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Any person can comment on this post, but it's geared towards Christians (Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, etc.) Anyone can post the first subject of conversation. Just discuss issues about the religion (Heaven, evangelism,etc.) :rolleyes:

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It is known as the "belief in belief" where one thinks it more important (or of the only importance) to believe the tenets of your religion, than to consider their actual truth value. I have even heard people say that even if it was proven tomorrow that their religion was entirely false, they would still believe because they have Faith! (Demonstrating that for them that belief is more important to them than truth or reality!)
I've been thinking about that topic a little lately, and I'll write down my thoughts for whoever is interested.

What is it that makes a believer value belief?

I think in any religion or superstition, there is a psychological contract that you sign up to without reading the small print. It seems like a no-brainer, it seems like it costs nothing. But then there are hidden costs and tie-ins.

The contract that you sign up to as a Christian is neatly encapsulated in the following phrase: "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and saviour?". No doubt variations exist, but I've tried to pick the typical form, and I suspect that where there are variations, they rarely deviate from one point; the use of the word "accept". That's the key equivocation. What does "accept" mean?

When we are offered a gift, we may "accept" it. We are encouraged to view the Christian contract as acceptance of a gift. We don't have to accept gifts, but it is rude not to. And when the gift is something as precious as eternal life in heaven, and the price paid for that gift is a death suffered by crucifixion, it would be extremely rude to turn it down. Viewing it as a gift makes acceptance a matter of conscience. A person who would throw such a thing back is insolent and comtemptuous. Furthermore, it's a no-brainer. The gift costs us nothing to accept, and is worth a lot. Why reject it?

Or maybe "accept" is meant in the sense of accepting a fait-accompli, a state of affairs beyond our control. By accepting, we only need to recognise that it is beyond our control. And what is more beyond our control than the affairs of the gods? If Jesus Christ is our lord and saviour, then stubbornly refusing to acknowledge it is futile. The matter is beyond human influence. Such disrespect in the face of the gods does not generally go unpunished, indeed in the Christian system it is the only sin that will surely be punished. Once again, acceptance costs nothing, non-acceptance is very costly. It's a no-brainer.

So you accept.

But there is another meaning, actually not so much a meaning, just an inference really. You cannot accept what you do not believe. Acceptance is the price of salvation, and without belief that isn't going to happen. So hidden behind the word "accept" is the true cost: belief. You understand implicitly that this is required, and that in order to receive your free gift you must believe, at any cost. The stakes could not be higher: failure to believe constitutes non-acceptance and will cost you your place in heaven. That's the hook, and if that aspect of the deal were stated explicitly, people might balk at it. They would see the deal for what it is, no better than a chain letter. But because the hook is inferred, it slips past our defences. You might not consider it fully until the belief is installed, and by then it is self-perpetuating because an intrinsic part of the belief is that you need to believe it, above all else. You must do everything possible to strengthen your belief, your soul depends on it. And so a person is persuaded to abandon reason, because reason requires doubt, and that's a place where you can no longer afford to go. From a memetic point of view, it's a thing of terrible beauty.

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That is indeed a good viewpoint. I also found another good one, described in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

And hell, I'm proud to have broken that contract =)

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I like that too, but theres one thing thats trivial, yet still may factor into it a bit.

I know where i go, my parents give a little money. Similar to the gift, its not required that you give, but if you have the money and go the the church, it is almost expected that you give money when the collection plate comes around.

While this money doesnt go to "God" or "Jesus" it does go into maintaining the religion. And while Chrisitanity doesnt say you have to pay, money and the religion seem to work together many times (an old example is indulgences). You dont have to go to church, but many do, and if you have the money to pay, even a couples dollars will do, but nothing...is rare.

just one thing. maybe its different somewhere else.

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Responding to post (without unnecessarily quoting it, since I don't want to respond to any particular point therein):

Your post reminds me a lot of Pascal's Wager, which always bothered me because it tried to associate reason with belief, which resulted in very milquetoast belief, as I saw it. If that was truly your "reasoning" for belief, than it seemed to me that you were not really good at either belief or reason.

That was the thing that drove me from religion. They say that people go to religion for answers, but when I looked at the people in my church, I didn't see anyone who had answers, or really anyone who wanted answers. From my perspective, they were there because they were there. They didn't ask why they were there, they just were. And if you tried to ask what they were doing there, they would give you a non sequitur at best.

