1. Joined
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    28 Nov '15 13:44
    I wrote this a few years ago in response to a lady pushing the Bahia faith. I wanted to set down my thoughts without offending her. I am bound to offend someone anyway?


    Random thoughts on Religion and the nature of belief

    What do I believe? What does it mean when we use the word “believe”? (OED; feel sure of the truth, have faith) (Faith; complete trust, strong belief). So to believe is not the same as to “know” (be absolutely sure of something). We choose to “believe” in ideas that appeal to us, to ideas or things that our previous experience has made us receptive or comfortable with. We concur with ideas that are in harmony with pre-existing ideas. We could say that “belief” is closer in meaning to “choice” than knowledge.

    The pressure to make a choice
    From an early age we are taught that it is encumbrant on us to accept the “truth” of whatever religion our family, school or society adopts. As we become more aware of the richness of choice, the wide variety of beliefs, we may decide to give more credence to a different set of beliefs. We may eventually come to the conclusion that they all appeal in different ways, and all are sublimely seductive in language and “spirit”. If we are to take advantage of our natural rights, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then we may eventually realise that we don’t have to make a choice at all. The notions of “good” “bad” implicit with the dogmas confuse and contaminate reasoning until we realise that they too can be abandoned in favour of caring and responsible behaviour.

    Natural Moral values
    Good manners are born out of convenience. We choose to protect each other from harm. The alternative would be catastrophic. We choose to eat with our mouths closed (most of us) and our elbows tucked in for the sake of our fellow diners. We choose to honour our parents as we would wish to be honoured. All of this is a convenient way of behaving for the safe, comfortable and harmonious propagation of our species.

    Artificial or invented values
    A man sits under a tree or meditates in a cave for a long time. He then announces to his friends that he has found an ideal way of behaving or thinking which will lead to fulfilment. He teaches his friends. They teach theirs and so on. Despite the sense or otherwise of his teachings, over a long period of time, interpretation and distortion play their part in producing a set of rigid and elaborate regulations and rituals. The original idea has become a huge structure of thought. A hierarchy has evolved, together with temples, uniforms, rituals and grand titles. The organisation splits into various factions, which eventually vie with each other in the belief that they each have the real truth. This leads to a desire for power and control.

    Selling the idea
    The above represents to me, the general trends of religious ideologies and philosophical thought. I find in all religions attractive ideas pertaining to the nature of God, why we are here and where we are going. It’s easy to be carried along with a series of theories which seem to be logically progressive but are reliant on an initial platform of supposed truth. For example, biblical writings are inspired by God or that the Pope is infallible because he has a direct line to Jesus. In the end we should acknowledge that we don’t really know anything which is outside of our tactile experience.

    An alternative?
    Educating people to think of themselves as simply members of the human race, not divided into groups of Christians, Muslims, Jews or any other sect. The more strongly one associates oneself with a specific group, the more real the imaginary wall surrounding that group appears, and the more one group feels alienated or threatened by those outside of the wall. By concentrating on natural moral behaviour, the caring, generous and respectful attitude towards each other, we could then gradually abandon the rituals and dogmas that lead us to believe we are segregated from each other.

    My own “beliefs”
    As it happens, I do think there could be some supreme being or entity at the heart of the universe. I can’t explain or justify why, and to my knowledge no one can prove or disprove this. It may well be that this “God” is what we and the universe is made up of, rather than an outside entity. It is because we are incapable of proof that I don’t take man-made and organised religions seriously. Without proof they are all conjecture and supposition, some more attractive and believable than others.







    Footnote
    The fact that astronomies change while the stars abide is a true analogy of every realm of human life and thought, religion not least of all. No existent theology can be a final formulation of a spiritual truth.
    HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK

    I have only a small flickering light to guide me in the darkness of a thick forest. Up comes a theologian and blows it out.
    DENIS DIDEROT

    Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it ...or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings―that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
    THE BUDDHA
  2. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
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    28 Nov '15 14:39
    Originally posted by brush
    I wrote this a few years ago in response to a lady pushing the Bahia faith. I wanted to set down my thoughts without offending her. I am bound to offend someone anyway?


    Random thoughts on Religion and the nature of belief

    What do I believe? What does it mean when we use the word “believe”? (OED; feel sure of the truth, have faith) (Faith; complete trus ...[text shortened]... welfare of all beings―that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
    THE BUDDHA
    Knowledge is defined as justified belief which is true. It is factive because of the truth requirement, the interesting part lies in the justification. Someone called Gettier pointed out that one can have a justified belief in something which is true by accident, so there are side constraints (I'll give the example below). A belief does not require justification in itself, it is a belief whether there is any good reason for an agent to hold it or not. However, since the enlightenment most of us try to justify our beliefs within some sort of rational framework. If you've ever watched the Hammer film Quatermass and the Pit there is a good example of a world view contradicting evidence. They find a flying saucer when doing tunneling for the London Underground, Quatermass correctly identifies it as a spaceship from Mars. The army colonel and the Minister for Defence think it is a Second World War propaganda V-weapon, designed to instill panic, and ridicule Quatermass. Their only basis for this is that aliens from Mars is too ridiculous to be believed. Basically they ignore the evidence when confronted with it because it conflicts with common sense. Of course, because it's a Hammer Horror film, Quatermass turns out to be right, but only after the press get too close and unwittingly unleash the telepathic powers of the long dead Martians.

