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The Virtues of Religious Faith

 
SkepticX
 
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26 September 2012 16:34
 
stardust91977 - 26 September 2012 01:53 PM

Science is just another word for life experience. Same as religion.


As misused by many, yeah.

That’s a big problem.

 
 
santhosh
 
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26 September 2012 16:53
 

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[ Edited: 22 January 2013 05:11 by santhosh]
 
BobD3623
 
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26 September 2012 16:53
 

Embrace the nothingness and the need for faith and religion go away.  There is for me…incredible regenerative power in silence. Silence is the canvas our existence is painted on. If there is a god…it has to be silence; doesn’t it?  It’s the only thing thats always been there.  The emptiness inside may not be something to be avoided as it’s the only thing real and permanent. Hope I’m not sounding religious. I’ve tried to falsify silence but it rings true everytime. Someone tell me if I’m wrong.

 
santhosh
 
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26 September 2012 16:58
 

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[ Edited: 22 January 2013 05:11 by santhosh]
 
Jefe
 
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26 September 2012 17:36
 
saralynn - 25 September 2012 09:38 PM

SX: So what are yous guys talking about, exactly, when you talk about “faith”? How are you defining it?

I always like the Biblical ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

That’s very poetic.  But not very useful.

There’s no real substance for things hoped for in a lot of people’s faith.
Much of the mythology and miracle stories of religions are metaphorical or unverifiable.
There may be some sort of cognitive confirmation based on personal experience - but i’d take any example of this type with a large grain of salt.
No doubt people have experiences, and no doubt they find them confirmatory of their prefered faith story, but their interpretations may be nothing more than confirmation bias at play.

As for evidence of things not seen, not so much.
Faith =/= evidence.  Once a concept or phenomena becomes reproducible, predictable, or falsifiable one stops requiring ‘faith’ to have confidence in it.

I.E. Faith that mormon underwear protects the wearer against evil spirits is not confirmed by a seeming absence of evil spirits in the wearer’s life - even if the wearer’s confirmation bias allows this dissonant connection.

I.E.  A prosperity christian’s faith that god wants us to be prosperous is not actually confirmed by a relatively well-off livelihood in a first-world economy when the owner has a decent work ethic and access to education and training - but their confirmation bias may allow them to falsly attribute the success to god’s desire for them to be well-off.

I.E.  A religious person praying for a loved one to get better are not evidence for the efficacy of intercessory prayer just because their loved one does recover.  There are probably an abundance of non-prayer related effects influencing that person’s recovery.

There’s a very distinct difference in the faith concept used for ‘faith in religious mythology and miracle stories’ and ‘confidence in oft repeated, independently verifiable or falsified concepts and/or phenomena’. 

I know people who have faith in faith don’t really like that distinction, but it should not be overlooked.

Further, faith, in and of itself, is not a virtue.  Actions people take, that may be inspired by faith, can be both virtuous and non-virtuous.

I.E.  People with faith in the healing power of god who withhold medical treatment for their children are not acting virtuously.

I.E. People with faith in young earth creationism who deny their children education that contradicts their beliefs are, not IMO, acting virtuously.

I.E. People with faith that the end of days will occur within our lifetime, and act as though custodianship of the planet for future generations is unimportant are not, IMHO, acting virtuously.

Faith tends to be a baggage-laden word with so many slippery or context driven meanings to be very useful for accurate communication.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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26 September 2012 19:17
 
saralynn - 25 September 2012 09:50 PM

As I said, for me, faith helps me do what I don’t want to do, but should do.  However, it would have been nice if I could have shifted perspectives, like Ram Dass described.  I tried, but I couldn’t do it.  I think it’s because it took the form of reprimanding myself rather than just “clicking” into another perspective.

