Friday, February 03, 2012

Is Reasonable Faith an Oxymoron?

 Faith does seem to involve believing in spite of something. Atheists jump on this and say that what believers are talking about is believing in spite of having no good reason to believe it, and good reason to not believe it. 

However, we can, for example, trust that a spouse is going to be faithful even though the spouse is out of our sight. In fact, the Apostle Paul contrasts faith with sight, not reason. Unless seeing is the only way we can have a good reason to believe something, it does seem to me that we cannot say that reasonable faith is an oxymoron by definition. 

155 comments:

Crude said...

Faith does seem to involve believing in spite of something.

In spite of a lack of utter certainty, perhaps?

Tony Hoffman said...

The faithful spouse analogy confuses expectation with faith. Given past experience, given the losses that would result if the affair was exposed, we have good reason to expect the faithfulness of a spouse. The expectation is both reasonable and mundane.

Faith in the Christian God involves neither reasonableness (we have many, many reasons to suspect that the Christian God does not exist), nor any mundane experiences that would overcome this unreasonable proposition.

So the characterization you provide of how atheists' understand Christian faith seems about right.

Crude said...

(we have many, many reasons to suspect that the Christian God does not exist)

Not really. We have a few reasons under a few basic headings ('Problem of evil', etc), some of which are only superficially reasonable and which fall apart upon greater inspection, some of which are more reasonable but have powerful replies. We also have many good reasons to suspect God, period, exists - and many good reasons to suspect the Christian God exists.

Before this is immediately derailed into an argument over reasonableness, I'll point out that Victor's point was pretty mundane: that 'reasonable faith' is not an oxymoron. Someone insisting that a given instance of faith is unreasonable does not speak against that claim.

Ryan Anderson said...

A lot of empirical data is involved when an individual decides to trust that a spouse is going to be faithful, or unfaithful, even though the spouse is out of our sight.

Victor seems to be suggesting that no spouses decided, based on data, that their spouses are unfaithful.

Crude said...

Victor seems to be suggesting that no spouses decided, based on data, that their spouses are unfaithful.

As I said above, Victor is pretty clearly taking aim at the claim the 'reasonable faith' is an oxymoron. It doesn't do anything to his reply to argue that this or that faith is reasonable, but some other faith is not. Agree that faith can be reasonable, and you've agreed with Victor - he can correct me if I'm wrong - even if some particular faith is judged to be unreasonable.

I see it nowhere implied that Victor thinks that no spouses were ever doubted based on data.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "Before this is immediately derailed into an argument over reasonableness, I'll point out that Victor's point was pretty mundane: that 'reasonable faith' is not an oxymoron."

I agree that Victor's claim is mundane, and that fortifies my point; misapprehensions are common and predictable, but that does not make them correct. You seem to be confusing ordinary with true. This a basic blunder, and does not extricate the theist from the problem that a common belief does not survive examination.

Crude said...

This a basic blunder, and does not extricate the theist from the problem that a common belief does not survive examination.

You're pretty slow, Tony.

The common belief does survive examination - the data, the arguments, favor the theist, and manifestly do not favor the atheist. But one more time: Victor is correct. "Reasonable faith" is not an oxymoron by definition. Faith is fine, it's even laudable. What's required is an argument that some particular instance of faith is not reasonable.

And asserting "all the data is against/for it!" is not an argument.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "It doesn't do anything to his reply to argue that this or that faith is reasonable, but some other faith is not."

It's equivocation to confuse faith in one's spouse's fidelity with faith that something like the Christian God exists. The two are not equivalent, for the reasons I explained.

Really, we're talking about expectation, or prediction. I have reason to predict my wife's fidelity; I have.. what? ... to predict God's involvement in my life.

It sounds to me like you'd prefer that the word faith be meaningless. And that, again, is my point.

Ryan Anderson said...

Crude, ok, but's it's not really faith if there is empirical evidence involved...

Tony Hoffman said...

Ladies and gentlemen, the arguments of a moron:

Crude: "The common belief does survive examination - the data, the arguments, favor the theist, and manifestly do not favor the atheist."

Argument by assertion.

Crude: "But one more time: Victor is correct."

Argument by assertion.

Crude" "Reasonable faith" is not an oxymoron by definition."

Argument by assertion.

Crude: "Faith is fine, it's even laudable."

Argument by assertion.

Crude:" What's required is an argument that some particular instance of faith is not reasonable."

And, falsely shifting the burden of proof. Hooray for you for not entirely combining idiocy with redundancy.

Crude, I'm not much upset with you (after all, you're a moron, and can't help it) as I am at this site -- this place could be interesting, but it seems to have devolved into a sad sort of echo chamber, filled with the same cast of characters, discovering nothing new and learning nothing.

I'm looking for someplace that might provoke some stimulating arguments, and this place is more and more looking like a dead end.

Cheers.

Crude said...

It's equivocation to confuse faith in one's spouse's fidelity with faith that something like the Christian God exists.

Yet no one has done that. If I give two examples of an argument - one that is successful, and one that fails - I did not 'equivocate between successful and failing arguments'. I simply pointed that both are arguments. If someone were saying "a successful argument is an oxymoron!", pointing out an instance of a successful argument would help correct their error. That someone could say "okay, but THAT argument fails!" wouldn't disrupt the point.

I have.. what? ... to predict God's involvement in my life.

An assortment of arguments and evidences which are not under discussion here. Victor is right - 'reasonable faith' is not an 'oxymoron by definition'. Faith can be quite reasonable.

It sounds to me like you'd prefer that the word faith be meaningless.

Well, you're slow, so that's to be expected.

Ladies and gentlemen, the arguments of a moron:

You seem to have missed this quote by me: "And asserting "all the data is against/for it!" is not an argument."

In other words, Tony... I made no arguments, and I knew it. I was simply replying to your assertions with some of my own. You, however, rolled in here with:

we have many, many reasons to suspect that the Christian God does not exist

Which you, apparently, thought was an argument - and which is an argument by assertion, by your own standards. So, good job. In your haste to reply ASAP and get in a burn, you burnt your own ass. Doubly so, since I explained exactly what Victor was going for in his claim and defended it.

You're slow, Tony. You can't even flame someone right. That's one skill I'd thought you have picked up - but hey, I didn't set my expectations low enough. ;)

Crude said...

Ryan,

Crude, ok, but's it's not really faith if there is empirical evidence involved...

Since when? The mere involvement of empirical evidence means there's no faith? That seems utterly wrong-headed. All that's required is that the evidence not be conclusive.

You yourself spoke of evidence a man could have regarding his wife's fidelity. Are you really saying he has no faith in her? Or that perfect evidence of fidelity is what you had in mind (Good Lord, how)?

Tony Hoffman said...

Me:" It's equivocation to confuse faith in one's spouse's fidelity with faith that something like the Christian God exists."

Crude: "Yet no one has done that."

Except for Victor, in the OP that started this discussion.

Crude, tip to you -- when you find yourself denying reality in order to preserve your dignity, reality will win that one every time.

Crude said...

Except for Victor, in the OP that started this discussion.

What Victor did, Tony, was say that we "cannot say that reasonable faith is an oxymoron by definition", and he gave the example of faith in a spouse as an instance of a potentially reasonable faith. He offered a defense of faith in principle, not a defense of specifically Christian faith, or even a claim that Christian faith is absolutely reasonable. Look at the first paragraph, with the question of faith being defined as believing something in spite of having no good reason to believe it, and good reason not to believe it. That's what's being addressed.

I know you're in some frantic rush to spar, since I called you slow and that just ruffled your jimmies. But really, relax. You'll get less graham crackers all over your keyboard.

unkleE said...

Ryan said: "it's not really faith if there is empirical evidence involved"

Ryan, how do you come to this statement? The only way I can see it could be justified is if you define faith as "devoid of reason".

Now many sceptics do that, but it isn't christian faith they are talking about. Whether you believe the gospels are true accounts or not, they are the bedrock of christian belief. And Jesus makes it very clear that faith is NOT devoid of reason - he tells people to believe on the basis of the evidence of his "works", and his biographers (Luke & John) make it clear that they were offering personal and historical evidence for the belief they were recommending to others.

We would do well to follow the philosophers. Belief is what we think in our own minds. Sometimes our beliefs are factual, other times they are wrong, sometimes they are well-based, sometimes not. We all have such beliefs because belief is simply what we think about things. Christian belief may thus be based on evidence - it is a matter of judgment.

So, please, may I suggest you define your terms, and stop asserting things that are not what christians are saying. We could better spend the time actually discussing what we actually believe and the reasons why some of us have one belief and some have a contrary one.

William said...

To clarify terminology, all faith requires belief, but much of belief is not faith.

Faith, I think, implies that there is a voluntary element in the decision to believe (even if most would in practice choose to believe or disbelieve), so that one might predict that any genuine belief which is a matter of faith should have reasonable people who affirm and reasonable people who deny that item.

What I dislike about dialogs here such as the ones between Crude and Paps is that neither seem to understand that their opponent's position is actually reasonable, and is both voluntarily and rationally chosen.

The fact that neither acts very rational or polite in the actual debate tactics makes that all the more annoying.

What ever happened to the principle of charity, folks?

Crude said...

William,

What I dislike about dialogs here such as the ones between Crude and Paps is that neither seem to understand that their opponent's position is actually reasonable, and is both voluntarily and rationally chosen.

I'm sorry, but no.

Plenty of Linton's positions are quite unreasonable, and the man demonstrably is completely out of his depth on a number of topics he won't shut up about, from science to naturalism to otherwise. I don't make the mistake of equating Linton, or hacks like Tony, with all people who disagree with me, or even with all atheists generally. But there's a Cultist of Gnu cloth the guys in question are cut from.

The principle of charity is one thing, but that does not mean 'Pretend the person you're talking with is reasonable and polite and knowledgeable, even when he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about and/or can't go a thread without accusing large groups of people of being deluded, stupid or liars for Jesus'. Not interested in playing that game. I'm entirely comfortable with polite discussion with someone who disagrees with me, even deeply, so long as the conversation remains civil and non-snarky. Few people can manage that.

The entire New Atheist movement is predicated on refusing to accept or admit that those who disagree with them on the subject of God's existence or Christian belief is reasonable, or at least that said beliefs are reasonable. Don't look at me - I didn't mastermind their strategy or their positions. And said positions won't change just because people foolishly try to be nice and ignore it.

Steven Carr said...

'In fact, the Apostle Paul contrasts faith with sight, not reason.'

Translation. He had faith that Jesus was resurrected.

Steven Carr said...

'The entire New Atheist movement is predicated on refusing to accept or admit that those who disagree with them on the subject of God's existence or Christian belief is reasonable, or at least that said beliefs are reasonable.'

Hey, you are the one who holds up a New Testament that prattles on about a talking donkey, and claims Jesus flew into the sky.

Crude said...

William,

See what I mean? Carr's been at this gimmick for literally years, daily, on various blogs. There's no principle of charity for him or people like him. The only charitable option available is to pity the guy for chucking away years of his life trolling people on the internet to fight whatever inner demons he's dealing with.

Steven Carr said...

I wondered when the Christian love would appear.

Rather than counter my points, he instantly resorts to ad hominem abuse.

Another victory for atheism, as Christians cannot do anything except shrill, shrident abuse.

Christianity - The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

I should point out that liberal Christians extend that definition by adding that the magical tree never existed.

Victor Reppert said...

Maybe I can take a shot at clearing up what seems to be a conceptual confusion here. I was not defending the reasonableness of faith, I was arguing that the concept of faith is logically compatible with reasonableness. It could turn out that no one has reasonable faith, because the weight of the evidence is against it, and my point would still stand, because I was claiming that unreasonableness is not built into the definition of faith. A lot of atheists make the mistake of assuming that the term must denote believing contrary to reason, but examination of how the term is used by those who use it, that is, the Christian community, shows decisively that this is a misunderstanding, and would be so if atheism were both true and the best view in light of the evidence.

Crude said...

Rather than counter my points, he instantly resorts to ad hominem abuse.

Carr, you didn't make a point. Blathering out what you intend to be mockery in a line or two is not a point. And I have you pegged dead to rights, and you know it - 'Christian charity' doesn't require me to pretend you haven't been doing exactly what I said, for as long as you have, for the reasons you apparently do.

What is with the thin skinned cultists of gnu? You guys mock and harass and harangue, but the moment someone so much as blows you off, you whine about mistreatment. What's it been for you, Carr? A decade on the internet as a failed troll? Man, if you haven't grown a pair by now, you never will.

Crude said...

