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Friday, January 20, 2006

Question of the Day #22: "It's faith!"

Amazingly, some Christians, when challenged on the merit of their beliefs, will simply put on a brave face and say, "It's just faith.", as if that makes sense. I'm always taken aback by this response. It's like saying, "I am aware that the assumptions I make are irreconcilably with the world as I experience it, but I intentionally choose to follow them anyway?"

Why do you suppose they're so willing to do this?

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33 Comments:

At 1/20/2006 5:57 AM, Blogger streetapologist declaimed...

For the sake of argument could you outline a few assumptions that are "irreconcilable with experience"? You seem to be inferring that Christians are all having experiences that undermine the merits of their beliefs, how did you come to this conclusion? Based on your own subjective experience? On what merits do your assumptions stand or fall? If your beliefs are also based on sense experience isn't it true that some of your assumptions may well be irreconcilable with the world as you experience it? What challenge have you offered that undermines the merits of "their beliefs" ,were any of these supposed defeaters based on an assumption from your empirical observation? Do you have faith in your assumptions? If your faith in your assumptions is not faith how do you rationally justify your belief system? Through empiricism?

What sense experience would you accept as a defeater of your worldview?

 
At 1/20/2006 8:14 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

...so, in other words, "Faith may be irrational, but so are you!"

Faith is the bedrock of Christianity. Jesus praised those who had faith without evidence, and Paul included it on the short list of Christian virtues. But there's a reason for this- faith is the opposite of knowledge. Christianity doesn't offer knowledge per se, it offers the concession that basic doctrinal points are unknowable, but are true regardless. To maintain intellectual consistency, Christians HAVE to have faith, otherwise they wouldn't be Christians.

 
At 1/20/2006 9:16 AM, Blogger streetapologist declaimed...

I have not labeled anyone as irrational. What I did point out was that everyone holds some assumption x that is not empirically verifiable. If you make the assumption that other people have minds you are assuming something based on your "faith" that other minds do indeed exist. Would you label this view as irrational?

Based on the post, the question must be faced by any with a set of beliefs not just Christians. I fail to see the irreconcilable assumptions as stated. It was also stated that Christianity doesn't provide knowledge per se, could you provide a worldview that provides knowledge? For example if I say pantheism doesn't provide knowledge per se, this is ambigious because I have not defined what I consider knowledge. If for example you say that knowledge is correlative to history than your assertion falls flat because Christianity includes history. What do you consider knowledge?

 
At 1/20/2006 12:14 PM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

"You seem to be inferring that Christians are all having experiences that undermine the merits of their beliefs..."

That's about as backwards as you could put it. You're putting a lot of words in my mouth. That's not what I was saying.

My point is that what they believe in is beyond what they would normally accept. For example, the resurrection. The virgin birth.

Christians beliefs are EXTRA. They seem to believe in more things than what normal human experience reveals to them.

 
At 1/20/2006 2:36 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Neil, you said, "They seem to believe in more things than what normal human experience reveals to them." Pray tell, what is "normal" what do you mean by "experience" and what do you eman by "normal human experience." and, lay out how "normal human experience" can "reveil" something to someone. Thanks.

 
At 1/20/2006 3:17 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Existence, Sentience, and Rational Observation. Anything beyond that is extra.

 
At 1/20/2006 3:20 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

well that was very helpful Dr. Moore, thanks!

 
At 1/20/2006 4:03 PM, Blogger Lya Kahlo declaimed...

The statment "I have faith" directly contributed to my becoming an atheist. I have an aunt that I respect very much. She's a school teacher and a brilliant woman. She was talking about god and the like once and I asked her how she knew anything she was talking about was true - she replied "I have faith."

It was the single stupidest thing I've ever heard her say. This was the woman who taught me not to believe everything I hear, see or read, telling me she believes every word of the Babble. The woman who taught me to investigate, to use reason, to look for truth telling me she chucks all that out the window in order to believe in god.

I still respect her, though completely avoid that topic alltogether.

 
At 1/20/2006 4:19 PM, Blogger Phooey declaimed...

Why does Manata have such difficulty with reading comprehension? Apparently he needs even the simplest statements spelled out for him. Why anyone wastes their time engaging him in discussion (other than for entertainment purposes) is beyond me.

 
At 1/20/2006 4:55 PM, Blogger Damian, the Left-Hand Player declaimed...