It always felt to me that if I were to believe in something, I should have a reason for that belief. But as I looked at how religion works, I realized that there never really was a "reason for belief." If you ever found a reason for believing, then it ceased to be a belief. Thus, I could never have a reason for belief, which in turn led to the conclusion that perhaps "belief" wasn't such a valuable thing in the first place.

I don't understand why people continue to remember Pascal's Wager today. It seems like just the sort of thing that would upset both sides more than it would satisfy anyone. It's a very weak reason for believing and it's a very poor excuse for belief. If that is the only "reason" for your belief, then are you really believing? :huh: Is that really a reason? :unsure:

This is kind of rambling, but I hope there's some sense in something that I've said. :wacko:

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I too thought immediately of Pascal's wager, Because there was a bit of it there in octopuppy's post. Basically the lines of thinking that probably led to its formulation in the first place.

And I think you are right octopuppy, it's a lot like some of the puzzles offered on this very forum; games of semantics:

The line "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and saviour?" is voiced as an offer of a gift ("do you accept this nice gift I am offering you?") when in truth it is asking a whole lot more, and something that should (and would if asked in a different more honest fashion) require a great deal more careful thought and critical assessment before answering: "Do you accept IT AS TRUE that Jesus Christ is your Lord and saviour?" In other words a question as what you believe to be true and real, a question on the state of reality, a far cry from a simple offer of a gift!

If Christianity (or any religion for that matter) is the truth, then why is such deception and manipulation so easy to find throughout its apologetics? (And that is not even touching on the common claims to its ethical superiority!)

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In other words a question as what you believe to be true and real, a question on the state of reality, a far cry from a simple offer of a gift!
The phrase I mentioned is of course just one of many overtures, which are honed and perfected, partly because recruitment of others makes you virtuous directly, but also because it vindicates and reinforces your own belief. I picked it out because it makes a good trojan horse for the central fallacy:

Proposition A:

You will go to heaven when you die, only if you believe that proposition A is true. If you don't, you may go to hell or just die, well it will be bad anyway. Also... [insert other beliefs here].

That direct appeal to consequences lies at the heart of most religion. All of this believing in belief and faith-is-a-virtue stuff is there because of that. It's self-defence, people are afraid of what will happen to them if they fail to believe. The trick is to get Proposition A firmly installed without ringing any alarm bells, hence the weaselry. It needs to get in under the radar, and once you've done that, you can add whatever you like. Global floods, talking donkeys, anything. It doesn't matter how implausible the rest is. As long as Proposition A is believed, people will bend over backwards to believe whatever you associate with it.

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It's all so childish isn't it?
Only if you look at it in purely rational fashion. If you can be persuaded to "try on" the belief for a while, say for example by praying for a bit to see how you feel about that, then it sticks. Removal of the belief will give you at least a superstitious twinge of "this feels dangerous". All the twaddle that's attached to Propostition A may make you doubt it, but Proposition A makes you fear the doubt, and it's much easier to shun some of the more outrageous beliefs than it is to challenge the core belief. Note that it's self-referential, so to the extent that you believe it, you believe that you need to believe it. That makes it hard to remove, you have to disbelieve it before you can think that disbelieving it might be a good idea.

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I'm sad I didn't come to this conversation earlier, fill me in on a summary because I'm not reading 55 pages (I would if I wasn't tired) and I'll know what not to overlap

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I'm sad I didn't come to this conversation earlier, fill me in on a summary because I'm not reading 55 pages (I would if I wasn't tired) and I'll know what not to overlap

Don't worry about it. Overlap as much as you like (that often gives room for new insights anyway.)

The discussion died about two pages back anyway. Only recently have a few tacked on comments been added. Sadly this thread now appears to suffer from a complete lack of any Christians! Funny how often that happens on on-line threads, when we still live in such a religion dominated world, beyond the boarders of the interwebs. Is there something about the internet format that leaves theists on the back foot? I think so.

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I'm currently too tired to write but I'll let you know I'm an atheist who's Jewish culturally and I believe that everyone should have their opinions respected, because sooner or later we're left with our logic, our morals, and what will be the best path for us.

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I'm currently too tired to write but I'll let you know I'm an atheist who's Jewish culturally and I believe that everyone should have their opinions respected, because sooner or later we're left with our logic, our morals, and what will be the best path for us.

