Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:59 am





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 132 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 9  Next
Faith and Reason 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5321
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1860
Thanked: 1798 times in 1366 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
LanDroid wrote:
Mr. Tulip wrote:
Jesus Christ said in the Bible (Matthew 25) that one of the seven works of mercy that will determine if a person is saved or damned is whether they visit prisoners.

Well I just re-read that chapter and it has the inspiring parable of the servants managing money / increasing god-given talents. And the admonition you quote which also includes feeding the hungry and housing strangers, etc. But then Jesus has to ruin it all by warning of eternal punishment, evidently the foundation of morality for many people i.e. doing good only to avoid hell.


Your interpretation illustrates a prevailing error regarding the Biblical theory of salvation, namely the simplistic mistake that the phrase here “eternal punishment” means literally going to hell, understood as a spatial and temporal destination for personal permanent existence after death of those who fail to perform works of mercy.

Granted, JC does provide a bit more graphic detail, cursing the wicked and selfish as destined for “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”, but this statement is more symbolic than literal.

The point he is making is a moral argument that is entirely compatible with the rational scientific analysis of natural selection by cumulative adaptation and descent by modification, that societies where people behave morally by performing works of mercy will prosper, while those who fail in this basic agenda of common humanity will decline and collapse. Now this is obviously counterintuitive, since there is a general observation that the wicked prosper and the good struggle. I think though that Jesus, or his inventors, is taking a deeper and wiser look at human motivation.

That is a complex argument, requiring interpretation of religion against the EO Wilson theory of social evolution. Species that are social do better than those that are antisocial. The writers of the Bible could see that the fall from grace involved a massive hit to sociality. They therefore identified these seven key problems of sociality, and said that supporting them equals salvation while opposing them equals damnation.

The dispute between Dawkins and Wilson over social evolution by group selection could be read as less a scientific dispute than a religious one, since the science dispute is more philosophy than facts. Dawkins’ selfish gene theory promotes rational empirical individualism, while Wilson’s social evolution theory promotes faithful loyal communities. These scientific models involve conflicting mythical frameworks about the nature of the world, regarding whether our morality should be more about faith or reason. Here is a good summary of Wilson’s eusocial theory of the centrality of faith to salvation by evolution. http://longnow.org/seminars/02012/apr/2 ... est-earth/ This incidentally mentions some key points in our current book selection Tribe, such as how well chimps can read each others’ intentions.

The big problem regarding the seven works of mercy advocated by Jesus is that the popular interpretations of religion are the rationalisations of the damned, those who put a supernatural fantasy in place of logic and evidence. People want to trust their instincts of revenge, their desire to punish criminals, rather than listen to the Gospel story of restorative justice. So this absolute core ethical principle of the Bible, about how Jesus would rule the world in love, simply gets ignored by Christians who rationalise their prejudices and completely fail to see the transformative meaning of the new covenant of love of enemies that the Gospels propounded.

The “housing strangers” line that you quote is often translated as “welcoming strangers”, and is widely used by refugee advocates in a way that produces fear among those whose moral focus is on property rights and rule of law. Again, the relevance is that welcoming strangers requires a faith in the good intentions of others, a social framework of group selection, as distinct from the solely rational and faithless model of traditional genetic kin selection.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Fri Jun 24, 2016 5:28 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 6922
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1028
Thanked: 1972 times in 1589 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Robert wrote:
The point he is making is a moral argument that is entirely compatible with the rational scientific analysis of natural selection by cumulative adaptation and descent by modification


You're off your rocker. That's not the point he's making. You can "interpret" the words to mean that, but the original intent is almost certainly much different.


Quote:
Against the purpose of this thread, which is to argue that a rational faith is possible, what you call an “undeveloped sense of justice” can be compared to an irrational faith. Victims feel aggrieved at crimes, and want revenge on the criminal. But the point I was making about values that try to create a better future means that such emotional reactions should be assessed more calmly and rationally.

You’re missing my point I think. These emotions we’re talking about are the driving force behind justice, morality, etc. Which necessarily means these concepts are not merely based on faith. They’re based on something tangible – emotion.

Emotion and faith are different things. Reason must still be applied to emotion for all the reasons you mention, but that doesn’t lead to what you call rational faith.

Applying reason to faith is like multiplying something by zero. You still have a foundation of nothing.


_________________
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” - Douglas Adams


Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:20 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5321
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1860
Thanked: 1798 times in 1366 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Interbane wrote:
Robert wrote:
The point he is making is a moral argument that is entirely compatible with the rational scientific analysis of natural selection by cumulative adaptation and descent by modification


You're off your rocker. That's not the point he's making. You can "interpret" the words to mean that, but the original intent is almost certainly much different.
No, I am not off my rocker thank you Interbane, this is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis regarding Christian origins, which it seems has touched a nerve for you regarding some prejudices and assumptions you may hold about ancient thought. The fact that the Gospels contain arguments that are compatible with evolutionary thinking does not at all mean that evolutionary thinking was an explicit driver. Rather, my point is that today, rationality means we understand progress in scientific evolutionary terms, so if we look at ancient theories of progress, we can assess their merits against our more evolved rational scientific understanding. And when that evolutionary heuristic is applied to the Bible, there is an immense amount that is completely compatible with theories of group selection.
Interbane wrote:

Quote:
Against the purpose of this thread, which is to argue that a rational faith is possible, what you call an “undeveloped sense of justice” can be compared to an irrational faith. Victims feel aggrieved at crimes, and want revenge on the criminal. But the point I was making about values that try to create a better future means that such emotional reactions should be assessed more calmly and rationally.

You’re missing my point I think. These emotions we’re talking about are the driving force behind justice, morality, etc. Which necessarily means these concepts are not merely based on faith. They’re based on something tangible – emotion.
You seem to be making an absolute argument here that the concepts of justice and morality can be understood by seeing them simply as expressions of emotions such as revenge. That is a highly contestable and controversial opinion on your part, removing all suggestion of objectivity. Like David Hume, you are reducing ethics to sentiment, and further, identifying justice with the Mosaic Law of retribution rather than the Christian idea of restoration. What I was saying was that if we consider as a moral axiom the idea that it is good to create a better future, then we can objectively and dispassionately form shared views about what in fact a better future looks like, and our concepts of justice and morality can be defined according to whether they help produce that future or not.
Interbane wrote:
Emotion and faith are different things. Reason must still be applied to emotion for all the reasons you mention, but that doesn’t lead to what you call rational faith.
Perhaps we could say that faith is an emotion? Generally faith commitments are held with strong emotion, with adherents forcefully rejecting arguments against their view. Within philosophy though, where we are trying for a cooler and more objective look, we can readily ask whether our faith commitment is compatible with scientific knowledge. If I hold as an article of faith that the universe actually exists, and further that it obeys consistent laws that can be described by logic and evidence, we should be able to agree that this faith commitment is completely compatible with reason, even though it is not something that can be proved by reason alone.
Interbane wrote:
Applying reason to faith is like multiplying something by zero. You still have a foundation of nothing.

That argument only applies if your faith is misplaced. If your faith has a good purchase on reality, such as a belief that the universe exists and can be understood by use of reason and evidence, then applying reason to this faith stance can produce all scientific knowledge. But if we have misplaced faith, such as that God made the world six thousand years ago, then using that as a foundation will produce further delusion and suffering, not knowledge and happiness.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:22 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I dumpster dive for books!

BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 1784
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Thanks: 49
Thanked: 599 times in 469 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 Re: Faith and Reason
Quote:
Robert wrote: The point he is making is a moral argument that is entirely compatible with the rational scientific analysis of natural selection by cumulative adaptation and descent by modification.

Interesting interpretation, but I'm with Interbane - that is a Yooge stretch...
Quote:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

..."Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

...Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

It's very difficult to see how those events support your interpretation.