Victor,

Maybe I can take a shot at clearing up what seems to be a conceptual confusion here.

Conceptual confusion?

I got what you were saying right away. You wrote clearly and concisely. I humbly suggest that perhaps you were easy to understand, but the goal here by some was not understanding, but mockery, trolling, and/or people just being slow.

A lot of atheists make the mistake of assuming that the term must denote believing contrary to reason

Yeah, is it really a mistake if it's a calculated move borne out of the intention to discredit and harass?

I get what you're saying. I just think you're being too kind. But really, I suppose I always say that. Sometimes 'misunderstandings' aren't misunderstandings. Maybe you're being charitable.

Like I said from the start, you were making a pretty mundane point about what faith means. But there you go.

Steven Carr said...

Crude continues with the abuse.

'Carr, you didn't make a point.'

Of course, I did. Hence the abuse thrown at me, as Christians hate having their beliefs exposed to public view.

The New Testament prattles on about a talking donkey and claims Jesus flew into the sky.

This makes belief unreasonable.

End of story.

Steven Carr said...

And Paul had faith in Jesus resurrected.

To be contrasted with sight.

Crude said...

Crude continues with the abuse.

Crude continues with pointing out Carr's longstanding track record, which Carr isn't about to deny because we all know it anyway.

Hence the abuse thrown at me, as Christians hate having their beliefs exposed to public view.


That's Christians alright, Carr. They never proclaim their belief in miracles or acts of God! If there's one thing they hate, it's being associated with the idea that Christ was resurrected or that miracles took place. So scary!

Over a decade, Carr. And look at you. Quick, cry 'abuse' some more! It's just so convincing!

End of story.

Yeah, that pretty much is the best you've got. Hit that reload button *fast* Carr. You just know I'm in here saying things that'll make you cry. ;)

Steven Carr said...

Crude really is good at this Christian love isn't he?

And he proclaims it reasonable to believe , as 2 Peter did, in a talking donkey, and that Jesus flew into the sky.

But atheists will simply look at these beliefs and dismiss them as silly.

Sorry, but that is the way things are.

Until Christians stop saying their beliefs are reasonable, they will never be taken seriously.

Crude said...

Crude really is good at this Christian love isn't he?

Man, Carr. Cry some more, will you? Nothing says 'this guy is worth taking seriously' than, in the very same post, whining like a baby hot on the heels of mocking people. Moronically, might I add. I loved that 'Christians are afraid of having their beliefs exposed to the public' line. That's a freaking keeper.

And keep it up with the 'Christian love' line. Because clearly 'Christian love' means 'being gentle with the very delicate Steve Carr, whose heart skips a beat when people on the internet flip him off'.

But atheists will simply look at these beliefs and dismiss them as silly.

It's a pity that few care what such atheists think. But hey, thanks for illustrating my point greatly here - perhaps this is your own Christian charity, eh? Helping bolster my case with a living* example of the problems of discourse with the Cult of Gnu. Very nice of you, Carr. I think your years of showmanship have only helped apologetics. ;)

Anyway, you be a good boy and keep reloading this page all night. Me, I got work to do. Catch ya later!

(* Insofar as "years and years of nightly combox trolling" can be considered having a life, anyway.)

Matt said...

Faith in the Christian sense is different than simple belief. Paul promotes faith, but his understanding of faith seems to be about faithfulness to God. James does not promote faith as strongly as Paul does because the type of faith he talks about is belief (the kind of faith even demons have).

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
However, we can, for example, trust that a spouse is going to be faithful even though the spouse is out of our sight.

CARR
And if your spouse becomes pregnant, and claims she is still a virgin, it is reasonable to believe that.

Papalinton said...

" ... we "cannot say that reasonable faith is an oxymoron by definition."

Watch me:
"Reasonable faith is an oxymoron."
Easy and unequivocal.

It segues effortlessly with oh! so many religious oxymorons:
Black Angel
Born Again (Christian)
Cardinal Sin
Christian Haunted House
Christian Scientists
Church of Scientology
Dark Angel
Devilish Angel
Fallen Angel
Good Evil
Hell's Angels
Hermitage (Where multiple hermits live)
Holy Crap
Holy Hell
Holy Land
Holy War
Immaculate Conception
Living Saint
Masonic Temple Open House
Minor Miracle
Ordinary Miracle
Paradisiacal Hell
Pure Evil
Religious Tolerance
Righteous Sin
Saving Souls
Scientific Creationism
Small Miracle
Sweet Sin
Virgin Mother
[http://www.oxymorons.info/reference/oxymorons/oxymoron-religion.asp]


To add 'reasonable faith' seems a most reasonable proposition.

Papalinton said...

Crude = Catholic Taliban

Karl Grant said...

Mr. Carr,

Crude really is good at this Christian love isn't he?

Do you think it is reasonable for someone to deny the validity of a belief system to hide behind said belief system's teachings when the going gets tough?

Because if Christianity is false, which is what you seem to advocate, then Crude is under no obligation to engage in "Christian Love." That is a logical consequence of your stated beliefs. But you're far from the only atheist who hides behind Christian teachings in an attempt to deflect criticism from Christians.

Personally, having burned that bridge I don't think you're hypocritically entitled to cross it when ever you feel like.

Steven Carr said...

You mean if Christianity is false, then Christian love no more exists than Christian music or Christian hymn books or Christian T-shirts?

Steven Carr said...

Sorry for misunderstanding you.

You obviously mean that atheists are hypocrites for asking Christians to live by the principles they claim make them morally superior to everybody else on the planet.

B. Prokop said...

"I wondered when the Christian love would appear."

Crude,

You should cheer Steven on for having posted this. He has conceded a capital point here by acknowledging that Love is indeed a Christian trait. This puts the lie to all the atheist blather about the idea that there can be morality and virtue in the absence of God.

I recall C.S. Lewis remarking once that even the devil cannot succeed at being totally evil, since existence itself is a good. All evil can do is twist the good - it cannot create anything on its own. In like manner, the atheist cannot lay claim to any Truth. All he can do is twist the truth. He cannot lay claim to any intellect. (Remember Virgil's words to Dante as they passed through the gate to Hell: "We've reached the place I told thee to expect / Where thou shouldst see the miserable race / Those who have lost the good of intellect.") The best he can hope to accomplish is to patch together some seemingly convincing argument based on fatally flawed original premises.

He cannot hope to ever see his promised atheist paradise on Earth. History has proven time and again that the only way atheism can ever dominate a society is by brute force, which ultimately creates a very Hell on Earth (the USSR and North Korea come to mind).

And before anyone attempts to counter with "What about Europe?", keep in mind the following things:

1) The spread of atheism in Europe has coincided precisely with a precipitous collapse of the birth rate in those countries. Atheism thus commits generational suicide.

2) Atheist gains in Europe are more than offset by the rise in European Islam. Bottom line: If you like Islam and you're a European, become an atheist.

3) Despite the previous two points, there are still many millions of Catholics in Europe and they are doing quite well, thank you. I lived in Europe for 9 years (6 in Germany, 3 in England) and attended Mass there all those years in churches positively overflowing with worshipers. In Augsburg, Germany, the church I attended welcomed new members every week - sometimes 20 or more on a single occasion. (Granted, it was a large cathedral, but still...) The Church I attended in Cheltenham, England, had standing room only services, and was growing the whole time I was there.

On the occasion of the Pope's visit to England recently, I happened by coincidence to be in that country, visiting friends. Despite uniformly negative press coverage, people showed up in their multitudes to see him. In the town I was visiting, they had arranged for a fleet of coaches to transport people to the Papal Mass in (if I remember correctly) Manchester, or maybe it was Birmingham. Many hundreds of the faithful lined up at 3 AM (!) to get on one of these buses, and they didn't get back until very late that evening.

No, I'd say that Catholicism is alive and well in Europe.

Karl Grant said...

You obviously mean that atheists are hypocrites for asking Christians to live by the principles they claim make them morally superior to everybody else on the planet.

I am saying they are hypocrites for on one hand claiming that Christianity is false while on the other hand demanding Christians live by Christian Principles. If Christianity is true than Christians would have responsibility to live by those principles. However, if Christianity is false, as atheists (and you specifically) advocate, then they are under no obligation to abide by those principles any more than you are. That logically follows from atheism.

So in essence you are saying Christianity is false (and at the same time claiming the fact that you don't believe in Christianity's teachings makes you intellectually superior to said Christians) but at the same time you are demanding that others adhere principles of an ideology you claim to be false. Very inconsistent of you.

Or to put it bluntly, you can't have it both ways Steven.

Walter said...

1) The spread of atheism in Europe has coincided precisely with a precipitous collapse of the birth rate in those countries. Atheism thus commits generational suicide.

Sorry for the slight thread derail, but is it really a bad thing for some cultures to have a lowered birth rate? We are living in a world where the population is growing exponentially. Earth's resources could be stretched to the breaking point sometime in the near future (barring some kind of population reducing disaster). It seems like the command to "Be fruitful and multiply" needs a terminus at some point.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

You are absolutely correct. But that does not change the fact that Europe is quite literally committing continental suicide. Were it not for the influx of immigrants from North Africa and South Asia, the populations of many of those countries would be on a catastrophic decline.

The two points have to be separated here. Yes, a lowered population might be a Good Thing. But nature abhors a vacuum, and it does have a habit of filling them. Thus my second point. As an objective fact (not theory here, or wishful thinking, just plain reality), the end result of the undeniable decline of late in Christian faith in Europe is a spectacularly rapid rise in Islam in that continent.

Thus my conclusion, "If you like Islam and you're a European, become an atheist". Because, as it turns out, you don't seem to get the choice of having an atheist Europe. It's either Christian or Islamic. Which one do you want?

Walter said...

It's either Christian or Islamic. Which one do you want?

I want a secular State which upholds the freedom to worship (or not) as I see fit. And I want a strong separation between Church, Temple, or Mosque and State. Seeing as how most Muslim countries are theocracies, I would have to chose Christianity as a preference between the two.

B. Prokop said...

I want a secular State which upholds the freedom to worship (or not) as I see fit.

I think we call that the United States. (Hooray!)

Seriously, all kidding aside, look around the world and count up the "secular" states which grant freedom of religion (and non-religion). They are almost entirely either majority Christian states, or societies still (for now, at least) living off the benefits of their Christian heritage. Elsewhere, the rule is theocracy (as in many Islamic states) or suppression of all religions (as in atheistic states, such as North Korea).

Atheists everywhere should thank God for Christianity!

Crude said...

Bob,

You should cheer Steven on for having posted this. He has conceded a capital point here by acknowledging that Love is indeed a Christian trait.

Well, I cheered Carr for being a splendid example of the failings of the Cultists of Gnu. Close enough, I say.

But sure, let's tack that misstep by him onto the list.

Walter,

I want a secular State which upholds the freedom to worship (or not) as I see fit. And I want a strong separation between Church, Temple, or Mosque and State.

How about a separation between philosophy and state? Say, secular humanism and state?

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: “Maybe I can take a shot at clearing up what seems to be a conceptual confusion here. I was not defending the reasonableness of faith, I was arguing that the concept of faith is logically compatible with reasonableness.”

I suspect that the problem, as usual, is in definitions. I have suggested that faith is about expectation (prediction), and I would also suggest that reasonableness is about the methods, techniques, epistemology, etc. that we use to predict. Do my understandings of these concepts conform with your understanding of these concepts?

VR: “It could turn out that no one has reasonable faith, because the weight of the evidence is against it, and my point would still stand, because I was claiming that unreasonableness is not built into the definition of faith.”

This reads like nonsense. Either reasonableness means something or it doesn’t. As I understand it, reasonableness is basically about prediction. If the weight of the evidence is against a prediction made through faith, then using it to make a prediction is not reasonable. This seems like it should be fairly uncontroversial.

Can you explain to me how a faith that has the weight of the evidence against it could be considered reasonable?

VR: “A lot of atheists make the mistake of assuming that the term must denote believing contrary to reason, but examination of how the term is used by those who use it, that is, the Christian community, shows decisively that this is a misunderstanding, and would be so if atheism were both true and the best view in light of the evidence.”

It sounds like you agree that faith can be divorced from what is true and most likely. Under what definition of reasonable is it compatible to believe in something that is not true nor likely?

For instance, it may be true that if I throw myself into the wall in my room right now it may be true that I will pass the test that is the virtual world in which I have been planted, and be granted eternal life and pleasure. If I say that I have faith that I will be granted eternal life and pleasure if I throw myself against the wall, would it be reasonable for me to now do so?