It's simple, really:

Faith, to them, supersedes all knowledge or experience. That's as simply as it can be put. No more.

 
At 1/20/2006 4:59 PM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

"Existence, Sentience, and Rational Observation. Anything beyond that is extra."

Thanks, Zach. That's pretty much what I was getting at. Stating such things clearly is not one of my greater gifts.

So... Are you Christian guys going to answer the question, or are you just going to keep answering my question with more questions?

Hey, that could be a question of the w...

Nevermind, I'll save that for later.

 
At 1/20/2006 6:10 PM, Blogger streetapologist declaimed...

Mr. Neil you said that I misrepresented your inference. Here are your words "some Christians when challenged on the merit of their beliefs" will simply give a fideistic response. Further you likened these Christians to someone who says that they are "aware that the assumptions I make are irreconcilably with the world as I experience it.." Wasn't this an inference? And given your earlier straw man (that you had some defeater for Christian faith, as yet unposted) weren't you inferring that all Christians were having the same irrational experience? By the way aren't you the one dodging the questions? I have yet to see any response to my post other than "your putting words in my mouth"

 
At 1/20/2006 6:59 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

phooey wonders,

"Why does Manata have such difficulty with reading comprehension? Apparently he needs even the simplest statements spelled out for him."

Now I asked for Neil to "tell, what is "normal" what do you mean by "experience" and what do you eman by "normal human experience." and, lay out how "normal human experience" can "reveal" something to someone."

Now, since these are so "simple" to explain, maybe you can take a shot rather than just taking shots from the sideline? Guess what? A few thousand years agoi "normal" people believed that volcanos came from the angry volcano god. Should they have said to you, if you didn't believe, "well, you're going against "the norm." Or, take slavery. At one time it was "the norm" to have and sometimes beat slaves (as they were your property). Would you have went against "the norm?" So, what is "normal?"

Next, take experience. This is way to vague. Religious mystics have "experiences." What could be meant by "experience." Moreover, the majority of people in the world believe in some form of deity and all have felt that they have had "experiences" confirming this. Thus we have "norms" (majority) and humans (people!) and experience! So, are you going against the experience?

Lastly, how does "experience" *reveal* things to people? This is certainly not un-ambiguous. I want the program laid out.

So, if you'd like to take your shot at getting into it with me, then let's do so. Afterall, these are "simple" statements, right?

 
At 1/20/2006 7:18 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

oh yeah, how is telling me I'm wrong because I "go against normal human experience" not an instance of argumentum ad populum?

Moreover, it totally begs the question. Why? Well because we're debating worldviews and one just can't assert that "normal human experience" should be some sort of absolute standard by which we judge the truth and falsity of beliefs. According to my worldview, fallen humans are sinners who have messed up minds and thus what may be "normal" to them is, in reality, abnormal. So, it begs the question because it assumes the bible and faith et al is false, but this is what needs to be proven.

Anyway, when someone cares to post anything more rigerous than playground-esk arguments, I'll check it out...

 
At 1/21/2006 12:08 AM, Blogger George Hasara declaimed...

The best explanation I can think of is that it is the lazy man’s guide to reality.

My trusty Microsoft Bookshelf dictionary gives the following as one of the definitions of faith: “Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.” A definition given for superstition is virtually the same: “An irrational belief that an object, an action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.” It seems to me, that by definition, faith should also be labeled as an irrational belief but I guess the folks at Microsoft thought that would have offended some folks.

People have always been attracted to superstition largely in part because it does not require critical thinking. It’s a lot work to figure out cause and effect and often it’s anything but black and white. Constructing a code of ethics is a life-long process of refinement that never arrives at “absolute truth.” It’s much easier to embrace a pre-packaged belief system especially when all you have to do is say the magic words and you are good to go for all eternity.

 
At 1/21/2006 9:24 AM, Blogger streetapologist declaimed...

By the way, Paul never used the word "defeater" I did. Rather than provide the refutation in a battle of ideas, you have turned to invectives. You set up a straw man and have yet to provide the "challenge to the merits of their (including mine)beliefs"

It would be helpful in this discourse for you to pay attention to whom you are refuting.

 
At 1/22/2006 12:55 AM, Blogger Brent declaimed...

