Is faith a reliable path to knowledge?

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by James R, Jul 23, 2015.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    To give him his due, he has put some effort into justifying it. At least one of his books discusses it in detail.

    Yes, that seems to be the case. His definition, which I quoted, is in a book aimed at atheists, not one that is aimed at theists. He is not directly addressing theists in that book. One of his aims there is to explain to atheists what exactly he sees as the problem with faith. Were he to write a book aimed at convincing theists to "convert", I imagine it would be quite a different book.

    If faith is an irrational process, then I would say that it is, almost by definition, anti-intellectual. Whether being anti-intellectual is deplorable or not is a separate topic for discussion.

    I tried to distinguish different types of faith from one another in the opening post (and elsewhere). However, responders to this thread seem to want to keep smooshing the different types of faith together. I think that things like trust and hope and confidence play a part in lots of human acts. I'm not so sure about the kind of religious faith I started talking about.

    Yes, I agree that, in principle, anything could happen in the future. However, it usually doesn't.

    Yes. And I appreciate that this is no guarantee that it will go right on working. And yet, it seems to.

    I wouldn't call this faith, because it is an evidence-based belief. That is, the belief that the universe operates in a lawful, orderly manner rather than a chaotic, lawless one, is based on abundant evidence.

    I quite agree that technically there is no guarantee that this universal lawfulness will continue into the future, but there's zero evidence to suggest that it won't and a lot of evidence to suggest that it will. Yesterday, and last week and five years ago, I was in the same position as I am right now with regard to the question of whether the universe will continue as usual tomorrow. And it always did on all those past occasions.

    This assumption of regularity and lawfulness is one that we all must make, or else we wouldn't be able to plan ahead.

    This brings us back to the question of the thread title: is faith a reliable path to knowledge? In science, it would seem that the answer is: no. Agree?

    Again, I don't think we're too far apart on this.

    Regarding Canada, it seems to me that you've just listed some objective evidence that Canada exists, like: you've lived there, there was a TV broadcast from there, and so on. Now, it could be that you labour under a delusion (which many other people apparently share) that Canada makes TV programmes and therefore is a place where people live and so on. In principle, I could check these claims for myself (e.g. search for Canadian TV, check up on your background, try to go to Canada to see it for myself etc.). The evidence would either tend to support your claims or refute them. Again, it is possible that all this supposed evidence is somehow concocted, perhaps to make me think that Canada exists when really it doesn't. Maybe you lied about living there. Maybe those supposed Canadian TV shows are faked in a US studio somewhere. Maybe I'm brainwashed or otherwise fooled into believing I went to Canada when really I didn't.

    The point is: the balance of evidence available to me strongly suggests that Canada exists, so strongly in fact that any leap-of-faith element involved in my accepting that Canada is a real place is insignificant.

    We appear to be mostly in agreement, then.

    One more question might be: to what degree do you think faith is required to believe that God exists, and do you think that a higher degree of faith is necessary than is necessary in order to believe that Canada exists?
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I think you're talking about faith in the context of trust in authority here.

    We trust that what we read in (certain) books is true and accurate, for a variety of reasons that come down to trusting particular people or institutions. I argue that it is possible to gather objective evidence as to whether particular people and institutions can be trusted as sources of reliable information. There is really no need for a religious-type faith in this matter. That is, we don't have to believe in the absence of evidence.

    History is interesting. We are all familiar with statements such as "History is written by the victors", and there's a lot of truth in that. For any historical event, we only have snapshots of what actually happened, from the perspective of whoever recorded the details of what happened. Nevertheless, given enough of these snapshots, we can at least build a consensus picture of what happened. Despite this, we can never be entirely sure that important things haven't been left out or misunderstood or misreported.

    What we know of history is based on evidence handed down to us. Whatever our picture of an event like the Civil War is, it is evidence-based. We don't just believe stuff about the Civil War in the absence of evidence. Or, if we do, then I would argue that this is not very reliable knowledge. It might then perhaps legitimately be called a faith-based belief.

    Science is a bit different. The option to test the science right here and now is always there, at least in principle. We don't have to look into the mists of history to try to determine the truth of scientific claims. We can check them ourselves if necessary.

