I Didn't Have A Choice

By Telesmith

I cannot believe. This statement is distinctly different than saying that I will not believe. Assenting to the claims of Christianity would mean betraying myself and what I now know. It would be akin to forcing myself to believe that I don’t have two legs. That would simply be impossible. No amount of mental coercion could accomplish such a feat. I know damn well that I have two legs just as I know damn well that Jesus was not God, the bible is not God’s book and he most certainly did not die for my sins.

It all happened quite different than I ever imagined it would. I, as a Christian, thought that those who had backslidden simply “chose” to walk away. Maybe some do make an affirmative choice to leave the fold but for me it would have been an affirmative choice to stay and that affirmative choice would have been to lie to myself. I learned things I did not know before. I asked questions that I was not supposed to ask. I did not leave Christianity; I was spoiled for it. It was as if I was carried along on a wave of reality and the only way to escape its hold would have been to swim beneath it and drown in so doing. I never wanted to be an ex-Christian. As my wife so wrenchingly described it, finding out God is not real is like Santa Claus but a million times worse. I cried that whole December day at the age of six when my sister broke the news to me in a somewhat nonchalant manner. I've anguished for months over God. I loved the Eucharist. I loved Mass. I loved daily prayer. In my teenage and early college years as a Pentecostal I loved praise and worship music, powerful sermons and late night prayer meetings not to mention the constant affirmation that my generation was The Generation. I loved all these things because they helped me love Jesus. They made God seem so real. Now I’m embarrassed to remember those moments. They feel so cheap on the other side of them.

Others highlight the dozens of thinking errors of Christianity in their testimonies and how realizing those errors helped them find their way out of that game of mental gymnastics we call religion. I quit the game not so much by an inability to stomach biblical inconsistencies or poor apologetics arguments but by asking one simple question: what is faith? No one had a good answer for me, not my Christian friends, not my pastor, my mentors, my religion professors at my small evangelical college. No one. They all explained faith by placing it into one of two categories. Either the practical act of faith was drawing conclusions based on experience or it was drawing conclusions based on no experience. The Christians who made faith out to be believing in a thing because the evidence suggests it to be true puzzled me for two reasons. The first is that such a definition of faith is hardly a biblical model and second because that’s not faith at all, it's reason. If faith is the same as reason then we have no cause to differentiate it from reason. They are the same thing. I have heard it said and said it myself in the past that faith is not reason but it is reasonable. Again, however, if faith is compatible with drawing conclusions based on experience then faith is neutered. It is not supernatural if it does not add to, interfere with or augment the natural.

The latter understanding of faith is more consistent but more baffling. If faith is believing in something for which there is no evidence then it is a denial of reason. If faith is the same as reason then the concept of faith is useless and is certainly devoid of any theological virtue. Only reason is reasonable. This is where it all came apart for me. Faith and reason cannot be reconciled.

No one lives by faith in their day to day lives, not even those "Word of Faith" folk. I don't use faith when I drive to work or when I slice tomatoes or when I pay the electricity bill. I use reason. All of those actions are guided by my experience and perception of those experiences. We only use faith to believe in God. If we use reason to believe in God then we have no faith and cannot please him. If we use faith then we are unreasonable. There is simply no amount of semantic dressing that can cover up that fact, at least, not while being honest to yourself. Once the thought had occurred to me I was ruined for faith. I tried to patch the holes for about a year. I just quit thinking about it for another year but then the flood came and I ended up on the shore of reason. It’s amazing how much simpler life becomes when one is not tied up with all those endless rationalizations. I am now more free to live my life, love my family, friends, and yes even my enemies.

Note: as a Christian I was quite the apologetics buff. I realize now that I had never given Christianity a hard look. I had given the answers a hard look but never the questions. I poured over Lewis, Chesterton, McDowell, Craig, McGrath and a dozen others. I avoided however, those who they were attempting to answer. I want to charge those out there who are defenders of the faith lurking around on this website to really dig in and learn the critics. If Christianity is true then you have nothing to fear.

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55 comments:

AtheistToothFairy said...

>Again, however, if faith is compatible with drawing conclusions based on experience then faith is neutered. It is not supernatural if it does not add to, interfere with or augment the natural.
------

Hi Telesmith,

I think the common usage today of the word 'faith' would include within the definition, things like some reason and some experience. Again, I say "common usage" of the word.

Here's an equation I think would fit nicely here:

Experience + Reasoning + Faith = Assured

For instance, we may say we have 'faith' the sun will rise in the morning. We do not know for certain that it will, but it has a darn good track record of not letting us down..... although it could.
(Of course you might win some global based huge lottery to......nahhhh)

So it's easy to have faith here, based on Experience of the sun coming up every day beforehand.
Our experience helps 'assure' us the sun will be back when we awaken each day.
But this experience factor isn't the only factor we can draw upon.

Our **Reasoning** ability about the sun's qualities, usually in this case based on our learned science knowledge, assures us that our sun is young and will thrive a long time. Science also informs us the earth itself will keep on spinning and hence, the sun rises will keep doing their daily 'thing' most likely.

So now we have both good experience and valid reasoning. We now have only to add a dash of faith to this equation to be assured of the sun rise each day.

As we have less experience to draw upon, as we lose ability to reason things through to fill the remaining gap, then more and more faith must be inserted into the equation here to balance it.

When it comes to such things as religious beliefs, beliefs that have a severe lack of crucial evidence to back them up, then we need more and more faith to fill that gap.

Other than the emotional 'evidence' that one feels from experiencing religion, we have no current direct experience of god or jesus ourselves and must rely upon what we are told by other humans and/or ancient writings.
While some might claim they used reasoning skills to help fill in this religious equation, most times the reasoning is faulty at best.....These folks just don't realize it YET.

So we don't have concrete experience to use, we don't have the type of reasoning that would stand up to scientific scrutiny and that leaves us just the 'faith' value for our equation here.

I won't try and put a percentage number on this faith value needed to balance this religious equation, but I think once the value of faith becomes the dominant factor in the equation, then what you really have is BLIND FAITH. Blind faith being the type of faith you would need to buy into the Christian religions.

So, if one believes that the bible requires this blind faith in god/jesus etc., then one is forced to believe in those supernatural things without having a valid reason to do so.

I think most of us here have some real issues with buying something like god on blind faith alone. If god is indeed expecting this type of blind faith from his creation, then surely he would expect these same folks to have blind unquestioning faith in a thousand other hoaxes and religions that cover the earth's populations. Why would we pick one vague thing over another if we don't require evidence. Why wouldn't we just believe anything told to us on blind faith alone and never ever question anything. Talk about being like dumb sheep.

I can't see any reason why any super being would require us to have such blind faith and still leave us wise enough to not get taken-in by every screwball idea that many humans come up with to explain our existence and the world around us.

I think what happened to you is that you went from total blind faith, to a lesser value of faith that now demanded those other two values to increase, in order to balance this equation.
Alas, as you found out, once you take away the blind faith value and want something from the experience or reason factors, the equation becomes severely lopsided, doesn't it.

It is such a ridiculous idea that god would demand that we believe in him without giving us at least some non-faith significant values to use in our equation here.

The thought that billions of humans will burn forever in hell fire because their minds needed a tad more than blind faith alone, well, what kind of loving god are our religions trying to sell us on here, I ask.
Imagine all those burning souls in torment, merely because they were too 'wise' to ignore believing in god on here-say alone.

Heck, even satan gets out of his prison after a thousand years, so does that make us non-gullible types far more evil than satan himself?
I guess so.


AtheistToothFairy

Thackerie said...

Exactly!

When I was a teenager, I thought maybe christians knew what they were talking about, and I tried ever so hard to "get it" but just couldn't force myself to believe what my rational mind does not accept as possible.

I was told that I just needed to have faith, whatever that is, but that never made any sense to me either because I interpret that as meaning, in order to believe you must first believe. All that circular thinking just left me dizzy, as well as still doubtful.

Chucky Jesus said...

I could no more go back to believing in god myths than I could go back to believing in Santa Claus.

The only way I would profess such a belief would be if the Religious Reich took over, we became a theo-fascist state and they forced me to utter the words. I might utter them under duress, but would never, ever mean them.

Aspentroll said...

" No one lives by faith in their day to day lives, not even those "Word of Faith" folk. I don't use faith when I drive to work or when I slice tomatoes or when I pay the electricity bill. I use reason".

That is a great statement, Telesmith. You're absolutely right, no one goes about their daily routine constantly checking with god if it's ok to do this or that. Unless you are totally delusional, as some of these fundies may well be.
Good stuff, I enjoyed your post.

DoesItFlow said...

Telesmith,

Your story is very interesting... It's not every day that I read about someone rejecting the concept of faith itself!

I find it very strange that in all of your searching, nobody presented a description of faith as found in atheisttoothfairy's comment! Either you did not look very diligently (which I STRONGLY doubt, based on your post) the sources you approached were not very educated (again, very doubtful), or you simply missed or rejected the points that they were trying to make.

I think you should really pay attention to the first 8 paragraphs of atheisttoothfairy's post (the rest, as you can tell, is a statement of opinion/belief, which is not inferior, but is not really relevant to the discussion at hand).

"Faith," according to this definition, certainly must be applied to to ANY future event (this is obvious, I know, but I'm trying to be somewhat thorough), most past events, and many aspects of current events.

As atheisttoothfairy presented, some things require a greater "amount" of faith than others. Here are some examples:

"I was born." - This requires very little faith - especially on my part - because I am currently living, and it has been seen over and over again that for a human to live outside of the womb, he/she must be born. Plus, I know several living witnesses to the event who will attest to its occurrence, and there are even photos (unfortunately). :)

"I have two legs" - I can see them, touch them, and use them, and other witnesses attest to their existence. The large amount of experience and reason result in the need for very "little" faith in this current event.

"The Great Wall of China exists." - This requires a somewhat larger "amount" of faith on my part, as I have never personally seen nor touched the Great Wall. I have seen pictures in books, seen video footage of it, heard it spoken of as something in existence, and have never seen/heard any evidence to the contrary. But, since I have not personally observed its existence, my belief in its existence requires a greater "amount" of faith than the previous example, as it is dependent on a trust in other humans and their methods of proof, as opposed to my own personal experience.

"I will be able to slice through this tomato using this knife." - This is a future event, and as such requires just as much faith as atheisttoothfairy's "sun rising" example - no more, and no less. Experience and reasoning result in the need for "little" faith. However, there is certainly faith involved, as the tomato has not yet been sliced. Until the event occurs, the possibility of an alternate outcome will remain.