It’s my suspicion that when Christians talk about faith and reasonableness they are talking about options with ultimate consequences, whereas atheists think the terms should be about the probabilities alone, and not the consequences of individual events.

For instance, if you were stranded in the sea 5 miles from land you might only have a 1% chance of swimming to shore, but it would be unreasonable for you not to try. I gather this is what Christians mean when they say their faith is reasonable. I think the confusion then comes from a restatement that concludes that because it is reasonable to try to swim to shore, the likelihood of making it to shore must be high.

But like I said above, I’d like to understand what you understand reasonable and faith to mean.

Walter said...

How about a separation between philosophy and state? Say, secular humanism and state?

I don't want any ideologies shoved down my throat, nor would I would want to see my own beliefs forced upon another.

Crude said...

Walter,

I don't want any ideologies shoved down my throat, nor would I would want to see my own beliefs forced upon another.

So, you think there should be a separation of secular humanism and state?

Pardon my asking it again and directly, but I'd like to know the direct answer to that question one way or the other. Just curious of your views.

Cole said...

I don't see how someone can claim to be able to prove God exists. Think about it. If we cannot prove with an argument that the physical world exists or that other minds exist or that the moral law exists, what makes you think you can prove God exists? It seems that the best way to come to know God exists (If indeed He does) would be through experiencing Him.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victor Reppert said...

What I meant to point out is that the concept of what it is for something to be faith is something that could exist simultaneously with there being good evidence.

Thus it can both be true

a) there is good evidence for X

and

b) S has faith that X.

Atheists sometimes argue not merely that Christian faith is unreasonable (which is basically the debate concerning the existence of the Christian God), but that the very concept of faith that the Christians use is incompatible with their beliefs being reasonable. Sometimes they say "they wouldn't call it faith if there were good evidence for it."

No, there are perfectly proper uses of the term "faith" where the belief is reasonable. Now it might be true in fact, that Christian faith is not reasonable. But you have to admit that, if the evidence were different, someone could have faith and be reasonable at the same time.

We have to get on the same page with respect to what this discussion is about.

Victor Reppert said...

That last comment was addressed to Tony.

Papalinton said...

Victor
"No, there are perfectly proper uses of the term "faith" where the belief is reasonable. Now it might be true in fact, that Christian faith is not reasonable."

Unfortunately, many if not most theism debates track this very same path, argument is terminally reduced to semantics and definitional obstacles. And that is precisely theism's greatest weakness. There is no epistemological certainty [apart from faith, itself an epistemological 'no through road' zone] of much of the central tenets of christian theism. Yes, there is consistency of message in the themes and the broader outlines, such as iterated in the Nicene Creed etc, but when it gets down to apportioning evidence, justification or rationale alongside each message, the whole enterprise speedily falls into the unholy pit of Apologetics. Apologetics is replete with centuries of "he says, she says", all opinion. One could quite easily characterize Apologetics as never having stepped up to the next epistemological level from the groundplane of opinion. There has been no advance in realizing the truth of the existence of a god, outside philosophy or theology. The philosophy of Feser or a Plantinga or a Craig, is predominantly focussed on juxtaposing reworked ideas of past philosophers into contemporary society from a pool of immutable, ineffable and transfixed christian hypotheses.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"He has conceded a capital point here by acknowledging that Love is indeed a Christian trait. This puts the lie to all the atheist blather about the idea that there can be morality and virtue in the absence of God."

No he hasn't Bob. No concession at all. It was a parody, a lampooning of the christian claim of love and charity. And you and I know both know that christian theism is no guide and has no influence in how people morally or ethically consistently react. Simply gauge the reactions of millions of American christians in their opposition to state laws that are gradually being passed in all jurisdictions on homosexuality. Read the papers. read the religious websites. Many christians are for it, many christians are against it. This alone demonstrates there is no guiding christian principle in play here. Indeed, there is a far bigger and more powerful force at work here; humanism, the only universal truth on which we can build a truly moral and ethical code. Such a code would embrace all humanity, including Hindus, christians, Wikkens, et al.

Christians all, must lift their blinkers in the light of evidence or simply desolve into a rump of society.

Papalinton said...

'Dissolve'

Papalinton said...

Bob
"1) The spread of atheism in Europe has coincided precisely with a precipitous collapse of the birth rate in those countries. Atheism thus commits generational suicide."

Logic nonsense Bob, I would have thought that if the collapse of the birth rate was due to atheism, then the balance of the remaining Europeans would have been more or highly religious as the atheist folk among them die out. We don't see that at all. We see atheism remaining at consistent levels with no collateral or subsequent rise in christian religiosity. As far as Islam is concerned, it will take a generation or two before the more educated young critically review the religion of their parents. It will be up to the Europeans to train their muslim young in the finer points of humanism and skeptical rational thought.

I am optimistic about humanity. I am unhappy with the dangerous clubbish or gang identity that underpins all forms of proselytizing theism.

B. Prokop said...

it will take a generation or two before

This is why I can no longer take anything you write the least bit seriously, Papalinton. Faced with actual facts, your inevitable response is either to outright deny the plain truth (as you did on the other thread about the Septuagint), or you declare it to be irrelevant to what you believe. Now we have an example of a third dodge (used not for the first time), which is to kick the can into the unverifiable future. It's all too easy to claim prognosticative abilities while dismissing anyone else's.

The facts are:

1) Christianity in Western Europe has unquestionably, undeniably taken a beating in recent years. No argument there.

2) Western Europe's "native" population is not replacing itself - today.

3) The Islamic population in those countries is exploding - today.

4) Protestantism in Western Europe is imploding. We may actually be witnessing the end of the Reformation - today. Case in point: reunification talks going on today between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican and Lutheran denominations.

5) Catholicism, especially among the youth is standing firm - today. When the pope visited Spain last August to address a youth event in Spain, more than a million (!) young people showed up to hear him. The fact that the healthiest and most active segment of the religious population in Europe is the youth gives the lie to your predictions of a bright rosy atheist future.

6) The churches I attended while living in Europe were frequently filled to capacity. In the Czech Republic and in Poland where I went into churches as a tourist, everyone else was there to actually pray. (Oh, but that is just "anectodal", and therefore not as "real" as your unprovable predictions for the future two or three generations from now.)

If you want to engage in a contest of mutually unprovable crystal ball gazing, I'll give you an alternative to your hoped-for atheist nirvana. In a generation or two, we will see a vastly increased Islamic population (approaching majority status in major cities) in Europe alongside a rejuvenated, re-energized Catholic Church, with demographically insignificant protestant sects filling in the corners.

Eric said...

"Maybe I can take a shot at clearing up what seems to be a conceptual confusion here. I was not defending the reasonableness of faith, I was arguing that the concept of faith is logically compatible with reasonableness."

I think that the common identification of 'faith' with 'trust' (which has substantial theological, philosophical and scriptural support) is helpful here. I can trust someone/something for no reasons, for poor reasons, for decent reasons, or for great reasons. That is, the notions of reasonableness or unreasonableness are not necessary conditions of trust (i.e. of faith/trust "is logically compatible with reasonableness"). Clearly, there is nothing at all suspect about the claim, "I have good reasons for trusting X."

The confusion arises from conflating 'faith' understood as 'belief without any evidence or without sufficient evidence' and 'faith' understood as 'trust and commitment.' While the former is not compatible with reasonableness, the latter is.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: "No, there are perfectly proper uses of the term "faith" where the belief is reasonable."

If so, why don't we properly call this "trust," or something else that means we can make prediction with good (better than even) odds that our prediction is correct? In other words, why privilege the word "faith" if it doesn't mean something different than "trust" or other equivalents?

In other words, I wouldn't say that I have faith that a seven is a more probable result of rolling two dice than 2. I could, but that would be awkward, and it's not how the word "faith" is normally used.

VR: "Now it might be true in fact, that Christian faith is not reasonable. But you have to admit that, if the evidence were different, someone could have faith and be reasonable at the same time."

You might roll a twelve on a roll with two dice, but that doesn't mean it's proper to say that you have faith that a 12 is the most likely outcome of rolling two dice. In other words, you seem to be saying that were the evidence different, faith would be reasonable.

This whole post seems to be saying that theists disagree with atheists about the definition of the word faith, but that's the same thing as saying that theists and atheists disagree.

VR: "We have to get on the same page with respect to what this discussion is about."

Then I would suggest you offer a suggestion of how you think faith should be defined, and how it is different than how I have suggested it be defined.

Here's a suggestion: how do you distinguish between your faith in gravity's existence, and your faith in the existence of the Christian God? Surely you acknowledge that faith is not the correct term for both beliefs, and I think it would go a long way if you tease out how your faith in one is different than your faith in the other.

Papalinton said...

Eric
Read my comment upthread to Victor.

Semantics and definitional problems are as congenital to christian theology as the tail to a dog.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, you have to be denied a certain type of evidence that you might wish for. In the OP I talked about the contrast between faith and sight, and distinguished that from the contrast between faith and reason.

If we accept the biblical narrative, Peter denied Christ three times before the cock crowed, fearing for his life after he had been arrested. He had affirmed the Messiahship of Jesus, and, again if we go by the account, had witness numerous miracles of Jesus. So he had reason to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but denied him under the pressure of the situation.

You, of course, don't think this actually happened, Peter's faith, had he exercised it, was reasonable, but he chickened out.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Bob

The facts are:

1) Christianity in Western Europe has unquestionably, undeniably taken a beating in recent years. No argument there.
Agreed

2) Western Europe's "native" population is not replacing itself - today.
Agreed. Sensible people are looking to live sustainably in a world of diminishing natural resources.

3) The Islamic population in those countries is exploding - today.
Disagree. Doomsayer hyperbole. Their population is increasing but remain comparatively small. It is estimated that the Union's Muslim population in 2009 was 13 million people of a total population of 852.4 million according to the United Nation. The country with the largest percentage of Muslims in Western Europe is France with 8%-10% (6-7 million out of a total of 63.5million) followed by Germany (4.5 million), the UK (1.6 million) and Italy (1.5 million).

4) Protestantism in Western Europe is imploding. We may actually be witnessing the end of the Reformation - today. Case in point: reunification talks going on today between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican and Lutheran denominations.
That may be the case. I was not aware of these talks. Thanks.

5) Catholicism, especially among the youth is standing firm - today. When the pope visited Spain last August to address a youth event in Spain, more than a million (!) young people showed up to hear him. The fact that the healthiest and most active segment of the religious population in Europe is the youth gives the lie to your predictions of a bright rosy atheist future.
Wishful thinking. One of those 'close your eyes and cross your fingers' moments.

6) The churches I attended while living in Europe were frequently filled to capacity. In the Czech Republic and in Poland where I went into churches as a tourist, everyone else was there to actually pray. (Oh, but that is just "anectodal", and therefore not as "real" as your unprovable predictions for the future two or three generations from now.)
Yes, you are right, an acontextual proposition founded on personal testimony.

Bob, you might wish to catch up about Europe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_European_Union
Most notable comment at this site in response to your Point 6, "Also in the most populous eastern Europe country and EU member Poland there has been a sharp reduction in church attendance since 2005, although with 41 % in 2009 still well above the single digit figures that are so typical for sunday mass attendance in other EU countries."

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: “So he had reason to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but denied him under the pressure of the situation.”

I asked if you could distinguish between faith in gravity and your faith in the Christian God’s existence. It doesn’t appear to me that you have answered the question, and I find this odd since you have said “We have to get on the same page with respect to what this discussion is about.”

It seems that you think that (atheists do not understand that ) faith is about a) having good reasons for a belief, and b) not yielding that belief under pressure to do so. Is it fair for me to say that that is what you think this discussion is about?

Eric said...

"Semantics and definitional problems are as congenital to christian theology as the tail to a dog."

Papalinton, first, it's not a 'semantical' issue (in the pejorative sense) whether the Greek and Hebrew terms for 'faith' have, as their primary meaning, 'trust' or 'commitment' as opposed to 'belief without evidence.

Second, it's not a 'semantical issue' whether there is, aside from the etymological issue raised above, scriptural support for the notion that faith is to be understood as 'trust' and not as 'belief without evidence' (consider the OT and even Jesus' own use of miracles as signs -- which, by the way, preempts the atheist's/skeptic's uncritical use of the example of Thomas, who was not asked to believe without any evidence -- or the notion that the demons believe in god but most certainly don't have 'faith' in god, and so on).

And third, it's not a semantical issue whether, historically, the the Church Fathers, Christian theologians and Christian philosophers have understood faith as 'trust' or as 'belief without evidence.'

