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I saw a great statement on an otherwise less than enlightening Amazon discussion on religion:
If religion was true then the more we studied it the more its truth should shine out, instead the experience of many people is that the more they study it the less sense it makes.


( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 10th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
I agree with the sentiment, but what does this have to say about the truth of set theory? Or, even worse, category theory?
Sep. 10th, 2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
Never believed in them anyway.
Sep. 10th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
That's basically how I became an atheist.
Sep. 11th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC)
If religion could be proven or disproven simply by thinking about it, what would the point of faith be? Religion is not science, it should not be treated as such, from both sides of the issue mind you. If you seek religion from the same frame of mind you seek the answers to math problems, no it won't be very appealing, but then it never claimed to be that way. Now I understand that for some people that will be enough to say, sorry not for me, and thats fine, but it doesn't mean religion is more or less true. It just means it doesn't fit in the framework you are trying to judge it by.

A rough example, In non-Euclidean geometry a triangle can have greater than 180 degrees of internal angles. Try proving that using Euclidean geometry and you prove the object is not a triangle. But that misses the point. The object never claimed to be a euclidean triangle. Your looking at it from the wrong framework. Thats not to say that if Euclidean geomtery says soemthing isn't a triangle it means it IS one in non-Euclidean geometry, its just not conclusive either way.

Likewise, scientific logic may show something not to be true, but if the trueness of the thing is not meant to be defined by science, whatever information it provides is largely irrelevant either way. It may in fact NOT be true, but thats another matter altogether.

I should also point out that there are plenty of counter examples of people who study religion and find it more compelling as a lifestyle and that it makes more sense to them personally the more they study it.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)
truth shining out != demand of proof

While general concepts of religion might seem compelling, it is hard to see how the Bible, if you take it as a whole it is extremely hard to see it as yet another primitive mythology. Yes, there are some parts that are nice, some parts that are beautiful and inspiring, but there is just as much that is ugly and terrible and primitive.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
Wow, that got mangled.

let's try, "it is hard not to see the Bible as yet another primitive mythology if you take it as a whole"
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:06 am (UTC)
I suppose, to relate it to your non-Euclidean geometry example, it may be true that not everything makes sense under a single reasoning system, but I have yet to see any system other than blind faith that makes any religious system, with all of its details make sense as a whole.
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:45 am (UTC)
If you think only blind faith makes any religious system work I think you clearly have not spent time trying to understand religions or their followers. You are certainly free to think as you like and believe as you like but it is sad to find that you think that myself, Ben, Nathan, Tracy, et al. are merely blind zealots who have been duped by empty promises and happy talk. I had hoped you would have more respect for those of us with different belief systems, and acknowledge that religion is something far more complex than you seem to be treating it as. I can tell you my faith is not blind, but whether you choose to believe it or not is up to you.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Don't get in a tizzy now. You really are way too sensitive when it comes to comments about religion and read them as much more critical than they really are. Until you can take comments about religion as less than personal insults, I would appreciate that you refrain from replying to these sorts of posts.
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
You have said that not only does my belief system not make ANY sense, but also said that the only way someone could follow it is through blind faith. How is that not insulting? How can I, as a believer not find that incredibly hurtful? Calling my faith blind, is not only disrespectful and insulting, it also shows that you are willing to read books and posts by strangers about the topic, but aren't willing to actually ask the people around you for whom religion is a major part of their lives why they believe what they believe, what their reasons are. Perhaps I should have phrased my response better, but as I said, i'm not only insulted, but hurt by what you are saying. Not becuase you believe something different, but because you are so dismissive of those who do the same.

Your tone in this post, and frankly i have to be honest, in a lot of posts comes across as very condescending and smug, and I say that as your friend, because I think you should consider it as part of the reason for the sometimes more hostile responses you recieve here and elsewhere from people you disagree with.

I will, of course, respect your request, this is your journal and you have the right to ask, but I think you are doing yourself a disservice by not showing more interest in understanding your friends and why they believe what they do. Even if you disagree with it, you may find it enlightening and interesting.
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
You mean a different thing by blind faith than I do. I am sorry if the associations you have with the phrase are negative, but they are not the associations I have with the phrase. I will try to be more aware of them in the future, but you should not assume that I intentionally meant whatever it is you seem to think I meant.

As for me being condescending and smug, perhaps that is true, but you are the only one who ever seems to express a problem with the tone of my posts. Therefore, I think it might be useful for you to look at your own tone.
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
And I would love to understand the beliefs of my friends more, but you are one of the few who tries to engage in the discussion, and you are too easily insulted for our discussions to ever lead to interesting ends.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
And I am sorry if you think I meant to imply that you were blind zealots duped by empty promises and happy talk. I did not mean to imply any such thing. All I meant by "blind faith" was that you seem to think that faith for faith's sake is a good thing while I think faith is a good and necessary tool that should be applied sparingly.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
I also find it amusing that you assume that I think science is the only consistent reasoning system. I do not ask for everything to make sense scientifically. I ask only for it to make sense in some frame of reference that has useful explanatory power.
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:58 am (UTC)
I never said science was the ONLY such system, merely that it was one. Somethings are beyond our understanding, doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but the frame of reference you are looking for is one in which humanity is limited and we may be incapable of fully understanding the whole scope of truth. Much like a young child has to take certain things on faith because they are incapable of the higher level reasoning and level of knowledge required to explain it. A four year old, except for perhaps an extradoinary one, is not going to be able to understand, say general relativity. That does not mean there isn't a framework in which it can be understood, just that the child you explain it to is incapable of understanding no matter what you do. Heck there is a point where young children can't even distinguish the difference between a tall glass and a wide glass holding the same amount of liquid. Or that one large cookie is more than two smaller ones.