Sorry for a sidetrack, but this also brings up modern Christian requirements for salvation. Contrary to what the bible says, Christians insist the 7 good behaviors listed in Matthew 25 will NOT earn salvation; a personal relationship with Christ is required where one begs for, and receives, forgiveness for sins. The whole bloody mess is riddled with contradictions.



Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:47 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I dumpster dive for books!

BookTalk.org Moderator
Silver Contributor

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 1784
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Thanks: 49
Thanked: 599 times in 469 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 Re: Faith and Reason
Quote:
Robert:
If your faith has a good purchase on reality, such as a belief that the universe exists and can be understood by use of reason and evidence, then applying reason to this faith stance can produce all scientific knowledge.

Quote:
mighty13:
I completely agree, the faith is something we all have, we have faith in the new day or faith in the people that surround us, faith is not necessarily believing in an all-mighty power.

We're drifting into loose definitions of faith. If we get back to info johnson1010 quoted earlier, much of this clears up.
Quote:
johnson1010:
Faith is an expectation without evidence, against the evidence and regardless of the evidence. That means no new information will change your faithful belief. If you ever stop believing in an article of faith then it’s because you have LOST faith in that thing… and possibly gained confidence in something else.

Confidence is an expectation built on the preponderance of evidence in support of it. Confidence is flexible. It can increase or decrease depending on the quality of the data. Data which builds a predictive pattern that will either fail or succeed to correlate with the events of reality demonstrating the objective accuracy of that expectation. And as the true mark of justified belief this correlation determines the amount of confidence you should have in your belief.

The difference between confidence and faith is the entire purpose of the scientific method.

As mighty13 suggests, people have told me "You believe the sun will rise tomorrow don't you? See?! You DO have faith!" Well let's look at that a minute. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. Multiply that by 365 then add (4.5 billion / 4) days to account for leap years and we have the sun coming up roughly 1,643,625,000,000 times in a row without interruption. With that much evidence, it is not an article of faith to sing "the sun will come up tomorrow!" :lol:



Sat Jun 25, 2016 8:35 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 6922
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1028
Thanked: 1972 times in 1589 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Robert wrote:
And when that evolutionary heuristic is applied to the Bible, there is an immense amount that is completely compatible with theories of group selection.


Right, you're applying an interpretation to the bible. That doesn't mean group selection was JC's original intent. This didn't strike a nerve. It's just clearly untrue. You are the one overlaying the words with interpretive intent. The original intent was almost certainly different. More literal.

Quote:
You seem to be making an absolute argument here that the concepts of justice and morality can be understood by seeing them simply as expressions of emotions such as revenge.


That's not at all what I'm saying. Such reductionism is obviously untrue. On top of these emotions we apply reason. Which means, we apply reason to emotion, rather than apply reason to faith.

Quote:
That argument only applies if your faith is misplaced. If your faith has a good purchase on reality, such as a belief that the universe exists and can be understood by use of reason and evidence, then applying reason to this faith stance can produce all scientific knowledge.


Do we really need faith to believe the universe exists? The proposition that the universe exists falls into the naive comprehension principle. Which means, there's a problem where the wording is insufficient to what we're talking about. Somewhere between the wording we use and reality, our language fails. I think that perhaps you lean on the idea that we need faith to believe the universe exists because you refuse to examine the problem using more modern understanding. You think we must have certainty to have knowledge, and certainty in something like the existence of the universe can't be had without bridging the gap with faith. But as johnson and Landroid pointed out, it's no longer faith in that case but confidence.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existence/

And a clear and easier to understand answer by Ricardo Bevilaqua at Quora is this: "To employ the word "nothing" as a noun is a mistake. Because ordinary language use it to construct a negative existential statement, it is a logical particle that serves for the formulation of a negative existential statement. If it were admissible to introduce "nothing" as a name or description of an entity, the existence of this entity would be denied in its very definition. It isn't possible any world where there's nothing at all. It is a necessary truth that there is a world of something, an empty world is an impossibility, and this impossibility is a sufficient reason for existence of a world of something. If ever nothing was the natural state then something could never have arisen. But there is something. So nothingness is not the natural state, therefore the natural state is “somethingness”. "

What we need for understanding is not faith. It's analysis, discussion, progress of philosophy, progress of science.


_________________
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” - Douglas Adams


Sat Jun 25, 2016 11:50 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5321
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1860
Thanked: 1798 times in 1366 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Returning now to comment on an earlier response.
Interbane wrote:
Pain doesn't necessarily mean physical either. All our conceptual mores are founded on moral emotions. These emotions are very real, even if they're subjective. I don't take it on faith that extreme emotional pain caused to me by someone else should be met with punishment for that person. It's how I feel.
The foundation of conceptual mores is not that clear. If you do absolutely feel that someone deserves to be punished, your emotional sentiment does have a faith quality, in the sense that you will not brook any suggestion you might be wrong. That mood of certainty is what I am trying to analyse here as a scientific phenomenon. The feeling of moral certainty, as distinct from the logic of scientific confidence, does have a strong similarity to religious faith.
What you call “conceptual mores” means accepted social standards for thinking. A book that discusses this topic, Axiology – The Science of Values by Archie Baum, says “Conceptual mores have a social reality. They exist as commonly accepted beliefs, and children or other inductees into a society learn that they already exist.”

Conceptual mores can enable us to assess the value of different axioms. This consideration is ideally a product of logical reasoning based on observation, although in practice such reasoning is unlike the mores which arise solely from moral emotion.

A typical faith axiom – for example that God deliberately created the world - arises more as a result of moral emotion than of logical observation. As a result, faith is more strongly open to doubt than more science-linked beliefs.

However, false faith is not the whole story. It is possible to examine the nature of faith at its most general and acceptable level, such as the basic faith in sense data that underpins scientific knowledge. Similarly, with moral reasoning, we can hold, to consider the most general and universal sentiment we could imagine, that it would be bad if humans went extinct.

How does this moral sentiment function in practice? In discussing this question, I would like to draw on some philosophers who have asked similar questions, Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Husserl is known as the founder of phenomenology, the movement which led to Continental Philosophy, as distinct from the Anglo-American tradition of analytical philosophy. Explaining the difference between continental and Anglo philosophy is quite difficult, but I think a key issue, especially in Heidegger, is that continental thought is more about developing a universal logical system, whereas Anglo approaches are more skeptical and empirical about the possibility and value of such high ideas.

Heidegger used the moods of anxiety and concern as phenomena which he said disclose our being in the world, and which he thought reveal that the meaning of being is care, a proposition which he makes the basis of a universal existential system. The existential theory of care is a moral axiom which is quite hard to work through. It has been influential as the foundation of systematic existential logic, especially with the idea that existence is fundamentally relational.

My interest is to apply the same phenomenological method that Heidegger used to analyse anxiety to look at the phenomena of faith, love and grace, looking at how they exist and how they relate to a possible systematic existential logic. Faith therefore should be analysed as a phenomenon, not dismissed with the fallacious argument that some forms of faith are defective and therefore all are.
Interbane wrote:
The consensus of morality comes from an aggregation of these feelings across society. We tease the feelings apart and figure out where someone is liable or not, and how much harm they've done. In many court cases, it can be called a "fact" that a mother feels harm for the death of her child. And that's the foundation for moral action in many cases.
I don’t see a problem with regarding such a claimed feeling by a mother as factual. Many would see the absence of such emotion as reflecting a disturbing lack of normal maternal empathy. But I think your aggregation hypothesis is just wrong. Superior morality is based on enlightened analysis of consequences.

