A Fresh Case for Faith - You might even find it convincing! ;)

Strafio
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A Fresh Case for Faith - You might even find it convincing! ;)

Introduction
Those of you who have been around a while will have noticed that once in a while I try and post a defence of theism or faith.
Something about the attack on faith/theism in general struck me as wrong, and I've been trying to pinpoint where I disagree with it.
In the past I've tried the "moderatism good, fundamentalism bad" approach but that was dumb.
For starters, as has been pointed out to me many a time, believers don't neatly split into two such categories.
Even if they did, a blanket defence of moderatism and attack on fundamentalism was completely wrong.
Moderates come out with all sorts of stupid things and fundamentalists don't get everything wrong.
 
This time I have a different approach.
I will try and show that Faith can be a good thing if done a certain way, and that this way reflects an ideal that all faith-believers hold.
If so, it would mean that religion can be a good thing if done "properly" and it would be more accurate to criticise faith for when it fails this ideal rather than criticise it altogether.
 
Outline of the Argument (Don't address this - full argument to be presented in a later section)
The argument is based on premises:
1) "Should I believe X?" is a question about what we should or shouldn't do, a question of practical reason
So if "We should only believe what the evidence shows" is true, it's justified by practical reason.
My argument will claim the justification will depend on the situation.
So in some situations the we must make sure our belief is justified.
In other situations, belief without evidence will be permissible - there will be no reason why they shouldn't.
 
2) The definition of faith
Faith is commonly defined as "Belief without evidence"
I don't disagree that faith involves "Belief without evidence" but I think that with religious faith there is a further part as well:
"The believer thinks that it will lead them to virtue."
All theists believe that having faith makes them a better person.
If they do something they believe to be wrong, they will claim that was a lack of faith.
If they were ever to find that their faith was leading people to do wrong, they would consider that faith to be false and make changes accordingly.
While we don't believe that having faith causes God to act through them, we can accept that having faith has a psychological effect on the person, and these effects can be either positive or negative.
 
Believers say that "True Faith" will lead them to virtue.
We could see this "True Faith" as a synonym for an "Ideal Faith", where the psychological consequences of belief are purely positive.
 
So it's perhaps easy to see where my argument is going to go.
First it will try and determine which situations where "belief without evidence" is permissible.
It will try and find out what a believer has to do to ensure that they don't "believe without evidence" in situations where evidence is required.
It will also look into what the believer has to do to ensure that their beliefs have "positive consequences"
It will then argue that so long as they meet these conditions, their faith would be a good thing.
 
 
Before I present the argument...
I'm taking full burden of proof on this claim.
I've taken the time to formulate it into a formal argument with steps and premises clearly shown.
Because this is no easy task, I've just got a couple of requests on how it is addressed.
 
1) There should only be 2 types of fallacy - "unsound premise" or "non sequiter"
I've got two types of premise:

Hypothesis - This is where I will appeal to your own observations.
I will try to give examples that I think will be confirmed by your own experiences.
If the premise doesn't conform with your own experience then you will disagree.
In each premise, the writing in blue will focus on it's justification and suggest questions to answer when addressing it.

Argument This premise is supposed to logically follow from other premises.
Either the argument is valid or a non-sequiter.
If you find the argument valid but the disagree with the premises then please address the premises instead.
In each premise, the writing in blue will focus on it's justification and suggest questions to answer when addressing it.



2) If you disagree with a premise, please quote the entire premise
Sometimes why address posts line for line.
Not always a bad thing but this can sometimes cause lines to be separated from their context.
If you quote the entire premise in full then I won't have an excuse to bitch and moan and accuse you of taking the line out of context. Eye-wink

 
3) Please avoid using positive claims in the argument
Sometimes when we disagree, we put forward our own argument to contradict theirs.
This is usually fair enough, but it's not the best way to address this argument.
Partly because my argument has taken burden of proof so should stand or fall on it's own validity so positive arguments aren't necessary.
Bringing in a positive claim kind of ignores my argument in favour of your own.
It also means you'd be shifting the burden of proof on to yourself.
Some premises will ask for alternatives in which case a positive argument will be necessary, I'm just asking for them to be avoided where possible.
 

 
 
You don't have to follow these guidelines - I'll still read your reply.
But they will ensure that the argument is addressed clearly and efficiently and reduce tangents and misunderstandings.
This would reduce frustration on both sites of the debate.

 
The argument
Section 1: Defining Faith and how it can be a virtue
The argument of this topic is that faith can be a virtue if done a certain way. I need to show that Faith can be a virtue under certain conditions. I'll do this by looking at the definition of Faith and introducing the concept of "Ideal Faith".
I then need to show that the believer can have a methodology that ensures that their faith is as ideal as possible. An "Ideal Faith" wouldn't be very relevent unless believers could achieve it in real life.
 
After that I'll outline what I consider to be the only possible objections.
 
 
1a) Hypothesis - The definition of faith
A commonly accepted definition of faith is "belief without evidence".
However, I don't think that this is sufficient.
I think that a further part of the definition needs to be added:
"The believer thinks that this faith will lead them to virtue"
My argument for this is that theists believe that "true faith" will cause them to do good.
When they admit to doing wrong they will claim that was due to a lack of faith rather than their faith.
If they ever admit that a "faith" is causing wrong doing then they follow this up by condemning this faith as "false".
 
So my premise is that a person with religious faith believes that this faith will lead them to virtue.
If they were to ever find that this faith was causing them to do wrong then they would no longer keep to it.
I'm not expecting a lot of disagreement on this premise but if you do then I'll hear your argument.

If you disagree that faith is supposed to lead the believer to virtue?
can you give an example of a believer who doesn't hold to this definition?
A believer that thinks a "true faith" would cause them to do things they consider to be bad?
Remember, I'm only claim that the believers think that their faith is the cause of their virtue and not to blame for any vice.
I'm not claiming that it actually is.

 
 
1b) Argument - The definition of faith implies a concept of "Ideal Faith"
In the above premise we see that people with faith believe that this faith will lead them to virtue and not to vice.
If a faith leads them to vice, they call it "false".
They say that "True Faith" will lead to only virtue and not vice.
This "True Faith" basically means "Ideal Faith" - when faith meets its ideal.
So "Ideal Faith" is belief without evidence that actually does lead the believer to virtue and not vice.

If the definition of faith includes:
"The belief is supposed cause virtue and not vice in the believer" as per premise 1a
Then there is a clear definition of Ideal Faith - belief without evidence that actually does cause only virtue and not vice.
Remember, I'm only arguing for the concept/definition - I'm not arguing that anyone actually has this "Ideal Faith"


 
1c) Argument - "Ideal Faith", by definition, is a good thing
If a person has a set of beliefs that leads them to virtue and not to vice, then it is surely a good thing by definition.

If X causes only good consequences and not bad consequences then X must be good, right?


1d) Hypothesis - There are only 2 objections I need to deal with
In this hypothesis I claim that there are only 2 objections that I need to refute.
 
1) Isn't belief without evidence is a vice?
That means that faith can never be a virtue.
It means that "Ideal Faith" is incoherent.
(Addressed in section 2)
 
2) Can a believer possibly ensure that their faith is Ideal?
Or is Ideal Faith not possible to make happen in the real world?
Even if Ideal Faith is theoretically possible, it's no good unless it can work in the real world.
(Addressed in Section 3)
 
These are the only objections I am aware of so they're all my argument addresses.
If you come up with a further one, post it here and I'll try and address that too.
 
So, any further objections to Ideal Faith?
This might be a part where positive arguments in the reply might be unavoidable



1e) Argument - By following 4 rules a theist can ensure that their faith is ideal
This premise will be justified in Sections 2 and 3 so this is a preview of what's to come.

The 4 rules are as follows:
1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence
2) The believer must have an open mind. A willingness to learn and change.
3) Issues of morality need to be settled through reason
4) Issues of psychology need to be settled through reason
 
Rules 3 and 4 are technically covered by rule 1 The reason for their emphasis will be covered in Section 3.

Premise 1d claims that there are only 2 objections to Ideal Faith
Premise 2d claims that belief without evidence is okay so long as rule 1 is followed.
Premise 3c claims that a believer can ensure their beliefs provide good consequences by sticking to rules 2-4
The conclusion of 1e clearly follows from these premises.
The only question is whether these premises are true.


 

Summary of Section 1
"Ideal Faith" is when faith beliefs have a psychological effect on a person that causes virtue - improves their lives.
This is clearly a good thing.
The two objections were whether this good "Ideal Faith" was actually possible.
These will be addressed in the next 2 sections.
 



Section 2: Belief without evidence isn't necessarily a vice.
In the last section I made the claim that there was such thing as "Ideal Faith" - believes that led the believer to virtue and happiness through psychological effect.
However, faith involves belief without evidence, and if belief without evidence is always a bad thing then this "Ideal Faith" is a self-contradictory idea and isn't possible.
This section is to show that under certain conditions that belief without evidence is 'permissible' (the fancy philosophical term for saying "there's nothing wrong with it" ) and thereby refute this objection.
 

2a) Argument - "Should I only believe with justification?" is a positive claim of practical reason.
Any claim about what we should do is a claim of practical reason and should be justified accordingly. So the question of whether "should I only believe with justification?" depends on whether the claim has a practical reason justification. Otherwise we are telling someone that they should do something without giving them a rational justification why.

If your claim about what a person ought to do isn't a premise of practical reason then what is it?
Why should anyone obey this claim about what they ought to do?



2b) Hypothesis - The only justification for "belief must be justified" is for particular reasons.
As in the above premise, "belief must be justified" is a claim of practical reason that must be justified itself. As far as I can imagine, there is only one justification.
When we make decisions, we sometimes require information to base our choice upon and we need this information to be accurate. If our beliefs are informing our choices then we need them to be as accurate as possible, and justification ensures this accuracy. So as long as a belief can inform our decisions we need it to be as accurate as  possible.
 
As far as I can see, this is the only reason why we need beliefs to be accurate. If you feel you have another, feel free to present it, although the burden of proof will be yours.

If you have further arguments then post them and we'll see if they're valid.


2c Hypothesis - Some kinds of "belief" don't inform decision-making.
In this section I will be claiming that it is possible to believe that something is true but at the same time will not use this belief to inform practical decisions.
My claim is that when someone believes something on faith, they are in the state of mind where they believe it is true, that it happened, but when it comes down to making a decision they will find an excuse to rule it out of the process.

For example, one person might believe that eggs balance during an eclipse.
If you question them they'll insist that they believe it.
That said, if you were to challenge them to put money on it, to see if they could do it next time there was an eclipse, the chances are they won't go for it - they will come out with an excuse.
Perhaps the excuse will be that while they think that it's true, they're not sure enough to put a risk on it.
Perhaps they will make claims that it can be done but they won't necessarily be able to pull it off or that there's something wrong with the test.
Whatever the excuse is, it will leave them with the fact that they believe something it true, but won't allow it to affect their decision making.

An example in religion could be the Catholic Holy Communion.
Find a Catholic who believes in the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
They will say that they believe it is the truth, that the wine literally transforms into Jesus' blood.
So suggest to them that we test Jesus' blood type, and then we could use this ritual to turn wine into blood and use it for medical operations - it could save people's lives.
See what they say.

The chances are that they will say that while they believe that the wine turns into blood, trying to use it for medicine won't work and use some theological reason/excuse to say so.
Perhaps they'll say "God won't let you abuse the ritual and he'll change it back", or something like that.
The fact of the matter is that we have a religious belief that they hold on faith, but they hold it in a way that it will never inform their practical decisions.
The belief plays a different role in their lives.

If you disagree with this example then what part do you disagree with?
That the believer really believes in transubstantiation or that they wouldn't actually act on it?
Why do you disagree?



2d Argument - Belief without evidence isn't a vice so long as a condition is met
So long as the belief is like the Catholic one above, then it cannot mis-inform our decision making. If hypothesis 2b is correct and mis-information is the only reason why beliefs need to be justified then this would mean that to believe such beliefs without evidence would be okay.

Premise 2b claims that belief without evidence is only bad if it misinforms decision making.
Premise 2c claims that certain types of belief don't mis-inform decisions.
The obvious conclusion that it's not a bad thing for these particular beliefs to be believed without evidence.
I expect disagreement to be with the premises rather than the inference here.

 
Summary of Section 2
This section was to address the objection against Ideal Faith that said:
"If faith is belief without evidence, won't that always be a vice rather than a virtue?"
So long as the argument in this section holds that objection has been refuted.
But it does put a constraint on Ideal Faith - the belief must be of a kind that does not inform practical decisions.
This is why Ideal Faith requires the believer to follow the first rule from Section 1d:
1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence
 
So long as they stick to this rule, belief without evidence is permissible.
 

Section 3: How a theist can ensure their faith leads to virtue?
So far we have established that under certain conditions, faith can be a virtue.
That's possible for the believer to have a set of beliefs that lead them to virtue and not vice.
However, this isn't enough.
It's possible for the lottery ticket to lead you to winning a lot of money, but because it's a matter of random chance whether it's a winner, playing the lottery isn't a good strategy in the rule world where you have little chance of winning.
In the same way, if it was only a matter of random chance whether a person's faith was actually Ideal, that it did them good rather than bad, then faith wouldn't be a good strategy to play in the real world either.
 
The aim of this section is to give the believer a methodology so they can ensure that their faith is as ideal as possible.
This is necessary for faith to work in the real world.
 

3a) Hypothesis - How we usually test whether xxx is good for us
In life we have various activities and hobbies and we often evaluate whether they are good for us.
Rather than strictly knowing in advance, we try something that we find appealing, and then over time we see whether it is having a good effect on our lives or whether it is having a bad effect on our lives and make changes accordingly.
 
e.g. Jane takes up Yoga thinking that it will be good for her health.
As time goes on, she notices that she feels less stiff so it is having a good effect, but she the time she's spending on it takes away from other things in her life so she makes a change and cuts down on the sessions, deciding to do more if she ever starts feeling stiff again...
 
