Yes, faith is irrational--accept it.

jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
Yes, faith is irrational--accept it.

Good day R.R.S. In this post, I would like to do my best to explain my opinions/thoughts concerning faith. In a lot of posts recently, there have been plenty of debate over irrational beliefs such as faith. My goal here today is to explain why all believers should accept that faith is irrational.

First off, I don't think that saying faith is irrational is a derogatory or rude comment. Instead, it is merely a honest assesment of the meaning of 'faith.' This is a position that many theists don't claim to hold. My goal here today is mainly to speak to theists concerning the meaning of faith as I see it. Additionally, I will also try to reduce some of the claims made by the leaders of the R.R.S. in the kindest, most respectful way I can possibly communicate such things in.

I will start with my explanation of why faith is irrational; meant primarily for our theist readers. Although atheists may feel welcome to critique what I say as well if they feel so inclined. The definition of faith is where I would like to start.

Faith:

  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See synonyms at belief, trust.
  3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
  4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
  5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
  6. A set of principles or beliefs.

I highlighted the second part of the definition because it is the most important in the explanation that I am currently endeavoring to explain. This bolded definition is quite inescapably sound in its affirmation of the claim that faith is irrational. Before I go on further to defend what I've claimed, I would like to present another lengthy definition, this time of 'irrational.'

Irrational:

    1. Not endowed with reason.
    2. Affected by loss of usual or normal mental clarity; incoherent, as from shock.
    3. Marked by a lack of accord with reason or sound judgment: an irrational dislike.
    1. Being a syllable in Greek and Latin prosody whose length does not fit the metric pattern.
    2. Being a metric foot containing such a syllable.

The two highlighted parts of this definition are the most important to this explanation of why faith is irrational. But, before I use these bolded definitions, I must first, unfortunately provide one more definition, 'reason.'

Reason:

  1. The basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction. See Usage Note at because, why.
  2. A declaration made to explain or justify action, decision, or conviction: inquired about her reason for leaving.
  3. An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence: There is reason to believe that the accused did not commit this crime.
  4. The capacity for logical, rational, and analytic thought; intelligence.
  5. Good judgment; sound sense.
  6. A normal mental state; sanity: He has lost his reason.
  7. Logic. A premise, usually the minor premise, of an argument.

Ok, now with this last bolded statement I may enter the explanation and hopefully expose the core of my claim that faith is irrational.

To begin I will present the bolded statements in argument form as premises leading ultimately to my conclusion. [Note: All this is interpretative on my part and I in no way hold my explanation as anything more than it is; one man's opinion]

1. Faith is a Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

2. Reason is An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence.

3. Therefore, Faith is not founded on Reason because faith does not rest on "logical proof." (premise 1,2)

4. Irrationality is "Not endowed with reason"

5. Faith is not founded on Reason. (premise 1, 2, 3,)

6. Therefore, Faith is Irrational . (premise, 1,2,3,4,5)

 

As it stands, that is my argument as to why faith is irrational. Remember if you will to the first sentence of my second paragraph in this post, "I don't think that saying faith is irrational is a derogatory or rude comment." Therefore, I don't think that any theist or person who has faith different from theism should take offense to my argument. Why should they not take offense? That is something I will now endeavor to explain.

In recent times, there have been a lot of effort to "prove" God and his existence. In my humble opinion, this is the wrong thing to do. Why is it wrong? Well, because essentially those who try to "prove" God are attempting to make faith a rational belief. Yet, I have just shown that this is apparently impossible by virtue of the very definition of faith.

What this shows to me, is a person of faith's desire to substantiate his belief with something that shouldn't substantiate a person's faith, namely rationality. In other words, If a person searches for rational explanations to an irrational belief, it appears to me that their faith is something that cannot subsist along side rationality without its support (rationality's support that is). By doing so, it seems to me that this takes something away from a persons faith when they refuse to let faith stand alone and be distinct from that which it is truly meant to be distinct from. If we (as human beings) could ever prove God, then why would we ever need faith? Wouldn't a belief in him become rational and supported by logical evidence? Ultimately, to say that faith is NOT irrational is to claim something that is false. Faith is Irrational and that's not a rude comment toward a believer, it is a true assertion of what it means to have faith, namely, to have their faith be outside the realm of human rationality.

The last part of my explanation of why faith is irrational, is an explanation of why I feel faith is not a delusion or mind disorder. This will be a difficult task and I'm sure quite open for many refutations. Although, I still feel that my words are needed and may touch on points which have rational appeal. I would like start with a definition I'm sure a lot of us are familiar with:

Delusion

    1. The act or process of deluding.
    2. The state of being deluded.
  1. A false belief or opinion: labored under the delusion that success was at hand.
  2. Psychiatry. A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness: delusions of persecution.

Before, I begin, I would like to reiterate what I said earlier. This is my attempt to in the most respectful and humble way I can possibly say this in, to critique the statements made by some of the R.R.S. founders. As well as those who hold the following statement to be true:

Fighting to free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism. [From the R.R.S. website banner.]

The goals of my critique are to explain why faith is not a mind disorder. Now, perhaps you weren't specifically speaking of faith in general, but specifically theism. Forgive me if my inference is misplaced. Therefore, for the sake of not putting words in the mouths of my friends, I will merely stick to attempting to defend theism as not being a mind disorder.

For my purposes, I will leave out specific aspects of theism and only focus on faith in God's existence. This to me seems something that would not do violence to the meaning of the R.R.S. slogan. Continuing from what was discussed earlier in my argument for faith being irrational, I would like to present an argument that would hope to explain why faith in God's existence, while being an irrational belief (faith), is not a mind disorder, or more properly termed, delusion.

Above, I presented the definition of a delusion. I also highlighted in bold, the points which I feel are most important to our discussion. First off, I will address the second definition which is, " A false belief or opinion". I'm sure some of you may already know where I am going to go with this, and I apologize if I am making a huge logical mistake along the way that has escaped my awareness. What I feel this definition does is exclude a belief in God's existence as being delusional because the belief in God's existence is a contingent belief (Either true or false). Therefore, under the second definition of delusion, the belief in God's existence cannot be rightly judged as delusional because it is not known to be false (yet).

The next definition of 'delusion' is perhaps the most difficult to overcome and where I may falter the most. The third definition is the following, "A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence." Now ignoring the "a false belief part" I will primarily focus on the "strongly held (belief) in spite of invalidating evidence" part. This third definition of delusion is what I feel most here at the R.R.S. base their judgment that theism is a delusion. The judgment would go something like the following:

There is no evidence that God exists. Therefore, believing in God in the face of this evidence is a delusional belief.

Forgive me if I've oversimplified the judgment of the R.R.S. What this leaves out in my mind, is the fact that there may be evidence in favor in God's existence one day in the future. Granted granted, I know this is a horrible reason for someone to believe in God, but please let me finish. What I am implying by saying that we don't have any evidence yet, is that it importantly renders the belief in God's existence a contingent belief based on the current lack of evidence. This is redundant perhaps from my previous comments on the first definition of delusion. Although, I feel it does address the judgment that belief in God is a delusion. My explanation accomplishes this by accepting that there is in fact no evidence for God's existence at present, but this lack of evidence is not enough to rule out God's existence definitively. Therefore, without the certainty of a belief being false (The belief in God's existence) that belief cannot be deemed delusional. Following my understanding of delusion, a belief would be delusional only if it was definitively proven to be false, and yet someone still believed in it.

Without making my post any longer than it has to be, I will conclude with one final comment.