"I am confident that I know the time and method of origin of Earth." - This statement requires a large "amount" of faith. There are no living witnesses to this event, and it is a past event that cannot be repeated. Therefore, the element of "experience" must be thrown out completely. The only factors left to produce assurance - according to atheisttoothfairy's equation - are reasoning and faith. Any reasoning related to this assurance must be based on trust in - among other things - the methods of modern science, the intelligence/integrity of scientists, the presence of all of the essential materials for such a scientific study, and the accurate reports of such a study. The amount of "faith" required in this case is dependent on your amount of trust in these things.

"I know damn well that Jesus was not God." - This also is dependent on an enormous amount of faith, as it refers not only to past, present, and future events, but also the trustworthiness of the recorders and records of such events.

"I know damn well that Jesus WAS and IS God." - This requires the same amount of faith as the previous statement.

There are certainly countless examples that could be presented in this discussion, but I will stop there.

It is my personal opinion that essentially everything that we believe is dependent on a some amount of faith.

Faith is NOT simply believing in something for which there is "no evidence."

Faith is NOT simply "the same as reason."

Faith is intrinsically tied to both evidence AND reason, but is neither excluded nor enveloped by either.

Whew! Thank you for reading all of that! I'm sure you have plenty of responses to all that, and I am anxious to hear them. I am very eager to learn, and am open to the possibility that I may be in error.

Thank you for this forum, Webmaster!

Peace...

- DoesItFlow

P.S. Faith: "Belief in anything that has not been reliably proven." What do you think about this definition? I'm trying to come up with a good concise definition to use in conversation/debate... Is this valid?

Anonymous said...

The thing is you could ask a dozen questions like similar to "What is faith?". One might be "What is sin?"; another is "What is love?". Christians give you either some smug answer from the Bible or they beat around the bush until you don't know what the question was to begin with.
When I quit the faith, I told a Lutheran friend of mine. She told me not to "give up faith". The thing is that we came from two different denominations. She was a Lutheran who never read the bible and thought that "faith" was all you needed. I was a Baptist with an extensive Bible background who believed you needed to at least try to keep some of the commandments in the Bible. I remembered arguing with her about when baptism should occur shortly before I gave up my belief.
As I've said in other posts, I cannot emphasize enough though that reasoning is not perfect. You might criticize me, but we are all biased about the things we have observed. After all, it was probably reasoning that led most people here to believe in God in the first place; it was just reasoning based on false information that led to that belief. We should constantly question and never be satisfied when someone has "figured something out". It is reasonable questioning more than reasoning that should replace faith. We should ask ourselves, "Will the sun rise tomorrow?", and then decide on an action for each outcome.

A. Ford

AtheistToothFairy said...

A. Ford said:

"After all, it was probably reasoning that led most people here to believe in God in the first place; it was just reasoning based on false information that led to that belief"
------------

A. Ford,

I think your post is a good one, but alas I have to make my own comment on the above part of your post, if you don't mind.

While I'm sure there are some who only found religion as adults, and some of them would indeed have made that choice based on the false information you site, I think such adult believers are the exception rather than the rule.

Most of the Christians I've come across throughout my life were of two general categories:

1. They found Jesus as adults (or older teens) as an escape to the problems of their own personal history. This I have found was especially true for the more charismatic emotional sects we have.
Many grew up in broken or abusive homes and found god as a substitute for love or protection, or both.
Many others were former drug users that simply replaced their drug addiction with another addiction----religion.
Some even had a criminal past and considered themselves reformed by finding Christ.

For these three categories of believers, I doubt highly that they used their cognitive reasoning minds to decide whether their new belief in god/jesus was one that could be supported with factual information. Instead, they found something to belong to. They found others that seem to care about them and their problems, and of course, a god who would hear their prayers and give them hope in life, and a path to follow etc..

In a nutshell, this Jesus belief gave them emotional support, not intellectual support.

2. For the majority of Christians we see today, they were 'trained' from early childhood to believe in their parents choice of religion. Children don't have the brain capacity to make such complex decisions and just trust in their parent's words and guidance.
Thus, by the time our brains are mature enough to have analyzed the facts (or lack there of),
it's usually too late to rid ourselves of such set-in-stone beliefs.

Such beliefs become as real to these believers, as the earth beneath their feet and they are taught to never question articles of faith, as to do so is a grave sin.

Between these two categories I think I can safely say that they make up the majority of believers.
Thus, the minority believers would then be the type you describe, who used their minds as adults to make that choice.
I bet this type of believer is the rarest of all !!!

I think if we could take a poll on this website, that we'd find that most of us did not make a cognitive decision about the beliefs we formerly held.


**********How about it webmaster.......Is there any way to create polls here? **********


AtheistToothFairy

Anonymous said...

AtheistToothFairy,

Even though people are trained to believe in something, they still make a decision. That decision is based on limited information, deceit, or emotional pleading in most cases of religious conversion. Children do not have the ability to see that people might be lying to them because they often trust adults.
I see this happen a lot in the sciences (I am a chemistry/physics professor) though. People believe what they read in a textbook almost religiously, but sometimes that information is just wrong or misleading. This mode of thinking should be avoided all together. We need to question everything if we are to arrive at the truth no matter how many people believe it or how true it may seem. After all, that is how scientific theories are developed.
A classic example is the history of geocentricity. In Galileo's day, many thought the sun went around Earth. Galileo said otherwise. However, Galileo couldn't take into account certain anomolies in planetary orbits because he assumed circular orbits. It turns out that both the church and Galileo were wrong; the Earth is undergoing not less than 6 different kinds of which revolution around the sun is only one.
I guess I just don't like the idea of people being satisfied with a stopping point of knowledge. That's what I believe faith is - a stopping point of understanding. Unfortunately, some people follow the wrong path, but to say that we can reach the end is a bit disturbing (like saying that the atom is the smallest particle, when there are apparently smaller ones).

Thanks for the input,

A. Ford

Anonymous said...

...

I meant six different kinds of motion for Earth.

A. Ford

DoesItFlow said...

A. Ford,

Great post!! I love it!!

If I wasn't so tired, I'd praise it some more... But as it is right now...

Good night, all!

Peace...

- DoesItFlow

Telesmith said...

AtheistToothFairy -

I like your equation but I think you are over engineering the concept while at the same time missing something. You say that after experience and reasoning we only need to add a dash of faith to be assured. Why? You articulately necessitate the requirement of both experience and reason to reach a degree of assurance but faith seems tagged on there at then end.

I get the feeling and I may be wrong, that faith, to you, is a sort of gap filler that tops off our certainty of a thing when the evidence and reason leave us a little short. Well, truth be told we can be certain in the absolute sense about very little if anything at all. I don’t need faith to know that the sun will rise in the morning. My experience and my reason do just fine and where they leave off I’m simply stuck. I’ll throw in some arbitrary numbers to help make my point. Imagine absolute agnosticism and absolute certainty on a continuum. Say my experience of the sun rising everyday of my life and the testimony of history bring me 50% toward certainty that it will happen tomorrow (again the numbers are arbitrary). Say what I know scientifically about the sun and the circumstances that cause the earth to rotate on it’s axis bring me another 49% of certainty. Do I fill in the rest with faith? No! I’m simply left a 99%. Experience + Reasoning + Faith = Assured? But we aren’t assured, not really. You talk of balancing the equation but in reality the equation doesn’t get balanced. We can recognize levels of probability and that’s about all. What valid cause does faith give me to believe that the sun will raise in the morning? None. It just complicates your equation. It doesn’t add anything to it except the false notion that one may reach assurance about a thing. Hence my conclusion that faith is a meaningless phrase.

I think you inadvertently concede my point when you talk about the equation becoming lopsided. Think about it, when our continuum of certainty is mostly faith and little reason or experience the truth of a thing is rather unlikely. You admit here that faith doesn’t add to the equation. It would be like saying 4+5+0=10. No, it equals 9. Adding in this mystical faith stuff is just sophistry.

I was pretty hard on your equation and I hope you don’t take it as an attack. I really enjoyed your post and found the later paragraphs very insightful and encouraging.

Telesmith

Telesmith said...

DoesItFlow-
“I find it very strange that in all of your searching, nobody presented a description of faith as found in atheisttoothfairy's comment!”

I was given this description of faith by a few but as explained in my preceding response it is not an affirmative definition, only a kind of meaningless gap filler and as stated in my original post it does not augment reason.

“"Faith," according to this definition, certainly must be applied to to ANY future event (this is obvious, I know, but I'm trying to be somewhat thorough), most past events, and many aspects of current events.”

No, faith doesn’t need to be applied, only a recognition of the possibility of a thing not being true. Again, we are left at probability. Faith must be applied if I am going to pretend that I know something absolutely but that would be a little to much pretending.

“Some things require a greater "amount" of faith than others.”

Another and I think more accurate way of putting this would be to say that some things offer a greater degree of probability than others.

“Faith is NOT simply believing in something for which there is "no evidence."

Faith is NOT simply "the same as reason."

Faith is intrinsically tied to both evidence AND reason, but is neither excluded nor enveloped by either.”

We are still left with the gap idea of faith and only a negational definition, which isn’t much of a definition at all.

Faith: "Belief in anything that has not been reliably proven."

Sounds good to me! I hope though that I have colored the concept a little and shown faith to be an epistemological adventure in missing the point.

All your examples seem to indicate that faith fills in where evidence and reason leave off. I would simply say that we are left were those two leave us.

Thanks for the engagement. Round two commence!!!
Telesmith

Atheism Sucks said...

The arrogance of the original post, and its phony definition of faith equals the arrogance of any fundamentalist.

How about this? I KNOW you are a liar.

boomSLANG said...

Please give us the "real" definition of "faith". Thanks.

~ Atheism sucks ~

Atheism: One who lacks belief in godS.

(For the illiterate, that would be a person who lacks belief in ALL deities, not just the "one" deity that the particular person they're having a conversation with believes it)

So, you deny Allah, do ya? You SUCK. Deny Mithra? How's that weenie taste? Deny Osiris, do ya? Slurp, slurp.

'Get the picture? Probably not. Okay, what this means, is in order to be anti-Atheism("Atheism sucks"), you'd have to accept EVERY known deity; you cannot deny one.

So, it seems that in an attempt to debase Atheism and to implicitly extol your precious jesus-satay-with-crown-of-thorns-dipping-sauce, you've accomplished nothing.

Bye now.

Nvrgoingbk said...

