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Posted: 01 April 2009 08:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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mckenzievmd - 01 April 2009 07:28 PM

*sigh*
Paul,
Of course we’re never going to agree about your use of “religion,” and whether it is atypical as I believe or not. And as you should know from my posts above, I’m not a prescriptivist so I don’t believe there is any objective reference we can use to prove the issue one way or another. The closest thing to this would be a scientific survey of native English speaker opinions on the issue, which I’m certainly in no position to do even if it is technically feasible, which I doubt. I think the resistance you get to your usage within the secular community is itself a reflection of the word containing indelible meanings you do not intend, not just a measure of the reflexive closed-mindeness of the community. But as we’ve said so often before, we surely agree far more than we disagree, so I by no means intend to say that you “can’t” use the word any way that seems appropriate to you. I will, for the benefit of others following the conversation, routinely put my 2 cents in about why I don’t support the usage, but that just means we’re a diverse community with diverse approaches, as it should be.

And I still feel that there is nothing in my approach to this language that denies anything about the human experience. I find many eloquent, moving depictions of individual and general human experience that speak to the feelings you refer to and that do so effectively without terms like “religion” and “born-again.” If those work for you, great, and I’m not trying to deny them to you. But if they don’t work for me, you’re wrong to imply that this impoverishes my experiences or my communication.

Except that many people in our movements do deny things about the human experience - we do it all over the place. It’s very common right here on this forum for people to reject religion wholesale, to see no redeeming value in it at all. It’s also common to limit these terms to their belief component, which ignores most of what’s going on. (E.g., faith is a belief and that’s all.) I’ve made that point here before and it’s usually not addressed.

And you don’t need a survey. Just pick up popular literature or listen to how people talk about these things. (E.g.: “Money is his religion.” “I have faith in you.”)

But let’s assume that everything you write is true. In that case:

Are there valid, non-supernaturalist religious experiences? (Name and/or describe some.)

Are there valid, non-supernaturalist faith experiences? (Name and/or describe some.)

Is there anything about religion that you like and endorse? (Like what?)

Is there anything about faith that you like and endorse? (Like what?)

What are the elements or features of religion besides belief?

What are the elements of faith besides belief?

What did John Dewey mean by the title of his book A Common Faith?

What does the Ethical Culture statement of principles mean by “Our faith is in the capacity and responsibility of human beings to act in their personal relationships and in the larger community to help create a better world?”

What’s idiosyncratic about it?

I know you think I’m beating a dead horse. I think our organizations and our movements do not succeed because they’re blocked by their own knee-jerk reaction against all things that are seen as religious. The theists have gotten into our heads and helped us box ourselves into one corner after another trying to differentiate ourselves from them. We will not succeed until we free ourselves from that and present ourselves positively instead of in reaction to those with whom we disagree.

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Posted: 01 April 2009 09:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Paul,

You make it difficult to answer your questions because, by your insistance on using “religous” to describe the experiences you ask about, you presume the truth of your own assumption-that only that word is adequate to describe these experiences. And, of course, it is this very idea I dispute. If you are talking about experiences which bring deep joy, a sense of meaning and purpose, a sense of deep oneness with others or of communion with the larger universe, I think all of these are valid and important human feelings and experiences. If you mean experiences that convince one of the rightness of a single and universal moral truth or other dogma, or which make one feel a part of a superior elect people, or that ground the meaning of life in the presumption of another life after the death of the body, then I don’t accept such experiences. The problem wiht your choice of words, is that I don’t know which set of experiences you are referring to.

I like lots of things about religion. Great music, great art, consolation through suffering, strengthening of communities, and a vision of life that extends beyond the quotidian. I’m just not sure the price that must be paid for these things via the traditional religious path is worth it. I think mostcan be had without the supernatural and without the trappings of traditional religiosity in general, and I certainly don’t think having the benefiits that historically have come from religion require the use of the traditional religious language.