This last part of explanation is perhaps the most important part of my goal in writing this. It is the part where I explain how I personally, and others perhaps, deal with the holding of an irrational belief. To hold an irrational belief is not enough to deem a whole person as an irrational being. Therefore, for a person have an irrational faith does not re-define their self as an completely irrational self. Now granted, this may not be a radical view and perhaps those of you who don't have faith don't think this way towards those of us who have faith. Still, I feel it is important to mention and throw out there, because I find that perhaps (I am guessing here) it is one of the reasons why theists don't want to admit that faith is irrational because of how being known to hold an irrational belief may affect other peoples perception of their rationality. In reality, chances are, we all (atheist and theist and whatever else you can think of) hold some sort of irrational belief. Whether it be hope, an ideal, or belief in deity, they are all equally irrational.

In closing, may I say a last few words. First off, thank you for reading this till the end. Secondly, I want to say thank you to the R.R.S. and everyone on this site. Lastly, I would like apologize for any remarks which I have made which may have offended, insulted, or rubbed someone the wrong way. My comments are merely my own and do not in any way speak for the "theist" community at large. If I have offended you, just let me know how I have done so, I would love to see if I intentionally meant to or if it was a mistake. Good day to you all and may you have a pleasant evening.

 

[Note: Answers.com is where I got all of my definitions.]

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
bump

bump


inspectormustard
atheist
inspectormustard's picture
Posts: 537
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
I'll borrow an idea from

I'll borrow an idea from Sam Harris here:

The idea that belief in a God is not essentially dilussional is unsound in that one could say the same thing about the refrigerator sized diamond buried in my backyard. Every weekend my family and I go out to the backyard and dig furiously for this diamond. This digging serves to unite my family and I toward a common goal and we all have fun doing it. There is no material evidence for the diamond, but the journals of my forefathers say that it must be there.

 I have faith that we will eventually find the diamond and we can live in luxury for the rest of our days knowing that our children's children will be provided for.

 Random House Unabridged definition of delusional:

1.an act or instance of deluding.
2.the state of being deluded.
3.a false belief or opinion: delusions of grandeur.
4.Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.

 

 Random House Unabridged definition of deluding (obsolete definitions included for completeness):

1.to mislead the mind or judgment of; deceive: His conceit deluded him into believing he was important.
2.Obsolete. to mock or frustrate the hopes or aims of.
3.Obsolete. to elude; evade

 
1. My trust in my ancestors has deluded me into believing that there is a diamond buried in my backyard.
2. My delusion manifests in the form of weekend spelunking and more digging.
3. Ultrasound spectrography would probably show that there are no diamonds the size of a refrigerator in my backyard, let alone any diamond caches whatsoever and
4. Such evidence would not convince me to give up my belief in the diamond because
5. New evidence may present itself which will prove that the diamond exists such as
6. Me digging it up.


sapphen
Theist
sapphen's picture
Posts: 232
Joined: 2007-01-22
User is offlineOffline
very nice jread. i totally

very nice jread. i totally agree with you and applaud your process.

i've tried writing some things to add to it, but i don't believe i can! very detailed. (if i where you, i would almost consider writing a more summarize version for the speed readers, while using the first post as a strong backing).

thanks for the post, great thought process.

May God bless us and give us the words to express our ideas in a creative and civil manner, while providing us an ear that we may truly hear each other, and a voice to clearly project our thoughts.


sapphen
Theist
sapphen's picture
Posts: 232
Joined: 2007-01-22
User is offlineOffline
HAHA! very funny and

HAHA! very funny and interesting mustard. i too searched for that diamond in my backyard. every weekend i kept looking and digging. then after a while i gave up.. went inside to get a drink and realized that my refrigerator was in fact the DIAMOND!!

religion doesn't say we have a special prize to look for, it says that we already posses the item we just have to claim it. reflecting thoughts and ideas to a physical example can be very misleading...

i have proof that God exists by my experiences and reason but it would be irrational for me to ask you to believe. i suggest that you keep digging other places than your backyard. try your pockets or your room it could be anywhere... but if you keep on looking i will promise that you will find it!

May God bless us and give us the words to express our ideas in a creative and civil manner, while providing us an ear that we may truly hear each other, and a voice to clearly project our thoughts.


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
inspectormustard

inspectormustard wrote:

I'll borrow an idea from Sam Harris here:

The idea that belief in a God is not essentially dilussional is unsound in that one could say the same thing about the refrigerator sized diamond buried in my backyard. Every weekend my family and I go out to the backyard and dig furiously for this diamond. This digging serves to unite my family and I toward a common goal and we all have fun doing it. There is no material evidence for the diamond, but the journals of my forefathers say that it must be there.

I have faith that we will eventually find the diamond and we can live in luxury for the rest of our days knowing that our children's children will be provided for.

Random House Unabridged definition of delusional:

1.an act or instance of deluding.
2.the state of being deluded.
3.a false belief or opinion: delusions of grandeur.
4.Psychiatry. a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact: a paranoid delusion.

 

Random House Unabridged definition of deluding (obsolete definitions included for completeness):

1.to mislead the mind or judgment of; deceive: His conceit deluded him into believing he was important.
2.Obsolete. to mock or frustrate the hopes or aims of.
3.Obsolete. to elude; evade


1. My trust in my ancestors has deluded me into believing that there is a diamond buried in my backyard.
2. My delusion manifests in the form of weekend spelunking and more digging.
3. Ultrasound spectrography would probably show that there are no diamonds the size of a refrigerator in my backyard, let alone any diamond caches whatsoever and
4. Such evidence would not convince me to give up my belief in the diamond because
5. New evidence may present itself which will prove that the diamond exists such as
6. Me digging it up.

I very much like your analogy with the diamond as a comparison to a religious belief in God. Although, I don't see how your analogy supports a view of a belief in God as being a delusional belief.

It seems like with the diamond in the back yard it would be a delusional belief, because as you stated, you can just dig up your whole back yard in an effort to find out if there is a diamond buried there. But, with a belief in God, the accessibility of such tests for the believed existence of God are quite difficult to come by. So in the case of having a belief in God, it seems that the task of investigating such a belief's truthhood or falsehood is quite outside the realm of human capacity.  Whether or not this is a delusional belief, is still something I would not agree with. Yet, I will agree, that the untestablility of a belief in God does make it quite irrational and difficult to grasp...But not delusional because we cannot, as of yet, find out conclusively if God exists or doesn't exist. Therefore, in my opinion, the belief is merely irrational, but not delusional. Because if I am properly understanding the meaning of 'delusion' then the belief would need to be proven false in order for it to a delusional belief to hold. 

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
sapphen wrote: very nice

sapphen wrote:
very nice jread. i totally agree with you and applaud your process. i've tried writing some things to add to it, but i don't believe i can! very detailed. (if i where you, i would almost consider writing a more summarize version for the speed readers, while using the first post as a strong backing). thanks for the post, great thought process.

Thanks for the compliments sapphen. You're a cool guy Eye-wink  

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
bump

bump


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2650
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Has 'Harvey the giant

Has 'Harvey the giant talking rabbit' been proven false or true?

See? This is what opens those questions.

In my opinion, it isn't a 'contingent' issue upon whether god exists or not. It is an issue of believing in things not evidential based upon assertion rather than experiment.

It's a mental play using our present ignorance.

If we don't understand why then why not? is absolutely irrational.

However,

If we don't understand 'why this' then 'this is true' is delusional.

By their very nature those two statements are logical fallacies. The mind disorder part comes in when theism asserts that one of those two statements is true despite being logically false. It is a rejection of reality not just a mere avoidance of issues to the contrary that causes me to label theism as a mind disorder. 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
First of all Jread, I want

First of all Jread, I want to compliment you on a very well-thought-out post.  You are bang-on when you realize that faith is irrational, and that theists, in seeking rational grounds for belief in God, are missing one of the biggest points of religion: that God is supposed to be beyond human understanding. If God left evidence of himself lying around, that would violate our free will in that it would force our belief in him and obviate the need for faith, which is held to be a good thing in and of itself. All of which begs the question why God designed the universe in such a fucked up way, but whatever...

I do have a couple issues with your conclusions, however.

