Is faith a reliable path to knowledge?

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

  1. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    It doesn't matter what I know, I'm just saying that for me the subject matter commands a little respect.
    Try and focus on what I'm saying, rather than try to score points.

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  3. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Personifying the universe isn't an idea that deserves respect.
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  5. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    I believe health care costs would go down based on the data from the Congressional Budget Office. And common sense. You don't know shit about liberalism except bullshit talking points from the GOP echo chamber.
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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I agree. And with a Ph. D. in physics, I can admire and respect more than most can, the great minds, especially those who solved the "This universe is highly, very highly improbable" problem with the idea of "rapid inflation" (mathematically described) at the start of the Big Bang.

    Steven Hawking's (and many other's) idea that a statistical fluxuation split zero energy into equal amounts of positive (from which mater evolved) AND negative energy (which is now accelerating the expansion of the universe) has my respect and is admired as a likely cause, consistent with physic, (needing no magic miracle or super natural agents) of our universe's beginning - why it exists.

    Your ideas are more closely related to those believing any myth with no math or evidence that their fathers did, such as the flat earth is carried on the back of a giant turtle. OR this myth:
    That is an extremely condensed version - learn more about how complex and complete their version is.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena:

    As you can see, the argument based around the word is the same in both cases. If the Arkfunkle argument is circular, then so is the God argument. The fact that I just coined the word "Arkfunkle" is of no consequence to the logical flow of the argument. Laying that bare was my precise aim in inventing this new name.

    This just goes to prove my point about trying to import extraneous ideas into your argument about THE definition of God. On the one hand, you say you're making your argument based only on that definition. And yet, here you are saying that this God is more significant than Arkfunkle. On what basis? It can only be on the basis of some other ideas you have about God that you're finding difficult to put aside.

    Here's where the "New" in the term "New Atheists" comes in. It has been said that the so-called "new atheists" differ from the old ones in that the new ones aren't willing to bow to the demand by religious people that certain topics are sacrosanct and can't be discussed. Faith is a personal matter, the believers say, so we can't question it - that's being rude. The existence of God is deeply meaningful to religious people (and again deeply personal for many), so it is disrespectful to suggest that maybe God doesn't exist. We shouldn't talk about that. Or, if we are going to talk about it, then we must not do it in a nasty or challenging way. We have to respect beliefs and faith, whether they make sense or not. And we'd better not scrutinise them too hard, because we might upset somebody's feelings.

    Conservatives, whether believers in God or not, tend to demand respect for things that are old or established, regardless of their worth. We are supposed to respect tradition. If something has always been done a certain way, then we shouldn't question that; all change is at our peril. And all beliefs that have stood the test of time deserve respect just because of their longevity.
  9. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Long standing tradition has had time to generate lots of data, so less faith is needed. New things don't have the same amount of data, therefore one needs more faith to compensate for this lack of data. General relativity (GR) has been around for about a century and has been pondered and tested, so one does not have to rely on faith. When GR first appeared, it lacked data and people had to take it with a grain of salt; faith.

    The irony is conservatives are accused of irrational faith, even though much of what they believe in has stood the tests of time and has accumulated centuries of data, so faith is not required. This is why conservative=self reliant more than does liberal mean self reliant. Liberal is more based on faith in prestige and celebrity, who have to provide fudge through social programs that compensate for bad data. The old ways did not need the same resources because it was not based on faith but practical data.
  10. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Oh and by the way, the number of uninsured in the US has dropped by 15 million since Obamacare was passed. So shoehorn that into your faith position that Obamacare is evil.
  11. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    No, that's just "projection". Conservatives are more about the cult of personality than they are about issues. Look how they still worship Ronald Reagan, even though the facts say his trickle down economic policies only led to greater income inequality.
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I don't agree with your premise that faith is inherently irrational. Nor do I agree with the subject line's implicit suggestion that faith should be thought of as a path to knowledge, analogous to our senses and to logical inference.

    As I wrote in an earlier post, I'm inclined to define 'faith' as something like 'Willingness to act in conditions of imperfect information'. That's the human condition, as true in science as any other aspect of life. All of our information, no matter the subject, is going to be incomplete and not 100% reliable.

    That's where I perceive circularity in this thread's argument. It seems to be starting out with the implicit premise that religious faith is something distinct from the kind of faith that scientists have in inductive reasoning and from the kind of faith displayed by all of us during everyday life. And there's an initial presumption tucked in there that religious faith is distinguished by its being inherently irrational, so that after much waving of hands, the conclusion is reached that religious faith is inherently irrational.

    That's all evidence that the order of nature has remained constant in the past. But if the issue at question is whether the past might fail to be a rule for the future, past experience becomes useless. As David Hume wrote, "It is impossible, therefore, that any argument from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future, since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance."


    I don't conceive of faith as being a "path to knowledge". I think that's true in both science and religion. So I agree in that sense. But I also think that faith has a role to play in science just as it does in the rest of life, including religion.

