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Is faith irrational? Is there a conflict between science and Christianity?
Topic Started: Feb 8 2018, 04:22 AM (443 Views)
Stef
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To recap. Below is an exchange Skeptic1 and myself had in another thread a few days ago.

Skeptic1
Stef, I know many scientists who are theists. I ask a few how they were able to have faith and be scientific.
The answer each had was the same. they compartmentalize their thinking. Obviously they can't use faith doing science in the lab. That was really rather easy for them because everybody must do that to survive.
The harder part was turning off the rational thinking with objective evidence when considering religious/spiritual issues. I could never understand how they can do that and not feel like they were deceiving themselves. They could go from a science seminar, where they criticized a presentation for the lack of evidence on one point, to a church service where no evidence is ever presented and never complain.
It's still a mystery to me.
Stef, it's good to be back chatting with you and the guys.

Stef
Hi Skeptic1.
I hear you.
The journey to belief, conviction, faith is a very personal one and it varies from individual to individual.
I would venture to suggest, however, that, perhaps, those people you were talking to were not just “compartmentalizing” their brain like pulling a switch on-off, rather, perhaps, had discovered at some point that science has a scope and offer answers for many questions but not all and religion has a scope and offers answers for some other type of questions.
I am speculating of course as I do not know these people, but speaking from experience I venture to say that it is very likely they saw no contradiction between one part and the other. I have not found any.
Is there a conflict between science and Christianity? Is faith irrational?
I believe these topics to be important but I think that they rest outside the scope of this thread.
I’m going to open a new one to discuss them, not to try to convince you of anything [ as if I could ;-) ] but to offer what I think/believe and have experienced.
We have covered some of this ground in the past but we can revisit it. :)
As you well know, I’m an engineer (ex) not a scientist nor a philosopher, so you’ll have to bear with me if I’ll draw content also from a variety of sources.
I am off for a couple of days but I should have the thread open by Monday. See you there.
Have a great weekend.

So here we are Skeptic1. It’s not Monday, because my trip was longer than expected plus I worked on my input for longer than I had originally intended. I wanted to be as “comprehensive” as this media allows. I’ve no idea whether it will help you to see where your friends/colleagues may be coming from but I felt I owed you nothing less.

The topics are very, very broad and deep. Discussions on these subjects go back many centuries and are covered by quite a few disciplines. History, philosophy, theology to mention the more obvious ones. There are whole libraries dedicated to these topics/discussions. I will try to put across a summary of why I believe the scientists you spoke with have no problems with being scientists and believing in God.
Clearly I cannot speak for them, but I offer this input as a possible consideration.
The two topics, Is there a conflict between science and Christianity? Is faith irrational? are interrelated in a number of ways but I’ll separate them in two posts and I’ll start with the Is faith irrational? one. I promise I’ll leave a time gap between the two!

Stef
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. – Aesop
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Stef
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Is faith irrational?
Throughout history, to this day, many scientists have been/are Christians. I submit that there might be some merit in wondering/exploring why they see no conflict between faith, reason, science.

A good place to start may be reviewing what is faith.
I find that this link (chosen from a non religious source on purpose) Faith covers the topic quite simply yet in fairly good detail.
Some quotes from it.

“Faith is confidence or trust in a particular system of religious belief, in which faith may equate to confidence based on some perceived degree of warrant.”

“The English word faith is thought to date from 1200–1250, from the Middle English feith, via Anglo-French fed, Old French feid, feit from Latin fidem, accusative of fidēs (trust), akin to fīdere (to trust).”

From the Christian section of the link:
“The word translated as "faith" in the New Testament is the Greek word πίστις which can also be translated "belief", "faithfulness", and "trust".”
And
“In contrast to noted atheist Richard Dawkins' view of faith as "blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence", Alister McGrath quotes the Oxford Anglican theologian W. H. Griffith-Thomas (1861–1924), who states that faith is "not blind, but intelligent" and that it "commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence...", which McGrath sees as "a good and reliable definition, synthesizing the core elements of the characteristic Christian understanding of faith".”

If you go down to the end of the link and read the ‘Criticism’ section, the atheist interpretation is that faith can exist only if one precludes reason. This, I think, is in line with what you believe too.

I have no issue with anyone’s sincere belief, but I would ask you to consider the following:
trust is nearly always the first step in the faith’s journey; trust is very rarely an automatic reaction, rather it needs to be earned on the basis of some evidence, evidence which might have varied for different individuals but to be strong enough to have merited the trust of the scientists you were talking with.

If one wants to delve into the Christian faith/reason discourse, I would recommend “Reason Informed By Faith” by Richard M. Gula. It is a well respected, analytical and critical analysis which reflects quite well modern Christian/Catholic theological thought about this topic.

For the purpose and scope of this thread though, I’ll refer to Nicky Gumbel an ex barrister, ex atheist, now a well known (in the UK) Anglican priest, who in his booklet “Searching Issues” (revised edition, 2013) covers a few topics, faith being one of them.
He has the gift of presenting the essence of very complex subjects in words that most people can follow. That includes me.

(All verbatim quotes are in inverted commas.)

From the Preface:
“In this book, I want to look at those issues which are usually seen as objections to Christian faith. They are all ‘searching issues’ both in the sense that they are asked by those searching for the truth and in the sense that they are demanding and difficult to answer.
Today, some would suggest that ‘faith’ is irrational by definition. Despite its vital importance in many people’s lives it is seen to be without evidence and remain immune to criticism. In the last chapter, ‘Is Faith Irrational?’, I address this underlying question directly, and I suggest that there are good reasons to believe, and that being a Christian is no blind or irrational leap.
Nevertheless, to claim that Christian faith is not irrational is not the same as saying that everything in the Christian faith can be completely and easily understood. We live in a world full of mysteries, and in that respect Christianity is no different. This book seeks to deal frankly with important questions and challenges, to respond to some of the great searching issues of Christianity.
Faith is part of life, and this book seeks to be true to that life. Another aspect of being true to life is to acknowledge that a convincing and viable answer to some of the biggest questions in the universe will never be just about the head. Life is also about the heart. Answers to questions should not just be logically adequate: they should change our lives.”