So, do you have any etymological, scriptural, historical or theological/philosophical arguments to support the notion that in the Christian tradition, 'faith' denotes 'belief without evidence'? If so, please provide it. If not, then your position is completely without support, and if you attempt to provide such evidence, then you've implicitly conceded that it's not a semantical issue, but an etymological, historical, theological, scriptural and philosophical one. So bring on the evidence!

B. Prokop said...

"So, do you have any ... arguments to support...?"

Oh, Eric, have you ever stepped in it! Papalinton has amply demonstrated on this website (repeatedly!) that when he doesn't have an argument, he will make one up! Or when you present him with one, he will either:

1) completely ignore it, and make no response, or

2) call it "anecdotal" and dismiss it as less true than his imaginary beliefs, or

3) quote some unsupported, unverifiable stuff he got from a google search, and label that "scholarship".

I used to think it was worthwhile debating Papalinton, and I bent over backwards to be polite and ignore his incessant insults and sarcasm, but it finally sank in that he wasn't the least bit interested in Truth. (I was slowing in accepting this. Others, like Crude and even Ilion, saw through him much earlier.) I honestly can't figure out what makes him tick, but he obviously has either a tremendous fear of God, or is suffering from some childhood or adolescent trauma, or just has so much invested in his militant atheism that he fears loss of face if he admits to having been wrong.

Papalinton, no one will hold it against you if you finally renounce error. You will be welcomed with open arms ("There will be more joy in Heaven...").

Think about it. You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Papalinton said...

Eric
"So, do you have any etymological, scriptural, historical or theological/philosophical arguments to support the notion that in the Christian tradition, 'faith' denotes 'belief without evidence'?

Eric, the moment you can provide your definition of 'faith' as you believe it to be and show me that 'faith is belief with evidence', I will be most happy to debate you. It would be good if we agreed not to quote the bible for evidence, as such action to synonymous with quoting Harry Potter for evidence of the existence of Hogwarts.
From my reasonable perspective, for the very fact that there exists atheists, and that there exists thousands of different faiths most if not all, competing and conflicting religions, simply puts a lie to the notion that 'faith is belief with evidence'. You and I are in complete agreement that we can dismiss every other religion as a false one. A Hindu and I are in complete agreement that we can dismiss christianity as a false belief. A Buddhist and I are in agreement that we can dismiss christianity and Hinduism as false beliefs. Can you spot the one common thread?

Who is right? The billion believers of the Ganesh, the elephant god, or a billion catholics believers of a christian god? I would be most pleased to read your evidence that the billion Hindus are wrong and that their faith is 'belief without evidence'?

I would also be very interested in any evidence from Dr Reppert on this issue. What are the quanta of evidence against Hinduism that has you discounting their belief as without evidence? Clearly you will have it, otherwise how would you have chosen christianity, notwithstanding you were born in America? [I am assuming, correct me].

Papalinton said...

Bob
What was your evidence again that Hinduism and Taoism and others are faiths based on beliefs without evidence? What was that clear and unequivocal 'evidence' [I am using this term in its less rigorous form as within a court of law, rather than the highest form of evidence as for scientific research] that demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that christian belief is fact and Hindu belief is non-factual?

Point form would be sufficient.

Eric said...

"It would be good if we agreed not to quote the bible for evidence, as such action to synonymous with quoting Harry Potter for evidence of the existence of Hogwarts."

Um, if the issue is, "What do Christians mean by the term 'faith'?" then surely the primary meaning of the Greek and Hebrew terms we translate in our English language Bibles as 'faith' is rather important, isn't it?

"From my reasonable perspective, for the very fact that there exists atheists, and that there exists thousands of different faiths most if not all, competing and conflicting religions, simply puts a lie to the notion that 'faith is belief with evidence'."

You seem to be confusing 'evidence' with 'proof.' But that aside, there are all sorts of competing political and moral beliefs: does it follow that people cannot hold moral and political beliefs on reasonable grounds? Are all your political beliefs, Papalinton, completely unevidenced? If not, then why do many equally well informed and equally intelligent people disagree with you politically? Surely the notion you're implicitly defending here -- viz. If there's evidence for X, then everyone will agree about X's nature -- is patently false.

"You and I are in complete agreement that we can dismiss every other religion as a false one."

Not so. You dismiss every other religion as *completely* false, and every believer as delusional or stupid; I however (to paraphrase Lewis), as a believer, can take a more liberal view. I see much truth in all world religions, and do not think that everyone who disagree with me is either delusional or stupid. I think that many of them are wrong, sure, but then so do you. And I think that they are wrong, in part, because I think that I have good reasons for concluding that my position is true (if I didn't think it to be true, I wouldn't believe it).

"Can you spot the one common thread?"

Yes, but I can spot one you apparently missed: *Every* believer, whatever his religion, agrees with me that *you* are wrong.

"I would be most pleased to read your evidence that the billion Hindus are wrong and that their faith is 'belief without evidence'?"

Um, you did understand that I'm arguing that faith *is not* to be understood as belief without evidence, right?

Now I'm perfectly willing to concede that there is evidence that Hinduism, or Islam, or Buddhism (or whatever) is true. What in the world would make you think otherwise?

Bob, I suspect that Pap's response to this post will confirm your conclusions about his manner of going about these discussions, but we shall see! ;)

Eric said...

How convenient for me.

B. Prokop said...

"What was your evidence again that Hinduism and Taoism and others are faiths based on beliefs without evidence?"

Do I have to repeat myself yet again. I've written at least five times on this website that I have no problem whatsoever with Hinduism, Daoism, and many other faiths. I actually have tremendous admiration for Hinduism and Daoism. There are two different translations of the Bhagavad Gita and one commentary on it on my bookshelf. If you ever checked my Google profile, you'd see that I list two Daoist works on my "favorite books" list. I see no need to write yet again what I've already posted numerous times (go through the archives), but whenever an atheist says something really stupid like "We're both atheists about Zeus, Odin, etc. I just believe in one less God than you," I can only laugh in reply. because you see, I do believe in Zeus, and Apollo, and Isis, etc. They are all imperfectly perceived human attempts to see God. The God we all believe in.

I recall quite distinctly the moment this became crystal clear to me. I was standing in the British Museum in London, looking at a statue of Aphrodite. In a flash, I realized that I was not just admiring a statue of a long-dead beautiful woman - I was looking at an artist's conception of God! It practically bowled me over. From then on, I was looking at the figure in an entirely different light. Here before me was another man's sincere attempt to make visible the very God I worshiped.

So no, I require no evidence against Hinduism, etc. And it bothers me not in the slightest that all the faithful do not agree with each other on everything.

(I'll supply you with a list of those religions I do have problems with upon request. And in each of those cases, my objections are indeed based on hard evidence.)

Victor Reppert said...

Papalinton: Eric, the moment you can provide your definition of 'faith' as you believe it to be and show me that 'faith is belief with evidence', I will be most happy to debate you. It would be good if we agreed not to quote the bible for evidence, as such action to synonymous with quoting Harry Potter for evidence of the existence of Hogwarts.

VR: Here comes a basic lesson in the philosophy of language. The use of a linguistic terms is determined by the linguistic community that develops the term. So, in order to understand what Christians mean by faith, you actually have to look at the way that community uses it. The Bible is one important source of information about how Christians conceive and understand what they are doing, and this would be so whether or not God exists, or whether the biblical accounts are literally true.

B. Prokop said...

One problem here is the slipperiness of the English language. "Faith" has about as many meanings as any word in the dictionary. I tend to use it synonymously with "trust" in a sentence. So if I say, "I have faith in God." I mean "I trust God". Of course, in order to trust in God, you must first believe in Him.

But such a requirement does not make said belief a part of Faith. In order for me to love pizza, I must first acknowledge that there is such a thing as pizza. But there, the distinction between believing in the existence of pizza and in loving pizza is quite clear. We need to emphasize an equivalent linguistic distinction between belief in God, and in believing God. As James wrote, even the demons believe.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Bob
" I can only laugh in reply. because you see, I do believe in Zeus, and Apollo, and Isis, etc. They are all imperfectly perceived human attempts to see God. The God we all believe in."

And on that basis you would agree, and you would be only too happy to appreciate and accept that Hindus also see the christian god as an imperfect perception of Ganesh, from their perspective, justly and rightly, as you would perceive Ganesh as the imperfect perception of the christian god, just as you do of Zeus, Isis etc.

I drew a diagram of these perceptions and your argument inscribes a perfectly circular pictograph.

Let's face it, the one logical trait in this argument is circular, no beginning, no ending, endlessly round and round and round. It conforms synergistically to the modus operandi of Apologetics; the interpretation of the interpretation, of the meta-interpretation that seeks to interpret the previous interpretation. Apologetics is predominantly focussed on juxtaposing old past reworked ideas into contemporary society from a limited pool of immutable, ineffable and transfixed christian hypotheses that have been the mainstay of christian theism since its inception.

The fact that there are innumerable religions extant is not proof of the existence of god[s]; nor is the universal nature of the religious impulse or experience proof of the existence of a god. All it tells us is that our instinctive capacity for teleology is endemic among the human species. Science is now telling us from where this predisposition originates and how it has evolved into the form as is expressed today. There is no magical, mystical, ethereal, outworldly source for this predisposition. There is a much more earthly and reasonable explanation much closer to home, that is only now becoming fully understand. If you so desire to believe in belief, knock yourself out. But please, don't trot it out as evidence or fact for the existence of god[s]. There is only evidence for belief in belief and ritual and institutionalized activity, claimed as sacred. But this is assertion only. Sacred is a purely theological contrived concept. ' Sacred' is a purely cultural derivative of that which we hold precious, like the Shroud of Turin, or the bible, or a cross; each piece a natural artifact directly bound to the earth which have been quickly supernaturalized and declared sacred for no other reason than that they symbolize a dearly-held concept.

BenYachov said...

>I used to think it was worthwhile debating Papalinton, and I bent over backwards to be polite and ignore his incessant insults and sarcasm, but it finally sank in that he wasn't the least bit interested in Truth.

Welcome to our world Brother Bob. If it's any consolation to you I was edified by your heroic patience.

But for me it's not so much Paps rejects God. He rejects reason with his science alone sans philosophy Atheist fundamentalism.

We should not be surprised. Not to few notorious converts to Catholicism from Fundamentalism has often brought their fundie mentality with them into the church.

Naturally many ex-religious fundies become fundie infidels.

Chin up man.

B. Prokop said...

"our instinctive capacity for teleology is endemic among the human species. Science is now telling us from where this predisposition originates and how it has evolved into the form as is expressed today"

So you are agreeing with me that it is unnatural to be an atheist? Why are you fighting so hard against your evolutionary imperatives? If it is a survival trait to believe, then why are you choosing the losing side? (All rhetorical questions, of course. but they do illustrate the absurdity of your argument.)

C'mon Papalinton. In the many, many months I have been reading your postings, I have yet to see you come up with a coherent thought.

Instead of spending all your time googling factoids, why don't you sit down and actually read something like Augustine's Sermons (available through Amazon)? You'll find more wisdom there in a single paragraph than you will in a shelf full of books by Dawkins, et.al.

BenYachov said...

>So, in order to understand what Christians mean by faith, you actually have to look at the way that community uses it.

A rational Atheist like BDK would simply say "Ok how do you define Faith?". Once given the definition he would move on from there and move the discussion along interacting with it. Asking pointed questions. Offering informed & sometimes very challenging critique.

Paps is a troll. He will insist you "prove" your definition of Faith is the correct one in the face of the ad hoc definition defined by Pope Dawkins(which is never proved BTW).

If you provide documentation for your definition he will move the goal posts and insist your sources be "proved". Rinse repeat!

It's called a hermeneutic of radical skepticism. You simply doubt everything to the N'th degree making any discussion or debate practically impossible.

Thus Paps is free to dogmatically define "Faith" in terms of what we Catholics would call the Fideist heresy "Faith= mindless belief without or contrary reason".

Yet ironically he holds his definition of Faith based on Dawkins own definition.

I can stop believing in God tomorrow & know Dawkins/Paps definition is not Augustine's, Pope Celestine's, Jerome's, Maximos, Rav Gammel's or St. Paul's.

Thus it has no meaning in any discussion other than an argument blocker.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: "Here comes a basic lesson in the philosophy of language. The use of a linguistic terms is determined by the linguistic community that develops the term. So, in order to understand what Christians mean by faith, you actually have to look at the way that community uses it."

Orwell, Huxley, or any other critic of regimes that seek to use language to control would disagree with you (strongly). Your statement makes you seem naive, at best.

