The first option deals with whether it is actually the truth about how the world is or not. (pretty obvious), the second is whether the rules it proposes are good enough that it should be regarded as true, even if it isn't. This option also includes treating a faith as true in order to be allowed to be 'part of the in-group' for the social benefits that allows, and the freedom from being ostracized. Any reason for following a faith other than thinking it's actually a good description of how the universe truly is. Question Who's Online | Find Members | Private Messages
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1,782 hits 3.3 (4 votes) Share Favorite | Flag 9 years ago by AndresH

On the subject of religious belief, which do you think is more important when deciding whether or not to follow a particular set of beliefs? (see story)
The first option deals with whether it is actually the truth about how the world is or not. (pretty obvious), the second is whether the rules it proposes are good enough that it should be regarded as true, even if it isn't. This option also includes treating a faith as true in order to be allowed to be 'part of the in-group' for the social benefits that allows, and the freedom from being ostracized. Any reason for following a faith other than thinking it's actually a good description of how the universe truly is.


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9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 3:22:01 PM EST (GMT-5)
I was born and raised in Utah, and I came to loathe the "in group" attitude that religion causes. Sure, if you're a part of the group, you're not ostracized (much), but if you're not a part of that group, you're treated as less than trash.

When a certain religion (or anything, for that matter) is the majority in the area, they let that power go to their heads and turn into something bad.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 3:47:50 PM EST (GMT-5)
I certainly don't want to defend what I suspect harry means by "Utah," but I would say that sometimes what may appear to outsiders to be the majority allowing power to go to their heads may really just be a comfort level and presumption rather than conscientious abuse of power.

I don't see how the votes or comments are going to do much other than split along "party" lines here, andres. I don't know any members of a faith who think the second way. Not people who are fully members of that faith by choice.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 3:57:13 PM EST (GMT-5)
I know, the vote is pretty much irrelevant here. Just thought I'd put the question forum to use.

It's still a nice framework to outline a discussion.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 4:00:03 PM EST (GMT-5)
I don't think anyone who just wants to be part of the in-group would really feel comfortable discussin that stance. (at the risk of losing the status)

But I've certainly seen people claim that Christianity is a good idea, regardless of whether Jesus was divine or not, or even regardless of whether there is a God or not.

At least, I thought it would make for an interesting discussion.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 5:00:12 PM EST (GMT-5)
I've figured that often people use the first option to justify or conceal the fact that they are really interested in the second option. I don't doubt that there are people genuinely steadfast in their faith or adhere to it by default out of ignorance of other beliefs.

Nonetheless, I think the appeal of religion often originates in the comfort it provides through a strong sense of community and reassurance that one is following the right path in life.

Being drawn to these benefits doesn't necessitate a genuine agreement with the overall teachings or details of the religion, which explains the observation I've had that many people who subscribe to a specific religion haven't really studied it much at all.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 5:00:38 PM EST (GMT-5)
I think the whole point of faith is that you're not really supposed to question whether it's true or not. If you actually sat down and dissected every aspect of any particular religious belief, very little of it would stand up to reason. You're supposed to just have faith that it is the truth.

Believing itself is of no benefit whatsoever, but all the ritualistic behaviours, chanting and singing- that sense of being part of a group- has been described as euphoric. Then there's the social aspect of attending worship, which are communities in themselves. The more pious you are, the more respect within that community you can command. Most faiths also promote charity which is also conducted through the place of worship- and who doesn't get a kick out of helping out their fellow man 'just because'?
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 5:01:57 PM EST (GMT-5)
In answer to your question, I think people of faith think they do it because they believe it is the absolute truth- they subconsciously do it because believing is beneficial to them.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 5:02:18 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 4:00:03 PM AndresH wrote:
But I've certainly seen people claim that Christianity is a good idea, regardless of whether Jesus was divine or not, or even regardless of whether there is a God or not.

How do they reason that? Because of the morality it preaches or its effectiveness as a political or social tool?
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 5:07:20 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 5:02:18 PM BlackBird77 wrote:
How do they reason that? Because of the morality it preaches or its effectiveness as a political or social tool?


Political and social tool, surely? Faith based morality has too well a documented history of going astray.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 6:50:27 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 4:00:03 PM AndresH wrote:
But I've certainly seen people claim that Christianity is a good idea, regardless of whether Jesus was divine or not, or even regardless of whether there is a God or not.
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 5:02:18 PM BlackBird77 wrote:
How do they reason that? Because of the morality it preaches or its effectiveness as a political or social tool?

I would think it would be a concession for people as unyielding as andres. If I found myself in a conversation w/ someone whose only real agenda was to tear down my faith, I might extricate myself from it similarly. If the person isn't going to hear you either way, what does it matter?
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 7:25:26 PM EST (GMT-5)
There is also the undiscussed benefit here that can be derived from a particular religion or belief in that you can take it as a metaphor for psycological archetypes for instance. In which you can the use these as tools to develope your self. The ultimate goal then is trancend the gods, not to worship then as actual seperate entities in them self.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 7:33:53 PM EST (GMT-5)
Other areas of personal development are very restricted by faith though. I suppose the most famous example would be the western tradition of the tree of knowledge and original sin. The cautionary tale being 'had you just obeyed and remained ignorant you could have remained in the garden of earthly paradise forever'

Its a strong message.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:30:52 PM EST (GMT-5)
I agree with imagination. Western religion doesn't at all seem to be advocating the transcendence of people over God, and places great emphasis on the supremacy of God over his creations.