    You did an experiment and gathered objective evidence. You had a subjective experience which helped convince you, but the objective evidence that a precipitate forms when you mix A and B is, in principle, available to anybody.
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  5. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    During my month long visit with kids and grand kids in the US, I enjoyed the Broadway musical, Wicked.
    The Wizard of Oz, sings and speaks twice real truths and lots of sarcasm.
    Here is part of it:
    The Wizard: [Spoken] "Elphaba, where I'm from, we believe all sorts of things that aren't true. We call it history."

    [Sung] A man's called a traitor, or liberator.
    A rich man's a thief, or philanthropist.
    Is one a crusader, or ruthless invader?
    It's all in which label
    Is able to persist.

    There are precious few at ease
    With moral ambiguities,
    So we act as though they don't exist.

    PS green skinned Elphaba has some natural magical talent, so was selected by her professor of magic, to visit the Wizzard. She learns as Dorthy will a generation later, he is a fraud. He tries to defend himself in song: "Mr. Wonderful." Here is the start of his "Mr. Wonderful" song:

    I never asked for this,
    Or planned it in advance.
    I was merely blown here
    By the winds of chance.
    I never saw myself
    As a Solomon or Socrates
    I knew who I was--
    One of your dime a dozen

    Then suddenly I'm here
    Respected, worshipped, even
    Just because the folks in Oz
    Needed someone to believe in.
    Does it surprise you
    I got hooked, and all too soon?
    What can I say?
    I got carried away
    And not just by balloon.

    Wonderful-- They called me Wonderful,
    So I said wonderful, if you insist.
    I will be Wonderful,
    And they said wonderful.
    Believe me, it's hard to resist, ...

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
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  7. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    We save our trust for our wisest sailor, but does that wise sailor himself believe, or does he simply know.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Wicked rocks.
  9. river

    Jan Ardena likes this.
  10. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    You asked: Are you claiming that there are no differences between the scriptures of the major world religions, or are you saying that you haven't come across any scripture that you reject?

    It's difficult keeping up with you guys, because you feel you have the right to bait and switch.

    That's a fair point, gods, are defined as different aspects of God's attributes, so, many differences, could be said to be compulsory factor.

    I think this is the most interesting point you have made throughout this discussion.
    I believe this is what it boils down to. A subjective, and objective intersect.

    There is obviously objective reality, we literally cannot avoid it. But I don't see the two as separate.

    I don't think you fully comprehend what I'm saying.

    Large numbers of people believe in lots of things that are true. I'm sure you'll agree.

    You see it like that because you are set in your ways.

    Why would you say this as fact?

    I think there are skeptics who are capable of that. Yes.

    I've seen shows where people have changed their minds about ghosts, from being a rational skeptic (according to them). If they are being true to themselves, then I would say that skeptics can change if they have the experience for themselves.

    I'm not hurt (sorry to disappoint), just disappointed that you feel the need to do so.

    Don't be so paranoid.
    You should really bring this up if and when I do. Don't you think?
    But admittedly I am interested in how you conducted, and viewed, your relationship with God.

    It's not a good definition, because it's not necessarily true, but it's put across as though it is. Aside from that it's actually insulting, period.

    You should at least try.

    To some people, it's obvious that God exists, and they don't ponder on that. It's hard for you to comprehend that, because you believe God doesn't exist.

    "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

    There is your explanation of what faith is. It is the assurance, of things hoped for. Not hope itself.
    It is very subtle, and requires a little more ponderance that you are currently giving it.

    My guess is that believers don't look at it the way you do, or the people who share your mindset (roughly). In the same way people don't say I love my children 63%. It's a bit silly, mate.

    How could it do that?

    All your analogies pertaining to God, crash burn, and die, everytime.

