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  1. #21
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    What exactly is the purpose of having faith anyway? There are an infinite number of possible faiths, the likelihood of a particular faith being correct is infinitely improbable. If someone pulls a new faith out of their ass now like the scientologists or raelians no one takes them seriously because they know it’s all bullshit. But if someone pulled a faith out of their ass thousands of years ago it’s somehow more credible. Faith is nothing more than credulity. People believe what they do because they want to. Believing something to be true does not make it so.

    If scientist goes to the jungle, comes back and says he discovered a new species of beetle but couldn’t catch a specimen it’s entirely reasonable to think that he did find a new beetle. If he comes back saying he found a real live dinosaur there is no good reason to believe him without evidence. It’s more likely he got into some mescaline. He may believe he did see a dinosaur for whatever reason but that doesn’t make it true because everything we know tells us dinosaurs died out millions of years ago.

    Until someone can get Yahweh, Xenu, Zeus, Ahura Mazda, Thor or any other proposed godthing or spiritual entity to show up in a lab where we can examine it there is no good reason to take claims of their existence seriously. And no, anecdotes are not data. People are fallible and what they think they saw or experienced is not to be trusted without evidence.

    Also, if any “spiritual” entity were to exist how would they be any different than the incorporeal energy beings like the Q from star trek? Even if they do exist, once you strip away all the spiritual and religious language, they would only be things like us just a little different.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    Faith isn't hope, however - it is belief for belief sake. We all use it everyday - faith the bridge won't fall, faith that the elevator won't fall... We don't do a risk measurement for everything and so forth. It can be more - a coping mechanism (denial or justification - such as bad things are planned, etc), excusism (I act the way I do because I was taught to, but it's right because of...) and so forth, but in general it is simply a form of belief. For example, saying "I have faith that you won't cheat on me" generally means "I don't believe you will cheat on me even though I have no reason to know if you will". This is just for self-protection. The choice to believe on over the other is a defensive mechanism. Religion is often used in a similar way.

    In that sense, faith is very quantifiable and fits in quite well with the way humans cope with the external world.
    I don't consider that to be faith. I consider that to be a reasonable expectation, barring the idea that I live in some third world country where maintenance on structures isn't possible/important.

    Faith has all to do with things beyond one's scope or realm of possibility. Such as the healing of a terminally sick parent. Medical science might dictate that the parent can't ever recover. You still live by faith, expecting if you will, something completely unreasonable in concrete terms.

    Reasonable expectation cannot encompass an intangible, faith-human soul-miracles, etc, only what lies within possibility, like a bridge's odds of not failing on any given day (hence why engineers build bridges and not priests.)
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by PinkPiranha View Post
    Faith has all to do with things beyond one's scope or realm of possibility. Such as the healing of a terminally sick parent. Medical science might dictate that the parent can't ever recover. You still live by faith, expecting if you will, something completely unreasonable in concrete terms.
    So define faith in a way that I can understand. Is it an unreasonable expectation? Something that doesn't manifest?

    Even then, if is not belief in something that one cannot know but one chooses to believe in regardless? How is that fundamentally different than any other type of belief?

    (I'll point out that I was talking about belief from the mind's eye. We choose what to believe in, even if the justification is different. The willingness to believe in something differs - if we narrow faith down to the choice to believe in something despite a lack of reason to do so, it is even easier to explain from a "mind's" point of view. It matches up with almost any coping mechanism out there.)

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    So define faith in a way that I can understand. Is it an unreasonable expectation? Something that doesn't manifest?
    Personally, as someone who's been in church since the age of 3 or 4, I frequently find "faith" and its definitions maddeningly arbitrary and elusive. I could tell you that faith is, yes, in essence a completely unreasonable expectation (confronted with hard facts to the contrary). Santa Claus is something like that. Children and even fairly sane adults believe in Santa Claus, or the spirit of said person, though the real man has been dead for 100s and 100s of years, and never flew around the world in one night in a sleigh. Santa Claus never manifests, (expect maybe at Macy's ). Why people persist in believing in an impossibility like Santa Claus (and promoting him to their kids) would seem ludicrous. I don't personally have faith (or ignorance? Why do the two smack of each other sometimes?) that Santa Claus exists. I never really have. I have no difficulty in believing in God, but I do grapple with the whole faith issue as pertains to his nature and his goodness. That's another conversation, I think. (Or is it? I'm turned around).


    Even then, if is not belief in something that one cannot know but one chooses to believe in regardless? How is that fundamentally different than any other type of belief?
    I suppose it might not be, Gats. Purple looks much like blue in some shades.


    (I'll point out that I was talking about belief from the mind's eye. We choose what to believe in, even if the justification is different. The willingness to believe in something differs - if we narrow faith down to the choice to believe in something despite a lack of reason to do so, it is even easier to explain from a "mind's" point of view. It matches up with almost any coping mechanism out there.)
    I can't argue with that. I've hated myself in the past for believing that faith in better things would get me through a crisis, when in fact, I would get dropped on my ass anyway. Faith only seemed to heighten my feelings of betrayal. The odds of my life getting better or worse are perhaps even, and yet the coin keeps flipping and coming down tails. I have been unable to banish a certain inherent level of knee-jerk faith/hope/anticipation (I've mercilessly fed reams of such idiotic though not unreasonable stuff into the shredder recently), and while I have no patience for icy soulless skeptics, I do see the correlation between many "intangible" functions and the brain. For example, the day people accepted schizophrenia as a disorder and not a demon possession was a huge step forward.
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  5. #25
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    I think Sam Harris' definition of faith in this context might be more clearly termed "religious experience", or maybe "belief in something spiritual." That's my first-glance impression based on very limited reading though.

    I'm not sure exactly what it is (if anything) Sam Harris is attempting to prove in his brain scan studies. It appears that he may be trying to show that religious experience originates entirely in the mind of an individual. If so, isn't that somewhat of a futile goal since the brain imaging studies are correlational rather than experimental? Maybe I haven't read enough about his methods though. I just suspect he's trying to jump to causative conclusions from correlational evidence. (The problem with this was pointed out by athenian and nightning.)

    Quote Originally Posted by sassafrassquatch View Post
    Until someone can get Yahweh, Xenu, Zeus, Ahura Mazda, Thor or any other proposed godthing or spiritual entity to show up in a lab where we can examine it there is no good reason to take claims of their existence seriously.
    What kind of scalpel are you planning to use to dissect God?

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    What kind of scalpel are you planning to use to dissect God?


    I think I'll serve communion with a nice chianti.

  7. #27
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    There are so many bad arguments in this thread I think my head is about to explode.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    what are you talking about?

    when i say everything's physical, i do not mean everything is an object we can see or touch. but there must be some configuration of neurons in our brain that define the concept of justice (it's obviously a loose concept, but whatever), otherwise the concept/word 'justice' wouldn't exist.
    Because you have started with the premise that the mind is no more than the interaction of neurons in the brain, you have arrived at the conclusion that "justice" is a concept that depends completely upon the interaction of neurons in the brain.

    It's a Skinneresque tautology. Is your premise proven?

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    There are so many bad arguments in this thread I think my head is about to explode.
    Charming. What's yours?
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  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by PinkPiranha View Post
    Charming. What's yours?
    I didn't make an argument. I was just commenting that the preceding arguments were very bad, and whether I made an argument, good or bad, would be irrelevent.

    Edit: Actually, scratch that! The big toe is the source of faith, obviously.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

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