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Calvin Chatlos’ Human Faith model, with my expansions
Posted: 30 January 2008 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Well, I should clarify that I do not particularly want to find any sort of “faith.”  I have “hope” for humanity and not hope for “faith.”  I feel appreciation, care and concern for others.  I trust people if and when they have shown themselves to be trustworthy.  I see no particular use for any sort of “faith.”

I am still, however, willing to momentarily suspend my disliking of this term in order for PLaClair to make his point about systematic ethics.  Isn’t that where you were going to take us PLaClair?

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Posted: 30 January 2008 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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PLaClair - 30 January 2008 12:36 PM

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.

Well I searched and did not find anything except an explanation for the course you did which sounds suspiciously like an est/landmark forum type process - with different goals of course. You should read Bill Sargent’s “Battle for the Mind”.

PLaClair - 30 January 2008 12:36 PM

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.

Sorry everything you have written has given no confidence in this claims (or faith if you will grin ) You want to use a term which has a different meaning to what we all understand yet you refuse to define it, at the same time you insist that this is the best term to describe whatever it you mean - now that is what I call effective communication! Others might call it obfuscation grin Now it does not matter what words you use in ethics , it is what they refer to that counts.

PLaClair - 30 January 2008 12:36 PM

Everyone posting here is expressing Faith in some form;

I am guessing that, presumably on your unrevealed definition it is trivially true but then what is it worth? Your reluctance to define what you are talking about is incredibly dubious. The only way we can understand this is to go through a process? This sounds like the classic Heidegger trick. So how are e going to communicate this “faith” to anyone else, assuming we get it? And what has faith got to do with ethics? I already asked you this.

The rest of your post sounds like the standard output of a newager who has done Landmark forum but when you probe what they did they cannot explain it.

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Posted: 30 January 2008 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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erasmus, I can’t take you anywhere you don’t want to go. So if you’re so inclined, jump on and let’s see where this goes. In order for it to work, I need your feedback as we go from point to point. If that doesn’t happen, the project will just shut down.

faithless, I’m not going to argue with you. It’s like being invited to a dinner where the host plans French cuisine, and then accepting the invitation but asking for barbecued chicken and ribs instead.

The offer is that I’ll present and mentor this project. It didn’t even begin as my project, so it’s not like I’m defending pride of authorship.

I keep comparing things to science. Science doesn’t progress by committees. Same with every field of endeavor that makes progress. It works by someone having an idea and acting on it. As Gene Rodenberry said when someone gave him their idea where he should take “Star Trek,” “No, this is my vision.” If you want a barbecue, then open that topic. I’ll be doing this if there’s enough interest.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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PLaClair - 30 January 2008 07:25 PM

faithless, I’m not going to argue with you. It’s like being invited to a dinner where the host plans French cuisine, and then accepting the invitation but asking for barbecued chicken and ribs instead.

I am not looking to argue with you but to understand what you are claiming. Your analogy does not appy here. You ask for feedback and you are getting it. grin

PLaClair - 30 January 2008 07:25 PM

The offer is that I’ll present and mentor this project. It didn’t even begin as my project, so it’s not like I’m defending pride of authorship.

Authorship is irrelevant. If I want to go on a course, I don’t need to be taught by the original author. In such a course,  I have a reasonable idea of what I am going to learn and be able to attain at the end. And of course I will know more and have better skills, one hopes, as a result of doing that course. Otherwise why would I or anyone go? So what are the objectives you want to achieve with this “process”?

PLaClair - 30 January 2008 07:25 PM

I keep comparing things to science. Science doesn’t progress by committees. Same with every field of endeavor that makes progress. It works by someone having an idea and acting on it. As Gene Rodenberry said when someone gave him their idea where he should take “Star Trek,” “No, this is my vision.” If you want a barbecue, then open that topic. I’ll be doing this if there’s enough interest.

Another false analogy. Scientists do know what they are aiming and what field they are in when they are doing it. The results may be expected, surprising, disappointing or exciting but they do not proceed blindly. Why do you want us to proceed blindly here? What is your objective and what has this to do with ethics?

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Posted: 31 January 2008 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Hey I dont want to stall this thread. Howabout you just ignore me? -)

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Posted: 31 January 2008 08:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Experience and Interpretation

We secularists are notorious for getting hung up with endless arguments over the meaning of words.  To begin working out of that, as it has presented itself here, let’s explore the distinction between experience and interpretation.