I can’t say I endorse anything about “faith” because to me that word means belief despite evidence as a virtue in and of itself. I know it doesn’t mean that to you, and we disagree about the significance of the different meanings we see in the word, but I can’t use it your way any more than you can use it mine. If you can say more clearly or specifically what you mean by it apart from the aspect of making a virtue of belief for its own sake, perhaps I can give you a response.

The elements of religion besides belief encompass the things I already mentioned above. But religion is not the only source of these things, as I think most of us here feel is obvious. We neednt make of humanism a religion to have them. And again, I don’t know what faith means beyond belief, so i can’t really answer that.

Not familiar with Dewey’s book, so no idea.

I think our organizations and movements are succeeding, but to the extent that they do so less than we would like I think it is because they are less organized, less well-funded, less effectively marketed, and ultimately less consistent with the feelings and beliefs of the majority far more than because they aren’t adapting your vision of a secular religion. I agree that we shouldn’t be all about opposition to religion, but I disagree that we are mostly about that. We are about a lot of things. I spend a lot of time at this site, and virtually none of it in discussions about religion because that doesn’t happen to interest me much. And yet there is much here for me anyway. The movement is not as impoverished in my view as you seem to think.

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Posted: 01 April 2009 10:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Occam - 01 April 2009 09:46 AM

I didn’t realize the dictionary was narrow and idiosyncratic.  It seems that one who claims that may have his own narrow and idiosyncratic set of meanings.  If we hope to communicate, we just realize that we may use words differently and compensate for that in our own minds, not demand that everyone intuit your limits of meaning for words and use them only in that way.


Occam, this (kind of) touches on the discussion about the word ‘atheism’ I referred to above, and I’d be interested in hearing everyone’s opinion/reaction to this…....

in this conversation I had, another person (who isn’t an atheist) said that atheism means that the person knows there’s no god(s).  I responded with the usual distinction between theism/atheism and gnosticism/agnosticism and the person wouldn’t relinquish the idea that an atheist is somehow ‘sure’ about their belief ~ or that, instead of disbelieving in god(s), it means the more ‘active’ position of believing that there are no gods.  His main focus was the ‘certainty’ thing.

I told him that I would never claim to be ‘certain’ of any such things, and that I subscribe to the simplest meaning of the word, namely ‘lacking or without theism’.  I referred to the ‘a’ prefix and words like ‘amoral’ or ‘asymmetrical’ and basically said that if someone is without theism, whether it’s because they firmly believe there is no God or because they lack a belief in God, they could be described as being an atheist.  A-theist, lacking in theism.  He simly refused to accept this as a valid definition because it’s “not the definition that most people understand

I said that I used to call myself agnostic precisely because most people aren’t aware of these ‘nuances’ of definitions, but now I use the word atheist because I have no desire to make my position seem ‘gentler’ or more ‘in between’ and am quite satisfied with the defintion of atheism as described above.

Should one subscribe to the more commonly used definition/meaning of ‘atheism’ or use it and then ‘discuss’ when the gasps and ‘egads!’ come in response?


p.s. to clarify, I don’t usually call myself as an atheist unless a very specific discussion about the issue of theism comes up (because i hate the idea of giving myself a label that refers to a negative, and prefer ‘naturalist’ or ‘humanist’ if anything.  I don’t really like labelling myself at all, but these things are hard to avoid when the subject of ‘worldview’ comes up…..)

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Posted: 01 April 2009 11:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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I also subscribe to the meaning in it’s simplest sense ‘without theism’. I checked the Webster dictionary for a definition and it has as it’s meaning ‘disbelief in god’. The OED lists atheism in graded nuances, and of course the creationist dictionary insists on calling it a religion. There is not such thing as a aThorist, or aLokist, or aIsis, aRa or aEasterBunny or asanta ( grin ) where you have a word that describes a nonbelief in all of the other religions. I have never heard a christian describe themselves as aHindi, or aBuddist. Why do I need to have a word that only describes one element of my non-belief? I am as much a non believer in the Hindi, Norse, Egyptian, Greek, Native American, Inuit and African gods. Who decided that it is important to narrowly define it with a specific theistic belief? I don’t believe in Mother Goose, ghosts, ESP,astrology,  or the teapot in orbit around the asteroid belt either. No one calls me a-durian, because I don’t eat durian, and it is true—-I don’t eat durian, but that doesn’t describe me, there are many other things I do not eat too!

