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The Virtues of Religious Faith

 
BobD3623
 
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BobD3623
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27 September 2012 04:38
 
saralynn - 26 September 2012 09:07 PM

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.

Sure! I will be your guru! I accept offerings of cash and/or chocolate.  LOL. If only staring at myself in the mirror when I was drunk was all I did, life would have been a lot less painful.  As it turns out…drinking put me in a totally unrecognizable state.  Sometimes Nebraska, sometimes Kansas, sometimes Nevada, one time in Mexico (ouch), etc…etc…You get my point. You can’t really be immersed in silence and have things popping into your head at the same time. It’s not silence. But the only way to arrive at silence is to simply watch those things that pop into your head without judgement. Once you get there though…well…you have to do it to understand it. I’m not talking any mystical based bs…I’m talking the reality of simply “no thought”.
EDIT: I correct myself. Thought always operates at some rudimentary level unless one is brain dead. I guess…more accurately, I would call it “awareness without a storyline”.

[ Edited: 27 September 2012 04:46 by BobD3623]
 
santhosh
 
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santhosh
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27 September 2012 06:28
 

.

[ Edited: 22 January 2013 05:10 by santhosh]
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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27 September 2012 12:01
 

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

Yes, I really had this dream. My dreams are usually nonsensical and, like you, I seldom have significant dreams with a coherent plot and symbols.  I don’t ever recall waking up crying from a dream, except once, when I was little, that involved an atom bomb exploding. (good ole 50’s nightmare).

 
saralynn
 
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27 September 2012 12:23
 

Star: Dreams are so fascinating but I’d be haunted by the violence and the stark reality of that one for days. No wonder you were crying.

What did you lose faith in God, man, or yourself?

If you want to know what my faith involved, just read Nick’s posts…you know the guy with the Simone Weil fixation. I’d also add a touch of Mario, but without the Catholic dogma.  I believed we could develop a “living realationship” with God.

Then, after a series of personal crisis which knocked me off a cliff and into a briar patch, it suddenly occurred to me that it was all bullshit. Beautiful bullshit…but a fabrication nonetheless. 

However, I am nostalgic for that world I created, which is why I bitch and moan so much on Project Reason.  It is also why I am SO protective of theists.  Many atheists revel in the freedom of their “non-faith” and insist that “oh, life is so wonderful without God & we love each other in the wilderness of nothingness, so who needs God, boy oh boy, the universe is fascinating and the coffee tastes delightful in the morning, that’s all I need aren’t I courageous, besides I am virtuous without expectation of reward, so fuck those ignorant theists who cause ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD!!!!

Hey, it’s fun stereotyping atheists.  Maybe that’s why they do it so often to theists.

 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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27 September 2012 12:24
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 10:01 AM

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

Yes, I really had this dream. My dreams are usually nonsensical and, like you, I seldom have significant dreams with a coherent plot and symbols.  I don’t ever recall waking up crying from a dream, except once, when I was little, that involved an atom bomb exploding. (good ole 50’s nightmare).

I wonder if we here are symbolized by the horrible men who barged in and attacked him while you tried your best to protect him. Sorry to make you cry.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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27 September 2012 12:35
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 10:23 AM

Star: Dreams are so fascinating but I’d be haunted by the violence and the stark reality of that one for days. No wonder you were crying.

What did you lose faith in God, man, or yourself?

If you want to know what my faith involved, just read Nick’s posts…you know the guy with the Simone Weil fixation. I’d also add a touch of Mario, but without the Catholic dogma.  I believed we could develop a “living realationship” with God.

Then, after a series of personal crisis which knocked me off a cliff and into a briar patch, it suddenly occurred to me that it was all bullshit. Beautiful bullshit…but a fabrication nonetheless. 

However, I am nostalgic for that world I created, which is why I bitch and moan so much on Project Reason.  It is also why I am SO protective of theists.  Many atheists revel in the freedom of their “non-faith” and insist that “oh, life is so wonderful without God & we love each other in the wilderness of nothingness, so who needs God, boy oh boy, the universe is fascinating and the coffee tastes delightful in the morning, that’s all I need aren’t I courageous, besides I am virtuous without expectation of reward, so fuck those ignorant theists who cause ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD!!!!

Hey, it’s fun stereotyping atheists.  Maybe that’s why they do it so often to theists.