    The point I'm getting at is that the framework for beliefs tends to be what guides them. We believe things because we believe other things compatible with them. The justification tends to be in terms of the framework.

    I'm not sure I agree that religious and cultural divisions are artificial. The human mind can cope with about two hundred people. That is to say that it's possible to keep track of two hundred odd people's names and at least regard them as acquaintances. There are seven billion people in the world and I believe we need these things to cope with that. Besides, Bhuddism evolved in separation from Christianity, so it's not really surprising they are different.

    Gettier: Suppose I went for a job and at the interview there was another candidate. We start chatting and as we are doing this she puts a fiver in her wallet having bought a newspaper on her way in. During the chat it becomes obvious to me that she is better qualified. So I believe that the person who will get the job has a five pound note in their wallet. Unbeknown to me the interviewer are all dreadful sexists and give the job to me, further I happen to have a fiver lurking in the bottom of my wallet. So I had a justified (she was the better candidate and had a fiver in her wallet) belief that was true (I had a fiver in my wallet too) that the person getting the job had a five pound note in their wallet. This can hardly count as knowledge, so the Gettier side constraint is roughly that one is not allowed to be right by accident.
  3. Joined
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    28 Nov '15 16:28
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    Knowledge is defined as justified belief which is true. It is factive because of the truth requirement, the interesting part lies in the justification. Someone called Gettier pointed out that one can have a justified belief in something which is true by accident, so there are side constraints (I'll give the example below). A belief does not require ju ...[text shortened]... edge, so the Gettier side constraint is roughly that one is not allowed to be right by accident.
    Nice post.
  4. Standard memberKellyJay
    Walk your Faith
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    28 Nov '15 18:121 edit
    Originally posted by brush
    I wrote this a few years ago in response to a lady pushing the Bahia faith. I wanted to set down my thoughts without offending her. I am bound to offend someone anyway?


    Random thoughts on Religion and the nature of belief

    What do I believe? What does it mean when we use the word “believe”? (OED; feel sure of the truth, have faith) (Faith; complete trus ...[text shortened]... welfare of all beings―that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
    THE BUDDHA
    Personally, I think we can believe what we will and in the end, the end will take care of
    itself with or without us. If truth is dependent on me to be true, than it isn't a truth anyone
    else can enjoy except me. If the Truth is something beyond me, something greater, than
    again no matter what I believe or not, the truth will take care of itself with or without me.

    If I have to preform, if I have to hold specific thoughts in my head, if I have to depend on
    myself than I have nothing but my own efforts.

    Now my faith is not in me, it is in One who died and rose from the dead so I could be
    forgiven, so I can rest in the work He did for us all. If the truth is a matter of personal
    achievement or mindset we will never rise above our choices and thoughts. If we are
    being drawn to One greater than us, which I believe we are, we can hope in someone
    much stronger and caring than us, a much surer foundation than one I can create for
    myself.

    So I'll trust in the amazing love I've been shown through Jesus Christ, a love I fail so
    much to deserve. He is my sure foundation, the One more faithful than I.
  5. Joined
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    28 Nov '15 22:16
    Thank you for your comments. I didn’t intend this to be an ongoing argument, I merely wanted to emphasize that ‘belief’ is the acceptance of an alleged fact without positive knowledge or proof. As you say, something may turn out to be true by accident. I am quite happy to think or hope there may be a God of some sort but have no reason to say that I believe it.

    “ . . . the framework for beliefs tend to be what guides them. We believe things because we believe other things compatible with them.” Yes I agree.

    The problem with religious beliefs are that they don’t usually qualify as statements of fact and don’t always agree with each other and so cause arguments, disputes and war. I could have posed the question; why is faith so highly considered?

    I have to admit to not understanding your last paragraph, re the five pound notes in purses but thanks for giving me your views anyway.
  6. Standard memberRJHinds
    The Near Genius
    Fort Gordon
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    29 Nov '15 01:07
    Originally posted by brush
    I wrote this a few years ago in response to a lady pushing the Bahia faith. I wanted to set down my thoughts without offending her. I am bound to offend someone anyway?


    Random thoughts on Religion and the nature of belief

    What do I believe? What does it mean when we use the word “believe”? (OED; feel sure of the truth, have faith) (Faith; complete trus ...[text shortened]... welfare of all beings―that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
    THE BUDDHA
    Not one quote from THE CHRIST?
  7. SubscriberSuzianne
    Misfit Queen
    Isle of Misfit Toys
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    29 Nov '15 08:02
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Personally, I think we can believe what we will and in the end, the end will take care of
    itself with or without us. If truth is dependent on me to be true, than it isn't a truth anyone
    else can enjoy except me. If the Truth is something beyond me, something greater, than
    again no matter what I believe or not, the truth will take care of itself with or w ...[text shortened]... rist, a love I fail so
    much to deserve. He is my sure foundation, the One more faithful than I.
    Nice post.

    🙂
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