Is faith a reliable path to knowledge?

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

  1. brokenbutnotbeat Registered Member

    1. Yes
    2. I have proof through faith. I can't say about percentages but i would put a lot of my belief down to evidence
    3. yes, like I have faith in my family members when they are accused of wrongdoing, because I think I know them. I am fully aware that anyone is capable of committing a crime, but I have faith that my family members and friends are good people. I also have faith in priests and mediums.
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  3. wellwisher Banned Banned

    When you are in school, you learn many things by rote, so you can take and succeed on tests. Nobody has the time and energy to prove everyone one of these claims to themselves, which is why you memorize. The proof that replaces experience is based on faith that the teachers have the experience and are being honest. It is not based in your own research and development work for each and every thing, since any detail you would investigate might be a life time project for a PhD.

    The testing process is a stick and carrot that helps to condition your faith, until one is no longer able to distinguish between faith, due to lack of personal experience, and pseudo-experience based on the prestige of authority.

    Any small child can work a cell phone. This is done at a superficial level. Behind this is the workings of the technology that underlies the phone. One's experience is shallow and one's faith runs deep in terms of the hidden things than make this work. Most of what we do is based on faith in underlying things we don't understand. We move in the shallows of experience and many assume this means no need for faith in hidden things.
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  5. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Ridiculous example: faith isn't required for cell phones or any other every day phenomenon.
    The FACT that phones work justifies what little "faith" is required - and the ONLY faith required is that "This phone will work as advertised when I want it to".
    This is no different than the "faith" involved when I make plans for next Saturday (the "faith" that I, the world and my circle of friends will still be around at that time).
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  7. wellwisher Banned Banned

    The unwritten or unspoken faith, in terms of the cell, is in the details of how the little squirrels in the phone hand off to the pigeons who then fly to the next phone. That part is all a blur and needs unconscious faith that somehow the phone's innards knows how to do this.

    The effect is like the child who is being held up by their father as they ride the bike. Some will think they are doing this all by themselves. They are unconscious that their bike riding is dependent on an unconscious and unspoken faith that dad will help them out. Being unconscious, they are not consciously aware dad is critical to the activity.

    The person who believes in God has their own black box, like the cell phone example. They only need to work the interface at church and are not required to know about the guts underneath; dad holding the bike. Religion is often opposite with the person knowing their dad ; god holds the bike, but they often give themselves too little credit for driving the bike to create their own experience.
  8. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Utterly wrong.
    Most people are vastly ignorant of the details - i.e. they have no idea about the fundamentals involved.
    Since this is the case they don't - and in fact cannot - have faith in those details.
    The only "faith" required for the vast majority of users is that the phone will do its job.
    Like you yourself state (later) "They only need to work the interface ... and are not required to know about the guts underneath". If you don't know about the "guts underneath" how on Earth can it be claimed that FAITH is required in those "guts" - beyond "It'll do what it's supposed to" (and that latter is supported by the available evidence, thus it's not exactly faith per se).

    I certainly remember dad's role in holding MY bike upright when I learned to ride one.

    And... now it devolves to even more inane waffle.
  9. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Say we substitute God for the cell phone. The interface of this cell phone (God) is bible. We don't know how this interface appeared, except as stories. Nor do we know the mind of God, which is the guts inside the bible. We have faith that the insides somehow works properly to generate the interface. The faithful do not need to know how semi-conductors work to make a call to God.

    Nobody knows everything about everything, so we (collectively) take many things with faith, and operate only at the interface of things. There we can form a semblance of experience, grounded on faith in the unknown innards behind the interface. The bible toter may practice the bible interface and find his life is good. This confirms his faith in the innards, without ever really knowing for sure how digital signals are processed by God.

    I take it you are older like me. Do you remember early computers where you needed to know some programming to use them. An interface alone was not sufficient ,but rather you needed to know the innards too; write the program. This made the computer something for the experts, where less faith is needed. Technology and software has made faith more important, allowing even the untrained layman to play. This may be why discussions often turn to insults if the innards are addressed. This challenges faith.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
  10. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    QED. And my point exactly.
    No faith required in "semi-conductors", no faith in the science underlying semi-conductors.
    Only "faith" (in the trivial sense) that the phone will work as advertised.