  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes! Story explains how & why: (1) the TinMan came to be and wants a heart; (2) the Scarecrow came to be and wants a brain;(3) the lion came to be cowardly and can speak. (All animals could when story begins, but as the universities professor, a goat, fears: "Something bad is happening in OZ" - Animals, except the lion, are being caged and losing the power of speech.) All this plus great songs and biting satire on humans who want to be "Popular" not wise and go "Dancing thru life."
  12. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Then you are a bad student. Knowledge is not the ability to take tests or believe what we read in books.
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena,

    It seems to me that the major world religions are supposed to follow the scriptures of the major world religions. Therefore, differences among the major world religions should be sourced in differences between the scriptures of the major world religions. Is there some error in that line of reasoning?

    I know you claim that the practice of the various religions has been corrupted over time, and you think that they don't stick to what is written in the scriptures. So, maybe your claim is that all the scriptures are really the same, and that all differences among the various religions are just differences in their corrupt practices. Is that it?

    It sounds like your God can be all things to all people, manifesting himself in seemingly contradictory ways. That makes it a bit hard to settle on what the attributes of God actually are, does it not? Is God both evil and good? Is God both loving and vengeful? Is God both a jealous God and a God who loves his neighbour?

    We may have a rare point of agreement, then. I'm sure that will go away if we dig deeper.

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    I'm not saying that subjective experience doesn't interact with objective reality. I've merely pointed out the iffiness of knowledge obtained by introspection.

    Maybe not. You could try expanding on what you have said.

    You often go out of your way to avoid conceding a point - even a matter of common sense. Why is that?

    Meh. We're all set in our ways.

    It comes back to the question of the reliability of personal anecdotes, personal interpretations of experiences etc.

    I would be wary of watching credulous TV shows about things like ghosts. The general format of such shows is such that they give far more airtime to the believers than to the skeptics. An hour-long show, on ghosts, say, may present a minute or two of talking-head opinion from somebody who is skeptical of the presented evidence, and devote the rest of the time to promoting the views and fuzzy videos of the believers. And that's if they even bother to get a "real" skeptic at all.

    A lot of those shows will also have at least one person who will run a line like "Before I saw that ghost in the old house and experienced it for myself, I was a total skeptic. I thought ghosts only existed in stories. But now I'm convinced they are real." The problem with this is that - chances are - the person concerned was never a real skeptic. That is, the person concerned will have had little, if any, training in critical thinking. And, in particular, the person will not have had any kind of knowledge about how one might go about trying to evaluate the objective truth of a subjective experience of seeing a ghost.

    Everybody considers themselves to be good at evaluating claims, and in particular at evaluating their own experiences. Everybody thinks they are a skeptic. But there's more to being a skeptic than merely rejecting things of which you have no knowledge or experience. And a true skeptic is not the same as a cynic.

    There's a parallel here. You, Jan, claim that I could never have been a real theist, because you claim expertise in what it means to be a real theist. Similarly, I claim expertise in what it means to be a skeptic and a critical thinker. When I tell you that the self-declared "skeptics" who suddenly turn 180 degrees and start believing in ghosts or alien spaceships never really had the the skeptical thinking apparatus in place, you may just discount my opinion as more of that "explaining away" that skeptics do. This would not be dissimilar to my downplaying of your expertise in judging whether somebody is a real theist.


    Kinda like the definition of God as the first cause?

    I agree that it's insulting to those who say they gain knowledge from their faith.

    No. It's easy for me to comprehend that. I think it's the default position of the vast majority of believers in God to regard it as obvious that God exists and not to spend any time really thinking about it. Certainly, no religion encourages its followers to question the foundations of their belief (I was about to write "faith" there).

    Most people come to religion through early-childhood indoctrination. All the adults around them take God for granted, so it is natural that they come to view God the same way.

    I heard an interesting quote the other day. Somebody was commenting that "Isn't it amazingly fortunate that, wherever you happened to be born, the local religion turned out to be the correct one?"

    Ok. Let's ponder it some more.

    I've already ventured that this is like The Secret - that God will insure that you get what you hope for. Perhaps not at the nitty-gritty level - we've already discussed that. If I wish for a Ferrari, God (or the universe) probably won't provide me with one just because I hope for one. On the other hand, if I read the scriptures and they assure me that my soul will go on after death, then we can take it as given that that will occur, right? Of course, I won't know that my hope that I will survive my body's death will be assured until I actually die, but that's what I'm being told in the quote. And, as far as that Ferrari goes, who knows? God will do what he decides is best for me. If he wants me to have a Ferrari, he'll arrange that I have one. If not, then he's the Supreme Being and he knows best. Either way, as a believer I can rest assured that my faith/trust in God is not misplaced, regardless of what happens.

