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insanecarbonbasedlif's Journal: [Religion] Why Believe? 42

Journal by insanecarbonbasedlif

I have a couple of thoughts, which may seem offensive, but I don't mean to be. These are just thoughts that have distilled out of my consideration of many different books, essays, talks, discussions, and debates. I'm hoping that it won't be offensive - as a matter of fact, I am sure that many of you on slashdot who disagree with me about whether or not there is a deity will actually agree with me about one or both of these points, though your final thoughts may be different.
 
No one has found a rational reason to believe in any deity.
There is no deity who is apparent.
 
Explanations for the above claims:
If there were a rational reason to believe in any deity, it surely would have been brought out in one of the debates against atheists, or in one of the many books and essays I've read about "why believe?", but it has not. I can not guaruntee that there is not a rational reason out there, undiscovered, but it seems unlikely. If one were to be found, I would be very excited to hear it, but for now, rationality must go out the window to believe.
 
If a deity were apparent (in the mystery of creation, or some such), there would be no major conflict about whether or not there is a deity among serious thinkers, and the attributes of said deity would not be so debated among the different religions.
 
If there is a deity, it must be a non-rational, unapparent deity. I know a few people who beleive in a deity that doesn't, by definition, try to tread into one of those areas, but most theists do tread there.

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[Religion] Why Believe?

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  • "rationality must go out the window to believe."

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/04/03/collins.commentary/index.html [cnn.com]

    Rationality and Faith are not mutually exclusive. This is a common mistake of those who think that people who believe in a supreme deity are crazy insane nutjobs.

    I've experienced enough things in my life, that cannot be explained. Randomness itself isn't good enough to explain these things. And making the claim I'm delusional is just strawman.

    Most people don't even want to think their is a supreme d

    • Speaking of erroneous thinking:

      I've experienced enough things in my life, that cannot be explained.

      Well, explained by you, anyway. Also, just because nobody knows the answer, doesn't mean there isn't one.

      Randomness itself isn't good enough to explain these things.

      Again, so sez you. Plenty of mathematicians who'd happily disabuse you of that notion.

      As for rationality and faith not being mutually exclusive, I see what you're trying to say, but dictionaries the world over are taking issue al
      • I'm looking at definitions for rational right now - but not seeing anything that says belief in God must by definition exclude rationality. A quick one is "consistent with or based on or using reason;" It is relatively simple to construct reasonable, logical arguments that support the belief in a deity. Some people may reject those arguments but that doesn't mean they are wrong, just not universally accepted.
         
        I find Aquinas's 5 proofs to be rather rational.

        • It's funny how semantics always comes in to Journal discussions - I think it's a function of 1) the stilted nature of the communication, and 2) the lack of auditory and physical cues to clarify possibly ambiguous language. For the sake of this discussion, when I said "rational", I intended "justified via reason" where "reason" is used in reference to the logical system of understanding via cause and effect.

          Regarding Aquinas's proofs, they are interesting, but antiquated - you won't see a modern thei

          • Be patient with me here - because you may see this more clearly than I do - but I have difficulty understanding why assuming that God is not the first mover or original cause is more rational than believing that he is. Unless you believe the universe is without beginning or end, eternally collapsing only to explode into existence again.

            And when we now say that rational and natural are synonymous, then of course things break down. God by definition is supernatural. But why must something be natural to be

            • Be patient with me here - because you may see this more clearly than I do - but I have difficulty understanding why assuming that God is not the first mover or original cause is more rational than believing that he is.

              Assuming either that God or not-God is the first mover or original cause are both non-rational. To dismiss God as a possibility would be, in my opinion, equally irrational as assuming that God is the first (mover, cause, thing). Aquinas's first 3 proofs fail to describe anything about the first other than that it is the first, and that there was a first. Arguments have been made that the claim that there must be a first is also debatable.

              And when we now say that rational and natural are synonymous, then of course things break down.

              Sorry for the vague reference, I was simply referring to Aquinas's pr

        • Your post is only half complete. I'm waiting.

          Aquinas is interesting, btw, but still highly assumptive. Also, its relation to almost anything in the Bible is tenuous at best.
          • I wasn't really talking about the Bible. It seems to me talking about the Bible is a bit pointless unless one has moved past the point of God existing in the first place.

            That's the way I have approached it anyway.

