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  1. #1
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    Default On The Utility of Faith

    I've started to understand faith to be something like: I see a real relationship between my belief in this system and the outcomes that the system predicts, and I have faith that the relationship will hold true in the future, because it has held true in the past. This definition is somewhat ironically evidence-based. However, people often believe that the relationship is mystical... unexplainable by science...due to magical mediators.

    But wait - isn't a mediator a real, physical explanation? Isn't it a contradiction to believe there is a mediator and that science can't explain it? I suppose we can look to Godel for a "proof" that things might exist which science can't explain. But then we'd have to trust Godel's axioms, and those are, after all, just theories...

    But in this case we don't need any logical esoterica. Psychology shows us the way.

    So when I sit down with mystics and decompose their faith into a combination of the variables that actually mediate the relationship, such as the placebo effect, priming, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, confirmation bias, or what is essentially a set of idiosyncrasies of the mind, they often seem to follow and are then not very pleased. They'd prefer we hadn't had the conversation. Or they won't follow... ignorance is bliss.

    It seems as though they would rather the relationship remain mystical and mysterious. They don't really care what mediates the relationship as long as the relationship is real. The real objective is feeling good. Having your mystical beliefs explained does not initially feel good. It opens up an even vaster sea of mystery, which can be uncomfortable.

    And now we can map this onto delay discounting. In the short term, having your beliefs explained is uncomfortable. But in the long run, you get to appreciate and enjoy the integral of all that science has already discovered and will discover in your lifetime. An integral which seems to be increasing exponentially.

    Perhaps we can say then that in the past, before there was science, it made sense to be a mystic. There really wasn't even much of an alternative. But now it makes more sense, in terms of feeling good, to sit back and soak up the integral of the rewards of society's ever-expanding sphere of knowledge.

  2. #2
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    To me there are 2 definitions of "faith".

    The first faith is just a loose term for a spiritual set of beliefs.

    The second faith is an irrational function that bridges the gap between agnosticism (about anything, not just religious beliefs) and belief.

    I think it's fine that people are, in part, irrational. Man is a religious creature; even if one man doesn't worship a deity of his choosing, he venerates something else in its place and refers to an authority to affirm his veneration.

    But when it leads to destruction of his neighbors, I don't approve.

  3. #3
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Science/rationality is not a substitute for faith/mysticism, and faith/mysticism is not a substitute for science/rationality.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

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    Everything the brain does is evidence-based. Thus, the definition of faith must include evidence.

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    Senior Member Ene's Avatar
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    I see a real relationship between my belief in this system and the outcomes that the system predicts, and I have faith that the relationship will hold true in the future, because it has held true in the past. This definition is somewhat ironically evidence-based

    I actually agree with you. Faith is evidence based in the way that you describe.

    So when I sit down with mystics and decompose their faith into a combination of the variables that actually mediate the relationship, such as the placebo effect, priming, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, confirmation bias, or what is essentially a set of idiosyncrasies of the mind, they often seem to follow and are then not very pleased.
    Why do you set out to decompose their faith intoa combination of variables that actually mediate the relationship, such as the placebo effect, priming, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, confirmation bias, or what is essentially a set of idiosyncrasies of the mind?

    You might be interested in the works of C.S. Lewis, such as Mere Christianity , The Problem with Pain or God in the Docks or Josh McDowell's work, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Also, Hugh Ross's Creator and the Cosmos is an interesting read.
    A student said to his master: "You teach me fighting, but you talk about peace. How do you reconcile the two?" The master replied: "It is better to be a warrior in a garden than to be a gardener in a war." - unknown/Chinese

    http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...=61024&page=14

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    I have read Mere Christianity. But to what end?

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    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    Science/rationality is not a substitute for faith/mysticism, and faith/mysticism is not a substitute for science/rationality.
    + 1
    You hem me in -- behind and before;
    you have laid your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

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    I really don't care about proving stuff or verifying if it works; I care only about what seems ideologically awesome.

    The value of a story is not so much in its ability to predict the future, but more in how it has themes that can stand strong forever.

    If we alter the architecures of our box, or even penetrate to other boxes, then the old contextual precedents would explode.

    I think faith can be useful in giving us goals, higher destinations that we can't completely see yet, but we can continue our journeys to the ultimate.

  9. #9
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    One of the interesting things about mysticism is that it is surprisingly similar across quite different religions.

    And mystics have developed practical ways of changing their consciousness.

    The main problem seems to be that mystical experience is tied to religious belief. And this is understandable because during a mystical experience, we are suggestible and so are inclined to believe what we are told.

    However there is no need for mystical experience to be tied to religious belief. And in the early 1950's Ainslie Mears, a Melbourne psychiatrist, was teaching a form of meditation, without religious belief, in his book, "Relief Without Drugs".

    So as we find it more difficult to believe the dogma of a particular religion, it is not necessary to toss out mysticism.

    However there is a caveat, and that is, mystical experience will not heal a damaged psyche. So it is first important to understand, comfort, and nurture a damaged psyche before embarking on mystical experience.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    However there is a caveat, and that is, mystical experience will not heal a damaged psyche. So it is first important to understand, comfort, and nurture a damaged psyche before embarking on mystical experience.
    I've never heard of that before... can you elaborate a bit?
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

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