A Ford said: "I guess I just don't like the idea of people being satisfied with a stopping point of knowledge. That's what I believe faith is - a stopping point of understanding. Unfortunately, some people follow the wrong path, but to say that we can reach the end is a bit disturbing (like saying that the atom is the smallest particle, when there are apparently smaller ones)."

Fucking A right!

I couldn't agree with you more, which is why I have been so hesitant to define myself as an Athiest or anything else for that matter, because I just don't know, and until I do know (highly doubtful this side of life), I will always hesitate to define myself. As Descarte said: "I think, therefore I am." He chose to reduce his "knowing" to NOTHING other than that he himself existed. Now, how he derived at the conclusion that his existence pointed to the existence of God is another thing altogether. There are some who reduce themselves to the same philosophy of "I think, therefore I am" and derive at no such conclusion.

My point is that we should attempt to be as honest with ourselves as Descarte and admit that we don't know what we don't know and never stop trying to find the answers, which is exactly what you propose in your definition of faith-the best definition I have heard of yet

boomSLANG said...

Good points, everyone. Religious convictions are the end of knowledge.

How about, "I think, therefore I am lacking belief in deities, despite the fact that no one knows for sure if they exist, or not" ?

boomslang(Agnostic Atheist)

AtheistToothFairy said...

A. Ford said:
"People believe what they read in a textbook almost religiously, but sometimes that information is just wrong or misleading."
---
A. Ford,

I certainly have to agree with you here on this point.
It has been my experience also, that when people see something in a published book, especially a book used in education, that they put a high degree of trust in the truths of that book.
It's only when something jumps out at them as being drastically wrong, that they then begin to question it.

Imagine what would happen if we pass out school books on the topic of Intelligent Design...oh boy!!

Sooooo, your point here is taken and accepted for sure.

----
A. Ford also said:
"However, Galileo couldn't take into account certain anomolies in planetary orbits because he assumed circular orbits. It turns out that both the church and Galileo were wrong; the Earth is undergoing not less than 6 different kinds of which revolution around the sun is only one."
----
A. Ford,

While it is a true statement to say both the church and Galileo were 'wrong' in their assessments, I think we must give credit to Galileo for being a whole lot closer to the truth than the church viewpoint was. Obviously Galieo was using his head and was on the right track and given enough 'time and resources' he probably would have realized the bigger picture of truth, as others after him discovered.

The church on the other hand was stuck in their ancient beliefs and showed no interest to validate those beliefs. It was only when the evidence was so overwhelming and accepted by more and more of society, that the church had no choice but to recant.

FYI.....I think it's funny that the church not so long ago, gave Galieo a pardon for his sinful views. I bet he feels a whole lot better now...LOL



Sooooo, while both Galieo and the Church may have been 'wrong', I think we have different degrees of well, wrong-ness here between the two.
Unless one insist upon absolutes when it comes to right and wrong, then I think Galieo wins hands-down?

I sure can't believe that Galieo would have reached this 'stopping point of understanding' you mention later on in your comment. I have to believe he was the type to keep on seeking out new truths...wouldn't you agree?

AtheistToothFairy

AtheistToothFairy said...

Hello Telesmith,


My very first thought after reading your return comments was.....Oops!!

My second thought, was that you sure know how to 'open a can of worms', when it comes to this Faith problem, don't ya [crooked grin]

I must admit that I should have read your original post far more slowly and carefully before I tried to reply to it......Hense my 'Oops' reaction------ and an apology for my too quick gut reaction to you.

I should have realized (and do now) that you must have spent an enormous amount of time on this article of Faith problem, as it was clearly the driving factor that made you turn from religion.

I would venture to say that you are unique in that regard, as you're the first person I've seen that lost religion by questioning what faith is itself, rather than the plethora of other reasons folks found to turn their back on a belief in a god being.

First I'll address some of your comments

Telesmith said:

"I like your equation but I think you are over engineering the concept while at the same time missing something. You say that after experience and reasoning we only need to add a dash of faith to be assured. Why? You articulately necessitate the requirement of both experience and reason to reach a degree of assurance but faith seems tagged on there at then end."

"I get the feeling and I may be wrong, that faith, to you, is a sort of gap filler that tops off our certainty of a thing when the evidence and reason leave us a little short"
----

Well, my formula isn't perfect and was meant to fit the common Christian, who includes an *emotional* belief factor (faith) in their religious assurance, or did during a time when they held such beliefs.

I have to believe that folks who have no religious beliefs, wouldn't require very much faith in their day to day lives. Perhaps intuition and instincts would be what dominates over faith, in folks who see little mystical qualities about the world.

Notice that I didn't say that atheist have NO faith emotion at all, just that it's far less important when you live in the real world amongst mostly tangible things that don't require extraordinary faith.
---
You said:

"I don't use faith when I drive to work or when I slice tomatoes or when I pay the electricity bill. I use reason"

The example of the sun rising and "DoesitFlow's" example of cutting the tomato, along with your own examples now:

I still feel that they all require that 'dash' of faith to reach 100% assurance....Assurance being an **emotional** need here, and not an intellectual one.

We can't be totally sure the sun will rise, that the knife will cut that tomato or that your drive to work will be without incident.

The knife might fall apart in your hands, your car might breakdown during the drive to work and even the sun rising isn't 100% certain.....99.99999% yes, but not 100%
If one were a robot, then one couldn't care if the assurance value never reached close to 100%.
As you suggest, it would just take whatever number things added up to and that would be that.
Alas, most humans desire a feeling of something being assured, even if we reach such assurance by interjecting faith into the formula to reach that assurance level needed to make us feel comfortable.

My formula's value for 'faith' was meant to be a gap filler for an emotional need, not an intellectual one.
The experience and reasoning values would clearly define the intellectual needs one would demand.

Therefore, I believe my formula is valid for someone who requires an emotional satisfaction quotient in order for them to feel assured in their conclusions.
Surely we can agree that faith is the emotional bridge builder in religion, between reasoning/experience
and reaching enough of the assurance value to make us cozy in our belief.


You said:
"Think about it, when our continuum of certainty is mostly faith and little reason or experience the truth of a thing is rather unlikely"

I couldn't agree more with your statement here and I'm sure most atheist critical thinkers would also agree to with your statement.

However, Christians (and mystics) don't care about whether something is unlikely or not. They start with the premise of what they wish to believe first, then grab whatever evidence they can cherry-pick to support it, then fill in the blanks with blind faith so they can feel emotionally assured they are right.

Obviously the very thing that ate at you in regards to the opposition between faith and reasoning, doesn't seem to affect most believers as they just choose to ignore this problem you discovered.
I again therefore feel that my formula would work for such believers, as the faith value is REAL to these believers and significant enough to make the formula balance out for them.


Now, I think it's important to try and reach a meaning for this important word...FAITH.

Faith is a VERY difficult word to define, just based on the debates I'm reading about, on what it means.

My own long term understanding of the meaning of 'Faith', is that faith is the quality of believing in a thing will happen, or a thing exist etc., when one can't know with 100% probability that such a thing will happen or such a thing exist.
But as I said, that is my opinion, so we can't use my opinion alone.... I mean, heck, I'm not God typing here...LOL

I did some searching around the Internet and found the following examples that might help us here......

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith

"Faith is based upon the interpretation of the intangible (feelings, emotions, etc.) instead of the physically tangible and is primarily associated with religion in modern times"

Another web site (http://chem.tufts.edu/science/Shermer/E-Skeptic/ProbabilityofGod.html) made this remark that goes along with YOUR thinking:

"A god who rewards reason over blind faith nullifies a god who rewards blind faith over reason, etc."

---And this web page also said this-----

"Blind faith is the mathematical antitheses of reason. It is a shutting of the eyes and a refusal to think"


From this site....http://groups.google.ws/group/Atheism-vs-Christianity/msg/f93271d73af0e48f

"I think of faith as "a belief that does not rest on logical proof or
material evidence." The only other thing I can think of to base a
belief on is emotion, so I think of the word "faith" as practically
synonymous with emotion"
----

So my idea that faith fulfills an **emotional** need, in my formula, seems to be valid if these other definitions are correct one's.

In trying to understand your original post better, where you're questioning your faith vs reason problem of the past, I'll say this......

You seem to imply it was a choice between Faith -OR- Reason, that one can use to form their god beliefs on.
I would agree with you that if your beliefs are based solely on just reasoning, then you wouldn't have the faith that god seems to require in order to be 'saved'.
I would also agree with you that if your beliefs are based solely on just faith alone, then your statement; "then it is a denial of reason", is also quite true.

It seems the problem here is that you're not talking about some value of faith, but you actually mean BLIND FAITH....blind faith being something that doesn't require any reason for a belief.

Your problem, to me, seems to be that you had a need to use only reason, or only faith, to believe in your former god.
While I'm sure we can find a few who believe in god based only on blind faith, and we might find a few who base their belief using only reasoning (but false reasoning), I have to think that most Christians out there use some of BOTH to form their beliefs, and not one or the other.

Going back to my formula now:

The 'experience' factor for Christians would probably be made up from other believers that insist they have felt the presence of god, along with knowing that human history is filled with folks who have claimed to have had such experiences. So while it's not a personoal experience per se, and based on hear-say alone, it's probably significant enough for THEM, to use in this part of the formula.

The reasoning factor for Christians isn't hard to obtain. With all the apologist we have around handing out reasons to believe in god (and deny other possibilities like evolution), it's not that hard for them to focus on what the apologist say and ignore the rest of the evidence.

For whatever value that remains to reach the desired assured value that works for a particular individual, it's only a matter of putting in a certain amount of the faith factor.

So the way I see it, it's not really a choice of picking one of the three factors, but coming up with mixture of the three that would add up enough to reach one's personal requirement for assurance.
Most times that assurance is going to be made up from both non-emotional values of reasoning and experience, and supplemented by the emotional faith value, hence the equation would then balance for THAT person.

Obviously this formula can't work for your own faith vs reasoning problem......

For yourself, even if the faith value alone would equal the assurance value needed, you're not willing to have all that faith minus the reasoning.
If the reasoning value equaled the needed assurance value, it still won't work for you, because there is that loophole of god requiring belief in him using faith, in order to be saved.

So I agree, my off-the-cuff formula can't work for you, but I still think it would fit many many other Christians out there who don't see a problem having a mixture of the three factors to reach their personal assurance level that god exist etc..