I see no reason why faith shouldn't be treated in the same way.
A starts by finding a religion appealing and will have to make changes depending on how this religion affects their life.
So long as they remain open to honestly question it and they accurately evaluate whether it is good for them, they will encourage the parts of religion that help them and make changes where it doesn't.
Over time they will hone their religious practice so mainly good consequences come off out of it - the faith becomes Ideal.
 
This might seem like a slow process, allowing problems to crop up on the way, but this is how we have to deal with everything in life.
You cannot absolutely assess something before hand.
We have to try things out and see how they go and make changes where necessary.
 
My hypothesis in this section that the "Try things out and make changes as appropriate" approach is a suitable approach to deal with beliefs and the consequences they have on us.
Perhaps we find that thinking a certain way is making us more impatient and intolerant so we make changes.
Maybe we find that thinking another way makes us more relaxed and competent so we encourage it more.
My claim is that the only way to know is to try things out and take it from there.
 
If you disagree then what would you suggest as an alternative?
In what way would this alternative be better?



3b) Argument - 3 rules will ensure changes for the better
In order for a person to make changes for the better, they need to be open minded enough to see where change is required, and they need to be informed enough to make changes for the better.
I'm going to add 3 more rules to Ideal Faith: (See Section 1d)
2) The believer needs to be open minded and honest to make changes when necessary.
3) Morality and values are to be determined through reason/moral philosophy.
4) Psychological effect is a question of science/reason.
 
These rules are to ensure that decisions about their faith actually improve it.
If a believer was evaluate their faith through the values "people must be obedient to the bible" then this is going to cause bad decisions.
Or if they believed that the way to become a better person was through authoritarian submission to the local church leader then this too will prevent them from making rational changes to their faith.
The point of rules 3 and 4 are to ensure that certain of the believer's beliefs cannot be based on faith.
These particular issues need to be settled through reason.
(Technically this was covered in Section 2 with the rule that "beliefs that inform decisions require reason&quotEye-wink
 
Rule 2 ensures that the believer is ready to make changes if necessary.
Rule 3 ensures that the values they judge their beliefs by are as rational as possible.
Rule 4 ensures that their theories of the psychological effect of their belief is as accurate as possible.
There is still room for error but this is surely as good as we can humanly expect?



3c) Argument - There is a method to ensure that a believer's faith is as ideal as possible
In Section 1d I listed 4 rules that the theist must follow to make their faith Ideal.
If you agree with 3b then you agree that this will ensure that over time they will improve their faith to provide them with positive psychological consequences.
If you agree with 3a then you agree that "over time" is a necessary process for these things as we have to learn from experience and make decisions using the best information we have at that moment in time.
 
This would mean that if theist followed the 4 rules then we could consider their faith a good thing as they were honing it to provide them with purely benefitial psychological effects.
This would answer the objection raised in Section 1e, that Ideal Faith can "work in the real world" so long as these rules are followed.

So long as you agree with premises 3a and 3b then a method has been provided.
I expect that the disagreement will be with the premises rather than this inference.

 

3d) Anticipated Objection - Can we choose beliefs based on consequences?
An objection I've been passed to this argument is that we cannot simply choose our beliefs based on what is good for us.
Even if you think that a belief is good for you, that doesn't mean that you actually think that it's true.
That's some Christians live in fear of hell, because despite thinking that they ought to believe, they find their faith weak because they find it difficult to actually believe.
So if the ideal theist is evaluating their beliefs in terms of psychological consequences, how will that result in what they actually believe?
I will give an example on how this can actually work.

Some of my beliefs have strong rational foundations.
They are built on a mixture of experience and arguments which leave me very sure and confident in them.
To persuade me to change them would take a strong argument which I would put under serious scrutiny.
But not all our beliefs have such strong rational foundations.
Some of them are uninformed and are quite loose and fickle as a result.
They can be easily swayed and influenced.
Maybe we will believe the person who seems the most confident, who seems the most learned, or maybe just the last person we talked to.
The point is, we don't have enough information to make a decisive rational decision on these beliefs so whether we believe them will be affected by non-rational events.

That doesn't mean that we have no control over how our beliefs are being affected.
Maybe by hanging around a particular group, or by reading certain books, or by indulging certain thoughts, our beliefs will be influenced in a certain way.
If we feel that a "worldview" is benefiting our lives (e.g. makes us happier and nicer) then perhaps we will read more that encourages it.
If we find that it's damaging us in some way (e.g. making us prejudiced and hateful) then we might decide to distance ourselves from it and read material that opposes it.

For me, the question of whether there's a God is one that I've looked too deeply into to be swayed like this. My atheism has strong rational foundations and I think that it is psychologically impossible for me to have faith and become a theist.
However, just 4-5 years ago, before I had looked into it so deeply I was of the "loose opinion type" who could be swayed.
Back then it would have been possible for me to have faith on this issue.
I would have gone through theologies, reinforced them when they were working for me, distanced myself when they weren't.
Since then I've looked into it deeply and attained a rational foundation for an atheistic worldview, but there's still subjects that I don't have such a strong opinion on, and in those subjects I could potentially have "faith" in issues.

How? By indulging myself in non-rational means of persuasion, e.g. immersing myself into a worldview and then reinforcing or distancing myself depending on whether I found it to be good for me.
I believe that this is how many people out there treat their religious/spiritual beliefs.
It's a practical method how people can influence what they believe by whether it is "good for them" to believe it.

This should have given an example as to how a person has a control over what they believe.
That they can put themselves in a position where their mind will accept beliefs for non-rational reasons.
This won't work on beliefs that they have a strong rational foundation for holding but many of our beliefs don't have this.

 
Summary on Section 3
A method was provided for a believer to keep their Faith Ideal, i.e. ensure that their beliefs had a purely psychological effect on them.
Combined with Section 2, this has answered all the objections in Section 1e.
It would seem that Ideal Faith could be considered a virtue so long as the 4 rules were kept to.
I've also answered an objection on whether it is possible to change your beliefs based on whether you like their psychological effects.
 
With a defense of an "Ideal Faith" that a believer can have if they follow the rules, it's now time to relate all this to the real world, so how people really do treat their faith.
 

Section 4: How this all relates to real-world belief
So to summarise what we have so far:
All theists believe that "true faith" leads to them to virtue - has a positive effect on their lives. If they were to ever find that their faith was causing them problems, they would make changes.
This gives us a definition of "Ideal Faith" - beliefs that really do have a positive psychological effect on their lives.
We've also shown that there's a methodology a believer can use to ensure that their faith is as ideal as humanly possible.
 
So how Ideal is the faith of real believers in the real world?
 

4a) Hypothesis - How the faith of real believers relate
Here is a picture how "Ideal Faith" relates to real belief.
While I don't think that any real person achieves a perfect "Ideal Faith", I think we can still use it as an ideal to compliment/criticise real faith by.
 
Ideal Theist - Perfectly Ideal.
Their faith is flawless.
It gives them perfect psychological effects and it never mis-informs their decision making.
For obvious reasons, human beings aren't capable of this.
 
Liberal Theist - As Ideal as humanly possible.
They have their failings as we all do, but for the most part their faith sticks to the rules of Ideal Faith, so it generally has a good effect on them.
These guys are more or less as rational as non-believers.
 
Fundamentalists - Far from Ideal.
These guys have some aspects of their faith that meet the ideals, but they also have lots of failings too.
 
Moderates - Somewhere in between Fundamentalists and Liberals.
 
The point here isn't to vindicate the liberals and/or demonize Fundamentalists.
The point is that all of these people will have faith, some parts Ideal, some parts not.
Good faith is to be commended and bad to be criticised.
The 4 rules/standards should give guidelines one how faith can be judged to be good/bad and treated accordingly.
Even the fundamentalist will have good aspects to their faith that we can commend, just that they'd have bad parts too that require criticism and change.
Likewise, the liberal theist will sometimes come out with complete garbage that needs criticism.
(I mean, it happens to the best of us right?
It's not like us atheists are any exception to having stupid ideas from time to time?
For example, if you disagree with the rest of my topic then you have to agree with me on this point atleast! Eye-wink)

Does this meet your experience of real life believers?
I'm sure you've observed that all types of believers have both positive aspects and negative aspects to their faith.
That even enlightened liberals come out with garbage sometimes and not everything fundamentalists say is bad.
Perhaps your personal experience is different?



4b) Argument - The closer a theist adheres to the 4 rules, the more Ideal their Faith is
So if "bad faith" is causing problems, encouraging theists to abide by these 4 rules will improve their faith and do a great deal to solve the problems.
That is, attacking faith altogether isn't the only solution.
We can criticise it in a way that attacks the bad aspects of faith while preserving the good parts.

This follows directly from Premise 1d


4c) Argument - Reforming faith is generally a better approach than attacking it altogether
This isn't an absolute argument.
With each believer there will be a different way that's advisable to argue.
Some people will find it easier to give up faith altogether than to reform it.
However, in general there will be the following advantages to an argument based on reforming faith, compared to an argument based on attacking faith altogether.
This is for the following reasons:

1) Sweeping attacks on religion and faith are false
If a theist keeps to the 4 rules, calling their belief irrational is like standing up in the middle of a Starwars film and shouting "This is a lie!! No one can know what happened many years ago in a galaxy far far away!!"
It's attacking a strawman as the Starwars film never claimed to be truthful.
In the same way, if someone has faith then criticising it for not being proved misses the point as the believer is committing to it for a different reason - because of the effect that it will have on their life.
 
2) This gives religious folk and excuse to dissmiss our arguments
If a theist was to waltz in here and start an argument by saying "Why do atheists think they know for certain there's no God" or "atheists have rejected Jesus because they are bitter and angry" we'd roll our eyes and not even care what else they have to say.
We already know that they don't have a clue what they're talking about.
If we are attacking something positive, and misunderstanding their faith, they're going to be similarly dismissive of our own arguments against them.
People are very defensive about their beliefs at the best of times.
If they find the slightest flaw in your argument they're going to use it as a excuse to dismiss the entire lot.
Fighting for the 3 standards of Ideal Faith would still be an uphill struggle but it would have less flaws and weaknesses.
 
3) A more direct way to tackle the issues at hand
Furthermore, if we were to argue based on the 3 standards rather than attacking religion as a whole, we would be directly tackling the real issues at hand.
The 3 standards of Ideal Faith reflect the reasons why many of us criticise faith in the first place.
We would be directly addressing the issues that we previously tried to solve indirectly by attacking faith altogether.
 
4) It argues in terms of practical reason in a way that can easily appeal to a person's common sense.
Rules like "positive claimaint has burden of proof" and "beliefs must be based on evidence" make sense to people who are used to scientific debate and are used to the context and situations in which these rules arose so see the sense in them.
They can be counter intuitive to other people, which includes many of our target audience.
 

5) "Bad faith" can only use "good faith" for cover when good faith is attacked also
Sometimes terrorists like to hide amongst civilians so the military can only attack them by hitting the civilians with collateral.
The terrorists are using the civilians as cover.
However, if the military were to develop weapons and techniques that could pick out terrorists from the civilians then this 'cover' won't work.
The cover only works against weapons like bombs that attack everyone in the area.
In the same way, "bad faith" can only hide behind "good faith" when "good faith" is attacked by an argument.
If the argument especially targets "bad faith" rather than attacking all types of faith then it will be impossible for "good faith" to be used as cover.

This will make attacks against "bad faith" more effective.


What I'm ultimately trying to say here is:
Providing my arguments above are valid, sweeping attacks on religion, faith and theism are false and unhelpful.
They are not only attacking good things in the crossfire, these good things then provide cover for the bad things.
Arguments based on the 3 standards of Ideal Theism would cut out this "collateral damage" problem and attack the things we do have a problem with more efficiently.
It would be arguments that the liberal theists and theist-sympathizing non-believers could relate to and get on board with.
And I can't see it sparing any "bad" beliefs in it's crosshairs, even those that are socially acceptable among religious moderates.

 
Summary of Section 4
I basically argued that if following the 4 rules makes the theist's faith Ideal, then we can challenge "bad faith" through reform rather than through attacking it altogether, and this approach has advantages.
Clearly, the main argument was in Section 1-3 where I defended Ideal Faith.
This is just some basic follow on consequences of my argument.
 


Summary of Entire Argument
So I've argued for a certain definition of faith that claims the belief should cause good in the believer.
If faith causes good in the believer then it's surely a good thing.
The question was whether faith can live up to this ideal and I've argued that it can so long as the following 4 rules are stuck to:
1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence
2) The believer must have an open mind. A willingness to learn and change.
3) Issues of morality need to be settled through reason
4) Issues of psychology need to be settled through reason

If so, it means that faith can be a good thing and that arguments that don't recognise this are both false and unhelpful to the cause of rationality.
 











Thanks for reading
Weighing in at over 6000 words this essay was quite the behemoth and I admire your patience and concentration in working through it.
I apologise in advance if I get ever bit snappy or volatile in my replies.
I can get a bit passionate and impatient in these debates, but rest assured that when I read it back to myself an hour later I will cringe with a deep red embarrassment, and have lingering regrets over how I

lost my cool for the rest of my life.
It will indeed hurt me more than it hurts you! Eye-wink
Either way, I'll be sure to leave myself an hour or so before making any replies - usually makes my replies more rational and less emotional.

Thanks for reading again and I look forward to your replies.


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BobSpence1 wrote:If the

BobSpence1 wrote:
If the belief that 'Faith' will lead them to virtue happens to be false, that would invalidate the idea so you still have a problem in not basing your belief on evidence.

Yeah.
Part of the argument was that I needed to provide a method by which the believer could ensure that their faith really does lead them to virtue.
I don't blame you for skimming because it's a beast of a topic, but if you were to find time to work the premises, you'd find the argument very comprehensive.


BobSpence1 wrote:
"If our beliefs are informing our choices then we need them to be as accurate as possible, and justification ensures this accuracy. So as long as a belief can inform our decisions we need it to be as accurate as  possible."

So adopting a position of 'Faith', without evidence, is defensible as long as your 'faith' will not effect any decisions or choices?? Interesting....


I'd say it's harmless so long as it doesn't misinform decisions and choices.
To be desirable it would need positive effects on top - e.g. making the believer more relaxed and peaceful, etc.
Cheers for the reply.
Hopefully it's sparked your curiosity enough to read further. Smiling


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It seems like you think that

It seems like you think that people can force themselves to believe something they know is false, just because it would 'help' them. I disagree, I think all theists except a few truly delusional ones in the back of their minds know it is BS. This subconscious conflict will cause stress in their lives.