 First of all, while the existence of God certainly should be held as a contingent belief, holding a belief on faith necessarily means that it is not. Ask a theist what evidence would convince him to stop believing in God: the answer will always be "none." Theistic faith means holding a belief regardless of the evidence. That means that all beliefs held on faith are non-contingent. There is no possibility of falsification - the theory of God is the ultimate non-falsifiable. In science, that means its a bad theory, but most theists don't seem inclined to listen to scientists.  

I'm less inclined to waste a lot of time parsing the exact words of the definition of "delusion." I think the RRS's statement is a statement of opinion, and in some sense subjective. My question to you would be this: what do we say of people who, on any other topic, hold beliefs that are not contingent on evidence? If your neighbour told you one day that he was getting really annoyed with the invisible Martian spacecraft hovering over his front lawn, would you let him borrow your car the next day? If the plumber who showed up at your house was wearing a tin foil hat to keep out the Regalian mind-control rays, would you let him into your house?

Theistic beliefs are in these exact same categories. But while Mr. Tin Foil can't get a bank card, the president of the bank is probably a theist holding beliefs no less unbelievable on no greater evidence. Calling theistic beliefs delusion is only to put them on their proper plane with other beliefs that have the same level of support.

Now, we can argue about whether it is fair to characterize someone as crazy, or even irrational, overall because they have one or two irrational beliefs. Maybe Mr. Tin Foil Hat is an excellent plumber and a really nice guy. But since when do we afford any level of respect to the beliefs themselves? When and why did it become out of bounds for rational people to point out the irrationality of other people's beliefs? Shouldn't that be considered a public service? Instead, theists have us all thinking its the height of rudeness. Strange that they don't seem to take the same position when a car salesman expresses the irrational belief to them that the car in front of them is the deal of a lifetime. 

Lastly, I do want to address the flaw that Darth Josh pointed out: in logic, we don't take no evidence as evidence in support. If we are to accept the rather evident fact that people can imagine things that are not real, we must find some way to establish parsimony and prune away theories that are unnecessary and unsupported. As of this writing, God is firmly in that category. 

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


theotherguy
theotherguy's picture
Posts: 294
Joined: 2007-01-07
User is offlineOffline
If I beleived there were an

If I beleived there were an invisible, magical green lobster sitting on my head that defied all scientific testing, and dogmatically held this belief in spite of the lack of evidence as well as the irrationality of the thing as a whole, would I be called merely irrational or would I be considered delusional?

 What if I beleived in this lobster so strongly I'd be willing to kill myself to do its bidding? If I beleived the lobster controlled my actions through invisible, metaphysical tugs with his spindly green invisible claws?

 I do beleive I would be considered delusional rather than irrational, and the beleif in a personal God is just as irrational, just as ridiculous, just as delusional as a belief in an invisible lobster sitting on my head controlling all my actions.


sapphen
Theist
sapphen's picture
Posts: 232
Joined: 2007-01-22
User is offlineOffline
i DO understand what you

i DO understand what you are saying...  but isn't it a little unfair to compare a belief that has existed for centuries to a green lobster.  i am not saying that because everyone else believed that we should. i am saying that we need to answer and seek questions, discuss intelligently and rational, and explore our beliefs.  not over simplify something to a phyisical object sitting on your head.

we are talking about something that many people in the past and today say influence their life and that it is from a different "realm" beyond our physical one.  these people seem perfectly rational and intelligent other than that one belief.  i think our arguments goes deeper than a silly little creature that is invisible.

i do respect your opinion though and i don't mean to offend.  though your answer does seem like one would be delusional, i think it would be very bias and not respectable to sum up that religious people are "delusional" and have a mind disorder.  if you do want to effectively argue your case, for some people, it isn't best to start out with an insult.  although i am not personally insulted, others make take offense.  i guess it would be left up to ones personal tact.

i don't know though.. mull it around.

May God bless us and give us the words to express our ideas in a creative and civil manner, while providing us an ear that we may truly hear each other, and a voice to clearly project our thoughts.


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
Thanks for the posts guys!

Thanks for the posts guys! I really appreciate you taking the time to go through the entirety of my long post. I wanted to keep this post "bumped" so that way I could get feedback and criticism on exactly what you three have replied about, the delusional stuff.

First off, I find that each of you did a great job of forcing me into a position of honesty. Honesty,with myself, that my belief in God can arguably be a delusional belief. As much as I hate to admit it, it appears that not much can be said, by way of reason or explanation, that would satisfactorily prove that a belief in God is not delusional. The only thing I can think of to attempt to reply to your posts, have to do with the idea of a 'God' existing compared to a giant lobster existing in my backyard.

I have posted on this subject before in a posting called, "is there a difference between God and teapots?" And I was able to realize that really isn't a difference scientifically between the chances of teapots orbiting Jupiter and God existing somewhere in/or outside the universe. Although, it does seem that there is a difference between God and giant lobsters. I can't say anything scientifically or rationally to back up my judgment; the distinction I see between the two is primarily emotional. But, here is my main dilemma, is the comparison between a belief in God existing and a belief in a giant lobster existing in your backyard, an attempt to argue fallaciously via reductio ad absurdum? The question then is, is this argument via reductio ad absurdum being used correctly or is it being used as a fallacy? Truly, I venture to guess that it is being used correctly, (I wish my university offered more logic courses) but if someone would be so kind as to explain how this is a correct or incorrect usage of the argumentation style of reductio ad absurdum I would greatly appreciate it.

Lastly, I want to individually reply to those of you who posted.

darth_josh: I find what you said very interesting and convincing:

Quote:
If we don't understand 'why this' then 'this is true' is delusional.
When I read this, you immediately made me consider more skeptically my own beliefs. The only thing I can say to try to wriggle out of your well said statement, is that I am not entitled to use "true" in my belief in God. I would therefore, in a logical schema, be forced to admit the following of my belief in God, namely: My belief in God existence is based on an irrational faith. I feel that if phrased this way, I can escape the delusional label. Although, I feel you can rightly argue further and insist that even though I didn't type the word 'true' in my admittance, it was implied. Granted, I also see that possible implication, but I feel that there is a subtle difference. By not saying my belief is true, I am keeping it outside the realm of truth or falsehood. I think arguably, truth and falsehood are apart of rationality and have no affect on those things which are outside of rationality. Yet, once I say this, I'm sure that I've appeared as worthy of being written off as a lost cause who is unwilling to function in a rational discourse concerning his belief in God. If I may please be allowed to explain myself a little, I hopefully will be able to earn back your trust.

Clearly, a belief in God is irrational, I think we've established that. My only remaining hang-up is whether or not the belief is delusional. In my opinion, it's not delusional, but in your opinion it is. Continuing where I left off above, I wonder, if a belief in God is outside of rationality, can rationality be used to label it anything besides being merely "irrational"? I say this because delusional or 'delusion' involves a criteria of falsehood. Therefore, it would appear that 'delusion' is a word used to describe a belief that can be deduced in a rational schema as either true or false. I apoligize, I may sound like I'm repeating myself. But, I feel that perhaps delusional is a more correctly placed adjective among discussion concerning beliefs which are within the bounds of rationality. Although, this wouldn't be much of a deal, because there is a word that comes to my mind which seems to describe something that is outside of rationality, I think of words like crazy, hallucination, fabrication, etc etc. So, it appears like delusion may be a generous adjective to describe a belief in God.

Ultimately, I just don't feel like delusional is appropriate to describe a belief in God because a belief in God is based on irrational proof. Thereby, rendering a belief in God seemingly impervious to labels or descriptions that deal with beliefs that are within a rational probability, such as delusional. Let me know if this did anything to damage the delusional status of a belief in God. If it hasn't I can't say I wouldn't be surprised, it was merely my best effort to adress a specific nuance; I could very possibly have missed my goal.