Going back to my previous example of jails, it is clear that aggregated community feelings will often differ from policies based on analysis of evidence. If we wish to approach the ideal of basing our values on facts, deriving our views about what ought to be from what we actually observe, then dispassionate research into consequences will produce a higher morality, with greater benefit, than mere aggregation of opinion. That is not at all to downplay the difficulty of basing values on facts, since incentives around punishment and rehabilitation are notoriously complex. But it helps show that evidence-based policy should be a moral ideal.
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
We might say because the preferred future will maximize happiness or wealth or peace or some other value that we hold dear. But in all these cases what our values hold in common is that they rest upon conceptual moral principles and beliefs.

However, these conceptual moral principles and beliefs in turn rest upon our emotions and desires. We wish for a future where our children can experience the most happiness with the least harm. This desire is tempered by understanding that there must exist some form of broader altruism, in the style of game theory. Otherwise happiness for our children is at odds with other children's happiness, and that's not sustainable.
So, if desire is the foundation of principle, how then do we tell if our emotions and desires are good or bad? The grounding in desire is far too arbitrary.

If we look at the evolutionary implications of the example you give of the basis of altruism in game theory, there is a strong argument that it leads directly to group selection. If our desires are good for the group they are good, and vice versa, if our desires harm the group they are bad. The desire for happiness that you cite as fundamental is actually only a support to the foundation of morality. The foundation itself arises within our vision of a good society.

We can all see that happiness for the individual at the expense of unjust suffering of others is not moral. That in turn indicates that an ethical sense of the good of the group is hardwired in our genetic understanding. This broad moral sense emerges in the framework of faith, which is intimately connected to our moral intuition. Again, this point of the inherent group framework of morality is a theme that Junger explores in Tribe.
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
In assessing the relation between faith and reason, a purely scientific worldview can totally ignore all faith, in a pure factual worldview with no faith.
I'd say there's a need for faith in the consistency of sense datum, that what we're seeing is real. Beyond that I don't disagree with you. A purely scientific worldview isn't realistic. Anyone who claims they subscribe to one is using philosophy whether they realize it or not. They follow a sort of metaphysical naturalism.
This problem of the limits of a scientific worldview is a point that for me has been influenced by discussions on the philosophy of reality at the Cosmoquest Astronomy discussion forum, in a rather long and frustrating thread on arguments about reality. Evangelical scientists (pardon my mockery there) maintain that reality is totally mind-dependent, a construct of scientific models. I have raised in these discussions the idea that reduction of reality to models is not realistic. Where we agree is that only models produce testable knowledge, and any belief in a reality independent of our scientific models is purely a matter of faith, since by definition if we believe something we cannot test then we are relying on faith.

Once we claim to be able to step outside the method of testing, we rely only on faith. That gives rise to axioms such as the theme you mention of the consistency of sense datum, which again is a feature of the cosmos which appears to be a condition of our experience, but is not itself testable.
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
Our belief that causality is universal can only be a matter of faith in a proposition we consider to be a self-evident axiom.

You believe causality is universal? That beyond the edge of the known universe, causation works the same as it does here on Earth? That back before time began, causation worked as it does now? Your statements are good on the surface, but I think you're sticking with general statements to prove a point that isn't supported when you dig deeper.
Yes, I do in fact hold those beliefs about causality, based on induction from the observed consistency of the laws of physics. I consider it far more elegant and parsimonious to assume universal consistency than to entertain fanciful speculation about the laws of physics varying, when we have no evidence whatsoever to support such a view.

Strictly speaking we do not know anything we can’t test, but there is a reasonable question as to whether we think reality is more likely to be consistent or inconsistent. I go for consistency as a basic moral principle, which extrapolates from personal honesty through to a vision of ultimate reality. So in fact I see this as a faith issue, that the principle of consistency has a valuable social function in demonstrating the unethical consequences of inconsistency.

Simplifying the argument to one of rival faiths – consistency versus inconsistency - means that consistency is good while inconsistency is evil. My faith would be shattered by proof that reality is inconsistent, just as a creationist faith should be shattered by proof of evolution. I just think my faith in consistency is true, and provides moral religious support for a scientific world view.
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
The belief that such simple ideas are absolutely true is a matter of faith.

Sure. But why would anyone believe something is absolutely true? I don't think that's wise.

This gets back to our debate about social versus epistemic logic. There is no purely epistemic basis for absolute belief, given the uncertainties of scientific testing considered in isolation. However, pure epistemic logic, as Hume showed, leads to absurd and dangerous ideas such as doubt about existence, causality and moral reasoning. Therefore, in terms of social logic, it is important to simplify the abstract ideas of epistemology to validate efforts to reform society towards a better social consensus. Socially speaking, it is absurd to say we are confident but not certain that the sun will rise tomorrow. That principle of faith in the orderly predictability of reality is an important moral foundation, in my view.

This whole topic of confidence versus certainty is a bit like integration in calculus. Asymptotic logic enables us to add infinitely small units to get a finite unit, resolving Zeno’s paradox of the continuity of time. Continuity may seem logically impossible at first glance, except that integration works in practice to measure the area under a curve and support all engineering, including how an arrow moves from infinitesimal point to point in space and instant to instant in time.

Your doubt about the wisdom of absolute belief may seem logically coherent, like Zeno's argument that motion is impossible, but unfortunately, without absolute belief it is very difficult to engage in any real moral debate in society. A lack of confidence in a position results in a failure to persuade. The only things that actually move mountains in practice are either acts of God, through plate tectonics, or human faith, through ability to coordinate a group to achieve a shared goal based on mutual confidence, trust and loyalty.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:53 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 6922
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1028
Thanked: 1972 times in 1589 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Robert wrote:
I don’t see a problem with regarding such a claimed feeling by a mother as factual. Many would see the absence of such emotion as reflecting a disturbing lack of normal maternal empathy. But I think your aggregation hypothesis is just wrong. Superior morality is based on enlightened analysis of consequences.

Going back to my previous example of jails, it is clear that aggregated community feelings will often differ from policies based on analysis of evidence.


What I'm saying is that emotion is the engine, and reason is the steering wheel. I'm not saying we use emotion only. And we most certainly don't use the emotions of only a few as the engine. The engine requires all of us, as does the steering wheel.

Quote:
If you do absolutely feel that someone deserves to be punished, your emotional sentiment does have a faith quality, in the sense that you will not brook any suggestion you might be wrong. That mood of certainty is what I am trying to analyse here as a scientific phenomenon.


This is muddying the waters between emotion and reason. If you won't brook any suggestion you might be wrong, then you've latched onto a proposition. This proposition is steered by your reasoning, even if it's driven by your emotion. I don't advocate being certain about where you steer, no matter how strong your emotions.

Quote:
Yes, I do in fact hold those beliefs about causality, based on induction from the observed consistency of the laws of physics. I consider it far more elegant and parsimonious to assume universal consistency than to entertain fanciful speculation about the laws of physics varying, when we have no evidence whatsoever to support such a view.


I agree with all you've said here. What I don't agree with is that you apply faith to it. Why would you? Induction leads to a good amount of confidence in this belief. Why then would you go a step further and have faith, becoming certain? The wisest path by far is to maintain confidence, so that you close no doors. Because induction doesn't lead to certain conclusions, and being certain is foolish.

Quote:
Your doubt about the wisdom of absolute belief may seem logically coherent, like Zeno's argument that motion is impossible, but unfortunately, without absolute belief it is very difficult to engage in any real moral debate in society.


The vision this gives me is arguing against people who believe absolutely that abortion is evil. Or that gay people are evil. Or that slavery is condoned by the bible. Any real moral debate requires us to examine everything without holding onto sacred cows. Absolute belief is an impediment.

Quote:
However, pure epistemic logic, as Hume showed, leads to absurd and dangerous ideas such as doubt about existence, causality and moral reasoning.


Belief isn't sufficient? It must be absolute? I'm swayed by things I admit might be revised. The induction behind causation, the reasons behind morality. Regarding existence, I've already mentioned I think that's a failure of wording. Non-existence leads to a contradiction in terms. I believe with certainty in analytic things, the sums of numbers and mutual identity of many words and concepts.


