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Should theistic fact claims be subjected to the same standards of scrutiny as other fact claims?
Posted: 26 August 2013 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Occam. - 26 August 2013 04:40 PM

Quoting Lily:

It gets back to the definition of scientific proof, which is, that something must be falsifiable, then if you can falsify it, it’s false, and if you can’t you only approach 100% certain, but you can’t ever get there.

Sorry Lily, but that’s not quite what was meant by falsifiability (See Karl Popper).  If one cannot define any conditions where a proposition can be shown to be false (i.e., falsifiable), then the proposition is meaningless.

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That was me Occam. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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You don’t have to apologize.  It was my fault for not reading the posts carefully enough.  red face

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Posted: 26 August 2013 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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LilySmith - 26 August 2013 02:53 PM

The goal is survival.  There must also be a reason men who had the ability to perceive the eternal and live according to a religion survived.

Yes, but not necessarily because of the belief in the eternal. I think you did not understand what I meant with ‘byproduct’.

LilySmith - 26 August 2013 02:53 PM

Perhaps the capability hasn’t run astray, but is integral to survival in societal settings. 

Perhaps, but it doesn’t make it true. Football also keeps societies together, as many other cultural phenomena. And for you, as convinced Christian, you should ask “Why Christianity, why not Hinduism, or Islam?”

LilySmith - 26 August 2013 02:53 PM

Where religion has been oppressed, society has floundered.

That might be true for any cultural phenomenon. Where science has been oppressed, society has floundered.

I also do not want to oppress religion. If people’s values are inspired by religion, then ok. As long as we stick to democratic principles that is ok to me. But when religion is used as a source of truth, then things go wrong, especially when it contradicts scientific insights of established science (fyi: the cause of the big bang is far from being established science).

[ Edited: 27 August 2013 12:54 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 27 August 2013 12:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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PaClair wrote:

All of this raises a broader question: what is the function of belief? Unlike some of my fellow non-theists, I maintain that belief plays an essential role in life.

Lois:
Although I agree with most of what you so eloquently wrote in your comments on Lily Smith’s posts, I disagree with your use of the word “belief.”


PLaClair.
It orients us and allows us to function without having to re-invent the wheel every moment. For example, doctors believe that medicines work better to cure certain illnesses than chanting incantations; they don’t have to spend an hour or so pondering the matter before deciding which approach to take with a patient but instead can use their training and experience, which have shaped their beliefs, to practice medicine efficiently.


Lois.
Doctors don’t believe medicines work better than chanting incantations.  They know medicines work infinitely better because there is hard evidence that they do while there is no evidence tat incantations work beyond pure chance.  No belief is necessary for doctors to do their work. Their training and experience do not shape their beliefs, they shape their understanding.  There is a big difference between beliefs and accepting hard evidence. They don’t have to ponder the matter of medicine vs incantations before deciding which approach to take.  If any do, I would not want such a “doctor” to treat me or my loved ones.

PLaClair.
Scientists hold many beliefs about the usefulness of scientific methods. In fields where more definitive or more concrete answers to basic questions may yet be far away, scientists can still make progress by following proven methods.

Lois.
If the methods are proven to work (and they are), no beliefs are necessary.

PLaClair.
For example, the best theory we have about the universe’s origins is the Big Bang. As scientists continue to gather data, those data will either tend to confirm the Big Bang theory, or tend to deny it. Similarly with our understanding of the origins of life: scientists have made huge leaps forward in recent years. Most great strides forward in science have come about when the uncovering of additional information led to the eventual overthrow of an old theory and its replacement by a new theory; and each step forward was another step toward the truth. We can see the progress achieved through scientific method.

Lois.
But none of that is belief in the strictest sense.  The best that can be said is that it is reasonable expectation based on what has been shown to be true before.  It is not belief, in my opinion, though these days the word “belief”, like “love”  is used to mean almost anything. It is not a precise use of the word and can cause confusion.

Other than that, I agree with what you say.  You may disagree with me on the use of the word “belief” but it is a personal bugbear of mine. I think we are much more likely to be understood if we avoid as much as possible words that have been corrupted. I also think the word “belief” has too many religious connotations to be effectively used when talking about science.

[ Edited: 27 August 2013 12:43 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 27 August 2013 01:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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However, it is the correct word to use when necessary and in context.

Religious belief is called Faith, IMO.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 04:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Yes, Lois, I see that the word belief is a personal bugbear for you. I think most people would say that you’re defining belief too narrowly. The most common definition of “believe” is “to accept something as true.” People believe based on evidence and without evidence. A jury that convicts a defendant based on five eyewitness accounts, DNA evidence and a video of the crime believes that he is guilty. The doctor and the scientist believe that their methods are effective.

This fight over words is one that I see over and over in our communities. It’s as though some of us pick the one use of the word we don’t like, insist that the word necessarily means that one thing only, and then declare the word to be anti-humanistic in some sense or other. For example, what does it mean to “disagree” with how someone uses a word? That is how that person is using that word. And we’re all familiar with Humpty-Dumpty’s famous lines but those don’t apply here. Defining belief to include well-supported beliefs is well within the common meaning of the word. We really shoot ourselves in the foot doing this.

Your only point of contention seems to be the use of the word. All I can ask you to do is take yourself seriously when you say that this is your personal bugbear, and try to get past it, because objectively your distinctions do not reflect the common parameters of the word, certainly not to such an extent that there is any basis for saying that I haven’t used it appropriately.

[ Edited: 27 August 2013 04:49 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 27 August 2013 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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It’s as though some of us pick the one use of the word we don’t like, insist that the word necessarily means that one thing only, and then declare the word to be anti-humanistic in some sense or other.