        • by Chacham (981)

          I'm looking at definitions for rational right now

          According to Jung, the T and F functions are the rational functions. They are rational because there is reasoning behind it. T is the bi-state logic-judgment where everything is either true or false, F is the tri-state value-judgment where everything is either less-than, equal-to, or greater-than that which it is being compared to.

          It is important to note that T pulls things apart, and F puts them back together. F without T is to put things together without br

      • Splendid post, if a little harsh in your pithiness, Captain Splendid.

    • Wow - given the fact that I've laid out a lot of my thoughts on this journal in previous entries, your characterization that I think

      people who believe in a supreme deity are crazy insane nutjobs.

      and

      Most people don't even want to think their is a supreme deity. That would require them to actually search for HIM/HER/IT. Something that they are scared to do (for whatever reason, there are many).

      is not only non-sequitar to my points above, but is irresponsible in the highest order. You can read about me in my other postings. Please do so before you go around insulting me and putting words in my mouth.

      A short note - I was a dedicated Christian, and I would treasure nothing more than a reason to believe again, and not face the alienation of and attack by fa

      • "Ultimately, a leap of faith is required.

        His words, not mine. Just to be clear about this, a leap of faith is the antithesis of rationality."

        Then you don't understand what faith is, and why you think it is mutually exclusive of rational thought.

        And, I didn't ascribe the "Crazy Insane Nutjob" to you. I said it was a common mistake of those on your side of the equation.

        God offers proof, just not to people who require it. The fact that some require proof, is proof that they don't understand what it means to pu

        • Your insincerity in this discussion is astounding.

          His words, not mine. Just to be clear about this, a leap of faith is the antithesis of rationality.

          Then you don't understand what faith is, and why you think it is mutually exclusive of rational thought.

          Explain, if you really wish to continue this discussion with me and are not just trolling, how a leap of faith is rational. Otherwise, I'm done talking to you. There are plenty of people I disagree with on slashdot that can actually carry on a reasonable discourse without shenanigans of the sort you are trying to pull.

          An aside about the rest of your post - you need to read up on confirmation bias [wikipedia.org]. There need be no implication that you are crazy or in

          • "how a leap of faith is rational. "

            Okay, I'm not trolling, and my sincerity is ... well ... sincere.

            What I said, exactly is that rationality and leaps of faith are NOT mutually exclusive. Because you don't know what a leap of faith is, then you have no basis for understanding.

            SO, I'll try to put this into perspective.

            Marriage (regardless of definition) is a leap of faith. Let us just say for the sake of argument that 1/2 of all marriages fail. Why would any rational person get married?

            The only explanation i

            • What I said, exactly is that rationality and leaps of faith are NOT mutually exclusive. Because you don't know what a leap of faith is, then you have no basis for understanding.

              Your earlier claim, that you are careful with your words, is pure falsehood at this point. The fact that you start this post off by claiming that I don't know what a leap of faith is is bad enough. But when you don't give me what you're using as a definition as a follow-up, it's a sure sign that you don't know what you're defining it as. Here you go - faith [wiktionary.org]:

              1. Mental acceptance of and confidence in a claim as truth without proof supporting the claim.
              2. (Christian theology) Belief and trust in the Christian God's promises revealed through Christ in the New Testament.
              3. A feeling or belief, that something is true, real, or will happen.
              4. A trust in the intentions or abilities of a person or object.

              And, if that's not enough to disabuse you of the notion that a "leap of faith" means, by definition, abandoning rationality, here's the definition of a

  • If I understand correctly you are saying that any matter on which there are differences of opinion, the answer is not apparent. This must cut both ways. Since I am unaware of many topics on which all serious thinkers agree, I guess we are left with the fact that little is apparent. So I guess you can call deism unapparent but by the criteria you've laid out thus far, just about everything is unapparent.

    • If I understand correctly you are saying that any matter on which there are differences of opinion, the answer is not apparent.

      Not really - I shouldn't be surprised that my brevity in the JE has lead to confusion on what I meant. By apparent I meant the dictionary definition [wiktionary.org] - that is

      1. Capable of being seen, or easily seen; open to view; visible to the eye; within sight or view.
      2. Clear or manifest to the understanding; plain; evident; obvious; known; palpable; indubitable.

      The key to what I said in my failed attempt at explaination was the "major conflict" and "serious thinkers" phrases. I can see why you say

      I am unaware of many topics on which all serious thinkers agree

      but I'm not looking for complete agreement. Consider the fact that there is no major conflict among serious thinkers about many things. Even kids find it apparent that rain comes from clouds. It is apparent to a v

      • I realize you are just throwing out examples but everything you mentioned are just cataloged facts about what a deist would consider to be creation. You can't find the creator in the creation.