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Posted: 02 April 2009 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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mckenzie most respectfully:

mckenzievmd - 01 April 2009 09:41 PM

Paul,

You make it difficult to answer your questions because, by your insistance on using “religous” to describe the experiences you ask about, you presume the truth of your own assumption-that only that word is adequate to describe these experiences. And, of course, it is this very idea I dispute. If you are talking about experiences which bring deep joy, a sense of meaning and purpose, a sense of deep oneness with others or of communion with the larger universe, I think all of these are valid and important human feelings and experiences. If you mean experiences that convince one of the rightness of a single and universal moral truth or other dogma, or which make one feel a part of a superior elect people, or that ground the meaning of life in the presumption of another life after the death of the body, then I don’t accept such experiences. The problem wiht your choice of words, is that I don’t know which set of experiences you are referring to.

Sure you do. I told you, it’s about bringing things together into a coherent whole in order to give meaning, purpose and direction to life. I’m not presuming anything, but only using the word in one of the perfectly appropriate ways that it can be used. See your own language, which I bolded. I wouldn’t even go as far as you do: what is “communion with the larger universe?” And if insistence is at issue, which is the more insistent: using a word where it seems to fit or insisting that the word shouldn’t be used in any affirmative way?

mckenzievmd - 01 April 2009 09:41 PM

I like lots of things about religion. Great music, great art, consolation through suffering, strengthening of communities, and a vision of life that extends beyond the quotidian. I’m just not sure the price that must be paid for these things via the traditional religious path is worth it. I think mostcan be had without the supernatural and without the trappings of traditional religiosity in general, and I certainly don’t think having the benefiits that historically have come from religion require the use of the traditional religious language.

They can all be had without the supernatural. I don’t know what you mean by “the trappings of traditional religiosity,” but I would have no problem with joyful secularists singing, dancing and sharing experiences in community. Perhaps you can flesh out what trappings you object to. It’s not a matter of “requiring,” but of seizing an opportunity to communicate and finding common ground. I’m saying that we can find dignity and virtue in religion, so let’s do it. The alternative is to wall ourselves off from most of the community, which I think is a mistake. What I’d like to see you respond to here is what trappings you object to. And what price are you talking about?

mckenzievmd - 01 April 2009 09:41 PM

I can’t say I endorse anything about “faith” because to me that word means belief despite evidence as a virtue in and of itself. I know it doesn’t mean that to you, and we disagree about the significance of the different meanings we see in the word, but I can’t use it your way any more than you can use it mine. If you can say more clearly or specifically what you mean by it apart from the aspect of making a virtue of belief for its own sake, perhaps I can give you a response.

But you see, that’s where you’re dead wrong. I can use it the way you do, and I do. If you can’t use it my way, then that’s something you can’t do, one avenue of communication that isn’t open to you because you “can’t” do it. You just said so. And if you don’t know what I mean by the word, then how can you be so sure that you can’t use it that way? mckenzie, look what you’re doing. Your response has to be coming from a reaction; it can’t be a considered position, you just admitted it.

Here’s my definition: Faith is acting to open life’s possibilities; put another way it is acting for good even though we have no guarantee what the results will be. The more challenging the situation, the greater is the role of Faith.

mckenzievmd - 01 April 2009 09:41 PM

The elements of religion besides belief encompass the things I already mentioned above. But religion is not the only source of these things, as I think most of us here feel is obvious. We neednt make of humanism a religion to have them. And again, I don’t know what faith means beyond belief, so i can’t really answer that.

