2 of 13
2
Welcome “Non-Believers”
Posted: 27 March 2009 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7504
Joined  2007-03-02

I just thought of something… The use of non-believers would include those of various Pagan beliefs too.  Those groups are not members of any of the Abrahamic beliefs.  They are not Hindu or Buddhists either.  So, in affect, he was shorting going through a long list of people who are not believers in the top three Abrahamic religions or the top two Eastern religions.  To say non-believers makes this more inclusive of those who are Pagan and alike.  However, using the actual meaning of Pagan, it would seem Christians are more Pagan now days.  LOL

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2009 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  908
Joined  2005-01-14

Well, I don’t like the term “non-believer” because it seems to presuppose a set of beliefs which are “Normal”, while the rest of us are lumped into the category “Everyone Else”.  When someone calls me an “non-believer”, I say there are lots of things I believe in.  Religion is just not one of them.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2009 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2011
Joined  2007-08-09
edhopper - 27 March 2009 07:15 AM

There is no belief or non-belief.

Of course there is. A belief is a distinction that human beings draw. It refers to an operation of the mind. At the least, it is an experiential distinction - that’s mainly what it is, maybe exclusively.

To deny that there is such a thing is to commit one of the recurring mistakes we make in our communities, which is to deny human experience, or at least those experiences we don’t like or don’t agree with. (For example, many of our members insist that religion is only a set of beliefs; they insist on ignoring the religious experience, which is killing our ability to understand or relate positively to people outside our communities.) But if you really look at it, how can you disagree with an experience - it just is. There is no reason for us to do that, and plenty of reasons not to, one of which is that it’s cultural suicide.

In addition, or alternatively, we are saying that the only beliefs that count are beliefs in God. When we call ourselves non-believers, we imply that all our beliefs - in reason, in science, in art - are not even worth mentioning. I agree strongly with advocatus (post 17) and add that when we accept the label “non-believer,” we give credence to the false notion that we are all nihilists. Fair or not, that is how people hear it. I’ve had this discussion on this forum before, and as some may recall, I believe this label is one we should never use. It should be as anathema to us as the label “child molester,” because while there is non-belief in particular things, there is no such thing as a non-believer. Everyone believes in something. And if you take the time to debate the matter because you beleive I’m wrong, then you only prove my point.

Therefore, I pose two questions, in the hope of carrying this discussion forward.

1. Perhaps you intended to make another point, Ed. Could you explain what you meant?

2. Recognizing that “non-believer” invokes emptiness, or a void (that’s the image), what reason can anyone give for hanging that label on yourself?

[ Edited: 30 March 2009 08:45 AM by PLaClair ]
 Signature 

I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2009 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7504
Joined  2007-03-02
advocatus - 30 March 2009 07:28 AM

Well, I don’t like the term “non-believer” because it seems to presuppose a set of beliefs which are “Normal”, while the rest of us are lumped into the category “Everyone Else”.  When someone calls me an “non-believer”, I say there are lots of things I believe in.  Religion is just not one of them.

I never said I liked it.  All I said was that it groups those not of the Abrahamic religions or any other religions he may have listed in with Pagans/Wiccans and those of other religions he did not list.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2009 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  16
Joined  2008-04-08
PLaClair - 30 March 2009 08:22 AM
edhopper - 27 March 2009 07:15 AM

There is no belief or non-belief.

Of course there is. A belief is a distinction that human beings draw. It refers to an operation of the mind. At the least, it is an experiential distinction - that’s mainly what it is, maybe exclusively.

To deny that there is such a thing is to commit one of the recurring mistakes we make in our communities, which is to deny human experience, or at least those experiences we don’t like or don’t agree with. (For example, many of our members insist that religion is only a set of beliefs; they insist on ignoring the religious experience, which is killing our ability to understand or relate positively to people outside our communities.) But if you really look at it, how can you disagree with an experience - it just is. There is no reason for us to do that, and plenty of reasons not to, one of which is that it’s cultural suicide.

