Fwd: On Faith (3)

From: Daniel S.
Sent on: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 5:29 PM

Subject: Fwd: On Faith

Sent: Tue, May 21,[masked]:28 pm
Subject: Re: On Faith

     It turns out that we are not so different after all.  For starters, while I'm not a "Treckie," I am a huge fan of Star Trek.  (can't wait to see "Into Darkness" which, I've read, depends somewhat on knowing "The Revenge of Khan" storyline)  I've often used Star Trek as an example, in rough terms, of the kind of society I'd like to see.  You'll note that the most important part of how Star Trek Command runs itself is the Prime Directive, which mandates non-interference with other societies.  Part of that is to respect foreign religious beliefs.  With more discipline than I have, Star Trek characters normally refrain from disabusing alien cultures of their beliefs.  Of course, there is always the exception to the rule.  Captain Kirk, who thinks outside the box, has violated the Prime Directive on one or two occasions. 
      I respect all that is good about religion but press believers to also think outside the box and see where they wind up, concerning their religious beliefs.  You don't have to give up your intuitive spirituality in order to at least consider the claims of non theists, many of whom also have spiritual leanings.  I am personally aware of the same and leave the door open a crack as to their origins.  I know there are things we can not, and may never be able to, explain. 
    Like you, I am a poet at heart, but I also try to be an eclectic, whole man, by also embracing logic.  I grant you that many, perhaps a majority of, Free Thinkers would demand empirical scientific proof before changing their belief systems.  I suppose I am one of them but, as previously stated, part of my personal belief system includes the possibility that my spiritual inclinations originate outside of my brain or in conjunction with it.  
     My biggest complaint, and biggest fear, about religion, particularly of the organized kind, is that, by its very existence, it encourages splinter groups which go "off the deep end."  Still, I am completely for freedom of religion but it should include, without prejudice, freedom from religion.  There have been so many great non-believers in history, and none of them could become President of the United States.  Few could even be elected to the school board.  This, despite the fact, unknown to most folks, that many of the Founding Fathers were Deists.
     You may be right when you say that if God "showed up" and proved his existence most Humanists would be "pissed off" but, excepting it be an unfriendly God, I would be elated over finally knowing the source of all truth, as well as love.  Of course, I grant you, the thought might cross my mind: "I hope this is God, and not just advanced technology."  I suppose, going full circle, the convincing "proof" in such a case would be the response of the "heart."  We know so much; we know so little.  --Dan
-----Original Message-----

Subject: Re: On Faith

Those were great responses (I really loved your take on Hitler).

I gotta' think you love the world of Star Trek (or maybe you don't at all), but it's what I think of when I think of the potential future you describe.

I don't really have any complaint with life approach philosophy you describe.  Certainly my "live and let live" take on things puts me at odds with most of fellow Christians.  I suppose that's my cross to bear (haha).

I will only take semantic issue with one point you made: you described humanists as people willing to adjust their viewpoints as they received more "proof," but you mean "scientific proof" as defined by science.  I am a poet by trade (not a theologian), so we will disagree on this point.  I believe there are legitimate forms of experience (and, therefore, "truth" and "proof") that cannot be measured by science).  I know the scientific path will lead to a world in which every emotion and mystical experience will be explained away by chemical interactions and electronic signals on neural pathways, but I thank God I don't live in that world (haha).

Really I am in the camp that marvels that the more we reveal with science, the more questions there are (it's like a fractal!), and I think it always will be.  I love science, and I am of the camp that not only does science not threaten my beliefs, it actually reveals the world to be a more mystical and magical place.

And you imply that if God suddenly showed up today and offered scientific proof of God's existence, you'd be cool with that -- that all humanists everywhere would be cool with that.  But, come on; confess!  Truthfully, you'd be kind of pissed off, wouldn't you?

It does not bother me that God does not show up and offer such proof, because I do not believe that people, even faced with such proof, would accept it and believe.  People do stupid, senseless and illogical things every single day.  For heaven's sake, they don't even believe in global warming (suppose you could make the argument there that by citing that example I am making your case for you -- but I think that's even more political than it is religious, and I've met plenty of people who take their political ideology far more seriously than they do the religious variety).