 

Tilberian: I found this paragraph in your post most compelling and worth investigating:

Quote:
First of all, while the existence of God certainly should be held as a contingent belief, holding a belief on faith necessarily means that it is not. Ask a theist what evidence would convince him to stop believing in God: the answer will always be "none." Theistic faith means holding a belief regardless of the evidence. That means that all beliefs held on faith are non-contingent. There is no possibility of falsification - the theory of God is the ultimate non-falsifiable. In science, that means its a bad theory, but most theists don't seem inclined to listen to scientists.

I feel that you have pointed a broadly held aspect of Christianity, namely, that 'faith = truth.' Personally, I don't see this as the case. For myself, 'Faith = I have faith that it is True , but I realize it could be false.' This idea was what drove my argument that a belief in God is contingent. Granted, I do have emotional appeal to the truth of my belief, but fundamentally, I acknowledge that it is a contingent belief. I find this rather unsatisfactory though, because I only disagree with you based on my personal beliefs. On everything else you said, I agree with you concerning those who believe that Fatih = Truth. This (faith=truth) in my opinion, would therefore leave it completely open to say, "If you believe that x is true without proof of any kind, then x is delusional." The subtlety's of my personal beliefs may survive your arguments, but even then, I'm not so sure. Does my explanation of my own beliefs change your stance on whether a belief based on faith can be contingent or not?

And yeah, the non-falsifiability aspect of a belief in God is not very helpful either. Although, I would venture to say, that a belief in God could be falsified, if for example, a giant meteor was surely going to the Earth ending all life. I mean honestly, how could the bible reconcile that? Maybe that example and others like it, aren't ways in which a belief in God could be falsified, let me know.

Another thing I wanted to mention was in regards to what you said here,

Quote:
When and why did it become out of bounds for rational people to point out the irrationality of other people's beliefs? Shouldn't that be considered a public service?

I don't think it's out of bounds Eye-wink Quite the contrary, it is good to ask people for their justification. If there is none, then at least you have succeeded in pointing out that there is no rational justification behind their beliefs. In my personal experience, when I meet someone who believes firmly in their horoscope, I seriously want to question them about why they do. But, most often, I shrug it off and let it go because I don't want to offend them. Although, I wouldn't view questioning them as inherently bad thing to do, it's just something that makes things a little awkward for a while. But in the proper settings, questioning is all good in my book. And again, I find this answer unsatisfactory because there are many who feel differently than I do about these things, maybe they think it is a bad thing and you shouldn't do it. All I can say, is that I agree with you Tilberian, that a person who thinks that questioning is wrong, is quite seriously mistaken.

And lastly, God could arguably be something that has been made up by the imagination. A rather difficult possibility to overcome as a theist, revolves around ancient humans creating the idea of God to cope with the death of a friend or loved one. Or merely someone who was in your tribe. Death seems to be one of the impossible to ever doubt truths. Therefore, God could be a creation based on hope, desire, and longing for the one who you lost. I wish we could know for sure where the idea of God came from. Was it from God himself? Or was it imagined? Really tough thing to consider, because it is such a probable outcome that it was imagined based on our own imaginations today.

Theotherguy: Your specification of a personal God being delusional is quite interesting. Just to make sure I'm understanding you correctly, a belief in the existence of lobster in my backyard is merely irrational. But, once I think that the lobster is my friend, or does things for me, or hears my thoughts then I would be delusional. It's funny really, explaining it that way, I agree that if you believed in a lobster in my backyard is listening to my thoughts and caring about me, that would be a delusional belief. But, once I think of God hearing my thoughts and caring, I can't continue the same line of reasoning that leads to a delusional belief. I've explained a little of this thought process above, but nevertheless, I know that it is unsatisfactory that I cannot extend that same reasoning to God.

In conclusion, I realize that it appears I may have lost my attempts to argue that a belief in God is not delusional. I just want you to know that I apoligize for not being able to accept something that appears so simple and plain. I am not being closed minded, I am merely being difficult minded. I hope that my further attempts to argue my points weren't aggravating beyond tolerance. Thanks again for replying and I will be looking forward to your new replies.

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
sapphen wrote:

sapphen wrote:

i DO understand what you are saying... but isn't it a little unfair to compare a belief that has existed for centuries to a green lobster. i am not saying that because everyone else believed that we should. i am saying that we need to answer and seek questions, discuss intelligently and rational, and explore our beliefs. not over simplify something to a phyisical object sitting on your head.

we are talking about something that many people in the past and today say influence their life and that it is from a different "realm" beyond our physical one. these people seem perfectly rational and intelligent other than that one belief. i think our arguments goes deeper than a silly little creature that is invisible.

i do respect your opinion though and i don't mean to offend. though your answer does seem like one would be delusional, i think it would be very bias and not respectable to sum up that religious people are "delusional" and have a mind disorder. if you do want to effectively argue your case, for some people, it isn't best to start out with an insult. although i am not personally insulted, others make take offense. i guess it would be left up to ones personal tact.

i don't know though.. mull it around.

Sapphen, I created a post a while back called, "What is the difference between God and teapots?" I highly recommend you read that for some replies concerning the issue you brought up.

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


sapphen
Theist
sapphen's picture
Posts: 232
Joined: 2007-01-22
User is offlineOffline
very good read jread.  i

very good read jread.  i just looked it up and that was some interesting replies.

is God the only thing that we believe to be true without physical evidence? 

May God bless us and give us the words to express our ideas in a creative and civil manner, while providing us an ear that we may truly hear each other, and a voice to clearly project our thoughts.


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
sapphen wrote: very good

sapphen wrote:

very good read jread. i just looked it up and that was some interesting replies.

is God the only thing that we believe to be true without physical evidence?

No.

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


Yellow_Number_Five
atheistRRS Core MemberScientist
Yellow_Number_Five's picture
Posts: 1390
Joined: 2006-02-12
User is offlineOffline
jread wrote: First off, I

jread wrote:

First off, I don't think that saying faith is irrational is a derogatory or rude comment. Instead, it is merely a honest assesment of the meaning of 'faith.'

I'm glad you see it that way, for that is how it is intended. Being an apostate, it does upset me when this is taken the wrong way.

Quote:
Faith:

  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See synonyms at belief, trust.
  3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
  4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
  5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
  6. A set of principles or beliefs.

I highlighted the second part of the definition because it is the most important in the explanation that I am currently endeavoring to explain. This bolded definition is quite inescapably sound in its affirmation of the claim that faith is irrational. Before I go on further to defend what I've claimed, I would like to present another lengthy definition, this time of 'irrational.'

Irrational:

    1. Not endowed with reason.
    2. Affected by loss of usual or normal mental clarity; incoherent, as from shock.
    3. Marked by a lack of accord with reason or sound judgment: an irrational dislike.
    1. Being a syllable in Greek and Latin prosody whose length does not fit the metric pattern.
    2. Being a metric foot containing such a syllable.

The two highlighted parts of this definition are the most important to this explanation of why faith is irrational. But, before I use these bolded definitions, I must first, unfortunately provide one more definition, 'reason.'

Reason:

  1. The basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction. See Usage Note at because, why.
  2. A declaration made to explain or justify action, decision, or conviction: inquired about her reason for leaving.
  3. An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence: There is reason to believe that the accused did not commit this crime.
  4. The capacity for logical, rational, and analytic thought; intelligence.
  5. Good judgment; sound sense.
  6. A normal mental state; sanity: He has lost his reason.
  7. Logic. A premise, usually the minor premise, of an argument.

Fair enough.

Quote:
Ok, now with this last bolded statement I may enter the explanation and hopefully expose the core of my claim that faith is irrational.

To begin I will present the bolded statements in argument form as premises leading ultimately to my conclusion. [Note: All this is interpretative on my part and I in no way hold my explanation as anything more than it is; one man's opinion]

1. Faith is a Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

2. Reason is An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence.

3. Therefore, Faith is not founded on Reason because faith does not rest on "logical proof." (premise 1,2)

4. Irrationality is "Not endowed with reason"

5. Faith is not founded on Reason. (premise 1, 2, 3,)

6. Therefore, Faith is Irrational . (premise, 1,2,3,4,5)

 

As it stands, that is my argument as to why faith is irrational. Remember if you will to the first sentence of my second paragraph in this post, "I don't think that saying faith is irrational is a derogatory or rude comment." Therefore, I don't think that any theist or person who has faith different from theism should take offense to my argument. Why should they not take offense? That is something I will now endeavor to explain.

