Is faith a reliable path to knowledge?

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by James R, Jul 23, 2015.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Then surely the issue to be addressed is not the "lack of evidence" or "there is evidence", but on how we reach that starting point. If all we do is shout "it's not evidence", or "I don't believe because there is no evidence" then we will forever be at loggerheads with those that retort that "everything is evidence" or "you can't comprehend the evidence" etc.

    What is it that causes some people to accept the definition as an a priori truth to the question of evidence, whereas some don't?
     
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    This is why we can have endless debates about the existence of God, never resolving the question. Theists start with the assumption that God exists, whereas atheists tend to want something objective that we can agree is evidence of God, as opposed to evidence of natural processes.

    I think that, fundamentally, its wishful thinking, perhaps combined with a fear of chaos. It's a comforting idea to believe that someone is "in charge" of the universe, that there is a purpose to it all, and that somebody "bigger" is concerned for our wellbeing in some sense. Maybe it's the desire for a kind of a super-parent who will continue to look after us even when we're adults.

    There's also a need to feel significant, maybe. So, religion tells us that God considers human beings to be a particularly special part of his creation. Religion puts us at centre stage of God's supposed Creation. The alternative is to recognise that we live on one planet among billions in an unremarkable corner of an unremarkable galaxy, while there's a vast universe out there that cares nothing about us as individuals. It's no surprise that some people are frightened by that kind of view of things.

    So, in short, it's probably tied up with the individual's views on the meaning of life. If you're the kind of person who needs the comfort of thinking that your life is externally validated by a Higher Power, then God is an attractive kind of belief.

    Psychologically, I also think we're primed to search out agency in things. And sometimes our agent-finding mental radar goes awry, so that it's easy to perceive agency where there is none. In times past, we said that Thor's hammer caused thunder, for example, because we didn't understand the natural cause and it was obvious that something powerful was involved. Understandable to assume, therefore, that the cause could be a powerful person-like being.
     
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    If we define 'faith' as confidence and trust in the truth of things that remain logically and factually uncertain, then the answer should be reasonably obvious.

    If the evidences for God's existence and God's nature aren't slam-dunks, if the epistemological case for those things remains uncertain, then believing in their truth, and having enough confidence in those beliefs to live one's entire life based on them, will inevitably go beyond the evidence and require faith (as defined above).

    I don't think that's this psychological process is unique to religion. The physicist's belief in the existence and universal applicability of laws of physics is an example of a similar sort of faith.
     
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Physicists don't hold any a priori belief in the universal applicability of the laws of physics. In fact, there is ongoing research on such matters as: are the laws of physics the same in different physical regions of the universe? Were the laws of physics the same in the distant past as they are now?
     
  8. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    Like any relationship one develops trust and confidence over time. Faith isn't something you flaunt. It is like compassion, it kicks in when it needs to.

    Believing in God, for me, does not require faith. It is a default position.

    That is your understanding of it, because you require external evidences in order to accept that God exists.

    I think the confusion lies in the thinking that it is like that for everyone. When in fact, it's not.

    He may need faith if he/she is conducting an experiment based on
    hypothetical/theoretical information where some kind of danger could possibly ensue. But faith is not necessary to accept the laws of nature.

    Jan.
     
  9. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I think that there typically is an a priori philosophical assumption built into physics that physical laws are both necessary and universal. (It's certainly assumed that mathematics and logic are.)

    We see it all the time in cosmological speculation.

    We see it when physicists try to derive being itself from quantum field theory. (Quantum fields are obviously foundational and presumably eternal in those schemes.) We see it in the speculations about all the high-energy physics imagined as taking place in the first instants after the 'big bang'. (Physicists assume that they have some grasp of the principles involved.) We see it in the speculations about cosmological constants and dark energy, the large-scale structure of space-time and stuff like that. And we see it in speculations about what the ultimate fate of the universe might be. Cosmology is all about extrapolating the known 'laws of physics' into new and extreme situations.

    The problems encountered a century ago extrapolating classical physics onto the microscale might be a bit of a warning about pushing too hard. But physicists continue to do it, and in my opinion that's an illustration of the kind of faith found in the scientific sphere. I'm not suggesting having some degree of confidence in things that we don't know with absolute certainty is always a bad thing. Human beings couldn't live their lives any other way. I'm just pointing it out and expressing my opinion about it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
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  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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  11. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    Education

    Or more specific lack of education

    Sure some very well educated people have faith

    Most of the faith being brain washed into them very early in life

    If they take up Science the acceptance of faith becomes

    Is it not wounderous how god made everything work so detailed?

    without ever looking for god

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  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Where would you look?
     
  13. river Valued Senior Member

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    Everywhere

    god is not a religion , god is in everything .
     
  14. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    Personally I wouldn't bother

    I don't believe god exist so it would be a total waste of time

    I SUSPECT those in the sciences also know it would be a waste of time to look for god on a Scientific basis

    So they go along with their faith

    Might well be but which came first?

    Did they find evidence the bible was wrong? or

    Did they think the bible was wrong and started to look for evidence to confirm?

    Wasn't the ' odd ' movements of the planets the reason the ' fact ' that the sun went around the world was called into question?

    ?
     
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    I agree, and that is why we are beginning to see a subtle change in modern religions.