    Thus, again, you're largely wrong.

    I have no idea. But I do know that I'm considerably more rational.

    So what?
    Those who didn't need computers didn't need to know how to programme.

    And once again: arrant nonsense.
    I'll say it again: the only "faith" required is that the product will work as advertised.
    To use your previous analogy, the computer is a black box. It doesn't matter HOW it works, only that it does. And, since the inner workings are largely irrelevant to the user then no faith is required in the fundamentals, reasoning, OR science behind those workings.
  11. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Faith is the belief and trust in things not seen. If we use a black box, the innards can't be seen and appear to work like mystery and magic. If one is totally in the dark, they have minimum experience and will require more faith due to more unseen. If someone was a freshman specializing in computer hardware, he knows something about the innards but not enough. He will have faith in the claims of others, to boost his experience. The less the box is black, the less faith one will require.

    God is more complex a concept than a cell phone. This places God in a black box even for the faithful. They can't open the black box to prove God, to science, by means of a casual experiment. Faith can't go there. The same is true if the child was asked to prove that cell phone is not magic. He can't do the science but has faith it works but some magical means he might try to explain. This question and their answer makes them aware of their faith.
  12. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    I can only assume that you're deliberately misinterpreting what I'm saying, or being deliberately obtuse.
    It DOES NOT MATTER that the inner workings of the black box are not understood - so long as the black box does what it's advertised as doing.

    Lack of evidence would say that this is an unfounded claim on your part.

    No faith required - in the case of cell phones etc. (Beyond, as previously and multiply stated - that it will do what's required).
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    This is faith in the sense of trust, which in this case boils down to trust in authorities and experts of various sorts. You trust experts to know what they are talking about and (a lot of the time) not to tell you lies. You trust them to do their jobs. You rely on them. You have no practical choice about that.

    Trust in school textbooks is justifable on the basis of evidence: the stuff in the textbooks leads to reliable results in the real world. The experts who are trained in the details of what's in the textbooks (indeed, who write the textbooks) are trusted to do their jobs honestly. If one of them doesn't do that - for example by writing lies in textbooks - that is usually picked up by other experts in the same field sooner or later.

    I aimed in this thread to distinguish beliefs that do not rely on evidence from those that do. What you learn in school is (I hope, mostly) evidence-based. Faith in God isn't like that.

    One doesn't require faith to use a cell phone. Your belief that the cell phone will let you make calls is immediately and directly subject to empirical proof or disproof. Either the thing works or it doesn't. Understanding how and why it works is a different matter altogether, but the fact that cell phones work means that the theory of cell phone technology can be trusted to produce reliable results.

    You're talking about trust again. The child trusts the father to assist if needed and not to let them fall off the bike. That trust is well placed, presumably, because the child has past experience of the father's care. That is, the trust is justifiable on the grounds of evidence. It isn't a "leap of faith" brought on by an absence of evidence.

    If a child believes they are not be helped when in fact Dad is holding them up, then the child simply has a mistaken belief that is not justified by evidence. The child might even be said to have faith in his or her own ability to ride the bike unassisted. Dad knows, however, that this faith is not an evidence-based belief. The child doesn't yet have the ability, but is showing signs of developing it.

    The phone is a physical object that demonstrably works. On the other hand, there's no good evidence that the church interface you speak of even exists, let alone works. The belief in the God communication thing is therefore a faith-based belief, in the sense in which I am defining the term in this thread.

    There's a lot to unpick in this flawed analogy.

    As Dywyddyr pointed out, a cell-phone user doesn't need to know anything about the innards of the phone to use it. And no faith is required to verify that it works as advertised. Just make a call and you'll find out. If your call connects, you may find your life is good.