Agreed. I've made VERY similar arguments myself. I'm interested to see where you are going here Smiling

Quote:
In recent times, there have been a lot of effort to "prove" God and his existence. In my humble opinion, this is the wrong thing to do. Why is it wrong? Well, because essentially those who try to "prove" God are attempting to make faith a rational belief. Yet, I have just shown that this is apparently impossible by virtue of the very definition of faith.

What this shows to me, is a person of faith's desire to substantiate his belief with something that shouldn't substantiate a person's faith, namely rationality. In other words, If a person searches for rational explanations to an irrational belief, it appears to me that their faith is something that cannot subsist along side rationality without its support (rationality's support that is). By doing so, it seems to me that this takes something away from a persons faith when they refuse to let faith stand alone and be distinct from that which it is truly meant to be distinct from.

Wow, you're essentially using the same logic I use to shoot down theistic modes of thought like presuppositionalism. I keep waiting for you to try to turn things around, but you keep surprising me.

So far, I'm intrigued. 

 

Quote:
If we (as human beings) could ever prove God, then why would we ever need faith? Wouldn't a belief in him become rational and supported by logical evidence? Ultimately, to say that faith is NOT irrational is to claim something that is false. Faith is Irrational and that's not a rude comment toward a believer, it is a true assertion of what it means to have faith, namely, to have their faith be outside the realm of human rationality.

This is a satisfactory assessment for me, I'm not sure why it is satisfactory to a person of faith, such as yourself. I want to understand that, and I don't think I ever will.

You can admit that what you believe is irrational, not based in empricism or science or things we can touch, test and discern about the universe - yet you can live your life around that.

I have to admit, even when I was a Catholic, I couldn't have done that. I believed in God, that something or someone was genuinely interested in me and the world around me, but at the time, what I believed DID make sense to me. I didn't see it as irrational at the time, if I did, I would have let it go - and in fact, when I finally DID see it that way, I DID let it go.

We may have to come back to this point. The process of beliefe is infinitely intriguing to me.

Quote:
The last part of my explanation of why faith is irrational, is an explanation of why I feel faith is not a delusion or mind disorder. This will be a difficult task and I'm sure quite open for many refutations. Although, I still feel that my words are needed and may touch on points which have rational appeal. I would like start with a definition I'm sure a lot of us are familiar with:

This will be interesting, as essentially you've said, "My beliefs are irrational, and I'm OK with that". I don't think I could do that, and believe me, I TRIED to.

Quote:
Delusion

    1. The act or process of deluding.
    2. The state of being deluded.
  1. A false belief or opinion: labored under the delusion that success was at hand.
  2. Psychiatry. A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness: delusions of persecution.

Before, I begin, I would like to reiterate what I said earlier. This is my attempt to in the most respectful and humble way I can possibly say this in, to critique the statements made by some of the R.R.S. founders. As well as those who hold the following statement to be true:

Fighting to free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism. [From the R.R.S. website banner.]

The goals of my critique are to explain why faith is not a mind disorder. Now, perhaps you weren't specifically speaking of faith in general, but specifically theism. Forgive me if my inference is misplaced. Therefore, for the sake of not putting words in the mouths of my friends, I will merely stick to attempting to defend theism as not being a mind disorder.

Well, for the record, you can probably read it as "fighting to free humanity from the mind disorder known as irrationality". We tend to focus on religion, but if you read our irrational precepts, there are plenty of other things that bother us (psychics, new age medicine, etc).

Quote:
For my purposes, I will leave out specific aspects of theism and only focus on faith in God's existence. This to me seems something that would not do violence to the meaning of the R.R.S. slogan. Continuing from what was discussed earlier in my argument for faith being irrational, I would like to present an argument that would hope to explain why faith in God's existence, while being an irrational belief (faith), is not a mind disorder, or more properly termed, delusion.

Fire away. I do think irrational beliefs are delusional, whatever form they fall into.

Quote:
Above, I presented the definition of a delusion. I also highlighted in bold, the points which I feel are most important to our discussion. First off, I will address the second definition which is, " A false belief or opinion". I'm sure some of you may already know where I am going to go with this, and I apologize if I am making a huge logical mistake along the way that has escaped my awareness. What I feel this definition does is exclude a belief in God's existence as being delusional because the belief in God's existence is a contingent belief (Either true or false). Therefore, under the second definition of delusion, the belief in God's existence cannot be rightly judged as delusional because it is not known to be false (yet).

Good point. VERY GOOD point.

The problem here is that, almost invariably, God belief entails belief in the supernatural. Christians, for example, believe a man was executed and rose from the dead three days later. This is CENTRAL to their faith - no Christ, and no resurrection means NO Christianity.

Yes, we do not know, and cannot know (probably) whether or not some mysterious master is looking after us or at least upon us.

However, almost invariably, when a believer attempts to describe thier god, they will spout something quite ridiculous and irrational - say a corpse being resurrected after three days.

I do think our comment IS geared toward people who make such claims, though it is not explictly stated. We do tend to deal predominately with Christians here, and perhaps the slogan reflects that.

I think believing that your saviour was raised from the dead or making claims about what said deity wants IS delusional.

A simple belief in a creator, say a deist, may not be delusional per se, but I'd still find it irrational and untennable.

I hope that clarifies how I see it, I cannot claim to speak for any of my cohorts.

Quote:
The next definition of 'delusion' is perhaps the most difficult to overcome and where I may falter the most. The third definition is the following, "A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence." Now ignoring the "a false belief part" I will primarily focus on the "strongly held (belief) in spite of invalidating evidence" part. This third definition of delusion is what I feel most here at the R.R.S. base their judgment that theism is a delusion. The judgment would go something like the following:

There is no evidence that God exists. Therefore, believing in God in the face of this evidence is a delusional belief.

Forgive me if I've oversimplified the judgment of the R.R.S. What this leaves out in my mind, is the fact that there may be evidence in favor in God's existence one day in the future.

That is the notion that it should leave in your mind. ALL of us are agnostic atheists. We see no evidence for a deity and therefore no reason to believe in one, however, we are open to the remote possibility that there may, one day, be incontovertible evidence of a deity. In such a case, given sufficient evience, it would be equally delusional to deny such a thing existed.

Just as we've no solid evidence of Bigfoot now, the day somebody drags the body of a Bigfoot in, you'd be nuts not to believe in Bigfoot. Until that day however......

The skeptic endeavors to run on the best available evidence. That's the best we can do, I think.

 

Quote:
Granted granted, I know this is a horrible reason for someone to believe in God, but please let me finish.

It's a horrible reson to believe in anything. It stifles us, holds us back in very real ways. 

 

Quote:
What I am implying by saying that we don't have any evidence yet, is that it importantly renders the belief in God's existence a contingent belief based on the current lack of evidence.

Indeed it is. Just as my lack of belief in Bigfoot and Nessie are. ALL beliefs SHOULD be contingent on the evidence and change as new information becomes available. There's nothing wrong with this approach, this is the inductive method - it is what the vast majority of human knowledge rests upon.

Let's be clear here though. A guy 1500 years ago can be forgiven for thinking the earth was flat. A man, in this day and age, has to do some serious mental gymnastics to justify a beliefe in a resurrection or that the earth is but 6,000 years old. What is delusional does change as knowlege changes - as it should. 

 

Quote:
 This is redundant perhaps from my previous comments on the first definition of delusion. Although, I feel it does address the judgment that belief in God is a delusion. My explanation accomplishes this by accepting that there is in fact no evidence for God's existence at present, but this lack of evidence is not enough to rule out God's existence definitively.