There are religions like Buddhism in which there isn't any specified supreme God and instead everyone has the potential to reach a kind of divinity through nirvana, but they still aren't surpassing any supreme being in that case either.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:37:21 PM EST (GMT-5)
I guess I'm confused by what you mean by "actually true"...various philosophies aren't generally considered on some kind of measure of "objective truth", but more their merit in what they're aiming to do

I guess I would consider all of theology to be way more open to interpretation than to consider that it can be so easily put into a category of "true" or "false"

I mean, is empiricism "true"? what would that even mean? that's what I think of when you say the same of Christianity or any other religion
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:40:38 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:30:52 PM BlackBird77 wrote:
I agree with imagination. Western religion doesn't at all seem to be advocating the transcendence of people over God, and places great emphasis on the supremacy of God over his creations. There are religions like Buddhism in which there isn't any specified supreme God and instead everyone has the potential to reach a kind of divinity through nirvana, but they still aren't surpassing any supreme being in that case either.

Eh. Those Western religions are always encouraging self-improvement. That there will always be a level we can't attain doesn't have to be oppressive or anything if we keep working toward it. Knowing that we can't get to a point of perfection can be liberating, too, as we understand it's okay to be imperfect.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:51:44 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:37:21 PM Kungfullama wrote:
I guess I'm confused by what you mean by "actually true"...various philosophies aren't generally considered on some kind of measure of "objective truth", but more their merit in what they're aiming to do I guess I would consider all of theology to be way more open to interpretation than to consider that it can be so easily put into a category of "true" or "false" I mean, is empiricism "true"? what would that even mean? that's what I think of when you say the same of Christianity or any other religion


I've seen you take this argument somewhere else, and was a bit perplexed by it, but I for some reason didn't have time to participate.

Want to go over that whole "is empiricism true" bit?

Empiricism is a filter. It allows things through that filter if it is supported by evidence.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:54:48 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:40:38 PM IRLIteach wrote:
Eh. Those Western religions are always encouraging self-improvement. That there will always be a level we can't attain doesn't have to be oppressive or anything if we keep working toward it. Knowing that we can't get to a point of perfection can be liberating, too, as we understand it's okay to be imperfect.

I never said they weren't. I was arguing the point that, from what I've seen, one of the benefits of organized religions does not include transcending a supreme being.
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:58:10 PM EST (GMT-5)
It's a form of cognitive discipline. It forces us to support our ideas, and prevents a situation where just any old thing anyone can imagine is just as valid as any other thing.

Now, it is possible that things can be true without being empirically testable. But on the whole, science, via reliance on empirical evidence and the scientific method, have produced such a wealth of new knowledge, each built on the evidence, and supported by the function of various devices they have since allowed us to construct. Whereas no hypothesis that has not been empirically verifiable has ever produced anything functional. (indeed, if it had, it would then be empirically testable, but that's another thing)

If something exists without being empirically testable, that means we have no way to interact with it. Or observe it. So it might as well not exist.

9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:58:25 PM EST (GMT-5)
If we allow ourselves to believe something without empirical evidence, we again run into the problem of not knowing which non-empirical thing to believe, and what not. Why is Jehova any more plausible than the flying spaghetti monster?
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 9:10:07 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:58:25 PM AndresH wrote:
If we allow ourselves to believe something without empirical evidence, we again run into the problem of not knowing which non-empirical thing to believe, and what not.

what, you mean like induction?

I think you're on to something though...empiricism is the primary way we understand the observable universe. religion is, for the most part, faith-based; or a counterpart to that
just like applying the scientific method to the God question (which will result in a default agnosticism which I think we can agree isn't really satisfactory in any real sense, and you're hardly shrugging your shoulders when someone asks if God exists) doesn't particularly work, nor would I think a faith-based approach to the physical universe would get you much farther

anyways, there are a few pretty critical questions that are usually glossed
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 9:10:25 PM EST (GMT-5)
over in these discussions...like, what is meant by "God"? that's something philosophers still haven't come to a conclusion on. and how do we define "reality"? how high is our burden of proof? solipsism sounds pretty dumb until you dig a bit deeper into empiricism and rationalism and find out that it's really the only reasonable position without taking a few leaps of faith (albeit the kind of faith that atheists are ok with...you know, the ones that seem self-evident to them and that's enough, whereas with different questions of faith they're much more strict)
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 9:14:36 PM EST (GMT-5)
anyways...when I question what you mean by "is this religion true or not?", I have a feeling we're talking about two vastly different things...you think about a man who was the literal son of God and was brought from the dead and rose to Heaven and is sitting next to his bearded dad known for his temper. which, for a fairy tale, is pretty neat, and as a historical myth, certainly fits the period. as a serious theology? well, that's just the medium that it was sent in. I can only think of a few self-made caricatures of the religion (see: creationists) who will actually think that the literal truth of the story is the important part.

Is there a being, or consciousness, or concept, or something, that can be referred to as God (and who knows what that means) that exists in "reality" (which is equally as vague) ? it's raising pretty much every eternal philosophical question you've got in one
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 9:41:18 PM EST (GMT-5)
I see where you're going here, and I can agree with much of it.

But seriously, how can someone be a christian without believing, on some level, that a man died, stayed dead for a few days, then came back to life and ascended to heaven?

Without that, what is a christian?
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 9:53:24 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 11/3/10 - 8:54:48 PM BlackBird77 wrote:
I never said they weren't.

Oh, geez.
And I never said you said they weren't, nor am I saying you said I said you said they weren't... or were.

andres blinked: He brought up FSM. He's not really interested in understanding, just "winning."
9 yrs ago, 4 mos ago - Wednesday 11/3/10 - 9:56:24 PM EST (GMT-5)
Not so, I deliberately picked two opposite poles on the scale. One thing that is obviously non-true, and another, which a great many people think is true, despite the fact that they have the same basic standing with regard to being empirically provable.

It's to illustrate a problem that arises when you don't have a filter able to differentiate on a non-empirical scale.

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