In addition, or alternatively, we are saying that the only beliefs that count are beliefs in God. When we call ourselves non-believers, we imply that all our beliefs - in reason, in science, in art - are not even worth mentioning. I agree strongly with advocatus (post 17) and add that when we accept the label “non-believer,” we give credence to the false notion that we are all nihilists. Fair or not, that is how people hear it. I’ve had this discussion on this forum before, and as some may recall, I believe this label is one we should never use. It should be as anathema to us as the label “child molester,” because while there is non-belief in particular things, there is no such thing as a non-believer. Everyone believes in something. And if you take the time to debate the matter because you beleive I’m wrong, then you only prove my point.

Therefore, I pose two questions, in the hope of carrying this discussion forward.

1. Perhaps you intended to make another point, Ed. Could you explain what you meant?

2. Recognizing that “non-believer” invokes emptiness, or a void (that’s the image), what reason can anyone give for hanging that label on yourself?

I was making the distinction between religion, which relies on faith and belief. And science, which relies on reason.
I was not trying to make a larger point about belief and the hum,an condition. If a scientist were to say, “I believe something is true because I have faith and do not need any proof.” he would not be doing science.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2009 07:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2011
Joined  2007-08-09
edhopper - 30 March 2009 05:06 PM
PLaClair - 30 March 2009 08:22 AM
edhopper - 27 March 2009 07:15 AM

There is no belief or non-belief.

Of course there is. A belief is a distinction that human beings draw. It refers to an operation of the mind. At the least, it is an experiential distinction - that’s mainly what it is, maybe exclusively.

To deny that there is such a thing is to commit one of the recurring mistakes we make in our communities, which is to deny human experience, or at least those experiences we don’t like or don’t agree with. (For example, many of our members insist that religion is only a set of beliefs; they insist on ignoring the religious experience, which is killing our ability to understand or relate positively to people outside our communities.) But if you really look at it, how can you disagree with an experience - it just is. There is no reason for us to do that, and plenty of reasons not to, one of which is that it’s cultural suicide.

In addition, or alternatively, we are saying that the only beliefs that count are beliefs in God. When we call ourselves non-believers, we imply that all our beliefs - in reason, in science, in art - are not even worth mentioning. I agree strongly with advocatus (post 17) and add that when we accept the label “non-believer,” we give credence to the false notion that we are all nihilists. Fair or not, that is how people hear it. I’ve had this discussion on this forum before, and as some may recall, I believe this label is one we should never use. It should be as anathema to us as the label “child molester,” because while there is non-belief in particular things, there is no such thing as a non-believer. Everyone believes in something. And if you take the time to debate the matter because you beleive I’m wrong, then you only prove my point.

Therefore, I pose two questions, in the hope of carrying this discussion forward.

1. Perhaps you intended to make another point, Ed. Could you explain what you meant?

2. Recognizing that “non-believer” invokes emptiness, or a void (that’s the image), what reason can anyone give for hanging that label on yourself?

I was making the distinction between religion, which relies on faith and belief. And science, which relies on reason.
I was not trying to make a larger point about belief and the hum,an condition. If a scientist were to say, “I believe something is true because I have faith and do not need any proof.” he would not be doing science.

Of course, but if the scientist said “I don’t believe anything,” he couldn’t do science. He would have no means for selecting the scientific method over any other method, just as one example.

I also distinguish between religion and theism, therefore I would not put it as you did. However, I believe I understand your point.

 Signature 

I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2009 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

As a chemist there are a great many reactions I’ve read about but have never tested.  For example, I’m fairly familiar with the chemistry of technetium,and I accept the reported reactions, but I’ve never even see a sample of the element since it is only produced in tiny quantities in nuclear reactors. 

Further, I’m moderately familiar with quite a few modern developments in physics, however I’ve never done the work to verify them.  Still I believe them and do so by faith.  I don’t think we can limit a scientist to accepting only those things s/he has had first person experience with. 