    Am I getting there?

    Forget the numbers if you don't like maths.

    If I were to ask you to rank your confidence that God exists on the usual five-point scale, do you think you could give an answer? Options would be something like "Not at all confident", "Some confidence", "Average", "High confidence", "Near or total certainty".

    Compare the children. On a 5-point scale, how much do you love your children? "Not at all", "A little", "An average amount", "A lot", "They are one of the most important things in my life".

    I don't see how this is silly. Opinions such as these are measured by pollsters all the time.

    You can have a binary poll if you like: "Do you believe in God? Yes/no?" "Do you love your children? Yes/no?" We can extract some information from a binary poll, but not as much as from a 5-point scale (which is why pollsters prefer the 5-point scale). And a percentage, of course, can be correlated with that 5-point scale if you like - it's just 25% steps from one option to the next, approximately.

    For a start, conceivably - as a result of thinking about the matter - one might come to the conclusion that faith isn't a reliable path to knowledge.

    You avoided addressing the points I made.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
  14. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Do you have any examples of differences between scriptures?
    Let's deal with that, and then talk about religions after.

    God is one.


    I've no idea what you're talking about. You raised a point, and so did I. Now what's wrong with the point I raised?

    What's a REAL skeptic, as opposed to a skeptic?

    Oh! They only pretended to be? I didn't think people aspired to becoming ''a true skeptic''.

    What is a true skeptic?

    A) I don't claim to be expert in what it means to be theist.
    B) I don't claim you have never been a real theist. I just haven't heard anything from you that leads to believe you once believed in God.

    Because you are so adamant in your atheism. I want to know your experience, and what led you to where you are now.


    Who says they gain knowledge from faith?

    How do you know they haven't really thought about it?

    Are you really sure about that?

    I don't think it really works like that, and I don't really know how to explain it to you in a way that you will change the way you see it. Thinking that we are essentially spiritual, and therefore eternal (by nature), is more of a position, than an intellectual acknowledgement.

    Good lad!

    As per your understanding of it.

    It has nothing to do with liking or not liking math.

    I've never thought of it like that.
    All I can say is that God's existence makes more sense, than God's non existence.
    Why isn't that enough information for you?

    I love them, as opposed to not loving them.
    Can you comprehend that?

    Are these polls to be considered truth?

    same as above.
    Personally I put no faith in them. I only use them on here because other people do put faith in them.

    Who say's faith is a reliable path to knowledge?
    How does such a process work?

    The so called points you make about God, are packed full with pre-suppositions, so we dance around those pre-supps, which take up a lot of time (which we probably don't have at hand).

  15. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    James R defined Arkfunkle as the little pixie who lives in his computer and makes it work.
    Jan Ardena defines God as the cause of the universe or maker of the Big Bang.

    Both use the following same "logical" argument to "prove" Arkfunkle and God exist/ are real:

    X does Y by the definition of X and it is true that Y happened; Ergo X must exist.

    For Jan, X = God; Y = made universe or the Big Bang.
    For James, X = Arkfunkle; Y = made his computer work.

    Or without the algebraic representations:
    Jan: God, by definition, made the Big Bang & it happened; Ergo God exists.
    James: Arkfunkle, by definition, made his computer work & it does; Ergo Artfunkle exists.

    At best, both are circular logic; At worst they are just semantics with zero content.

    Jan, unlike you, I do not already believe God exists and also doubt the pixie, Arkfunkle, does but as proving "non-existence" is impossible (except within closed tautologies, like math) I can not be sure. IE God and/or Artfunkle may exist.

    Please explain any difference you see in the two above "logical" claims. I see none.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
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  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena:

    Let's deal with that in a different thread, if you really want to. I'd prefer to keep this one on-topic if possible.