What about community? What about joy? There are plenty of others, and I didn’t read you to be exclusive of these.

Religion isn’t a source of anything. It’s a category we assign to a set of phenomena. I’m just saying, why insist that we fall completely outside that category when, plainly, we have common ground within it?

Now that you know what I mean by Faith, can you answer?

mckenzievmd - 01 April 2009 09:41 PM

Not familiar with Dewey’s book, so no idea.

I think our organizations and movements are succeeding, but to the extent that they do so less than we would like I think it is because they are less organized, less well-funded, less effectively marketed, and ultimately less consistent with the feelings and beliefs of the majority far more than because they aren’t adapting your vision of a secular religion. I agree that we shouldn’t be all about opposition to religion, but I disagree that we are mostly about that. We are about a lot of things. I spend a lot of time at this site, and virtually none of it in discussions about religion because that doesn’t happen to interest me much. And yet there is much here for me anyway. The movement is not as impoverished in my view as you seem to think.

But religion is about a lot of things. In fact, religion is about everything. That’s what it is: the attempt to bring everything together into a coherent whole. The theistic vision says the same thing, only they claim that God is what brings everything together. We say that’s our job; that organizing a life in the context of everything is up to us.

You’re right, we’re not connecting with the majority of people. That’s because we’re not addressing their immediate, real-life concerns. So the theists have managed to convince them that they can only address their real-life concerns by addressing non-real-life concerns like gods and an afterlife. This should be a knock-off for us, but we’ve left the void, and the theists are fillling it. We are never going to reach most people unless we address these issues. They’re not going to listen to us if we don’t. How many times have you ever been to a meeting of Humanists or secularists that discussed ways to respond to personal crisis?

Dewey was one of the greatest Humanists of the 20th century. So how do you explain his using the word “faith” in the title of his book if he didn’t imply your definition and wasn’t using it idiosyncratically?

I think our organizations are less successful than they should be for a variety of reasons, significant among them our reaction against things we would do well to embrace. This includes a wide segment of human experience. If people who do not believe in a god comprise the third largest perspective in the United States, after the Catholics and the Baptists, then by any objective standard our movements are dismal failures. Our funding, our membership, our political power and much else are all minuscule compared not only to Catholics and Baptists, but also to much smaller groups, including Jews, Muslims, Methodists, etc. How can that be explained as “success?” When both presidents Bush can say with complete impunity that an atheist is not a good American, that is a sure sign that our organizations have failed us. I intend to open a topic in the Humanism forum to discuss this.

[ Edited: 02 April 2009 05:28 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 02 April 2009 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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Axegrrl - 01 April 2009 10:42 PM
Occam - 01 April 2009 09:46 AM

I didn’t realize the dictionary was narrow and idiosyncratic.  It seems that one who claims that may have his own narrow and idiosyncratic set of meanings.  If we hope to communicate, we just realize that we may use words differently and compensate for that in our own minds, not demand that everyone intuit your limits of meaning for words and use them only in that way.


Occam, this (kind of) touches on the discussion about the word ‘atheism’ I referred to above, and I’d be interested in hearing everyone’s opinion/reaction to this…....

in this conversation I had, another person (who isn’t an atheist) said that atheism means that the person knows there’s no god(s).  I responded with the usual distinction between theism/atheism and gnosticism/agnosticism and the person wouldn’t relinquish the idea that an atheist is somehow ‘sure’ about their belief ~ or that, instead of disbelieving in god(s), it means the more ‘active’ position of believing that there are no gods.  His main focus was the ‘certainty’ thing.