_________________
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.” - Douglas Adams


Sun Jun 26, 2016 9:43 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5321
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1860
Thanked: 1798 times in 1366 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
LanDroid wrote:
Quote:
Robert wrote: The point he is making is a moral argument that is entirely compatible with the rational scientific analysis of natural selection by cumulative adaptation and descent by modification.

Interesting interpretation, but I'm with Interbane - that is a Yooge stretch...
Let me explain further. This argument that Christianity is compatible with evolutionary thinking is one of my core ideas. I am happy to explore and discuss in some detail reading the parable of the Last Judgement from Matthew 25 as a way to rehabilitate Christianity within a scientific framework.

My claim is that the Biblical ideas of salvation and damnation are primarily an earlier and less precise form of language for what we now call adaptive and maladaptive traits, as applied to human culture. Adaptive traits bring salvation, in the sense that those genes prove to be fecund durable and stable. Maladaptive traits bring damnation, in the sense that those genes fail and go extinct.

In this model, heaven and hell are metaphors for a perfectly good and a totally evil world. Heaven on earth is the state of pure grace, while hell on earth is the state of total corruption.

Although we have a tendency to see human culture as somehow transcending natural evolution, the reality of memetics is that everything within complex living systems evolves by the same principles of cumulative adaption. When a more efficient process emerges, it steadily replaces the less efficient.

Now the complex point regarding the last judgement is that Jesus is saying that salvation is all about performing works of mercy, while damnation is all about failure to perform works of mercy. That is a completely simple and literal reading of the parable of the sheep and goats.

But salvation and damnation are treated metaphorically, as the individual going to heaven or hell. These ideas are a popular simplification of a complex evolutionary idea. If we transpose these false concepts of heaven and hell onto the real science of the future of the world, the argument is that the world will improve if people are merciful, and steadily worsen if people are cruel and heartless.

In Biblical times, people could see from the example of the great empires that the non-meek were inheriting the earth. So for Jesus to assert the entirely counter-intuitive opposite line, that the meek will inherit the earth and the merciful are saved, looked foolish and ignorant from a worldly cynical point of view.

But if you study the argument carefully, the framework that Jesus asserts for when the meek will inherit the earth is explained in Matthew 24, where he says this will not happen until the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached to the whole inhabited earth. That is an astounding idea, which I think is well worth considering seriously. It points to a future when everyone on earth will be part of a connected community.

Again that is so counter-intuitive and futuristic as to appear ridiculous to common sense. So no wonder that Jesus says anyone advocating his arguments will get crucified. The idea is that the world is on a path to destruction, a maladaptive situation of dog eat dog, and to transform the world to a path to salvation requires a paradigm shift.
LanDroid wrote:
Quote:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world...."Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels....Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

It's very difficult to see how those events support your interpretation.
That is precisely what my comments above seek to explain. The vivid imagery is parabolic metaphor for a real vision that is purely natural and scientific. Your ellipsis covers over the criteria for salvation, which are whether you personally have fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, visited the sick and prisoners, welcomed strangers, clothed the naked and treated the least as first.

Contrary to church tradition of claiming that salvation is a function of belief, this central programmatic passage in the Bible explains that salvation is solely a function of action, with this list of seven works of mercy. What you do determines your adaptivity, in evolutionary language.

The key mutation required for human salvation is to achieve a graceful state of cooperation, although the complexity of this idea is underscored by the immediately preceding ideas of the parable of the talents, which have long been celebrated as a direct blessing for capitalist virtues of selfish accumulation.

It is also quite complicated to reconcile this statement of salvation by works with Paul's idea of salvation by grace through faith, complicated but possible, and even essential, but a big topic for future discussion.
LanDroid wrote:
Sorry for a sidetrack, but this also brings up modern Christian requirements for salvation. Contrary to what the bible says, Christians insist the 7 good behaviors listed in Matthew 25 will NOT earn salvation; a personal relationship with Christ is required where one begs for, and receives, forgiveness for sins. The whole bloody mess is riddled with contradictions.
It is not a sidetrack, it is central to the problem of the antinomies of faith and reason. So the contradiction is between what the Bible plainly says about Jesus Christ at the second coming with his seven works of mercy, and Christians who prefer to ignore this central idea in the Bible.

It is a no-brainer. It is totally depraved to support the corrupt Christendom orthodoxy of saying you will go to heaven after you die if you believe all the dogmatic literal hocus pocus of the church.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:36 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5321
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1860
Thanked: 1798 times in 1366 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
LanDroid wrote:
Quote:
Robert:
If your faith has a good purchase on reality, such as a belief that the universe exists and can be understood by use of reason and evidence, then applying reason to this faith stance can produce all scientific knowledge.

Quote:
mighty13: I completely agree, the faith is something we all have, we have faith in the new day or faith in the people that surround us, faith is not necessarily believing in an all-mighty power.

We're drifting into loose definitions of faith. If we get back to info johnson1010 quoted earlier, much of this clears up.
I will continue to try to work my way through the comments on this thread. I don’t at all agree that the above definitions of faith are loose. Faith is any untestable firm belief. As analysis of the comments below demonstrates, the loose definitions are found more among the atheist opponents of faith who wish to confuse the issue with straw man arguments.
LanDroid wrote:
Quote:
johnson1010:
Faith is an expectation without evidence, against the evidence and regardless of the evidence.
That is an outrageously false definition, a pure straw man, designed solely to invent a false meaning of faith that is very easy to shoot down.

While there is a grain of truth in this definition, as a description of the most bog stupid and ignorant creationist morons, it does not apply to anybody with half a brain. You cannot just say that all people of faith are indifferent to evidence. People are concerned about evidence. They want their faith to be backed up by facts. They are concerned when their claims about truth are proved to be false.

That is why the Bible contains lines such as Luke’s assertion at the beginning of his gospel “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses.” Now I personally believe that Luke was blatantly lying in this claim that the gospel was fact delivered by eyewitnesses. But my point here is that Luke included this comment precisely because of the importance of justifying faith by evidence, even if the evidence was invented.
Quote:
That means no new information will change your faithful belief. If you ever stop believing in an article of faith then it’s because you have LOST faith in that thing… and possibly gained confidence in something else.
Again I am sorry to say that this is a simplistic and quite imprecise misunderstanding. Information changes faith all the time. Faith can be shattered. People often have faith that a person will be loyal to them, and lose or change that faith when information comes to hand to indicate the person has betrayed them. It routinely happens that people are brainwashed as children into a lala faith about magic Jesus, and when they grow up they find out the fairy stories are untrue and they lose or change their faith.

So this distinction between changing a faithful belief and losing faith does not at all do the work that Johnson claims for it. A person can start off with a faith in the physical resurrection of Jesus, and then shift to a metaphorical faith in the resurrection as a symbol for the triumph of life over death. That is a good example of new information changing a faithful belief.
Quote:
Confidence is an expectation built on the preponderance of evidence in support of it. Confidence is flexible. It can increase or decrease depending on the quality of the data. Data which builds a predictive pattern that will either fail or succeed to correlate with the events of reality demonstrating the objective accuracy of that expectation. And as the true mark of justified belief this correlation determines the amount of confidence you should have in your belief.
Yes, that is an excellent description of scientific method. Ideally it would be great if scientific confidence could be our sole criterion for assent to all propositions. The trouble though is that on too many questions we lack good enough data, and for the sake of community cohesion we need to pretend to have confidence in something where information is not adequate.

Leaving aside religion, since it is so infected by beliefs that are clearly false, we really need to look at faith in propositions that are ambiguous in order to explore why people hold faith even though facts do not support it.

Perhaps the best example is politics. People have faith in their personal values, and they support politicians with similar values. Facts can be quite secondary to values, as we see in the Trump phenomenon.