I just don't see how you can promote any virtue by lieing to oneself and others.

This type of faith only really works on young children or people lacking the mental capacity to understand how things work. In this case, forcing 'faith' on these people is really a form of abuse.

Strafio wrote:

1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence

All decisions are made based upon one's understanding of how things work. So you can't have faith and make practical decisions.


Strafio wrote:

2) The believer must have an open mind. A willingness to learn and change.

Organized religion would end, since they depend on conformity of the flock. 


Strafio wrote:

3) Issues of morality need to be settled through reason

Reason tells us that morality is a BS concept for the powerful to control the naive.


Strafio wrote:

4) Issues of psychology need to be settled through reason


Reason tells us that a psychologically healthy person does not need a belief in superstition.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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Faith

It's my understanding that faith alone doesn't cause problems, it only enables them.  Faith allowed to effect any part of a social reality (like homosexuality, abortion, etc) is the problem, especially when faith becomes organized with a set leader(s) making these decisions.  If I believe with all my heart that a FSM or IPU exists and by believing in it/them I gain virtue won't effect on its own how I live my life, on the premise that in those beliefs I don't contradict my understanding of reality or use those beliefs as enforcement on others.

If you take a pantheist's "God" and compare it to the Abrahamic "God" and you will see that secularists (atheists) could care less if people believed in a God per say.  It's the use of a God, through organized faith, as a means to control life that most secularists are against.

I see faith as a weakness in humanity.  It represents to me the stubborness that exists in us all, the ultimate closed-mind.

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huh

Also wouldn't this make faith a case-by-case basis?  How would one classify a faith?  Is one person's faith in Allah the same as another person?  If one person uses faith as justification but another does not is it a problem of different faiths or just lack of reasoning skill?  Couldn't one just beat you to the punch and say "On a case-by-case basis a thing that enables a person to do good, is good."  It doesn't really prove anything for society or even faith.

To prove that something actually is the reason for a person to do good would have to tested to the nth degree and it would only truly apply to that person.  Making a claim that it makes you do good isn't really... anything.

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I disagree with your

I disagree with your premises about faith. What you are describing is not faith, but provisional belief based on skeptical acceptance of intuition. Faith is much stronger. It is full acceptance, not provisional.

If there are three doors, and Monty Hall asks me to choose one door because there's a prize behind one of them, and I say "Door #1", that does not mean that I have 'faith' that the prize is behind door #1. It only means that I'm provisionally accepting my intuition that the prize is behind door #1. This is not a full belief, and hardly merits the term 'belief' at all. But according to your definition of 'faith', this is what faith is.

This is *not* how faith believers operate. They latch on much more strongly to their faith beliefs. They truly believe, without evidence.

What you've done in this argument amounts to a bait and switch. You define faith as 'belief without evidence', and then you say, "Well, actually, I also mean that they think it will lead them to virtue." And then a little later you say, "Well, actually, the only good faith is one that follows these three rules." But the three rules you propose *completely change* 'belief without evidence' into a much more skeptical, evidence-based hypothesis-test-revise method of developing beliefs *based on evidence*.

The root of the problem with your argument is that you leave no room for tentative guesses and imagination. It is either full-on belief, or nothing. When I 'try something out' to see if it works, it does not mean I fully believe in it. That is not a faith belief. It is simply an intuition.

I think, in fact, that your argument is more an attempt to argue for the validity of intuition, not faith. I myself have an argument in favour of intuition, and it vaguely resembles your argument here in some respects. But I do not believe or agree that faith and intuition are the same. Faith requires an extra 'oomph' of belief that mere intuition alone does not imply. That's why faith-believers often talk about a 'leap of faith'. That's the step where they go from mere intuition, mere entertaining of an idea, all the way over into full-on belief.

Intuition itself is much more basic, and hence more versatile than faith. Intuition (as I define it) is the natural ability of our brains to make pretty good guesses. In many ways, it is the foundation of belief, upon which both faith-based and evidence-based belief rest. In fact, you might define faith as 'accepting an intuition as infallible truth'. The problem, of course, is that intuitions are quite fallible.

What you end up describing in your argument is evidence-based intuitional belief. First you start with a basic intuition ("I think I'll try yoga." ) and then you try it and test it, and evaluate if it actually produced good results (that's called gathering evidence), and then you refine the basic intuition into a stronger evidence-based belief. That's what a *skeptic* does, not a faith believer!

A faith believer does something more like this: "I think I'll try yoga. Wow, that was fun. The yoga teacher told me he's a guru, and that he can eventually teach me how to fly! Since the yoga was fun, he must be telling the truth (leap of faith)! Wow! I can't wait to learn how to fly!"

(You must know about Transcendental Meditation, which espouses this silly faith.)

That's how faith works. You don't just tentatively and provisionally accept a basic intuition for the purposes of trying and evaluating it, you make a leap deep into the woo woo ocean based on someone's claim that you can walk on water if you believe hard enough.

The whole idea of 'faith is a virtue' is based on the idea of promoting the idea that the more virtuous belief is the one with the least evidence. It is an attempt to get people to take a leap of faith, to go from mere intuition to full-on belief. 'Faith leads to virtue' is actually false, and itself can only be accepted on faith.

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Strafio wrote:2) The

Strafio wrote:
Those of you who have been around a while will have noticed that once in a while I try and post a defence of theism or faith.

 

Are they the same thing? Not quite.

As for theism, the only defense is to provide evidence for “god”.

As for faith, there is justification if it is contingent. If there is no justification for theism, then there is no justification for religious faith.

 

 

Strafio wrote:
2) The definition of faith
Faith is commonly defined as "Belief without evidence"

 

No, faith is commonly defined as belief without proof

 

Religious faith is belief without evidence.

 

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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Quote: 2a) Argument -

Quote:

2a) Argument - "Should I only believe with justification?" is a positive claim of practical reason.
Any claim about what we should do is a claim of practical reason and should be justified accordingly. So the question of whether "should I only believe with justification?" depends on whether the claim has a practical reason justification. Otherwise we are telling someone that they should do something without giving them a rational justification why.

This is a clever little red herring. When one says “I believe in X”, what they are saying is short for “I believe that the statement X is true”, or equivalently, “I believe that statement X is an accurate representation of the world”. You said yourself here that we need justification in order to make our beliefs about the world accurate:

Quote:

When we make decisions, we sometimes require information to base our choice upon and we need this information to be accurate. If our beliefs are informing our choices then we need them to be as accurate as possible, and justification ensures this accuracy. So as long as a belief can inform our decisions we need it to be as accurate as  possible.

It is at this point that the argument 2a) runs into a problem. A belief is a belief. It is something that one holds to be the case. To believe something is to believe that it is true. People believe that what they believe is accurate. Whether or not the belief is good is just a red herring. Even if we establish that certain beliefs are “good” or “permissible”, it ultimately comes down to the fact that someone who believes something believes it to be accurate. To remove the requirement of justification is to remove the requirement of accuracy. So to state that in a particular case, justification is not necessary is tantamount to saying that belief in the accuracy of the belief is not necessary. But, if that was the case, then the belief in question would no longer be a belief. For me to believe something, I have to believe it is true. If I remove this requirement, then whatever I have left is not a belief.

 

Quote:

If a theist keeps to the 4 rules, calling their belief irrational is like standing up in the middle of a Starwars film and shouting "This is a lie!! No one can know what happened many years ago in a galaxy far far away!!"
It's attacking a strawman as the Starwars film never claimed to be truthful.

The four rules in question:

Quote:

1)      Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence
2) The believer must have an open mind. A willingness to learn and change.
3) Issues of morality need to be settled through reason
4) Issues of psychology need to be settled through reason

This is not a very good comparison. The star wars film series do not claim to be anything other than works of fiction created for our entertainment. For that reason, people do not believe that the events depicted in Star Wars films are accurate representations of reality. But a particular theistic belief is, by definition, a belief. It is something that the individual in question holds to be true. They do claim these beliefs to be accurate representations of reality. In this regard, the “four rules” as given above seem to be red herrings. For, it would indeed be possible for someone to abide by those rules and still formulate a theistic belief which lacked justification, but which purported to be an accurate representation of the way the world is. Such a belief would then be irrational.

Quote:

The belief plays a different role in their lives.

This is from section 2c. The entirety of section 2c doesn’t seem very relevant. The proposition “eggs balance during an eclipse” is relatively straightforwardly tested and falsified. The fact of the matter is that people who believe that “eggs balance during an eclipse” by definition believe that the belief in question is accurate and true. For the person who believes eggs balance during an eclipse to dismiss the need for justification would be tantamount to him dismissing the need for accuracy.

The “need” for a belief to be accurate as the demarcation for that belief needing to be justified doesn’t seem to be helping your case very much. Nor does the notion of the belief “affecting practical decision making” as another demarcating line for the belief needing to be justified. I believe, for example, that there are only two possible eigenvalues of quantum spin states of electrons. This belief has no effect on my practical decision making, but I need to believe that this belief is accurate. Otherwise, I wouldn’t believe it anymore! And in order to believe it is accurate, I need it to be justified.

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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 I'm having a very

 I'm having a very difficult time distilling your thesis. The entire thing seems to rest on the concept of Ideal Faith, which by your admission is unattainable. Are you stating that striving for this ideal faith is a behaviour which is--in and of itself--morally good?

I'm not looking for a rock-solid ethics here when I say "good", I just want to be clear about what you're arguing.

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EXC wrote:It seems like you

EXC wrote:
It seems like you think that people can force themselves to believe something they know is false, just because it would 'help' them. I disagree, I think all theists except a few truly delusional ones in the back of their minds know it is BS. This subconscious conflict will cause stress in their lives.

If this is true, following the 4 rules would cause them to give up faith altogether.
I'm not sure that it is though.

FreeHugMachine wrote:
If you take a pantheist's "God" and compare it to the Abrahamic "God" and you will see that secularists (atheists) could care less if people believed in a God per say.  It's the use of a God, through organized faith, as a means to control life that most secularists are against.


Then maybe I can expect these secularists to agree with the arguments I've provided?

FreeHugMachine wrote:
I see faith as a weakness in humanity.  It represents to me the stubborness that exists in us all, the ultimate closed-mind.


The point of my argument was to try and show that if someone sticks to those 4 rules then it becomes a strength rather than a weakness.


The 4 rules prevent misinformation, and send the believer on a journey to find the worldview that has a beneficial psychological effect on them.


Do you agree that the 4 rules succeed in preventing faith from a weakness?


If not, where is the fallacy in my argument?

 

FreeHugMachine wrote:
Also wouldn't this make faith a case-by-case basis? How would one classify a faith?  Is one person's faith in Allah the same as another person?  If one person uses faith as justification but another does not is it a problem of different faiths or just lack of reasoning skill?  Couldn't one just beat you to the punch and say "On a case-by-case basis a thing that enables a person to do good, is good."  It doesn't really prove anything for society or even faith.

Faith wouldn't be judged by the content of the belief - like you say, belief in Allah can have different effects for different people.
Instead we a judging a person's approach to faith.
This is where the 4 rules come in.
Do they ensure that things they believe on faith do not misinform their practical decisions?
Do they reflect on the effect that their faith is having on them and make changes accordingly?
If they do, they will generally ensure that their faith causes good.

I'm trying to argue that faith can be a good thing if the 4 rules are followed.

FreeHugMachine wrote:
To prove that something actually is the reason for a person to do good would have to tested to the nth degree and it would only truly apply to that person.

This is why we are to judge faith on the person's approach to it.
Do they investigate what works for them and make positive changes?
Or do they cling on to beliefs that are bad for them?

 

natural wrote:
What you've done in this argument amounts to a bait and switch. You define faith as 'belief without evidence', and then you say, "Well, actually, I also mean that they think it will lead them to virtue."

That wasn't a switch.
I specifically argued that "belief without evidence" doesn't give the whole picture.
It claimed that theists also belief that their faith will cause them virtue.
Can you imagine a theist claiming that "true faith" caused them to do things that they considered bad?

natural wrote:
And then a little later you say, "Well, actually, the only good faith is one that follows these three rules." But the three rules you propose *completely change* 'belief without evidence' into a much more skeptical, evidence-based hypothesis-test-revise method of developing beliefs *based on evidence*.

I disagree.
While there is a rational investigation going on, as you correctly note, it is not on the proposition held on faith.
e.g. "I believe God exists" is not held due to reasoning that suggests God really exists.
Instead, the rational investigation looks into whether belief in God is beneficial to believe in.
Whether this belief will have positive psychological effects.
So "I believe in God" is still a matter of faith, a belief held without any evidence to suggest that God actually exists, but their decision to believe without evidence is rationally justified because they have reason to believe that this belief will have good psychological effects.

Do you see the difference?

 


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Quote:2a) Argument - "Should

Quote:

2a) Argument - "Should I only believe with justification?" is a positive claim of practical reason.

Any claim about what we should do is a claim of practical reason and should be justified accordingly. So the question of whether "should I only believe with justification?" depends on whether the claim has a practical reason justification. Otherwise we are telling someone that they should do something without giving them a rational justification why.

deludedgod wrote:
This is a clever little red herring. When one says “I believe in X”, what they are saying is short for “I believe that the statement X is true”, or equivalently, “I believe that statement X is an accurate representation of the world”. You said yourself here that we need justification in order to make our beliefs about the world accurate:

Quote:

When we make decisions, we sometimes require information to base our choice upon and we need this information to be accurate. If our beliefs are informing our choices then we need them to be as accurate as possible, and justification ensures this accuracy. So as long as a belief can inform our decisions we need it to be as accurate as  possible.

deludedgod wrote:
It is at this point that the argument 2a) runs into a problem. A belief is a belief. It is something that one holds to be the case. To believe something is to believe that it is true. People believe that what they believe is accurate. Whether or not the belief is good is just a red herring. Even if we establish that certain beliefs are “good” or “permissible”, it ultimately comes down to the fact that someone who believes something believes it to be accurate. To remove the requirement of justification is to remove the requirement of accuracy. So to state that in a particular case, justification is not necessary is tantamount to saying that belief in the accuracy of the belief is not necessary. But, if that was the case, then the belief in question would no longer be a belief. For me to believe something, I have to believe it is true. If I remove this requirement, then whatever I have left is not a belief.