    Compare prayer. The believer prays to God. Sometimes good things happen in his life afterwards; sometimes bad things. Does the believer have any justification for saying that he knows the praying worked? He may say he has faith that God hears and answers his prayers, but again this is not an evidence-based belief. It is a belief formed in the absence of reliable objective evidence - actually in spite of it, since scientific studies of the efficacy of prayer have been done and it has been found to be not better than placebo.

    What happened there is that the experts made it easier for untrained people to use computers - the user experience gradually separated from the programmer experience. When the user adds up two numbers in an Excel spreadsheet, he trusts that the programmer has correctly coded the addition process so the software does its job correctly. But the ultimate proof is in the pudding: either the additions work in the spreadsheet or they don't. They can be checked by anybody capable of adding up. Thus, trust that Excel addition works is an evidence-based trust, not a faith-based belief.

    To take it one step further, suppose that somebody who doesn't know how to add up uses Excel to add two numbers. They get a result, but they have no idea whether it is right or wrong. If they then rely on that result, can we say they have faith that Excel did its job correctly? I'd say there is an element of faith there, but actually this is more of an evidence-faith split of some kind when you look at what is going on. If this person was the first person ever to use Excel to add, then they would have no empirical reason for believing that the results were correct - unless they asked somebody who can add to check, of course. Therefore, they would be believing in the absence of evidence; they'd have a faith-based belief. In reality, of course, lots of people report using Excel and can confirm that its addition works correctly as a matter of course. So, the innumerate person could rely on evidence of Excel's reliability provided by expert adders, rather than - or in addition to - his own faith.

    One part of my questioning in this thread asks something along these lines: if the innumerate person doesn't check the result via people who are competent to judge its accuracy, but instead relies solely on his own belief that Excel gives the correct result (and doesn't compare other users' experience of Excel), can that person then be justified in saying that he is very confident that Excel is giving the right answers? That is, does his faith justify his confidence?

    Is it wise to believe and trust in things that are not seen?

    Suppose that you know nothing about how a cell phone works. I tell you that, in fact, the phone works because tiny little mice run around inside it, invisible to the naked eye. When you make a call, the little mice emit little squeaks that can be heard at a great distance away by other little mice in the phone you're calling (but these squeaks are out of the range of human hearing). Would you be inclined to believe me? If not, why not?

    Would it be reasonable for somebody to believe in the little mice in the phone, do you think?

    What if 100 people all said that cell phones work because of the little mice? Would their testimony be sufficient to believe in the mice? Would it perhaps be a good idea to consult some kind of expert?
  14. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

    Guess I'd better put mousetraps around my phone since I'm not allowed to have cats in my apartment.
  15. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    If you're concept of God, is the word God, then you're correct, and there's nothing more to say.

    Like I said, if that's what it means to you, then just say so, then we can decide how to converse.
    Do you think God is nothing more than the letters that make up its name?

    Faith is a personal matter, but faith isn't what you think it is. The fact that you have to separate it into different mindsets (equals different types of faith) is evidence of that.
    No one here say's that you can't question it, that's just another idiotic idea. If you can't comprehend why the subject of God is more significant than anything your mind throws up on the spot. There's not a lot anyone can say or do. Personally I think you have a problem with the whole idea of God (or maybe with God), which is why you cannot hold a conversation without bringing in nonsense. It's what makes this forum so interesting.

    Why is it?
    Was it ''deeply meaningful to you'' when you were a religious person? Or is that classified information?

    Are you mad at God, because He didn't grant you a Ferrari?

    It doesn't matter how you want to talk about God, this is partially the home of people who have a problem with God, or the concept of God. Of course there are going to be idiotic things said.
    I'm still waiting for the challenging ways.

    Obviously you're not going to admit it (problem with God an' all), but God makes more sense than anything you can come up with.

    I am eagerly waiting for you to scrutinise. Bring it on!

    Maybe that's what you think, but that's not what I meant.
    But something tells me it doesn't matter what I meant.

  16. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Faith is the belief and trust in things not seen. We are all ignorant of some things, therefore we all have things we cannot fully see and therefore we take by faith.