I told him that I would never claim to be ‘certain’ of any such things, and that I subscribe to the simplest meaning of the word, namely ‘lacking or without theism’.  I referred to the ‘a’ prefix and words like ‘amoral’ or ‘asymmetrical’ and basically said that if someone is without theism, whether it’s because they firmly believe there is no God or because they lack a belief in God, they could be described as being an atheist.  A-theist, lacking in theism.  He simly refused to accept this as a valid definition because it’s “not the definition that most people understand

I said that I used to call myself agnostic precisely because most people aren’t aware of these ‘nuances’ of definitions, but now I use the word atheist because I have no desire to make my position seem ‘gentler’ or more ‘in between’ and am quite satisfied with the defintion of atheism as described above.

Should one subscribe to the more commonly used definition/meaning of ‘atheism’ or use it and then ‘discuss’ when the gasps and ‘egads!’ come in response?


p.s. to clarify, I don’t usually call myself as an atheist unless a very specific discussion about the issue of theism comes up (because i hate the idea of giving myself a label that refers to a negative, and prefer ‘naturalist’ or ‘humanist’ if anything.  I don’t really like labelling myself at all, but these things are hard to avoid when the subject of ‘worldview’ comes up…..)

Axegrrl,

Like you, I generally avoid the term atheist to describe myself, essentially for the reasons you noted. Here is one response to your friend:

“It’s a common misconception to think otherwise, but I don’t know very many atheists who insist that they know there’s no god. I know quite a few who say there is no reason to think there is, and quite a few who say that particular versions of a god don’t make any sense and also quite a few who say that based on the evidence it doesn’t appear that there is a god. Atheists don’t all believe the same thing, just because they use the same word to describe themselves, any more than all Christians believe that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus deserves to burn in hell forever.

“I don’t usually call myself an atheist because I know that your view is a common perception. But I don’t believe in a god. That’s not to say that I’m sure there isn’t one, but on the other hand the existence of a god is not something I take very seriously. Whether you think that makes me an atheist, I’m not sure. Maybe you’re not even sure. I’ll tell you what I think about the existence of a god if you want me to. It’s a detailed explanation and it may not be what you expect. But if this much complexity frustrates you, that suggests to me that you may not be fully open to hearing and understanding what atheists think. {I’d be reluctant to say this last sentence unless I knew the person very well.}

“It’s tempting, I think, to want to put people we don’t agree with into one basket. That makes it easier for us to deal with them, but it may not be the truth. Just because non-atheists want to reduce atheism to one thing doesn’t mean that all atheists look at the matter as narrowly as that. Besides, the word doesn’t determine the person’s belief; that’s the tail wagging the dog. The word is just something we use as a shorthand to describe a set of beliefs. If you want to understand what atheists think, then I encourage you to talk to some atheists. If you do, I think you will see that many of us are not as rigid or as easy to categorize as you suggest.”

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Posted: 02 April 2009 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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I hate to jump in here, but guys, and gals, remember let it fall on the shoulders of the listener to interpret someones use of language. We all speak differently, but we have the same basic views. The upright atheist or humanist will welcome someones thoughts, and language usage.
I would have to say that the most important discussions are in direct proportion to the simplicity of language used.
Inversely: The most mundane and fruitless discussions are in direct proportion to the quibbling over tautological issues.

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Posted: 02 April 2009 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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PLaClair - 02 April 2009 05:10 AM

Axegrrl,

Like you, I generally avoid the term atheist to describe myself, essentially for the reasons you noted. Here is one response to your friend:

“It’s a common misconception to think otherwise, but I don’t know very many atheists who insist that they know there’s no god. I know quite a few who say there is no reason to think there is, and quite a few who say that particular versions of a god don’t make any sense and also quite a few who say that based on the evidence it doesn’t appear that there is a god. Atheists don’t all believe the same thing, just because they use the same word to describe themselves, any more than all Christians believe that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus deserves to burn in hell forever.