Similarly with Brexit, people who voted to leave the EU have faith in a value set around British identity, and no amount of evidence of claimed economic harm really engages with that value set. This theme of the relation between values and facts is something this thread has already discussed, and I raise it again here because confidence in values and confidence in facts are epistemically very different, but can be easy to confuse.
Quote:
The difference between confidence and faith is the entire purpose of the scientific method.

Yes, that is true, but the problem is that science is only about facts, whereas faith is primarily about values, with facts just having a secondary support role. Scientifically minded people cannot stand this values perspective, so wrongly think that scientific method can undermine faith, whereas the real issue is getting people of faith to change their value set to make evidence and logic more important to them. The problem with that is that the use of reason by the political left makes many religious people deeply hostile to evidence based arguments that aim to change their values. No amount of 'confidence' that a wedding ceremony is objectively pointless will address the value set around the value of marriage.
LanDroid wrote:
As mighty13 suggests, people have told me "You believe the sun will rise tomorrow don't you? See?! You DO have faith!" Well let's look at that a minute. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. Multiply that by 365 then add (4.5 billion / 4) days to account for leap years and we have the sun coming up roughly 1,643,625,000,000 times in a row without interruption. With that much evidence, it is not an article of faith to sing "the sun will come up tomorrow!" :lol:
LanDroid, I see what you are saying here, but the point about David Hume’s original assertion that we do not know if the sun will rise tomorrow is that we can never test it until tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes. Science is about testing.

The statement that we are certain the sun will rise tomorrow is not scientific, precisely because of the arguments about confidence that Johnson has presented. All statements of certainty are faith statements, by analytical definition.

For this discussion we have to set aside the vague meanings of common sense, and look at the pure philosophical logic, where certainty and confidence have precise technical meanings. We are asymptotically but not absolutely certain that the sun will rise, so from the scientific point of view we do not have faith, only inductive confidence. But from the practical common sense attitude, of course we have absolute faith in the sun, because of the power of the inductive argument you mentioned.

This gets back to the distinction between social and epistemic logic which I discussed earlier with Interbane. Absolute faith that the sun will rise is necessary for practical social logic, but can be excluded by the high precise technical epistemology of pure scientific method.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:59 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5321
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1860
Thanked: 1798 times in 1366 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Interbane wrote:
Robert wrote:
And when that evolutionary heuristic is applied to the Bible, there is an immense amount that is completely compatible with theories of group selection.
Right, you're applying an interpretation to the bible. That doesn't mean group selection was JC's original intent. This didn't strike a nerve. It's just clearly untrue.
It is often the case that thinkers before Darwin had an intuitive understanding of evolutionary logic but had not put that into explicit terms. That is what I am arguing about the Christian idea of salvation, that it only has meaning by virtue of its implicit scientific content.
Interbane wrote:
You are the one overlaying the words with interpretive intent. The original intent was almost certainly different. More literal.
Your assertion is here that the original intent of the authors of the gospels involved literal belief in the magical predictions and miraculous stories they relate. That is precisely the point at issue in this thread about the relation between faith and reason. Asserting that they held irrational beliefs begs the question regarding whether these irrational beliefs were held literally or were rather ways to conceal underlying rational beliefs.

My view is that the long history of church dogma – what Yeats called ‘twenty centuries of stony sleep’ – has served to conceal from sight the fact that the origins of the Gospel were actually far more rational and coherent and evolutionary in their intent than they now appear. It is entirely possible to read the Jesus story as a dumbed-down popular version of a high enlightened wisdom whose details have been lost. The story of how the church rewrote its own origins is still yet to be properly unraveled, but is possibly the biggest question in human history.

The authors of the Gospels had motive, method and opportunity to present the story the way they did. Their aim was to provide a simplified popular version of a complex secret mystery story. The Gospels function at two levels, secret and public. The public story became so wildly popular that the secret story was banned and suppressed, and like the mop in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the dogma broke loose of the control of its creators.
Interbane wrote:
we apply reason to emotion, rather than apply reason to faith.
And my question is what is the difference? When we feel a crazy emotion, our moral reason overrides it to ensure that we do not act on it. Similarly, we may imagine a crazy faith idea, say that a guy walks on water to prove he is God. We then try to understand the meaning of this story, and we find that it has all sorts of interesting symbolic readings.

But just pointing out that a miracle story is literally false fails to engage with the meaning and purpose of the story. Faith has to seek understanding, as the famous theologian Anselm said more than a thousand years ago.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ansel ... rAnsThePro explains that “Faith for Anselm is more a volitional state than an epistemic state: it is love for God and a drive to act as God wills,” – love seeks knowledge. The application of reason to faith/volition is therefore very similar to the application of reason to emotion, starting with something raw and wild, and directing it in an orderly intentional way to achieve a good purpose.
Interbane wrote:

Quote:
That argument only applies if your faith is misplaced. If your faith has a good purchase on reality, such as a belief that the universe exists and can be understood by use of reason and evidence, then applying reason to this faith stance can produce all scientific knowledge.
Do we really need faith to believe the universe exists?
Yes we do, if we accept the strict scientific argument that untestable propositions cannot be the object of knowledge. Anything that cannot be tested must either be assumed or excluded or treated as an unproven hypothesis.

We cannot test whether the universe exists, because it is a fundamental assumption enabling all testing. We therefore must assume it is true. The attitude that an assumption is certainly true is a definition of faith.
Interbane wrote:

The proposition that the universe exists falls into the naive comprehension principle.
Yes, but the problem for philosophy is to investigate the basis of naïve comprehension. All claims that a statement is self-evident are by definition faith statements.
Interbane wrote:

Which means, there's a problem where the wording is insufficient to what we're talking about. Somewhere between the wording we use and reality, our language fails.
No, the issue here is that modern atheists find faith emotionally repugnant because of its irrational popular manifestations, and so refuse to analyse the phenomenon of faith rationally because of their assumptions about how to achieve the political goal of shifting social values from religion to science.
Interbane wrote:

I think that perhaps you lean on the idea that we need faith to believe the universe exists because you refuse to examine the problem using more modern understanding.
What you call understanding is more accurately termed modern prejudice. Logic is timeless. When logic is valid there is nothing modern or otherwise about it.
Interbane wrote:

You think we must have certainty to have knowledge, and certainty in something like the existence of the universe can't be had without bridging the gap with faith. But as johnson and Landroid pointed out, it's no longer faith in that case but confidence.
There is a paradox regarding the idea that knowledge is about confidence. This paradox is that it is a contradiction to say you know something is true but you are not sure if it is true. Being sure and knowing are the same as being certain. Try telling your boss at work that you know something is true but you are not certain or sure of it. They will think you are crazy.

I am certain that New York is in the USA. I am certain that if you cut a normal apple at its equator you can see a five point star of seeds in each half. Knowing has an absolute binary quality, you either know something or you don’t.

If you don’t know, you can say you believe something is true, or you are confident it is true, but if you say you know, then you admit of no doubt. In science we can caveat our knowledge by saying things like we know the current understanding is X, giving room to provisionality. But that can get taken to absurd lengths with false idealist arguments that reality is dependent on the mind. We should restrict claims of knowledge to things that are absolutely certain. If we have a chink of doubt, we do not know.
Interbane wrote:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/existence/ And a clear and easier to understand answer by Ricardo Bevilaqua at Quora is this: [i]"To employ the word "nothing" as a noun is a mistake.
No, that is not true. We can state that apart from everything there is nothing. That uses nothing as a noun.
Interbane wrote:

If it were admissible to introduce "nothing" as a name or description of an entity, the existence of this entity would be denied in its very definition.
That is a statement of the obvious. The problem is that it is simply not admissible to regard nothing as an entity. Of course by definition all entities are something. There are many nouns, such as Beauty, which are not entities. The concept of Nothing can function as an abstract logical idea, but that does not turn nothing into something, which would be a pure direct logical contradiction.
Interbane wrote:
What we need for understanding is not faith. It's analysis, discussion, progress of philosophy, progress of science.
That is true as far as the academic intellectual world is concerned. But there is a broader agenda regarding the relation between faith and reason, namely that it is a good thing to make faith more rational, to engage with people who believe impossible things and help them to shift to a possible understanding.