Okay.
I see what you're saying here.
If you believe X then you believe that X is both true and accurate, otherwise it's not belief.
If I tried right now to believe in ghosts because I wanted to feel spooked, I could probably do some good pretending and imagining but deep down I just wouldn't really believe it.

However, I think there are situations where this doesn't apply.
It's a fact of life that we have many irrational beliefs.
That is, we think that these beliefs are accurate and true but they aren't.
If their belief had already come to them through rational means then we wouldn't be telling them that it needs justification.
To say "only believe with justification" is to ask someone to make the extra effort to make extra sure that their belief is accurate.
"Should I make this extra effort?" is this question of practical reason that I was talking about.

To decide to believe on faith is a decision not to make this effort.
You still believe, you still think that this belief is accurate, but you make the decision not to check too carefully.
So should someone make this extra effort to double check accuracy or is it all right for them to just carry on as they are?
This is surely a question of practical reason on whether they should make this extra effort, right?
 

So to summarise:
1) We don't always come to our beliefs rationally - that is we think that they are accurate but we haven't checked for certain.
2) If we are saying "you need to justify that belief" then we are saying they need to make more effort to double check the accuracy of their belief.
3) If they are saying "No, I believe this on faith" then that means that they don't feel the need to make this extra effort, instead they are happy to keep this belief for the non-rational reasons they got it in the first place.
They still think that this belief is accurate, just don't feel the need to double check for sure.
4) Whether they should or shouldn't make this extra effort is a question of practical reason.
5) I'm arguing that a person whose faith is in line with the 4 rules, their refusal to make the extra effort will be rationally justifiable through practical reason.

That addresses your objection to 2a.
You had some other objections too, but they seemed to be based on your objection to 2a.
What I'd like to do is just focus on this issue for now, and then once we've resolved 2a you can move on to any other issues you have with my argument.


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HisWillness wrote: I'm

HisWillness wrote:

 I'm having a very difficult time distilling your thesis. The entire thing seems to rest on the concept of Ideal Faith, which by your admission is unattainable. Are you stating that striving for this ideal faith is a behaviour which is--in and of itself--morally good?

I'm not looking for a rock-solid ethics here when I say "good", I just want to be clear about what you're arguing.


"Ideal Faith" is an unobtainable ideal, just like "perfect scientific rationality" is.
As this was a complex issue, I wanted to break it down and start by defending the unobtainable ideal first.
Once I had established that this Ideal Faith was a good thing, the rest of the argument was to show how a theist could live up to this ideal as humanly possible.

So just as the careful scientist lives up to "perfect scientific rationality" as humanly possible, a theist who follows the 4 rules will live up to Ideal Faith as humanly possible.
So while they won't reach the perfection of Ideal Faith they can still have a faith that is good by human standards.
Does that make a bit more sense?

 


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Strafio wrote:natural

Strafio wrote:

natural wrote:
What you've done in this argument amounts to a bait and switch. You define faith as 'belief without evidence', and then you say, "Well, actually, I also mean that they think it will lead them to virtue."

That wasn't a switch.
I specifically argued that "belief without evidence" doesn't give the whole picture.
It claimed that theists also belief that their faith will cause them virtue.
Can you imagine a theist claiming that "true faith" caused them to do things that they considered bad?

Weren't you the one who asked not to cut out quotes from their context? With this little snippet, separated from its context, I'm showing that there was a trend of adding on layers and layers on top of 'belief without evidence'. The switch comes with the rules, as I show in the next sentence.

Quote:
natural wrote:
And then a little later you say, "Well, actually, the only good faith is one that follows these three rules." But the three rules you propose *completely change* 'belief without evidence' into a much more skeptical, evidence-based hypothesis-test-revise method of developing beliefs *based on evidence*.

I disagree.
While there is a rational investigation going on, as you correctly note, it is not on the proposition held on faith.
e.g. "I believe God exists" is not held due to reasoning that suggests God really exists.
Instead, the rational investigation looks into whether belief in God is beneficial to believe in.
Whether this belief will have positive psychological effects.
So "I believe in God" is still a matter of faith, a belief held without any evidence to suggest that God actually exists, but their decision to believe without evidence is rationally justified because they have reason to believe that this belief will have good psychological effects.

Do you see the difference?

Yes, but this was not part of your argument, as far as I can tell. Your argument talked about virtue, not psychological benefits.

If your argument is that people believe things because it makes them happy, that's no surprise there, but it's not a good justification for faith.

If you want to argue that psychological benefits are necessarily virtuous, then you missed a step in your argument.

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Quote:That is, we think that

Quote:

That is, we think that these beliefs are accurate and true but they aren't.

That's not the definition of "rational". The rationality of the belief is not predicated just upon its accuracy. After all, it is entirely possible for a person to come by a belief which happens to be accurate, but by non-rational means.  Rationality is related to the justification we give to particular beliefs.

Quote:

"Should I make this extra effort?" is this question of practical reason that I was talking about.

To decline to make this "extra effort" is tantamount to downgrading the conviction with which one could hold a belief. Note that I said conviction, not "downgrading the truth value" of the belief, for that would be an ad logicam fallacy. Secondly, I think this needs a bit more distillation. We all hold many propositions that we could not possibly check in the most stringently rational fashion required for the best justification. For the most part, this is simply a question of practicality. You put your life in the hands of a surgeon about to perform an operation on you, because you know nothing about surgery, and you are trusting his or her expertise on the matter. Of course, if you wanted to increase your justification for what you were doing, you might search some medical journals for the complication rate after the particular operation. The point is, it is indeed the case that there are many beliefs that we cannot predicate upon the best justification because we don't have the time, because we don't live in an epistemological vacuum, and because there is too much information in the world to sort out by yourself. Some beliefs I hold with more conviction than others. The belief that "electrons possess two spin eigenvalues" is something I can hold with very high confidence because I have worked that fact out for myself. But I know nothing of ancient history and certainly nothing about the methodologies used in this discipline, so the belief "Xerxes armies were defeated at Thermopylae" is something that I invariably must assign a must lower conviction to, to the point where the truth value of the belief is of little concern to me, for I am not an ancient historian. This is the principle of epistemic rights. It is a principle to which everyone must adhere if they even hope to be able to formulate their beliefs rationally. Note what I did there was a rational process in itself. While I may not have decided to make the extra effort needed to go through the process of learning about the methods of gathering evidence of ancient history, and the consequent evidence for the belief that Xerxes was indeed defeated at Thermopylae, I consequently downgraded my conviction on that matter to the point where it became essentially irrelevant. That in itself is a rational process of introspection. So, if for a particular belief, I decline to make this extra effort, the degree to which I downgrade my conviction in it is such that it can hardly be said that I have "faith" in it.

Fortunately, theistic beliefs fall into a rather special category. Because theists make assertions about supposed metaphysical and supernatural notions, and fundamental assertions about the nature of reality that can be judged by reasoning and a firm grasp of epistemology and ontology. Many of them do not require specific empirical expertise. Even my signature outlines why these theistic notions of God are epistemologically bankrupt. The situation with theistic faith in these absurd, often nonsensical metaphysical proposition is incomparable to the trust we assign to others on matters of empirical expertise.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Strafio wrote:As this was a

Strafio wrote:
As this was a complex issue, I wanted to break it down and start by defending the unobtainable ideal first.

Once I had established that this Ideal Faith was a good thing, the rest of the argument was to show how a theist could live up to this ideal as humanly possible.

The argument is clearly in a Platonic vein, as I'm sure you realize. The activity being considered, though, is chasing that ideal as a goal, rather than the being the ideal itself. Those two things must be separate, if only because the behaviour discussed is different.

What I mean is that to defend the ideal is not to effect a defense of chasing the ideal.

Strafio wrote:
So just as the careful scientist lives up to "perfect scientific rationality" as humanly possible, a theist who follows the 4 rules will live up to Ideal Faith as humanly possible.

Here, you run into the problem that several mechanisms exist in the scientific method to ensure that data, at the very least, can be obtained with as little bias as possible. From that process come ways to evaluate the success or failure of striving for rationality. Your list of rules provides no such quality control; nor does it provide a way to gauge how well an individual might be adhering to the rules, and thus, by your assertion, behave reasonably.

Strafio wrote:
So while they won't reach the perfection of Ideal Faith they can still have a faith that is good by human standards.

This renders the argument for the ideal (which is never reached) far from useful. If virtue can be shown to result from simply striving towards the goal of an ideal faith, then you might have something, as that is the de facto position of the believer. But because it's impossible to show how "well" someone sticks to an ideal, it might be difficult to show that any amount of effort towards your ideal would be beneficial.

 

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Strafio wrote:However, I

Strafio wrote:
However, I think there are situations where this doesn't apply.


It's a fact of life that we have many irrational beliefs.
That is, we think that these beliefs are accurate and true but they aren't.
If their belief had already come to them through rational means then we wouldn't be telling them that it needs justification.
To say "only believe with justification" is to ask someone to make the extra effort to make extra sure that their belief is accurate.
"Should I make this extra effort?" is this question of practical reason that I was talking about.

To decide to believe on faith is a decision not to make this effort.
You still believe, you still think that this belief is accurate, but you make the decision not to check too carefully.
So should someone make this extra effort to double check accuracy or is it all right for them to just carry on as they are?
This is surely a question of practical reason on whether they should make this extra effort, right?

This is exactly what I'm talking about. You are confusing faith with intuition. The justification for believing our intuitions in situations where rigourous investigation is not possible is the pragmatic argument you just described here.

But faith is not the same as intuition. People don't say, "Well, I don't have time to check out the claims of the Bible, so I'm just going to accept it for now until I get the chance to really investigate it." No. They say, "I don't *need* to check the claims of the Bible. I have faith!"

Faith is that extra oomph from provisional intuition to full-blown belief without evidence. It eschews justification altogether.

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deludedgod wrote:While I may

deludedgod wrote:

While I may not have decided to make the extra effort needed to go through the process of learning about the methods of gathering evidence of ancient history, and the consequent evidence for the belief that Xerxes was indeed defeated at Thermopylae, I consequently downgraded my conviction on that matter to the point where it became essentially irrelevant. That in itself is a rational process of introspection. So, if for a particular belief, I decline to make this extra effort, the degree to which I downgrade my conviction in it is such that it can hardly be said that I have "faith" in it.

If it does anything for your personal curiosity, Xerxes' armies were not defeated at Thermopylae. But I think we get to a more important point about the way such assertions are made. What little we know about the ancient world could never pass muster as scientific evidence, and as a result, classicists and archeologists use a lot of "probably" and "perhaps" in discussions about these materials.

BUT that's not to say there is no reasonable evidence to support the assertions that these scholars make. What makes their assertions (and thus their beliefs) more reasonable is not a striving towards a goal of academic purity or perfection, but the realm in which they limit their assertions. That is, to say such-and-such a battle took place here, with so many men to a side can be understood as a simple and rational claim about a historical event. These are normal things that happen, and so we don't blink when people make that kind of a statement.

"Faith" is usually associated with ideas like walking on water, moving mountains, and parting seas. It should be obvious from these examples that the content of an assertion is actually extremely important to how probable it is. A battle, it's fair to say, is a regular event in human history. A man living for several days in the innards of a fish isn't as common.

So solving for the general case of belief doesn't help when the content is so important to the evaluation of those beliefs. If believing in things inconsistent with observable reality is reasonable (or produces "virtue" ) then mental health care professionals have a very practical problem on their hands.

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Quote:If it does anything

Quote:

If it does anything for your personal curiosity, Xerxes' armies were not defeated at Thermopylae.

Shit, I meant Plataea.


 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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deludedgod wrote:Quote:If it

deludedgod wrote:

Quote:

If it does anything for your personal curiosity, Xerxes' armies were not defeated at Thermopylae.

Shit, I meant Plataea.

I wouldn't sweat it. I think there are about four decent sources for all of the Greco-Persian wars, and none are without their detractors. This is actually the reason I found it odd that people would climb all over Rook for being "unscholarly" when defending a mythicist position. Honestly, so what? People write papers on shakier stuff than that just to wake their fellow academics up!

But again, nobody was walking on water, and the victories didn't happen because one side had a God Machine that destroyed entire cities once you walked around them a certain number of times.

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natural wrote:Strafio

natural wrote:

Strafio wrote:
However, I think there are situations where this doesn't apply.

 

It's a fact of life that we have many irrational beliefs.
That is, we think that these beliefs are accurate and true but they aren't.
If their belief had already come to them through rational means then we wouldn't be telling them that it needs justification.
To say "only believe with justification" is to ask someone to make the extra effort to make extra sure that their belief is accurate.
"Should I make this extra effort?" is this question of practical reason that I was talking about.

To decide to believe on faith is a decision not to make this effort.
You still believe, you still think that this belief is accurate, but you make the decision not to check too carefully.
So should someone make this extra effort to double check accuracy or is it all right for them to just carry on as they are?
This is surely a question of practical reason on whether they should make this extra effort, right?

This is exactly what I'm talking about. You are confusing faith with intuition. The justification for believing our intuitions in situations where rigourous investigation is not possible is the pragmatic argument you just described here.

But faith is not the same as intuition. People don't say, "Well, I don't have time to check out the claims of the Bible, so I'm just going to accept it for now until I get the chance to really investigate it." No. They say, "I don't *need* to check the claims of the Bible. I have faith!"

Faith is that extra oomph from provisional intuition to full-blown belief without evidence. It eschews justification altogether.

I think religious faith is to a high degree an emotion. It's essence is a feeling. There isn't any foundation to religious faith other than hope, fear, and an acquiescence to fate; all based on fantsy. This gives the theist a feeling of belonging to the theist group. It is an illusion.

 

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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Holding to beliefs that are

Holding to beliefs that are in fact inaccurate does not mean that they are irrational beliefs, that would only apply if the person was actually aware of cogent arguments or evidence against them and still held to them. People in ancient times who believed the earth was flat and the the Sun went around the earth were not all irrational.

