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Calvin Chatlos’ Human Faith model, with my expansions
Posted: 29 January 2008 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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If by “accept it as an ideal” you mean that it would be nice if we could have belief, confidence, trust, etc. in all humanity then sure.  I embrace “hope” and I certainly do idealize empathy and social cooperation.  Maybe I misunderstood your point in posting the article.  But I’m still not sure what it is.  Thought, action, emotion are distinguishable… and…

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Posted: 29 January 2008 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I should add that I do not simply mean to challenge you.  I entirely agree with the underlying premise that we need to assert ethical formulations that can move us beyond to a point that is more civilized than that of mere self interest and politics.  And I want to get at ‘em.  I also have no problem with systems. per se.

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Posted: 29 January 2008 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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erasmus and all participants: I’ll back up a little to get at the concept of distinctions. We use them all the time, imperfect as they may be. A baby learns the difference between hard and soft by hitting himself on the head with a sponge and then with a wooden block; hot, cold; light, dark. None of these is defined any more clearly than the idea of faith that Calvin put forward. Where on the continuum, for example, does something go from hard to soft, or hot to cold? For that matter, when does a person go from not-faith to faith, or the opposite? Is it necessary to know and agree precisely where hot ends and cold begins to distinguish between hot and cold? Similarly, is it necessary to know exactly where faith becomes not-faith?

Here’s a good exercise for today. Look at the posts since I opened this topic. Which express Faith, and which don’t? Let’s make that the discussion for the next couple of days. Then I want to pull it back to basics.

The definition we agreed to work with put forward some elements of Faith, and the more fully we can live by them . . . well, that’s to be seen. It was our working definition, but it wasn’t what I emerged with in the end, even though it contains the right elements, in my view.

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Posted: 29 January 2008 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Some distinctions are graduated, as those you list, others are more discrete, but the examples you give are all physical characteristics of objects which can be investigated as you describe. Faith is an attitude. And what is it’s antonym? Doubt? Faithlessness? Skepticism? Not-Faith? I think it’s a bit trickier a concept than you imply, though I agree so are many that we work with all the time. And in practice, we may often accept rough distinctions which, in a more analytic or contemplative context such as this forum, might not stand up to scrutiny.

I suppose most of the posts have evinced some kind of faith, or maybe trust is a better word. Though skeptical, retrospy, erasmusinfinity, and I have all evinced what could be a degree of faith or trust in your intentions for the thing. If we thought you were intending to ambush us or evangelize us in some way, we wouldn’t have participated at all. On the other hand, most of our participation has been in the form of questioning and doubting to some extent. Is that an absence of faith? See, I think the concept is so slippery and subjective I’m not sure of its utility. One person’s faith is another’s delusion, one person’s unhealthy lack of faith is another’s healthy skepticism.

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Posted: 29 January 2008 10:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I’m a neophyte when it comes to these sorts of philosophical discussions, but I’m trying to stretch myself, so here goes…

My first thought was where does listening come in?  If we value the dignity of all human beings, where is the listening to each other?  Thinking, feeling, doing seem to be “self”-oriented.  To have faith in others, we would need to be open to others’ points of views, right?  Is there room for debate, or are we encouraged to accept the dogma without questioning (as in most religions)?  My question, I guess is what is the basic tenet we must all accept in order to participate?  That human beings think, feel, and act?  That these are individual distinctions that define us as human beings?

My second comment, after glancing at the link you posted, is related to my work with parents and young children.  Piaget is often quoted as the expert on how children learn—the developmental “ages and stages” process that we go through as we assimilate and accomodate the world around us.  But recently in our field Piaget is looked at much more critically (for many reasons).  Social constructivism is the new trend—we learn through our relationships with others (based on Vygotsky’s theories—a contemporary of Piaget).  “Guided participation” (Rogoff and others) takes into account the tremendous influence of culture on our learning processes, something Piaget ignored.  Of course, this is the age-old debate between nature and nurture and may be tangential to this discussion, but I don’t see how people will ever think, feel, and act in similar enough ways to devise any sort of system of universal ethics.  (I’m in the healthy skepticism camp…) 

Vanessa

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Posted: 30 January 2008 04:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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OK I see what you want to do Paul.

Certain these distinctions work in CBT and REBT so there is no reason why they cannot be useful elsewhere so I accept them here.

What I do balk at is the use of “Faith”. Can you not develop whatever it is you want to develop without using such problematic and equivocative terms?