That does not at all mean the need to abandon their faith, but rather to accept that things they used to think were literal are in fact metaphorical. Parables are all about the meaning of metaphors.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:11 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Will Work for Books!


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 588
Thanks: 406
Thanked: 257 times in 211 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Faith and Reason
LanDroid wrote:
We're drifting into loose definitions of faith. If we get back to info johnson1010 quoted earlier, much of this clears up.
Quote:
johnson1010:
Faith is an expectation without evidence, against the evidence and regardless of the evidence. That means no new information will change your faithful belief. If you ever stop believing in an article of faith then it’s because you have LOST faith in that thing… and possibly gained confidence in something else.

Confidence is an expectation built on the preponderance of evidence in support of it. Confidence is flexible.

The difference between confidence and faith is the entire purpose of the scientific method.


Jumping in, here, I would like to interject a rather different perspective. Both semantically and practically, I don't think there is a difference in type between the cognitive content of "faith" and that of "confidence". Faith can indeed be flexible, though it tends to change by non-rational processes.

The main difference should not be thought of as "faith" being about supernatural things. In the original context, there was no careful distinction between natural and supernatural that we could recognize today. Earthquakes were pretty much supernatural, and even storms might be. The story of Daniel in the lion's den relies on the "supernatural" event that hungry lions did not eat him, but (if such an event actually occurred) it could have been that there was a natural gas leak and the lions were sick to their stomachs. This is not to "explain away" anything, but to point out that the original continuum of natural and supernatural is not very helpful to us, since it relied mainly on the difference between "understood" and "not understood."

At the time of the NT writing, opposition to the Romans was putting itself in the context created around the struggle of the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) against the Seleucids. Miraculous stories that grew up around the struggle of the Maccabees were being used to argue that God had delivered the Jews from the stronger Hellenic Seleucids (in much the same way that the settler movement on the West Bank came to claim that Israeli victories in 1967 showed that God wanted Israel to take possession of the West Bank).

Jesus seems to have confronted this with a supernaturalist perspective putting forward very different goals and mechanisms. Drawing on selected (but transcendently elevated) passages from the prophets, Jesus or his followers believed in a peaceful Messiah who would, essentially, win over hearts and minds. He (or his followers) seems to have also believed this would be followed by some sort of end-of-times revelation of the Glory of God, possibly involving an imposition of the rule of God over earthly kingdoms, but its essence turned out to be the spiritual version.

Understandings of faith in a Western religious context should be placed firmly within this context. The element of faith which distinguishes it from confidence is volitional commitment. The difference, for example, between "faith" in democracy and "confidence" in democracy should be seen as commitment to democracy. If you have faith in it you invest yourself in the process. If you merely have confidence in it you place bets, but no personal support is implied.

The alternative version, identifying "confidence" with the flexibility of response to evidence but "faith" with the absolute truth claims of revelation about supernatural mechanisms, is the fundamentalist fallacy. It identifies volitional commitment to traditional values with revealed supernatural structures, which is a cultural linkage and by its construction cannot be very flexible. But it doesn't take much enlightenment at all to see that the commitment and the beliefs do not need to be linked - in the worst case they create a pitiful effort to forebear from evil to avoid getting roasted in Hell for eternity.

Of course one can use words in a fundamentalist framework if one chooses, but diplomats have long recognized that using words in a way chosen by others will often concede important principles.

My argument is that there is very real content to "existentialist" faith, in which one chooses to make a commitment to a principle based on a combination of values one "believes in" and perceptions that inform one's reasons for believing in those values. It needn't be inflexible, it needn't be identified in any way with revelations about the supernatural, but its difference from "confidence" comes as a difference between passive interpretation and active engagement.

In economics we talk about the difference between "portfolio investment" (holding the stocks and bonds of a company) and "direct investment" (taking an active role in determining company policy, for the purpose of making it successful) and it is a very similar distinction. (Banks were forbidden to be involved in direct investment as a limit on indirect trusts, for example).



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:35 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Will Work for Books!


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 588
Thanks: 406
Thanked: 257 times in 211 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Robert Tulip wrote:
Interbane wrote:
These emotions are very real, even if they're subjective. I don't take it on faith that extreme emotional pain caused to me by someone else should be met with punishment for that person. It's how I feel.

The foundation of conceptual mores is not that clear. If you do absolutely feel that someone deserves to be punished, your emotional sentiment does have a faith quality, in the sense that you will not brook any suggestion you might be wrong.

Small correction offered (my previous post explains): I would suggest that its faith quality is more fundamentally in that I care about the justice of punishment, than in any inflexibility about it.

Suppose someone gives me a thorough presentation, with demonstration, that restorative justice works - that a criminal can be reformed through reconciliation and reintegration with a community. At that point my original faith in retribution as justice may be modified (the person deserves punishment but it may be more effective not to give them what they deserve) or replaced (punishment is no longer seen as deserved).
Robert Tulip wrote:
That mood of certainty is what I am trying to analyse here as a scientific phenomenon. The feeling of moral certainty, as distinct from the logic of scientific confidence, does have a strong similarity to religious faith.
What you call “conceptual mores” means accepted social standards for thinking. A book that discusses this topic, Axiology – The Science of Values by Archie Baum, says “Conceptual mores have a social reality. They exist as commonly accepted beliefs, and children or other inductees into a society learn that they already exist.”

Conceptual mores can enable us to assess the value of different axioms. This consideration is ideally a product of logical reasoning based on observation, although in practice such reasoning is unlike the mores which arise solely from moral emotion.

There is an interesting interaction between "top down" reasoning, which attempts to impose order on conceptual mores by insisting on consistency between different principles, and "bottom up" gut feelings (Haidt's "elephant" of heuristic and pre-rational moral judgements).

I would argue that the evolution of universal moral principles, derived from the meaning of "right" and "wrong" rather than from the practical process of discovering what creates group cohesion, was entirely top down. There ought to be testable hypotheses involved in such a proposition.

We know enough about neurology to know that modification of moral principles in the mind is not all that different from modification of practical principles. Logic has a voice in both, but if we cannot square two principles that we "know" are both true, logic may have to take a back seat.

Your discussion of Zeno's paradox brings this to the fore - even though we cannot see how the infinitesimal works, so there seems to be a paradox, we just go on functioning and let logic wait til it has something useful to say. Then maybe along comes calculus to use limits as a way of doing the analysis carefully, and we are okay with admitting logic to the discussion again.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Heidegger used the moods of anxiety and concern as phenomena which he said disclose our being in the world, and which he thought reveal that the meaning of being is care, a proposition which he makes the basis of a universal existential system. The existential theory of care is a moral axiom which is quite hard to work through. It has been influential as the foundation of systematic existential logic, especially with the idea that existence is fundamentally relational.

My interest is to apply the same phenomenological method that Heidegger used to analyse anxiety to look at the phenomena of faith, love and grace, looking at how they exist and how they relate to a possible systematic existential logic. Faith therefore should be analysed as a phenomenon, not dismissed with the fallacious argument that some forms of faith are defective and therefore all are.

I am interested in this project. You might say I "care" about it.

Robert Tulip wrote:
I don’t see a problem with regarding such a claimed feeling by a mother as factual. Many would see the absence of such emotion as reflecting a disturbing lack of normal maternal empathy. But I think your aggregation hypothesis is just wrong. Superior morality is based on enlightened analysis of consequences.


