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The Virtues of Religious Faith

 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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27 September 2012 15:24
 

Rob: 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..

Well, I never had their emotional or intellectual rigidity or aggressiveness, but the content of their belief systems were similar to my own.  You know…a spiritual hiearchy, levels of being, and grace.  Like you, Ramakrishna was one of my heroes, but I also had a thing for Simone Weil (not to the ridiculous extent that Nick does) and Saint Francis, whom I think Mario adores. We both love the mystics. However, I was never a Christian, so my similarities to Mario are limited in that regard. The basic tenets of the church always struck me as prepostrous….y’know…the son of God & raised from the dead stuff.

Project Reason has served me very well since my crisis.  At first it was simply a distraction, but then, after I got to know and appreciate the major posters, I started enjoying it.  I have also learned a great deal because a large number of people here are a heck of a lot smarter than I am. 

As for the providing comfort to me in the wake of my “loss”....not so much.  As you have witnessed, I get riled up when folks start bashing theists for being deadheads or morally corrupt and I think they underestimate the virtues of religion, as I described in my OP.  The vices are obvious, but the virtues shouldn’t be ignored.  It annoys me that people seem incapable of understanding how friggin’ BEAUTIFUL religious faith can be. The religious threads interest me the least.

However, there are posters here with semi-mystical inclinations, which pleases me very much. I look forward to their posts.  And, I like almost everyone here because they are interesting, which is not the case in my “real” life.

 
robbrownsyd
 
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robbrownsyd
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27 September 2012 15:35
 

Thanks for the reply, Saralynn. I find your response to my question satisfying on a number of levels. I won’t expand now but let you get on with your day and maybe we can talk about the levels later.

[ Edited: 27 September 2012 16:20 by robbrownsyd]
 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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27 September 2012 15:52
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 01:24 PM

It annoys me that people seem incapable of understanding how friggin’ BEAUTIFUL religious faith can be.


That’s only because they’re always Other Things re-labeled “Religious Faith”. It’s not the beauty of what people choose to label “Religious Faith” that we’re rejecting (partly at least because they provide True Faithâ„¢ cover and false honor/virtue/merit). Quite the contrary. It’s the relabeling of those things to put them into an unfortunate box that distracts from them and serves no apparent purpose other than to confuse things and add some cultural window dressing that we don’t find attractive because of its associations with lots of various nastiness. At least I’d argue that’s what’s going on a lot of the time, rather than what you describe.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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27 September 2012 16:06
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 11:00 AM

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.

This is the charge that continues to get my goat. I know you think it’s an accurate perception on your part, but it isn’t. It serves to reveal your misunderstanding of both atheism and religion. You’re stuck in the netherworld between the two, not really completely understanding either. I think you claim the possession of non-belief without knowing the how and why of atheism beyond the simplest definition or criteria offered up on another thread about what atheism is or means (eg, it’s simply a statement of non-belief without regard to the method of assessment), with which I wholeheartedly disagreed.

Jefe’s response is precisely the understanding of the distinction between the literal and figurative. As humans, both are valuable: From an artistic/emotional perspective, religious figurative metaphor is a product of creativity and emotional sensitivities, a scientific perspective doesn’t speak in metaphors but is no less a product of creativity with any emotional component arising from the human consideration of the application of its findings (ie, how it is used). This is the battle going on here. I don’t think many or most atheists, at least as observed on this forum, are arguing for one or the other as the total proposition. We’re arguing for each to be put in its place so that they are appropriately understood and applied. The recognition is that science does put religion into its proper perspective, and religion doesn’t like it so that it is slow to evolve. “Atheists” like you and star are not really helping it, not by defending a personal spirituality (non-literal, not the TwistedSister version of a literal spirit entity), over science or atheism, but by disparaging the real value of science. What I perceive is that you’ve broken with traditional religion but only modified it and incorporated it as your own new one, as have the various cited gurus. You certainly insist on maintaining the same archaic language and concepts originating from ancient groups of people from half-way around the world whose plurality is still deeply mired in them. But as I said somewhere else, bashing science doesn’t get you to God, and if it does, its value can’t be all that prized. As you imply, God is just a poetic term, and from my perspective, a pretty lousy one at that because it is taken literally by most of the very adherents you’re inclined to defend. You can parse the text only so much but at some point, recognition of denial is evident. Understanding this leads us back to science, which tells us that poetry is not an inspiration of God, just as love is not, nor are they equated with them, they are inspired and manifested by and equated with our human experience of being. So I get flits of understanding from you and star, but it starts to break down in your attempts to keep religion propped up to its traditional value. We keep talking past each other on this. As I’ve said before, atheism and science as explanatory modes don’t require one to give up anything of a full and rich human experience, so I wish you wouldn’t continue to portray it in the way of our lack of understanding. These are the perceptions and approaches of the BMs and N/As which are wrong, it is not us that are lacking or in denial of something, it is them, we are simply without belief, but for the right reasons, it’s supportable. If not, that kind of atheism could amount to no more than an opposing but equal belief, another charge against atheism that matches the gall of disparaging science.

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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27 September 2012 16:07
 
SkepticX - 27 September 2012 01:52 PM
saralynn - 27 September 2012 01:24 PM

It annoys me that people seem incapable of understanding how friggin’ BEAUTIFUL religious faith can be.


