Monday, September 16, 2013

Faith, Reason, Love, and Marriage

I am inclined to see the question of religious belief as a judgment call. If we are looking for proof of the sort we have for the claim that the earth goes around the sun, then this isn't going to work. But there are facts and evidence that seem to be relevant here. There are reasons that can be given on both sides. Because a lot in our lives depend on how we decide, we have to "call it" one way or the other. (Do we go to church or not? Do we follow a religion? Do we use any religious texts as a guide for life? etc.) 
Consider the question of whether someone loves you enough to get married to them. Can you prove that that person will be a good husband or wife? If you wait for proof in some strict sense, then no one will get married. But you can see evidence of someone's love, or more seriously, evidence that someone's love is deficient. Or you could ignore it. People get married to abusers. They should have seen that something was wrong, but they closed their eyes. That may have seemed like true faith to them, but it seems like a recipe for unhappiness now. 

8 comments:

Crude said...

Because a lot in our lives depend on how we decide, we have to "call it" one way or the other. (Do we go to church or not? Do we follow a religion? Do we use any religious texts as a guide for life? etc.)

I think you can expand your list of examples here.

Do we think policy X is the right choice to achieve end Y? Is end Y superior or inferior to end Z in terms of importance? Is metaphysical view R correct as opposed to N? Should we regard cultural value A as better or worse than cultural value B?

In other words, I don't think it's a kind of reasoning specific to religion, though there's probably a lot to be said about the relationship one has with God, and one has with other people in general. A lot of the popular critiques on religion hinge critically on, 'Religious people think they're absolutely certainly right and everything they believe cannot be wrong.' The idea of believing, even if one is not fanatically convinced, seems alien to some people.

Papalinton said...

"I am inclined to see the question of religious belief as a judgment call."

On that point we absolutely agree. As devoted and committed as they are to their religious beliefs Scientologists have made a judgement call about the truth and reality of Scientology. Jehovah's Witnesses have made a judgement call about their particular brand of Christianity as has Christian Scientists, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, the Coptics, Lutherans as well as Hindus, Jainists and Sikhs.

They are all judgment calls predicated on cultural, historical and traditional precedence solely. Not one of these beliefs systems are informed by, considers or takes into account the scientific narrative, except in the most marginal or peripheral of ways, that is, interpretative exegesis.

But ever more importantly, most religious believers are not given the opportunity to make that 'judgement call' having been inculcated from birth into the mythic narrative of their cultures. From there on the 'judgement call' is much about finding an emotionally comfortable interpretative median in which believers can rationalize their misplaced allegiance to ancient religious beliefs by selective pickings from the scientific narrative that support their particular religious belief. In other words a belief system in search of a justificatory rationale. By way of a contemporary example, the christian belief system is in as yet a frantic quandary on how best to accommodate the science of unguided natural evolution of life on this planet into its narrative.

Apparently among believers the jury is still out as to which if any of the following scenarios becomes the 'conventional wisdom' of the christian 'judgement call'. Some have postulated that Adam was earmarked by God as THE transitional fossil in the long evolutionary line of the human species. Still others are adamant that Adam was a product of divine halitosis, pretty much in accord with scripture. Yet others still claim God 'ensouled' one of our early primate ancestors to be the progenitor of the christian world. While others simply claim the Adam story is just myth, and rightly so. But then we get into the problem of the highly tenuous foundational argument for christianity. If Adam did not actually exist, is only legend, a myth, then there is no actual 'original sin' And with the concept of original sin founded on a mythical Adam and Eve then there is no case for a later redemptive sacrifice. With any logical plain reading of scripture a reader will clearly twig that Jesus died for nothing. No original sin, no need for redemption, no need for a blood sacrifice. One could reasonably conclude Jesus was a legend without a cause.

Crude says,"' The idea of believing, even if one is not fanatically convinced, seems alien to some people."
Well, no. Everybody believes in something. What is alien to people is how some can peddle an old ancient mytheme and claim it as reality. The expanding abyss between the christian narrative and the scientific narrative will ultimately put paid to any imaginary bridge of accommodationism one might make as a 'judgement call'.

B. Prokop said...

To paraphrase Bishop Fulton Sheen, "“There are probably not a hundred people in America who genuinely disbelieve in God. There are to be sure millions of people who disbelieve in what they wrongly imagine to be God — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

Mr. Wilson reminds me of the old joke about the preacher confronted by a brash young atheist who confidently declares, "I don't believe in God!" The preacher looks the young man over a bit, and says, "Tell me about this God you don't believe in, because chances are I don't believe in him either!"

Papalinton said...

""“There are probably not a hundred people in America who genuinely disbelieve in God. There are to be sure millions of people who disbelieve in what they wrongly imagine to be God — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”"

This is almost as trite as Dr Reppert's retort about the designer argument not being conflated with the creator argument on an earlier thread. A non sequitur.
It doesn't really matter what one wrongly or rightly imagines to be god, because it still remains a figment of the imagination. And as with all imaginary pretexts the types of God images conjured is as diverse as the numbers of people holding them.

No real truth there to be had because 'god' is the ubiquitous grab-bag for all things ignorant. The term 'god' is a catch-all for things as yet unexplained, and in most cases, by science. But science is chip, chip, chippin' away at the christian edifice.

Perhaps the 'brash young atheist' learned from his experience with the old cunning preacher, and now responds more directly, "Whatever god you purport to believe in, I do not".

urban jean said...

But do we have to call it, Victor? If someone offers us a job, or marriage, or a sale bargain, or we come to a fork in the road, then we have to make a decision, and we experience a psychological 'pressure' to do so. But it seems to me that the question of religious faith, or belief in anything, in general, lacks this 'pressure'. We may come under family pressure to marry or adopt the faith of our fathers, of course, but people will often resist these externally imposed forces. It's the internally generated pressures that are harder to resist. Belief, trust, love seem to me to be not things we choose but things that choose us. This is not to deny that we can choose to follow the form of faith. As Pascal suggests, faith may then follow. The most we can choose to do is to expose ourselves to this possibility.

Steve Lovell said...

From Papalinton's assertion:

"It doesn't really matter what one wrongly or rightly imagines to be god, because it still remains a figment of the imagination."

I deduce that if I imagine Papalinton to be god, he will become a figment of the imagination.

But more seriously, Papalinton is basically saying here that straw-manning is not a fallacy. I doubt he meant to say that, but that is what he's saying.

And then having made side-swipes at ID, he goes on to say that science is chipping away at Christian belief. But if science is capable of disconfirming Christianity, then in principle it is also capable of confirming it. From which it follows that there is nothing in principle unscientific about mixing religion with science. Now he could consistently say that the mix isn't a fruitful one, but he can't consistently claim that it's "simply not science". Not that he has claimed that in this thread, but he did strongly imply that in the one on the Dover decision.

Just thoughts.

B. Prokop said...

"But if science is capable of disconfirming Christianity, then in principle it is also capable of confirming it. From which it follows that there is nothing in principle unscientific about mixing religion with science."

That's very good! Never quite thought of it that way, but you are absolutely right. Thanks - I plan on using that line of argument in the future.

mattghg said...

Off-topic but sure to be of interest to Victor and some readers: Emmet Mashburn's PhD dissertation, which is a study of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.