    Faith is often pigeon holed to mean religion and God, but in reality faith is a natural part of life and experience, since it allows us to function at the surface of things, without having to know the innards of the black box.

    The cell phone example showed how we only need to know the surface of things to make it function. One can make the hidden faith conscious by asking someone how does this all work in terms of the innards. They suddenly become aware that there is a gap in things seen. This turns unconscious faith to conscious faith. Religion is conscious faith since the question is asked by either the individual or the atheist for them.

    If you look at Hillary Clinton, many have faith in her as president. Many are consciously blind of scandals so faith and not experience can be the basis for their blind devotion.
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena:

    Hey! You were the one who wanted to work only from THE/your definition of God (and nothing else). I've pointed out that you tried to sneak in a whole bunch of other assumptions about God apart from the bare definition. And here you are doing that again.

    No. Like I said, believers such as yourself bring a whole lot of baggage along with every mention of God. The rest of us have to deal with that.

    I take it you disagree that people use the word "faith" to mean different things. I have argued that sometimes they mean trust, sometimes they mean hope, sometimes they mean confidence, sometimes they mean pretending to know things they don't know.

    Recall that I followed your stipulation in the other thread that we discuss only THE definition of God. Unfortunately, that discussion seems to have bled into this one we're having about faith.

    I think you have a problem with the whole idea of no God.

    Nothing I have brought into this conversation has been nonsense. I deliberately introduced a silly-sounding analogy in order to make a point about the logic of your argument. It seems you never got past the silly name I made up, to look at the actual argument I made. Hear no evil, see no evil and all that, eh?

    How could believing that God exists not affect a person's worldview? A world in which the Christian God exists is quite a different one to a world that doesn't have such a God. If God exists, that is an important fact about the world. Perhaps the most important fact.

    Didn't you understand my point about The Secret and how faith is like that? I put it to you twice. Is this all you took away from that? Stop being so superficial (or disingenuous) and engage in the debate.

    It makes more sense to you and your "common sense". Of course it does. You've got blinkers on.
  18. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    James R,

    In this thread I haven't stipulated any definition of God, and the definition you are talking about relates to the particular thread in which a thought experiment was suggested.

    If the rest of you don't understand who and what God is, then you don't have to deal with anything. You merely have to comprehend what is being said, and try to make the best possible sense of it.
    It seems as though you're asking questions, in a bid to try and comprehend the reasons why people believe God exists, but really you're just denying everything. You're only interest is to show that God does not exist, under the guise of being reasonable, by 100% rejection, and to some degree insult, and ridicule.

    In the same way that people use the words like ''happiness'', "love", and "goodness", to mean different things.
    Pretending to know things one doesn't know, is not an expression of faith, anymore than laughing is a sign of happiness.

    Common sense will eventually alert you of the stupidity of such pretense, if not through reason, then, through experienc. Which usually ends badly.
    Faith kicks in properly, as and when it is necessary.

    You're the one who has bled it into this thread. For me, there's no need to bring it up, as we're discussing faith, and knowledge. Not God.

    Not really.
    All roads eventually lead to God in some form or other.
    The fight is yours, not mine.

    The significant thing here, is your intent.
    You have to diminish the idea of God, to make your point.

    What is a Christian God, as opposed to God?
    If you are interested only in the concept of God as put forward by a Christian mindset, then say so, and we'll discuss that.
    But if the world is cause by God, then it can be no different than it is. What you have to do is show that the world isn't caused, let alone by God, or even offer a plausible reason as to how it came about, or not.
    So far you're losing, miserably.

    Yes I did understand your point, and I agreed with you.
    This response is a tongue in cheek one.

    What is it that you know, that I don't know, that makes you confidently claim I have blinkers on (IOW willful ignorance)?

  19. wellwisher Banned Banned

    The Christian God is, by definition, is connected to the good side of God; right hand of God. The bad side of God is symbolized by the Devil. The Devil is divine, but a notch down from God; middle manager. The middle manager devil does not make policy decisions, but rather is part of policy enforcement. The God of the old testament; father, is morally neutral and can giveth and taketh away.