 You're right. So what?

 There is nothing to rule out Bigfoot or Nessie or alien abductions or crazy government conspiracies either. Yet you and I still rightly call these people zealots and cranks and delusional. I simply don't see much of a difference between their beliefs and the beliefs of the vast majority of theists.

We do not need definative statements or eloboate proofs and evidences to determie what is and is not ridiculous.

 

Quote:
Therefore, without the certainty of a belief being false (The belief in God's existence) that belief cannot be deemed delusional.

Of course it can. Believing you've been abducted and probed by aliens, believing reptilian humanoids have taken over government and orchestrated 9/11 (I shit you not, people DO believe that), believing that the Cubs will ever win another World Series, etc...

We DO NOT need definitive proof that something is not or cannot be so to make informed and intelligent and rational conclusions about such. This is inductive reasoning.

You've essentially proposed an argument from ignorance, "We do not know definititely, therefore, any idea ought to be considered".

Look, I could propose that apples may rise, rather than fall, to earth tomorrow. I don't KNOW that they won't. I can do NOTHING to prove that they won't do exactly that in the future. Yet I WILL tell you with certainty that apples will STILL FALL to earth tomorrow. Could I be wrong? Sure. Now what are the odds of me being wrong?

I'm also willing to bet the dead won't come back to life tomorrow. 

 

Quote:
Following my understanding of delusion, a belief would be delusional only if it was definitively proven to be false, and yet someone still believed in it.

Not exactly. I cite my alien abductess and Bigfoot enthusiasts in this case. We need not definititvely prove a belief is false for it to be delusional. We need only demonstrate that it would be perverse, given the current state of human knowledge, to believe in such.

Quote:
Without making my post any longer than it has to be, I will conclude with one final comment.

This last part of explanation is perhaps the most important part of my goal in writing this. It is the part where I explain how I personally, and others perhaps, deal with the holding of an irrational belief. To hold an irrational belief is not enough to deem a whole person as an irrational being.

And I want to make it VERY clear that I find your beliefs irrational, not you. I think you are an extremely well spoken, sincere and intelligent individual. At the same time, I find your beliefs, more or less ridiculous. I do hope that you can make that distinction. I genuinely like you, jread, I simply take issue with what you believe. If you could put it in your mind as an impersonal political disagreement, that would be good, becuase at the end of the day that's more or less how I see it. 

Quote:
Therefore, for a person have an irrational faith does not re-define their self as an completely irrational self. Now granted, this may not be a radical view and perhaps those of you who don't have faith don't think this way towards those of us who have faith. Still, I feel it is important to mention and throw out there, because I find that perhaps (I am guessing here) it is one of the reasons why theists don't want to admit that faith is irrational because of how being known to hold an irrational belief may affect other peoples perception of their rationality. In reality, chances are, we all (atheist and theist and whatever else you can think of) hold some sort of irrational belief. Whether it be hope, an ideal, or belief in deity, they are all equally irrational.

 I do apprecieate what you had to say. And I can hope you can recognize that we've more than a slogan on our home page here. Truth be told, we've had inumerable discussions amoung the group on the phrase you took issue with, no doubt, your post will spawn another. At the end of the day, it really is bait. It does in some senses reflect out views, but no one line can sum things up.

Truthfully, it is meant to entice, and it does. And truthfully, it doesn't fall far from what we really do believe, but as with anything, caveates, explainations, etc apply.

At the end of the day though, its a by-line. Judge us by our shows and activities, not a slogan, please. 

Quote:
In closing, may I say a last few words. First off, thank you for reading this till the end. Secondly, I want to say thank you to the R.R.S. and everyone on this site. Lastly, I would like apologize for any remarks which I have made which may have offended, insulted, or rubbed someone the wrong way. My comments are merely my own and do not in any way speak for the "theist" community at large. If I have offended you, just let me know how I have done so, I would love to see if I intentionally meant to or if it was a mistake. Good day to you all and may you have a pleasant evening.

 I loved your post. Never hesitate to speak your mind here.

 

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


jread
SuperfanTheist
jread's picture
Posts: 353
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
Yellow_Number_Five

Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

And I want to make it VERY clear that I find your beliefs irrational, not you. I think you are an extremely well spoken, sincere and intelligent individual. At the same time, I find your beliefs, more or less ridiculous. I do hope that you can make that distinction. I genuinely like you, jread, I simply take issue with what you believe. If you could put it in your mind as an impersonal political disagreement, that would be good, becuase at the end of the day that's more or less how I see it.

Thanks for your reply Yellow, I too enjoy reading what you have to say. I haven't quite got the knack for line by line replying to posts yet, but I will do my best to sum up the points I want to mention briefly in my reply.

First off, I totally understand what you mean when you say that you dislike my beliefs, but like me as a person. I felt in no way attacked by your comments, or anyones ever really, when you critique my beliefs. When I read critiques of my own beliefs and others, I always try to consider a synthesis. I'm finding that my 'call' in life (so far I've been able to gather thus far) is to be a synthesizer, a kind of moderator between two extremes. The difficult part for me so far, is to not be pulled off of my own ideological grounding when I attempt to reconcile differences between two extremes. I know the easiest thing to do would be to just not investigate and not try to synthesize. But, this is something I just cannot bring myself to do. I will always test the waters of opposing ideals to my beliefs, rather than just blindly reject them (This is a modest proposal, I can't pretend to have yet tested the waters of all the opposing ideals to Christianity.)   

 Secondly, I completely understand the R.R.S.'s slogan as being a catch phrase to gather interest. I myself did this in my second post on this site when I called it, "atheism, another dogma." I knew atheism wasn't a dogma, deep down in my heart Eye-wink, but I wanted to grab attention so people would read my argument attempting to prove that it is. 

And lastly, I just wanted to say that I am at a wierd point in my faith. [This part truly has nothing to do with your post directly, I hope you don't mind.] Lately, I've been randomly asking my christian friends questions that are often asked here at the R.R.S. And needless to say, just one question dealing with the certainty of their belief in Jesus is enough to set the mood for the remainder of the conversation topic at a rather dismal mood. I feel that asking those tough questions is good, but I don't think the majority of christians feel this way. Essentially, I think that most people like to reassure themselves, more than they like to question themselves. Personally I like questioning myself and my beliefs, evaluate and decide. Some people here have said that's even worse for a believer to do that, because then you know that they've actually realized what they're believing in. I feel the opposite though, I feel that if someone doesn't question and evaluate what they believe, that is something truly tragic. The outcome after such questioning and evaluation, in my opinion, is a personal judgment call. Leaving person accountable to themselves when it comes to their beliefs.

So in conclusion, [Getting back on the topic of your reply Yellow] I appreciate your comments very much and I look forward to perhaps some follow up replies. Cheers mate.  

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
sapphen wrote: i DO

sapphen wrote:

i DO understand what you are saying... but isn't it a little unfair to compare a belief that has existed for centuries to a green lobster. i am not saying that because everyone else believed that we should. i am saying that we need to answer and seek questions, discuss intelligently and rational, and explore our beliefs. not over simplify something to a phyisical object sitting on your head.

OK, then what if I were in Congress and I went on Meet the Press and told them that from now on I was making all decisions based on my horoscope. Those are beliefs that have been around a lot longer than Christianity. Does that make them valid?

sapphen wrote:

we are talking about something that many people in the past and today say influence their life and that it is from a different "realm" beyond our physical one. these people seem perfectly rational and intelligent other than that one belief. i think our arguments goes deeper than a silly little creature that is invisible.

Point to the aspect of the theist argument for God that is better supported than the green lobster. If you can't, why should we consider the green lobster silly and God not?

sapphen wrote:

i do respect your opinion though and i don't mean to offend. though your answer does seem like one would be delusional, i think it would be very bias and not respectable to sum up that religious people are "delusional" and have a mind disorder. if you do want to effectively argue your case, for some people, it isn't best to start out with an insult. although i am not personally insulted, others make take offense. i guess it would be left up to ones personal tact.

i don't know though.. mull it around.