You said:

"I was pretty hard on your equation and I hope you don’t take it as an attack. I really enjoyed your post and found the later paragraphs very insightful and encouraging."
"I really enjoyed your post and found the later paragraphs very insightful and encouraging. "


No, I didn't take it as a personal attack, but it did make me dig deeper and think things out a bit more.
I think it's actually a good thing for someone to question another's opinion, if for no other reason than to weed out any fallacies it might contain.
If we didn't challenge each other from time to time, than we might build on a foundation built from a false premise.

This type of a questioning process makes for darn good ummmm "engineering".....LOL


Once again, I made a long long comment and have to apologize to everyone for "cluttering up the works" here.


AtheistToothFairy

stronger now said...

Faith =thinking that old people know something that you will know someday.
Faith= thinking that people smarter than you know a reason to keep going on.
Faith=the hope that things will turn out differently for no good reason.

Faith is a reason to believe anything. But it is not a reason for anything.

Faith= the ultimate security blanket.
It doesn't really do anything, but it feels good to have it.

AtheistToothFairy said...

stronger now said...

"Faith=the hope that things will turn out differently for no good reason."

Stronger now......
You mean like the faith I TRY to have, when I watch an old favorite movie, but keep hoping it has a happier ending than the last time I watched it? [grin]

Keep Smiling,
AtheistToothFairy

Telesmith said...

Atheisttoothfairy-
I suppose I do know how to open a can of worms. Your last post was great! I think you reconciled our ideas very well. I enjoyed the exchange a lot.
You seem like the kind of person that would be great to have at a religious discussion /free-for-all!
Peace,
Telesmith

DoesItFlow said...

First of all, thanks to everyone taking the time to thoughtfully engage in this discussion (especially Telesmith, Atheisttoothfairy, and A. Ford!)

Telesmith and others,

It's apparent that I needed a clearer understanding of your views, especially in regards to your definitions of "faith," "reason," "probability," etc. - in other words, the majority of the key words in the discussion! Thanks for providing that... I hope that I'm now on the same page with you!

Okay... Telesmith, let's see if this makes sense:

By the simple act of professing to "have faith" in something, an honest (key word) person is automatically admitting "a recognition of the possibility of a thing not being true."

Any sensible person who professes to "have faith" in something is not claiming to have absolute intellectual assurance (or, in your words, "pretend[ing] that I know something absolutely") at all, but is instead openly admitting the existence of the "gap" to which you refer.

Faith may therefore be seen not as a "gap-filler," but a "gap-admission." The fatal error of most belief systems (Christianity included) is that the "gap" is admitted, but never satisfactorily "filled."

You have chosen to reject any idea that you feel falls on the "other side" of that gap, instead accepting only those things in which you feel that reason/experience/evidence have justified belief.

By this process, you have discarded "faith," labeling it irreconcilable with reason. Presumably, this means that you only believe things that you feel are 100% assured by reason/experience/evidence, as anything less than 100% assurance by reason/experience/evidence would fall into the category of "faith," which, by definition, allows for the possibility of error.

Your day-to-day "actions" are "guided by...experience and perception of those experiences." You currently live a "simpler" life that is not "tied up with...endless rationalizations."

All of your current beliefs fall into a "non-faith" category (in other words, they are 100% justifiable by reason/experience/evidence), and these beliefs have made your life "simpler" and have essentially eliminated the need for "rationalization."

You have decided to believe that full assurance of a HUGE amount of things is impossible, and nothing should be used to "fill" any "gaps" that are left by reason/experience/evidence. This is more favorable and pleasing to you than admission of any kind of "faith," and has enriched your life on a greater level than Christianity ever did.

Is this accurate? If not, please correct my errors... But, either way, this whole discussion begs the question:

What DO you believe? We've talked about what you DON'T believe, but what is left after all of these faulty "faith-based" conclusions have been rejected?

It would be interesting (exciting, even?) if the conclusions that you have arrived at line up with my own!

Okay, next thing:

Regarding these statements by AtheistToothFairy:

(1)"...Faith is the quality of believing [that] a thing will happen, or a thing exist[s] etc., when one can't know with 100% probability that such a thing will happen or such a thing exists."

(2)"You seem to imply it was a choice between Faith -OR- Reason, that one can use to form their god beliefs on.
I would agree with you that if your beliefs are based solely on just reasoning, then you wouldn't have the faith that god seems to require in order to be 'saved'.
I would also agree with you that if your beliefs are based solely on just faith alone, then your statement; "then it is a denial of reason", is also quite true.

It seems the problem here is that you're not talking about some value of faith, but you actually mean BLIND FAITH....blind faith being something that doesn't require any reason for a belief.

Your problem, to me, seems to be that you had a need to use only reason, or only faith, to believe in your former god.
While I'm sure we can find a few who believe in god based only on blind faith, and we might find a few who base their belief using only reasoning (but false reasoning), I have to think that most Christians out there use some of BOTH to form their beliefs, and not one or the other."

(3)"Surely we can agree that faith is the emotional bridge builder in religion, between reasoning/experience
and reaching enough of the assurance value to make us cozy in our belief."

As for statement (1), I actually prefer AtheistToothFairy's definition of faith to my own. This is the one that I had in mind when writing the first part of this post, and will likely continue to use unless provided with a more favorable one. It also seems to be consistent with A. Ford's definition, which I also appreciated.

I also agree with statement (2), and am interested in your response to that aspect of your post.

As for statement (3), I would agree, but also want to point out that faith is used by many as an "emotional bridge builder" not simply in religion, but in all of life! Going by AtheistToothFairy's previously stated definition of faith, faith can provide the emotional stability that enables a person to function on a normal level (ie: faith that the floor will support you, your lungs will not cease to function 5 seconds from now, and everybody around you is not going to suddenly develop a desire to kill you).

Emotionally, this kind of assurance is required on some level. Some people choose not to use religion as this source of emotional assurance, but rather depend on reason/experience/evidence. It is up to the individual to choose which is a valid source.

Wow, another long one... Sorry about that, but this has really turned out to be an interesting discussion!

Looking forward to more education... :)

Peace...

- DoesItFlow

Anonymous said...

I read your background and some of the comments people have made about Christianity. I have meet so many "atheists" who accuse Christians of being simple minded and don't think. In relation, they take things for granted without even themselves realising it. For ex. evolution. Scientificially evolution still can't be proven. Case in point; the fossil record HAS NOT ONE FOSSIL that is transitional.
In short, I think the atheists need to realise that their view does not hold much water.

Bob Turlington
shelltough@hotmail.com

AtheistToothFairy said...

Bob Turlington said:

" Scientificially evolution still can't be proven. Case in point; the fossil record HAS NOT ONE FOSSIL that is transitional."


Will someone PLEASE point this naive man in the right direction before I'm forced to write yet another long comment in this post.

I will say this to you Bob in the meantime, the 'theory' of evolution in the scientific community, hasn't been in question AT ALL, in many decades.
It's a proven FACT, and by many independent disciplines of science as well.

No, they do not join together in some huge anti-god conspiracy, in some covert interest of disputing your bible viewpoint......In fact, they couldn't care less about your bible beliefs when doing REAL science.

If you take the time to actually study how evolution works, I mean REALLY STUDY IT, you would soon realize it is no more a 'theory' than gravity is a theory.

Wishful thinking will never make the facts go away...they exist whether you believe in them or not....Sorry about that little bubble-breaker.

Besides the ***overwhelming** amount of evidence evolution has supporting it, there is as much counter-evidence to show your creation idea; along with Noah's Ark starting all the life forms over on earth, just never could have happened....PERIOD!!!

Stop reading what some off-the-wall fundie apologist says is the truth and go find out for yourself please !!!!

Shezzzz


AtheistToothFairy

alanh said...

Bob Turlington:

Here's a good example of transitional fossils:

Horse Evolution Over 55 Million Years

Thackerie said...

You've been lied to, Bob. Here's where you can learn that there are NUMEROUS transitional fossils:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html

DoesItFlow said...

Athiesttoothfairy,

Just respectfully reminding you that Evolution IS, in fact, a theory. PLEASE do not associate it with the law of gravity, as that is a completely inappropriate comparison.

Now, just because Evolution is a theory does not make it false by any means. To the contrary, for something to be referred to in scientific circles as a "Theory," it must undergo rigorous testing and pass such tests. Saying that Evolution is a theory is not a small admission.

However, by way of accuracy, please do not refer to a theory as a "proven fact." Theories are based on many things, including facts, but are not "facts" themselves. Sources of information regarding Evolution may refer to facts, and may even TREAT the theory more like a law, but NO respectable scientific journal or other resource (including those supporting Evolution) will refer to the "Law of Evolution," but will ALL, in fact, refer to it as a Theory at most. There are reasons for this, just as there are reasons that no Christian can lay claim to a "Law of Creation" (There just happen to be a lot MORE reasons for the latter :)

PLEASE note that I am not addressing the VERITY of the Theory of Evolution, but merely defending the fact that it is, in fact, a Theory.

And, PLEASE note that this is not meant as a personal attack! As you can see from my previous comments, I have a lot of respect for you... Maybe this is why I even bothered to comment on this issue... :/

Thanks for listening!

Peace... :)

- DoesItFlow

Anonymous said...

doesItFlow has it right. The thoery of evolution is not a fact. This is exactly the kind of thinking I was talking about in this post and an earlier one.

The thoery of macroevolution does have some huge (I mean really HUGE) problems with it. Like the evolution of sex. If the definition of a new species is one that cannot interbreed, then what is the liklihood that male and female pairs could get together to reproduce? How did the first male/female pair come about? This is just the tip of the iceburg for problems in evolution.

This is not to say we should believe in intelligent design, which is no better. We should hold off judgment on things until we have a better understanding of them. Whatever you do, though, don't put the theory of evolution (an explanation) in with gravity (an observation).

I don't want to get off on evolution too much other than to say it probably was just a ploy to keep religion out of science after some of the flaws in it were found. Let's face it, it really doesn't do us a lot of good to figure out where we came from; all that really matters is our future. The future is where scientific theories have their utility because theories give us direction.

A. Ford

.:webmaster:. said...

"When non-biologists talk about biological evolution they often confuse two different aspects of the definition. On the one hand there is the question of whether or not modern organisms have evolved from older ancestral organisms or whether modern species are continuing to change over time. On the other hand there are questions about the mechanism of the observed changes... how did evolution occur? Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a fact. It can be demonstrated today and the historical evidence for its occurrence in the past is overwhelming. However, biologists readily admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution; there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution." -- LINK

boomSLANG said...

DIF: Just respectfully reminding you that Evolution IS, in fact, a theory. PLEASE do not associate it with the law of gravity, as that is a completely inappropriate comparison.

