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The presumption of rationalism
Posted: 13 February 2009 02:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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That one should use reason rather than faith is the presumption of rationalism. One would have to use reason to overcome it. Reaon can move the mountains of ignorance while faith cannot instantiate the supernatural nor the paranormal.
    Keith Ward, theologian maintains that the rationalist demand for evidence would hamper us in going about our daily doings. Nay, that demand so varies. It is the appropriate type in each situartion., none to litle to extraordinary. Thus Ward uses the all or noting fallacy. That bane.
    My evidence for my parent’s love for me is their actions toward me. Evidence isn’t only through the micrscope, the teleoscope or the Buntsen burner. Ward use here a straw man.High level theologians like him aver that Clifford Richard Dawkins uses straw men against religion but rather it is they against us rationalists.
    Faith is the we just say so of credulity. It begs the question of its subkect. Science, as Sydney Hook affirms, is acqured knoweldge whereas fath begs the quesion of being knowledge. That bane.
      Clifford versus James.Faith is the we jjust say so of credulity.

[ Edited: 17 February 2009 02:01 PM by dougsmith ]
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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 17 February 2009 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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What’s the significance of the semi-nude lady? rolleyes

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Posted: 17 February 2009 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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skeptic griggsy - 13 February 2009 02:43 AM

That one should use reason rather than faith is the presumption of rationalism.

Presumption, eh?  Another word for faith?

One would have to use reason to overcome it.

True, but only if one accepted the foundational presumption in the first place.  Otherwise we can reject it by faith.

Rea(s)on can move the mountains of ignorance while faith cannot instantiate the supernatural nor the paranormal.

Did you establish this as a fact via reason?  Or via some other method?  Perhaps via the presumption that one should use reason?

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Posted: 17 February 2009 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Bryan - 17 February 2009 01:15 PM
skeptic griggsy - 13 February 2009 02:43 AM

That one should use reason rather than faith is the presumption of rationalism.

Presumption, eh?  Another word for faith?

Not really. I can base my belief in the existence of Australia—which I have never visited—on a presumption. But you have to base your belief in god on faith. Big difference.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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George - 17 February 2009 01:32 PM
Bryan - 17 February 2009 01:15 PM
skeptic griggsy - 13 February 2009 02:43 AM

That one should use reason rather than faith is the presumption of rationalism.

Presumption, eh?  Another word for faith?

Not really. I can base my belief in the existence of Australia—which I have never visited—on a presumption. But you have to base your believe in god on faith. Big difference.

So, if I follow you correctly, you’re saying that the difference between presumption and faith is that they are somehow different.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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In my daily life I don’t. That’s until I encounter people who hijack the word faith and give it its own meaning.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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George - 17 February 2009 01:38 PM

In my daily life I don’t.

I’m sorry, in your daily life you don’t what?

That’s until I encounter people who hijack the word faith and give it its own meaning.

What is the real, non-hijacked meaning of “faith”?

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Posted: 17 February 2009 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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In my daily life I have no problem saying that I have faith in, say, the effectiveness of a flu vaccine. But that’s only until I meet people who tell me that they have faith in homeopathy. It was indeed the Christians who hijacked the word and decided that it doesn’t need to be supported by logic and evidence; after Galileo and Darwin they didn’t have much choice I am afraid.

[ Edited: 17 February 2009 02:04 PM by George ]
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Posted: 17 February 2009 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Edited Griggsy’s first post to remove the photo. Griggsy, I didn’t see how that photo of a woman in underwear had anything to do with what you were discussing. I have to assume it was put up in error. At any rate the Mods and I just don’t think it’s relevant and could be misconstrued.

If for some reason you feel it was pertinent, let us know why and we can discuss you putting it back up.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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George - 17 February 2009 02:02 PM

In my daily life I have no problem saying that I have faith in, say, the effectiveness of a flu vaccine.

Would you think that equivalent to saying that you presume the vaccine will be effective?

But that’s only I meet people who tell me that they have faith in homeopathy. It was indeed the Christians who hijacked the word and decided that it doesn’t need to be supported by logic and evidence; after Galileo and Darwin they didn’t have much choice I am afraid.

We’re almost in agreement, though we might disagree on which Christians hijacked the word.

The point I’m making to SG is that taking if the presumption that we ought to use reason is based in turn on reason then the argument is effectively circular.  Plus the conclusion doesn’t follow, as I already pointed out.  I don’t think your comments about faith are relevant.  Pick whatever common definition you like for it and his statement will run into trouble.