Sometimes a provocative comment is necessary in order to get people to pay attention. The RRS is an activist group. They need to be edgy or theists will simply say "poor lost souls" and turn away.

The point remains: on every other topic in society, we consider it invalid, erroneous and a sign of poor judgement to hold beliefs on irrational grounds. People who do so are considered delusional. Religion and religious people have been given a free pass only because the beliefs have been around a long time and a lot of people have believed them. Are these good reasons? 

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
jread wrote: I feel that

jread wrote:

I feel that you have pointed a broadly held aspect of Christianity, namely, that 'faith = truth.' Personally, I don't see this as the case. For myself, 'Faith = I have faith that it is True , but I realize it could be false.' This idea was what drove my argument that a belief in God is contingent. Granted, I do have emotional appeal to the truth of my belief, but fundamentally, I acknowledge that it is a contingent belief. I find this rather unsatisfactory though, because I only disagree with you based on my personal beliefs. On everything else you said, I agree with you concerning those who believe that Fatih = Truth. This (faith=truth) in my opinion, would therefore leave it completely open to say, "If you believe that x is true without proof of any kind, then x is delusional." The subtlety's of my personal beliefs may survive your arguments, but even then, I'm not so sure. Does my explanation of my own beliefs change your stance on whether a belief based on faith can be contingent or not?

A contingent belief in God becomes very difficult to hold onto when one considers the extreme perversity of the belief in light of other things we know about the universe (as Yellow has pointed out). I think it was Aquinas who recognized this problem a long time ago and said that we can't know God for what he is, but only what he isn't, and that only (non-contingent) faith can inform us of God because reason would appear to mitigate against him.

Let's look at some (watered down) characteristics of God:

- invisible

- able to read minds

- created the universe ex nihilo 

- superintelligent

- aware of everything that happens everywhere

- able to act anywhere, or in several places at the same time

Can we square this being with anything that we have ever actually seen? Obviously not. Bigfoot is a boringly ordinary proposition by comparison. Shouldn't the extreme improbability of this being existing bear on a contingent belief?  

jread wrote:

And yeah, the non-falsifiability aspect of a belief in God is not very helpful either. Although, I would venture to say, that a belief in God could be falsified, if for example, a giant meteor was surely going to the Earth ending all life. I mean honestly, how could the bible reconcile that? Maybe that example and others like it, aren't ways in which a belief in God could be falsified, let me know.

We've already had multiple events of this sort (Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami, to name a couple recent ones) where God was conspicuously absent in the time of his believers' need. An asteroid destroying the entire earth is different only as a matter of scale.

As far as I'm concerned, the lack of intervention in these events does falsify the God of the Bible. An omnipotent being is perfectly responsible for such horrors and as such cannot be "good."

jread wrote:

I don't think it's out of bounds Eye-wink Quite the contrary, it is good to ask people for their justification. If there is none, then at least you have succeeded in pointing out that there is no rational justification behind their beliefs. In my personal experience, when I meet someone who believes firmly in their horoscope, I seriously want to question them about why they do. But, most often, I shrug it off and let it go because I don't want to offend them. Although, I wouldn't view questioning them as inherently bad thing to do, it's just something that makes things a little awkward for a while. But in the proper settings, questioning is all good in my book. And again, I find this answer unsatisfactory because there are many who feel differently than I do about these things, maybe they think it is a bad thing and you shouldn't do it. All I can say, is that I agree with you Tilberian, that a person who thinks that questioning is wrong, is quite seriously mistaken.

As a matter of politeness, I'm inclined to do the same as you. But I get up on my hind legs when someone is going to use a God belief to mess with my shit politically. And in the political culture of today, it is very much out of bounds to question someone's beliefs, while it is very much in bounds to use those beliefs to justify various policy positions. I'm crying foul, and so should all of America.

jread wrote:
 

And lastly, God could arguably be something that has been made up by the imagination. A rather difficult possibility to overcome as a theist, revolves around ancient humans creating the idea of God to cope with the death of a friend or loved one. Or merely someone who was in your tribe. Death seems to be one of the impossible to ever doubt truths. Therefore, God could be a creation based on hope, desire, and longing for the one who you lost. I wish we could know for sure where the idea of God came from. Was it from God himself? Or was it imagined? Really tough thing to consider, because it is such a probable outcome that it was imagined based on our own imaginations today.

This is the other side to the improbability coin. One one hand, it is extremely improbable that God could exist as a natural being (and, if supernatural, is incoherent). On the other, it is extremely probable, given what we know about the origins of the Bible, that God is a fictitious character who has undergone signficant revisions over time. Between the two, I don't see much daylight for a contingent belief in God. 

Here's how I always think of it: do I know that the sun is coming up tomorrow? Technically, I don't. There are a number of catastrophic cosmological events that could prevent that from happening. But really, I do know it. The chances against the sun not coming up are so astronomical that it isn't worth seriously contemplating the alternative. Given that (technically) we can Know nothing, I set my bar for "knowing" at a certain level of improbability and everything which falls below it, I consider impossible for the purposes of daily living and action. God falls way, way below that bar of improbability. So I know that God does not exist in the same way that I know the sun is coming up tomorrow. 

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


sapphen
Theist
sapphen's picture
Posts: 232
Joined: 2007-01-22
User is offlineOffline
fair answer tilberian.  i

fair answer tilberian.  i feel a little misunderstood but thank you for a strong response.  it answered a few other issues i had questions about.

May God bless us and give us the words to express our ideas in a creative and civil manner, while providing us an ear that we may truly hear each other, and a voice to clearly project our thoughts.


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
Hey! What happened to my

Hey! What happened to my post? Ach dammit! I'll redo it another time. It was only my magical monkey analogy again. I'm sure it can be found elsewhere on the site.


Yellow_Number_Five
atheistRRS Core MemberScientist
Yellow_Number_Five's picture
Posts: 1390
Joined: 2006-02-12
User is offlineOffline
jread

jread wrote:
Yellow_Number_Five wrote:

And I want to make it VERY clear that I find your beliefs irrational, not you. I think you are an extremely well spoken, sincere and intelligent individual. At the same time, I find your beliefs, more or less ridiculous. I do hope that you can make that distinction. I genuinely like you, jread, I simply take issue with what you believe. If you could put it in your mind as an impersonal political disagreement, that would be good, becuase at the end of the day that's more or less how I see it.

Thanks for your reply Yellow, I too enjoy reading what you have to say.

Thanks, the feeling is mutual.

Quote:
First off, I totally understand what you mean when you say that you dislike my beliefs, but like me as a person. I felt in no way attacked by your comments, or anyones ever really, when you critique my beliefs. When I read critiques of my own beliefs and others, I always try to consider a synthesis. I'm finding that my 'call' in life (so far I've been able to gather thus far) is to be a synthesizer, a kind of moderator between two extremes. The difficult part for me so far, is to not be pulled off of my own ideological grounding when I attempt to reconcile differences between two extremes. I know the easiest thing to do would be to just not investigate and not try to synthesize. But, this is something I just cannot bring myself to do. I will always test the waters of opposing ideals to my beliefs, rather than just blindly reject them (This is a modest proposal, I can't pretend to have yet tested the waters of all the opposing ideals to Christianity.)   

The mere fact that you are willing to explore these ideas openly says quite a bit about you. We all have our predjudices at the end of the day, and our preconcieved notions are difficult to set aside - but you seem to be making a genuine effort to underdstand where others are coming from, and I appriecate that. You also tend to be bluntly honest about your own beliefs, which is also refreshing.

 

Quote:
Secondly, I completely understand the R.R.S.'s slogan as being a catch phrase to gather interest. I myself did this in my second post on this site when I called it, "atheism, another dogma." I knew atheism wasn't a dogma, deep down in my heart Eye-wink, but I wanted to grab attention so people would read my argument attempting to prove that it is. 