“I don’t usually call myself an atheist because I know that your view is a common perception. But I don’t believe in a god. That’s not to say that I’m sure there isn’t one, but on the other hand the existence of a god is not something I take very seriously. Whether you think that makes me an atheist, I’m not sure. Maybe you’re not even sure. I’ll tell you what I think about the existence of a god if you want me to. It’s a detailed explanation and it may not be what you expect. But if this much complexity frustrates you, that suggests to me that you may not be fully open to hearing and understanding what atheists think. {I’d be reluctant to say this last sentence unless I knew the person very well.}

“It’s tempting, I think, to want to put people we don’t agree with into one basket. That makes it easier for us to deal with them, but it may not be the truth. Just because non-atheists want to reduce atheism to one thing doesn’t mean that all atheists look at the matter as narrowly as that. Besides, the word doesn’t determine the person’s belief; that’s the tail wagging the dog. The word is just something we use as a shorthand to describe a set of beliefs. If you want to understand what atheists think, then I encourage you to talk to some atheists. If you do, I think you will see that many of us are not as rigid or as easy to categorize as you suggest.”


I appreciate the response and suggestion(s) PLaClair….......however, there really isn’t anything I didn’t already express to the guy in what you’ve posted above :)  He describes himself as an agnostic, so perhaps there’s some motivation to keep a fairly rigid line between the two terms, not sure.  Anyway, thanks :)

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Posted: 02 April 2009 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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Axegirl, I usually refer to myself as atheist because that’s what most people understand.  If they want to discuss it I say I’m really a non-thiest.  My beliefs are by faith because I have no proof either way.  However, using Popper’s Falsifiability theorem, the question of whether or not there is a god is meaningless so isn’t worth discussing.  And using Occam’s Razor, the concept of a god contributes nothing demonstrable to our understanding of the physical world so shouldn’t be included in our thinking.

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Posted: 02 April 2009 07:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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A few Google searches this evening, revealing just a few of the secular applications of faith:

Results 1 - 10 of about 1,150,000 for “faith in the market”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 593,000 for “faith in you”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 513,000 for “faith in government”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 406,000 for “faith in people”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 392,000 for “faith in humanity”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 238,000 for “faith in Obama”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 159,000 for “faith in the media”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 113,000 for “faith in bush”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 83,600 for “faith in science”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 70,900 for “faith in reason”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 51,600 for “faith in the free market”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 22,200 for “faith in capitalism”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 19,000 for “faith in the teachers”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 17,700 for “faith in doctors”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 16,900 for “faith in politicians”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 9,620 for “faith in the scientific method”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 8,440 for “faith in your doctor”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 5,030 for “faith in your spouse”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 4,950 for “faith in lawyers”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 4,830 for “faith in our institutions”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 4,690 for “faith in McCain”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 2,070 for “faith in Palin”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 1,520 for “faith in our elected officials”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 1,360 for “faith in the human capacity”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 1,080 for “faith in our educational system”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 241 for “faith in Britney Spears”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 128 for “faith in Biden”.
Results 1 - 10 of about 103 for “faith in Gretzky”.
Results 1 - 4 of 4 for “faith in Joe the Plumber”.
Results 1 - 3 of 3 for “faith in LeBron James”.
Results 1 - 3 of 3 for “faith in Michael Jordan”.
Results 1 - 2 of 2 for “faith in the Tarheels”.
Results 1 - 2 of 2 for “faith in spaghetti”.

You can search some pretty esoteric things and come up with a reference to faith.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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This morning’s Google search turned up: “Results 1 - 10 of about 34,000,000 for faith in me.”