And funny you should mention Galileo.  Galileo had evidence arguing against his heliocentric theory in the form of an apparently failed prediction.  Accordingly, those who argued against him (mostly scientists) had that same evidence to use against the theory.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Bryan - 17 February 2009 02:11 PM
George - 17 February 2009 02:02 PM

In my daily life I have no problem saying that I have faith in, say, the effectiveness of a flu vaccine.

Would you think that equivalent to saying that you presume the vaccine will be effective?

Again, it depends who I am talking to. I can say to my brother that I have a faith in the effectiveness of a flu vaccine, or that I presume that the vaccine will be effective. Doesn’t matter much which term I use. In either case my brother would know that the truth of the effectiveness of a flu vaccine wasn’t revealed to me in my dreams.

And since this is SG’s thread, I’ll leave it at that.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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George - 17 February 2009 02:30 PM
Bryan - 17 February 2009 02:11 PM
George - 17 February 2009 02:02 PM

In my daily life I have no problem saying that I have faith in, say, the effectiveness of a flu vaccine.

Would you think that equivalent to saying that you presume the vaccine will be effective?

Again, it depends who I am talking to.

Potentially yes, then, if I may be presumptuous.  wink

So my question to SG is reasonable on its face.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I’m not sure where SG was going exactly, but the subsequent conversation about “presumption” vs “faith” is an interesting one so I’ll jump in on that. I’m one who believes that all world views, epistemelogical methods, and so on begin with foundational principles that are take as given at the outset. So I think it’s a waste of time to argue that religion fundamentally differes from naturalism in basing itself on such foundational principles. However, not all foundational principles are created equal, and I think the interesting part of contrasting world views lies in where do such principles lead you. As I’ve argued elsewhere, faith without or even in contrast to evidence as a good in itself seems demonstrably inferior as a foundational principle to the idea that reason should guide understanding and all understanding should be revisable via evidence and reason, not fixed by virtue of revelation. Still, that’s another debate.


Here, I think George is getting at the idea that the conventional use of “faith” to express a high degree of confidence in the truth of something is different from the specific religious meaning of the word. Having faith that Australia exists or that your mother loves you is a conditional acceptance of the truth of these facts based on one’s understanding of general facts about the world, reliance on authorities that have previously proven reliable (the atlas, one’s high school geopgraphy teacher, one’s mother), and given the absence of reasonable evidence to the contrary. One accepts such truths without rigorous independant confirmation of them out of pragmatic need to function without recreating all knowledge, and because there’s not much reason for doubt.

Faith, in the religious sense, seems to involve the deliberate effort to continue believing in an unprovable proposition because it is considered morally imperative to do so, with the presumption that the relevant authorities (clergy, scripture, etc) are nearly or completely infallible and that contrary evidence is either a failure on one’s own part to understand or the deliberate, malign effort by others to lead one away from truth. It supports truths not subject to revision.

Because the word is the same, the religious often take use of it in the first sense as somehow indicating that atheists or naturalists are no different really from theists in accepting everything “on faith,” and then they get carried away arguing that sceince/methodlogical naturalism is “just another religion” no more falsifiable or rational than theirs. This is really a misunderstanding (or occassionally a deliberate attempt to distort the case) based on two similar but significantly different uses of the same word.

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Posted: 17 February 2009 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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mckenzievmd - 17 February 2009 04:17 PM

I’m not sure where SG was going exactly, but the subsequent conversation about “presumption” vs “faith” is an interesting one so I’ll jump in on that. I’m one who believes that all world views, epistemelogical methods, and so on begin with foundational principles that are take as given at the outset. So I think it’s a waste of time to argue that religion fundamentally differes from naturalism in basing itself on such foundational principles. However, not all foundational principles are created equal, and I think the interesting part of contrasting world views lies in where do such principles lead you. As I’ve argued elsewhere, faith without or even in contrast to evidence as a good in itself seems demonstrably inferior as a foundational principle to the idea that reason should guide understanding and all understanding should be revisable via evidence and reason, not fixed by virtue of revelation. Still, that’s another debate.

Good observations.

Here, I think George is getting at the idea that the conventional use of “faith” to express a high degree of confidence in the truth of something is different from the specific religious meaning of the word. Having faith that Australia exists or that your mother loves you is a conditional acceptance of the truth of these facts based on one’s understanding of general facts about the world, reliance on authorities that have previously proven reliable (the atlas, one’s high school geopgraphy teacher, one’s mother), and given the absence of reasonable evidence to the contrary. One accepts such truths without rigorous independant confirmation of them out of pragmatic need to function without recreating all knowledge, and because there’s not much reason for doubt.

Right, but if we apply that to SG’s opening post then we have a presumption that we ought to approach things rationally that presumption is in turn apparently based on rationality.  There is no logical license in that argument for excluding other approaches.  One might augment the argument as you are currently doing to some extent, but as it is who could accept it?