        The creation may reflect attributes of the creator but the creation is of necessity separate. (Obviously I'm not a pantheist - I wouldn't know how they would talk about this.)

        But I would say that many things we consider apparent are done through indirect means of approaching the problem. Much of astronomy works that

        • I bring this up because with the definition you've given I'd say that you are right that God is not apparent for the reason I've mentioned above but that this does not impact the rationality of deciding that God may exist.

          You are correct, the apparency and rationality questions do not impact each other. I simply paired them in the JE since I thought of them concurrently. I didn't intend for either one to support the other.

  • I've read most of Tillich's stuff.
    This link is a summary of "The Courage to Be".
    http://www.escapefromwatchtower.com/tilground.html [escapefromwatchtower.com]
    • That was very dense and interesting. I hate to not address all the thoughts that Tillich brings up, but I honestly don't have time to talk about any of the rest of his thoughts right now. (I will be looking at his stuff some more, and there may be some JEs from it in the future)
       
      Anyhow, back to this entry, I don't see where Tillich excludes a non-deity based philosophy like secular humanism substantially.

      • Understood. Tillich had doctorates in both theology and philosophy. He was also a chaplain in the Kaiser's army in WWI (which isn't mentioned on Wikipedia, but was in a bio). So he's sort of out in the ozone.
        Most fundamentalists who have even heard of him reject him as an ultraliberal nitwit, evidenced by the joke:
        Colleague: Arheologists found physical proof of Christ!
        Tillich: You mean he existed?

        I, on the other hand, while not agreeing with him (a Religious Socialist politically) on many things, fo
  • You've got it....
  • First off let me say I've really enjoyed all your posts and they've made me turn my mind in directions I haven't explored in great detail for some while. And now I will reach back to reading I had to do for a Philosophy of Religion class that I was in sometime in the early to mid 90's. I had to read a book by Plantinga [wikipedia.org] and it really wasn't very easy for me.

    This link will hopefully jump you right to Plantinga's modal form of the Ontological argument [wikipedia.org]. I think the end of this little piece is key. W

    • I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying this too - my specific intention is to bounce ideas of off people to try and figure out what I think and if it's valid; I can only hope that it is as helpful for you to be operating on the other side of many of these questions, and clarifying and validating your own thoughts.

      Plantinga is interesting, but I also find him frustrating - he seems to have some big blinders about his own assumptions, and a propensity for overstating the strengths of his claims. I firs

  • If there were a rational reason to believe in any deity, it surely would have been brought out in one of the debates against atheists, or in one of the many books and essays I've read about "why believe?", but it has not.

    Since when is rationality the only way of doing things in life? Intuition works pretty well.

    The question is not why should anyone believe, based on rational argument as to the existence of God. I've long said -- as have the Desert Fathers in Christianity, by the way -- that rational p

    • The question is not why should anyone believe, based on rational argument as to the existence of God. I've long said -- as have the Desert Fathers in Christianity, by the way -- that rational proofs of God are futile. You either believe there is a God, or you don't.

      We agree on this. However, there's a great deal of talk and discussion about God being rational that I have looked through, and decided to put to rest in this JE. You and I agree, however, we have our dissenters, and it is to their claims that I addressed my JE.

      If it were rationally possible to prove God's existence, then it would be the case that I could demand you believe. That not being the case, then belief is something to be shared willingly and for other reasons.

      Clearly, this is not a problem in the OT and NT narratives of God interacting with man - burning bushes, blinding lights, talking donkeys. I just question the premise that a rational God would deny choice among followers. People revol

      • Clearly, this is not a problem in the OT and NT narratives of God interacting with man - burning bushes, blinding lights, talking donkeys. I just question the premise that a rational God would deny choice among followers. People revolt against powerful rulers, despite the probable consequences and rational evidence of the rulers existence and power - there is no reason to suppose that they would not exercise the same choice after getting a rational proof of God.

        By and large the way God appeared in the O

        • By and large the way God appeared in the OT was actually quite personal.

          But not exclusively - pillars of smoke and fire, a divided sea, the sun standing still in the sky. The God of the OT was quite willing to act in large, astoundingly apparent ways.

          A God constantly trying to prove Himself to us would be a rather pathetic thing, an attention-seeker working against our free will, rather than a loving God truly concerned for our welfare and self-reliance.