1. A dozen people are sitting together in an old farmhouse. Suddenly, a window slams shut. A 5-year-old boy immediately shouts: “It’s a ghost!” His mother replies “no, honey, it’s just the wind.” The father of an older boy says “my son Teddy is probably outside and slammed it goofing off.” The owner of the house says “that window is always closing.”  The group’s resident agnostic says “I don’t know what it is.”  Everyone experienced the same thing, but each person had a unique interpretation of the experience.

2. Consider another example, which is more germane to this group’s concerns. A young man in his late teens has been flirting with a drug addiction, spiraling down toward violence and depression. A friend convinces him to attend a Christian service, where everyone embraces him and he experiences feelings of overwhelming love. He “gives his life Jesus.” His interpretation is that Jesus intervened to change his life. My interpretation would be that he was distraught, emotionally labile and looking for something to bring order into his life. When that appeared to happen, he accepted the group’s interpretation of his transformation, even though what had really changed his life were experiences of love and belonging, and a newfound sense that his life had meaning. Meanwhile, someone steeped in old-line Catholicism may believe that the young man is now possessed by the devil. A Muslim fundamentalist may believe the young man is now damned, but for completely different reasons.

3. Let’s take another example. Someone’s father dies. He was deeply loved. For several weeks after his death, two of his three children report that he appeared to them in their bedrooms as they were dozing off to sleep. Both of them insist that they saw him vividly. Their interpretation is that he has returned to them from the dead. The daughter feels nothing but love at the “sight” of her father, but her brother, who has been cheating on his wife, has a sense of stern approbation. Meanwhile, the man’s third child recognizes that sensed presences are common after a loved one’s death, and are easily explained by changes in brain activity. In this example, the experience is not shared, per se, but each person has a unique interpretation of the set of experiences.

4. Another example: the Bible contains stories of people shaking violently, etc. People in that time interpreted this as demonic possession. Knowing what we know now, it was very likely epilepsy.

Questions:
1.  Are we agreed that there is a difference between an experience and the interpretation of that experience?
2.  What implications does that have for the discussion we have had so far?
3.  How can we, as a group, bring our commonly shared values together to distinguish between experience and interpretation, and thereby avoid misunderstanding? Is that something we would want to do? Why or why not?

[ Edited: 01 February 2008 06:47 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 31 January 2008 08:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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faithless, I am an attorney with a full-time practice, so I may not respond to everything immediately. I struggled with myself whether I should respond to your post, and had decided to do it.

I cannot mentor this project in the way you want me to do it. I can only mentor it in the way that I know how.

If that precludes your participation, then this project is not for you right now. On the other hand, if you choose to participate, I request that you commit to staying with it until its conclusion, which could take many months. I also request, and in fact suggest that as a condition for participation each person begin with a core commitment to human worth and dignity. That’s because the Human Faith project is about fleshing out such a commitment in a systematic way that is firmly grounded in reason and experience.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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1. Fair enough.
2. Well, we each interpret the same experience in ways we are conditioned and predisposed to by a variety of factors. Similarly, concepts such as faith are understood in the context of similar factors. We are all likely to have different understandings of concepts that seem, on the surface, to be simple and obvious to each of us individually. This adds to confusion and impedes accord. These different perspectives have to be accomodated if we are to agree upon an understanding we can all subscribe to, which presumably is your goal, though it may not be the goal of all of us. Alternatively, we have to agree upon rules of conduct wikthout a fundamental shared understanding at some deeper level.
3. I’m not sure our different interpretations only lead to misunderstanding. They may lead to disagreement even in the presence of perfect mutual understanding. This is a core problem with creating systems of ethics, or even less philosophical ad hoc rules for working together. I’m not convinced an agreed-upon interpretation is always possible or necessary, though it is the easiest way to facilitate working together. Sometimes it has to be possible to do so even without such.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 05:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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In your hypotheticals we must also take into account the simple fact that, regardless of the emotional needs and wants described, all of the experiences that you described were delusional and false.

PLaClair - 31 January 2008 08:14 PM

1.  Are we agreed that there is a difference between an experience and the interpretation of that experience?

Yes.  There can be a difference between what we perceive and what actually is.