Faith, in the religious sense, seems to involve the deliberate effort to continue believing in an unprovable proposition because it is considered morally imperative to do so, with the presumption that the relevant authorities (clergy, scripture, etc) are nearly or completely infallible and that contrary evidence is either a failure on one’s own part to understand or the deliberate, malign effort by others to lead one away from truth. It supports truths not subject to revision.

FWIW, I think by far the dominant view of faith in the Bible is evidence-based faith.  Check out the so-called “faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11.  The examples there predominantly had evidences on which to build their trust.

Because the word is the same, the religious often take use of it in the first sense as somehow indicating that atheists or naturalists are no different really from theists in accepting everything “on faith,” and then they get carried away arguing that sceince/methodlogical naturalism is “just another religion” no more falsifiable or rational than theirs.

While no doubt that is perfectly true, I simply don’t see how it applies in this case.  My point is that SG’s argument doesn’t work, and that is regardless of what definition of faith we plug in.  And it’s worth noting that I made no assumption about what was intended by “presumption” but instead asked a question of SG that invited his clarification.

This is really a misunderstanding (or occassionally a deliberate attempt to distort the case) based on two similar but significantly different uses of the same word.

I think the view of faith as “belief without evidence” is not a biblical view of faith, so I have little sympathy for Christians who employ it in their arguments.  If they receive a rhetorical spanking it serves them right.  Hopefully they’ll adjust their thinking.

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Posted: 18 February 2009 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Bryan - 17 February 2009 11:59 PM

FWIW, I think by far the dominant view of faith in the Bible is evidence-based faith.  Check out the so-called “faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11.  The examples there predominantly had evidences on which to build their trust.

Hebrews 11 talks about the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the walls of Jericho and the prostitute Rahab. Many names, zero evidence.

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Posted: 18 February 2009 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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George - 18 February 2009 07:21 AM
Bryan - 17 February 2009 11:59 PM

FWIW, I think by far the dominant view of faith in the Bible is evidence-based faith.  Check out the so-called “faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11.  The examples there predominantly had evidences on which to build their trust.

Hebrews 11 talks about the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the walls of Jericho and the prostitute Rahab. Many names, zero evidence.

Not so.  There’s considerable evidence in each case.

Abel
See Genesis 4.  The text suggests that God continued to manifest himself to men (“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.  And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?”)  As Flavius Josephus makes clear, it was understood among the Hebrews (coincidentally the audience for whom the book of Hebrews was thought to be intended) that Abel was devoted to this God for whom he had evidence.  Cain was not.

Enoch
Enoch is admittedly the weakest example in support of my point.  The text says Enoch “walked with God,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean the same sense in which earlier figures dealt directly with God.  Again, rabbinic tradition leans toward personal experience as the foundation for Enoch’s devotion and subsequent translation to be with God.

Noah
If God comes to you and tells you to build a boat on dry land, you’ve got some evidence that you should do it (“So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth’).  Detailed instructions about the construction of the boat should also offer at least some evidence that the god is serious.

Abraham
Abraham had direct interactions with God on a continuing basis, including the past fulfillment of promises.

Isaac
It is very plausible that Isaac remembered being offered up as a sacrifice for whom God offered a substitute, and moreover we should consider it likely that Abraham communicated his experiences with God to Isaac.

Jacob
Jacob had numerous experiences of God fulfilling promises expected through the covenant with Abraham.  It probably means something that the only act of faith mentioned in Hebrews has to do with the blessing he offered to Joseph’s sons, which followed in type his blessing ahead of that of his older brother (Esau).

Joseph
Joseph lived the fulfillment of a dream, in the context of preserving the line of Abraham for the later fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant (his understanding of that was underscored by his promise not to allow his father to be buried in Egypt).  See Gen. 50:24.

Moses
Moses’ parents receive a commendation to their faith, for they “saw that he was no ordinary child” and took steps to protect him.  I take the “saw” as indicative of some sort of evidence.  If “believed” had been used with no other suggestion of evidence then there would be a decent case for blind faith.  As for Moses himself, he discussed things with God as had Noah before him and the text communicates quite a few evidences relevant to his faith.

Jericho
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.  March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.  Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”
The exodus had provided the Israelites with abundant evidence of God’s power, and a statement from God to the effect that he will bring down the walls of Jericho must count as evidence on which to act.  The event continues a pattern of promise and fulfillment.  Trust reasonably builds on the basis of such patterns.

Rahab
We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
http://bible.crosswalk.com/OnlineStudyBible/bible.cgi?passage=jos+2&version=niv&showtools=0
Rahab had evidence that opposing Israel would not work out well.

“(Z)ero evidence.”
A joke, right?

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