The booklet, 130 B6 pages, covers seven topics which often come up in discussions with people who are curious about Christianity.
Chapter 1 – Why does God allow suffering?
Chapter 2 – What about other religions?
Chapter 3 – Is there conflict between science and Christianity?
Chapter 4 – What about the new spirituality?
Chapter 5 – Does religion do more harm than good?
Chapter 6 – Is the Trinity unbiblical, unbelievable and irrelevant?
Chapter 7 – Is faith irrational?

Each chapter is relatively short but with many references to further reading if one so wishes.

Ok, I’ll now move on to Chapter 7, the subject of this post. About time, you’ll say, but I wanted to show that there are plenty of Christians who do query, discuss and ponder all kind of issues related to their faith.

This chapter considers the question of whether it is irrational by considering first some preliminary points about faith itself, then moves on to points about the evidence.

Preliminary points: (quoting in inverted commas).

“It takes faith to believe there is no God".

“Most philosophers and scientists agree that you cannot conclusively disprove the existence of God, because it is almost impossible to prove a ‘universal negative’.”
“In 2009, a coalition of British Atheists ran and advertising campaign with the slogan ‘There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’. The word ‘probably’ was included in the recognition of the fact that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of God. This, in itself, is a belief. Atheist believe there is no God.”
“Whether it is a question of God’s existence, our worldview, or how we live, there is always an element of ‘faith’, whatever we believe. Not believing in God typically means believing in something else.”

“Faith is an essential part of knowledge.”

“There is an element of belief or faith to every area of knowledge. Albert Einstein once said:
‘The mechanics of discovery are neither logical nor intellectual. It is a sudden illumination, almost a rupture. Later, to be sure, intelligence and analysis and experiment confirm (or invalidate) the intuition. But initially there is a great leap of imagination.’
“Legal decisions may also require a step of faith. I practiced as a barrister for a number of years and am very aware that when a jury brings a guilty verdict it is a step of faith. They do not know that the defendant is guilty, rather they must trust the witnesses and evidence given.”
“Indeed, human relationships themselves, which are universal, are based on a kind of faith.”
“Faith is an important part of many aspects of life.”

“Faith and reason can be complementary.”
“Faith involves belief and trust. Yet .... the Bible does not lead towards a faith devoid of reason. Alongside the centrality of the heart and will, the New Testament also emphasises reason and the life of the mind. Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37).” (underline mine).
“Faith is rational, but faith also goes beyond reason in the context of relationship”.
“Love, like faith, is far greater and more all-encompassing than reason alone. In that sense, faith in God is rational, but also greater than reason itself. Pope John II wrote:
‘Faith and reason .... each without the other is impoverished and enfeebled ... Deprived of reason, faith has stressed feeling and experience, and so runs the risk of no longer being a universal proposition. It is an illusion to think that faith, tied to weak reasoning, might be more penetrating; on the contrary, faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition. By the same token, reason which is unrelated to an adult faith is not prompted to turn its gaze to newness and radicality of being ...
... Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises in contemplation of the truth.’


"Faith is never forced.”
“The great French mathematical genius Blaise Pascal, who came to faith in Christ at the age of thirty-one, pointed out that God has provided enough evidence of himself to convince those who have open hearts and minds, but this evidence will never convince those who are closed to the idea of God:
‘Willing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart, God so regulates the knowledge of Himself that He has given indications of Himself which are visible to those who seek Him and not to those who do not seek Him. There is enough light for those who desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition.’
So the answer to the question, ‘How much evidence is there?’ is that there is not enough evidence to be coercive or to force belief, but there certainly is enough evidence to conclude that faith is by no means irrational.”

I (Stef) would add here that faith is like love. True love never coerces nor is it ever forced. True love also fully respects free will.

Gumbel then moves to points about evidence itself.

“Evidence of God the creator."
“The apostle Paul was clearly convinced of there being some sign or rumour of God in the creation itself. (Romans 1:20). What is the evidence for this assertion?”

-“Evidence from the fact that there is ‘something rather than nothing’.
“As we look at the world around us, it is natural to wonder why it is here, or where it came from.
Modern science has actually sharpened that question for us. ‘The existence of the Big Bang begs the question of what came before that, and who or what was responsible’. (Francis Collins) This view is often unpopular. As Stephen Hawking has written, ‘Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention’.”
“The question scientists attempt to answer is, ‘If the Big Bang is how the world started, what caused the Big Bang?’
Did it come from nothing? Or, is it possible to suggest it was caused by God? In the final paragraph of his book, God and the Astronomers, the astrophysicist Robert Jawstrow wrote:
‘At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to rise the curtain on the mystery of creation .... Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements and the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”

-“Evidence from the ‘fine tuning’ of the universe”
“Although their answers differ, scientists such as Stephen Hawking have at least shown that, ‘Even infinitesimally small differences in the original explosion that cosmologists see as the starting point of our universe would have resulted in a world where conscious life would not occur.’ (A brief History of Time From the Big Bang to Black Holes)”
“Professor Anthony Flew was one of the most influential rationalist atheist philosophers. But in 2004, he changed his mind. In his own words he ‘simply had to go where the evidence leads’ and recognise that ‘the case for God is much stronger than it was before.’
More about ‘fine tuning’ in the post relating to Science and Christianity. (Stef).

I’ll summarize the subsections below in my own words.

-“Evidence of the nature of human beings”
Whether Christians, agnostic or atheists, all human beings share an innate sense of right or wrong. This reality well transcends mere survival requirements. Christians call this sense of right/wrong ‘conscience’ which is instilled in each of us by God.
Other signatures of human nature are the longing that many have for something transcendent, or the drive for the arts in their many varied expressions.
Another significant signature of our nature is that, deep down, we know that material things alone do not satisfy or fulfil us. We are spiritual as well animal entities.