Good grief, this again?

Okay, it seems that you are the one who needs reminding that when science designates something a "theory", that it does NOT mean merely a "guess", or "hunch". Ex. "Atomic Theory" is not just a "guess". And I'm sorry, but yes, the Law of Gravity certainly must be a THEORY, in order be a "Law". So yes, it is a perfectly suitable comparison, as it is not merely a "hutch", or a "hypothesis"; it is an observable, testable fact. Conversely, "creationism" is NOT observable; it is NOT testable---thus, it is neither "fact", nor "theory".

BTW, I notice that Christian creationists are part of a group called the "Christian Faith". Not EVEN a "theory", eh? 'Sounds pretty flimsy for someone making charges that a "theory" is questionable.

Notwithstanding, science doesn't deal with absolutes. That said, if/when it can be proven that a few thousand years ago an invisible flying man-god on a stick swooped down from space and made two Caucasian human beings out of dirt?... then that "hypothesis" might replace the current THEORY of Evolution. Until then, it remains a legendary mythological hypothesis--nothing more.

Bye now.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to wonder if people know the difference between a theory and a law in science. For one thing, a theory does not become a law when it is tested over and over again. This is WRONG. THEORIES ARE EXPLANATIONS; LAWS ARE OBSERVATIONS.

For example, Quantum mechanics is just a theory. Most of the time you get an acceptable result, but every once in a while you get an anomaly. I have a PhD in quantum mechanics; it is well known that the models we use are just mathematical descriptions of something we can't really observe. Thus, quantum theory will always be a theory. The existence of gravitons (things that cause acceleration due to gravity or gravity) are just theory. Gravity (i.e. the idea that things accelerate because of a mass interaction) is an observation.

Laws are pure observations. For example, Allen's law says that animals in cooler climates have shorter ears and tails than those in warmer climates. This is an observation. Evolution says that they are this way BECAUSE of natural selection or some other phenomenon. This is high school stuff people. I shouldn't have to explain this.

As for evolution, yes microevolution is a fact. It is observed daily as alleles change population constantly. Macroevolution has never been observed, so it is not a fact. It will probably always be a theory and has the potential of being dead wrong because of the mathematical improbability with which it would occur. This is why apologists attack evolution so much because it has obvious problems that scientists do not address. They just wave their hands as if it were true while spouting out evidence of fossil records and such. However, the underlying genetics, which is the central player in evolution, is contrary to what the macroevolutionists say, like the interbreeding example I mentioned above. Sure, mutations happen, but how can you expect a species that can't interbreed to produce offspring when there are no members of the opposite sex?

A. Ford

boomSLANG said...

Yes, yes, yes, already... "gaps" in macro Evolution.

"Notwithstanding, science doesn't deal with absolutes. That said, if/when it can be proven that a few thousand years ago an invisible flying man-god on a stick swooped down from space and made two Caucasian human beings out of dirt?... then that "hypothesis" might replace the current THEORY of Evolution. Until then, it remains a legendary mythological hypothesis--nothing more.

This is high school, people.

Anonymous said...

It appears that we've been presented with a false dichotomy here: either we believe evolution or we believe in God.

This is what I was talking about previously when I described faith as a stopping point. Apparently, it is not enough to reject both God and evolution; we have to pick one or the other. The best explanation isn't necessarily the right one; it's just one more explanation. By limiting ourself to an "either/or" scenario, we severely impede our understanding of the universe.

A. Ford

.:webmaster:. said...

People,

It doesn't make a damned bit of difference if evolution is an accurate description of life or not.

This conversation has NOTHING (NOTHIN G, NOTHING, NOTHING.... NOTHING) to do with evolution.

No matter how accurate or inaccurate our science is or ever was, there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that there is a magical sky daddy with an un-dead, zombie son floating atop the circle of the earth.

This evolution discussion is all smoke and mirrors, presented by desperate fundies, who mistakenly think that throwing doubt on science somehow PROVES magic.

Let's quickly analyze the Creationist premise: GOD DID IT.

OK, fine. God did it. HOW DID GOD DID IT?

Fundie answer: I don't know. We can't understand the way GOD works.

That is not an answer. To say "I don't understand evolution" is no different than saying "God did it, but I don't understand it."

All anyone is saying who promotes Creationism is that "I don't know!"

Well, I am no scientist. I don't understand all sorts of things. I don't pretend to. But because I am ignorant, doesn't mean "GOD EXISTS, and HE has a bastard son from impregnating a Jewish teen."

Get it?

boomSLANG said...

A Ford: It appears that we've been presented with a false dichotomy here: either we believe evolution or we believe in God.

I think the fact that there are millions of liberal Christians who believe we evolved demonstrates that "God" and "Evolution" aren't mutually exclusive. Point taken.

'K, how does the natural vs supernatural "dichotomy" work for ya?

DoesItFlow said...

Thank you, A. Ford!

Thank you, Webmaster!

Two thumbs up! Very thoughtful, logical, valuable input. I appreciate it!

Now, boomSLANG, on the other hand...

*sigh*

You know what? I'm just going to calmly finish enjoying this delicious tea, go to sleep, and continue wishing that this discussion had stayed on its original track... Any chance of getting it back, or is Telesmith's post just a distant memory? :)

All the best to all of you!

Peace...

- DoesItFlow

Telesmith said...

HOLY SHIT!!!! Apparently more than one can of worms was opened. I only take responsibility for the faith can.

Webmaster--

Thank you for cutting through the BS. This evolution digression, although an interesting one, is a waste of time and definitely not suited for this website. Smoke and Mirrors indeed! Fudnies do have an uncanny ability to dominate and “steer” conversations, usually toward the Lord but in this case towards evolution. After all, every Sunday they get a nice lesson in rhetoric. No wonder they’re so good at it.

DoesItFlow-

Your summery of my thinking is almost accurate. I favor the idea of “gap admission” and try my best to be only as sure of a thing as the evidence suggests, which is very hard to do and impossible to accomplish any bit close to perfectly but it’s the best any honest person has. I don’t only believe in those things of which I can be 100% sure. “I think therefore I am” Is the surest of all but even this statement, as ole Descartes points out, contains a margin of error. I believe In a great deal more. I can’t put a number on it but what I can do is admit that my beliefs may be wrong and never, NEVER be afraid to reexamine my convictions. I seek to believe what is most probable not just what can be proven and most certianly not what is unreasonable.

I see faith as the absolute gap denial. It is believing a thing to be 100% when there is no reason to do so. I know so many Christians that know that they know that they know that they know………. If you want to define faith as a recognition that a thing may not be true then I guess I could be called a person of faith but I don’t think this is how religious people use the word at all. They believe that faith is a reason to believe in its self. Faith is not a reason to believe, hence my original dichotomy. Faith may be believing in something because there are reasons but faith sure as hell is not one of those reasons.

What do I believe? Way to throw the gauntlet. I mean you really know how to chuck the sucker.

The issue of what to believe actually slowed down my deconversion for a while. I was afraid of a belief vacuum. Well, this was put to an end by the realization that if my current beliefs were false then there was a vacuum already, whether I realized it or not. I cannot give you a credo. So, I’ll do this: steal from one of my favorite Christian authors. He’s the only one that I can still bear to read, although barely: G.K Chesterton. “Gratitude is the measure of all happiness. Thanks are the highest form of thought. We should always endeavor to wonder at the permanent thing and not the mere exception. We should marvel at the sun and not only the eclipse. We should wonder at the earth and not the earthquake. You say grace before meals, alright, but I say grace before the concert, the opera, the pantomime and grace before fencing, swimming, boxing, running, walking, laughing and grace before I open the book and grace before I dip the pin in the ink.” the quote is almost right. I can’t remember it all and have loaned out all my Chesterton. I may not say grace to a God any longer but I still say grace, especially to those around me. Anyhow, I believe in gratitude. It’s a cheap way out of your question but hey, I’m two and one half decades behind on working out MY OWN philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Telesmith,

It is good that you are working out your own philosophy.

I refer back to my original comment on this topic. What is love? What is sin? These kinds of questions allow us to avoid the "belief vacuum". People have faith in something because they are often too lazy to think for themselves. They need something to fall back on, and since everybody around them is believing in god X, they go along with the crowd. Children are especially vulnerable to this way of thinking.

I hope you continue to think for yourself, but we should always be careful about what to believe. Always remember to ask questions. It is faith, not sin, that destroys the mind.

“The important thing is never to stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein

"The fool wonders, the wise man asks."
Benjamin Disraeli

"Animals are such agreeable friends, they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms."
George Eliot

"If you don't know, ask. You will be a fool for the moment, but a wise man for the rest of your life."
Seneca

"Questions focus our thinking. Ask empowering questions like: What's good about this? What's not perfect about it yet? What am I going to do next time? How can I do this and have fun doing it?"
Charles Connolly

A. Ford

DoesItFlow said...

Telesmith,

Thanks for the response! Great stuff!

I guess I did kind of go for the knockout punch on that last one, huh? ;) I suppose, like you, that the "vacuum" to which you referred jumped out at me after reading your post...

Hmmm...

It seems to me that no matter what happens, we are always standing on SOMEthing, never just floating in space. Almost as though ruled by gravity, our thoughts/beliefs will always support themselves on some kind of surface, whether we are conscious of it or not. We may be walking from one step to another, or find ourselves on shaky ground, but we are never just floating around. Therefore, if you have left the cliff of Christianity, you are not falling into nothingness, but rather stepping into "unknown territory" - just as real of a place as the ledge, but simply yet to be discovered. Happy trails! :)

Now, as for your post itself...

"I can’t put a number on it but what I can do is admit that my beliefs may be wrong and never, NEVER be afraid to reexamine my convictions."

- Spoken like a true explorer! If this is your mindset, you will be the least likely to misinterpret whatever you find along your journey.

"If you want to define faith as a recognition that a thing may not be true then I guess I could be called a person of faith but I don’t think this is how religious people use the word at all. They believe that faith is a reason to believe in its self. Faith is not a reason to believe, hence my original dichotomy. Faith may be believing in something because there are reasons but faith sure as hell is not one of those reasons."

- Very well said, sir...

"I seek to believe what is most probable, not just what can be proven and most certainly not what is unreasonable."

This is an important statement. I think this is the closest thing to a "creed" that you have developed... However, it leaves me with this next question/question set, which may be my last:

How do you contrast a belief in "what is most probable," "not just what can be proven," and "most certainly not what is unreasonable" with the "gap-filler" view of faith (not that of "religious people," but just as a concept)?