If I were to gather thoughts like you just expressed here, I’d be desperate to make some serious adjustments. I don’t think either of those descriptions or anything in between them are a good reflection of reality. The whole thing needs revision on a completely different track. It seems to me you’re missing both sides of the argument altogether.

 
 
saralynn
 
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27 September 2012 12:38
 

Hannah: But I don’t believe in “clicking” into another perspective.  Maybe “cultivating” a different perspective.  Don’t be so hard on yourself

I guess I cultivate by clicking.  Clicking fascinates me.  You can change the world in an instant.  The problem is you have to remember to click as well as want to click.  Sometimes I think I want to click, but, for some reason, I really don’t.  I want to pout or brood or wallow.  Not sure why.  I guess it is laziness.  Clicking takes a certain amount of intellectual effort.  Also….the intellect is a paltry thing compared to the emotions.

Which, now that I think about it, brings me back to the virtues of religious faith.  In terms of personal transformation (the positive kind, not the negative kind) it really helps to have “inspiration” which is usually empowered by what may be irrational beliefs….like, for instance, that God cares about me.  Of course, like all things, this same belief can elicit destructive forces as well. 

There’s two sides to everything, I guess.  What helps create virtue can also help create viciousness.

 
saralynn
 
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27 September 2012 12:45
 

Answerer: If I were to gather thoughts like you just expressed here, I’d be desperate to make some serious adjustments. I don’t think either of those descriptions or anything in between them are a good reflection of reality. The whole thing needs revision on a completely different track. It seems to me you’re missing both sides of the argument altogether.

Hey, I just woke up.  I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee yet.  I will be much nicer by lunchtime.

Yeah….I bitch about atheists, but I do spend a lot of time hanging around with them on this site, don’t you think? If I found them to be as obnoxious I sometimes claim they are, I’d be…....Mario.

 
saralynn
 
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27 September 2012 12:49
 

BTW, Answerer, you inspired me….

Answerer: Science and the knowledge it produces enhances our existence and experience in a way that makes our hopes a better reality. It’s all on us, our consciousness, and there are various methods with which to pursue those ideals without resorting to the creation of a higher consciousness outside ourselves. Your desires and longings, I think, are misapplied. They require egoistic thought which keeps us from experiencing the real now or pure experience, with all its beauty and its uncomfortable heartache. It’s nice to have others that inspire us, but most of the time, since we live in our own skin (“This is it. You are it.”), the inspiration must come from ourselves. Part of that is recognizing whom and what is worthy of inspiration. One person’s charismatic leader, is another person’s fraud. The “how to” book comes in many forms, but for the life of me, I don’t see how people think that religious text is superior to all that has surpassed it. It’s all grounded in the same inescapable roots, that of reflection on the human condition as we navigate our environment.

As a matter of fact, there have been a lot of inspirational responses on this thread. Go figure.

 
saralynn
 
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27 September 2012 13:00
 

Jefe: 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.

You said everything in your first sentence.  Yes, it is poetic, which is another form of understanding.  If you don’t “get” the defintion, it may be because you are interpreting it literally, which seems to be the case given your response. 

It would be similar to you explaining to William Blake why he can’t really see a world in a grain of sand or Heaven in a wild flower.

 
robbrownsyd
 
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27 September 2012 13:00
 

SARALYNN: If you want to know what my faith involved, just read Nick’s posts:you know the guy with the Simone Weil fixation. I’d also add a touch of Mario…

Oh, yuk! What a combination! Saralynn, you poor girl. That must have been awful for you in the end. Surely you must be glad you grew out of that. Do you think you have benefited by being a regular poster/chatter at PR? I think I have. Has it not provided a sort of bridge (or fence) for you between loopy theism and hard nosed materialism? Did it provide a sort of soft landing for you? If it does provide that, at least for some people, then I think PR is fulfilling its purpose to some extent.

 
goodgraydrab
 
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27 September 2012 14:04
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 10:38 AM

Hannah: But I don’t believe in “clicking” into another perspective.  Maybe “cultivating” a different perspective.  Don’t be so hard on yourself

I guess I cultivate by clicking.  Clicking fascinates me.  You can change the world in an instant.  The problem is you have to remember to click as well as want to click.  Sometimes I think I want to click, but, for some reason, I really don’t.  I want to pout or brood or wallow.  Not sure why.  I guess it is laziness.  Clicking takes a certain amount of intellectual effort.  Also….the intellect is a paltry thing compared to the emotions.