PLaClair - 31 January 2008 08:14 PM

2.  What implications does that have for the discussion we have had so far?

You tell me.

PLaClair - 31 January 2008 08:14 PM

3.  How can we, as a group, bring our commonly shared values together to distinguish between experience and interpretation, and thereby avoid misunderstanding?

We must work to bring together a sober perception of reality with the application of good reason.  We must reject delusional experience outright.  Value must be founded in reality because reality is the only common denominator.  Reality is there regardless of how we interpret it.

PLaClair - 31 January 2008 08:14 PM

Is that something we would want to do? Why or why not?

In certain situations it is not our business.  But often yes, because many such delusions lead to horrendous societal actions.

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Posted: 01 February 2008 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I’m posting this in blue to distinguish this post as an aside from the current subject of “interpretation and experience.” This will be an attempt to answer some questions that have been raised about my purposes for doing this, and what I hope to accomplish. That hadn’t been so much of an issue for the other groups that explored the Faith project, but that was because the participants knew the mentor coming in. You don’t really know me, so it makes sense that you would require more of an explanation than participants in other groups required of Calvin (though believe me, his job wasn’t easy). Please excuse me for not realizing that sooner.

The Human Faith project is a work in progress. Calvin has mentored several groups, and I have been involved in quite a few of those, sometimes as his co-mentor. All the other projects have been conducted in person, so right off the bat the attempt to do it without direct personal contact makes this effort unique, and I think considerably harder - but that also means that success would have implications for the strength of the model, if nothing more than demonstrating that conducting it without direct personal contact is possible. The personal contact is important, and I don’t know how much is going to be lost without it. So in that sense, the short answer to your question is that I don’t know how far this might take us, or any person individually.

Calvin also understood that in order for the project to be considered valid, it had to be repeatable. I can verify that to the extent I observed and was part of groups doing the project, it was. With each project, most participants found it worthwhile and learned something from it. Some people had their lives changed, and these were people who are as secular-minded as anyone here.

For me personally, the results of the project included:
  —- an enhanced sense of self-worth;
  —- I was freed from much of the shame and guilt left over from my childhood (Roman Catholic upbringing, etc.);
  —- an enhanced ability to relate to others;
  —- a greater understanding of and empathy toward others, and myself;
  —- I became more effective in everything I did;
  —- the Humanist and secularist equivalent of a born-again experience, which has stayed with me for more than eleven years. (That may not be meaningful to some of you, but it is profoundly meaningful to me.)

I cannot tell you what participation in the project will do for you, if anything. Maybe you will gain everything I did, maybe some of those things, maybe other things, maybe all those things plus other things, or maybe nothing. Here’s what I know:
  —- it worked spectacularly for me, so I wish, hope and choose to share it;
  —- I have sound basis, grounded in empirical data and reason, for believing that it can work for others, and usually (I would say uniformly) does work (i.e., is beneficial) for anyone who is open to it;
  —- I believe the model provides a systematic ethical/religious system firmly grounded in secularism, i.e., in falsifiable reality. Whether any of you will see it as a system of ethics and religion, or merely as a systematic approach to ethics, I cannot tell you. No doubt some of you will reject any connection with religion. That’s fine. We’ll be exploring some issues touching on that shortly.

So the short answer is that at the very least this is an interesting project, which I believe has potential for individuals, for secular ethical systems and for secular organizations. The objection seems to be that this sounds or feels like things we don’t like and/or aren’t valid. I appreciate that, and can only invite you to assume, for now, that while it incorporates some of the features of those “things,” it really isn’t like them in the sense posed by the objections.

Can we call those objections “concerns?” That’s actually a question we could explore as part of the process. In fact, I’ll pose the question here and now: what is the difference between seeing these things as “concerns” versus “objections, and why does it matter; or doesn’t it?
I hope this explanation is helpful. If you have questions about it, please do me the favor of posing them in blue so we can distinguish them from the main current discussion.

Paul, I’ve changed the color of this post since, by convention, blue is for official administrative comments. Thanks.

[ Edited: 01 February 2008 08:10 AM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 01 February 2008 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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I’ve edited post 36 to number the examples, so we can refer to them as “example 1,” etc. I’d like to see as much discussion as possible among participants before I comment, including discussion of each other’s comments.

