because they are both basing their arguments on faith, on unprovable beliefs. The two are not mutually exclusive.

(I must add that several modern scientists are Christians, and many major scientists in the past were Christians or otherwise had religious beliefs. A prime example is Matthew Maury, who began studying underwater ocean currents after reading Psalm 8:8, which describes "the paths of the seas." http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v11/i3/maury.asp

As I have said before, I firmly reject the stereotype that “Christians fear science,” as I myself get quite a kick out of the study of science. After all, God told humanity to subdue the earth – learn all that we can from it and about it. He didn't tell people to fear science.)

We must realize that if our belief is correct (regardless of what it is in – science, religion, philosophy, etc.), it can withstand honest criticism. If our belief is incorrect, we should modify it. Neither should be done in snap judgments or on blind acceptance of another's arguments, but there is a time and a place for both to occur.

(aside)
An excellent example was provided by ReallyCoolDude himself:

[Pre-condition: you must believe in evolution. If you are a creationist, just ignore my post, as for a creationist, faith is simply a blind belief, with no reasoning at all.]

(emphasis mine)

I almost find this statement offensive, not as a creationist (which I am), but as someone who enjoys thinking. Creationists should not ignore this post simply because the author disagrees with the belief. If a creationist readers refuse to read the post simply because it is based on evolution, or if they refuse to consider the argument for the same reason, that is their problem, and the author has no control over that. However, the author should not discourage readers from reading his post on the basis of their beliefs and faith. Rather, creationists should be encouraged to read it because it conflicts with their beliefs - even if they do not ditch their belief as a result of reading it, hopefully it will cause them to understand their belief in creationism more fully. Hopefully, they can also defend their beliefs (as one is already doing), and may even cause you to come to a better understanding of your belief in evolution, Mr. ReallyCoolDude.

When Edison was experimenting with the light bulb, he made over 1000 failed attempts. A person asked him once whether all those failures had discouraged him. He replied something like, "No! I'm thrilled, because I've made progress - I've found 1000 things that don't work!" Often we reach or refine our conclusions not only by examining them (which is vital), but also by examining (and potentially disproving) their alternatives.

Fortunately, as has been demonstrated, this did not stop creationists from reading the post. :-)
(/aside)

Finally (I'm sure you're glad to read that word...), faith is everywhere. Taking the definition above, we all have faith in something, from things as large as religions and scientific theories to as small as whether we'll be here tomorrow. How many times have we told somebody, “I'll see ya tomorrow!”? That is a statement of faith – we take the facts we have so far (that I've been here for the past several years), determine the trend of those facts (that I will be here tomorrow), and use faith to fill in the gap (since I cannot logically prove that I will be here tomorrow). Many today discourage the use of the word "faith," viewing it as being too religious in nature and conflicting with humanity's progress towards reason and enlightenment. Seeking reason and enlightenment are all good things, but we should not ignore the faith that permeates our individual worldviews. The only way we can truly reason effectively, especially with others of differing viewpoints, is to understand and embrace faith's role in our existence, rather than to minimize it.

Ironically, ReallyCoolDude, do you realize that the ideas in your post require faith to believe? Do you consider your beliefs to be held as a result of "fear, ignorance and power"? I should hope not. Rather, you cannot logically prove the assertions you made, as you were not there (nor was anyone else). We have no written records, no "hard evidence" that firmly supports this theory (or any conflicting one, for that matter). We only have limited facts to use. You saw those facts, interpreted them, view them as pointing to a certain conclusion, and rely on faith to fill in the gap.

I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading my post, and I do apologize for the length. I do not post as often as some, so when I do I usually have a lot to say. Thank you for your time.

I'll see your two cents, and raise you a dollar... :)

Jan 17, 2005 12:55 # 31429

jael *** replies...

Re: Faith - A (VERY long) treatise

?% | 1

An excellent post Contingency, although I had somewhat the same thoughts in mind, I know for a fact that I wouldnt have been able to convay my thoughts as eloquently as you did.

:)

*insert something profound/witty/humorous here*

Jan 20, 2005 06:51 # 31613

kaizley *** replies...

Re: Faith

Hey guys, I was wondering if any of you knew what this means? I'm not the most bible-y person you'd meet.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast"

Thanks guys.

and too afraid, you're too afraid to fall for anything. and too afraid, much too afraid to sing.


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