B. Prokop said...

I have to agree with Victor, Tony. doctors, lawyers, carpenters... all have a specialized vocabulary developed within the community in order to function. It is not the place of a plumber to tell a lawyer what stare decisis, for instance, means. It is not the place of an accountant to tell an astronomer what collimation means. In the same manner, the meaning of the word faith ought to be decided by the community that developed it.

Nothing Orwellian about that.

Eric said...

Bob, exactly.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"So you are agreeing with me that it is unnatural to be an atheist? Why are you fighting so hard against your evolutionary imperatives? If it is a survival trait to believe, then why are you choosing the losing side? (All rhetorical questions, of course. but they do illustrate the absurdity of your argument.)"

Oh no! Not at all. And it is not unnatural to be atheist. In fact atheism is the most prevalently practiced attribute of human beings in respect of other people's faiths. Atheism is a learned position, learned behaviour, an attribute that one can only develop through training and education, a strong discipline of mind that only humans have the capacity of using to rise above all other animals. The evolutionary instinct is the primal imperative which defines all animals, without distinction. To operate over and beyond the level of instinct, one must firstly recognise and understand the primitive nature of the evolutionary and genetic development of instinct, a feature or characteristic we share with all other species of animals. To continue to intuit, to function at the instinctual level, to believe in belief, is to remain ever captive to that powerful primitive genetic trait. To capitulate or yield to the path of least resistance is simply an indicator that humanity has yet to optimize, let alone maximize, the capacity of our large thinking brain. Without doing so we will be forever reconciled to the notion that our reliance on primal instinct and intuition, which in today's world, are in themselves little more than clairvoyance, is an admission of defeat, a concession that we are incapable of breaking free from those primitive DNA survival markers, that once held us in great stead on the savannahs of Africa.

No, it is not a survival trait to believe, in the religious sense of the word, a sense very much predicated on the belief in belief. The survive trait is one of teleology, the predisposition towards responding, in the first instance, that the ubiquitous 'rustling in the brush' is first and foremost a danger sign, perhaps a tiger or lion, or a hunter from a different group; definitely not a god. To conflate our genetic survival trait to that of a belief in god is childish and very silly.

Yes, your questions are rhetorical from your perspective as you seem to presuppose religious evidence as the capstone of human learning, and unable or unwilling to understand there is good, predictable and testable empirical evidence to suggest otherwise. But then you seem not to have elevated to the level of reasoned and logical debate, ever enmeshed and shackled to the evolutionary imperative, primordially restrained to functioning at the intuitive and primal level of instinct only.

Human knowledge is expanding exponentially. There has been no correlative expansion in our knowledge of a god. Just interpretation on interpretation on interpretation.

BenYachov said...

>Orwell, Huxley, or any other critic of regimes that seek to use language to control would disagree with you (strongly). Your statement makes you seem naive, at best.

This proves my thesis for the Cult of the Gnu arguing religion, science or philosophy is just arguing politics by other means.

Lame!

Tony Hoffman said...

Congratulations, Bob, then you have nothing to fear from Jihad. According to those who developed the term, it is about an internal struggle.

I don't care how much you harumph and try to extricate yourself from your usual slew of inconsistencies. I just think it's worth remarking on how easy it is to catch you up in trying to apply consistency to your thinking, and how little you seem capable of learning from those experiences.

Btw, I don't really care about definitions. I care about consistency. But without that, talk of definitions remains meaningless.

BenYachov said...

>Bob, then you have nothing to fear from Jihad. According to those who developed the term, it is about an internal struggle.

More politics. Gnus are a one trick pony & since when do they care about Jihad?

It's those radical Christians who are the real threat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHEk_kaXmTk

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

>I don't really care about definitions. I care about consistency.

How can one even have consistency without definitions?

Gnus are not serious thinkers.

As for the Jihad definition thing let me enlighten Tony.

The Greater Jihad is the term used for a Muslim's internal spiritual struggle.

The Lesser Jihad is the term used for Warfare in protection of Islam or conquest.

I learned this from reading Muslim thinkers. I don't believe in Islam but I am at least informed if I want to have a dialog.

Unlike some of us.

Tony Hoffman said...

BY: "How can one even have consistency without definitions?"

Because language can't precede logic. Definitions are a product of consistency.

BenYachov said...

>Because language can't precede logic.

Prove it!

Better yet prove it by using logic alone without language

BenYachov said...

>Definitions are a product of consistency.

While we are at it show us how the term Lesser Jihad has at any time been defined as spiritual struggle whole the term Greater Jihad has been used to define war in defense of Islam or conquest.

I'll make it easy you can use language & logic.

Tony Hoffman said...

Ben, despite my occasional lapses in judgment, I try to obey the simple advice of DNFTT.

So please wait here for my responses to you.

BenYachov said...

>It is not the place of a plumber to tell a lawyer what stare decisis, for instance, means. It is not the place of an accountant to tell an astronomer what collimation means. In the same manner, the meaning of the word faith ought to be decided by the community that develope.

The above is perfectly reasonable to any sane person of good will.

To recap.

Tony's lame arse response to this sound thinking was to equivocate between the concepts of "Greater Jihad" verses "Lesser Jihad".

Because both are called "Jihad" in sum.

Well the Bible talks about "Saving Faith" vs "Faith without works which is dead".

Are we too assume here there is a lack of "consistency" in the definition of "Faith"(just because one leads to Salvation & the other does not)?

Seriously......

BenYachov said...

>So please wait here for my responses to you.

No thanks you haven't said anything worth a "response".

I'm in "mocking stupidity mode" right now.

B. Prokop said...

Ben may be in "mocking stupidity" mode, but I am simply in awe of Papalinton's last posting. I was not aware that we were in the presence of an ubermensch, a representative of the Next Great Leap Forward in evolution. Behold! We lesser beings must tremble before the mighty representative of THE FUTURE!!!

We're not worthy! We're not worthy!

Victor Reppert said...

Tony: Orwellian nightmares occur when a linguistic community develops the use of a term in one way, and then a group of authorities manipulate those terms to achieve a different result.

If Christians were to use the word "faith" the way atheists think they do, then you would be hard pressed to explain the phenomenon of people within the Christian community attempting to defend their beliefs withe evidence. Apologetics would not simply be erroneous, but it would be a conceptually confused enterprise performed by people who don't understand the meaning of their own beliefs. That would be quite a pill to swallow.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Victor
"If Christians were to use the word "faith" the way atheists think they do, then you would be hard pressed to explain the phenomenon of people within the Christian community attempting to defend their beliefs withe evidence. Apologetics would not simply be erroneous, but it would be a conceptually confused enterprise performed by people who don't understand the meaning of their own beliefs. That would be quite a pill to swallow."

Your above statement itself is an Apologetic. It's asking for special pleading how the term 'faith' should be construed. In other words, atheists must consider the term only from the theists perspective. If that's the case, then it is reasonable to conclude that theists have not communicated effectively what it is they mean, using the word in its broadest and generic sense, understandable to those outside the particular religious mind set.

What a very odd thing to propose based around a very strange rationale. Let me get this right; if atheists aren't tuned in to the use of the word 'faith' in the way theists use it, they [theists]".. would be hard pressed to explain the phenomenon of people within the Christian community attempting to defend their beliefs withe evidence." This is generally referred to in psychology as 'externalizing the blame or problem, blame shifting'. The bottom line, it is the atheist's fault. Even the very first sentence, "If Christians were to use the word "faith" the way atheists think they do, .." shifts the blame on to atheists for the misinterpretation or misunderstanding, although they are the recipients of the message and not the senders.

Cheap nonsense word games, Victor. Callow and mischievous.

The oddest thing though, is that whatever goes for 'evidence' for theist beliefs is wholly framed and prescribed within the word 'faith'. How does one arrive at the conclusion that faith = evidence?

Bizarre, Victor, bizarre.

Papalinton said...

"... but I am simply in awe of Papalinton's last posting."

I thought you'd like it. ;o)
"Ubermensch"? Hardly. Just a natural process that occurs as one's education and training increases. Europe particularly has learned the lesson, and has paid the bloodiest price for its period of religious history. After centuries of religiously inspired social governance, culminating in two of the greatest conflagrations known, in the last century, Christian nations fighting Christian nations, Christian fighting Christian, Christians massacring Jews, the average European learned the hard lesson; there is no salvation through religion. Religion was the functioning epicentre of each national society, fomenting nationalistic difference just as readily as it invokes and identifies religious difference even within its very own brand [Catholic against Eastern Orthodox, and more widely Catholic against Protestant] let alone Islam or hindu etc]. Religious differentiation operates, at the cultural level, in the same procedural way that Nation states differentiate themselves, aiding and abetting the 'them and us' mind set. After millennia of sectarian violence and upheaval, the European learned. The European Union could only have come about post-religion.

Bob, this is hopefully the future of the world, respecting cultural traditions and social diversity, by simultaneously subjugating the dangerous and damaging tribal effects of religion in order to allow all people to live harmoniously, in peace. Now all we have to do is convince the Jews, christians and Muslims, to jettison their 'them and us' exclusivity mentality, to jettison the asinine arguments about whose god is the one true god, and celebrate our shared common interests.
It is a tall order, mindful of the intractable nature of religious intolerance and belligerence in the Middle East. But I am confident there will be a post-religion era of human existence; perhaps following the post-modernist era. I think it is do-able, but only if we can all ensure that faithheads do not get their thumb on the red button.

Eric said...

"Your above statement itself is an Apologetic. It's asking for special pleading how the term 'faith' should be construed. In other words, atheists must consider the term only from the theists perspective. If that's the case, then it is reasonable to conclude that theists have not communicated effectively what it is they mean, using the word in its broadest and generic sense, understandable to those outside the particular religious mind set."

Papalinton, you've persuaded me.

Indeed, thanks to you I now understand that when atheists say 'evidence' they mean 'subjective experience,' and when they say 'reason' they mean 'feelings,' and when they say 'science' they mean 'whatever process I use to reach a conclusion I've already decided that I want to hold for other reasons.'

What? You mean that this isn't how atheists use these terms? Well, that's just special pleading. And apologetics. Why should theists consider these terms only from the atheist's perspective?

Thanks again for this remarkable linguistic insight.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

"Indeed, thanks to you I now understand that when atheists say 'evidence' they mean 'subjective experience,' and when they say 'reason' they mean 'feelings,' and when they say 'science' they mean 'whatever process I use to reach a conclusion I've already decided that I want to hold for other reasons.'


I'm not sure I understand what it is you are trying to convey, Eric.
Cheers

B. Prokop said...

"Bob, this is hopefully the future of the world ... I am confident there will be a post-religion era of human existence."

And it will look like North Korea.

"I'm not sure I understand what it is you are trying to convey, Eric."

What's sauce for the goose, Papalinton. He's just giving you the same treatment that you give others. He's saying that if you claim license to twist others' words however you like, then it's fair game to do the same to you.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Your posting was almost there, but it needed a bit of editing. Thought I'd do you a favor, and save you the trouble:

"Just a natural process that occurs as one's education and training increases. Europe particularly has learned the lesson, and has paid the bloodiest price for its period of recent history, following its abandonment of faith. After centuries of religiously inspired societies, which had blessed us with Mankind's greatest treasures of art, architecture, and literature, with universities and the scientific method, with unheard-of expansion in the concept of the dignity of Man and human rights, with the idea that a rational Creator implies a rational world, Europeans decided to step off into the void. This unfortunate abandonment, beginning with the enthronement of "Goddess Reason" during the unprecedentedly bloody anticlerical French Revolution, finally and inevitably culminated in two of the greatest conflagrations ever known. In the last century, we witnessed Anti-Christian Fascist nations fighting atheist Communist nations, Nazi fighting Bolshevik, madmen restrained by no moral law (since the churches had been silenced) massacring Jews. The average European learned the hard lesson; there is no salvation through humanistic dreams of remaking Man through brute social engineering. Religion was regrettably no longer the functioning centre of each national society, allowing primeval nationalistic differences to run riot without the needed check religion had once provided. Just as readily, the new atheist worldview invoked, identified, and exacerbated differences even within its very own brand [National Socialist against Soviet Communist, and more widely each tribal group against the other, let alone the sub-humans who lived outside the "enlightened zone"]. Dueling conceptions of Utopia, warring demands on how Mankind should be re-engineered penetrated to the cultural level, in the same procedural way that Nation states differentiated themselves, aiding and abetting the 'them and us' mind set. Exhausted by the doomed-from-the-start effort to create the New Man, the "Man of the Future", Europeans finally gave up the effort. The European Union could only have come about once Europeans had given up their attempts to build a new Tower of Babel.