That’s only because they’re always Other Things re-labeled “Religious Faith”. It’s not the beauty of what people choose to label “Religious Faith” that we’re rejecting (partly at least because they provide True Faithâ„¢ cover and false honor/virtue/merit). Quite the contrary. It’s the relabeling of those things to put them into an unfortunate box that distracts from them and serves no apparent purpose other than to confuse things and add some cultural window dressing that we don’t find attractive because of its associations with lots of various nastiness. At least I’d argue that’s what’s going on a lot of the time, rather than what you describe.

I tend to agree with Skep.

The beauty exists in the thing itself, not the concept of faith which one may try to wrap around it.

 
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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27 September 2012 16:17
 

Sorry, guys….many good points, but I have to go to Costco.  Talk about plunging into the world of the mundane…

Click!  Hmmm…lots of good samples there served by friendly people in hairnets.

I’m glad you didn’t get irritated by my snide “poetry” remark, Jefe. But, then, you never get irritated.  Do you have to “click” or is that your basic personality?

 
Jefe
 
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27 September 2012 16:21
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 02:17 PM

Sorry, guys….many good points, but I have to go to Costco.  Talk about plunging into the world of the mundane…

Click!  Hmmm…lots of good samples there served by friendly people in hairnets.

I’m glad you didn’t get irritated by my snide “poetry” remark, Jefe. But, then, you never get irritated.  Do you have to “click” or is that your basic personality?

To be honest, I rarely get irritated. 
I’m generally a cheery inquisitive guy.

If you ever doubt my emotional state from my posting, probably the best description I have is to treat my posts as though they come from a genial librarian-type over a friendly pint of beer.  That will probably be most accurate in most cases.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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27 September 2012 16:24
 
Jefe - 27 September 2012 02:07 PM
SkepticX - 27 September 2012 01:52 PM
saralynn - 27 September 2012 01:24 PM

It annoys me that people seem incapable of understanding how friggin’ BEAUTIFUL religious faith can be.


That’s only because they’re always Other Things re-labeled “Religious Faith”. It’s not the beauty of what people choose to label “Religious Faith” that we’re rejecting (partly at least because they provide True Faithâ„¢ cover and false honor/virtue/merit). Quite the contrary. It’s the relabeling of those things to put them into an unfortunate box that distracts from them and serves no apparent purpose other than to confuse things and add some cultural window dressing that we don’t find attractive because of its associations with lots of various nastiness. At least I’d argue that’s what’s going on a lot of the time, rather than what you describe.

I tend to agree with Skep.

The beauty exists in the thing itself, not the concept of faith which one may try to wrap around it.

Yes, he has a knack for saying what I want to say but in fewer words.

 
 
santhosh
 
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santhosh
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27 September 2012 16:46
 

.

[ Edited: 22 January 2013 05:10 by santhosh]
 
robbrownsyd
 
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27 September 2012 16:53
 

DUSTY: We were once the children of the father of all things, and now we’re children of the father of all things.

“...the father of all things…”? Yuk! Is that deliberate numinous nonsense? Sounds like something a preacher or a two bit mystic would come up with.  I see where you’re coming from, Dusty, but, as you are all too aware, we can play silly games with words (as religion does all the time) and they can get us into trouble in terms of clear thinking. Good for fingering teh credulous, though. Best speak plainly, IMO.

EDIT: Sorry, just went back and noticed your penultimate “Oh, shit…” line. I think you get it already. You had me fooled for a bit.

[ Edited: 27 September 2012 17:02 by robbrownsyd]
 
can zen
 
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can zen
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27 September 2012 17:02
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 01:24 PM

However, there are posters here with semi-mystical inclinations, which pleases me very much. I look forward to their posts.  And, I like almost everyone here because they are interesting, which is not the case in my “real” life.

As you are aware saralynn I’ve been debating/discussing with Nick on that extra-long thread because I too found something fascinating about his devotion to mysticism and I wanted to flush out why he believes in the reality of that kind of metaphysics when he really doesn’t seem to have any personal experience that any of it is real?

He certainly has all the possible categories of exitence “worked out” and he manages to rationalize almost every criticism I’ve made within the context of that imaginary world view which I feel is based almost exclusively on ideas.

I much prefer the mysticism of people like yourself and stardust, at least a real conversation is possible with the both of you . . . and that’s what’s most interesting.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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27 September 2012 17:21
 
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.

Quote I recall from a long ago lecture, referring to Socrates: “He would say, if you say that the flower is beautiful, what is it that makes you say this?  With that he was really pushing people to recognize the internal being that has no words.”

 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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27 September 2012 17:23
 
stardust91977 - 27 September 2012 02:46 PM

Isn’t that just hopelessly bizarre for an atheist? I still feel silly saying it, but it’s true because God is a label that we impose on the source of existence.

Only if you conceive of a separate source of existence rather than existence being comprised of changing forms not unlike Campbell’s eternity is now. Therefore, it’s not my father, nor am I its child, it’s my sibling.

 
 
burt
 
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27 September 2012 17:24
 
saralynn - 27 September 2012 02:17 PM

Sorry, guys….many good points, but I have to go to Costco.  Talk about plunging into the world of the mundane…

Click!  Hmmm…lots of good samples there served by friendly people in hairnets.

I’m glad you didn’t get irritated by my snide “poetry” remark, Jefe. But, then, you never get irritated.  Do you have to “click” or is that your basic personality?

Talk about plunging into the cave of the human condition….

 
santhosh
 
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santhosh
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27 September 2012 21:03
 

.

[ Edited: 22 January 2013 05:10 by santhosh]
 
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