Well welcome to the discussion Q-Cumber. An atheist Jew huh? Like about half of all Jews then :lol:

I disagree to an extent, but perhaps only with your chosen words, not your intent.

"Everyone should have their opinions respected": No. Everyone should respect everyone else's right to their opinions, but not those opinions themselves. Because let's face it; people do hold flawed opinions, and opinions based on faulty premises. And those should not be respected, but corrected.

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But what do we know if something is correct or incorrect? As long as we have our morals, we have the right to belief. I find the topic of religion so intriguing, but when people completely lose respect, they're blinded thinking only they are right. Then it's like an argument over whether a bagel is an ant or a jumbo-jet.

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Religion is like the matrix. Once you're in the system, it's hard to get out. It's a self-contradicting paradox, because you know no matter what, there's always a possibility for god. Like the 17th century philosopher Pascal said, "If you believe in god, you have nothing to lose, but if you don't, you'll lose everything".

I think I became an atheist realizing there's no possible way to know of a greater force, and the probability of the bible happening like it is is nearly infinite. Also, I thought, you can always try to disprove god by science, but then there's the self-contradiction of "But maybe god made it like that to trick you". It's always a possibility, but definitely illogical. If we have logic, how could our "Creator" not? What is there worth believing in if he tries to hide his existence while being the most known thing on Earth? Are we better people because we sustain faith in something completely illogical because it's popular and seems right?

That's my argument.

I'm sure you've gone over this sometime, but I don't know when.

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But what do we know if something is correct or incorrect?

Are you asking if it is possible to know (in the absolute sense of the word)...well anything?

If not then I am answering the wrong question. :rolleyes:

Then no, I don't think we can. Except in those limited and conceptual-only areas of Mathematics and Formal Logic. We can of course reach reasonable conclusions and form probabilistic assessments.

As long as we have our morals, we have the right to belief. I find the topic of religion so intriguing, but when people completely lose respect, they're blinded thinking only they are right. Then it's like an argument over whether a bagel is an ant or a jumbo-jet.

Huh? I'm sorry that all escapes me.

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Religion is like the matrix. Once you're in the system, it's hard to get out.

Because of many manipulative factors within religious indoctrination, yes.

It's a self-contradicting paradox, because you know no matter what, there's always a possibility for god.

I wouldn't say self-contradicting paradox no. It's an unfalsifiable assertion. which 'protects itself' by means of keeping itself unfalsifiable and asserting that it has merit merely by not being falsified.

Like the 17th century philosopher Pascal said, "If you believe in god, you have nothing to lose, but if you don't, you'll lose everything".

Ah yes, Pascal's Wager. It is staggering just how wrong and flawed that argument is. :lol:

I think I became an atheist realizing there's no possible way to know of a greater force, and the probability of the bible happening like it is is nearly infinite.

Literal interpretations of parts of the Bible are manifestly false, but there is always room for allegory. And as you say the 'metaphysical' stuff remains beyond our reach of refutation.

Also, I thought, you can always try to disprove god by science, but then there's the self-contradiction of "But maybe god made it like that to trick you".

Right; the intrinsic unfalsifiablity of the 'supernatural.'

What one can do however is disprove certain detailed descriptions of a god. As Victor J. Stenger endeavoured to do in his book God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. In which he did not (as the title may imply) try to disprove the vague concept of "God" but presented various believed versions of God (such as the 3-O god; Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent) and disproved or severely undermined those.

It's always a possibility, but definitely illogical.

Yup. But then they (the theist, in terms of this thread; Christians) are making the positive claim, and thus they wear the burden of proof.

If we have logic, how could our "Creator" not?

Emergent properties :D

What is there worth believing in if he tries to hide his existence while being the most known thing on Earth?

Crazy huh?

Are we better people because we sustain faith in something completely illogical because it's popular and seems right?

No, in fact I would argue that one is a better person (in some sense) if we reject and avoid Faith (in anything) at every turn. As Faith is belief to the degree of conviction through the (often wilful) abandonment of reason.

That's my argument.

I'm sure you've gone over this sometime, but I don't know when.

Personally sure, but it is the nature of the beast that the same ground is covered many times, and if we are open to it we are often the better for it.