There, I think that reads a bit better. You may thank me at your leisure.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: “Tony: Orwellian nightmares occur when a linguistic community develops the use of a term in one way, and then a group of authorities manipulate those terms to achieve a different result.”

Like when the Japanese referred to Korean women enlisted to become “comfort workers,” and a group of authorities (the victorious allies) subsequently manipulated that term to mean “forced prostitution?”

VR: “If Christians were to use the word "faith" the way atheists think they do, then you would be hard pressed to explain the phenomenon of people within the Christian community attempting to defend their beliefs withe evidence.”

If I use a hammer to try and turn a screw, it doesn’t turn my hammer into a screwdriver. Words have origins, yes, but they are ascribed meaning based on common use.

VR: “Apologetics would not simply be erroneous, but it would be a conceptually confused enterprise performed by people who don't understand the meaning of their own beliefs. That would be quite a pill to swallow.”

And that appears to be your problem. Thanks for being so frank.

B. Prokop said...

"Words have origins, yes, but they are ascribed meaning based on common use.

Well, in that case, the matter is settled. Since there are far more Christians than atheists in the world today, we ought to just accept the Christian definition and use of the term "faith".

Time to move along...

BenYachov said...

>If I use a hammer to try and turn a screw, it doesn’t turn my hammer into a screwdriver. Words have origins, yes, but they are ascribed meaning based on common use.

So why then are you so adverse to the "use" Christians historically have given to the term "Faith" & prefer the made up definition of non-Christian/anti-Christians?

Tony let me ask you something. Who should define Jewish Theological terms? Jews & Historic Judaism or Holocaust deniers & anti-Semites?

Because your opposition to the historic definition of "Faith" in favor of the Dawkins inspired one reminds me of how Micael Hoffman(i.e. a non-Jewish anti-Semitic holocaust denier and Talmud smear merchant) would dismiss Jewish clarifications of terms used in the Talmud and insist the self-serving malevolent interpretation he reads into that document is correct.

He would dismiss all defenses of the Talmud as mere "Jewish Apologetics".

You proud of that?

Tony Hoffman said...

Ben, when you struggle to impugn your imaginary enemies, you only betray the extent to which you are yourself vile.

I don't know how to help you.

BenYachov said...

Historically the term "Faith" like the terms "atheism" or "Theism" have many definitions and uses across the spectrum.

Reason dictates you should adapt to the definition of the person(s) you are talking too.

Unless you are non-rational & believe there is some sort of "one size fits all" apologetic or anti-religious polemic that applies to all beliefs or non-beliefs across the board. Like Dawkins who treats all religion as if it was YEC fundamentalist Protestant Christianity.

Tedious.

BenYachov said...

>Ben, when you struggle to impugn your imaginary enemies, you only betray the extent to which you are yourself vile.

If only you would follow your own advice & just accepted the historic Christian definition of "Faith" instead of asserting the Dawkins definition and implicitly accusing Christians of being "inconsistent" in their understanding of the term.

Then I would have nothing against you.

I can't help you either.

Physician heal Thyself Tony.

Victor Reppert said...

When I said that that would be a pill to swallow, I meant that this would involve a considerable implausibility with respect to common usage of language.

There's nothing inherently fideistic about Christian talk about faith. The reason you think it is is because you evaluate the evidence negatively, so that, if someone were to evaluate the evidence as you do, they would have to take some kind of a Kierkegaardian leap of faith in order to believe. But, believe it or not, other people evaluate the evidence differently. There's not evidence that they are being disingenous in so doing. They could be errant in so doing, but that is it. The "deep down inside, you really agree with me" move doesn't work when Christian use it, and it doesn't work when atheists use it either.

Papalinton said...

Bob
PapaL: ""Bob, this is hopefully the future of the world ... I am confident there will be a post-religion era of human existence."

Bob: "And it will look like North Korea."

PapaL: The shrill voice of theism.

---------------------
Bob: " ............ The European Union could only have come about once Europeans had given up their attempts to build a new Tower of Babel."

Contemporary history as seen through the myopic lens of the biblical mythos. Bob, you may put a negative spin on what's occurring in Europe if that is your wish. Knock yourself out. However, you perspective simply does not accord with the facts or the evidence.
I have to go. Will add more later

:)

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: “There's nothing inherently fideistic about Christian talk about faith. The reason you think it is is because you evaluate the evidence negatively, so that, if someone were to evaluate the evidence as you do, they would have to take some kind of a Kierkegaardian leap of faith in order to believe. But, believe it or not, other people evaluate the evidence differently. There's not evidence that they are being disingenous in so doing. They could be errant in so doing, but that is it. The "deep down inside, you really agree with me" move doesn't work when Christian use it, and it doesn't work when atheists use it either.”

I didn’t say that faith was inherently fideistic. I explained that religious belief seems to fail when examined in the same way that we examine other claims, which introduces the question of how it is (per your OP) that the claims of faith are then to be examined. I have asked for you to clear this up for me (explaining why the analogy of a faithful spouse is materially different) but you have not so far been forthcoming.

It seems to me that you think that sincerity should be that which gives words their meaning. But this silly. If a well-meaning witch doctor applies leeches to man dying from a bleeding wound, the sincerity of his efforts does not overcome the fact that he cannot be said to be “healing” his patient. Words ultimately have to be about something in order to have meaning, and it’s a sure sign that things are amiss when a word’s (no matter how sincerely) intended meaning does not consistently relate to reality. And that’s something that you can’t pin on non-believers.

Victor Reppert said...

I think we can assess what a term means apart from the question of whether the term refers to something in reality. Someone who like me who thinks that naturalism is self-refuting, someone who thinks that God's resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the best explanation for the events surrounding the life of Christ, someone who thinks God is the best explanation of the beginning of the universe and the fine-tuning of the universe, understands their faith to be reasonable. If they think that, they can still have faith. The concept of faith does not rule out reasonableness. Given their assessment of the evidence, their faith is reasonable.

William said...

Tony, it looks like you are making the claim that faith in something you do not think exists cannot by definition be reasonable because it is false. But even a hard core epistemic evidentialist would not say that there cannot be justification for a belief independently of its actual truth value.

The issue is that of the individual person's independent reasons for belief, and even if faith in God is not a live, rational option for some (such as yourself i suppose), it certainly is for others.

The principle of charity applies here, which I believe says that we should not assume others are not rational just because we do not fully understand them.

----------------------

TH:
It seems to me that you think that sincerity should be that which gives words their meaning. But this silly.

VR:
I think we can assess what a term means apart from the question of whether the term refers to something in reality.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: “I think we can assess what a term means apart from the question of whether the term refers to something in reality.”

I would like to see you assess a term that has no reference to anything in reality. I would suspect that your (unstated) premise that such a term can be assessed will be found to be specious.

William: “Tony, it looks like you are making the claim that faith in something you do not think exists cannot by definition be reasonable because it is false.”

You know what, William, I just want to thank you. That sentence right there seems like a decent approximation of my argument (which, I freely admit, might very well be wrong), but truly, thank you for engaging with that instead of a different one or treating us to an ad hominem. Full props.

William: “But even a hard core epistemic evidentialist would not say that there cannot be justification for a belief independently of its actual truth value.”

I am not precisely sure what you mean in the above, but I’m going to press on with the rest of your comment.

William: “The issue is that of the individual person's independent reasons for belief, and even if faith in God is not a live, rational option for some (such as yourself i suppose), it certainly is for others.”

I agree in principle. I could be insane. I could be unlucky, or mislead by some bad premises, etc. All that is certainly on the table. The question that I find interesting isn’t that of who was mistaken, but what corresponds to reality? and more recently, what prevents those who are mistaken from recognizing reality? In other words, I think it’s far more productive to talk about processes and methods for aligning one’s beliefs with reality than it is to finalize that description of reality (if that makes sense).

William: “The principle of charity applies here, which I believe says that we should not assume others are not rational just because we do not fully understand them.”

I agree if you mean that it is rational, in a way, to adopt practices that suit our environments. I would disagree if you think it is rational to adopt practices and methods that are shown to be less effective than other, known methods and practices for forming beliefs that are more consistent with reality.

BenYachov said...

>I would like to see you assess a term that has no reference to anything in reality.

Moksha- In Hinduism it is "release" from the illusion of Maya and the realization that the Impersonal Self of Brahma is identical with yourself.

In Buddhism it is associated with the state of "the Highest Happiness" before one attains Nirvana which is a release from the cycle of rebirth and death.

I don't believe in Hinduism, Buddhism, Reincarnation, Moksha or Nirvana. So as far as I am concerned they don't reflect reality. But I understand the concepts enough to dialog with either of these religions.

But if I pull a Tony and make up my own self serving definition of these concepts then how would that be helpful?

It simply wouldn't.

Cole said...

I don't go only by faith or only by experience anymore. Why? I've been thinking about this and other issues lately. Let me tell you a story. I've never seen or heard things but I have had strong delusions before. One time when I wasn't taking my medicine my mind began to race as I pondered all the Big Questions in life. I was trying to piece everything together for a couple of days when I started to get paranoid. I thought we had crossed over into the new heavens and new earth. I started realizing that things were getting out of control. I then called my mom and told her what was happening. We soon made a trip to the hospital. While I was there I was asked a bunch of questions and I couldn't make sense out of the whole thing. I thought I was in the Spirit realm. I had transcended reason and was one with everything. When I got home I looked in the mirror and saw my big beard hanging down. It was the end of the world and Jesus was about to return but He was going to do it through me. I thought I was going to start performing miracles. I felt this love but at times I would start getting paranoid. It's like the stronger I believed something the more real it became to me. After I took my medicine I went to bed and it started wearing off a little. It took a couple of days but I'm back to normal.

William said...

TH:


I agree if you mean that it is rational, in a way, to adopt practices that suit our environments. I would disagree if you think it is rational to adopt practices and methods that are shown to be less effective than other, known methods and practices for forming beliefs that are more consistent with reality.

---

I like your pragmatism here. But better for whom? Is it better for all if better for you? Doubtful.

What you may not be allowing for enough then, is that different persons have sufficiently different talents and abilities and live in environments which differ enough from yours so that your definition of faith, for example, may simply be a non-starter for them, since it is ineffective where they stand.

Tony Hoffman said...

William: "I like your pragmatism here. But better for whom? Is it better for all if better for you? Doubtful."

I admit that I may be the only one one who wants my beliefs to track reality. But I very much doubt that I am alone, and I also doubt (with less confidence) that I am in the minority.

William: "What you may not be allowing for enough then, is that different persons have sufficiently different talents and abilities and live in environments which differ enough from yours so that your definition of faith, for example, may simply be a non-starter for them, since it is ineffective where they stand."

I have not defined faith here, and have been careful not to. I am not concerned that others conform to whatever definition I might provide for faith, but I am concerned about how those (like Victor) define the term, since that is the issue of the OP. I have my suspicions about what faith may actually mean in practice, but until someone can explain why it is that my reaction to this unprovided term actually is unjustified, I reserve the right to call those denouncements premature.

BenYachov said...

>I have not defined faith here, and have been careful not to.

Rather you mocked those who gave the rather sane suggestion we look at how Christians historically defined faith with snarky remarks like "then you have nothing to fear from Jihad. According to those who developed the term, it is about an internal struggle." Not to mention implicit charges that Christians where not consistant in their definition.

>I am not concerned that others conform to whatever definition I might provide for faith, but I am concerned about how those (like Victor) define the term,

He seemed to agree one cannot define it as blind belief in spite of evidence as some New Atheists have insisted on. You OTOH have been fighting this. Why?

>I have my suspicions about what faith may actually mean in practice, but until someone can explain why it is that my reaction to this unprovided term actually is unjustified, I reserve the right to call those denouncements premature.

It is unjustified for the same reason it is unjustified for Michael Hoffman to doubt the definitions of Talmudic terms given by professional Rabbis and Talmud Students. It is not reasonable for you to be suspicious of people defining what their religion means just because you disbelieve in the religion or all religions.

That is not dealing with reality.

William said...

TM:

I may be the only one one who wants my beliefs to track reality. But I very much doubt that I am alone

---------------

Even those who disagree with you likely think that their disagreeing beliefs track reality.

Is it possible that you are implicitly defining your set of beliefs as the only true ones, and thus are properly concerned that the definitions of others will attempt do so as well?

Papalinton said...