I agree with streetapologist. Faith may not be rational, but it is not irrational. It is irrational to believe something contrary to evidence. It is rational to believe something which is confirmed by evidence. It is non-rational to believe something which is neither confirmed nor denied by evidence.

Most people believe that what they have experienced in the past is a good indication of what they will experience in the future. This is the belief which allows inductive logic, and it is what all empirical conclusions are based on. Yet we have absolutely no reason to believe it (because we have not experienced the future). This is called the problem of induction. So basically, one of the most essential beliefs of humankind is not based on any evidence. It is based on faith.

I'm not saying that if you believe inductive conclusions you must believe in God. Nor is this argument supposed to convince anyone that God exists. But both beliefs, that in God and that in induction, are based on the same epistemology. If you discount beliefs based on faith, you basically discount all beliefs.

 
At 1/22/2006 1:04 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

The so-called "problem of induction" ? Which we answered on this blog THREE TIMES ?

http://goosetheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/05/problem-with-problem-of-induction.html
http://goosetheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/05/using-induction-to-subvert-it.html
http://goosetheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/09/codifying-my-secular-worldview.html

What a loser.

 
At 1/22/2006 3:56 AM, Blogger Brent declaimed...

I just posted a comment to this post which I hope shows that the problem of induction is still there. The second post you list doesn't try to get rid of the problem of induction, and I don't get the third one, sorry.

 
At 1/22/2006 4:08 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Cut the crap. There is no "problem of induction" for anyone except in the subjectivist universe of Christian presuppositionalism. We have no problem with justifying induction.

I give you an entire philosophical system (mine) on that last link and you didn't even try to answer its justification of induction ! What more do I need to do, go to your home and draw you diagrams ? You've got to be fucking kidding me !

 
At 1/22/2006 4:12 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"Induction can be understood as a special case of deduction, but with the assumption of an important premise, called the Uniformity Principle (UP). It says that if two things are similar in 1 way, they are likely to be similar in other ways."

What the hell ?

First of all, Wikipedia says you got the wrong definition :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_uniformity

Secondly, this "principle" is obviously patent nonsense. A ball and a raindrop are both round, but they are not similar in most other ways. How can this ridiculous "principle" be at the basis of induction ? I have already given you the whole deduction of the validity of induction and nowhere do I use this bizarre "principle".

 
At 1/22/2006 10:52 AM, Blogger Brent declaimed...

Unfortunately that principle of uniformity is more specific than Hume's, although it is related to it. The UP can be simply stated as: "The past is likely to resemeble the future," but this doesn't quite get at the whole thing. To quote Hume:

"Our idea, therefore, of necessity and causation arises entirely from the uniformity observable in the operations of nature, where similar objects are constantly conjoined together, and the mind is determined by custom to infer the one from the appearance of the other."

This is a different way of saying what I said. If I see one thing, I expect another if I have seen the two constantly conjoined. So if set X has A and B, and I have always seen C where A and B are present, I am going to expect set X to contain C. If you see this set as an individual "thing", you can see why two objects with similar characteristics, such as the elements A and B, are likely to be similar in other ways, such as C.

Sure, we know that a ball and a raindrop are both round, but one is made of water and on is not, for example. But if the only round thing I have ever seen in my life is a ball, and someone tells me that something round is falling from the sky, inductively I will believe that it is likely that balls are falling from the sky.

Of course, when I see that raindrops are much different I will not have to suppose such similarlity. The uniformity principle takes something which has been experienced and applies it to something which has not yet been experienced.

If someone walks out of the room we don't think he has ceased to exist, because we know that most of the time people walk out of the room we have seen them again after that (or at least experienced something which suggests their existence). If we perform an experiment in a laboratory and get result X, then a similar experiment, all things equal, is likely to result in X. The more we do the experiment and get X, the more likely it is that the next one will result in X.

 
At 1/22/2006 10:53 AM, Blogger Brent declaimed...

Oh yeah, and I'm sorry I tried to read your philosophical system but I didn't really get the induction part.

 
At 1/22/2006 3:48 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"Sure, we know that a ball and a raindrop are both round, but one is made of water and on is not, for example. But if the only round thing I have ever seen in my life is a ball, and someone tells me that something round is falling from the sky, inductively I will believe that it is likely that balls are falling from the sky."

Is this the Sunday Cartoon version of induction ? First of all, why the hell would you use induction when you can just go out and look ? Secondly, even babies observe more round objects than balls. The whole point of induction is that the more data you have, the more accurate it is. Anyone would know that being round tells you very little about the object, except that if it is solid it can roll on a surface.