Here are the lyrics to a popular song called “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

When the road gets dark
And you can no longer see
Let my love throw a spark
Have a little faith in me

And when the tears you cry
Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try baby and
Have a little faith, faith in me

Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me, oh and
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith, faith in me

When your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
Come here baby, from a whisper start
To have a little faith in me

And when your back’s against the wall
Just turn around and you, you will see
I will catch your, I will catch your fall just
Have a little faith, faith in me

Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Have a little faith, faith in me

I’ve been loving you for such a long, long time
Expecting nothing in return
Just for you to have a little faith in me
You see time, time is our friend
Cos for us there is no end
All you gotta do is have a little faith in me

I will hold you up, I will hold you up and
Your love gives me strength enough to
Have a little faith in me
Oh faith, darlin’

Have a little faith in me
Oh, faith

[http://www.lyrics007.com/Mandy Moore Lyrics/Have A Little Faith In Me Lyrics.html]

When a word like this is featured so prominently in a popular song - and I understand this one was very popular - it is a sure sign that it expresses a commonly understood meaning. The faith in this song is not just about belief. It’s about confidence, reliance, trust and letting go. It refers to action, in a rather passive sense in this case, but the word is also used to express more assertive acts of faith.

Either way, there’s a feeling associated with it. Good or bad it’s not just a belief. Saying that faith means more than that is not an idiosyncratic use of the word. We can discuss the pros and cons of the various applications of faith in this or any other culture but we can’t do that intelligently if we start by insisting on things that just ain’t so.

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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.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Paul,

This is a pointless, obsessive crusade, with all the hallmarks of religion in the bad sense. Look how egregiously you cherry pick your examples. A google or yahoo search on “faith” brings up an overwhelming majority of sites with a religious, and usually Christian, meaning. Sure, you can find other meanings out there, and I’ve never denied it has uses not directly related to religious belief. But the fact remains that the word has indelible associations with the traditional Christian usage, and when applied to science or secular beliefs systems like Humanism it muddies the important epistemelogical distinctions between them and theism. I prefer to speak of my experiences differently, and I don’t buy that secularism and humanism are doomed as movements if we don’t learn to co-opt religious language as you try to do. Secularism and humanism are growing, and science has been steadily replacing religion as the dominant way of knowing without any sweeping tide of existential despair rising in response. Why can’t we just agree to disagree and move of for pity’s sake?!

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Posted: 03 April 2009 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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I also feel Paul is confusing creativity with reality.  The song is being creative, expressively creative, but in reality one cannot use the words in that manner outside of being creative.  IMHO, we have to separate creativity from reality.  Such efforts of creativity are good for expressing feelings and are good in their own right, but when one is talking to others, we don’t always have the liberty of being creative with our communication.  Creative is one form of communicating feelings and alike, but general communication does not include such indevours to express oneself.

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

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Posted: 03 April 2009 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Guys, we can do it any way you like as long as we succeed. We are not succeeding. Our movements are starved for money and personnel. If only a handful of people agreed with us, that would be expected, but tens of millions of people agree with us and will have nothing to do with our movements and our organizations.

As for dogmatism in the use of language, I’m saying that the words can be used in this way; and that if one does that, she/he will have another way of communicating with people. I doubt that anyone would not have understood how the song was using the word “faith.”

I see language as an inherently creative enterprise: I want to convey as much meaning as possible. At best, something is going to be lost between the communicator and the receiver. Sometimes it isn’t easy to convey even a little of the intended meaning, the result of which is more confusion than communication. This is one of those areas, and our multiple frustrations over these issues doesn’t lend itself to objectivity.

And so we see these fights - almost literally, fights - over language, over and over in this forum and every single Humanist/secularist forum or organization I’ve ever been involved with. In not one of them do these fights not occur. They begin well before I got there and last long after I leave. The main difference here is that I’m being more persistent than most; the essential dynamics haven’t changed a bit. So blame it on me if you want to - or go look in the mirror. It’s your choice.

I know I’m being very persistent about this, and that makes me look quite dogmatic; but if you look at the content I respectfully suggest that the dogmatism is coming from your side.

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Posted: 03 April 2009 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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Here’s the problem… Do you want to explain to people what you mean everytime you say something using these words?  Or would rather let them assume what you mean?  Secondly, in poetry, fiction, etc. writers can get away without a whole lot more than in speech.  Such things are open to interpretation until the author states what they meant by the writing.

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

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