Bob
Following up on my earlier short comment, as promised, your reworking of the historical account in my piece of the events in Europe underscores the [almost] hysteria by which American believers characterize Europe as careening through the open gate of hell. Nothing of course could be further from the truth. This is the post-religion era that Europe and Australia are now entering.

Bob, you say,"In the last century, we witnessed Anti-Christian Fascist nations fighting atheist Communist nations, ...."

The 'anti-christian' fascist nations comprised, Italy, who's population of 99% catholic, and Germany, who's population was an overwhelmingly 95% christian. Equally, communist USSR was overwhelmingly Russian Orthodox, despite 70 years of the failed communist attempt to supplant one religion for another. So your callow caricature based around labels is a smoke and mirrors deflection and simply does not accord with the evidence. What it does demonstrate though that christianity in all its forms is largely weak and ineffectual. The German change in the course of its political and social history could only have come about with, and aided and abetted by, the overwhelming support of the christian population; indeed Nazism's road to power came about only by riding on the shoulders of the overwhelmingly christian population. In 1929, Italy's Fascist regime gained the political support and blessing of the Roman Catholic Church after the regime signed a concordat with the Church, known as the Lateran Treaty, which gave the papacy state sovereignty and financial compensation for the seizure of Church lands by the liberal state in the nineteenth century. Catholicism traded its morality and ethics for a few pieces of silver. Catholicism sat very comfortably alongside fascism. Poland of course was overwhelmingly catholic and remained so because Poles were not convinced that there was any advantage in forgoing one religion with a different worldview [communism]. And as I noted previously in an earlier thread, at currently 41% church attendance in Poland, it has dramatically dropped in the last several decades, from the highs of the 90-plus%, although still much higher than the single digit numbers for all the other members of the European Union.

And over the most recent year, "[t]he situation of religion varies between countries in the European Union. A decrease in religiousness and church attendance in western Europe (especially the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Finland , Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, and the Czech Republic) has been noted and called "Post-Christian Europe". Several of these countries have recently allowed same sex marriage despite massive resistance from the Catholic Church and other religious groups." Wiki (My bolding)

Yes, given the evidence, one must consider whether there even is a reasonable concept of reasonable faith, in the first instance.

B. Prokop said...

"What it does demonstrate though [is] that Christianity in all its forms is largely weak and ineffectual."

This is an argument? It (sort of) matches what I termed in my re-write of your historical (a-historical) account: "[Europe's] abandonment of faith". And further down, I noted that "the churches had been silenced" and "religion was regrettably no longer the functioning centre of each national society".

But more importantly, Papalinton, you are once again trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, you are laying the blame for two world wars, horrific political systems, and the Holocaust on Christianity, but in the next breath you are labeling the supposed instigator of such world-shattering events "weak and ineffectual". Which is it? It can't be both! This is all too typical of your "Heads I win; tails you lose" style of debate.

But I don't think it's fair to call my response to the murder of tens of millions of people "hysteria". If the worst atrocities in history don't deserve a vigorous condemnation, then what does?

By the way, might I recommend to you Michael Burleigh's Sacred Causes, the follow-up to his magisterial Earthly Powers? Together, the two volumes are perhaps the best serious historical account of church-state relations in Europe I have ever read (despite the author's unfortunately conservative political views). there are some eye-opening chapters on the early 20th Century in it. I guarantee you'll find them interesting.

Tony Hoffman said...

William: “Even those who disagree with you likely think that their disagreeing beliefs track reality.”

I don’t want to take that for granted, but I would hope so.

William: “Is it possible that you are implicitly defining your set of beliefs as the only true ones, and thus are properly concerned that the definitions of others will attempt do so as well?”

Well, I would certainly not define (all) my set of beliefs as true. I think there’s a great deal to reality that is counter-intuitive, difficult to conceive, and unknown, so the state of my beliefs is assuredly imperfect and incomplete. I think this is an accurate description, more or less, for all of us.

I’m not sure I’m following your point, however.

B. Prokop said...

Correct my if I'm wrong, but I think William's point becomes clear if we go back to an earlier statment of his:

“Tony, it looks like you are making the claim that faith in something you do not think exists cannot by definition be reasonable because it is false.”

I read the second "you" in that sentence as meaning "you, Tony Hoffman, specifically", and I gather that you read it as being equivalent to saying "“Tony, it looks like you are making the claim that faith in something that no one thinks exists [which is a grammatically valid way to interpret it] cannot by definition be reasonable because it is false.”

Perhaps this is where the disconnect comes from?

William said...

TH:
Well, I would certainly not define (all) my set of beliefs as true.

-----

Does a contingent thing's truth value belong in its definition?

William said...

Yes, I was not clear there,you are right.

"I read the second "you" in that sentence as meaning "you, Tony Hoffman, specifically", and I gather that you read it as being equivalent to saying "“Tony, it looks like you are making the claim that faith in something that no one thinks exists [which is a grammatically valid way to interpret it] cannot by definition be reasonable because it is false.” "

Tony Hoffman said...

William, I am not sure what you're asking me.

What I have been trying to get at is a description that explains how it is that reasonablenes can be applied to faith. I have suggested that prediction would be helpful in this regard, or maybe references to things that exist in reality. It seems to me that faith neither predicts things nor references things that exist in reality, and so I have wondered how it is that faith should be considered reasonable.

Of course, it would also help if someone would provide a positive definition as to what faith actually means, as I think I've only heard what faith is not. I think that a definition of what faith means would go a long way in helping us determine if, as the OP asks, reasonable faith is an oxymoron.

William said...

TM:
It seems to me that faith neither predicts things nor references things that exist in reality

---

What definition of faith are you using to say this?

If I say that I have faith that even if it has not rained in the past day, it will yet rain this week, does that fit your definition of faith?

What if I say that I have faith that I will get a Valentine's Day card this month from someone-- is that faith?

I cannot understand how you have an issue with faith unless I can get some idea of your concept of proper usage of the term, even if you claim you are not defining the word yourself?

B. Prokop said...

I guess I'll have to admit straight up that I don't have a dictionary-quality definition of Faith - nothing I can put down on (virtual) paper and be satisfied with. I can tell you what Faith does, but I can't seem to get the right words to define what it is.

Faith tells me that if I make an effort to give of my self, of my worldly goods, of my time, that action will be of as much benefit to myself as to anyone else. Faith tells me that if I don't allow every passing whim to blow me one way or the other, I might actually make some progress in the long run. Faith tells me that whatever the appearance and no matter how unlikely, every person I meet and everyone I have dealings with is the very Image of Christ ("As you did so to one of the least of these my brethren, you did so to Me.") Faith tells me that, in the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The world is charged with the grandeur of God". Faith tells me that my conviction of Meaning and Purpose to the world and to my life is Objective Reality, and no product of my imagination. Faith tells me that there's a darn good reason why Mankind is so screwed up, and why history seems so wrong. Faith tells me that when I find the idea of "all this" just happening on its own to be utterly preposterous, there is again a perfectly good reason for that feeling (heck, that certainty). Faith tells me that "al shal be wele, and al shall be wele, and all manner thing shal be wele" (Julian of Norwich).

But what exactly is Faith? Can't tell you. I'll have to be satisfied, like Saint Paul, to just lump in in with Hope and Love. Not a bad list there.

Tony Hoffman said...

William, if I had to define the term faith I'd say that it means to have hope that an outcome will occur based on a world guided with a divine purpose.

Under that definition, I would say that I question the reasonableness of faith because a) it doesn't seem to predict anything better than chance, and b) I don't perceive a divine purpose in our world.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"But I don't think it's fair to call my response to the murder of tens of millions of people "hysteria". If the worst atrocities in history don't deserve a vigorous condemnation, then what does?"

With over 95% of the German population christians, I have no doubt that it was christians that pulled the triggers, strung the garrotes and pressed the Zyklon B gas buttons, drove the Bulldozers for the trenches and dumped the bodies, for at least 95 of the 100 soldiers at the time.

It is right to respond in 'hysteria' of the murder of tens of millions of people. But it is not right to claim that those tens of millions of murders was done by not one christian. The Nazi party, the SS and the SA were filled with christians, membership being about 95% christian.
Even lowly statistics bring an element of truth as to whose claim has the more accurate explanation.

The other egregious statement: "On the one hand, you are laying the blame for two world wars, horrific political systems, and the Holocaust on Christianity, but in the next breath you are labeling the supposed instigator of such world-shattering events "weak and ineffectual", simply beggars belief.

We know first hand from long history the bloodied hands of christian piety. It is both reasonable and accurate that Germany, with a population of 95% christians from the census conducted just prior to the war, committed the most heinous and most diabolical of crimes against humanity ever witnessed. The weakness and ineffectiveness refers to christianity that:

1. Did not prophesy the oncoming holocaust

2. Absolutely believed Hitler was good for 'God and country'

3. Indifference on the part of Pope Pius XII on the plight of Jews in Europe in WWII. Signing of the concordat with Germany.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/pius.html

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_rothschild05.htm

And the effect of the concordat? "Most historians consider the Reichskonkordat an important step toward the international acceptance of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. Guenter Lewy, political scientist and author of The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, wrote:
"There is general agreement that the Concordat increased substantially the prestige of Hitler's regime around the world. As Cardinal Faulhaber put it in a sermon delivered in 1937: "At a time when the heads of the major nations in the world faced the new Germany with cool reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the greatest moral power on earth, through the Concordat expressed its confidence in the new German government. This was a deed of immeasurable significance for the reputation of the new government abroad."
The Catholic Church was not alone in signing treaties with the Nazi regime at this point. The concordat was preceded by the Four-Power Pact Hitler had signed in June 1933. John Cornwell reports that "millions of Catholics joined the Nazi Party, believing that it had the support of the Pope." [Wiki]

I say, clear evidence of the basis of catholic morality and ethics being weak and vacillating.

William said...

if I had to define the term faith I'd say that it means to have hope that an outcome will occur based on a world guided with a divine purpose.
---

So, the above definition means that to really have faith means that God must really exist? Now I see the problem. I must reluctantly admit, I cannot solve it for you.

B. Prokop said...

I am NOT going to get drawn into a debate with you on this website about the relations between the Catholic Church and Nazi Germany. Read the book I recommended to you above (unless you're afraid of learning something other than the twisted unfacts you have stuffed your head with.) I do not have either the time nor the inclination to point by point refute every insanity you decide to throw up here, and this is one that has been so well shown by better men than me to be utter and complete garbage, that I will henceforth ignore everything you have to say on the subject. I mean it. Seriously. Until you read Burleigh's book, you do not know what you are talking about. Let me know when you've finished it, and then maybe then we'll talk. Until then, you'll be spitting into the wind.

Tony Hoffman said...

William, what is the problem? And, if you think that faith and reason are compatible, how do you define the term faith?

Papalinton said...

"Faith" is a dangerous word.

Many a good thing and many a bad thing has been done in the name of 'faith'. It is utterly indiscriminate, and has as much power in determining what is good and what is bad as guessing.

'Reasonable faith' is an oxymoron even from the casual perspective that I use. I personally, am rather a deal too skeptical to place much, if any weight, on 'faith' 'Faith' is little more than conjecture cloaked in the sackcloth of the earthly magisterium.

Bob, you say: "Faith tells me that if I make an effort to give of my self, of my worldly goods, of my time, that action will be of as much benefit to myself as to anyone else. Faith tells me that if I don't allow every passing whim to blow me one way or the other, I might actually make some progress in the long run. Faith tells me that whatever the appearance and no matter how unlikely, every person I meet and everyone I have dealings with is the very Image of Christ ("As you did so to one of the least of these my brethren, you did so to Me.") Faith tells me that, in the words of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The world is charged with the grandeur of God" Faith tells me that my conviction of Meaning and Purpose to the world and to my life is Objective Reality, and no product of my imagination."

In short précis, "I just cannot believe that I don't live in a faery story. I just cannot believe the faery story doesn't exist, isn't real. I refuse to believe that my parent's faery tale is not Objective Reality. To think so would be so ....... unreal!

Unfortunately Bob, the catholic church has not been honest with you. It has treated you like a jerk. The catholic church over millennia has been actively engaged in establishing a supernatural world on the earth. Even the most mundane of human activities and the most natural of physical events have been officially supernaturalized and immortalized, as humans are want to do. Take for example, the doctrine of papal infallibility, or trinitariansm; both are products of earthly discourse and established by written decree. Once agreed at a talk-fest, they are quickly supernaturalized, a process very much reminiscent of alchemy, which differs from modern science in the inclusion of Hermetic principles and practices related to mythology, religion, and spirituality. And the transmutation of base metals into gold, is pretty much homologous to transubstantiation. And as we now know alchemy is faery tale nonsense when contrasted with science.