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Posted: 30 January 2008 05:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Brennan, if the concept is so poorly defined, then why were you able to define it so well? I’m not trying to stroke you, or challenge you either. You really did define it quite well.

Vanessa, the listening is going on right now. It should go on all the time. The core commitment of the project is to the worth and dignity of every person. We’ll flesh out what that means as we go along, and it is interactive. One person has already pointed out something that I hadn’t realized in eleven years of working with the model. That didn’t diminish the model. It made it stronger.

The main objection we got to the idea of universal worth and dignity is along the lines of: “What about Hitler?” Our answer to that is that if we had Hitler among us now, we still wouldn’t torture him. We would respect his humanity even though he did not respect the humanity of others. That doesn’t mean that we would pat him on the head and let him go. It just means that we see no purpose in inflicting gratuitous suffering. If you’re on board with that, come on in.

faithless, I’m not familiar with the terms CBT and REBT. I balked at the word “faith,” too. In fact, the first thing I did when Calvin announced the project in the late summer of 1996 was: I tried to talk him out of using that word. We’ll flesh out what it means. I came to see it in a very different light. It’s the word I’m going to use. You’re free to treat it as you choose.

Great posts, everyone. As a reminder, pursuant to my previous post, and if you will, be a little more specific about examples of faith versus not-faith in previous posts. It’ll be a great discussion, and if experience is any guide, we’ll learn a lot together. The project has a lot to do with moving forward as a group, each person retaining her or his unique approach.

At some point, I do need a commitment from as many people as are intending to participate in the project. Obviously, I can’t force anyone not to drop, and if things change for people as they go along, it’s understandable. But I’d like to know who will commit to staying with the project to the end. Is a two-week trial run fair?

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Posted: 30 January 2008 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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As far as faith vs. not-faith, it seems like you are the only one so far who has “faith” in this model, although the rest of us seem to have “faith” that this discussion will be intriguing enough to continue.  Or, as Brennen said, if faith can be defined as trust, then many of us trust that this will lead us to an engaging conversation with each other.  There is a lot of healthy skepticism here so it’s a tough crowd, but I suppose that makes the argument more interesting.

Vanessa

p.s. CBT in my world means “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.”

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Posted: 30 January 2008 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I think that the word faith, at least on this forum, implies a trust that is lacking reason; whereas the word trust appears to imply a calculated decision.  Many of the posters on this forum are outspoken on the importance of reason and critical thinking.  Because of this distinction I think that you will have a hard time ramming faith down our throats no matter how many spoons full of sugar accompany.  If your message involves something other than accepting your semantic definition of faith, then I think that message will be best received by doing what Faithlessgod recommended and avoid using such problematic and equivocative terms.  If your message is in effect to repackage faith as trust with reason, then I ask what your preferred term is for trust without reason and why you think we need two words to express the same idea (trust & faith)?

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Posted: 30 January 2008 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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In modern parlance faith, which used to be a synonym for confidence and trust has become distinct. The usual modern definition is that faith is believing without or contrary to evidence.

Whilst I agree with this, it somewhat misses the point, especially to someone who has faith. I would argue that a better understanding is over reasons to believe. If someone asks why one has trust or confidence in someone or something, one can usually provide some reasonable justification. One might be mistaken or have been misled but by providing such justification this can be examined and this may lead to changing one’s mind or not. Importantly the possibility of so doing - changing one’s mind-  has to be there in order to debate such a justification. Note all this is prior to the trust being tested and whatever the results of that are.

When it comes to faith there is no examinable justification to the reason to believe, since the person of faith is not willing to allow the possibility that he is mistaken and could change his mind. Hence it is unjustified based on any normal terms of debate. Or one could say that faith is an unjustified reason to believe. “God - or one of its spokesmen - told me to have faith” is not a reason to believe - this is question begging since one now needs to know what the justification there is for believing what god proclaims - why have faith in god? Go any further and you end up in circular reasoning e.g god told me that no other justification is required but what he commands - but how do you justify that claim etc.

When is comes to metaphysics, by definition one has no evidence to support one’s belief. I choose the most minimal metaphysics I can, which I call a posteriori ontological naturalism or just a posteriori naturalism. I take this position because it is the most plausible one - that is, it is the most coherent belief with everything else I know - and I most specifically do not do it on faith! Indeed I just gave you a reasonable - and discussable - justification for my reason to believe in a posteriori naturalism.