          Honestly, I can't fathom the claim that a God who provides proof is somehow less of a God. An athlete is not pathetic when he competes to prove his prowess at a sport; to the contrary, a skilled athlete is only praised via his great accomplishments. A deity that does great, obvious things is certainly no less great than a deity who

          • But not exclusively - pillars of smoke and fire, a divided sea, the sun standing still in the sky. The God of the OT was quite willing to act in large, astoundingly apparent ways.

            No, not exclusively. Hence the use of the phrase "by and large". However, those events are also notable for their rarity and narrow scope. Only in truly extraordinary circumstances did God see fit to do more. Most of the time God appeared in personal ways -- to Abram, to Moses and so on.

            Honestly, I can't fathom the claim th

            • Your comparisons are flawed, because a God that is truly self-confident would not need to prove Himself to us.

              I'm not sure I can convince you of this, but I don't see it as a sign of a lack of self-confidence to provide evidence to weaker, lesser beings.

              The proof of God's greatness is the fact that we exist from nothingness. I see no need of further proof of that greatness. We live.

              Well, you are as aware as I am of the atheist's position on that claim, and as an agnostic, I am profoundly excited about human

              • Well, you are as aware as I am of the atheist's position on that claim, and as an agnostic, I am profoundly excited about humanity's existence, but I haven't seen any compelling evidence that our existence is a result of god or not-god.

                You're still stuck on that "evidence" thing. Evidence is useful for proving scientific claims, but it isn't the only way to believe in things in general. Intuition works fine most of the time.

                First, it's not insulting to point out that I can't climb Everest or run a 1

                • You're still stuck on that "evidence" thing. Evidence is useful for proving scientific claims, but it isn't the only way to believe in things in general. Intuition works fine most of the time.

                  Intuition may work just fine for small things (Is this food OK?), but for big things (Is this a good car to spend a few grand on? Do I need a doctor to help my malaria or is homeopathy better?) I prefer evidence. I consider "What is the source of life?" and "What should the goals of my life be?" to be big things.

                  It sou

  • Hey icblf, I've been reading these and going through a little questioning period of my own.

    I'm looking more into the teachings of the buddha, and most of the things I've heard (I've been listening to a lot of podcasts) seem to say that belief in God or gods isn't really the point, at least according to the buddha/buddhism. The point is living correctly in order to decrease suffering, which is outlined in the Eightfold Path. God/gods won't alleviate human suffering, which seems to be the cause/concern of pra

    • Oh, I should also point out that I'm not trying to say that the buddha was right or wrong, or that my beliefs are right and others are wrong, or that you should "convert" to or consider buddhism.

      I'm just a 38 year old dude who has come to these realisations for himself at this point in his life.

      Oh yeah, and fuck the two-minute limit and slashdot.

      • Hey, glad to see you around - Thanks for the good words, too. In regards to Buddhism, it is a very attractive philosophy - I can concur that I think decreasing suffering is the highest aim we can have, morally. And its general lack of dogmatism about God and such is very refreshing.

        • And its general lack of dogmatism about God and such is very refreshing.

          Thank you for putting this so succinctly. :)

  • very nice JE. :) I think I know exactly where you're coming from because I reached this point a few years back. It's a really liberating understanding as far as I'm concerned. It makes a whole lot of sense where before things were much more confusing because of all the cognitive dissonance. :)

    • Thanks! It is very personally liberating - I didn't know how bad the cognitive dissonance was until I stepped outside of it. If only it were more socially acceptable.

  • I gave up a long time ago thinking I could 'prove' $DEITY existed. No sense in that.
    I also don't buy in to either the Bible as 'Word of God' (i.e. sola scriptura) or the 'miracles' of Jesus. Not up for debate, just don't believe them.

    What I do believe is that we are on a path of discovery which has heretofore been known as 'unfolding the mysteries of God' and can now be taken as 'Science'.
    The part where we believe. Where we look at a flower unfolding and realize that some combination of sunlight, moistur

    • Just some ramblings from a guy who wants a beer.

      Beer is good... Oh, yeah, God.

      Both the wonder inherent and the desire to explain - to me that is God. Both the phenomenon as beauty and as something to be known - that nexis - that is what I term 'God'.

      Fair enough - that's the type of God I could probably get behind, philosophically. I daresay I personally think our wonder and curiosity have arisen naturally from our evolution, but you could be right as well.

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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