    There are now two popes who have admitted that *evolutions* is true., which basically destroys the notion of Adam and Eve, and reduces it (and the Creation story) to pure metaphor.

    p.s. IMO, religion came first, however, one can make an argument that this is the first rudimentary science of asking how the universe came into existence, without knowledge of how things work..
    The problem is that religion claims truth and demands strict adherence to religious practices to incur the favor of the gods, whereas science specifically asks for proofs of how the universe works, which immediately brought the Creationist story and all other *miracles* into question.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  16. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    That would be one observation

    I thought the prevailing view, sometime ago of course, when science could be said to be ascending, religion had no time for science

    god made everything and that was that

    No need to check anything

    Today my understanding of the pope is he is considered infallible in matters of SPIRIT

    In SECULAR matters however an ordinary Joe Blogs (admittedly with a large number of SECULAR advisors)

    With a prevailing view the Earth was created by god I would have thought that type of outlook

    would skew ideas of everything being from god and IS hence SPIRITUAL

    Problems arise when ANY religion confuses spiritual matters with secular matters

    Please feel free to say the Earth is only 6,000 years old and gather your adult acolytes

    I do find it strange that Young Earthers TRY to use the science they dispise to prove their views

    Education might have a uphill battle to educate kids fast enough to insulate them this stupidity

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  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    Actually religion forbade science as heresy on penalty of death.
    Actually, these popes expressed the consensus of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a formidable body of scientists.
    The problem is that the Bible IS the revealed word and therefore you cannot cherry-pick what is spiritual metaphor or *declared* physical miracle.

    I believe that stems from exercising control.
    One is free to say that, but of course it would be scientifically wrong.
    Ironic indeed. In the end it will prove them wrong, which is actually a good outcome.

    To my dismay, the "separation clause" in the US Constitution is no longer obeyed.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  18. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

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    With ' In god we trust ' on the money was it ever?

    And tonight (evening in Darwin Australia about 8pm) Trump signing something to protect religious freedoms

    I find it strange that a shop that makes wedding cakes doesn't want to make a cake for a gay couple and turns away a customer

    OK not really a problem if you wish to run your business as per your morals so be it

    Even stranger is the gay couple wanting the cake made there

    I would be extremely worried about what would go into it

    Even stranger still the Govenment getting in to sort out the stupidity

    I think the separation failed when the Govenment employee at a marriage licence issuing office overstepped her bounds by refusing to issue a licence to a gay couple

    You could make a case she would be uncomfortable about doing it and sacking would be hard on her

    Hope she was moved to a department where such moral problems would not arise

    Faith is OK for everyday events although I would downgrade it to an expectation

    But as a pathway to knowledge there are not enough letters in the alphabet to give it a low enough fail grade

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  19. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    Good. As it is a stupid remark.

    Jan.
     
  20. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    If you cannot falsify it, does it mean that God does not exist?

    You mean for a small percentage of the world population, across time? Why should their insubstantial points be taken seriously?

    What needs to be shown, and who needs to see it??

    Jan.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  21. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    Good to see you exercising your agnostic side, even if you only do it with atheists.

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    Jan.
     
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not sure that I would set out to falsify it, I don't think that I want to argue that way. (Yes, I realize you are thinking of Popper there.)

    I think that I would inquire into what "Everything counts as evidence for God" means. If 'everything' is evidence of God, then how does that work? How is everything evidence of God? Some kind of relationship between 'God' and 'everything' is seemingly being asserted, and I'd try to understand more about what it is and what kind of claim is being made.

    Is 'everything' identical to 'God'? If so, and if 'God' is just a synonym for 'reality', why not use the word 'reality' and avoid all the gratuitous theological stuff? If the additional theological stuff isn't misleading, if it's really adding something important to our understanding of reality, then what are those valuable things? Another line of investigation along the same lines would address the fact that most monotheistic theologies aren't pantheistic in this way. They draw a huge distinction between creator and creation, between the material world and the divine. So how would this identity thesis be consistent with traditional theism?

    If saying that everything is evidence of God isn't an assertion of identity, but rather an assertion of some kind of ontological dependence, then how does the religious assertion differ from conventional metaphysics? Does reducing God to whatever it is that hypothetically explains the reality of reality, really preserve all the theological properties of God? Or does it reduce God to nothing more than a philosophical function? Why consider this function a person and why worship it as holy? What, if anything, does this metaphysical thing have to do with the world's religious traditions?

    I think that there are no end of questions that can be asked about all of this stuff.

    At the very least it might help me understand the philosophy religion a little better. And what's more, it will probably help religious people understand their own faith commitments better as well. In my experience, with the exception of trained philosophical theologians, most theists have never thought about these kind of questions.

    This btw, is part of the reason why I consider myself an atheist regarding the Biblical Yahweh, the Islamic Allah and the various gods of Hindu monotheism, including Krishna. And it's why I consider myself an agnostic regarding the big metaphysical questions such as how did reality originate, what sustains it from moment to moment and what explains its apparent order. I don't have a clue what the answer is to those kind of questions. But I'm reasonably confident (though I can't "prove", that's more or less how I define 'faith') that whatever the answers might be (assuming that answers even exist and that humans can comprehend them) that they bear any resemblance to the deities of religious myth.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
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  23. spidergoat Speak of the Devil Valued Senior Member

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    No, it just means the argument is bullshit.
     

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