The only beliefs that could be described as inherently irrational are those that are internally and obviously inconsistent.

The basic problem with the thesis is that the only way a faith could be ok according to these rules would be if it had no effect on any important decisions or choices, which seems fundamentally inconsistent with the whole point of holding a major faith position. I cannot see that as being acceptable to any person of faith.

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BobSpence1 wrote:Holding to

BobSpence1 wrote:
Holding to beliefs that are in fact inaccurate does not mean that they are irrational beliefs, that would only apply if the person was actually aware of cogent arguments or evidence against them and still held to them. People in ancient times who believed the earth was flat and the the Sun went around the earth were not all irrational.

Point taken, but can that really include obviously fantastic stories designed to awe an audience? Walking on water and curing the lame have certainly always been considered supernatural abilities. That's not just a calculation mistake.

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HisWillness wrote:BobSpence1

HisWillness wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Holding to beliefs that are in fact inaccurate does not mean that they are irrational beliefs, that would only apply if the person was actually aware of cogent arguments or evidence against them and still held to them. People in ancient times who believed the earth was flat and the the Sun went around the earth were not all irrational.

Point taken, but can that really include obviously fantastic stories designed to awe an audience? Walking on water and curing the lame have certainly always been considered supernatural abilities. That's not just a calculation mistake.

When you get into supernatural beliefs, depends whether they had witnessed what appeared to be convincing demonstrations, maybe. In the absence of contemporary well-known skeptics like we have with Randi and others, it may still not be quite fair to describe such beliefs as strictly irrational. If someone believes something on pure hearsay, or just accepts something from authority, that's becoming a bit shaky, especially if the belief is in something generally considered unusual or improbable. or even 'miraculous'

I was mainly concerned to point out that the inaccuracy of a belief does not make it irrational, it is the process by which the person came to believe it.

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HisWillness wrote:The

HisWillness wrote:
The argument is clearly in a Platonic vein, as I'm sure you realize. The activity being considered, though, is chasing that ideal as a goal, rather than the being the ideal itself. Those two things must be separate, if only because the behaviour discussed is different.

What I mean is that to defend the ideal is not to effect a defense of chasing the ideal.


Absolutely.
But unless I successfully defended the Ideal first, defending the chasing of it couldn't even get started.
I needed to both defend the Ideal and only then could I start defending the chasing of it.

The argument in the original post should cover both, but sections 1 and 2 are mainly on defending the Ideal while sections 3 and 4 look at more realistic issues.

Strafio wrote:
So just as the careful scientist lives up to "perfect scientific rationality" as humanly possible, a theist who follows the 4 rules will live up to Ideal Faith as humanly possible.

HisWillness wrote:
Here, you run into the problem that several mechanisms exist in the scientific method to ensure that data, at the very least, can be obtained with as little bias as possible. From that process come ways to evaluate the success or failure of striving for rationality. Your list of rules provides no such quality control; nor does it provide a way to gauge how well an individual might be adhering to the rules, and thus, by your assertion, behave reasonably.

Lol!! Issues of enforcing the 4 rules brings up a whole new kettle of fish.
For now, I'm happy just to defend the conclusion "If a believer keeps to the 4 rules then their faith is good."
 


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natural wrote:Yes, but this

natural wrote:
Yes, but this was not part of your argument, as far as I can tell. Your argument talked about virtue, not psychological benefits.

If your argument is that people believe things because it makes them happy, that's no surprise there, but it's not a good justification for faith.

If you want to argue that psychological benefits are necessarily virtuous, then you missed a step in your argument.


If they are "benefits", doesn't that by definition make them virtuous?
Perhaps I was using "virtue" a bit more loosely than you do?
Perhaps you link "virtue" more specifically with moral goodness than with just general goodness?

Even so, I strongly disagree with the bit in bold.
If X makes you happy then that's a very good reason to do X.
There might be a stronger reason not to,
e.g. X makes you happy but kills 10 people in the process
but if X does no harm but will make you happy, that's an excellent reason to do X.
The 4 rules ensure that no harm is done.

To convert the argument for moral virtue doesn't take a huge leap.
I simply specify that "Ideal faith causes virtue if the beliefs have a psychological effect on the person that makes them more virtuous."
e.g. maybe the psychological effect causes them to be more selfless



natural wrote:

This is exactly what I'm talking about. You are confusing faith with intuition. The justification for believing our intuitions in situations where rigourous investigation is not possible is the pragmatic argument you just described here.

But faith is not the same as intuition. People don't say, "Well, I don't have time to check out the claims of the Bible, so I'm just going to accept it for now until I get the chance to really investigate it." No. They say, "I don't *need* to check the claims of the Bible. I have faith!"

Faith is that extra oomph from provisional intuition to full-blown belief without evidence. It eschews justification altogether.


I am definitely defending faith here and not intuition.
Intuition is like you say:
The brain's subconscious functions do some calculations, pass the result to our consciousness, our consciousness then receives this result seemingly out of nowhere.
So it's a well thought out idea, but we have no idea of how we came to it and no justification.

The faith I'm defending is as you describe.
They say "I don't need to justify my belief in God, it's a matter of faith."
I say that it is alright to do this, so long as they keep to the 4 rules.
Yes, there is rational investigation going on, rational investigation as to whether their faith-based belief has a positive psychological effect, but no rational investigation into whether the faith-based belief is actually rationally justifiable itself.

So to clarify again:
"God exists" - this is held on faith with no justification for its truth.
"Believing in God provides good psychological consequences so it's good that I do so" - this isn't held on faith. It's important that the believer makes the effort to be accurate on this, whether through good use of their intuition, or through reason and evidence etc.


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There are s least two

There are s least two 'beliefs', or two types of belief, in your definition of Faith.

One is the content of the faith itself, typically belief in God and and/or associated stuff. This is understood to be the part that is typically without actual evidence.

The other is the belief that such Faith is a good thing, that it leads to positive benefits of some kind, or is 'virtuous'. This is the one which I see still see as requiring actual evidence to 'justify' the overall Faith 'package'. There is some evidence that typical faiths can provide psychological comfort, at least in normal life circumstances and into significantly stressful situations, although there is also evidence that under extreme circumstances, it may break down and increase the distress, along the lines of 'why me, I've been faithful'.

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BobSpence1 wrote:There are s

BobSpence1 wrote:
There are s least two 'beliefs', or two types of belief, in your definition of Faith.

One is the content of the faith itself, typically belief in God and and/or associated stuff. This is understood to be the part that is typically without actual evidence.

The other is the belief that such Faith is a good thing, that it leads to positive benefits of some kind, or is 'virtuous'. This is the one which I see still see as requiring actual evidence to 'justify' the overall Faith 'package'.


This sums up my position nicely.

BobSpence1 wrote:
There is some evidence that typical faiths can provide psychological comfort, at least in normal life circumstances and into significantly stressful situations, although there is also evidence that under extreme circumstances, it may break down and increase the distress, along the lines of 'why me, I've been faithful'.

I think that there are some doctrines where the psychological effects are obvious.
I'd condemn hell based theologies as fear inducing, doctrines that demand obedience to scripture law encourage authoritarianism and legalistic approaches to morality and religions that condemn other groups and beliefs often lead to intolerance.

It's not all bad though.
The Christians at university used to amaze me with the energy and friendliness that their faith inspired within them. In fact, I think that most people who converted were attracted more to their lifestyle than anything else.
They clearly weren't converted through rational argument about the truth of these doctrines! Eye-wink

In Section 3 I claimed to provide a method that would allow the believer to gradually, over time, filter out the beliefs of theirs with negative effects and to encourage those with positive effects.
Did this part of the argument seem plausible to you?

Have you met any enlightened christians/theists/<insert faith here>/spiritualist that seemed to live to a similar method and that it seemed to work for them?


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a couple things...

 This seems like the early stage in a theists journey towards enlightenment.  

A couple quick points. 

You are assuming an impossible contradiction that someone with 'faith' ( unquestioning acceptance of facts not in evidence) can do this.  By definition, if they are asking the questions and pursuing these answers they are lacking in faith or don't have true faith... or are intelligent individuals on their way to truth and discovery.

Also, the definition of 'virtue' that is mentioned in relation to 'ideal faith' can be subjective.  Killing non-believers during a holy war, oppressing homosexuals and women etc. and so on, may be percieved as virtues or virtuous behaviours by those with 'faith'.


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Strafio wrote:"Should I make

Strafio wrote:
"Should I make this extra effort?" is this question of practical reason that I was talking about.

deludedgod wrote:
To decline to make this "extra effort" is tantamount to downgrading the conviction with which one could hold a belief. Note that I said conviction, not "downgrading the truth value" of the belief, for that would be an ad logicam fallacy.

A quick request for clarification here:
Is this downgrading in conviction descriptive or normative?
That is, are you saying that when people refuse to make this "extra effort" tbat they naturally do downgrade their conviction, or that you think they ought to?

If you were being descriptive, isn't your claim contradicted by people out there who actually do hold a strong conviction on faith with their refusal to make this "extra effort"?
If it was normative, isn't this 'ought' claim one of practical reason?


deludedgod wrote:
This is the principle of epistemic rights. It is a principle to which everyone must adhere if they even hope to be able to formulate their beliefs rationally. Note what I did there was a rational process in itself.

Right.
This principle of epistemic rights seems to be a normative claim.
You appeared to back it up with the justification in bold.
(correct me if I'm wrong on this and that it was actually descriptive!)
Perhaps what I might do is re-phrase Premise 2a to say:
"Whether we should abide by the rules of epistemic rights is a question of practical reason."
Then my case would be that it's permissible to make an exception for certain beliefs, provided that they met certain conditions.


deludedgod wrote:
While I may not have decided to make the extra effort needed to go through the process of learning about the methods of gathering evidence of ancient history, and the consequent evidence for the belief that Xerxes was indeed defeated at Thermopylae, I consequently downgraded my conviction on that matter to the point where it became essentially irrelevant. That in itself is a rational process of introspection. So, if for a particular belief, I decline to make this extra effort, the degree to which I downgrade my conviction in it is such that it can hardly be said that I have "faith" in it.

This kind of introspection is second nature to the likes of you and me so you don't really consider it effort.
I think that less introspective personalities would consider it an effort.
And I think that this introspection would be a difficult task, even for the likes of your and I, if it was shaking up the very cornerstones of our worldview.
 

deludedgod wrote:
Fortunately, theistic beliefs fall into a rather special category. Because theists make assertions about supposed metaphysical and supernatural notions, and fundamental assertions about the nature of reality that can be judged by reasoning and a firm grasp of epistemology and ontology.

I think that this firm grasp of epistemology and ontology is rarer than you realise.
It might be child's play to you but did no one ever tell you that you happen to be exceptionally bright? Sticking out tongue
As it happens, my introduction into ontology (from Todangst when I first joined IG) marked the beginning of the end of my agnosticism into an atheism.

Before then, I had no grounds to dismiss theistic beliefs.
I was very open on the subject and could potentially have been swayed by irrational influences.
I would have had control over whether I should put myself in a position to be affected by these irrational influences, and would have made that decision on practical reasoning.


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Liam wrote:You are assuming

Liam wrote:

You are assuming an impossible contradiction that someone with 'faith' ( unquestioning acceptance of facts not in evidence) can do this.  By definition, if they are asking the questions and pursuing these answers they are lacking in faith or don't have true faith... or are intelligent individuals on their way to truth and discovery.


Why should the two be mutually exclusive?
Their faith that God exists might be ignoring the evidence, but does that mean that they'll treat all their beliefs the same way?
It has often been observed that many Christians compartmentalize - they treat their religious beliefs with a laxity that they wouldn't with beliefs in other areas of their life.

Whether their religion is good for their life or bad for their life isn't something they'll necessarily hold on faith.
It's quite common for believers to leave parishes or even religions if they don't feel that it is right for them.
 

Liam wrote:
Also, the definition of 'virtue' that is mentioned in relation to 'ideal faith' can be subjective.  Killing non-believers during a holy war, oppressing homosexuals and women etc. and so on, may be percieved as virtues or virtuous behaviours by those with 'faith'.

Rule 3 of Ideal Faith stressed the point that virtues/morals were not to be held on faith, that they must be scrutinized by reason.
This rule was specifically written to address this concern of yours.


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 Rule #3 seems to forget

 Rule #3 seems to forget that if you ask the "faithful" to self govern and apply reason and rationality to establish or confirm virtue the conclusion or judgment will be affected/infected by the paradigm of their faith. 

Someone who has willingly accepted some form of theism can not be expected to apply reasoning and rationality on the same subject.  Its not about creating a form of rational thought that is palatable to the irrational.  If a theist is compartmentalizing or picking and choosing when to be rational this simply defines the irrationality.  As I stated in my previous note this form of thought seems like the early stages of a theist on a journey towards rational thought.  It's still irrational but at least the questions are starting to be asked and concepts challenged.  There is no level of self delusion that is acceptable or rational or reasonable.  It may be understandable as a stage in the growth and understanding process.


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Strafio wrote: 1) Beliefs

Strafio wrote:

1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence
2) The believer must have an open mind. A willingness to learn and change.
3) Issues of morality need to be settled through reason
4) Issues of psychology need to be settled through reason

If so, it means that faith can be a good thing and that arguments that don't recognise this are both false and unhelpful to the cause of rationality.

I don't understand how faith disconnected from any practical decisions can lead to "good" or "virtue." If your faith made you virtuous, then surely, we must conclude that your faith has or will affect practical decisions, unless thoughts have no effect on actions. I also can't imagine how an individual could willingly exclude certain categories from their faith. To have faith in an entity or phenomena is to hold that the entity or phenomena is true i.e. conforms to reality. What would be their justification for putting boundaries on these beliefs?

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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I just spent way too much

I just spent way too much time (20+ minutes) trying to find this article:

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/media/releases/2009/inzlicht.cfm

"Compared to non-believers, the religious participants showed significantly less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a portion of the brain that helps modify behavior by signaling when attention and control are needed, usually as a result of some anxiety-producing event like making a mistake. The stronger their religious zeal and the more they believed in God, the less their ACC fired in response to their own errors, and the fewer errors they made."