    You're sounding like Deepak Chopra again. That statement looks like another deepity to me: on one level trivial and obvious ("God" is singular) and on another level profound-sounding but vague, yet would be earth-shattering if it were true ("Everything is God").

    Nothing is wrong with the point you raised. I was merely commenting on your tendency to respond to questions with questions and not to give ground even on trivial matters of common sense.

    This, and what follows in your reply, suggests to me that you responded to my post line-by-line without reading the whole thing through first. Your response reads like a knee-jerk reaction to (and, naturally, rejection of) my post, rather than a thoughtful response.

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines a skeptic as"One who doubts the validity of what claims to be knowledge in some particular department of inquiry; one who maintains a doubting attitude with reference to some particular question or statement." And also "A seeker after truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite convictions."

    There's a skeptical community out there these days who would expand on this dictionary definition in various ways. Michael Shermer (editor and publisher of Skeptic magazine) suggests "Skepticism is the rigorous application of science and reason to test the validity of any and all claims." As an example, he says that if somebody tells a skeptic that ghosts exist, the skeptic's response is not "That's silly. Ghosts don't exist!" but rather "That's interesting. Show me the evidence that led you to that conclusion. Convince me."

    You're right. People don't aspire to become true skeptics. Skepticism is more of a method than a position. Being skeptical is something that some people learn how to do over time, if they are so inclined and if they are exposed to the right kind of training in critical thinking, science and the application of reason.

    Those ghost-believing converts who claim to have been "skeptics" in the past mostly haven't been educated in how to think critically. Their idea of what it means to be a skeptic equates roughly to simply not believing in something.

    For a non-expert, you spend a lot of time here telling people that their concept of theism is wrong, and it seems to me that you claim that most religious people are not theists - not really, not like you are.

    What you are doing here is calling me a liar. You are saying that I am making up a story about how I once believed in God etc. etc. Perhaps your people skills really are so poor that you can't discern whether somebody such as myself is prone to outright dishonesty or not, even after many two-way interactions over the course of several years.

    At this point, Jan, I really don't give a damn what you think I believed or didn't believe about God. I'm not going to go out of my way to convince you that I'm being honest and genuine. I really shouldn't have to at this point. Nor am I likely to share stories about my personal life with you. Doing so would be approximately equivalent to talking to a brick wall.

    I had to smile at this.

    I'm not sure exactly what makes you think I'm adamant in my atheism. "Adamant" means (pulling out the dictionary again) "impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, reason". Yet here I am starting a thread inquiring about faith. I talk about evidence and reason practically all the time here, and yet I'm apparently so hypocritical that I don't apply reason to my own beliefs and opinions. And I'm impervious to persuasion - yet the fact is that I'm a convert - just in the "wrong" direction, according to you.

    If you want to see adamant atheism, it's out there on the net. Some of it may even be here at sciforums. I'm really not it. I am open to being persuaded by reason.

    Lots of believers in God. Read the opening post of this thread.

    Well, for a start, and without trying to sound elitist, there are many millions of believers who have low levels of education. They have never been exposed to the kind of academic-style critical thinking that would lead them to start asking the pertinent questions about their religious beliefs. In addition, there are people who are highly educated in a particular trade or speciality or profession, but whose education has similarly not really touched on the kind of critical analysis that might lead them to question their religious beliefs. And that's just mentioning a couple of examples.

    In case that all sounds a bit theoretical, there's empirical evidence regarding this, too. Time and again we see people start to question their beliefs after they are exposed to certain ways of thinking. And when directly asked about the matter of God, they often admit that they'd never really thought about it that way before.

    In a broad brushstrokes sense, yes. I have a soft spot for various religious traditions that do encourage debate and questioning. Examples that spring to mind include the Sufi, certain brands of Judaism, even the Jesuits.

    Now this is the kind of thing I'd really like to be talking about in this thread.

    My question is: how does one arrive at this position, if it doesn't involve intellectual acknowledgment?

    You see the self-fulfilling nature of this belief that God does what is best, don't you? If you get what you want, then God decided that was the best thing. If you don't get what you want, then God decided that was the best thing. Therefore, whatever happens supports your pre-existing belief that God does what is best, because you believe everything is for the best, even when it's bad. God works in mysterious ways. If he exists, that is.