So I use trust and confidence where one could, in the past unproblematically have used faith, and so can quite easily defend against a typical equivocation fallacy argument such as “you have faith in science”.

The whole point of this thread seems to be that you want to recapture the term faith from religious control. In principle there is nothing wrong with considering that but at the outset it would make sense for you to explain why especially when we have perfectly adequate terms of trust and confidence.  If you want to use faith in some sort of non-supernatural religious sense I see no need for this. Examining the history of mankind much of the world has got on quite nicely without using the concept of faith - it is a primarily xian invention (virtually non-existent in the old testament for example). That is not to say many people, then and now, believe without evidence, of course, they did and do. The difference is that xians made an act of faith a “virtue” and this is what I and I presume most others here disagree with. Indeed I think that faith is a 21st century vice. Finally what one earth does any of this have to do with ethics which was the original trigger for this thread?

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Posted: 30 January 2008 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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retrospy, all I can tell you at this stage is that I said similar things when I started the project; that I learned to see faith as something else other that what you defined; that my concept of Faith is firmly grounded in reason; that there is no supernaturalism is this model; and that to understand it you have to live it. That’s why I invited people to participate in a process.

Knowing that comment about having to live it probably will put some people off, I’ll try to explain. We have already discussed thought, emotion and action as domains of Being. Those are only rough categories we use to describe and communicate. As we know, there is no central processor in the brain, and there are no neat division of thought, emotion and action. These are distinctions, like hot and cold, hard and soft, etc. They are important because no matter how strong our commitment to science and reason is, we live on the fly. Everybody makes distinctions, but the distinctions aren’t perfect. They are only our best approximations of what we’re trying to describe—but then if you think about it, so is science.

So I could write all this down, as Calvin did in his article, and you could absorb it intellectually, but if you’re not experiencing it, your entire brain is not engaged. I’m interested in how the model actually works for human beings, not just how it looks on paper. So I invite people to join the project, commit to it and see where it leads. That’s hardly forcing anything. It’s an invitation, and that’s all it can ever be.

If the word “faith” doesn’t work for you, then don’t use it. That’s the word I use because it does a better job of conveying what I mean than any other word I know. Maybe that sounds like an odd thing to write to this group, so the question is “do you have enough faith in whatever is going on here to follow it and see where it leads?” That’s hardly unquestioning faith. I’m not demanding anything like that. I’m not demanding anything. I’m offering to mentor this model, and inviting people to try it on and see how it fits.

Vanessa, I’m not ignoring you. I don’t have anything to add to your post right now. Sometimes I’ll just watch things unfold without saying much. It’s one of my biggest challenges, because a personal failing of mine is that I’m inclined to comment on everything.

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Posted: 30 January 2008 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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PLaClair - 30 January 2008 10:49 AM

I learned to see faith as something else other that what you defined; that my concept of Faith is firmly grounded in reason; that there is no supernaturalism is this model; and that to understand it you have to live it.

If your non-standard “faith”  is grounded in reason then you should have no problem defining it. (As John Searle famously said to Derrida “I you can’t say it clearly, you don’t understand it”). This whole “to understand it you have to live it” is an old canard used by religious and human potential movements in particular to manipulate and confuse and I doubt that it would work in a forum but nor am I accusing you of doing this. This is just an observation then you say…

PLaClair - 30 January 2008 10:49 AM

So I could write all this down, as Calvin did in his article, and you could absorb it intellectually, but if you’re not experiencing it, your entire brain is not engaged. I’m interested in how the model actually works for human beings, not just how it looks on paper. So I invite people to join the project, commit to it and see where it leads. That’s hardly forcing anything. It’s an invitation, and that’s all it can ever be.

Now the good old anti-intellectual - you need to experience it or listen to your heart - canard! How about you give us the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions. First get us interested as to whether this will work for human beings and we can test this together.

PLaClair - 30 January 2008 10:49 AM

If the word “faith” doesn’t work for you, then don’t use it. That’s the word I use because it does a better job of conveying what I mean than any other word I know.

And that is?

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Posted: 30 January 2008 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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faithless, I can give a very concise definition of Faith, and believe I have done that in other topics here at CFI. I use two definitions, neither of which is from Calvin. One is seven words long, the other seventeen.