So the good news is that believers tend to make less mistakes...but the belief basically supresses the brain's alarm when a mistake is actually made and it doesn't bother them as much.

To quote one of the authors of the study...

""Obviously, anxiety can be negative because if you have too much, you're paralyzed with fear," he says. "However, it also serves a very useful function in that it alerts us when we're making mistakes. If you don't experience anxiety when you make an error, what impetus do you have to change or improve your behaviour so you don't make the same mistakes again and again?""

Assuming this is true for the moment (for argument's sake)...doesn't this seem to indicate that the more faith you have, the less likely you are to be willing to follow something like the four rules you outlined?


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Quote:Is this downgrading in

Quote:

Is this downgrading in conviction descriptive or normative?

It's normative. I should have made that clearer at the start.

Quote:

If it was normative, isn't this 'ought' claim one of practical reason?


 

Yes. See below.

Quote:

Then my case would be that it's permissible to make an exception for certain beliefs, provided that they met certain conditions.

But this just glosses over the whole point of the post. The whole reason that the notion of epistemic rights exists is because it is impossible to justify everything stringently all the time because it is too time consuming, there is too much information, and we have to trust other people. But for theistic beliefs, this is not really the case. There is no specific empirical expertise required, because the beliefs in general pertain to supposed nonphysical entities. Outright refusal to even engage in the process of justification in these cases can only be interpreted as laziness, refusal to think and ad consequentiam fallacy which would mean the conclusion in the truth of the belief was an invalid one. Put simply, I don't really see the point of your thesis. Even if a particular belief was "permissible" under the rules you put forth, it still wouldn't be rational, because it wasn't reached via rational means. That is the main position of people here. Not that theistic belief per se is "bad", that's too vague, but rather it is irrational. Of course, you could argue that we hold many beliefs which are "irrational" in the sense, for example, given by my example with the surgeon. But that is why I introduced (actually, todangst introduced) the notion of epistemic rights. So that even if one couldn't reach a fully rational conclusion on a matter, they could still sort their convictions of their beliefs on the basis of their ability to justify them. That would be rational.

Quote:

I was very open on the subject and could potentially have been swayed by irrational influences.

...That's sort of why the principles of epistemic rights exist. They do not relate to the accuracy of beliefs, but instead they relate to the believer themselves, and their ability to judge the accuracy of the belief, or their ability to evaluate or justify a belief. In most cases, this really isn't a problem. If I told you that an arbitrary solution to Laplace's equation with given boundary conditions can be written as a Fourier series of orthogonal eigensolutions to the equation div(grad V)=0, it wouldn't mean anything unless you were a physicist, so you probably wouldn't care. It simply wouldn't be a belief with which you would hold great conviction. It may not even mean anything. Epistemic rights are not about beliefs. They're about your ability to critique and judge beliefs, and recognizing that your ability to settle on a firm position in relation to a belief increases with this ability. In other words, its an introspective process designed to ensure that you aren't swayed by irrational influences.

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but did no one ever tell you that you happen to be exceptionally bright?

I think it was mentioned once or twice when I was a student at Caltech.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Liam wrote: Rule #3 seems

Liam wrote:

 Rule #3 seems to forget that if you ask the "faithful" to self govern and apply reason and rationality to establish or confirm virtue the conclusion or judgment will be affected/infected by the paradigm of their faith. 


So you're sceptical about the ability of the "faithful" to be successfully rational in their moral beliefs?
You're right that some stubbornly equate morality with "obedience to the Bible" and convincing them of a proper morality would be an uphill struggle.
That said, that's a whole new topic altogether.
My argument was simply that provided these rules were followed, faith can be a good thing.
And that for some believers, getting them to reform to these rules will be a more effective strategy than trying to get them to give up faith altogether.

Liam wrote:
Someone who has willingly accepted some form of theism can not be expected to apply reasoning and rationality on the same subject.  Its not about creating a form of rational thought that is palatable to the irrational.  If a theist is compartmentalizing or picking and choosing when to be rational this simply defines the irrationality.

So you say.
But there's an argument in the original post that holding certain irrational beliefs is a rational thing to do if they provide positive psychological consequences.
If you disagree with the argument, which part of it?

Strafio wrote:

1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence
2) The believer must have an open mind. A willingness to learn and change.
3) Issues of morality need to be settled through reason
4) Issues of psychology need to be settled through reason

If so, it means that faith can be a good thing and that arguments that don't recognise this are both false and unhelpful to the cause of rationality.

butterbattle wrote:
I don't understand how faith disconnected from any practical decisions can lead to "good" or "virtue." If your faith made you virtuous, then surely, we must conclude that your faith has or will affect practical decisions, unless thoughts have no effect on actions.

Aha!! The laywer inside of me especially worded rule 1 to counter this objection. Eye-wink
Notice that rule 1 didn't say "Beliefs that affect practical decisions", it said "Beliefs that inform practical decisions"
e.g. If we're making ourselves a boat, we need correct information on what materials float.

There's plenty of ways for faith beliefs to have a psychological effect without having to provide information.
One example is how most of our actions don't require consciously thought out decisions.
We simply act on habit and instinct.
Perhaps it is possible for faith beliefs to have an effect on these habits and instincts for the better.
Another example is that information isn't the only thing that affects out decisions.
Whether we use this information to its full rational potential depends on our state of mind.
If we're stressed or tired then it negatively effects our ability to make rational decisions.
If someone's faith was making them more vigorous and relaxed then this would clearly affect their decision making for the better, even though this faith belief was providing no information towards the decision at hand.

These are the two examples off the top of my head.
I'm sure there are plenty more out there.

butterbattle wrote:
I also can't imagine how an individual could willingly exclude certain categories from their faith. To have faith in an entity or phenomena is to hold that the entity or phenomena is true i.e. conforms to reality. What would be their justification for putting boundaries on these beliefs?

I'm not quite sure of the question here?
Is it a question of why the believer would allow themselves to have faith in somethings and not in others?
Or is it a question of how the believer could belief X to be true but at the same time keep X from informing decisions?
(If it was neither, just rephrase the question for me and I'll try and answer it!)

In answer to the first question, it seems to assume that if the believer has faith in one belief then they will have faith in all beliefs.
Why shouldn't they choose to have faith in certain beliefs but not in others?
In answer to the second one, let me point you towards 2c in the original post.
It showed how people can have beliefs that they believe are true, but don't use them to inform decisions.
They put out clauses like "It doesn't work like that" or "God won't allow it to be treated that way"
I think that there are many examples of current religious beliefs that contain these mechanisms.

 


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Balkoth wrote:I just spent

Balkoth wrote:

I just spent way too much time (20+ minutes) trying to find this article:

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/media/releases/2009/inzlicht.cfm


Lol! Then let me assure you that I found it very interesting and that those 20 mins were not in vain!

Balkoth wrote:
"Compared to non-believers, the religious participants showed significantly less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a portion of the brain that helps modify behavior by signaling when attention and control are needed, usually as a result of some anxiety-producing event like making a mistake. The stronger their religious zeal and the more they believed in God, the less their ACC fired in response to their own errors, and the fewer errors they made."

So the good news is that believers tend to make less mistakes...but the belief basically supresses the brain's alarm when a mistake is actually made and it doesn't bother them as much.

To quote one of the authors of the study...

""Obviously, anxiety can be negative because if you have too much, you're paralyzed with fear," he says. "However, it also serves a very useful function in that it alerts us when we're making mistakes. If you don't experience anxiety when you make an error, what impetus do you have to change or improve your behaviour so you don't make the same mistakes again and again?""

Assuming this is true for the moment (for argument's sake)...doesn't this seem to indicate that the more faith you have, the less likely you are to be willing to follow something like the four rules you outlined?


Pretty interesting stuff.
Perhaps there is a optimum amount of faith/zeal that gives you the optimum amount of anxiety.
Personally, I think I have too much anxiety at the moment and I envy some of my younger days.
I'd actually go as far as to say that I could probably do without anxiety altogether.
I mean, surely once you reach a certain maturity you can recognise mistakes without all the melodrama?
And surely it's better to be able to shrug and make things right rather than to start stressing over it?


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For the benefit of any

For the benefit of any spectators, here is Todangst's article on Epistemic Rights.

deludedgod wrote:
The whole reason that the notion of epistemic rights exists is because it is impossible to justify everything stringently all the time because it is too time consuming, there is too much information, and we have to trust other people. But for theistic beliefs, this is not really the case. There is no specific empirical expertise required, because the beliefs in general pertain to supposed nonphysical entities. Outright refusal to even engage in the process of justification in these cases can only be interpreted as laziness, refusal to think and ad consequentiam fallacy which would mean the conclusion in the truth of the belief was an invalid one. Put simply, I don't really see the point of your thesis. Even if a particular belief was "permissible" under the rules you put forth, it still wouldn't be rational, because it wasn't reached via rational means. That is the main position of people here. Not that theistic belief per se is "bad", that's too vague, but rather it is irrational. Of course, you could argue that we hold many beliefs which are "irrational" in the sense, for example, given by my example with the surgeon. But that is why I introduced (actually, todangst introduced) the notion of epistemic rights. So that even if one couldn't reach a fully rational conclusion on a matter, they could still sort their convictions of their beliefs on the basis of their ability to justify them. That would be rational.

 

So let me check that I have you right on Epistemic Rights:
Epistemic Rights is the method someone applies to be as rational in their belief as practically possible.
It has a set of rules to to make sure that their beliefs are as accurate as can be.
Furthermore, it requires them to acknowledge where their justification is lacking and to limit their conviction accordingly.

Epistemic Rights is normative which means you believe people ought to follow them.
You agreed that these normative 'oughts' require justification in terms of practical reason.
Your justification seemed to be that this was necessary for a person's belief to be as rational/accurate as possible.
As Todangst pointed out in his essay, faith is a rejection of epistemic rights, the refusal to abide by these rules.
My thesis is that there are some cases where this rejection is justifiable by practical reason, that it can be rational to hold to "irrational" beliefs on faith.

So to clarify what I'm arguing here:
I agree that Epistemic Rights are necessary to ensure that our beliefs are as rational as possible.
However, I think it can be justifiable by practical reason to have faith (thereby rejecting Epistemic Rights) so long as certain conditions are met.
If my argument succeeds then it can be rationally justifiable for a person to have faith in 'irrational beliefs'.

Your response to my argument was an objection to Premise 2a.
You claimed that if someone really believes X then it means they think that X is as accurate as possible.
So if they consciously put aside the accuracy of the belief then they aren't really believing it anymore.
My counter to this was that rather than consciously downgrade accuracy, they were simply declining to make the extra effort.
I claimed that the fact people do have faith means that they are psychologically capable of both actually believing, but without making the "extra effort" to ensure that their belief is as rational/accurate as possible.
(I think that my "extra effort" phrase is synonymous with "abiding by Epistemic Rights&quotEye-wink
Your response to this was normative, that they ought to make this extra effort and ascribe to Epistemic Rights, but this didn't back up your original objection.
Your original objection was that if they don't keep to the accuracy then they don't really believe it.
Saying that they ought to make the "extra effort" doesn't support this argument.
So let's go back to Premise 2a and see if you have any further objection to it:


If I was to write this essay again, I'd perhaps re-word Premise 2a to say:
"Whether I should hold to epistemic rights is a question of practical reason"
I get the impression that you'd hold no objection now as you said that these epistemic rights were normative and you haven't objected when I say "normative claims need to be justified by practical reason"
So unless you have a further objection, I'd like to consider us agreed on Premise 2a and to now move on to Premise 2b.

In Premise 2b, I claimed that there is only one reason why we would need to make this "extra effort" to ensure that our beliefs are as rational as possible.
If there were such thing as beliefs where this reason reason didn't apply then it there would no longer be a reason to hold epistemic rights for these particular beliefs.
Any objection to Premise 2b?


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Strafio wrote:So to clarify

Strafio wrote:


So to clarify what I'm arguing here:
I agree that Epistemic Rights are necessary to ensure that our beliefs are as rational as possible.
However, I think it can be justifiable by practical reason to have faith (thereby rejecting Epistemic Rights) so long as certain conditions are met.

So you agree epistemic rights are necessary but yet, you reject epistemic rights? 

 

 

 

 

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Strafio wrote:Lol! Then let

Strafio wrote:
Lol! Then let me assure you that I found it very interesting and that those 20 mins were not in vain!

For the record, it's not that I mind spending 20 minutes doing something, it's that I expected to find that article within a minute or two and it turned into a long hunt because I had the title wrong.  Fun.

Quote:
Pretty interesting stuff.

Perhaps there is a optimum amount of faith/zeal that gives you the optimum amount of anxiety.
Personally, I think I have too much anxiety at the moment and I envy some of my younger days.
I'd actually go as far as to say that I could probably do without anxiety altogether.
I mean, surely once you reach a certain maturity you can recognise mistakes without all the melodrama?
And surely it's better to be able to shrug and make things right rather than to start stressing over it?

It's not melodrama, it's caring enough about the mistake to fix it.  And even catching the mistake, to a certain degree.  If you feel little anxiety and are self-assured, you'd seem to be less likely to double check things for accuracy.

And in regards to the last sentence...I think you might have missed the point.  Not stressing out at all means it's less likely to notice and/or correct the mistake.  It's not believers make things right and nonbelievers simply stress out, it's believers don't stress out enough (or might not) and nonbelievers stress out and are more likely to fix it.

Obviously simply freezing in panic isn't a good thing.


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Strafio wrote:But unless I

Strafio wrote:

But unless I successfully defended the Ideal first, defending the chasing of it couldn't even get started.
I needed to both defend the Ideal and only then could I start defending the chasing of it.

And from the Platonic point of view, that makes sense. From the behavioural point of view, however, the ideal is irrelevant. (To be clear, I'm just presenting a different angle to consider.) If having any goal whatsoever caused a hypothetical benefit, then what someone believed could be disregarded.

But even more difficult is the idea that we both know the ideal will never be obtained. So with the ideal, you're arguing for something that will never be an issue. Either way, we're left with the resulting behaviour of striving for the ideal.