Thanks for helping me broaden my horizons.  I am completely honest when I say that I respect your views (and your ability to articulate them) far more than those of many of the so-called "Christians" I know.


-----Original Message-----

Sent: Mon, May 20,[masked]:59 am
Subject: Re: On Faith

This speech did not move me in any significant way.  It is apologetics for humanism, which is, after all, a form of faith no diferent from my own belief system in that it is just one more option of a mental framework for organizing one's life.  It argues that religious faith leads to bad outcomes inherently, which is I think different than that religious faith done poorly leads to bad outcomes.  As I see it, the larger the religious belief base, the larger the number of bad outcomes, based on statistical probability.  Although many people tend to compartmentalize their thinking, using logic six days a week and dropping it outside the church door on Sundays, others do not, so they will never decide to become biologists, geologists, etc., because these disciplines clash with their religious beliefs.  Humanism is not a faith system in that it is always willing to change its opinion in light of new information.  Religion generally takes centuries, if ever, to do the same.  You could also say that Humanism does not have faith in faith.  Rather, it has "faith" in the value of experience, observation, experimentation and logic.
There is an assumption in this speech that any culture or nation which founded its guiding principles on a basis other than faith would produce better, more humane outcomes.  But history is full of examples of exactly the opposite (see Fascist regimes of fthe 20th century -- clearly not based on the principles of religious faith - in Nazi Germany, arguably a testament to science without moral guidelines running terrifyingly amok).  Hitler was a Catholic, albeit a lapsed one.  His doctrine concerning the Jews was based on the New Testament "fact" that the Jews killed Jesus.  At least it was a "good" excuse for his actions, but he could never have carried them out if society had not been preconditioned by religiously inspired anti Semitism.  Additionally, ideologies such as Fascism and Communism are not based on logic or reason.  They are characterized by a putative religious fervor in worship of a god-like figure.
I am a plurality guy - you do your thing, and I'll do mine, and no reason we can't work for common good and goals together.  And the variety and creative tension of these belief systems learning to live with one another is what really gives humanity its flavor.   I also believe in working together for the common good.  There will always, I hope, be variety and creative tension in our society.  That involves the market place of ideas and so long as no ideas or the people who espouse them are persecuted we can hope that the results will be beneficial for everyone. 
I disagreed with (or at least questioned) his premise out of the box: he states that "at most, only one of these belief systems cam be true."  Why is that?  Why can't multiple faith paths be true?  [I don't know the full answer to this questions and am not posing one, nor do I have a doctorate in philosophy, but why the automatic limitation?  The world seems to me a fascinatingly diverse place.]  My perception is that it's not the author who places the automatic limitations.  It's the religions in question which claim a lock on the truth, each for its own particular faith.  The limit they individually place is the claim that they are right and all the other religions are either partially or totally wrong.  If there is a God there may well be multiple paths to Him/Her/It.  If you ask an Atheist if he or she believes in God he or she will say no.  Ask an Agnostic the same question and you will learn that he or she also does not "believe" there is a God but there could be.  Both disciplines say "Show me proof and I will believe."  There are many definitions for Humanism, which can include both Atheists and Agnostics, but the basic concept is that humans must help humans if they expect any help at all, although there are some Humanists who also have some sort of religious belief or hope.
     I am of the opinion that the faster humanity gets away from organized religious doctrines, which have the unfortunate effect of creating fervent, sometimes disturbed believers, the better off we will be.  I don't actually believe that will happen any time soon but I do hope it will.  Tribal cooperation and morality, at least for members of the group, is a survival mechanism which has brought us to this day.  We don't need organized religion to tell us "God Said" be moral; it's an attribute, along with evil/selfish tendencies, of our species.  We have survived by being moral among ourselves but hostile and murderous towards "others" we perceive as a threat.  In the atomic age we need to learn that there are no "others."  It's all "us."  --Dan
Thanks for rthe stimulus,
On Sat, May 18, 2013 at 9:51 PM, Dan wrote:

Subject: Fwd: On Faith

Subject: On Faith

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