Just like everything, and I mean everything, that is claimed supernatural, is simply the product of religion superimposing its faery story over what is fundamentally and clearly the natural order of things, a purely sacralizing process. Science is about paring back the superimposition and sacralization processes to unmask the real world.

Yet when it comes right down to it, the supernatural and the sacred are at bottom, just sacralizing elements not unlike the practice of cargo cults, with catholicism actually sharing the underlying principle of "cargo", a term which denotes far more than just modern Western goods and commodities loaded onto a plane or truck. Even a mere materialistic understanding of "cargo" is apt to show a basic similarity between cargo cults and catholicism, as the latter generally has a hope for such things as the resurrection of the body in the age to come, along with a variety of concomitant materialistic blessings such as a new Jerusalem, streets of gold, etc. In other words, cargo cults and catholic philosophy have an overlap in that they both tend to have some sort of expectation of an imminent transformation of the cosmic order, which is linked with the arrival of supernaturally given very material blessings. [Here I am indebted to Diglotting]

Papalinton said...

Bob
"By the way, might I recommend to you Michael Burleigh's Sacred Causes, the follow-up to his magisterial Earthly Powers?"

I was very interested to note what Daniel J. Mahoney, Professor of Politics at Assumption College, who received a B.A. from the College of Holy Cross and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Catholic University of America in political science, had to say regarding Burleigh;

"Burleigh’s eloquently written books are informed by impressive erudition and by deep moral seriousness, but he is not a philosophic historian in the manner of those such as Alain Besançon and Martin Malia who have delved deeply into the intellectual origins and the elusive “pseudo-reality” posited by totalitarian ideology. He is, instead, an antitotalitarian historian of evident theistic and Christian conviction."
http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=822&theme=home&loc=b

But thanks for the referral of his books.

B. Prokop said...

"The Catholic Church over millennia has been actively engaged in establishing a supernatural world on the earth"

Sorta true, depending on the meaning you attach to those words. (Slippery thing, this English language of ours!) I would agree that God, though His Word, is actively engaged in reestablishing the harmony between the natural and supernatural worlds that existed prior to the fall, on the Earth. So we have a point of semi-agreement here.

"Even the most mundane of human activities and the most natural of physical events have been officially supernaturalized".

100% true! You and I are in absolute, complete agreement on this one. The Incarnation endowed all of Creation, the whole natural universe, with Divine dignity. To quote myself from a long ago posting: "Mankind’s proper concern is the “emparadising” (to coin a Dantean term) of the Here and Now. And Christ’s Incarnation is the central element of that process. For while, as Genesis says, we are created in the image of God - of even greater importance is that God has also assumed our image in Christ. Through His becoming a human being, the most mundane aspects of our lives are inseparably connected to the divine. Our smallest, most insignificant, and utterly normal activities must be seen as leading us to the Heavenly City. As Dorothy Day would so often say, “All the way to Heaven is Heaven, because Jesus said, ‘I am the Way’.”

Nice to see there are some things we can agree on.

B. Prokop said...

"He is, instead, an antitotalitarian historian of evident theistic and Christian conviction."

What? You afraid of encountering an idea in conflict with your atheist orthodoxy? worried that you might actually have to Change Your Mind? Besides, sounds like an ad hominem argument against the author. But I guess that's a safe way for you to proactively inoculate yourself against threatening ideas.

By the way, does being a historian "of evident theistic and Christian conviction" automatically disqualify a person from writing a competent book on history? Are you saying that only atheists should be read?

And one more thing. I was at first more than a little curious about your quoting the word "antitotalitarian" as though that were some negative trait. But then I realized that the athiests' preferred form of government is totalitarianism (Soviet Union, North Korea, etc.). so I guess there's nothing surprising about you not approving of anyone opposed to that system.

Papalinton said...

"By the way, does being a historian "of evident theistic and Christian conviction" automatically disqualify a person from writing a competent book on history? Are you saying that only atheists should be read?"

Absolutely not. And I have no argument with his competence in writing such books. But one must not be confused into conflating competence as synonymous with "evident theistic and Christian conviction". It seems Burleigh is very competent in writing a revised history of the mid-20thC in the Apologetical style. on that, he cannot be faulted. But one must be most mindful of other historians such as Prof Mahoney ,who have reviewed and critiqued Burleigh's work within the context of the writer's perspective. Otherwise why would he write, "Burleigh’s eloquently written books are informed by impressive erudition and by deep moral seriousness, but he is not a philosophic historian in the manner of those such as Alain Besançon and Martin Malia who have delved deeply into the intellectual origins and the elusive “pseudo-reality” posited by totalitarian ideology" [My bolded italics], if they were simply spurious and casual observations?

What I am saying, be sure you do note the context in which the author has written, and simply not pass off any work as seminal, with universal acceptance of its conclusions, as though it is gospel.

You say, "But then I realized that the athiests' preferred form of government is totalitarianism (Soviet Union, North Korea, etc.). so I guess there's nothing surprising about you not approving of anyone opposed to that system."

Please do not stumble headlong into the mired pit of insults and vilification directed personally to one that has put a very sound, reasoned and logical case to the contrary, on the issue of christian political, diplomatic and administrative involvement with Fascism in 20thC conflict. It simply compounds the antithetical and irreconcilable nature of religious praxis and ideology, alongside that of religious philosophy and religious belief, putting a lie to the notion of 'reasonable faith'.

Your phantasmic emperor looks pretty silly without clothes.

B. Prokop said...

Sorry if you thought that was an insult. It wasn't. It was just a statement of (easily provable) fact.

Atheists in power = Totalitarianism

There has yet to be an exception to this equation in all of history, from the dawn of time until the present. Why should we expect the future to be any different? And since you have explicitly expressed a hope in an atheist future, I can only assume that you will be welcoming the inevitable totalitarianism that will accompany it.

I will admit to having fun with you by editing your words (of Feb 5th, 10:54 PM) in order to make them more historically accurate, but I will stand by every word of my re-write.

Papalinton said...

"Atheists in power = Totalitarianism"

Christian doomsday hyperbole, Bob. Garbage in, garbage out.

Some reasoned research:

1. 'Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.' Exodus 22:20 [the foundation of christian totalitarianism]

2. "It would not be wrong to say that Orwell had the Roman Catholic Church firmly in his mind when he depicted the totalitarian State in Nineteen Eighty-Four. ...... we find a great resemblance between the Catholic Church and Orwell's picture of the totalitarian State in Animal Farm as well as in Nineteen Eighty-Four."
Forum on Public Policy
'Orwell’s “Smelly Little Orthodoxies”: Absolutism and the Crisis of Our Time' by Everett Helmut Akam, Professor of History and Political Science, Casper College

3. "Likewise in totalitarian Catholicism the fundamental rule is "Nothing against the Church, no salvation outside the Church." No tolerance of heretical errors or of disciplinary schisms are theoretically admissible in the Catholic system. By the principle that there is no salvation outside the Church because the Church in the person of the Bishop of Rome, successor of Peter, holds the keys of Heaven, so that whatever he binds or loosens on earth is bound or loosened in Heaven, the totalitarian power of the Church extends over all aspects of human life, and all actions of men from the beginning of their existence in the womb of their mothers to the grave, extends beyond the grave in Purgatory, where the Church can hasten the process of expiation, and even in Heaven, where the decrees of the infallible Pope are duly registered as divine decrees and where the Church can obtain special favors through the cult and the intercession of the saints."

George La Piana
former John H. Morrison Professor
of Church History at Harvard University at: http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/lapiana/section_I.php

4. Bob, any form of totalitarianism is dangerous, be it christian or secular. But one doesn't kill for atheism, one only lives by atheism. In fact I am a god-fearing atheist, because christians put more fear into me than most other things. The Santorums, Gingrichs and Romney are the spearheads of christian hegemony and christian sharia in the US today; a complete crumbling of the wall of separation between church and state. A truly frightening prospect for humanity. They will be the masters of the christian totalitarian government of the USA, if reason does not prevail.

5. As an insider you just have no idea of how fearful the international community is in relation to the US elections this year. After 8 years of religious administration of the Bush presidency, when Obama won the election, a massive sigh of relief from the international community was simply so astonishing as to be palpable. After only weeks if not months in the job, the world signaled its great and heartfelt relief, by awarding Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize; as a thank you and as a signal to the American people against the religious cowboys. You should read all the international papers as I did, to really understand the enormous relief and gratitude that the US had changed tack. That same consternation and anxiety is again elevating in general commentary, should one of these belligerent christians ever get into the White House. Christian totalitarianism indeed.

B. Prokop said...

Hmm... The USA replaces a phony Christian (as they say in Texas, Bush was "all hat and no cattle") with a genuine one, and you cheer on the genuine one and give him the Nobel Prize, all the time "fearing" his Faith? Your fears seem curiously misplaced. Has it occurred to you that your "great and heartfelt relief" might be because the USA now has a person of genuine Faith at the helm, rather than an impostor?

Now you once again fear that the USA will turn out the genuine Christian who is now in office, turning to the non-Christian Mormon, Mitt Romney (Obama's most likely opponent), and yet you fear the replacement will then go about instituting a "Christian totalitarianism"?

Strange "logic".

And why are you quoting a Jewish text as the purported foundation of a so-called Christian totalitarianism?

Papalinton said...

"Has it occurred to you that your "great and heartfelt relief" might be because the USA now has a person of genuine Faith at the helm, rather than an impostor?"

That is the $64.00 question, isn't it? With christianity you simply cannot tell which is the impostor from which is the impostor. There are no discernible characteristics that distinguishes the christian good from the christian bad from the christian ugly. They all radiate distrust.

BenYachov said...

>Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.' Exodus 22:20

Considering that Canaanite pagan religions sacrificed infant children by burning them to death or heating their bodies till they caught fire I am not surprised a pro-abortion Atheist would call that 'totalitarianism".

They also practiced Temple Prostitution and sexual slavery.

Considering that Canaan was populated by mostly Nomadic people if you wanted "freedom of religion" you could head on over to Egypt and worship all the idols you want.

BenYachov said...

>But one doesn't kill for atheism, one only lives by atheism.

Bob knows that's a lie. He speaks Russian remember? He has spoken to persons persecuted behind the Iron Curtain. People who have testified to him they where explicitly persecuted for believing in God and not being Atheists.

THE GODLESS LEAGUE in Russia in the name of Atheism persecuted generations of religious believes.

Your magical fundie fantasy that all the evil in the world has been done in the name of religion & nobody kills "in the name of Atheism" is Prima facie silly.

Papalinton said...

"Considering that Canaanite pagan religions sacrificed infant children by burning them to death or heating their bodies till they caught fire I am not surprised a pro-abortion Atheist would call that 'totalitarianism.....".
"Considering that Canaan was populated by mostly Nomadic people if you wanted "freedom of religion" you could head on over to Egypt and worship all the idols you want."

Once again, evidence of a modern human with SRS [social retroject Syndrome], a condition in which the mind defines social activity and conventions from earlier civilizations, in this case, ancient iron-age societies, and to posit them as contemporary.

Ben, your pants are down around your ankles and your Asinine christian wisdom is exposed. Not a pretty sight in civil society.

B. Prokop said...

"Once again, evidence of a modern human with SRS [social retroject Syndrome], a condition in which the mind defines social activity and conventions from earlier civilizations, in this case, ancient iron-age societies, and to posit them as contemporary."

Huh? What are you trying to say? Re-word, please. Not sure of your meaning.

Papalinton said...

"Huh? What are you trying to say? Re-word, please. Not sure of your meaning."

It's all made up, y'know, like supernaturalism, a figment. I wonder if Ben went searching the net for SRS?
[chuckle]

BenYachov said...

>It's all made up, y'know,

You mean like your bogus claim Pope St Gregory had the Patriarch of Constantinople burned at the stake?

Low brow Atheism.

Papalinton said...

He did go searching the net for SRS?
[chuckle]

BenYachov said...

Before I google it what is SRS?

Social Reject Syndrome?

Society of Red dwarf Sitcoms?

B. Prokop said...

Hey, careful there, Ben! I'm in the middle of writing a book largely about red dwarfs (stars).

BenYachov said...

Bob I was referring Red Dwarf the scifi comedy Britcom.

http://www.reddwarf.co.uk

Which is smegging awesome!

Papalinton said...

"Bob I was referring Red Dwarf the scifi comedy Britcom.
http://www.reddwarf.co.uk

Which is smegging awesome!"

One of the most entertaining shows I have watched, regularly.

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