    To integrate each of these God concepts in a person's life, you will need to adapt in a different way. The devil by being the lowest on the totem pole, is closet to the atheist POV of only human and no God. Life is suffering then you die, so one needs to take advantage of the pleasures of life for temporary relief; devil.

    The Christian tries to do good and repress atheist tendencies, which are designed for short term relief from fear of death. Without that fear, the distraction from the middle manager is not as strong. They can live a happy but simple life. The Jew takes the morally neutral approach, but with a higher power above them. Being neutral, like their God, allows both good and evil. This is part of the Jewish success.

    The atheists tend to attack Christianity the most, even more than Judaism, since Christian is about the good side; turn the other cheek, while Judaism by being good and evil, are half way to the middle manager.

    Other religions have Gods that set even other parameters which hep to shape behavior.
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    What utter drivel. Does it take effort to make up such nonsense??

    The atheist fears death? Where do you get this gem from? Why would the atheist fear that for which their understanding is that they are not around to experience?
    If anything it would be those who cling to notions of an afterlife that could be said to fear death - hence the desire and willingness to believe in that which removes death as the final curtain.
    "The condescension is strong with this one!"
    So glad you think we can live a "happy but simple life". That makes me all warm and fuzzy.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Care to support this with any, oh, I don't know, evidence??
    Alternatively, and I'm just putting it out there, the atheist (if they do wish to attack a religion, not that doing so would be part of their atheism) attacks that which they are most familiar with. Most atheists in the West are thus likely to be more familiar with Christianity than any other religion.
    But whatever the reason an atheist may wish to attach a religion (again - not that this forms part of what an atheist needs to do, much like not liking golf doesn't mean you have to go around verbally or physically attacking the notion of the game of golf), your notion for why they might tend toward attacking Christianity is laughable: why would an atheist attack a religion that promotes, as you argue, good?
    Do you think atheists are all evil, and wish to destroy everything that could possibly be good, that promotes what is good?

    What is your agenda, wellwisher? Have you been tormented by atheists in the past? Or have you simply been educated (?) to believe that atheists are all immoral and/or evil people?
    Kristoffer likes this.
  21. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I was educated as a Catholic until age 13 when I was confirmed; in adulthood. After this graduation from religious training, I left the physical church to live in the world. I become more like an Agnostic, who tried to be good and fair; inner church. My life become a paradox. I, like Christ, preferred the company of the sinners. The sinners were a way to experience others sides of life, taboo to me, while also remaining somewhat disconnected from it. This was the world of atheism and hypocrites. This was healthy since there was no repression of my dark side, because it existed outside me in projected form, where I could see it and learn about it.

    In modern times, the internet is different from dealing with people directly, like in the past. When you deal directly with people, there are consequences. But through the internet, there is a wall of anonymity, so anyone can pretend to be anything; revenge of the nerds. There are people who are mean inside but don't act on it in reality less they be squished like a bug. The internet allows their inner darkness to come out. The forums are full of such atheists, who may do not reflect all of atheism. I write things for them.
  22. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    It isn't the good side of Christianity that atheists generally "attack"; it's the evil side - i.e. the misogyny, the homophobia, etc. Most atheists would like Christians to be better people.
    Kristoffer likes this.
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

    You need to get out more, since few Christians are activists in these matters. They only act when placed in a corner with things stuck in their face. Your characterization is not even based on science, but the propaganda you have been taught. Christian turn the other cheek so bullies are less afraid. The atheists rarely attack the Jews or Muslims, the same way, since they will bite.

    The Catholic Church placed Mother Mary, the female element, on par with Jesus. She is not at his feet, but she is aside of him. The Jewish and Muslim religion don't have a female element this high. Bit again bullies fear those who will bite. You think in terms of propaganda, with this propaganda working for you, since you are looking for an excuse to devil speak to your polarized brethren.

    As far as homosexuals, the vast majority of the child molesting by priests, was male on male, which is homosexual. The church was protecting gay priests way before it was fashionable. There was no instant justice but rather they were given extra protection.

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