Exactly. Nothing wrong with selling the controversy at bit - so long as there is a bit of meat and honesty under that shiny, shocking veneer.

Quote:
And lastly, I just wanted to say that I am at a wierd point in my faith. [This part truly has nothing to do with your post directly, I hope you don't mind.] Lately, I've been randomly asking my christian friends questions that are often asked here at the R.R.S. And needless to say, just one question dealing with the certainty of their belief in Jesus is enough to set the mood for the remainder of the conversation topic at a rather dismal mood.

Oh, I know how that goes, believe me Eye-wink

Quote:
I feel that asking those tough questions is good, but I don't think the majority of christians feel this way. Essentially, I think that most people like to reassure themselves, more than they like to question themselves.

Honestly examining what you hold "sacred" is a very difficult thing to do - for anyone, regardless of belief or non-belief. I know dozens of "freethinking" non-believers who are willing to examine any aspect of the process of belief when it comes to religion, but who will bite your head off if you'd dare challenge them on their political beliefs or something equally trivial.

I personally hava never liked the term "freethinker" for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I think it denies our very nature. The real trick is not to fool yourself into believing you are completely open minded and have no predjudices - rather, I think the trick is to recognize that we all DO have such predjudices and realize how and when they are influencing you; only then can you even hope to move beyond them. 

 

Quote:
Personally I like questioning myself and my beliefs, evaluate and decide.

Me too, that and I just really enjoy a good argument and debate. 

Quote:
Some people here have said that's even worse for a believer to do that, because then you know that they've actually realized what they're believing in. I feel the opposite though, I feel that if someone doesn't question and evaluate what they believe, that is something truly tragic. The outcome after such questioning and evaluation, in my opinion, is a personal judgment call. Leaving person accountable to themselves when it comes to their beliefs.

I agree and disagree. I've never been able to understand how a person can say, "I know what I believe is irrational, yet I'm going to use it as a core concept in my life". Still, I agree that there are a lot of people out there who have never bothered to examine what they believe and ask themselves the obvious questions. I'm having a conversation with Bronco in that regard right now. Regardless of belief, I think an unexamined life must be pretty shallow and hollow - to not even understand why you believe as you do just seems alien to me; yet there are plenty of people that fall, seemingly happilly, into that category.

Quote:
So in conclusion, [Getting back on the topic of your reply Yellow] I appreciate your comments very much and I look forward to perhaps some follow up replies. Cheers mate.  

Anytime, it's always a pleasure to converse with you.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


figuring29
Theist
Posts: 3
Joined: 2007-05-27
User is offlineOffline
I found your post and

I found your post and definitions of faith interesting, and it raised a question for me. People think faith is irrational because people who have faith usually do not have the evidence to back up their statements. We veiw science and the scientific method as something that we don't have to have faith in because we can support our claim by evidence.

But doesn't the scientific method require a certain level of faith and trust, since the scientific method does not always yield truth? In most cases it seems to yield truth, but in some cases it has not. So doesn't a scientist have to have a level of faith or trust in his method that it will yield him truth especially when he is discovering new "truths" in his field? This seems to be especially true when it comes to theoretical science, since it can not be reproduced in a lab. In science what we believe today and accept as truth could be falsified tomorrow. For me at least it seems that I have to have a certain level of faith to believe science, and what scientists say. If the above is true, then faith is inescapable and something we must live with.

Thank you figuring 29


Jacob Cordingley
SuperfanBronze Member
Jacob Cordingley's picture
Posts: 1484
Joined: 2007-03-18
User is offlineOffline
figuring29 wrote: I found

figuring29 wrote:

I found your post and definitions of faith interesting, and it raised a question for me. People think faith is irrational because people who have faith usually do not have the evidence to back up their statements. We veiw science and the scientific method as something that we don't have to have faith in because we can support our claim by evidence.

But doesn't the scientific method require a certain level of faith and trust, since the scientific method does not always yield truth? In most cases it seems to yield truth, but in some cases it has not. So doesn't a scientist have to have a level of faith or trust in his method that it will yield him truth especially when he is discovering new "truths" in his field? This seems to be especially true when it comes to theoretical science, since it can not be reproduced in a lab. In science what we believe today and accept as truth could be falsified tomorrow. For me at least it seems that I have to have a certain level of faith to believe science, and what scientists say. If the above is true, then faith is inescapable and something we must live with.

Thank you figuring 29

 Faith is belief without evidence. Since the beliefs of science are never without evidence, there is no faith involved.


Tilberian
Moderator
Tilberian's picture
Posts: 1118
Joined: 2006-11-27
User is offlineOffline
figuring29 wrote: But

figuring29 wrote:

But doesn't the scientific method require a certain level of faith and trust, since the scientific method does not always yield truth? In most cases it seems to yield truth, but in some cases it has not. So doesn't a scientist have to have a level of faith or trust in his method that it will yield him truth especially when he is discovering new "truths" in his field? This seems to be especially true when it comes to theoretical science, since it can not be reproduced in a lab. In science what we believe today and accept as truth could be falsified tomorrow. For me at least it seems that I have to have a certain level of faith to believe science, and what scientists say. If the above is true, then faith is inescapable and something we must live with.

Thank you figuring 29

Where is the faith? The scientist at no time forms the belief that his conclusion is any better or worse than the evidence and argument supporting it. He acknowledges at all junctures that he may be in error. Even the most established scientific laws are formally called "theories" out of respect for this principle. 

No one needs any faith to believe in scientific conclusions. Try them out yourself...the minute they fail, they are wrong.

 

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13829
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
sapphen wrote: i DO

sapphen wrote:

i DO understand what you are saying... but isn't it a little unfair to compare a belief that has existed for centuries to a green lobster. i am not saying that because everyone else believed that we should. i am saying that we need to answer and seek questions, discuss intelligently and rational, and explore our beliefs. not over simplify something to a phyisical object sitting on your head.

we are talking about something that many people in the past and today say influence their life and that it is from a different "realm" beyond our physical one. these people seem perfectly rational and intelligent other than that one belief. i think our arguments goes deeper than a silly little creature that is invisible.

i do respect your opinion though and i don't mean to offend. though your answer does seem like one would be delusional, i think it would be very bias and not respectable to sum up that religious people are "delusional" and have a mind disorder. if you do want to effectively argue your case, for some people, it isn't best to start out with an insult. although i am not personally insulted, others make take offense. i guess it would be left up to ones personal tact.

i don't know though.. mull it around.

Length of time believing something merely on assertion does not make something true. For 3 thousand years the Egyptians believed that Ra the sun god was real, but he isnt and never was. So what makes any modern monotheism any different? Just because it is popular and people have believed it for thousands of years? The earth wasnt flat nor did the sun rotate around the earth, no matter how many people believed it or how long they believed it.

No one should be "insulted" if they are by what we say, that says alot about their insecurities. Insted, I'd suggest they get over their  fears, and try to understand insted of jumping to conclusions as anything being an insult. 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


aiia
Superfan
aiia's picture
Posts: 1923
Joined: 2006-09-12
User is offlineOffline
jread wrote:

jread wrote:
1. Faith is a Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

Though you've provided a definition of faith in the first premise, some 'beliefs' are based on inductive reasoning.

dictionary.com wrote:
2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof


You need to specify the definition of 'belief'.


Examples:

 

  • It is not irrational to have faith the sun will rise tomorrow.
  • It rained and a puddle of water is in your path. Based on your ability to jump a certain distance from past occurrences and your estimate of the size of the puddle, it seems to you that you can jump over the puddle without getting wet, thus you have justifiable faith. The size of the puddle is not based on faith, however, not having a measuring tape the size of the puddle can only be judged. The distance you can jump is based on faith because that distance is not exactly the same for each jump. Faith in this case is not irrational.

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