Strafio wrote:
Lol!! Issues of enforcing the 4 rules brings up a whole new kettle of fish.
For now, I'm happy just to defend the conclusion "If a believer keeps to the 4 rules then their faith is good."

It's a bizarre conclusion, though, without even getting into the semantics of "good". Like the ideal, we know that no believer will ever stick to four rules at all times. We're not talking about robots or computer software, we're talking about people. It doesn't matter what the four rules are, they will be broken by a person. You have, then, another instance where the conclusion cannot be fulfilled, and the content of the rules (as a goal) is irrelevant.

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Quote:My thesis is that

Quote:

My thesis is that there are some cases where this rejection is justifiable by practical reason, that it can be rational to hold to "irrational" beliefs on faith.

There is no need to put scare quotes around irrational. If a person consciously rejects their epistemic rights, then what they are doing is irrational. They are acknowledging that they cannot justify a belief. They are acknowledging that epistemic rights are necessary for accuracy (which they are). And they are still accepting the proposition on the grounds of psychological consequences which (hopefully, if they had any understanding of logic at all) they would recognize as invalid.

Quote:

My counter to this was that rather than consciously downgrade accuracy, they were simply declining to make the extra effort.

But if they were familiar with their epistemic rights, then they would either have to downgrade accuracy or to consciously reject their epistemic rights, because they would know that epistemic rights are necessary for accuracy. The latter would by definition result in the formation of irrational beliefs. If they consciously put aside their epistemic rights, then they consciously reject the need to have their beliefs accurate and rational. If they still maintain these beliefs on the grounds that they are emotionally fulfilling and virtuous, then this is a logical fallacy of argument from consequences. The other problem with formulating a belief this way is: what happens when someone presents a counterargument? Some ontological problem with their beliefs, for example. A counterargument cannot be avoided as easily as a call for evidence can. Furthermore, what happens when multiple people, due to their rejection of their epistemic rights, reach differing conclusions which are mutually exclusive. In this case at least one of the beliefs in question must not only be irrational, but false.

You seem to think that epistemic rights constitute an extra effort (like stringent justification). But they don't. They are necessary to make our beliefs rational. The "reason" that we apply epistemic rights is to make our beliefs rational and accurate. If this for some reason no longer applied, then we would be declaring "I don't need this belief to be rational or accurate, or my conviction to be in accordance with my ability to justify the belief". That would be irrational. Even if one met certain conditions, those conditions pertain only to their psychological well being and virtue, which of course has no relation whatsoever with the accuracy of a belief. They may still think their beliefs are accurate, but of course, this is an invalid conclusion because it is ad consequentiam.

Quote:

If there were such thing as beliefs where this reason reason didn't apply then it there would no longer be a reason to hold epistemic rights for these particular beliefs.
Any objection to Premise 2b?

But if someone consciously rejected the need to formulate their beliefs rationally, or to downgrade conviction appropriately, then they would, in effect, be refusing to think. The justification of forming beliefs rationally is to make them accurate. The justification of having beliefs accurate is not because of the role they play in our lives. It's because we think that they are accurate. Epistemic rights are not an "extra effort", or something we tag on the side. We need them to make our beliefs accurate. If a person was versed in epistemology and thus knew their epistemic rights, then a conscious rejection of them would be equivalent to a conscious rejection of accuracy because they would know that epistemic rights were necessary for accuracy. If they didn't, then they wouldn't really possess the machinery necessary to ensure that any of their beliefs were rational at all!

In the example with the egg balancing, it is utterly absurd to think that the individual in question can jettison the need to evaluate this claim on the grounds of the "role it plays in his life". It's nonsense. The belief is easily tested, and easily refuted. End of story.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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deludedgod wrote:But if

deludedgod wrote:
But if someone consciously rejected the need to formulate their beliefs rationally, or to downgrade conviction appropriately, then they would, in effect, be refusing to think.

This is precisely what I call "moral laziness". Not because there's any moral decision involved, but because the same mechanism responsible for laziness of thought seems to immediately spread to moral questions.

Do I want to evaluate this situation? No, I would rather consult a handbook. <- Moral laziness.

When it applies to epistemic rights, though, somehow it seems to become righteous moral laziness. I'm not claiming to understand the exact mechanism at play, here, but I can't help but thinking that the connection is pertinent to the conversation.

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Strafio wrote:So to clarify

 

Strafio wrote:


So to clarify what I'm arguing here:
I agree that Epistemic Rights are necessary to ensure that our beliefs are as rational as possible.
However, I think it can be justifiable by practical reason to have faith (thereby rejecting Epistemic Rights) so long as certain conditions are met.

aiia wrote:
So you agree epistemic rights are necessary [to ensure that beliefs are as rational as possible] but yet, you reject epistemic rights [in situations where there is no need for the beliefs to be rational and psychological benefits to be gained for ignoring them]?

Yes. That sums up my position nicely.

 

Strafio wrote:
I'd actually go as far as to say that I could probably do without anxiety altogether.

I mean, surely once you reach a certain maturity you can recognise mistakes without all the melodrama?
And surely it's better to be able to shrug and make things right rather than to start stressing over it?

Balkoth wrote:
It's not melodrama, it's caring enough about the mistake to fix it.  And even catching the mistake, to a certain degree.  If you feel little anxiety and are self-assured, you'd seem to be less likely to double check things for accuracy.

And in regards to the last sentence...I think you might have missed the point.  Not stressing out at all means it's less likely to notice and/or correct the mistake.  It's not believers make things right and nonbelievers simply stress out, it's believers don't stress out enough (or might not) and nonbelievers stress out and are more likely to fix it.

Obviously simply freezing in panic isn't a good thing.


Maybe I've got an extreme interpretation as to what they researchers mean by anxiety, but I still believe that anxiety is not necessary to spot mistakes.
It sounds like a biological device that was helpful to primitive man who didn't have a better alternative, but nowdays I believe that we've developed, or atleast able to develop, ways of thinking and processes of acting that allow us to check for and correct errors without the need for anxiety.
And if anxiety isn't necessary for spotting mistakes then it serves no useful purpose - especially as it reduces our efficiency to do what we doing at that moment in time.
I bit like how we can freeze in fear - it was an instinct beneficial to primitive man but just gets in the way nowdays.

This is aside from my defence of faith btw
I don't think we need faith to reduce anxiety (I'm sure there alternatives out there) and if I was wrong about the need for anxiety then I'd try and argue that faith need not reduce anxiety that far.


Strafio wrote:
But unless I successfully defended the Ideal first, defending the chasing of it couldn't even get started.

I needed to both defend the Ideal and only then could I start defending the chasing of it.

HisWillness wrote:
And from the Platonic point of view, that makes sense. From the behavioural point of view, however, the ideal is irrelevant. (To be clear, I'm just presenting a different angle to consider.) If having any goal whatsoever caused a hypothetical benefit, then what someone believed could be disregarded.

But even more difficult is the idea that we both know the ideal will never be obtained. So with the ideal, you're arguing for something that will never be an issue. Either way, we're left with the resulting behaviour of striving for the ideal.


Maybe I didn't explain myself at all because I'm not a Platonist at all so my position shouldn't be relying on such assumptions.

Let me use Rationality as an analogy.
DG has argued that Epistemic Rights is the process that makes us as rational as possible.
This means that if we want to be as rational as possible then we want to stick Epistemic Rights.
So Epistemic Rights can be justified if perfect rationality can justified.
Perfect rationality is an untouchable ideal, but once we recognise the Ideal to be good, we can use it to justify methods (e.g. Epistemic Rights) that enable to achieve this Ideal as humanly possible.

So in order to justify the process of sticking to the 4 rules, I justified it by claiming that it would develop a faith that was as ideal as possible.
This defence only works if "Ideal Faith" it a good thing.
So my argument is in two parts:
That Ideal A is good.
That Method B will achieve Ideal A as much as humanly possible.
Both parts are necessary.

HisWillness wrote:
Like the ideal, we know that no believer will ever stick to four rules at all times. We're not talking about robots or computer software, we're talking about people. It doesn't matter what the four rules are, they will be broken by a person. You have, then, another instance where the conclusion cannot be fulfilled, and the content of the rules (as a goal) is irrelevant.

Are Epistemic Rights irrelevant because human beings will never stick to them perfectly?
If you go back to Section 3 of the original post it discusses this issue. Take a look at the premises and see if you disagree.
You have a point that my topic hasn't managed to solve every single issue regarding faith, that there is more work to be done.
But Rome wasn't built in a day so please allow me to take this one step at a time! Very Sad

All I want to establish in this topic is:
1) Ideal Faith is a good thing - The unreachable Ideal where the theist's unjustified beliefs:
a) Do not misinform their practical decisions
b) Provide them with psychological benefits

2) The 4 rules provide a practical approach to this
That if followed, the 4 rules will make faith as Ideal as we can reasonably expect from the real world.


btw, the fact that you've found other issues rather than raise direct objections to these two claims, does that mean you find my arguments for these 2 points valid? Sticking out tongue

 


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Strafio wrote:My thesis is

Strafio wrote:
My thesis is that there are some cases where this rejection is justifiable by practical reason, that it can be rational to hold to "irrational" beliefs on faith.

deludedgod wrote:
There is no need to put scare quotes around irrational. If a person consciously rejects their epistemic rights, then what they are doing is irrational. They are acknowledging that they cannot justify a belief. They are acknowledging that epistemic rights are necessary for accuracy (which they are). And they are still accepting the proposition on the grounds of psychological consequences which (hopefully, if they had any understanding of logic at all) they would recognize as invalid.

I wanted to highlight that you're making a claim about whether it's rational or irrational for someone to do something.
That is, you are saying that their actions are not the rational approach in order to meet their aims.
The thing is, I think you are making unjustified assumptions over what their aims are, which is why I disagree with that last sentence.
Accepting a proposition as true because of consequences is a fallacy because the consequences of a proposition have no effect on whether it is true.
So if someone's aim is to be as accurate as possible then reasoning by consequences will contract their aim.
Notice I said "if".

Your arguments seem to work with the underlying premise that their aim is to be as accurate as possible.
Premise 2b questioned whether this is always the case.
It claimed that we needed accuracy in our beliefs when they informed our decisions, but didn't believe that there were any other reasons to be accurate.
If so, a person would only be rationally required to keep accurate beliefs when these beliefs were informing decisions.
Otherwise it would not be irrational to dismiss the need for accuracy, and with it the need to abide by Epistemic Rights.

From here I'm going to highlight arguments you presented why people should aim for accuracy:
deludedgod wrote:
But if they were familiar with their epistemic rights, then they would either have to downgrade accuracy or to consciously reject their epistemic rights, because they would know that epistemic rights are necessary for accuracy. The latter would by definition result in the formation of irrational beliefs. If they consciously put aside their epistemic rights, then they consciously reject the need to have their beliefs accurate and rational. If they still maintain these beliefs on the grounds that they are emotionally fulfilling and virtuous, then this is a logical fallacy of argument from consequences.

In practical reason, an action is rational or irrational depending on whether the predicted consequences will meet the agent's aims.
So argument from consequences is not a fallacy in practical reason - consequences are the entire point of the argument.
Remember, I'm not arguing that the theist is right, that their belief in God is true.
I'm saying that it can be in their rational best interests to believe in God as it will provide consequences that is good for their life.
Posting arguments that say "well this will cause them to have irrational beliefs" will only be effective if you also justify that it's against their best interests to have such irrational beliefs.


deludedgod wrote:
The other problem with formulating a belief this way is: what happens when someone presents a counterargument? Some ontological problem with their beliefs, for example. A counterargument cannot be avoided as easily as a call for evidence can.

Is this argument normative or descriptive?
If it is descriptive then you seem to be saying that with a counter argument they will be psychologically unable to brush it aside like they did with the demand for evidence.
Perhaps this will result in an inability for them to believe any more.
I think this is true - it would explain why many modern Christians are a fan of the God of Gaps, and why many theists tend to see "The Argument from Evil" as the most serious threat to their faith, the one that needs defending against.

If you're bringing forward a normative complaint, that they shouldn't brush aside counter arguments like they do for demands for evidence, then I'd say it depends.
Once again I'd depend it down the practicalities of the situation.
To be honest, I struggle to think of a situation where someone would be psychologically capable of dismissing a counter argument that they understood.
And if they were psychologically capable then I expect that the practical reasoning would still turn against it.
The only situation I can think of is where the opponent did not understand the argument presented to them, so the question would be whether they should make the extra effort to understand and it would become analogous to the call for evidence.

deludedgod wrote:
Furthermore, what happens when multiple people, due to their rejection of their epistemic rights, reach differing conclusions which are mutually exclusive. In this case at least one of the beliefs in question must not only be irrational, but false.

Remember that "What's true for me might not be true for you" thing going around modern religion that comes across all PC and/or New-Agey?
Turns out that many modern theists have recognised that reason is necessary for objectivity.
In giving up reason they have correctly given objectivity too.
(Remember, I'm not talking about giving up objectivity completely - just where the reason given in 2b doesn't apply, situations where accuracy isn't required.)


deludedgod wrote:
You seem to think that epistemic rights constitute an extra effort (like stringent justification). But they don't.

Well consider this argument.
Either we abide by epistemic rights naturally or we don't.
If we did then we would be much more rational beings and would have no place to complain about each other's irrationality.
Since this is not the case then we're clearly not abiding by epistemic rights naturally.
In that case, it does require extra effort.

Not a huge amount of effort compared to a stringent justification, I agree, but extra effort compared to just going along naturally.


deludedgod wrote:
The justification of having beliefs accurate is not because of the role they play in our lives. It's because we think that they are accurate.

I don't see this as a valid argument in practical reason.
1) We think our beliefs are accurate
C) Therefore we should make the extra effort to make sure they are accurate.

Perhaps if I re-wrote it with the extra premise:
1) We think our beliefs are accurate
2) We should make the extra effort to ensure that we are right in thinking they are accurate
C) Therefore we should make the extra effort to make sure they are accurate.