Aside from whether you have correctly read Interbane as proposing an "aggregation" hypothesis, of which I am not sure, I think you are right on this proposition. This "enlightened analysis" is what advantage we humans have in working out the implications of moral principles. And the analysis will influence the process of passing on moral principles, but only as the "top down" part of the process. As a result, talking of superior morality being "based on" such analysis may be misleading.
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
We might say because the preferred future will maximize happiness or wealth or peace or some other value that we hold dear. But in all these cases what our values hold in common is that they rest upon conceptual moral principles and beliefs.

However, these conceptual moral principles and beliefs in turn rest upon our emotions and desires. We wish for a future where our children can experience the most happiness with the least harm. This desire is tempered by understanding that there must exist some form of broader altruism, in the style of game theory. Otherwise happiness for our children is at odds with other children's happiness, and that's not sustainable.

Robert Tulip wrote:
So, if desire is the foundation of principle, how then do we tell if our emotions and desires are good or bad? The grounding in desire is far too arbitrary.

Well, I am arguing that it is inevitable. Taking Interbane's view, essentially.
Robert Tulip wrote:
If we look at the evolutionary implications of the example you give of the basis of altruism in game theory, there is a strong argument that it leads directly to group selection. If our desires are good for the group they are good, and vice versa, if our desires harm the group they are bad. The desire for happiness that you cite as fundamental is actually only a support to the foundation of morality. The foundation itself arises within our vision of a good society.

I think the explosion at Hiroshima created a change in ordinary people's (i.e. not that of mystics) cognitive processing of "group" selection. A bred-in emotion, informing me that my welfare is linked directly to that of others, suddenly could be seen to apply to ALL others, not just my group defined by contrast with other groups.

We have not yet thoroughly taken that on board. The fate of Syrians is still not seen to be directly connected to my fate, meaning that immigration by Syrian refugees may continue to be seen as a greater threat than festering economic, political and social misery within the Middle East. Or, to be even more sophisticated about it, many people see solutions to Middle Eastern problems as "impossible" for us, but control over immigration to be "possible" and so the moral calculus is not seen as terribly relevant.
Robert Tulip wrote:
We can all see that happiness for the individual at the expense of unjust suffering of others is not moral. That in turn indicates that an ethical sense of the good of the group is hardwired in our genetic understanding. This broad moral sense emerges in the framework of faith, which is intimately connected to our moral intuition. Again, this point of the inherent group framework of morality is a theme that Junger explores in Tribe.

The current controversy over trade policy goes to the heart of this issue of group welfare and ethical choice. We knew, at the time of the NAFTA and WTO agreements, that the results would be benefits mostly for the educated classes in the U.S. and vast, dramatic uplift for the poor masses of Mexico, China, India and the world. (Approximately 40 percent of humanity has seen its income double as a result of the WTO and China's accession, and as a result the world has reduced dire, life-threatening poverty from 1/3 of humanity to 1/9). But in the process many of the manufacturing jobs which gave dignity to working people of the U.S. and Europe have passed from the scene, leaving communities, families and individuals devastated.

Should we have favored Americans first? The gut feeling of Trumpistas and many Berners was yes, we should have. The choice for more "universal" morality was mainly based on a very individualist calculation of benefit, which was not moral at all. There is no "rational" way to sort that dilemma out. But rationality can give us dramatically different perspectives which will lead, in turn, to creative approaches to mitigating the devastation and basing solidarity on some more durable practices.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Tue Jul 05, 2016 5:42 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5321
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1860
Thanked: 1798 times in 1366 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Hi Harry, great post, thank you, I think you express more clearly some of the points I was trying to make.
Harry Marks wrote:
I don't think there is a difference in type between the cognitive content of "faith" and that of "confidence". Faith can indeed be flexible, though it tends to change by non-rational processes.
This is complex material, shown by how you go on to explore the difference between confidence and faith while suggesting there is no difference “in type”. I am not sure what you mean by “in type”.
Harry Marks wrote:
The main difference should not be thought of as "faith" being about supernatural things. In the original context, there was no careful distinction between natural and supernatural that we could recognize today. Earthquakes were pretty much supernatural, and even storms might be. The story of Daniel in the lion's den relies on the "supernatural" event that hungry lions did not eat him, but (if such an event actually occurred) it could have been that there was a natural gas leak and the lions were sick to their stomachs. This is not to "explain away" anything, but to point out that the original continuum of natural and supernatural is not very helpful to us, since it relied mainly on the difference between "understood" and "not understood."
Yes, you are describing an important historical process of etymological evolution, how the meaning of words changes over time. We now often think of supernatural as referring to events that cannot in principle be caused by processes that are within the laws of physics. Your point is that the ancients may well have seen everything they could not explain as supernatural. That is an interesting difference to explore.

With your examples of storms and earthquakes, there was a sense in Greek religion that Zeus was the sky and Poseidon was the sea and Hades was the earth, so the natural anger of the sky and sea and earth seen in storms and earthquakes was attributed to intentional beings just as a way to describe events that people could not understand.
Harry Marks wrote:
At the time of the NT writing, opposition to the Romans was putting itself in the context created around the struggle of the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) against the Seleucids. Miraculous stories that grew up around the struggle of the Maccabees were being used to argue that God had delivered the Jews from the stronger Hellenic Seleucids (in much the same way that the settler movement on the West Bank came to claim that Israeli victories in 1967 showed that God wanted Israel to take possession of the West Bank). Jesus seems to have confronted this with a supernaturalist perspective putting forward very different goals and mechanisms. Drawing on selected (but transcendently elevated) passages from the prophets, Jesus or his followers believed in a peaceful Messiah who would, essentially, win over hearts and minds. He (or his followers) seems to have also believed this would be followed by some sort of end-of-times revelation of the Glory of God, possibly involving an imposition of the rule of God over earthly kingdoms, but its essence turned out to be the spiritual version.
How the Jesus story relates to the Maccabees is interesting and complex. The Maccabees were more than two centuries before the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD, comparable to seeing the Napoleonic Wars as a key influence today.

One of the main areas in which my interpretation of the Bible differs from many others is that I take seriously the claims to a very long time horizon. The theory that time is seven thousand years long coheres with the idea that the kingdom of God instituted by the second coming of Jesus Christ equates to the dawn of the Age of Aquarius. I see that as an entirely rational and scientific interpretation. It involves the Age of Pisces as a period of belief in which the Christ story is spread, followed by the winning of hearts and minds by Christ in the Age of Aquarius.

Clearly Jesus did not win hearts and minds in ancient Israel since the core of the story is that he was executed, and the stories about him involve extensive fiction.
Harry Marks wrote:
Understandings of faith in a Western religious context should be placed firmly within this context. The element of faith which distinguishes it from confidence is volitional commitment. The difference, for example, between "faith" in democracy and "confidence" in democracy should be seen as commitment to democracy. If you have faith in it you invest yourself in the process. If you merely have confidence in it you place bets, but no personal support is implied.
The context of the Maccabees that you describe is about an eschatological hope, a dream of global transformation. I agree that eschatology is the key to faith, since the possible vision of how the world can be turned from evil to good has to consider history in its very slow and real processes, and overcoming evil is often impossible in the short term.

This theme you mention of volition is one I mentioned above, citing the view that “Faith for Anselm is more a volitional state than an epistemic state: it is love for God and a drive to act as God wills,” – love seeks knowledge.