Which, now that I think about it, brings me back to the virtues of religious faith.  In terms of personal transformation (the positive kind, not the negative kind) it really helps to have “inspiration” which is usually empowered by what may be irrational beliefs….like, for instance, that God cares about me.  Of course, like all things, this same belief can elicit destructive forces as well. 

There’s two sides to everything, I guess.  What helps create virtue can also help create viciousness.

I think it works both ways. Cultivating it through meditation is the best way so that it becomes incorporated as a regular practice that is more readily available to apply or becomes automatic. Clicking or jumping also occurs either by momentary will or all by itself (subconsciously) as a normal available human function, only many times, it is not recognized when it actually happens if one is not in tune or familiar with it, and it can be such a brief glimpse that it doesn’t stay at the forefront of consciousness for more than a moment and it’s not realized. But, I think bobd is right, as long as you’re thinking about all this (religion and such) in a mundane, superficial or emotional fashion, you’re not getting any closer to actually experiencing it, which you then can describe in a rational fashion. That’s why I say Mario, N/A, et al are farther from spirituality than some atheists, because they talk a lot and whatever experience they may have had is misinterpreted and filtered through the logic (or illogic as the case may be) of religious/guru belief/doctrines that have left them in a state of extreme self-inflation. Yet, they want to preach their truths to others who know damn-well their parameters are farthest from it. I am of the conclusion/realization that enlightenment doesn’t lead to God, it leads to pure natural existence with no need to couch it in often confusing, ambiguous and misleading religious concepts and terms other than in nature itself.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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27 September 2012 14:18
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 10:49 AM

As a matter of fact, there have been a lot of inspirational responses on this thread. Go figure.

You must have been the inspirationsmile

 
 
Jefe
 
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27 September 2012 14:27
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 11:00 AM

Jefe: 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.

You said everything in your first sentence.  Yes, it is poetic, which is another form of understanding.  If you don’t “get” the defintion, it may be because you are interpreting it literally, which seems to be the case given your response. 

It would be similar to you explaining to William Blake why he can’t really see a world in a grain of sand or Heaven in a wild flower.

I believe you are projecting onto me. 
Poetic is not another form of understanding.  What it is is an emotional response to beautiful words.
There is value in the emotional charge we get from beautiful words or music or art.  But they do not usually equate to a greater understanding of the cosmos around us. As is the case with this quote, words have been reassembled to resonate with our sense of the beautiful, but they do not convey any particular meaning outside of appreciation of that beauty.

If you bring these words outside of the KJV they are less poetic.  And still no more meaningful than the analysis above.
The NIV version of HEB 11:1 is pretty mundane. 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

As for your ‘taking things literally’ comment, I can only shrug.  If you want to use flowery non-specific poetry to describe an already cloudy concept like faith, that’s your choice, but you’re not increasing understanding or your ability to communicate what you’re trying to say.  When asked for a definition of faith, you give us the KJV poetry, and then complain when we want a more specific concept to work from.

AND each and every example I’ve given are examples of faith-based behaviours.  I notice you don’t attempt to refute those.

Don’t get me wrong, poetry and beautiful language have their place, but when trying to understand a difficult and baggage laden concept, they’re probably not the most useful means of achieving understanding.

[ Edited: 27 September 2012 14:35 by Jefe]
 
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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27 September 2012 14:49
 

Answerer: I wonder if we here are symbolized by the horrible men who barged in and attacked him while you tried your best to protect him. Sorry to make you cry.

Definitely not.  The young men symbolized emotional and intellectual irrationally, which I occasionally, but not often see on this Forum. Maybe the emotional….but never the intellectual.  I see it everytime I turn on the tv…everytime I drive my car….everytime I go to an extended family celebration… everytime I misplace the remote control and my husband has a meltdown. (If we only had one remote control it might be semi-reasonable, but we have two It drives him crazy that I am the type of person who misplaces a remote control.  How can that be?  ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS PUT IT DOWN IN THE SAME PLACE ALL THE TIME!!!)  He doesn’t know it, but I have frequently misplaced my car.

 
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