    Quite a bit, since in my opinion the evidence for the existence of God is very imperfect. That's not to say that there is no evidence, a claim that atheists are fond of making. There's religious experience, miracles, the philosophical theistic arguments, no end of teachings from authorities and all kinds of historical stuff. Personally, I don't find any of it truly convincing and would assign it relatively low evidenciary weight. But theists think differently and choose to behave as if it was true. That conforms to my idea of faith up above: the willingness to act in conditions of imperfect information.

    I think that I have much better reasons to believe that Canada exists than I do for believing that God does. So I'm much more inclined to behave as if Canada exists than I am to behave as if God does.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  13. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Equivocation fallacy, that's not how the word is used in a religious context. Everyone has to act on incomplete information, but religious people trust conclusions based on incomplete information or outright wrong information and refuse to revise when new information arises. Faith is pretending to know things you don't or can't know. Science never pretends to know very much with such certainty.
  14. wellwisher Banned Banned

    If you had a dream about a specific set of details, you will witness this information based data; direct experience. This is not based on faith, since everyone has had dreams. If you tried to tell me about the dream, since there is no way for me to prove what you say is true, I would need to have faith. My faith may be in the messenger being honest.

    This type of inner data, can be knowledge for one person, but may require faith by another. God is a personal experience for many with them experiencing an effect in various ways. Such experiences transcend faith because they involve direct data. Those who do not have such data access, either will need to have faith, or they will be in the dark lacking both faith and experience.

    The brain generates a wide range of natural information data. Those with direct experience of novel output, such as entrepreneurs, have a direct data experience, that is often interpreted as faith, by those who have no such data in the external cultural data base. They project their own limitation, not a matter of fact.

    If you are not educated in a subject, but accept the dogma of science on an issue, this is done by faith, since you really can't follow the data and analysis. One can pretend experience beyond faith by mimicking bottom lines and running with the majority ganging up on those who deviate from the dogma.
  15. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    That's total nonsense and just the excuse that "would be's if they could be's" use to excuse their own ignorances and alternative hypothesis that are unable to stand the rigours of the scientific method and peer review.
    Although admittedly the scientific method and peer review is not perfect, it is the best we have, and far exceeds the general thoughts held by many here, with regards to your own misguided, personal, unsupported and unevidenced take on cosmology and science in general.

    Science is simply the systematic organization of knowledge by individuals expert in particular areas encompassing the structure and behaviour of the Universe and all it contains, through the processes of experiment, observations, and peer review of said results.
    Not perfect, what is?, still far outweighs some of the wishful unsupported philosophical nonsense that some seem to aspire to.
  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes most of the scientific facts we believe we accept in part because we trust the well qualified persons telling them, but also of great importance is that no one (or extremely few) qualified people are refuting those facts.
    You call this "faith" but ignore the most important part of the process: lack of contrary assertions.

    In the case of non scientific facts, like Johna spent three days in the belly of a whale, etc. that many do believe, there are others who refute that. Most don't believe the "facts" that are inconsistent with the entire network of well confirmed facts.

    For example, most believe, now days that the Earth is basically a round sphere. Probable less than 1% have any personal observation supporting that so accept that assertion by experts as fact because only a few "crackpots" refute that fact and many have actually traveled around the earth.* I have not traveled around the earth so accept as truth that the earth is basically a sphere.

    I have travel at least 20 times from one hemisphere to the other in less than 10 hours. So I could test the assertion that the earth is round by looking at the crescent moon. Say its open or concave side it to the right the eve I get on a plane in USA for Brazil. When I get to Brazil that open side is to the left. This is because, "left" and "right" are relative to your "down direction" and that inverts as you move from on hemisphere on the surface of a sphere. So even though I have never gone around the earth, I do have personal observational evidence that the Earth is round.

    That is the beauty of the scientific method - False assertions, even if made by many, can be refuted by direct observations, which anyone can repeat.

    Thus, many believe many things they have not themselves tested, for example: the density of lead or its melting point, not only by their faith in authorities, but also because only crackpots dispute the widely believed fact and offer zero supporting evidence for their POV. Religious "facts" even if proclaimed by the Pope and all church authorities, are not necessarily true. If they can not be tested, then they are just a set of shared beliefs accepted by faith alone, that may be true or may be false.

    * Less than 100 ancient Greeks had direct observational evidence (that they understood) that the earth is a round sphere: the shape of the shadow of earth on the surface of the moon, during a lunar eclipse. Most believed the contrary POV that the earth was basically flat. Truth is NOT determined by votes, but by tested theory.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
  17. wellwisher Banned Banned

    When I was younger, I had the good fortune to work in a National Lab in USA, as development person. Once you get in, since this is funded by the public sector, anything you do gets published. It is not about the value in a qualitative sense of science, but it all about access to the lab's prestige and resources guarantees you to publish. Albeit this was a R&D place so anything may have potential in the right hands and minds and all data have value.