The reason I’m not posting those here is that it’s better if people come to their own understanding. You could look up what I’ve written elsewhere, but this will work better if you don’t. Because this process is an experience, it’s better if you “get it” on your own. If you don’t, you may never own it.

Everyone posting here is expressing Faith in some form; some more than others. Some are expressing not-Faith to some degree and in some way, including me. If we can move forward with a working idea of what Faith might be, then as we see it take shape, we’ll know what it is. That’s how science progresses: scientists don’t know the answer when they begin a project, but as they do the research, they see the answer take shape. Then, as they continue to work with their new theory, they realize that the old “answer” has a hole in it. They don’t necessarily throw out everything they learned; they incorporate what they learned, discard what doesn’t work and move ahead.

That was my experience as a “student” in Calvin’s first project, and I wasn’t the only one who benefited from it. One man was so moved that he re-established a relationship with a daughter he thought he would never speak to again. I started calling myself a born-again Humanist, and haven’t let go of that label in eleven-plus years. It completely changed the way I relate to clients, jurors and everyone else, including myself. It made me more effective in the world, and more useful to myself and others, including an enhanced ability to understand theism and make the case against it – that’s what it has to do with ethics. Those are at least two life-changing experiences out of sixteen people who participated in the project.

Everyone had their own account of what the project did for them. Everyone’s story was and will be unique because each person has a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, biases, blind spots, etc. A couple of people dropped out without completing the project. Of those who finished, everyone said the project contributed something to their life.

It’s true, of course, that theists say some of the things I’m saying here. All I can tell you is that I’m not doing what they do. If you doubt my credentials, just look at the kid I raised. Google “Matthew LaClair—- uncommon courage” if you’re not familiar with the story, and see what you come up with. His name is on this site. He is the 2007 recipient of CFI’s James Madison Religious Liberty Award, an award previously given to Barry Lynn (Americans United for Separation of Church and State) and Alan Dershowitz. He is also the recipient of New York Ethical Culture’s 2007 Ethical Humanist Award. That award was previously given (in separate years) to John McCain, Mario Cuomo, Russell Feingold and Jim Jeffords – and they don’t give it every year. I don’t think they’ve ever given the award to anyone under 40. Matthew is 17. And if you’re in New York City, come to the New York City Atheists’ meeting tomorrow evening, where he will receive their Atheist Hero award.

I’m not taking credit for my son—- his accomplishments are entirely his own—- but if you want my bona fides as a secularist and a person of reason, there’s no better place to start than by looking at what came out of my house. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll ask my daughter to post here. She is a student in the cognitive neurosciences at Drew University, with nearly a 4-point average, and has already ended a couple of relationships because the young men were too strong in their theistic dogmas. There is nothing that makes me prouder than the fact that both of my kids got it and are reasoned and passionate advocates of reason.

And if that doesn’t convince you, I’ll tell you my own story, but I’ll only do it over a beer. It’ll curl your hair. I have been fighting this fight all my adult life.

The questions I’m inviting you to ask yourself are (1) whether it is possible that I might have a perspective that allows me to see something you may have overlooked, and (2) whether you’re sufficiently intrigued by what is going on to commit to follow it to the conclusion of this attempt at offering the project online.

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Posted: 30 January 2008 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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When I was younger, I felt like I had faith in my convictions, faith in people, faith in my role in the world but when I got older and life got more complicated, faith seemed to be more of a youthful ideal than a mature reality.  But losing faith has led to questions about purpose, about meaning, about connections to others—and has led me to new philosophical discussions/debates that were never in my sphere of reference before.  I suppose, like erasmusinfinity, I still have hope that I can find a new way to have faith.  So even though I’m not sure where you’re going and I have no idea what my contribution might be, I’m interested in going along for the ride. 

Vanessa

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Posted: 30 January 2008 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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vanessa - 30 January 2008 03:52 PM

When I was younger, I felt like I had faith in my convictions, faith in people, faith in my role in the world but when I got older and life got more complicated, faith seemed to be more of a youthful ideal than a mature reality.  But losing faith has led to questions about purpose, about meaning, about connections to others—and has led me to new philosophical discussions/debates that were never in my sphere of reference before.  I suppose, like erasmusinfinity, I still have hope that I can find a new way to have faith.  So even though I’m not sure where you’re going and I have no idea what my contribution might be, I’m interested in going along for the ride. 

Vanessa

Vanessa, this is a great post. It says a lot about Faith. Glad to have you on board.

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