    I'm interested in how certain you feel about your conclusion, and why. I said that in the opening post.

    I'd read "God's existence makes more sense than his non existence" as a "more probable than not" kind of statement, which might put you somewhere in the range from about 51 to, say, 70% confidence in God's existence", if I had to estimate it from this statement alone.

    The next question is: what leads you to this level of confidence about your belief in God? Is it evidence, faith or something else? And yes, I know we've already talked about that. For you it's all about "common sense" and personal experience.

    Yes. that's the binary answer. It gives us exactly one bit of information to work with (and I mean "bit" in its technical sense).

    If people answer them honestly. Why not?

    You've lost me. You put no faith in what?

    Lots of believers who claim to be 100% confident that their religious beliefs are true and correct. Ask them directly and that's what they tell you.

    That's what I'm trying to find out by starting this thread. I'm hoping that the believers can tell me how their faith leads them to reliable knowledge about God.

    It might be useful if you could take the time to point out one or two of my most egregious presuppositional errors.

    You keep implying that my conception of God is flawed and impoverished compared to yours. Yet you seem largely unwilling to share your superior conception of God with the rest of us. You're content instead to merely criticise others for failing to use the correct concepts.

    My own perception is that my conception of your God is probably not all that different from yours. The main difference is that you believe your God is real.
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Billy T:

    I don't think the logic is circular (though I could be wrong about that). Look:

    Definition: "Arkfunkle the pixie" is defined as whatever that makes computers work.
    Premise 1. If computers work, then Arkfunkle the pixie exists (refer to definition above).
    Premise 2. Computers work.
    Deductive conclusion: 3. Therefore Arkfunkle exists.

    You're right that this logical argument has very little content, though. The only empirical observation here is that computers work. The rest just refers to an arbitrary definition.

    Similarly, the only empirical observation in the equivalent version of this argument (the God version) is that the universe exists. The rest is just playing with an arbitrary definition again.
  18. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    The Hindu concept of god is pantheistic, so if your concept is that god is the universe and created itself, then if the universe exists, god exists. The evidence is simply that one chooses to understand the universe in terms of a single thing. Jan avoids any other religious connotations, because it's acknowledged that there is no way to conceive of something so much greater than one's self. But if you are also part of god, that leaves open the possibility that self knowledge is also god knowledge.

    Sure, it's all BS, but it's a rather sophisticated and ancient form of BS that has fooled lots of people.
  19. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    I typed ''God'' into google, and a load of information came up. I typed ''Arkfunkle'' into google, and the only thing that came back was James's use of the word.
    How circular is that? Anyway that's what I think.

  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Is that the best "duck and weave" you can do? If so just stick to ignoring posts you can not reply to.

    PS: I did not expect any reply pointing out the difference, in logic, between Your defense of God as real and James's of Arkfinkle, as they there is none.
  21. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    If God is simply just a word that just popped out of my head, then your conclusion is correct.
    And while you can ignore the difference in significance. I can't. Because I would be just talking myself into something, based on the assumption that the significance
    of God, is no more significant than the letters that spell it's name.

    This is not based on belief in God, but acceptance that it is of some importance, and worthy of a least a little respect.

  22. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    OK, Tell me in what way, and how you know, that God is something more than just a word, like word Arkfunkle, defined by a definition.

    Is it because those you trusted when young told you so? - That is a very common reasons why many "know" their God(s) are more than just a defined word.
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

    When President Obama said heath care cost will go down if we have Obamacare, many people accepted this with blind faith. It was not based on common sense experience. The rational people who know business by experience said this was not possible.

    Most liberals live by faith, since much of that they believe is new and not fully tested to be rational and matter of fact. Liberalism is not a good way to achieve knowledge since it makes use of faith in prestige and celebrity. Self reliance, which is more conservative, means less faith in celebrity and group prestige and more reliance in ones own ability to learn in the school of reality, so faith alone is not the key to knowledge. One does not grow a business with faith alone, but rather with trial by fire and hard experience. Saying we are all equal needs faith since this is not rational.

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