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 03:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2011
Joined  2007-08-09
Occam - 30 March 2009 09:42 PM

As a chemist there are a great many reactions I’ve read about but have never tested.  For example, I’m fairly familiar with the chemistry of technetium,and I accept the reported reactions, but I’ve never even see a sample of the element since it is only produced in tiny quantities in nuclear reactors. 

Further, I’m moderately familiar with quite a few modern developments in physics, however I’ve never done the work to verify them.  Still I believe them and do so by faith.  I don’t think we can limit a scientist to accepting only those things s/he has had first person experience with. 

Occam

Yes. Belief comes in many shades and degrees. We can’t hand the entire field over to the theists without walling ourselves off in a dark little corner.

At our best, we human beings are reasoned and rational but we are not just coldly rational information processors. We make intuitive judgments all the time. Without belief, we would have no grounding for our actions and, frankly, we would lose the variety in our approach to problems and issues that is at the heart of the creative process.

 Signature 

I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 04:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15302
Joined  2006-02-14
Occam - 30 March 2009 09:42 PM

Further, I’m moderately familiar with quite a few modern developments in physics, however I’ve never done the work to verify them.  Still I believe them and do so by faith.  I don’t think we can limit a scientist to accepting only those things s/he has had first person experience with. 

Of course, but I’d avoid the locution “believe them by faith” in this context. It is impossible to verify everything that one believes. Some bits of evidence simply have to be accepted on trust or authority. That much is clear. But then the question about those sources is: what is the basis of the trust? What is the basis of the authority? And then in the scientific context, that trust is based on a publicly available published, peer-reviewed record, any chain of which you can investigate for yourself. It is based on experiments which can be repeated at will. Authority is based on nothing more than knowledge of that work, and clarity of understanding, and is never infallible from any source.

The point about faith in a religious context is that it is typically set up as a contrast with belief based on evidence. In this latter context, verification is unnecessary—or at least it stops with revelation, which is itself immune to verification.

To say that scientists must accept anything “on faith” is to blur this distinction between evidence and revelation, and to suggest that the scientific enterprise is just as much an epistemological house of cards as is the religious.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4050
Joined  2006-11-28

I agree with Doug that the word faith has come to mean belief as a virtue in and of itself, despite any evidence or reasonable expectation that the belief is true. Scientists beliefs things without concrete, personal proof all the time. But we do not, as a matter of principle, believe things despite evidence against them because belief itself is seen as a moral good. This is the distinction with religion, and as the religious understand the word it doesn’t really apply to science and can only muddle the issues.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2011
Joined  2007-08-09
mckenzievmd - 31 March 2009 08:53 AM

I agree with Doug that the word faith has come to mean belief as a virtue in and of itself, despite any evidence or reasonable expectation that the belief is true.

And I agree, but we should be very careful not to assume that it always means that, or even usually means that. It means that in the context that sets us off. When we see faith as that and nothing else, we send out a dozen or so boomerangs, all of which return to the same place when we’re not looking.

 Signature 

I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

Damn.  If I don’t allow the religious to take over the word, “theory”, I’m sure as hell not going to let them usurp the meaning of “faith”.  angry  LOL

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2011
Joined  2007-08-09
Occam - 31 March 2009 09:27 AM

Damn.  If I don’t allow the religious to take over the word, “theory”, I’m sure as hell not going to let them usurp the meaning of “faith”.  angry  LOL

Occam

With all due respect, that argument makes absolutely no sense. According to you, “faith” is “their” word, so they can hardly usurp what already belongs to them.

The word “theory” is quite another matter. A theory is a scientific concept, which has a particular meaning in science. Many people don’t understand what it means in science and try to misuse the word to make an illegitimate point. We properly point out that a theory is an organized explanation, based on evidence, for a set of phenomena. That is its scientific meaning, and that is what we properly defend, because most people don’t understand what a theory is, and yes it matters. I trust we agree on that much.