There is no point in applying induction to the immediately observable. The whole point of induction is to extrapolate what is known to the currently unknown - the future and the not directly observable.

 
At 1/22/2006 3:54 PM, Blogger streetapologist declaimed...

Although I agree with Brent, the original post by Mr. Neil is asking a question. According to the trackback he was very irritated because "some moron" (me) came along and starting dissecting his question. Mr. Neil I was not trying to upset you, rather I was pointing out that you were asserting that Christians are fideists. I know that you are not going to answer my questions but you should really put some more thought into your assertions. Fideism is not unlike agnosticism as it is self-refuting. I was asking you to clarify your position. For example if you would post the elusive "challenge to the merits of our beliefs" perhaps you could better establish your question.

 
At 1/22/2006 5:09 PM, Blogger Brent declaimed...

Its true that balls and raindrops are not things we would inductively compare in our world, because we can just go and check, but I thought I would go with the example you brought up.

Perhaps I should have been clearer from the beginning. Here is a clearer formulation of the UP: If we know that two things are similar in 1 way A, but do not know (from direct experience) if they are simialr in another way B, then it is more likely than not that they are similar in way B than that they are not.

In other words, the more we see property A in the same object as property B, the more likely it is that property B is present when we just see A. Of course we don't have to rely on this uncertain probability all of the time, but sometimes we do.

 
At 1/22/2006 5:25 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"Its true that balls and raindrops are not things we would inductively compare in our world, because we can just go and check, but I thought I would go with the example you brought up."

I didn't bring it up. You did.


"Perhaps I should have been clearer from the beginning. Here is a clearer formulation of the UP: If we know that two things are similar in 1 way A, but do not know (from direct experience) if they are simialr in another way B, then it is more likely than not that they are similar in way B than that they are not."

I don't see how you can justify such a principle, or that it is needed for induction. I don't use that one either.

 
At 1/22/2006 7:54 PM, Blogger Brent declaimed...

The point of my first comment in this post is that you can't justify it.

If you don't agree with my description, how would you describe induction? I'm guessing that we both induct in similar ways but we say it different ways.

 
At 1/23/2006 12:47 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"The point of my first comment in this post is that you can't justify it."

And you would be wrong in saying that, because I already have. I gave you the links. All you had to answer was that this principle you made up was necessary, which it is not. SO where are you going with this, apart from single-minded denial ?

BTW, please do tell us how induction could possibly be valid in the subjective Christian universe. We would all so like to know.

 
At 1/23/2006 3:12 AM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Tremblay,

You can't rescue the problem of induction by appeal to identity. A =A tells us NOTHING about how A *behaves.* So, to say water is water teslls us NOTHING about whether if frezzes 10 times at 32 d and the next f times ay 0 d and the next time at -15 d. Or, to say, sun is sun says nothing abot it rising tomorrow. The post you link to is childs play.

Tremblay, Your codifying post was a joke. In it you said,

"(E6 narrowed) = (E20) We can only know that which is observable."

But that claim itself is not observable and, hence, not knowable. Therefore you cannot know that all you can know is that which is observable. Moreover, you've never observed "identity" as such. So, you're all messed up, my friend.

 
At 1/23/2006 11:25 AM, Blogger Brent declaimed...

Sorry I haven't read this blog before, so I don't know what "subjective Christian universe" means.

 
At 1/23/2006 1:54 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"I don't know what "subjective Christian universe" means."

Fine, then just try to justify your position then. As you should have done on your first comment. Or the second one. Or the third one...

 
At 1/23/2006 4:06 PM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Tremblay,

You can't rescue the problem of induction by appeal to identity. A =A tells us NOTHING about how A *behaves.* So, to say water is water teslls us NOTHING about whether if frezzes 10 times at 32 d and the next f times ay 0 d and the next time at -15 d. Or, to say, sun is sun says nothing abot it rising tomorrow. The post you link to is childs play.

Tremblay, Your codifying post was a joke. In it you said,

"(E6 narrowed) = (E20) We can only know that which is observable."

But that claim itself is not observable and, hence, not knowable. Therefore you cannot know that all you can know is that which is observable. Moreover, you've never observed "identity" as such. So, you're all messed up, my friend.

 

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