The thing is, I disagree with premise 2.
If we're wrong in thinking that a belief is accurate, where is the harm in that?


deludedgod wrote:
If a person was versed in epistemology and thus knew their epistemic rights, then a conscious rejection of them would be equivalent to a conscious rejection of accuracy because they would know that epistemic rights were necessary for accuracy. If they didn't, then they wouldn't really possess the machinery necessary to ensure that any of their beliefs were rational at all!

Not all. People compartmentalize.
They abide by epistemic rights for certain beliefs but don't find them relevant to others.
I see no reason why someone can't abide by epistemic rights for beliefs that affect their decision-making but are happy to let that way of thinking go when they dwelve into their religion.




Summary
In Premise 2b I challenged you to find alternative justifications to why we need beliefs to be accurate, other than to correctly inform our decisions.
Your reply seemed to be mostly be addressed to meet this challenge.
The only bits I deleted were arguments that followed from "beliefs need to be accurate" being established.
For the record, those arguments were valid, I just disagree on the premise that they were founded on.
So it seems that our disagreement at this point seems to be down to whether people ought to be making the extra effort to ensure accurate beliefs.

I've not been convinced by any of your arguments so far but I expect you're not going to be giving up too soon.
If you succeed then you will blow my arguments defending faith out of the water.
Best of luck!! thumbs up
You're going to need it!! Evil


BobSpence
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I still see that the idea of

I still see that the idea of a faith that does not have any effect on 'practical' decisions, not just consciously 'inform' them, is either extremely unlikely, or unlikely to be the sort of 'faith' that would appeal to anyone who took their faith seriously. I am not even sure you could easily show that any actual set of beliefs met that criterion.

It may be a problem even establishing that the faith itself is definitely having a significant overall positive effect on their life, rather than that certain personality types who tended to a more relaxed and/or enthusiastic outlook on life also were more likely to adopt faith-based world-views. It does seem likely that such people would also not be inclined to worry about the strict accuracy of their beliefs. IOW their outlook may not be so much due to their faith as you might think. Maybe such people would be equally happy with more accurate, non-faith-based, belief systems.

I will concede that when there are actually significant real reasons to be pessimistic about the future, it may well be more conducive to happiness to adopt beliefs which allow us to ignore many unpleasant aspects of reality. Unfortunately, if too many people do this, it almost guarantees that those problems are not going to be adequately addressed.

Of course, if there ultimately is no solution to the problems facing us, then maybe we should all just shut out reality and binge out on drugs and crazy but comforting beliefs and enjoy what's left of civilization....

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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Of course I'm sceptcal... I'm an atheist.

 lol.

It seems as though you are using the rules and points and definitions that you've developed yourself as the authority to debunk all dissension to the same statements.  Sound familiar?

Keep using those lawyerly loop-holes and your on the way to creating yet another denomination  if not another religion. lol  Get a building and a cable TV feed and I bet there's some money in it.

Faith - " Belief in what ya know ain't so"...  close enough to what Mr. Clemens said.  No matter how you package it, dilute it, sugar coat it or justify it...  it's unnecessary and supports irrational thought that humans need to outgrow if we're going to survive.  It may feel warm and fuzzy but so does heroine.


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Strafio wrote: Strafio

Strafio wrote:

 

Strafio wrote:


So to clarify what I'm arguing here:
I agree that Epistemic Rights are necessary to ensure that our beliefs are as rational as possible.
However, I think it can be justifiable by practical reason to have faith (thereby rejecting Epistemic Rights) so long as certain conditions are met.

aiia wrote:
So you agree epistemic rights are necessary [to ensure that beliefs are as rational as possible] but yet, you reject epistemic rights [in situations where there is no need for the beliefs to be rational and psychological benefits to be gained for ignoring them]?

Yes. That sums up my position nicely. 

I guess you don't see your self refutation here?

If you reject epistemic rights because conditions are met, then you are not agreeing that epistemic rights are necessary for utmost rationality.

You're trying to give your argument a loophole by inserting the adjective "practical" in front of the word reason. "Practical" is a vague subjective convenience rendering the argument unsound.

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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BobSpence1 wrote:I still see

BobSpence1 wrote:
I still see that the idea of a faith that does not have

any effect

 

on

'practical' decisions, not just consciously 'inform' them, is either extremely unlikely, or unlikely to be the sort of 'faith' that would appeal to anyone who took their faith seriously. I am not even sure you could easily show that any actual set of beliefs met that criterion.


Hmmm...
To be honest, I was only looking to stop faith beliefs consciously informing 
Any subconscious effect would surely come under "psychological consequences"?


BobSpence1 wrote:
It may be a problem even establishing that the faith itself is definitely having a significant overall positive effect on their life, rather than that certain personality types who tended to a more relaxed and/or enthusiastic outlook on life also were more likely to adopt faith-based world-views. It does seem likely that such people would also not be inclined to worry about the strict accuracy of their beliefs. IOW their outlook may not be so much due to their faith as you might think. Maybe such people would be equally happy with more accurate, non-faith-based, belief systems.

You're right.
This subject isn't going to have instant clear cut answers.
I think this is why many people have a very subjective approach to religion.
Rather than encourage a particular set of beliefs they encourage believers to go on a journey, try things out and see what works for them.
In Section 3 I made an analogy to trying out Yoga, seeing how it went, keeping an eye for problems and making changes accordingly.
Would you agree that's a rational approach to life, and that someone would be rationally justified in taking that approach to faith?
 

BobSpence1 wrote:
I will concede that when there are actually significant real reasons to be pessimistic about the future, it may well be more conducive to happiness to adopt beliefs which allow us to ignore many unpleasant aspects of reality. Unfortunately, if too many people do this, it almost guarantees that those problems are not going to be adequately addressed.

Interestingly, I see this as contradicting the rules.
If someone's faith is causing someone to hide from problems rather than solving them then I'd say there was a problem.
What I had in mind with psychological consequences is kind of based on the Christians I met while at University.
I saw them being very positive, energetic, friendly, with a drive of selflessness to do well.
I'm not saying that these characteristics are limited to religious people but religion can certainly inspire them.


aiia wrote:
You're trying to give your argument a loophole by inserting the adjective "practical" in front of the word reason. "Practical" is a vague subjective convenience rendering the argument unsound.

A bit cynical.
Have you never come across Practical Reason before?
Read the link. You'll see that I didn't make it up.

Practical Reason is about what a person should do to achieve their aims.
E.g. Mr Bean wants a boiled egg, therefore it would be rational for him to put an egg in boiling water, and irrational to crack it into a frying pan.
This is different to theoretical reason what someone should believe, if they want their belief to be as accurate as possible.
So Epistemic Rights ensure that a belief is as accurate as possible.
But should someone need to make their belief as accurate as possible?
Depending on practical reasoning, it might be rational not to.

 


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Strafio wrote:Let me use

Strafio wrote:
Let me use Rationality as an analogy.DG has argued that Epistemic Rights is the process that makes us as rational as possible.

I'm not making this assertion in my argument with you, though. Let's start again:

Let the Ideal Faith = A

Let striving for the Ideal Faith = B

A does not equal B

You're arguing that establishing A as good shows that B is good, but I can't agree, unless you extend your analysis to "striving", which would address my largest problem with your argument.

Strafio wrote:
Are Epistemic Rights irrelevant because human beings will never stick to them perfectly?

No, because it's an egregious error to violate epistemic rights, and it's possible to acknowledge epistemic rights; but there's no way to tell if someone isn't following a "striving" for an ideal that we know that they will never acheive. Those two things can't be compared.

Strafio wrote:
1) Ideal Faith is a good thing - The unreachable Ideal where the theist's unjustified beliefs:
a) Do not misinform their practical decisions
b) Provide them with psychological benefits

IF we decide that Ideal Faith is good (and again, I don't even care how we define "good" ), then we're still left with the fact that Ideal Faith in and of itself affects no other part of your argument, unless striving for that Ideal Faith is good.

For instance, if Ideal Faith were not only bad, but The Greatest Evil Possible, but striving for it was good, then our judgment of Ideal Faith would not be important, because we recognize that it's the striving that people will actually be doing, since they will never achieve the ideal. Everything up to achieving is striving, by my definition.

Strafio wrote:
2) The 4 rules provide a practical approach to this
That if followed, the 4 rules will make faith as Ideal as we can reasonably expect from the real world.

Okay, let's look again at the four rules:

Strafio wrote:
1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence

This is an unreasonable expectation from human beings, who make largely emotional decisions.

Strafio wrote:
2) The believer must have an open mind. A willingness to learn and change.

This one's reasonable, but again rests on the ridiculousness of ideas being presented. Having an open mind is one thing, but the things people ask you to take on faith can be silly. Rejecting the silly things means you wouldn't require faith.

Strafio wrote:
3) Issues of morality need to be settled through reason

No faith-based system of belief engages in active morality. Morality is solved by example or precedent in faith-based paradigms. That's not to say that a rationally-based system of belief always ignores precedent, but a rationally-based active morality has the option to disregard precedent, whereas a faith-based morality does not (having the necessity of a Superhuman Authority behind it).

Strafio wrote:
4) Issues of psychology need to be settled through reason

Through these four rules, you've demonstrated the needlessness of faith-based thought. I don't know if that was your intention, as you say that you're arguing for faith being "reasonable". But with these four rules, you demonstrate how someone can act rationally, despite any faith they might have. If you're discussing such a person having a cognitive dissonance or something, I can see that, but you've made a strong case for faith being completely irrelevant.

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Strafio wrote:Aha!! The

Strafio wrote:

Aha!! The laywer inside of me especially worded rule 1 to counter this objection. Eye-wink
Notice that rule 1 didn't say "Beliefs that affect practical decisions", it said "Beliefs that inform practical decisions"
e.g. If we're making ourselves a boat, we need correct information on what materials float.

There's plenty of ways for faith beliefs to have a psychological effect without having to provide information.
One example is how most of our actions don't require consciously thought out decisions.
We simply act on habit and instinct.
Perhaps it is possible for faith beliefs to have an effect on these habits and instincts for the better.
Another example is that information isn't the only thing that affects out decisions.
Whether we use this information to its full rational potential depends on our state of mind.
If we're stressed or tired then it negatively effects our ability to make rational decisions.
If someone's faith was making them more vigorous and relaxed then this would clearly affect their decision making for the better, even though this faith belief was providing no information towards the decision at hand.

These are the two examples off the top of my head.
I'm sure there are plenty more out there.

Okay.

Quote:
I'm not quite sure of the question here?
Is it a question of why the believer would allow themselves to have faith in somethings and not in others?
Or is it a question of how the believer could belief X to be true but at the same time keep X from informing decisions?
(If it was neither, just rephrase the question for me and I'll try and answer it!)

The second.

Quote:
In answer to the second one, let me point you towards 2c in the original post.
It showed how people can have beliefs that they believe are true, but don't use them to inform decisions.
They put out clauses like "It doesn't work like that" or "God won't allow it to be treated that way"
I think that there are many examples of current religious beliefs that contain these mechanisms.

True, but this will not be case in all scenarios. If an individual holds a belief and that belief has implications on the real world, then, automatically, the belief must affect the individual's decisions. If the individual dismisses his/her belief for all practical decisions, then it would follow that the individual never really believed these things at all. I think the only way this could be avoided is if these beliefs, by definition, or themselves dictated, that they could not affect practical decisions. So, instead of,

"1) Beliefs that inform practical decisions need to be based on evidence."

Maybe, 1) The beliefs do not or cannot inform practical decisions?

Wow, my rule disqualifies virtually all faith-based beliefs.  

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Obviously we are just

Obviously we are just talking past each other because all the time I have and (probably will continue to) use rational and reason to refer explicitly to theoretical reason, the justification for beliefs, because in forming my own beliefs I have tried, to the greatest extent, to keep practical and theoretical reasoning separate, as they should be. Whereas action should be predicated upon practical reason, beliefs insofar as I strive to make them accurate should always be predicated on theoretical reasoning. It simply makes no sense whatsoever to predicate beliefs upon practical reasoning, because reality does not necessarily operate according to those beliefs which we would perceive as what would be best for us, and is nor predicated upon our psychological well-being. Anyway, the part that caught my attention was this:

Quote:

Is this argument normative or descriptive?

Both. Unless a person has serious problems with their mental faculties, a well-understood counterargument which the individual could not refute would invariably cause cognitive dissonance. It is also normative

Quote:


If you're bringing forward a normative complaint, that they shouldn't brush aside counter arguments like they do for demands for evidence, then I'd say it depends.
Once again I'd depend it down the practicalities of the situation.

I didn't bring it up. You did. Rule 2. The believer must have a willingness to keep an open mind and change beliefs accordingly (which I find oddly contradictory to the very notion of "faith" but, anyway...) this means that they cannot brush aside a well-put together counterargument, as that would be in violation of the rules you proposed.

Quote:


To be honest, I struggle to think of a situation where someone would be psychologically capable of dismissing a counter argument that they understood.
And if they were psychologically capable then I expect that the practical reasoning would still turn against it.

If they held their belief with such blind conviction that the consequences of the belief for them trumped a counterargument implying the belief was false, this would be indicative that the belief was causing serious problems with their ability to form decisions rationally and consequently would be detrimental to them. Also, remember that a counterargument is not like a call for evidence. A belief can be unjustified but still true. It cannot be false and true. Thus, for their practical reasoning on the benefits of the belief to trump its falsehood (as opposed to lack of justification) would be in violation of rule 2.

Quote:


Remember that "What's true for me might not be true for you" thing going around modern religion that comes across all PC and/or New-Agey?
Turns out that many modern theists have recognised that reason is necessary for objectivity.
In giving up reason they have correctly given objectivity too.
(Remember, I'm not talking about giving up objectivity completely - just where the reason given in 2b doesn't apply, situations where accuracy isn't required.)

Yes, I have indeed encountered such a defense.

Unfortunately, it shoots itself in the foot. "Logical consistency" is not an arbitrary set of rules that somehow magically do not apply to certain sets of propositions. These days, I tend to view such defenses as confirmation that my theistic interlocutor is a vapid idiot who is incapable of seeing how breathtakingly inane such a claim is. To be more precise, to defend the truth value of two contradictory claims on the grounds of relativism is an arbitrarily introduced special pleading fallacy and an ad hoc defense.

 

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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