By contrast, faith is an experience. You, or all of us secularists together, do not have the power to limit its meaning(s). The two words cannot be compared in this respect. And yet, it seems, many people in our movements insist that faith can only refer to the thing they don’t like: a belief without adequate evidence. That ignores the fact that faith is not only a belief, but also an experience and an action. There is a faith experience. If you do not believe me, I have no doubt that I could find a wealth of information to support the fact. There are also many contexts in which “faith” refers to an action, such as when one person puts his faith in a doctor by undergoing surgery. There are feelings that accompany such experiences, which people also characterize as “faith.” So the argument that faith is only a belief is just plain wrong, demonstrably not true. This is how people use the word all the time. You are correct to say that in certain contexts the word properly carries your narrower definition, but only in those contexts.

Tell me, then, if you will, why are you “not going to let them usurp the meaning of” their own word? What is it to you?

And what are you telling me when you make the comparison on that basis? What’s really at stake, or at issue, here?

[ Edited: 31 March 2009 01:17 PM by PLaClair ]
 Signature 

I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

Quote PlaClair:

According to you, “faith” is “their” word, so they can hardly usurp what already belongs to them.

Oh really?  I don’t recall where I said that.  Could you point me to that post?  While I agree that the first of the Webster definitions uses “Unquestioning” and the second and third use “religioous”, the fourth is “Anything believed”,  and the fifth is “complete trust, confidence, or reliance”.  My use seems well within #4 and #5.

Websters lists six definitions for “theory”.  Numbers 3, 4, and 5 do respond to the scientific meaning, however, 1 is “a mental viewing or contemplation”; 2 is “a speculative idea or plan as to how something might be done;  6 is popularity, a mere conjecture or guess.  Sorry, but that word certainly doesn’t belong just to science.  As a chemist I sure as hell know wht the scientific meaning of that word is, and that’s what I was referring to in the first clause of my sentence.

Apprently I was too succinct to get my meaning across clearly.  Of course both of those words have different meanings in different contexts.  However, what I’m saying is that I refuse be told that my use of either of them in my context isn’t correct because that word belongs to the other group.  And that’s just what Doug, Brennen and you indicate in your posts.

Occam
Wordpad

Profile
 
 
Posted: 31 March 2009 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2011
Joined  2007-08-09
Occam - 31 March 2009 04:46 PM

Quote PlaClair:

According to you, “faith” is “their” word, so they can hardly usurp what already belongs to them.

Oh really?  I don’t recall where I said that.  Could you point me to that post?  While I agree that the first of the Webster definitions uses “Unquestioning” and the second and third use “religioous”, the fourth is “Anything believed”,  and the fifth is “complete trust, confidence, or reliance”.  My use seems well within #4 and #5.

Websters lists six definitions for “theory”.  Numbers 3, 4, and 5 do respond to the scientific meaning, however, 1 is “a mental viewing or contemplation”; 2 is “a speculative idea or plan as to how something might be done;  6 is popularity, a mere conjecture or guess.  Sorry, but that word certainly doesn’t belong just to science.  As a chemist I sure as hell know wht the scientific meaning of that word is, and that’s what I was referring to in the first clause of my sentence.

Apprently I was too succinct to get my meaning across clearly.  Of course both of those words have different meanings in different contexts.  However, what I’m saying is that I refuse be told that my use of either of them in my context isn’t correct because that word belongs to the other group.  And that’s just what Doug, Brennen and you indicate in your posts.

Occam
Wordpad

Occam, you may be right. I thought I had read these things from you, but perhaps not. I have seen what I described from many people here and throughout our communities. I’ve seen Richard Dawkins, for example, insist in writing that faith means belief without adequate evidence and nothing else.

The more important points, I think, are (1) that science and religion are very different things and (2) there are many components to religion and religious ideas besides their belief systems.

 Signature 

I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 13
2