You’re right, reprimanding yourself is not the same as gently reminding yourself, although you should have clicked into another perspective. The thought of an experience is not the experience itself. Unfortunately, we spend a great deal of time in thinking about living, not in living itself. If you surrender to experience rather than spending wasted time in dreadful anticipation of your fears which your ego has created and labeled for you, you not only free yourself of the anxiety, but usually find that the actual experience was not a fraction of what you anticipated. Aren’t you the one who said you try to find the good in everyone/everything? Perhaps, you need to limit your focus on the “great fellowship” including God who you wish were with you, or you could be like, or guide you, and focus more on your own experience by the letting go of your ego. Perhaps, all you need is faith in yourself, not faith in someone else. Nobody else is going to pierce the skin of the dreaded dragon of fear for you. Again, there are a variety of techniques for accomplishing this having nothing to do with a “faith in God.” Of course, it’s not easy to begin with but where has your faith in God gotten you? If you imagine God is looking over your shoulder while having lunch with this old lady, you’ve only returned to the circumference of ordinary thought (eg, the ego), rather than jumping to the center of pure experience utilizing your full human capacity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m in that constant state of awareness either (I was at one time), but it still seems to kick-in when I need it the most. And my thoughts are not with the gurus out there, but with the experience of which I know I am capable.

 
 
santhosh
 
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26 September 2012 19:47
 

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[ Edited: 22 January 2013 05:11 by santhosh]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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26 September 2012 20:07
 
SkepticX - 26 September 2012 02:34 PM
stardust91977 - 26 September 2012 01:53 PM

Science is just another word for life experience. Same as religion.


As misused by many, yeah.

That’s a big problem.


Science finds consensus for exactly the reasons that religion does not. If difference of kind means anything these are different kinds. Cultures that embrace scientific methods prosper in ways that are uncontroversial. Religion can make no such claim. If anything, the opposite is true.

Platitudes like the above are exactly why religion has a reputation for obscurantism. There do exist honest theologians who understand that a defense of faith demands a defense of core beliefs and first principles. The fact that religious culture is so accustomed to its unearned advantage that it feels no such pressure sabotages progress for everyone.

[ Edited: 26 September 2012 20:09 by Brick Bungalow]
 
goodgraydrab
 
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26 September 2012 20:59
 
stardust91977 - 26 September 2012 05:47 PM

I propose that it’s not “science” providing the spiritual uplift, but that it’s the force and energy we experience as thinking, feeling entities in nature.. the same thing that has been inspiring people all along.  Faith in nature and in man. Show me that man has ever had faith in anything else if you can.

“Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.”

In terms of the doctrines, I like the above definition of faith. Emotions, reason, wisdom, pain, and the experience of inner peace, can and do, in fact, lead to insights which inform us about the nature of being in reality. It should be abundantly clear by now that every experience is part of the natural science of living for creatures like us.  Part of what man’s religions have been used to do is to elevate the most essential discoveries about the nature of being above what is mundane and perhaps even profane. That is one of religion’s highest and long-lasting virtues. Further, faith in God amounts to faith in our guides and belief in the power to overcome, not faith in someone from beyond space-time. Teaching/encouraging others to have faith in nature and man is another of religion’s long-lasting virtues. Again, prove me wrong if you can.

The point is, modern science is not required for man to know himself, only so that he can come to know more about himself than he already knew. Modern science is nothing more than an extension of the aforementioned nature-that virtue-and, at the level of the individual as well as the collective, it is doing what man has been doing all along- weeding out false impressions, while simultaneously verifying that others.  That’s because our psychic energy is thinking and feeling and can discern truths without the aid of microscopes, telescopes, or other such technologies.

I think you intersperse your ideas with some good thoughts, but then you stray. Your perception of a faith in God is different than the 7 billion others, so it works for you. That definition that you like really sucks for me in the context of insights into the nature of being in reality. But what you seem to be describing is faith in yourself/mankind. Why use the terminology of that so-called immaterial superconscious entity that indeed most of the religious believe resides beyond space and time ... and beyond our lifetimes? Teaching others to have faith in nature and man is also a scientific endeavor because our psychic energy can also make up falsehoods. In other words, it’s the cadillac of weed-whackers, but it’s only a tool. That those falsehoods endure throughout time and in light of evidence is not a virtue ... just stubbornly long-lasting. I don’t understand the implication that science is in some kind of contest with religion. It isn’t. Seems like an awfully defensive posture instead of letting the evidence speak for itself. You make science sound like a boogeyman, when it can lead to insights about our insights which lead to inform us about the nature of being in reality.

[You’ll probably make me wish I didn’t respond to you again ... but have at it.]