After all, who decides what is "probable?" What is "reasonable?" If *you* decide these things based on your own judgments, and not on the proven/unproven state of something, aren't you "filling gaps" in a sense, not blindly, but thoughtfully?

Surely, you are not doing it in a "know that I know that I know" sense, but isn't calling something that is unproven "probable" or "reasonable" a basic "mustard seed" sort of faith referred to in Matthew, Mark, and Luke?

I think the best way to view a balanced Biblical model of faith is a belief that the Bible is true, despite being "unproven," and that everything else from that point on must be proved "probable" or "reasonable" according to that accepted standard. The "gaps" are "filled" using the Bible, which has already been accepted AS a "proven fact," and everything else from that point on that cannot be "filled" using the scriptures falls under the "gap-admission" category of faith.

But, as for us, who is really going to accept the Bible as truth? ;)

And so, here we are. :)

Peace...

- JD

DoesItFlow said...

P.S. I LOVE that you used Chesterton... He's always been a favorite of mine!

boomSLANG said...

Telesmith,

Great post....in particular, what you addressed to the Webmaster.

---------------------------------------------

DIF said: Now, boomSLANG, on the other hand...

*sigh*


Lol. Good grief, DIF....can you spare us the mellow drama? I mean, seriously, it's debate for cryin' out loud, not tiddlywinks. In other words, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that whenever there's a clash of worldviews, that things might get heated from time-to-time. In any event, would it have helped if I had said, "Pardon me, but IMO", I think your characterization of what a "theory" is, is misleading"....? If so, I hereby retract me original refutation, and submit the latter---that is, "yes", IMO, the way you originally portrayed what a "theory" is, was misleading.

Furthermore, you seemingly extol the Webmaster's post, but unless I missed something, said post was a pretty scathing, but accurate, refutation of the "God of the gaps" hypothesis---one that you, at the very least, implicitly offered...which again, is neither fact, nor "theory". Once more, the Webmaster was right--"GOD DID IT!" answers jack'...whether you deliberately implied it, or not.

Now that that's hopefully out of the way, let's have a look at some of your previous statements in this thread:

Does it flow: "I know damn well that Jesus was not God." - This also is dependent on an enormous amount of faith, as it refers not only to past, present, and future events, but also the trustworthiness of the recorders and records of such events.

This assertion totally depends on which characteristics are attributed/assigned to said biblegod. Since there's not one single shred of empirical evidence for said "God", then we must rely on second-hand evidence, and/or "revelation".

That said, if we leave it to the Christian and/or Christian doctrine to define "Jesus", then 9.9999 times out of 10, the subsequent result will likely be full of contradictions..i.e.."meta-physical", compared to physical; "timeless", compared to "temporal"; "has freewill", compared to "omniscient"; "ALL-loving", compared to "only believers get in heaven"; "perfect", compared to the creation of beings with the propensity to be imperfect; "patient", compared to adolescent temper tantrums at the drop of a hat; "just", compared to biased hypocrite. I think that about covers it.

In other words, "square", compared to "round". So DIF, if we can agree that it takes approximately zero "faith" to deduce that no such contradicting concepts exist, then it would logically follow that no such being with the aforementioned attributes exists, either. No "faith" required.

DIF continues: "I know damn well that Jesus WAS and IS God." - This requires the same amount of faith as the previous statement.

No, I beg to differ---it most certainly does not require the "same amount of faith" for non-belief(a negative), as it does for affirming the belief in something for which there is no tangible evidence. Does it take "faith" to deny the existance of Allah, Zeus, or Quetzacoatl? I think not.

Again, the problem is that once you base a belief on "faith", you then literally open the door for an infinite amount of "possibilities".

Enjoy your tea and nap, but don't sleep more than 15 or so minutes, or you'll likely be groggy when you awaken.

DoesItFlow said...

boomSLANG,

From your 1st post:

"Okay, it seems that you are the one who needs reminding that when science designates something a "theory", that it does NOT mean merely a "guess", or "hunch". Ex. "Atomic Theory" is not just a "guess". And I'm sorry, but yes, the Law of Gravity certainly must be a THEORY, in order be a "Law". So yes, it is a perfectly suitable comparison, as it is not merely a "hutch", or a "hypothesis"; it is an observable, testable fact. Conversely, "creationism" is NOT observable; it is NOT testable---thus, it is neither "fact", nor "theory".

BTW, I notice that Christian creationists are part of a group called the "Christian Faith". Not EVEN a "theory", eh? 'Sounds pretty flimsy for someone making charges that a "theory" is questionable.

Notwithstanding, science doesn't deal with absolutes..."


From your 2nd post:

"...IMO, the way you originally portrayed what a "theory" is, was misleading."


My post:

"...Now, just because Evolution is a theory does not make it false by any means. To the contrary, for something to be referred to in scientific circles as a "Theory," it must undergo rigorous testing and pass such tests. Saying that Evolution is a theory is not a small admission."

(If this is really "misleading," or opposed to the true nature/definition of a theory, please let me know.)

(Also, when did I refer to creationism as a "fact?")

A. Ford:

"I'm beginning to wonder if people know the difference between a theory and a law in science. For one thing, a theory does not become a law when it is tested over and over again. This is WRONG. THEORIES ARE EXPLANATIONS; LAWS ARE OBSERVATIONS.

For example, Quantum mechanics is just a theory. Most of the time you get an acceptable result, but every once in a while you get an anomaly. I have a PhD in quantum mechanics; it is well known that the models we use are just mathematical descriptions of something we can't really observe. Thus, quantum theory will always be a theory. The existence of gravitons (things that cause acceleration due to gravity or gravity) are just theory. Gravity (i.e. the idea that things accelerate because of a mass interaction) is an observation.

Laws are pure observations. For example, Allen's law says that animals in cooler climates have shorter ears and tails than those in warmer climates. This is an observation. Evolution says that they are this way BECAUSE of natural selection or some other phenomenon. This is high school stuff people. I shouldn't have to explain this."



Your Post:

"Furthermore, you seemingly extol the Webmaster's post, but unless I missed something, said post was a pretty scathing, but accurate, refutation of the "God of the gaps" hypothesis---one that you, at the very least, implicitly offered...which again, is neither fact, nor "theory". Once more, the Webmaster was right--"GOD DID IT!" answers jack'...whether you deliberately implied it, or not."


Where did the phrase/term "God in the gaps" come from?
Are you referring to the discussion about some people using faith as "gap filler?"
When did I SUPPORT that?
When did I refer to a "'God of the gaps' hypothesis'" as a "fact," a "theory," or something that I agree with?
When did I "imply" a personal belief anywhere even close to the effect of "GOD DID IT!"?
When did Webmaster even ADDRESS - much less "scathingly refute" - a "gap filler" concept of faith, and why would he even need to?


My First Post:

"I know damn well that Jesus was not God." - This also is dependent on an enormous amount of faith, as it refers not only to past, present, and future events, but also the trustworthiness of the recorders and records of such events.

"I know damn well that Jesus WAS and IS God." - This requires the same amount of faith as the previous statement.


My Second Post:

By the simple act of professing to "have faith" in something, an honest (key word) person is automatically admitting "a recognition of the possibility of a thing not being true."

Any sensible person who professes to "have faith" in something is not claiming to have absolute intellectual assurance (or, in your words, "pretend[ing] that I know something absolutely") at all, but is instead openly admitting the existence of the "gap" to which you refer.

Faith may therefore be seen not as a "gap-filler," but a "gap-admission." The fatal error of most belief systems (Christianity included) is that the "gap" is admitted, but never satisfactorily "filled."


AtheistToothFairy's Post:

"...Faith is the quality of believing [that] a thing will happen, or a thing exist[s] etc., when one can't know with 100% probability that such a thing will happen or such a thing exists."


Your Post:

"No, I beg to differ---it most certainly does not require the "same amount of faith" for non-belief(a negative), as it does for affirming the belief in something for which there is no tangible evidence. Does it take "faith" to deny the existance of Allah, Zeus, or Quetzacoatl? I think not."


In my opinion, "non-belief (a negative)" is not a legitimate stance. One either believes something is true, or believes that something ELSE is true. According to this view (which I hadn't previously stated), I was asserting that the "Jesus was not God" belief requires just as much "faith" (which, as was clarified later, is a belief based on that which is unproven, and intrinsically admits the possibility of error) as the "Jesus IS and WAS God" belief, because one is not a negative of the other, but they are in fact opposing positive belief statements. As such, they must both make use of "not only past, present, and future events, but also the trustworthiness of the recorders and records of such events." Obviously, you may disagree with this entire viewpoint, but nevertheless this is the perspective that I was coming from. I probably should have clarified this earlier... My fault!

Oh! Gotta go! Talk to you all soon!

Peace...

- JD (DoesItFlow)

.:webmaster:. said...

JD,

Non-belief requires faith?

Huh?

I don't believe that my mother is a transvestite. I don't believe that my father screws goats. How can I be so sure of my "unbelief?" Well, they've never given any evidence for me to believe those things about them, so I don't believe those things could possible be true. If you want to describe my non-belief as "belief" that my parents are NOT those things, then so be it.

Now, let's be real. You are making a positive claim that there is a magical, super-duper, un-dead, flying, zombie, man-god who wants to knock about in my cardiovascular system.

Umm, I don't believe that such a being exists. Why? I've never been given any evidence that such a thing does exist.

I also don't believe in Big Foot or fairies for the same reason: No evidence.

Leprechauns? Same thing.

Deluded religionists? Yes, I believe a lot of those exist. I've seen lots of evidence demonstrating that there are a lot of deluded religionists.

If you can provide some verifiable evidence that your fantastic, supernatural, thing-a-ma-bob is sitting above the "firmament" (whatever that is) fretting over teenage masturbation and other important matters, then I'd be interested in examining that evidence.

Waiting patiently for your next insightful ejaculation.

boomSLANG said...

Does it flow(at one point) said: ...Now, just because Evolution is a theory does not make it false by any means. To the contrary, for something to be referred to in scientific circles as a "Theory," it must undergo rigorous testing and pass such tests. Saying that Evolution is a theory is not a small admission.

Then he/she says: "(If this is really 'misleading', or opposed to the true nature/definition of a theory, please let me know.)"

Response: Thanks for the opportunity. Okay, aside from the "rigorous testing" part, said statement is ambiguous/inconclusive, and I don't mean in an absolute sense, because science doesn't deal in absolutes. Nonetheless, qualify what you mean by the statement: "by any means".