Likewise, if a higher being exists, it is not only possible, but likely that we as humans, with very limited relative understanding of what IT understands. We may in fact NEVER be capable, again, doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to explain as much as we can and expand the limits of human knowledge, but I think we should also be willing to open our minds to truths that are beyond our understanding as well. People try and explain love chemically, psychologically, sociologically, etc. Personally if thats all it is I think its not worth much, but I think its more than that, something beyond explanation and definition. I think limiting whats possible to what we can define, measure, and explain limits the joy we can have in life itself, and personally i find it hard to consider a view that welcomes the idea of something greater than me as a bad thing.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
I never denied the possibility of such a way of looking at the world. I only meant to imply that I have yet to see any way in which religion, when taken as a whole, provides insight into much. As I have said before, I am an agnostic in theory and an atheist in practice.

Also, why would you say that love is not worth much if it can be explained chemically, psychologically, or sociologically?
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
And, I suppose, to keep Gabe from getting on me again, that should be "I have yet to see any particular religion which, when taken as a whole, provides much insight."
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
If religion could be proven or disproven simply by thinking about it, what would the point of faith be?

Also, you do realize that this is somewhat circular reasoning. Faith only has a point because Christianity says you must have faith to believe. Faith, in and of itself, is not a good reason to believe something, thus rendering this statement somewhat silly.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
And to clarify a little, I do not mean to imply that faith is bad. There is so much information out there that we all must have faith in something. It is a tool, like summarizing or sampling, that provides much value, but it is not inherently good.
Sep. 11th, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
Ok, circular reasoning, i guess, but so what? If religion is true and faith is part of religion then yes i suppose it will be circular reasoning, but thats only a bad thing if you value reason so highly.
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
Well then, what was the meaning of your original statement if it was not meant to make sense?
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Not at all, just that faith and God can't be pigeonholed by a purely logical system. I acknowledge that for some people that may be a major strike against it, but just because you can't fully explain something doesn't mean it doesn't make sense.
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
One last thing. You say, "I should also point out that there are plenty of counter examples of people who study religion and find it more compelling as a lifestyle and that it makes more sense to them personally the more they study it."

It is not a counterexample when the original post says "many", not all.
Sep. 11th, 2008 07:07 am (UTC)
It is a valid counterexample because of the author's use of the word "instead".

- Jux
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
But it still said "many", so I do not see what difference "instead" makes. What is implicit in the first part of the statement and what you are, perhaps, missing is a "forall". The original statement was implying that, in their opinion, if were religion were true than the truth should shine out for everyone who studies it sincerely and seriously. Thus, providing examples of people who do see more truth when studying it does not provide a counterexample.
Sep. 11th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
The first part of that statement is incoherent. It is like saying "If philosophy were true...". Religion, like philosophy, (and neuro-chemical patterns!) is not the sort of thing that can be true or false. That can only particular said of particular religious or philosophical statements.

As to the second part, two words: quantum physics.
Sep. 11th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
You are taking the first part way too literally. This is an offhand comment, not a well thought out statement of belief. It is fairly obvious that that was meant to be interpreted "if any particular religion were true".

And I do not think that quantum physics is a viable counter example here. Although quantum mechanics is confusing, it does allow the truth to shine out in that it provides explanations with predictive powers. In my opinion, allowing the truth to shine means that a system is internally consistent and has the power to predict phenomena or illuminate understanding. Most religions are lacking on the first and the second, and it is hard to say they have the third when, in my opinion, they raise significantly more questions than they answer.
Sep. 11th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
It is late, so though I would say more, I will let someone else (an atheist!) do the heavy lifting.

Is keeping kosher true or false?
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
I am too lazy to read the article right now, so I ask, what is the point you are trying to get at here?
Sep. 11th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
If your point is that it is unfair to take, for example, the Bible as the definition of Christianity because religion is much more than a set of particular premises, I will just reply with saying that I am just trying to apply the same set of standards that (in this example) Protestant Christians apply to themselves; that the Bible, in theory, can be taken as the sole source of a lovely and wonderful truth. You might disagree with that, but you should take that up with them, no me.
Sep. 12th, 2008 04:16 am (UTC)
What does the Bible or Protestantism have to do with the statement you posted? It mentions neither, and your own introduction suggested there was no additional context worth investigating. I would happily argue with a Protestant about textual fundamentalism if I knew one of that sort and they brought it up.

Sep. 12th, 2008 05:15 am (UTC)
It was an example.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )


Erika Rice Scherpelz

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