“Evidence of God the Liberator”.

-“Evidence of the life of Jesus”
No reputable scholar, today, would seriously query that there is evidence of Jesus’ existence. This comes not only from the Gospels and other Christian writings but also from non Christian sources.
The Roman historian Tacitus is one example. Does-tacitus-provide-independent-testimony-about-jesus

This article in The Guardian is also quite in context.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/14/what-is-the-historical-evidence-that-jesus-christ-lived-and-died

-“Evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus”
What is the evidence that the resurrection really happened? Gumbel points to four facts in the Gospels which need to be examined:
-Jesus’ burial
-The discovery of his empty tomb
-Eyewitness accounts of his post-mortem appearances
-The origin of the disciples belief in his resurrection.
Tom Wright, the world-renowned New Testament scholar, describes in his book The Resurrection of the Son of God, the explosion of Christianity that took place around the world. He says, ‘That is why as an historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.’

“Evidence of God the Transformer”
For many people the most impressive evidence for the existence of God is the reality of transformed lives and transformed communities.
This I can also testify as having experienced it and witnessed it at a personally.

Finally .....
-“Evidence of transformed understanding.”
Now quoting verbatim.
“Faith is certainly not irrational. In fact, its relationship with reason is an ongoing process. In Pope John Paul II’s book Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), following a chapter entitled ‘Credo ut Intelligam’ (I believe in order that I might understand) there is a chapter entitled ‘Intelligo ut Credo’ (I understand in order that I might believe). In other words, when you come to believe, you don’t stop exploring.
Today’s prevailing cultural attitude is to assume that Christians just stop thinking. This is simply not the case: when you become a Christian you become, if anything, more interested in everything. You start exploring God’s universe. Reason, in the context of relationship, is given permission to question, to investigate and to go on learning.
Two examples of how Christianity transforms our understanding of the world are the twin stories of creation and the fall. The doctrine of creation gives a context to the ubiquity of beauty – that there is something noble about every human being. The doctrine of the fall explains why nothing is ever quite perfect – both in the created world and also in the human heart.
This is the understanding that the Bible gives us in order to make sense of the world. Faith can make sense of religion, atheism, the human mind, the rational structure of the universe, justice and friendship. Most of all, faith makes sense of love.
Perhaps love is the most powerful transfiguration of human understanding. If this world has no God, if it just came about, how do we explain love?”


Stef
Edited by Stef, Feb 8 2018, 04:54 AM.
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. – Aesop
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Skeptic1

Stef, I will respond to your very long post when time permits. I'm going to suggest reducing things down to much shorter precise points. The reason is many misunderstanding can come about because we are not using precise definitions or equivocating terms back and forth or changing the category of what is meant. It will take some time to sort all of that out.

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Skeptic1

Okay Stef, I will start with definitions and categories. First let me say that, IMO, apologists confuse many issues in order to help the faithful continue to believe. That is why their points are so wordy.

1) Definition http://www.dictionary.com/browse/faith?s=t
Faith (noun)
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing
2.belief that is not based on proof

I do like scientists and realize proof is only possible in math and logic, so we use
Faith = belief without good evidence.

This is by definition irrational.

From your original post, Christians are using the definition (1), confidence or trust.

This presents problems.
a) Is the confidence or trust justified? How is that determined?
b)If the trust/confidence is about a book or person, how is that objective evidence a specific claim made by the person or book is true. This must be considered before we can discuss if this faith is rational. So the issue has been "kicked down the road" rather than addressed.
Example: "If Einstein says its true, then it must be true".

2) Categories
a) Science makes statements about objective reality. Objectively true statements are those supported by objective evidence. We use the following principle: "the only evidence for the nonexistence of a non-existing entity is the absence of evidence for its existence".

This is why we say, "There are no Unicorns", "There is no luminiferous aether", "There is no car coming down the street", "There is no God", "There is no Easter Bunny", etc, etc.
These are all objectively true statements because there is no objective evidence for these entities AT PRESENT.

b)Religion and philosophy, on the other hand, claim to make statements that are absolute truths about ultimate reality. However, they present no objective evidence to support their claims.


So Stef, we can make great progress here if in your next post you address how Christian's faith (confidence or trust) works by stating a) IN WHAT you have confidence or trust, b) how the confidence or trust is justified, and c) how this is evidence the CONTENT from this source is always true. Then we can discuss if this process is rational.
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seraphim
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Stef, this is a most valiant attempt and I applaud the effort - well done. However, from what I've seen of the conversation thus far, there is little appetite for letting go of the notion that "Faith = belief without good evidence." Try as you might to demonstrate otherwise, this is their credo and a key pillar of their argument and belief. Likewise, the credo of the believer is built on the pillar of Faith = belief based on good evidence." There is no middle ground here. There is no place between "no evidence - irrational" and "abundant evidence - rational." Furthermore, this argument is not new, it's age old and the same impasse persists. Reasonable people would have to agree that if ever there was an point to "agree to disagree" on, it is this one. The devolution into mockery and name calling is unflattering to all who participate and inevitably is the result of reason being cast aside, and failing to "agree to disagree."
Soli Deo gloria
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Realitycheck
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seraphim
Feb 8 2018, 10:32 AM
Stef, this is a most valiant attempt and I applaud the effort - well done. However, from what I've seen of the conversation thus far, there is little appetite for letting go of the notion that "Faith = belief without good evidence." Try as you might to demonstrate otherwise, this is their credo and a key pillar of their argument and belief. Likewise, the credo of the believer is built on the pillar of Faith = belief based on good evidence." There is no middle ground here. There is no place between "no evidence - irrational" and "abundant evidence - rational." Furthermore, this argument is not new, it's age old and the same impasse persists. Reasonable people would have to agree that if ever there was an point to "agree to disagree" on, it is this one. The devolution into mockery and name calling is unflattering to all who participate and inevitably is the result of reason being cast aside, and failing to "agree to disagree."
It matters not how many long-winded xian apologists you quote and defer to, faith/religion remain irrational.

You convince yourselves you have evidence to support your baseless beliefs.

Belief is not evidence.

Until you have evidence which will convince people who, either have never suffered the indoctrination of early forced instruction into religious mythology or who, have by dint of their own good intelligence and research have seen religion for the abject extension of pagan beliefs it is.

As I have pointed out to you and others many times. Jesus/Yeshua is a mythical person. A construct. Outside of the bible there is no reason to believe or have faith such a person ever existed.

Were such proof/evidence available I assure you the RCC would have long since trumpeted such proof long loud and far.

All I hear aside from the lies meant to re-inforce the other lies...is a profound silence.
Religion in general and xianity in particular, is the worst scourge, the foulest plague to ever beset mankind.
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Stef
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Slow down Skeptic1. :)

You are the one who said you could not figure out why so many scientists were also Christians, not me.
In good faith, I took some time in trying to put across where those scientists might be coming from and why they do so.
If it was too long for you I’m sorry but I did the best I know how in this media.

I’ve no idea how much of the material you actually read but, as I said, I am not trying to convince you of anything. I cannot offer more.

For me the process which led me to my beliefs started many years ago when I realized that we were more than just a particular combination of carbon cells etc.
I had no issue in accepting that my body might indeed have come ‘from the stars’ but that did not give me any answers as to why I could love, or Michelangelo or Beethoven and so on.

That’s when I started querying (and am still querying) and I have found answers which make complete sense to me. I’m a spiritual being as well as a physical one.
It then grew from there.

You might have found other answers. That’s fine by me.
Again, I offered what I could.

Take care, Stef
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. – Aesop
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seraphim
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Realitycheck
Feb 8 2018, 12:20 PM
seraphim
Feb 8 2018, 10:32 AM
Stef, this is a most valiant attempt and I applaud the effort - well done. However, from what I've seen of the conversation thus far, there is little appetite for letting go of the notion that "Faith = belief without good evidence." Try as you might to demonstrate otherwise, this is their credo and a key pillar of their argument and belief. Likewise, the credo of the believer is built on the pillar of Faith = belief based on good evidence." There is no middle ground here. There is no place between "no evidence - irrational" and "abundant evidence - rational." Furthermore, this argument is not new, it's age old and the same impasse persists. Reasonable people would have to agree that if ever there was an point to "agree to disagree" on, it is this one. The devolution into mockery and name calling is unflattering to all who participate and inevitably is the result of reason being cast aside, and failing to "agree to disagree."
It matters not how many long-winded xian apologists you quote and defer to, faith/religion remain irrational.

You convince yourselves you have evidence to support your baseless beliefs.

Belief is not evidence.

Until you have evidence which will convince people who, either have never suffered the indoctrination of early forced instruction into religious mythology or who, have by dint of their own good intelligence and research have seen religion for the abject extension of pagan beliefs it is.

As I have pointed out to you and others many times. Jesus/Yeshua is a mythical person. A construct. Outside of the bible there is no reason to believe or have faith such a person ever existed.

Were such proof/evidence available I assure you the RCC would have long since trumpeted such proof long loud and far.

All I hear aside from the lies meant to re-inforce the other lies...is a profound silence.
You simply do not possess the facilities to understand. I find that you have neither the intellect, the education,experience, or inclination to participate in an exchange of ideas and points of view. The ideas you proffer are parroted from rabid, radical atheist entertainers, and your vocabulary is borrowed from Wiki and dictionary.com, the sources of you supposed intellect and original thinking. Please. I have my doubts as to whether you have ever had, let alone communicated, an original thought of your own. Don't get me wrong, I ain't mad at cha', as I've seen such as you before. You're not bad, so to speak, you simply take comfort in defending other like minded ideas rather than expressing and defending your own. Here's an old saying for future consideration, it goes like this... "Better to have people think you a fool than to open your mouth and prove it true."
Soli Deo gloria
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Skeptic1

Stef, I'm disappointed that your last post didn't address the first part of your original post to which I replied, that is, the definition of faith and the question "Is Faith rational". I already explained elsewhere how some scientists deal with their faith. I never said they claimed it was rational, rather it is a personal, subjecting thing like their taste for wine. They compartmentalize their thinking and never use rational thinking based on objective evidence when dealimg with their faith.

I will now try to explain how the apologists misuse language or change categories in order to deceive believers.


1)“It takes faith to believe there is no God".
This is only true if you mistakenly think the claim "There is no God" to be an absolute statement about ultimate reality. This IS NOT what atheists claim. Just like the statement, "There are no Unicorns" is NOT a claim there are no unicorns anywhere in the universe. Rather the statement is about objective reality. Objective reality changes when objective evidence is discovered.

2)“Faith is an essential part of knowledge.”
Here they changed the definition of faith to "hypothesis" that needs to be tested with evidence or trial. Hypothesis IS a step in developing a theory, and therefore a step in attaining knowledge. But there is no need to believe the hypothesis in order to test it. This often occurs when testing the Null hypothesis.


3)“Faith and reason can be complementary.”
I admit I had a hard time following this part of discussion. It seems to be saying you have to "make out" something is true in order to reason about it. It also introduces a new term "adult faith" which wasn't defined.

4)"Faith is never forced.”
IMO, this is another misuse of terms. I would say, "Rational belief IS forced/compelled by the objective evidence". Faith, on the other hand, is required when there is no objective evidence to compel belief. Faith must be chosen. That is why there is one science and many contradictory Faiths.

You give an example of "true love". Like all internal, mental states in is a personal, subjective experience. I don't think the term "rational" applies to this.

I will reply to the "evidences" part in another post.
Edited by Skeptic1, Feb 8 2018, 02:37 PM.
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Skeptic1

Evidences is at the heart of what makes belief rational.

“Evidence of God the creator."
Here we see the misuse of the term evidence

1)“Evidence from the fact that there is ‘something rather than nothing’.
But NO EVIDENCE is ever presented. Instead many questions are asked that have not been answered. This is only useful if you wish to make Arguments from Ignorance and God of the Gap Arguments, which are logical fallacies. Belief based on fallacious arguments are irrational by definition.

2)“Evidence from the ‘fine tuning’ of the universe”
More questions are asked instead of evidence presented. People who changed their mind based on the fallacious arguments are mentioned. Again no evidence is presented.


3)“Evidence of the nature of human beings”
All I see are unsupported claims and fallacious arguments.
a) Primates demonstrate a moral code in their group. So it isn't just humans. If you accept science, all of this evolved because it enhanced survival of groups.
b You say,
"deep down, we know that material things alone do not satisfy or fulfil us". This is besides the point. What satisfies us doesn't determine objective reality.


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Stef
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Skeptic1
Feb 8 2018, 02:31 PM
They compartmentalize their thinking and never use rational thinking based on objective evidence when dealimg with their faith.
I must be missing something Skeptic1.
I already commented on this in my post in the other thread which I then repeated in the 'recap' at the beginning of this thread. Here's again:
"I would venture to suggest, however, that, perhaps, those people you were talking to were not just “compartmentalizing” their brain like pulling a switch on-off, rather, perhaps, had discovered at some point that science has a scope and offer answers for many questions but not all and religion has a scope and offers answers for some other type of questions.
I am speculating of course as I do not know these people, but speaking from experience I venture to say that it is very likely they saw no contradiction between one part and the other. I have not found any."


I then proceeded in my long post in this thread to try and put across possible reasons why they may not consider their reasoning for faith to be irrational and why, for them, it probably was not a matter of turning a switch on-off.
You clearly did not accept what I offered and I said no issue with me.
You are now disappointed.

My friend, with respect, it sounds to me like you have a problem, not them.
You don't agree with any of what these other people believe when they say they are Christians.
You maintain to be the rational one while all of these guys are not.
Ok, if that makes you happy, I have, again, no issue with it.

As I said, I have found my answers quite some time back.
I never insisted in any way that they should be yours too.

Take care,
Stef
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. – Aesop
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Skeptic1

Stef
Feb 8 2018, 06:50 PM
Skeptic1
Feb 8 2018, 02:31 PM
They compartmentalize their thinking and never use rational thinking based on objective evidence when dealimg with their faith.
I must be missing something Skeptic1.
I already commented on this in my post in the other thread which I then repeated in the 'recap' at the beginning of this thread. Here's again:
"I would venture to suggest, however, that, perhaps, those people you were talking to were not just “compartmentalizing” their brain like pulling a switch on-off, rather, perhaps, had discovered at some point that science has a scope and offer answers for many questions but not all and religion has a scope and offers answers for some other type of questions.
I am speculating of course as I do not know these people, but speaking from experience I venture to say that it is very likely they saw no contradiction between one part and the other. I have not found any."


I then proceeded in my long post in this thread to try and put across possible reasons why they may not consider their reasoning for faith to be irrational and why, for them, it probably was not a matter of turning a switch on-off.
You clearly did not accept what I offered and I said no issue with me.
You are now disappointed.

My friend, with respect, it sounds to me like you have a problem, not them.
You don't agree with any of what these other people believe when they say they are Christians.
You maintain to be the rational one while all of these guys are not.
Ok, if that makes you happy, I have, again, no issue with it.

As I said, I have found my answers quite some time back.
I never insisted in any way that they should be yours too.

Take care,
Stef
I understand what you are saying, Stef. You speculate, "they discovered at some point that science has a scope and offer answers for many questions but not all and religion has a scope and offers answers for some other type of questions."

That may be, but the issue is are they being rational when then do that. In answering your long post on this thread, I'm showing what would happen if scientists DID NOT compartmentalize their thinking, that is, if they applied rational thinking with objective evidence. They can't do what I did and still think they being rational to believe because no good evidence was ever presented.

You said,
" ...put across possible reasons why they may not consider their reasoning for faith to be irrational and why". Do you really think pointing out unanswered questions and "made up answers are good reasons from a scientists to believe? That is the opposite of how scientists function.



Of course, religions claim to answer questions that science can't. But does it really? Are the answers valid and rational or made up to make people feel good. Aren't those questions about internal, subjective feeling, happiness, etc, etc and NOT about objective reality. All of that would have to be discussed in another thread.

I still have to finish my analysis of your original long post. The question I'm addressing is "Can a scientists apply his methods of rational thinking to his religion, or does he have to compartmentalize his thinking so such analysis never produces the problems I'm pointing out?"
Edited by Skeptic1, Feb 8 2018, 09:13 PM.
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Skeptic1

“Evidence of God the Liberator”.
Perhaps this is where we should have started.

“Evidence of the life of Jesus”
I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "No reputable scholar, today, would seriously query that there is evidence of Jesus’ existence."
The character "Jesus" was determine at the First Council of Nicaea when the Canonical Books of the New Testament was chosen and other books omitted. The Council even voted of the divinity of Jesus, and the vote was NOT unanimous.

There are no contemporary documents providing evidence for Jesus. The gospels have unknown authors and some even admit they were not eyewitnesses to the events described. The earliest gospel is that of Mark written at least 30 to 40 years after the time of Jesus. The early copy ends with the empty tomb. Later copies added "post resurrection events". All of the gospels were written in Greek rather than Aramaic, the language spoken by the people in the New Testament. All of the gospels were written in cities far from where the events were suppose to occur. The life span of people back then wasn't much more than 45 years. So the situation is somewhat like a book being published in Tibet, 70 years from now, written in Chinese, that claims supernatural events occurred in your area today and witnessed by thousands of people. Will you be around to rebut those claims?

Tacitus was NOT a contemporary of Jesus. His work provides evidence for the existence of Christians in Roman and their beliefs.

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Skeptic1
Feb 8 2018, 09:51 PM
“Evidence of God the Liberator”.
Perhaps this is where we should have started.

“Evidence of the life of Jesus”
I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "No reputable scholar, today, would seriously query that there is evidence of Jesus’ existence."
The character "Jesus" was determine at the First Council of Nicaea when the Canonical Books of the New Testament was chosen and other books omitted. The Council even voted of the divinity of Jesus, and the vote was NOT unanimous.

There are no contemporary documents providing evidence for Jesus. The gospels have unknown authors and some even admit they were not eyewitnesses to the events described. The earliest gospel is that of Mark written at least 30 to 40 years after the time of Jesus. The early copy ends with the empty tomb. Later copies added "post resurrection events". All of the gospels were written in Greek rather than Aramaic, the language spoken by the people in the New Testament. All of the gospels were written in cities far from where the events were suppose to occur. The life span of people back then wasn't much more than 45 years. So the situation is somewhat like a book being published in Tibet, 70 years from now, written in Chinese, that claims supernatural events occurred in your area today and witnessed by thousands of people. Will you be around to rebut those claims?

Tacitus was NOT a contemporary of Jesus. His work provides evidence for the existence of Christians in Roman and their beliefs.

Many reputable scholars (not reputable on the eyes and mind of the faithful of course) have challenged the historicity of jesus and for many hundreds of years before this time.

Even Stef's Church Of The Pedophile has admitted comments by Josephus and Tacitus which allegedly "prove" the existence of jesus are extrapolations (forgeries) by xian apologists. Originals of both are not extant so we have only copies and in some cases copies of copies. Making those copies certainly provided ample opportunity for forgery.

The Church Of The Pedophile only admitted the forgeries after scientists studying the documents noted those mentions of a jesus were completely different style from the rest of the script. IOW they were embarrassed into making the admission.
Religion in general and xianity in particular, is the worst scourge, the foulest plague to ever beset mankind.
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Ah, well, Skeptic1, now we have it. :)

You are not baffled as to why so many scientists can be Christians.
Whatever they say, or I say, or any Christian says, is, for you, already decided upfront in your mind: a load of imagined, self deluded, childish fantasies to be disregarded, denied as unreal.
Read again, in my long post, the short section about “Faith is never forced”. I think it rather fits here.

In any event, just for the record.

Historicity of Jesus
Historian Michael Grant wrote that:
"If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned."

Historical Jesus
"Existence
Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his nonexistence as effectively refuted. There is no indication that writers in antiquity who opposed Christianity questioned the existence of Jesus."

Did Jesus exist
"As far as we know, no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist. Referring to the first several centuries C.E., even a scholar as cautious and thorough as Robert Van Voorst freely observes, “… No pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.”
“Nondenial of Jesus’ existence is particularly notable in rabbinic writings of those first several centuries C.E.: “… If anyone in the ancient world had a reason to dislike the Christian faith, it was the rabbis. To argue successfully that Jesus never existed but was a creation of early Christians would have been the most effective polemic against Christianity … [Yet] all Jewish sources treated Jesus as a fully historical person … The rabbis … used the real events of Jesus’ life against him” (Van Voorst).

Skeptic1:
- I find Jesus’ message and example as depicted in the New Testament to be enriching and it fulfils as well as challenges my life and that of many I know;
- I find the richness of man’s spirit to go way beyond the needs of mere ‘group’s survival';
- I find the marriage of the scientific mind/progress and the inner spirit of mankind to be a wondrous set of wings for humanity to fly ever upwards with (I watched today the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics in South Korea – that was a very apt example of this);
- I find that to deny the spirituality of mankind is very limiting, short sighted, unwarranted.

My friend:
For me, the scope of this thread was not to start a back-and-forth discussion which we have had in the past for a number of years already. As I said, all I was doing was to respond to what I thought was a question about ‘why’ did they believe. I clearly misunderstood your original intention.
That’s fine with me but, again, I'm not here to convince anyone of anything.

I’ll now have to get ready to take my wife to Greece tomorrow to celebrate her birthday and arrange a stay for us and our daughters' families for our 50th anniversary next year. :)

Peace, Stef
Edited by Stef, Feb 9 2018, 02:32 PM.
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. – Aesop
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seraphim
Feb 8 2018, 10:32 AM
Stef, this is a most valiant attempt and I applaud the effort - well done. However, from what I've seen of the conversation thus far, there is little appetite for letting go of the notion that "Faith = belief without good evidence." Try as you might to demonstrate otherwise, this is their credo and a key pillar of their argument and belief. Likewise, the credo of the believer is built on the pillar of Faith = belief based on good evidence." There is no middle ground here. There is no place between "no evidence - irrational" and "abundant evidence - rational." Furthermore, this argument is not new, it's age old and the same impasse persists. Reasonable people would have to agree that if ever there was an point to "agree to disagree" on, it is this one. The devolution into mockery and name calling is unflattering to all who participate and inevitably is the result of reason being cast aside, and failing to "agree to disagree."
Hi Seraphim.
Sorry but I missed your post till now.
I hear what you say, but with regard at least to Skeptic1 I can say I never heard him name calling.
He and I have often opposite views and beliefs but I see Skeptic1 as a man of integrity.

Take care,
Stef
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. – Aesop
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Stef
Feb 9 2018, 02:26 PM
Ah, well, Skeptic1, now we have it. :)

You are not baffled as to why so many scientists can be Christians.
Whatever they say, or I say, or any Christian says, is, for you, already decided upfront in your mind: a load of imagined, self deluded, childish fantasies to be disregarded, denied as unreal.
Read again, in my long post, the short section about “Faith is never forced”. I think it rather fits here.

In any event, just for the record.

Historicity of Jesus
Historian Michael Grant wrote that:
"If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned."

Historical Jesus
"Existence
Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his nonexistence as effectively refuted. There is no indication that writers in antiquity who opposed Christianity questioned the existence of Jesus."

Did Jesus exist
"As far as we know, no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist. Referring to the first several centuries C.E., even a scholar as cautious and thorough as Robert Van Voorst freely observes, “… No pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.”
“Nondenial of Jesus’ existence is particularly notable in rabbinic writings of those first several centuries C.E.: “… If anyone in the ancient world had a reason to dislike the Christian faith, it was the rabbis. To argue successfully that Jesus never existed but was a creation of early Christians would have been the most effective polemic against Christianity … [Yet] all Jewish sources treated Jesus as a fully historical person … The rabbis … used the real events of Jesus’ life against him” (Van Voorst).

Skeptic1:
- I find Jesus’ message and example as depicted in the New Testament to be enriching and it fulfils as well as challenges my life and that of many I know;
- I find the richness of man’s spirit to go way beyond the needs of mere ‘group’s survival';
- I find the marriage of the scientific mind/progress and the inner spirit of mankind to be a wondrous set of wings for humanity to fly ever upwards with (I watched today the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics in South Korea – that was a very apt example of this);
- I find that to deny the spirituality of mankind is very limiting, short sighted, unwarranted.

My friend:
For me, the scope of this thread was not to start a back-and-forth discussion which we have had in the past for a number of years already. As I said, all I was doing was to respond to what I thought was a question about ‘why’ did they believe. I clearly misunderstood your original intention.
That’s fine with me but, again, I'm not here to convince anyone of anything.

I’ll now have to get ready to take my wife to Greece tomorrow to celebrate her birthday and arrange a stay for us and our daughters' families for our 50th anniversary next year. :)

Peace, Stef
Thanks for replying, Stef. I'm sorry if I misunderstood the purpose of your thread.

I was addressing is "Is Faith rational or irrational". From the definitions, "Faith= belief without good evidence" and "Faith = confidence or trust" anything can be believed using faith. In fact the many religions and denomination in each demonstrate this. So this method of reaching a belief can't be rational.

But that doesn't mean there are no reasons for Faith. It's just as I pointed out that the reasons are not based on good objective evidence. Providing good objective evidence for the Abrahamic God would win a Nobel Prize.

As I pointed out in another thread, IMO, this is the situation:

A) The first step in looking for evidence for any entity is to consider the definition of the entity. The term "Abrahamic God" is defined in Genesis as the one supernatural, All-Omni intelligence that created the universe from nothing. I pointed out there is no objective evidence that such an entity exists.
B)But Christians believe the gospels stories are true.
C) In the gospels, Jesus claims to be divine and performs acts which violate natural law.
D) The stories claim there are witnesses to these acts.
E Christians believe the acts are evidence Jesus is divine.
F) Christians claim these witnesses constitute the objective evidence.
G) Since the settings of the gospel stories is in a culture that believes a supernatural, All-Omni intelligence created the universe from nothing (Genesis), Christians claim the gospels this constitutes objective evidence for the Abrahamic God.

So this faith= trust the gospels are true.

But this just means if the culture where the gospel stories occurred were different, Christians would believe in a creation myth different from Genesis where the Abrahamic God is defined. We already know Genesis is wrong both in the description of the creation process and the moral story. Since evolution shows Adam & Eve didn't exist, so there was no "Fall", or need for a savior, or reason for God to be angry with His creation, etc, etc.

So this method of reaching belief in the Abrahamic appears to be an accident of the local culture caused by trusting a certain story.

Historical Jesus
I'm still not sure of the definition of the term "historical Jesus". Does it include all of the gospels or just the canonical ones? Does the vote on his divinity mater?

I already pointed out the problems with the evidence. Extraordinary claims and events are made in the gospels, so objective evidence supporting their validity must be extraordinary. Those who claim,
"If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned." completely ignore the extraordinary claims contained in the document

You posted reference to, "Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed". But there are NO contemporary writers during the time of Jesus that mention him or his extraordinary events. The writers are much later and mention the followers as Christian and their beliefs.

The reference says,
"There is no indication that writers in antiquity who opposed Christianity questioned the existence of Jesus." Nor do they claim to know he did exist. They discuss Christians and their beliefs.
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Skeptic1
Feb 9 2018, 04:39 PM
Stef
Feb 9 2018, 02:26 PM
Ah, well, Skeptic1, now we have it. :)

You are not baffled as to why so many scientists can be Christians.
Whatever they say, or I say, or any Christian says, is, for you, already decided upfront in your mind: a load of imagined, self deluded, childish fantasies to be disregarded, denied as unreal.
Read again, in my long post, the short section about “Faith is never forced”. I think it rather fits here.

In any event, just for the record.

Historicity of Jesus
Historian Michael Grant wrote that:
"If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned."

Historical Jesus
"Existence
Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed, and most biblical scholars and classical historians see the theories of his nonexistence as effectively refuted. There is no indication that writers in antiquity who opposed Christianity questioned the existence of Jesus."

Did Jesus exist
"As far as we know, no ancient person ever seriously argued that Jesus did not exist. Referring to the first several centuries C.E., even a scholar as cautious and thorough as Robert Van Voorst freely observes, “… No pagans and Jews who opposed Christianity denied Jesus’ historicity or even questioned it.”
“Nondenial of Jesus’ existence is particularly notable in rabbinic writings of those first several centuries C.E.: “… If anyone in the ancient world had a reason to dislike the Christian faith, it was the rabbis. To argue successfully that Jesus never existed but was a creation of early Christians would have been the most effective polemic against Christianity … [Yet] all Jewish sources treated Jesus as a fully historical person … The rabbis … used the real events of Jesus’ life against him” (Van Voorst).

Skeptic1:
- I find Jesus’ message and example as depicted in the New Testament to be enriching and it fulfils as well as challenges my life and that of many I know;
- I find the richness of man’s spirit to go way beyond the needs of mere ‘group’s survival';
- I find the marriage of the scientific mind/progress and the inner spirit of mankind to be a wondrous set of wings for humanity to fly ever upwards with (I watched today the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics in South Korea – that was a very apt example of this);
- I find that to deny the spirituality of mankind is very limiting, short sighted, unwarranted.

My friend:
For me, the scope of this thread was not to start a back-and-forth discussion which we have had in the past for a number of years already. As I said, all I was doing was to respond to what I thought was a question about ‘why’ did they believe. I clearly misunderstood your original intention.
That’s fine with me but, again, I'm not here to convince anyone of anything.

I’ll now have to get ready to take my wife to Greece tomorrow to celebrate her birthday and arrange a stay for us and our daughters' families for our 50th anniversary next year. :)

Peace, Stef
Thanks for replying, Stef. I'm sorry if I misunderstood the purpose of your thread.

I was addressing is "Is Faith rational or irrational". From the definitions, "Faith= belief without good evidence" and "Faith = confidence or trust" anything can be believed using faith. In fact the many religions and denomination in each demonstrate this. So this method of reaching a belief can't be rational.

But that doesn't mean there are no reasons for Faith. It's just as I pointed out that the reasons are not based on good objective evidence. Providing good objective evidence for the Abrahamic God would win a Nobel Prize.

As I pointed out in another thread, IMO, this is the situation:

A) The first step in looking for evidence for any entity is to consider the definition of the entity. The term "Abrahamic God" is defined in Genesis as the one supernatural, All-Omni intelligence that created the universe from nothing. I pointed out there is no objective evidence that such an entity exists.
B)But Christians believe the gospels stories are true.
C) In the gospels, Jesus claims to be divine and performs acts which violate natural law.
D) The stories claim there are witnesses to these acts.
E Christians believe the acts are evidence Jesus is divine.
F) Christians claim these witnesses constitute the objective evidence.
G) Since the settings of the gospel stories is in a culture that believes a supernatural, All-Omni intelligence created the universe from nothing (Genesis), Christians claim the gospels this constitutes objective evidence for the Abrahamic God.

So this faith= trust the gospels are true.

But this just means if the culture where the gospel stories occurred were different, Christians would believe in a creation myth different from Genesis where the Abrahamic God is defined. We already know Genesis is wrong both in the description of the creation process and the moral story. Since evolution shows Adam & Eve didn't exist, so there was no "Fall", or need for a savior, or reason for God to be angry with His creation, etc, etc.

So this method of reaching belief in the Abrahamic appears to be an accident of the local culture caused by trusting a certain story.

Historical Jesus
I'm still not sure of the definition of the term "historical Jesus". Does it include all of the gospels or just the canonical ones? Does the vote on his divinity mater?

I already pointed out the problems with the evidence. Extraordinary claims and events are made in the gospels, so objective evidence supporting their validity must be extraordinary. Those who claim,
"If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned." completely ignore the extraordinary claims contained in the document

You posted reference to, "Most contemporary scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed". But there are NO contemporary writers during the time of Jesus that mention him or his extraordinary events. The writers are much later and mention the followers as Christian and their beliefs.

The reference says,
"There is no indication that writers in antiquity who opposed Christianity questioned the existence of Jesus." Nor do they claim to know he did exist. They discuss Christians and their beliefs.
"“The elementary rules of logic: that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

― Christopher Hitchens"

I suppose some of the Indian beliefs may be more extraordinary than those made by xians, but not by much.

Still awaiting proof the xian god or alleged messiah exists.
Religion in general and xianity in particular, is the worst scourge, the foulest plague to ever beset mankind.
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Skeptic1

Stef, my friend, wrote:
Skeptic1:
- I find Jesus’ message and example as depicted in the New Testament to be enriching and it fulfils as well as challenges my life and that of many I know;
- I find the richness of man’s spirit to go way beyond the needs of mere ‘group’s survival';
- I find the marriage of the scientific mind/progress and the inner spirit of mankind to be a wondrous set of wings for humanity to fly ever upwards with (I watched today the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics in South Korea – that was a very apt example of this);
- I find that to deny the spirituality of mankind is very limiting, short sighted, unwarranted.

I'm embarrassed to admit I may have made an assumption in my post that isn't valid. When we discussed if Faith was rational, I assumed, but never mentioned, that the ONLY criterion that I was considering was whether the belief was objectively true.

If we include personal, subjective criteria independent of a truth value, then faith indeed is rational.
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Skeptic1
Feb 9 2018, 08:22 PM
Stef, my friend, wrote:
Skeptic1:
- I find Jesus’ message and example as depicted in the New Testament to be enriching and it fulfils as well as challenges my life and that of many I know;
- I find the richness of man’s spirit to go way beyond the needs of mere ‘group’s survival';
- I find the marriage of the scientific mind/progress and the inner spirit of mankind to be a wondrous set of wings for humanity to fly ever upwards with (I watched today the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics in South Korea – that was a very apt example of this);
- I find that to deny the spirituality of mankind is very limiting, short sighted, unwarranted.

I'm embarrassed to admit I may have made an assumption in my post that isn't valid. When we discussed if Faith was rational, I assumed, but never mentioned, that the ONLY criterion that I was considering was whether the belief was objectively true.

If we include personal, subjective criteria independent of a truth value, then faith indeed is rational.
Skeptic1 My hat is off to you. That was a masterful post which I doubt even Stef, who is a master of diversion and avoidance, will fully understand.
Religion in general and xianity in particular, is the worst scourge, the foulest plague to ever beset mankind.
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