 
 
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26 September 2012 21:14
 
stardust91977 - 26 September 2012 02:53 PM

So science isn’t based on life experience? Or is that religion isn’t based on life experience?


Can you really sell yourself on such an argument? Are you genuinely claiming not to recognize the critical difference—why “just like” doesn’t apply to science and religion but in a most shallow, puerile manner?

“Religion is embraced by humans, just like science” has about the same level of profundity, and it’s pretty damn obvious.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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26 September 2012 22:50
 
saralynn - 25 September 2012 09:50 PM

Hannah:: Well, you don’t need to have a perfect attitude to do good.  If the lady had a nice outing, then you did good.  You learned something, and that was good too.  I bet even Ram Dass has a crappy attitude sometimes.  I’ve found that people can be absolutely fantastic giving advice or inspiring people, but still have lots of problems in their own lives.

My Alanon sponsor was very wise in helping me, but she was divorced after having put up with an abusive husband for years, and her grown daughter was a mess, and her own career was rocky.  But despite all her woes, she’d learned from experience. 

There’s a saying, “Act as if:”  So go ahead and act as if you’re happy to be with the old lady (and I’m sure you were gracious), and at least you can know you tried and gained some insight.  Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be the old lady, and somebody younger will take you out, and you’ll know they’re a little bored, but you’ll understand and maybe chuckle to yourself:  “Those younger people; always wish they were out dancing in the sunshine.”

Good sensible advice.  I don’t feel horribly guilty about the day…if I did, I’d be even more self-centered than I am.  It just got me to think about sacrifice and how friggin’ hard it is.  As I said, for me, faith helps me do what I don’t want to do, but should do.  However, it would have been nice if I could have shifted perspectives, like Ram Dass described.  I tried, but I couldn’t do it.  I think it’s because it took the form of reprimanding myself rather than just “clicking” into another perspective.

The thought of someone taking me out to lunch as a “good deed” fills me with horror.

Ah, but maybe when you’re really decrepit you’ll see that taking you out helps build character in the other person.  So letting someone help you actually helps them.  Sneaky wisdom, eh? 

Hey, I’m not going to flatter myself that when I’m doddering anyone is going to actually prefer to be with me than out doing something more fun, even if it’s my own kids or grandkids.  But I’ll still appreciate seeing them. 

Even if there were a father god in the sky who helped fortify us with compassion, you’d still have to screw up the courage to be nice to someone you didn’t like, or be patient with someone with dementia, or other good deeds.  Believers pray, “Lord, give me a compassionate heart to…” do so and so.  In my opinion, this type of prayer is as effective as a pep talk.  No magic goodness beaming down from above.  So it makes sense that a person could just accept it as such and give herself encouragement, you know, visualize feeling compassionate to that person.  Potentially the same effect.  Sounds like that’s what you did. 

But I don’t believe in “clicking” into another perspective.  Maybe “cultivating” a different perspective.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  You certainly know that it is not a reasonable expectation to enjoy everything that is necessary to do.  As a matter of fact, a definition of maturity is being able to make yourself do what must be done.  Helping the less fortunate is a necessary thing.  As Nike says: just do it.

Definitely it helps a lot of people to be part of a group with a common goal, to have moral support.  I volunteered at a hospital, and we felt needed and appreciated by staff and patients.  We had uniforms and training and meaningful work.  I really enjoyed giving my time.  Again, when you find the right thing, it’s a joy, not a burden.

 
saralynn
 
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26 September 2012 23:07
 

bobd:  Embrace the nothingness and the need for faith and religion go away.  There is for me:incredible regenerative power in silence. Silence is the canvas our existence is painted on. If there is a god:it has to be silence; doesn’t it?  It’s the only thing thats always been there.  The emptiness inside may not be something to be avoided as it’s the only thing real and permanent. Hope I’m not sounding religious. I’ve tried to falsify silence but it rings true everytime. Someone tell me if I’m wrong.

Hey, this is cool.  Do you want to be my guru? I love silence, but sometimes it gives me the willies. It makes me feel lonely.  Or else I think of a big silent empty cold universe, which makes me feel a bit maudlin.  I know it’s an fascinating silent empty cold universe, but I’d prefer if it were filled with something warm.  No, not oatmeal.  Maybe some Universal Soul or “I am that I am” or “May the Force be with You.”