Does it flow(from yet, another point) : Just respectfully reminding you that Evolution IS, in fact, a theory.

Yes, although completely accurate, I believe said statement is misleading...as IMO, it is dripping with the implication that "the Theory of" something is merely "speculation"...i.e., "NOT sound"(typically, per Theists). And furthermore, it's not exactly consistant with your former statement, is it?(rhetorical)

DIF, if, by your own admission, calling something a Theory "doesn't make it false by any means", but on the other hand, Theories "aren't fact"...then tell me, WTF does that leave? "Maybe"? "Perhaps"? What do your statements ultimately confirm about scientific "Theories"? You characterize it with ambiguous language such as it's "no small admission"....and, "it[the fact that Evolution is a Theory] doesn't make it false by any means". Sorry, 'too vague for science, pal. Notwithstanding, here's the 1st entry on the very first search I conducted:

Theory: A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena. American Heritage

----------------------------------------

boomSLANG(previously): "Furthermore, you seemingly extol the Webmaster's post, but unless I missed something, said post was a pretty scathing, but accurate, refutation of the "God of the gaps" hypothesis---one that you, at the very least, implicitly offered...which again, is neither fact, nor "theory". Once more, the Webmaster was right--"GOD DID IT!" answers jack'...whether you deliberately implied it, or not."

Now in full tweak, DIF responds: Where did the phrase/term "God in the gaps" come from?
Are you referring to the discussion about some people using faith as "gap filler?"
When did I SUPPORT that?
When did I refer to a "'God of the gaps' hypothesis'" as a "fact," a "theory," or something that I agree with?
When did I "imply" a personal belief anywhere even close to the effect of "GOD DID IT!"?
When did Webmaster even ADDRESS - much less "scathingly refute" - a "gap filler" concept of faith, and why would he even need to?


Please refer to the Webmaster's post concerning "smoke and mirrors", for the "when". As for the "why"---DIF???...I was speaking GENERALLY about "God of the gaps", due in part to what the Webmaster posted; and due in part, AGAIN, to what you said about "Theories", which, I felt was very reminiscient of when "Creationists" characterize Evolution as "ONLY a Theory".' Follow? In any event, if you'll stop frothing at the mouth long enough to actually read what I said thoroughly, you'll see I ended the paragraph with: "....whether you deliberately implied it, OR NOT." [bold and capitalization added]

If I've I misunderstood you, then I stand corrected...because gawd knows, I don't want to sit here and defend my errors in perpetuity = )

You continue:

My First Post:

"I know damn well that Jesus was not God." - This also is dependent on an enormous amount of faith, as it refers not only to past, present, and future events, but also the trustworthiness of the recorders and records of such events.

"I know damn well that Jesus WAS and IS God." - This requires the same amount of faith as the previous statement.

My Second Post:

By the simple act of professing to "have faith" in something, an honest (key word) person is automatically admitting "a recognition of the possibility of a thing not being true."

Any sensible person who professes to "have faith" in something is not claiming to have absolute intellectual assurance (or, in your words, "pretend[ing] that I know something absolutely") at all, but is instead openly admitting the existence of the "gap" to which you refer.

Faith may therefore be seen not as a "gap-filler," but a "gap-admission." The fatal error of most belief systems (Christianity included) is that the "gap" is admitted, but never satisfactorily "filled."


Okay, thanks for being thorough. However, for the life of me, I don't see how the latter statements qualify, and/or, get you of the hook for the former, unless you retract the former, and replace them with that later. DIF---IT DOES NOT take "an enormous amount of faith" to disbelieve something. The end.

Does it flow: In my opinion, "non-belief (a negative)" is not a legitimate stance. One either believes something is true, or believes that something ELSE is true.

Nope....I'm sorry, but this does NOT "flow". If I lack belief in "Yahweh", or his boy, "Jesus", well SURE!... of course I believe "something ELSE"! I believe in gravity; I believe in trees; I believe in apples that fall from trees because of gravity; I believe Jlo has butt implants(but I'm not complaining).

So the f%#k whAT? Again, your implication is what this time? I assume that you don't "believe" in pixies, right?(assuming you don't)...then what do you "believe" instead? Are trying to tell me that if I asked you if you believed in pixies, that you would look at me with a straight face and tell me, "why YES, boomSLANG...YES, I DO believe that pixies DO NOT exist"...? Again, "lack of belief" is NOT "belief".

Good grief...I need a break from this BS. lol

DoesItFlow said...

Man...

Apparently, I really need to be less ambiguous. :/

BoomSLANG, I never thought that you would read so much into my "Evolution is a theory" statement, but I guess I shouldn't have assumed that... I thought that I worded it carefully, deliberately avoiding the word "just." My apologies for my lack of clarity, and the apparent confusion it caused. I'll really try to be better with this in future comments...

Webmaster:

"If you want to describe my non-belief as "belief" that my parents are NOT those things, then so be it."

As ridiculous as it may sound, I guess that IS how I think about it... I wouldn't TALK like that in verbal conversation, but when it comes to formally discussing certain issues, I suppose I think about it sort of like a trial/testimony setting...

For example, if a defendant really wants to prove that he was not at a certain place at a certain time, and there are no other witnesses that saw him NOT there, he must try to prove where he REALLY WAS, as he will not be very convincing simply denying his presence at the "scene." No jury will be satisfied with a simple "I wasn't there," they must be made to believe an alternative.

Now, I know this isn't practical/necessary all the time or for all issues, but it seemed (seems?) like the right way to think about our discussion... Maybe I was wrong! Still learning... You all are much more experienced in written "debate..."

Again, Webmaster:

"Now, let's be real. You are making a positive claim that there is a magical, super-duper, un-dead, flying, zombie, man-god who wants to knock about in my cardiovascular system."

I NEVER made ANY such claim. Period. Please read over my posts again.

Now, I DID just admit that I can be too ambiguous/unclear, so if it even SEEMS like I made a claim like that anywhere, PLEASE let me know, so that I can learn from my mistake.

If you are referring to the "Jesus is/isn't/wasn't God" statements, I tried to make it very clear that I was treating them both with equal skepticism. They were discussion examples; I wasn't taking a stance on either. If I failed to communicate this earlier, I'm stating it now.

This has been very revealing, and hopefully you will see an improvement in my writing in my future posts (hopefully this one, too)... My apologies wherever they are due!

Thanks for your patience!

Peace...

- DoesItFlow

Dave8 said...

DIF: "For example, if a defendant really wants to prove that he was not at a certain place at a certain time, and there are no other witnesses that saw him NOT there, he must try to prove where he REALLY WAS, as he will not be very convincing simply denying his presence at the "scene." No jury will be satisfied with a simple "I wasn't there," they must be made to believe an alternative."

Of course, the assumption is that the defendent actually exists.

What if you were a stand-in prosecutor who showed up to court, only to find the defendent's chair empty.

1-Would you; choose to start making your case against a defendent that you have no proof exists, by examining the defendent's lawyer?

2-Would you; attempt to prove the belief that the defendent's chair is empty, and that examining the defendent's lawyer is illogical, as the subject of inquiry is obviously absent without evidence of existence.

The first assumes that the defendent actually exists, is it reasonable or rational to accept such an assumption? Some would say "no", others, based on the fact that there is a trial, and a defendent lawyer, that there "must" be a defendent somewhere... Some, just sit back, and say, "I can't know".

Of course, to ponder/meditate on the topic, in order to render a thoughtful answer; requires one to admit, and indirectly validate the non-existence of the defendent as credible evidence, whereby, inference can be made. The lesson here, is to not even entertain the question. It opens the door to total arbitrary notions, that can't be refuted, on "either" side of the court-room.

The second stands, as self-evident, no further statement need be made on the non-existence of a defendent. It is "not" illogical, to suggest that the "chair" is "empty", nor that people are talking about a "chair" that is "empty". Self-evidence, doesn't require "belief", it stands on its own as a fact.

DIF, if I were to go to court, and be placed in a position as the prosecutor, I would look at the judge, point to an empty chair, and say; is it not a "fact" that the chair is empty... why am I in court?

Do you really believe, that the judge would say; "Prosecutor, is that what you "believe"?"... Perhaps, the judge would say; "Yes, I see your point, it is indeed a "fact" that the chair is empty, and to ponder the limits of the empty chair, is a fruitless effort, and is validated by "my" perception as well, case dismissed."

DIF, I play with the notion of the arbitrary statement at times, that lacks foundation, because... well, it's fun to see people attempt to build a case, with an empty chair. I'll even walk over to the chair, look at it, maybe pull out the pledge and dust it off, while someone is making their argument...

However, don't let the allowance of arbitrary gesture overshadow the "truth", that "self-evident" facts, require belief. There is a "reason", facts that are self-evident don't require belief...

Self-Evident: "Requiring no proof or explanation."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/self-evident

The lack of a need to proffer proof or explanation, removes the need for "belief", DIF.

For example; do you exist? Do you need to "prove" that, or proffer an argument, suggesting that you only "believe" you exist, thereby, suggesting the possibility of you "not" existing... or would you, just consider your being, as its own "self-evidence"? If you choose self-evidence, or axiomatic-truth statements, then, you don't "believe" anything... you "know".

How would you like a bunch of maroons knocking on your door, dictating to you, that your existence isn't "self-evident"... that "you" must entertain the "notion" of your non-existence?

And, the second you begin to make a statement, they suggest that any statement made by you, "must" be made as a "belief"... for no other reason, than, they demand that "self-evidence" isn't a resonable measure for truth.

I "exist", therefore, "I am", therefore, "I think", therefore, I can "become"... those are "self-evident" facts. If you would like to cross-examine my argument, and suggest that there is the possibility that you don't exist, then... I'm ready for your admission. Of course, the second you make such a gesture, I will selectively choose to ignore which words are made by your "existing" self, and which ones are obviously flawed, and made by your "non-existing" self.

I sincerely hope you take me up on the offer, I haven't played the hand of the evangelical before, but it would seem fun, to arbitrarily, for no reason, chuck out entire statements, facts, evidence, etc, based on my biased assertion of the unreasonableness of "self-evidence".

Dave8 said...

Dave8: "However, don't let the allowance of arbitrary gesture overshadow the "truth", that "self-evident" facts, require belief."

Correction: "However... that "self-evident" facts, "don't", require belief."

DoesItFlow said...

Wow! Dave8!?

The whole "courtroom" example was just a brief example of the mode of thought I was using! It was an example of something that really should have been clear already from the Webmaster's example. I wasn't trying to make any point at all! I don't know HOW you turned that into some kind of debate about the existence of God! (Well, you know what I mean. I see HOW you did it, but it had nothing to do with what I was originally talking about.)