This isn’t just “some people”. We are in the context of a conversation, spread over a few threads where specific people have offered specific definitions of belief and specific people have offered some really slippery, incoherent definitions that include assigning powers and characteristics to belief that are completely unfounded. I had a similar disagreement with Lois earlier about “faith”, but I provided an alternative definition, as shown in a dictionary and said which one I meant. If you want us to consistently say “religious belief” when we mean that, I’d be okay with that.

If a doctor has a religious type belief in his trade, then he probably isn’t keeping up on his studies very well. If I asked my doctor WHY he is prescribing a certain medicine I wouldn’t want him to say, “gee, I don’t know why these things work, I just believe they do.” This is what I felt you were implying.

Excess, skip if you’re bored (unless your LilySmith, then definitely read):

Here’s how it works for me. I can’t evaluate my medicines, other than reading the warnings, but I have friends and family who are nurses and pharmacists. They went to school, studied these things and never came to me and said the whole system is flawed and not workable, or that we can’t know anything for sure about medicine. There are flaws of course, like pharmaceutical marketing and occasional inadequate testing, but overall we are better off with modern medicine.

I also have friends and family who have gone to seminary. Some quit. And there many books from people who quit because they learned how the Bible was written or realized they were being asked to preach lies. I can see 30,000 different organizations certifying pastors based on a wide variety of criteria. Unlike medicine that has one board, one license per type of practice. I see churches protecting sex offenders, while hospitals discipline people for much lesser offenses.

So, I “believe” in medicine in the sense that I trust the system, but I normally wouldn’t use the word “believe” for that.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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So, I “believe” in medicine in the sense that I trust the system, but I normally wouldn’t use the word “believe” for that.

I think the word you’re looking for there is “Trust” and it has nothing to do with faith. It has everything to do with empirical evidence seen every day which justifies earning that measure of trust.

Faith? I’ll see a witch doctor for that! wink

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Posted: 27 August 2013 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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GdB - 26 August 2013 11:20 PM

Yes, but not necessarily because of the belief in the eternal. I think you did not understand what I meant with ‘byproduct’.

We can disagree.  I think man’s ability to understand that his existence in space-time and matter is only a subset of an eternal existence most certainly aids his survival.  He doesn’t imagine the eternal, he comprehends it. 

I have asked and answered for myself the question of why Christianity.  We are back to my interest in determinism.  How much of our existence is truly a result of our own making?  The answer to the question lies in fact that I believe I’m created by an intelligent being who has left nothing to chance and orchestrates completely his creation and the lives he has created all for the purpose of each one showing through his actions the content of his heart (core motivation) for an eternal purpose.

Religion is always used as a source of truth in the sense of understanding our purpose for life on earth and how best to live it morally.  Christianity, in particular, has never been about government, medical science, building an automobile or things like that.  After reading some of the comments here, I don’t think people seem to be able to understand the purpose of religion and differentiate it from other forms of understanding.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 27 August 2013 09:41 AM

I think the word you’re looking for there is “Trust” and it has nothing to do with faith. It has everything to do with empirical evidence seen every day which justifies earning that measure of trust.

Faith? I’ll see a witch doctor for that! wink

Belief and faith both mean trust.  Knowledge is the word you’re looking for that has some factual element to it.  I agree with Lois that someone who studies his field of knowledge, such as a doctor, bases his work on what he knows, not on what he personally believes, although when knowledge reaches its limit, belief may be all that’s left.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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LilySmith - 27 August 2013 12:40 PM
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 27 August 2013 09:41 AM

I think the word you’re looking for there is “Trust” and it has nothing to do with faith. It has everything to do with empirical evidence seen every day which justifies earning that measure of trust.

Faith? I’ll see a witch doctor for that! wink

Belief and faith both mean trust.  Knowledge is the word you’re looking for that has some factual element to it.  I agree with Lois that someone who studies his field of knowledge, such as a doctor, bases his work on what he knows, not on what he personally believes, although when knowledge reaches its limit, belief may be all that’s left.

Returning to Merriam-Webster, the #1 definition of faith is “complete trust and confidence”. That can be completely evidenced based, but the word is often used for something like having faith in someone as a mountain climbing partner, where there are always risk and unknowns. Other definitions specifically mention religion, so, no argument, faith is strongly tied to religion.

What LilySmith is alluding to, is a judgment call. Many decisions a doctor makes might be by the book, even routine, but we count on them to choose when the book doesn’t have the answer. I think this gets confused with some sort of magic power of intuition. It’s not. It’s informed decision making.

It is also vastly different than believing something before you have weighed any of the evidence. I’ve talked personally to several ministers, liberal and conservative, read their books, listened to online talks by theologians of all caliber. They are much better at obsfucating evidence than providing it or sorting it out.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Belief and faith both mean trust.

The difference is that the kind I’m talking about has to be earned.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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LilySmith - 27 August 2013 12:40 PM

Belief and faith both mean trust.

Not according to the Bible.

Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

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Posted: 27 August 2013 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Should theistic fact claims be subjected to the same standards of scrutiny as other fact claims?

Of course!!!

Else it would be accessible to some and inaccessible to others,.......... and wouldn’t that be a shame.?

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Posted: 27 August 2013 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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DarronS - 27 August 2013 02:40 PM
LilySmith - 27 August 2013 12:40 PM

Belief and faith both mean trust.

Not according to the Bible.

Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Yes, that is the meaning of faith in the general sense.  It is the confidence that what we hope for will come to fruition, and the assurance that things we cannot see are true.  It is trust.  We have faith in our doctor because we have confidence that he studied medicine and knows what to do to make us better.  Our faith in him gives us the assurance that he can help us be well.  We aren’t well yet, but that’s what we trust our doctor to accomplish for us.  We have faith in him and his ability.

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