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I wish there were more Christians in this argument. Too bad it's a website dedicated to logic :)

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Logic? The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. For all you Christians, you cannot debate with anything but scripture. When tempted, Jesus fought of the enemy with the WORD, His Word. It is written, The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God, these would rather worship the creation, than the Creator. They will say "there are lots of gods, how can they all be true" they say "They can't, so they must all be a lie". There is only one truth. You can't make people receive wisdom. She stands at the gate and cry's out, though only a few will hear. Pride. It is a most terrible defect of character someone can have. Humility is a difficult trait to develop, it is the level of ones being Humble. As long as one says he or she knows it all "I am so smart" "I have studied and learned" "I know it all" = PRIDE. Will never see the TRUTH, THE WAY, or THE LIFE.

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and again the thread rises from the grave,

welcome Q-Cumber we few we proud Qs have to stay strong :)

ok now to slam ya :)

i agree with ADParker, no you gotta respect the right to have another opinion but not that opinion. i cannot respect the idea of female circumcision, the tenets of MANBLA or several other very offensive ideas/beliefs. I am not offended by peoples religions as long as they are not forcing their beliefs on others. Some extremists exist in any religion/belief system, including atheism who feel they must impose their beliefs on others. I cannot respect that. To discuss/debate/argue is fine to impose is wrong.

Also a bagel is a round bread product that is often covered with poppy seeds or sesame seeds or even plain, though sesame seeds are the best. There are several different types, montreal or new york style being the 2 most common (montreal are by far the best new york ones suck) often instead of butter cream cheese is used and smoked salmon. they are neither animate objects like ants or metallic objects like jumbo jets ;)

As long as one says he or she knows it all "I am so smart" "I have studied and learned" "I know it all" = PRIDE. Will never see the TRUTH, THE WAY, or THE LIFE.

I agree with this Hambone but of course you know when I read that sentence the meaning is very very different for me than for you. Language is funny isnt it

Edited by Quag

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and again the thread rises from the grave
Sucka just wont stay dead more than 3 days at a time :lol:

I find the topic of religion so intriguing, but when people completely lose respect, they're blinded thinking only they are right.
I disagree, and on that aspect you don't need to read back 53 pages, it's related to what we were just discussing. Although you kind of answered it yourself...

Religion is like the matrix. Once you're in the system, it's hard to get out.
Same goes for any superstition but religion ups the stakes. The issue of respect and humility is a delicate one. While I do think that people should generally be respectful and humble, these traits lead you right into the trap (for details of trap see my ). The point is that acceptance of a core fallacy makes the addition of other fallacies easy. But how do you achieve the mindset in which that core fallacy might be accepted?

Logic? The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. For all you Christians, you cannot debate with anything but scripture. When tempted, Jesus fought of the enemy with the WORD, His Word. It is written, The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God, these would rather worship the creation, than the Creator. They will say "there are lots of gods, how can they all be true" they say "They can't, so they must all be a lie". There is only one truth. You can't make people receive wisdom. She stands at the gate and cry's out, though only a few will hear. Pride. It is a most terrible defect of character someone can have. Humility is a difficult trait to develop, it is the level of ones being Humble. As long as one says he or she knows it all "I am so smart" "I have studied and learned" "I know it all" = PRIDE. Will never see the TRUTH, THE WAY, or THE LIFE.
Thank you Hambone. You have to lack faith in your own intelligence (sorry AdParker :P). Be humble. Don't imagine that you can think the matter through, your best attempt at reason is foolishness. This creates the gap in reasoning necessary for to be slid into place. If part of your mind rebels at it, know that this is pride, it's just your foolish human brain thinking that rationality is worth something.

Non-believers in Proposition-A-based religion might seem over-confident of their reasoning (and the value of that reasoning). But that's no accident. Confidence is necessary in order to reject a fallacy regardless of how it is presented. Propostion A necessitates avoidance of any mental state which would weaken your belief, so it is natural that the confidence of those who reject it should be perceived as over-confidence.

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You have to lack faith in your own intelligence (sorry AdParker :P).

Hey, I'm all for LACKING Faith. :lol:

Be humble.

Absolutely. I am a big fan of the apocryphal story of Socrates; who went to the Oracle of Delphi and was told that he was the wisest of them all, as only he recognised the true depths of his ignorance.

Of course you may have already figured this from my signature ;)

Edited by ADParker

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