I’m not afraid of dying and ceasing to exist…I just want a plot, y’know?  No….not THAT kind of plot.  A grand scheme of sorts.

But, I don’t sit around and dwell on these things.  They just pop into mind when I am immersed in silence.  Sometimes it makes me feel peaceful, but sometimes not.  It helps if I get stoned. Drunk, no.  Stoned, yes.  If I get drunk, I end up doing weird things like staring at myself in the mirror. 

Gee whiz.  I sound like a nut.  I am really a reasonable person.  Maybe that’s my problem.  I should have led a life of abandon, like you did.

 
saralynn
 
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26 September 2012 23:32
 

Star: Anyway, what do you think they are driving you to do, repent and reform, or have faith that you did the best you could with what you had at the time and try to do better next time?

Oh, I didn’t make a big deal out of it.  I am an average person with average sins.  It did make me determined to be aware of the power of aversion to take away your freedom.

Hey, I had a really powerful and highly symbolic dream last night.  The other afternoon, I was chatting with my student’s father, who is a devout Muslim.  Not devout in a creepy way, but devout in a way that is beautiful.  His wife is a doctor and she doesn’t wear goofy clothers. He is just a really great guy and I have daddy issues.  He is the best father I have ever met. He sacrifices so much for his children. He works 10 hours a day, then comes home and helps them with their homework.  Anyway, I had jokingly told him in an e-mail that I was thinking of becoming a Sufi.  Remember my Sufi phase?  Anyway, when I finished tutoring his son, he came into the room and talked to me about Islam and why I shouldn’t become a Sufi.  He didn’t know I was being facetious. He thought it was more important to do good in the world than to leave it and live in a cave.  When i left, he said, “Just do good and love God If we all did that, there would be peace in the world.”

So…..last night I dreamt that I was with this man in his house, and a bunch of horrible, violent young men burst into the room.  They called him names and tried to attack him.  (Okay…here’s the good part) When he bent over to protect himself, I leaned against him and extended my arms in the same posture as Jesus on the cross.  “No! No!” I shouted.

Alas, I couldn’t protect him, They pulled me off him and beat the shit out of him.  I woke up crying.  Then, I started thinking…..“If I hadn’t lost my faith, I bet my dream would have had a happy ending.”

 
santhosh
 
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27 September 2012 04:19
 

.

[ Edited: 22 January 2013 05:10 by santhosh]
 
EN
 
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27 September 2012 04:24
 
saralynn - 26 September 2012 09:32 PM

Star: Anyway, what do you think they are driving you to do, repent and reform, or have faith that you did the best you could with what you had at the time and try to do better next time?

Oh, I didn’t make a big deal out of it.  I am an average person with average sins.  It did make me determined to be aware of the power of aversion to take away your freedom.

Hey, I had a really powerful and highly symbolic dream last night.  The other afternoon, I was chatting with my student’s father, who is a devout Muslim.  Not devout in a creepy way, but devout in a way that is beautiful.  His wife is a doctor and she doesn’t wear goofy clothers. He is just a really great guy and I have daddy issues.  He is the best father I have ever met. He sacrifices so much for his children. He works 10 hours a day, then comes home and helps them with their homework.  Anyway, I had jokingly told him in an e-mail that I was thinking of becoming a Sufi.  Remember my Sufi phase?  Anyway, when I finished tutoring his son, he came into the room and talked to me about Islam and why I shouldn’t become a Sufi.  He didn’t know I was being facetious. He thought it was more important to do good in the world than to leave it and live in a cave.  When i left, he said, “Just do good and love God If we all did that, there would be peace in the world.”

So…..last night I dreamt that I was with this man in his house, and a bunch of horrible, violent young men burst into the room.  They called him names and tried to attack him.  (Okay…here’s the good part) When he bent over to protect himself, I leaned against him and extended my arms in the same posture as Jesus on the cross.  “No! No!” I shouted.

Alas, I couldn’t protect him, They pulled me off him and beat the shit out of him.  I woke up crying.  Then, I started thinking…..“If I hadn’t lost my faith, I bet my dream would have had a happy ending.”

Did you really have this dream?  None of my dreams ever have that much meaning.

 
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