    The peer review system is useful, but the deck is stacked in favor by those who have the best access to resources. Do a publication count to see what percent are not connected to default publishing channels. If I was working in the labs and I was doing this, it would get published, by default, as condition of residency. That does not change anything other than the prestige for faith.

    With manmade global warming, since anything funded by government will get published, by default, the access principle can be used to stack faith via the preponderance of the data. If the funded opportunity was in mice testicles this is what gets the most papers. If they prefer left testicles to right testicles, this will be supported by the most papers. This creates prestige for faith that drives the layman.

    I was showing that internal data is generated by the brain, which is of interest in areas of science like psychology and anthropology. These will publish in the labs. If God cannot be proven to exist outside, then inside is where you look. This is consistent with new testament teachings; inner man. Atheists look in the wrong place because reason is not necessary to be an atheist. It only needs faith in buzz words and slogans.
  18. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    It's astounding that someone so ignorant and ideologically blinded could be in such a position. You never really engage with atheists on this forum, you just drop your steaming turds of pseudo-wisdom and Mark Levin-like propaganda and run.

    Kristoffer likes this.
  19. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Dreams aren't real, just like God experiences aren't real.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    That's because our definitions are somewhat different.
    Me: faith = "belief even in the absence of good evidence".
    You: faith = "willingness to act in conditions of imperfect information".

    The willingness to act that you're talking about here must, it seems to me, be based on a belief that the action to be taken is a justifiable one. But justified on the basis of what?

    I don't need faith to believe that if I touch a hot stove I'll burn my hand. Such a belief is based on evidence - and perhaps on past personal experience. But I'd say that to belief that a leprechaun lives in my oven requires faith, because there's no good evidence for it.

    My point is that faith, according to many God believers, can take one from a position of less-than-persuasive evidence to one of absolute confidence that God exists. At least, that's what they say. To go from "Maybe God exists" to "I know for sure that God exists" requires an increase in knowledge, as far as I can tell. So does faith provide this? Or something else? Or am I barking up the wrong tree entirely?

    I think it is different, for reasons I have already given. Inductive reasoning seems to work. If it didn't, science wouldn't have progressed. Indeed, we couldn't achieve anything much in our lives if nature didn't display the kind of regularity that it does. Religious faith, on the other hand, seems like a "leap" that is not justifiable on the basis of anything much, other than perhaps hope or wishing.

    I'm actually asking the question: is (religious) faith rational? And if so, how is it justified?

    Yes, I get all that. It's a nice philosophical point. My argument remains that scientists are pragmatic people. For that matter, so is everybody else in their daily lives.

    Maybe your point is that religious faith works to give people something they deeply desire - comfort, perhaps - and that is enough justification for it. But the "faith" in scientific induction that you've discussed is necessary to actually do any science - or make virtually any plan for the future at all.

    I agree with you that there is some evidence for the existence of God, and I also agree that to claim that there is no evidence is a claim that too many naive atheists make. On the other hand, I think the evidence is unconvincing.

    Me too.
  21. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    What 'default publishing channels'? Do you mean grey-literature government reports? To get noticed, it has to be white-band journals.
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I don't see a big difference between those. I would class embracing the truth of propositions as cognitive acts.

    That depends on what act we are talking about. Different acts, and different beliefs, might be justified in different ways. But none of those justifications is likely to ever be perfect, based on totally complete and reliable information and on impeccable chains of deductive reasoning. (Assuming that logic is itself justifiable somehow.)

    That seems to require faith that the past, including your experiences in the past and everything else that you cite as evidence, provide you with a rule for how the future will unfold.

    If somebody goes from saying "Maybe God exists" to saying "I know for sure that God exists", they would seem to be reporting an increased psychological conviction that the proposition 'God exists' is true, along with a determination to behave as if it were.

    The phrase 'increase in knowledge' typically seems to suggest acquiring new information or better justification for belief in the truth of existing information. I'm not convinced that a religious believer's expression of faith need imply either of those things. What they are talking about is their level of commitment to things believed.

    Ok, but what justifies the belief that the order of nature won't suddenly change and that events in the future will continue to unfold as they have in the past? Saying that thinking that way has worked in the past just begs the question. Observing that a lot of things that we care deeply about, like science and progress, depend on the answer doesn't justify the truth of the conclusion. Maybe the universe is such that we are blundering off a cliff and our deepest hopes will never flower.

    I thoroughly agree.

    I'm definitely not an expert on pragmatism. But my impression is that in his 'The Will to Believe', William James was merely arguing that absent satisfactory intellectual justification for our beliefs, the needs and purposes that arise in the course of our lives justify our commitment to whatever seems to us to be most likely to work. Hence James seems to me to have been arguing for faith, as I've defined it, as opposed to proclaiming some wonderful new pragmatic path to knowledge of unknown things.

    I'm arguing against the idea that faith is a profoundly irrational intellectual imposture that's unique to religion. I'm suggesting that faith is inherent to the human condition and that many of our paradigmatic examples of rationality, including science, logic and mathematics, require some element of faith in their foundations.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  23. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    And East Korea? Because we absolutely exist.

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