I’m also changing example 3, as follows. The third child also thought he saw his father, but realized that this is best explained as an illusion produced by altered brain activity due to the trauma of his father’s death. However, as with his other siblings, the experience of “seeing” his father chilled him to the bone and moved him to tears. Take two variations on this example:

Variation A: The third child believed for a few moments that his father must have returned from the dead to visit him.
Variation B: The third child realized that the experience was an illusion while he was having it.

[ Edited: 01 February 2008 07:00 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 01 February 2008 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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PLaClair - 31 January 2008 08:14 PM

1.  Are we agreed that there is a difference between an experience and the interpretation of that experience?
2.  What implications does that have for the discussion we have had so far?
3.  How can we, as a group, bring our commonly shared values together to distinguish between experience and interpretation, and thereby avoid misunderstanding? Is that something we would want to do? Why or why not?

1. As I believe that human development is cultural in nature, I would definitely agree that experience and interpretations of experience can differ widely.
2. We all bring our past experiences to the discussion since those experiences have shaped the people we are today.  We struggle, it seems, to be open-minded to new interpretations of words or ideas that we’ve had experience with in the past. 
3. For me, this is important as a way of connecting with others.  By testing our own theories, we either grow stronger in our original convictions or shift our perspective to the new interpretation.  By understanding (or at least hearing) another’s experiences or interpretations, we have the chance to build a connection to them.  I do agree with Brennen’s point that having one agreed-upon interpretation as a goal is not necessary to hear each other and work together towards a common goal.  Sometimes, you have to agree to disagree. 

Vanessa

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Posted: 01 February 2008 08:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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To clarify what may, or may not, be some misperceptions:
  —- Achieving uniform interpretations is not a goal of this project, but how we respond when interpretations differ is one important focus of the project.
  —- Different interpretations need not lead to misunderstanding, but failing to distinguish accurately between experience and interpretation often will. It’s one of many variations on the theme of talking past each other.
  —- Humans being imperfect, I would not care for a world in which all interpretations were the same.

I have two questions.
1. Are we all committed to reason as an important part of life and ethics?
2. In each of the four examples in post 36, what is each person’s experience and each person’s interpretation. For example, in post 1, what is the 5-year-old boy’s experience, and what is his interpretation?

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Posted: 02 February 2008 04:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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vanessa - 01 February 2008 08:15 AM

1. As I believe that human development is cultural in nature, I would definitely agree that experience and interpretations of experience can differ widely.
2. We all bring our past experiences to the discussion since those experiences have shaped the people we are today.  We struggle, it seems, to be open-minded to new interpretations of words or ideas that we’ve had experience with in the past. 
3. For me, this is important as a way of connecting with others.  By testing our own theories, we either grow stronger in our original convictions or shift our perspective to the new interpretation.  By understanding (or at least hearing) another’s experiences or interpretations, we have the chance to build a connection to them.  I do agree with Brennen’s point that having one agreed-upon interpretation as a goal is not necessary to hear each other and work together towards a common goal.  Sometimes, you have to agree to disagree. 

Vanessa

Vanessa,

Do interpretations also differ within cultures?
Do we also bring our interpretive patterns, modes, habits, etc., to our discussions? (You may already have implied this. I leave it to you.)

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Posted: 02 February 2008 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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PLaClair - 02 February 2008 04:05 AM

Vanessa, Do interpretations also differ within cultures?
Do we also bring our interpretive patterns, modes, habits, etc., to our discussions? (You may already have implied this. I leave it to you.)

Yes, interpretations also differ within cultures and certainly we bring our own interpretations to all of our interactions.  As an example within this thread, erasmusinfinity posted that “it would be nice if we could have belief, confidence, trust, etc. in all humanity…I embrace “hope” and I certainly do idealize empathy and social cooperation.”  I then wrote: “I suppose, like erasmusinfinity, I still have hope that I can find a new way to have faith (in my convictions, in people, in my role in the world).”  He then clarified his position: “Well, I should clarify that I do not particularly want to find any sort of “faith.” I have “hope” for humanity and not hope for “faith.” I feel appreciation, care and concern for others.  I trust people if and when they have shown themselves to be trustworthy.  I see no particular use for any sort of “faith.”

I think the underlying assumption is the same—we would both like to have “hope” (his word) or “faith” (my word) in humanity, but our interpretations of the word “faith” are different, based upon our life experiences with that word.

Vanessa

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