Your democracy example illustrates that faith is normative rather than descriptive, about values rather than facts, about will rather than observation, engaged and involved and immersed in an existential commitment to a vision of the good. Of course a faith vision can be shattered if it proves to be based on false premises, so the world of facts does always ultimately and eventually govern the world of values. But the reality of faith as will is that it provides the method whereby we construct our vision of a world of meaning and purpose and intent and direction.
Harry Marks wrote:
The alternative version, identifying "confidence" with the flexibility of response to evidence but "faith" with the absolute truth claims of revelation about supernatural mechanisms, is the fundamentalist fallacy. It identifies volitional commitment to traditional values with revealed supernatural structures, which is a cultural linkage and by its construction cannot be very flexible. But it doesn't take much enlightenment at all to see that the commitment and the beliefs do not need to be linked - in the worst case they create a pitiful effort to forebear from evil to avoid getting roasted in Hell for eternity.
Your argument about whether commitment and beliefs must be linked is precisely the point that DWill and I are debating in the discussion on Tribe. DWill contends that loss of belief must vitiate commitment. I can see his point as far as popular myth is concerned, since we generally see that when people stop believing in Jesus they stop going to church, as a simple example.

My own view is that we have to evolve globally past that ignorant literal tradition, so we can see the symbolic richness of our spiritual heritage without holding reverence hostage to ancient politics. It is entirely possible to revere the Easter Christ while seeing his story as a symbolic universal parable whose historical truth is not the decisive factor.

If we make signs and wonders the criterion of faith we are rejecting science, and that is stupid.
Harry Marks wrote:
Of course one can use words in a fundamentalist framework if one chooses, but diplomats have long recognized that using words in a way chosen by others will often concede important principles.
In religion, many words have strong subconscious personal associations, for example in Mark Twain’s definition of faith as believing what you know aint so. To rehabilitate faith against that caustic secular mockery is quite difficult, and can benefit from some careful phenomenology about our presuppositions. Twain’s bon mot turns the fundamentalist fervor back on its proponents, describing a serious sociological problem about the nature of popular religion but not actually engaging with the meaning of faith.
Harry Marks wrote:
My argument is that there is very real content to "existentialist" faith, in which one chooses to make a commitment to a principle based on a combination of values one "believes in" and perceptions that inform one's reasons for believing in those values. It needn't be inflexible, it needn't be identified in any way with revelations about the supernatural, but its difference from "confidence" comes as a difference between passive interpretation and active engagement.
I like this definition of existentialist faith as engaged commitment combining values and perceptions. The trouble I have had with the debate about confidence versus certainty is that both sides of that ledger are about perceptions, not values. If we focus our intent on what we most value, we adopt a faith stance that can move mountains, metaphorically and perhaps literally.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:46 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Will Work for Books!


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 588
Thanks: 406
Thanked: 257 times in 211 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: Faith and Reason
Robert Tulip wrote:
Hi Harry, great post, thank you, I think you express more clearly some of the points I was trying to make.
Your posts have helped me clarify my thinking a lot. I still don't really agree about religious symbolism mainly reflecting natural processes and forces (though some probably does) but your knowledge of philosophy has been a great help to me, and you effectively engage issues I'm very interested in.

I lost a previous response into the ether, so I may be briefer than my wont, here.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Harry Marks wrote:
I don't think there is a difference in type between the cognitive content of "faith" and that of "confidence". Faith can indeed be flexible, though it tends to change by non-rational processes.
This is complex material, shown by how you go on to explore the difference between confidence and faith while suggesting there is no difference “in type”. I am not sure what you mean by “in type”.

Sorry for thinking and writing simultaneously - the result can be a muddle. I meant to emphasize "cognitive". On that dimension of comparison, I think faith and confidence are very similar. Obviously I am using the term "faith" in a broad sense, as it would apply to spouse, institutions, or ideals ("I have faith in the dignity of labor") and deliberately avoiding "bad faith" in Sartre's sense, in which one chooses to believe something contrary to evidence as a way of avoiding responsibility.

The difference between faith and confidence, I argued further down, is in the volitional commitment that faith implies: a different dimension of meaning. The difference, then, is not in the type of cognitive processing, though there may be a difference in degree of evidentiary basis.
Robert Tulip wrote:
you are describing an important historical process of etymological evolution, how the meaning of words changes over time. We now often think of supernatural as referring to events that cannot in principle be caused by processes that are within the laws of physics. Your point is that the ancients may well have seen everything they could not explain as supernatural.

Particularly the dramatic events. Those might make sense to an ancient person as "signs" of the emotional state of gods. Note that the gods were not seen as very good at communicating. This, of course, played into the prestige of the priestly castes.

For that reason, I tend to see the priests and augurs more as successors of shamans, who could sometimes cure the disturbed or alienated by intuitive grasp of mysterious psychosocial forces, than as successors of early "scientists" such as herbalists or astrologers.

Robert Tulip wrote:
How the Jesus story relates to the Maccabees is interesting and complex. The Maccabees were more than two centuries before the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD, comparable to seeing the Napoleonic Wars as a key influence today.

Of course Napoleon argued that he had set in motion movements for freedom from foreign domination, national unity and overthrow of aristocracy around Europe. One might also compare to the "Tea Party" two centuries later.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The context of the Maccabees that you describe is about an eschatological hope, a dream of global transformation. I agree that eschatology is the key to faith, since the possible vision of how the world can be turned from evil to good has to consider history in its very slow and real processes, and overcoming evil is often impossible in the short term.

A fraught subject. I have heard that the eschatology of the Jews in the last few centuries before Jesus, prominently including the book of Daniel, was a reaction to despair about earthly things. Like the NT Book of Revelation, it seemed to feature destruction and revenge more than redemption and transformation. One way to see this is a reaction to the economic and military forces turning slavery into a system for amassing riches, so that the old realities of village life were being systematically overridden by cruelty and exploitation. The trend was not looking good, if you see the point.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Your democracy example illustrates that faith is normative rather than descriptive, about values rather than facts, about will rather than observation, engaged and involved and immersed in an existential commitment to a vision of the good. Of course a faith vision can be shattered if it proves to be based on false premises, so the world of facts does always ultimately and eventually govern the world of values. But the reality of faith as will is that it provides the method whereby we construct our vision of a world of meaning and purpose and intent and direction.

I have felt faith to be about values since I was a hippie "Jesus freak" as a youth, based on my experience. But it does involved "making sense of life" using the cognitive framework of faith. When my wide acquaintance with science and history made it extremely difficult for me to continue along with the fundamentalist framework (I was never a Creationist, but for a while thought ID and a literal Heaven and Hell might be true) I was very happy to find modernist theology which squared the values of religious life with a more realistic view of the Bible and rationalism.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Your argument about whether commitment and beliefs must be linked is precisely the point that DWill and I are debating in the discussion on Tribe. DWill contends that loss of belief must vitiate commitment. I can see his point as far as popular myth is concerned, since we generally see that when people stop believing in Jesus they stop going to church, as a simple example.

My own view is that we have to evolve globally past that ignorant literal tradition, so we can see the symbolic richness of our spiritual heritage without holding reverence hostage to ancient politics. It is entirely possible to revere the Easter Christ while seeing his story as a symbolic universal parable whose historical truth is not the decisive factor.

If we make signs and wonders the criterion of faith we are rejecting science, and that is stupid.

I wonder how much people stop going to church, when they lose their literalist faith, because they have trouble interacting with those who still have it, and how much it happens because they have not been introduced to the process of linking meaning with story in a mythological framework. My faith may have been saved as much by having studied Sophocles with Joseph Campbell in the background as by finding Tillich and Kierkegaard.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Twain’s bon mot turns the fundamentalist fervor back on its proponents, describing a serious sociological problem about the nature of popular religion but not actually engaging with the meaning of faith.
Very well put.



Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:14 am
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 132 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.Evaluations: 1, 5.00 on the average.  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 9  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 13 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:

BookTalk.org Newsletter 



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book

Featured Books

Books by New Authors


*

FACTS is a select group of active BookTalk.org members passionate about promoting Freethought, Atheism, Critical Thinking and Science.

Apply to join FACTS
See who else is in FACTS







BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!



Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2017. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank