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Proof, or faith?

  1. Jul 1, 2003 #1
    this i wonder: does a religios viewpoint require proof? even if there is no contradictory proof, but only an absence of proof, is this enough to undo a belief?

    in science ever term, idea, conclusion must be carefully scrutinized. but in theology, it seems, one does not require proof to make a conlusion about the universe. how is this? is this what you call 'faith'? and how far does it go? can an religious idea ever be shaken from a person, or can the idea or no religion ever be shaken from a non religios person? it seems the old saying that faith is the basis of human existance holds true, to some extent. it all depends on where you hold your faith. in the firmament of science? or in the beauty of theism?

    or does faith have nothing to do with it? maybe the common grounds we share is nothing more than a search for truth. but still, we must have faith that we will find it.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2003 #2

    I think it requires proof and from those proofs (can be occurances, theories, philosophies, etc.) you can believe in whatever faith it is that you believe in. Unfortunately, most people believe in most things because it's just what's been passed down from generation to generation; and that can mess a lot up.

  4. Jul 1, 2003 #3
    i had a very relavent discussion just the other day about fundamentalists and the merits of absolute faith. as an atheist and aspiring scientist i obviously have chosen the path or empirical and logical knowledge, i however have a certain envy and great respect for the absolute conviction that constitutes a religious belief. alot of people would call fundamentalists foolish and think themselves better off in their science, but 'better off' is a very relative term, maybe to us they are blinded by dogma and ignorant to truth but they feel they have found an absolute unquestionable truth, which gives them utter happiness and enlightenment.

    my friend said to me 'i pity the highjackers of the september eleven planes, becasue they were so blinded by faith they did what they did, they had no choices in life they were just acting out orders'. i responded that i pitied the people who died that day, becasue they didn't chose to, and their families because they have to keep going, but the highjackers died the happiest people on earth, it's sad i know that such violence would make them happy but that moment was the culmination of everything they believed was worth fighting and dying for, they could already see (well were convinced they could see) the path to paradise.
  5. Jul 1, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Here's the reasoning that I use:

    Nothing can be proven beyond all doubt.

    One can never prove a negative.

    ->No belief (system) is or ultimately ever can be justified by logic.

    ->To believe or not to believe; each requires a leap of faith.

    -->If any belief [including believing in nothing] is a matter of
    faith, then I can never make a logical choice about beliefs.

    --->Therefore I am free to choose my beliefs

    --->I am compelled by experience to choose belief in God over
    belief in nothing.

    [EDIT] Of course there is always Pascal's Challenge:
    [loosely quoted but I hope accurately represented]

    If God exists and I live as if he doesn't, then I could spend eternity in a real bad place.

    If God does not exist and I live as if he does, when I die, I'll never know the difference.

    Therefore if we bet on God's existence we can't lose.

    And finally we have the SETI argument for not disbelieving in GOD:
    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2003
  6. Jul 1, 2003 #5
    Proof is not required for faith:

    faith ( P ) Pronunciation Key (fth)
    Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
    Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
    often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
    The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
    A set of principles or beliefs.
    Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.

    So you see the very definition of religion is anti-cience. Being one who does not believe in God, I don't fear the afterlife. If I go, I'll never know there is no god, because I'll just cease to exist. However it does make me more appreciate the life I've been given, and to take full advantage of it. There are many who will give up thier lives in service to a faith. I don't pity such people because it makes them happy, and that is the most important thing. However I have to follow the path that makes me the happiest, and that path is one of my own choosing. I believe I'm making my own life, for better or worse, and I'm in control of it.

    At the same time without religion to guide our society, we may not have developed into the moralistic society we see before us today. Morality has it's roots in religion. So I personally see it as a tool to keep out society on the path of morality, and to give people reasons for existence where there were none.

    Oh and science does not require faith, only curiosity, willpower, and patience.
  7. Jul 1, 2003 #6
    Since I study the Bible, I know what the Christian viewpoint of "faith" is. It is found in the book of Hebrews (I forget the exact verse): "Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld" (Italics mine). Thus, if your religion is based on faith, then you are based on a reality that has not been beheld. Of course, belief in Science also requires some faith, since one can never really know that all of the observed "patterns" in the Universe, were not really coincidences every time. They must first believe this, and then they can follow the Scientific Method, for discovering new theories.

    Scrutinized, yes, but usually scrutinized by Inductive Logic, and thus not 100% accurate. Note: I am not denying the merit of Science. I am only showing the amount of faith that one must have in it, to use it - contrary to the popular belief that it is without any assumptions.

    Yes. Though I am not an expert in Theology or in Religion really, I know enough religious people to know that much of what they hold to is based entirely on faith.

    That depends, both on the person, and on the Religion.

    Sure, both happen on a constant basis.

    Well put.
  8. Jul 1, 2003 #7
    Lots of interesting stuff there maximus. Here's my take...

    It kind of depends on what the "requirement" is for. You ask, does a religious view "require" proof. Normally a sentence might read...

    To do X requires Y.

    You are asking "is Y required" without stating the "to do X" part. So, it depends on what you're attempting to do with the religious claim.

    If you're simply taking comfort in a religious concept, because you like it, then you might decide that, for you, you don't require proof. I personally require proof for what I believe because I believe that truth must be the first and foremost concern, with happiness coming after. Other folks, consciously or not, place happiness above truth.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to use a religious belief as justification for the passage (or non passage) of a law or policy, in a society full of people of various different religions, then your religious view DOES require proof. This is because you have now moved beyond your personal preference, into things that affect others and to which they would be beholden too. Therefore, you must make your arguments in the court of public opinion, where proof will be asked for. Without such proof, individuals do not have the right to arbitrarily enforce their beliefs on others.

    I can tell you exactly how this is...

    Throughout much of history, and most notably in the philosophies of the ancient greeks, exemplified by the dialogues of plato and such, there was a belief that, through reason alone, truth could be determined. You'll note that, when reading the arguments of Socrates, that he starts with some observations from everyday life, and then takes the other characters on a long series of if/then propositions. He uses rationality and reason every step of the way, and arrives at a conclusion. Such conclusions were believed to have been "proven" through philosophical discourse. It's all very convincing to the reader, as every step seems to make sense. However, we know now that a lot of Socrates' conclusions about factual matters were absolutely wrong.

    How can this be? Well, without getting into logic 101, it's basically because an argument can be 100% VALID and, at the same time, be 100% FALSE. In other words, if your premises are false, you can still construct a logical argument, with a conclusion that logically follows from those premises. There wouldn't be a problem with your logic - just your facts. But the ancient Greeks did not seem to make this distinction. They believed that you could PROVE things by philosophic argument alone. The result would be that Socrates could start out noting things like "fish swim in the ocean", and end up after a time with a conclusion like, "Men have immortal souls" (not a real example but you get my drift).

    But, with the coming of the enlightenment, came a highly under-appreciated, yet incredibly significant realization. That was that "argument alone cannot PROVE anything". For proof, you MUST have observed facts (experimental observation). Logic then, may help you make sense of those facts, but that is what distinguishes science from mysticism. Both use philosophy, both use logical argument, both are internally consistent within themselves, but one has a laboratory and the other does not.

    Most "philosophic" arguments of religion are based on the pre-enlightenment belief that logical argument and internal consistency alone can prove things. But in the modern world, the religions are recognized as having absolutely no valid proof because they have no data (which, being supernatural, is not even, in principle, possible to collect).

    As far as wishful thinking and a good imagination takes it.

    Depends on the person and their experiences. I grew up in a conservative Christian household, had no bad experiences with religion, yet rejected it in favor of naturalism and humanism, after many years of careful and open-minded deliberation and research.

    I don't believe that it takes faith to believe that which the evidence supports. By definition, that would be the antithesis of faith. Not to say I believe there is NOT a god, because that belief would also take faith. I lack both beliefs. Agnostic? Perhaps. But also atheist, since atheism is technically the "lack of belief in a diety" - it doesn't necessarily include a belief of the opposite.

    Not necessarily. The search moves us ever closer, and that's what's important. Not necessarily that there's some imaginary finish line we must reach. The journey is its own reward.
  9. Jul 2, 2003 #8
  10. Jul 2, 2003 #9
    Re: Re: proof, or faith?

    And yet the reality which has not been beheld, is the reality of an "afterlife." In which case you can only speak of it in the most "plausible sense" (faith) because you haven't died and experienced it yet.

    So in that respect the definition is right on! :wink:
  11. Jul 2, 2003 #10
    I think at the very least it requires plausibility (which is another word for faith), by which we come to establish -- through experience -- its validity. In other words it still has to hold some degree of revelancy, otherwise what you have is called "blind faith."
  12. Jul 2, 2003 #11
    Re: Re: proof, or faith?

    But isn't that actually what religiion is? blind faith? It's no different than saying that aliens are among us, and though it can't be proven or disporoven, it has validity...Alients are here, I can't prove that, but you can't disprove it so it must be true..

    Explain that logic to me....

    And how do dinosaurs fit into theology? are they simply discounted as fakes? Or did Noah take 2 brontosaurs on the boat too?
  13. Jul 2, 2003 #12
    All this tells me is that people aren't doing their homework.

    "And when Jesus asked the disciples, Whom do ye say that I am? Simon Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. And Jesus answered, Blessed art thou Simon Barjonah, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:15-18)

    Does this sound like blind faith to you? If anything it speaks about creating a "solid foundation" by which people can believe. While its opposite is reiterated elsewhere by these words, "Many will come in my name to lead many astray." Indeed aren't these the very people you're talking about here, those who follow along "blindly?"

    And yet dinosaurs didn't exist at the time of Noah, suggesting they were irrelevant at the time, unless of course you wish to take the whole thing literally. While I don't doubt there was a person such as Noah, and there was a great flood and, that Noah built the ark and filled it with animals, which were perhaps the only animals known to Noah at the time, but beyond that I don't see what else can be gleened from it? Except the story does state that Noah had a personal relationship with God which, I believe is possible. Hmm ... now what does this (having a personal knowledge of God) have to do with blind faith?
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2003
  14. Jul 2, 2003 #13


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    It's a sad state of affairs that the colored portion needs to be said. :frown:
  15. Jul 2, 2003 #14
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2003
  16. Jul 2, 2003 #15
    Well that doesn't get us anywhere now does it?

    And yet God does not necessarily manifest Himself in the physical sense. While as I already said, I think the proof is in the relevance it has in your own life. If there is no relevance, then what is there to believe?

    And yet what is the truth, if it doesn't adapt as well?

    And yet how long has the "formal discipline" of science been around? Meaning, why should we base everything upon that which has been around for a short while, as opposed to that which has been around for eons? While I think it's entirely unreasonable to cast aside the whole account of existence, just because we may have discovered a "better approach."
  17. Jul 2, 2003 #16

    the truth. and every cold, impersonal fibre of it.

    this is irrelivant. religion has been around for eons simply due to the fact that science wasn't! so to expain phenomenons, people would result to supernatural.
  18. Jul 2, 2003 #17
    Except that if we maintain the ground of our being by worshipping "material things," then that becomes idolatry, which becomes unacceptable because we're supposed to worship the "spirit of God," not some physical outcropping. This is why sun worship -- i.e., the closest "earthly" representaion of God -- is no longer accepted.

    How do "you" know that science is not some teeny tiny infinitesimal little glitch in the whole cosmic scheme of things? What makes you so sure? :wink:
  19. Jul 2, 2003 #18

    i don't understand where you heard me saying anything about worshiping anything. and what you said is meaningless to a non-religious person. god made the rule of not worshipping idols, but i obviously don't believe in a god.

    i can't prove to you that it isn't, because you cannot prove a negaitve statement. but i'd ask you, why do you think it is?
  20. Jul 2, 2003 #19

    Occam's Razor

    Not quite sure I follow you. What does relevancy have to do with the truth? I think you're referring to what Mentat suggested earlier, as far as reality unbeheld? As far as what to believe, I believe truth and facts.

    My point exactly. And if the truth eventually holds that God doesn't exist, will religion be able to adapt?

    First, "better" is a matter of opinion. Weather it's better or not, the truth still holds. Then given an option, would you choose the acceptance of a "better" philosophy over a truthful one? As to length of time. Then why would we choose to believe that there is life on other planets as opposed to believing that we are the center of the universe, and the only life within it? Why do we believe that the sun doesn't revolve around the earth? Just because it's an older belief, does not make it a wiser one.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2003
  21. Jul 2, 2003 #20
    What is worship, if not an act of faith? (i.e., acknowledging the ground of one's being).

    Actually I'm not really suggesting it is, but rather asking why you think science can be the only "one truth?"
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