And, remember what I said right after that example:

"Now, I know this isn't practical/necessary all the time or for all issues, but it seemed (seems?) like the right way to think about our discussion..."

Note: Not practical/necessary all the time or for all issues.

The focus of my post was clearly NOT the existence/non-existence of God. Add to that the fact that I quite clearly stated my stance on that in the lines immediately following that, and your entire post becomes completely unnecessary.

(side note: How do I make things bold, italic, etc.? I hate using caps, but it's all I know how to do)

If you read my other posts, you would see that I have NEVER argued for the existence of God, and have most certainly NEVER claimed to be an evangelical Christian!!! When did I get "re-converted" all of a sudden? Do I have to write an anti-testimony just to avoid being erroneously pegged as a fundie? Where are people getting this from?

Why is so much of what I say being misinterpreted based on false presuppositions and then argued against? For some reason, I guess you thought that I was defending God (although I clearly stated that I was NOT), so you drastically misinterpreted my post, twisted/added to my words, and then took the time to write a whole comment about it. Please, just read my posts and don't read all of this extra stuff into it.

Honestly, I'd really just like to talk about Telesmith's post, and stop having to defend myself on random issues based on misinterpretations of my posts.

Telesmith, are you still out there?

Maybe he's moved on, as I probably should have...

Peace...

- DoesItFlow

P.S. I wish I could talk to you guys (Guys, right? Is boomSLANG a male?) in person, or at least on the phone... Apparently, I come across aggressive/hostile when I type, but that would be a ridiculous assumption if you knew me, or had ever spoken to me...)

Dave8 said...

DIF: "For some reason, I guess you thought that I was defending God (although I clearly stated that I was NOT), so you drastically misinterpreted my post, twisted/added to my words, and then took the time to write a whole comment about it."

You presume to know what I thought. Oh, I see, you "guess"... do you do that often?

DIF: "DIF: "For example, if a defendant really wants to prove that he was not at a certain place at a certain time, and there are no other witnesses that saw him NOT there, he must try to prove where he REALLY WAS, as he will not be very convincing simply denying his presence at the "scene." No jury will be satisfied with a simple "I wasn't there," they must be made to believe an alternative."

This may be hard for you to get your mind around, but... you suggested in "your" example, that there must be "proof", in statements made in order to be convincing. I suggested, that some things don't "require" proof, they are self-evident, and can be taken at "face-value".

I offered a continuance of "your" example; surely you have the intellectual capacity to allow me the opportunity to expound upon your suggestion, and make relational observations, or... does that seem to not align with your "goal" or "direction".

Perhaps, DIF, you can point us all in the direction you would like to "go", as you conflict yourself when you proffer examples, and then suggest anyone responding to you example claim, of "must prove", is "attacking" you, or "twisting" your meaning.

DIF: "The whole "courtroom" example was just a brief example of the mode of thought I was using!"

Wow! And my response was just a reflection of my mode of thought as well, what a coincidence.

DIF: "It was an example of something that really should have been clear already from the Webmaster's example."

Yet, you respond with a court-room counter-example, as to why "others", to include the WM, "must" accept that everything requires "proof", and by default, suggests "belief" built upon "uncertainty".

DIF: "Honestly, I'd really just like to talk about Telesmith's post, and stop having to defend myself on random issues based on misinterpretations of my posts."

Random, I think not, "you" typed the words; if you are irrational, that's something you have to work with... don't blame others for pointing it out. Misinterpret, I think not, you suggest that everyone "must" hold "belief", if you can't articulate well, then you are arbitrary in your words, and thus, any communication with you is unreliable at best.

To reiterate the point, "Not everything requires proof, or belief, because some things are certain based on self-evidence".

Now, I'll refrain from making another comment on the topic of "belief", being a necessity of life, which was a "direct" response to your "court-room" example. But, not after entering the following fact...

Self-evidence doesn't require proof. Without the need for proof, there is no requirement/need to consider uncertainty/certainty. Without the need to consider uncertainty/certainty, "belief" statements are unnecessary. What remains, therefore, is "fact".
Enjoy your ambiguous search DIF. If you are sincere in your post, that you want to discuss "things" with Telesmith, then I'll refrain. However, if your ambiguity continues, or if you continue to make irrational or erroneous statements, then, do you really expect everyone on this site, to just piddle around and ignore you? Can you say; "public forum", I knew you could.

I've been trying to ignore your statement(s), since you've started posting them, but you seem to keep coming back. Why don't you do everyone a favor, think about what you want to say, mean what you say, and then post a thoughtful comment that is "exactly" what you want to say, so that you no longer have a need to "defend" an ambiguous position.

But, you said you'd attempt to work on it... good luck with that.

P.S. I wish I could understand your communication, (Gal, right? Are you a fe-male?) at least on a blog... Apparently, if one can't make sense in written form, taking their time to think and examine their statements, a "flowing" phone conversation isn't going to make anything "more clear"... Apparently, I come across aggressive/hostile when I type, but that would be a ridiculous assumption if you knew me, or had ever spoken to me...)

boomSLANG said...

Yes, DIF, "male". And you?.....female? age 18 - 25?

In any event, I'll have to concur with Dave8: Either you are somewhat reading/writing-challenged, or you are being deliberately evasive, which, unfortunately for you, both of which characteristics are commonly seen in Theists who stumble in here.

Now... if, as you insist, you are NON-theist, then I guess it's doom-laden with irony that you implicitly echo many of the pop'-Christian soundbites we hear on a daily basis..i.e..non-belief = "belief"; non-belief requires "faith"; "Evolution is, in fact, a Theory".

Yes, again, while the latter statement is redundant, as well as technically correct, it's what you say that surrounds it; the parts that, interestingly, you ask us to NOT "read into", that make your whole rap suspect.

I hope I've been helpful in this overview; if not, I really don't know what else to say on the matter, except, if you admittedly add unnecessary/irrelevant "baggage" to your central argument, then don't tweak when people challenge it.

Good luck.

DoesItFlow said...

Dave8 and boomSLANG,

Points taken. :/

I'll try harder to be less "evasive," too... I've been trying to stay "middle-of-the-road" or simply avoid some issues, in order to focus on others... However, it definitely has led to confusion, and I apologize.

Not to belabor this, but it may help:

I'm a 23-year-old male. (Nailed the age thing, boomSLANG)

I was raised in an evangelical, pentecostal Christian home, with an extended family made up entirely of Italian "Roman Catholics."

After rejecting Christianity, I chose to accept it and follow it at 17. It REALLY changed my life.

I attended an Assemblies of God Bible college.

I still believe there is a God (You'll notice I never took a direct stance either way, as I was - rather ineptly - trying to avoid it)... At least, I still WANT to believe that. In fact, I would LIKE to still believe in Christianity for many reasons, but for so many other reasons it just doesn't seem possible.

I'm still trying to figure all of this out.

I want to be someone who knows - and can articulate - WHY he believes what he believes, and why he DOESN'T believe what he rejects. This has been an important part of my journey, as the majority of my close friends and relatives are still Christians, many of them seasoned and well-read apologists (as many of you have been).

So there I am: a relatively young man in "search mode." You nailed me on the "deliberately evasive," "writing-challenged," "Theist" (for now) and tendency to use "pop'-Christian soundbites." Now can you see why? :)

I'm going to try to read/absorb posts more before commenting, but I've noticed that posts seem to get "abandoned" rather shortly after being posted, so guess I've kind of developed a sense of urgency, and probably speak too quickly...

I hope this helps... Maybe I should have clarified all of this sooner. Sorry for the confusing nature of some of my statements/language thus far... As I said before, I'll try to be better!

Alright, that's REALLY it for me on this thread... That is, unless Telesmith is still around.

Thanks all!

Peace...

- DoesItFlow

Telesmith said...

Doesitflow-

I could really be setting myself up but here is my email.

tele_guy16@hotmail.com

Feel free to send me an e-mail and I will be happy to carry this on further.
peace,
Telesmith

Anonymous said...

DoesItFlow,

We would all like to believe in the God most were exposed to: someone who always watches out for us, someone who gives us stuff, and someone who gives life a purpose. The problem is, that God does not exist; it is just in your imagination.

Reality is that God is imaginary. People live horrible lives in some cases (i.e. starvation, dismemberment, or other disability). I'm sure these people could convice themselves that there's a God who cares, but there is not. In their mind though, I'm sure they're winning.

A better use of our imagination would be to apply it to science. Science helps take things out of imagination and make them reality. As far as I know, it's the only thing that is capable of this. A belief in God encourages people to take reality and make it imagination (i.e. all people are really sinners, not just human; people aren't just flesh and blood, they have souls, etc.)

A. Ford

boomSLANG said...

Does it flow,

Two things: 1) I agree with everything that A. Ford just said, despite the disagreements on what a "Theory" is, and 2) Now that "the cat's out of the bag", why the need to discuss behind the scenes? If, as you say, you have deconverted from Christianity, then whatever people might add to the discussion(s) could be usefull.

The fact that you "still believe there is a God" is one of the steps in the deconversion process. I was the same way, yet, now I am an Agnostic Atheist. In the words of Dr. Phil---you cannot "unring" a bell...in this case, the bell of logic.

DoesItFlow said...

Telesmith,

Thank you for the email address! I appreciate you taking that risk for me... Now that I have it, maybe the Webmaster can delete the post, so that others won't grab it.

I'll definitely be in touch!

Others,

I wanted you to know why I am approaching everything so skeptically... I want to apply the same rigorous analysis of all of the belief systems that I approach.

You all know that the more a philosophy is able to withstand serious questioning/skepticism, the more confidence you are able to place in it. I did this with Christianity in order to become a BETTER, STRONGER Christian/apologist, but thus far it has not held itself up in most of the ways that I had hoped.

I do not want to enter into a belief system - Atheism, Agnosticism, even Islam - without doing all I can to argue myself out of it. Presumably, the majority of the posters on this site will be encouraging me to conclude with something akin to their own mindset (Often a form of "My belief/beliefs may or may not be the correct one, but I know Christianity is not"), which I respect, but surely most other faiths will do something similar. My plan is to seek out the holes in many systems, until I find one that seems more bulletproof than the rest.

Whatever remains standing after I have "fired all of my bullets" will be the survivor...

But, if it comes down to it, I will go down shooting. :/

Thanks for all of your comments!

Peace... :)

- DoesItFlow

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