When did faith become a four letter word?

Hi, this Ian in Arizona. I have been reading the WHYS blog and have notice something that disturbs me. I would like to ask all of the WHYS Listeners for their help in figuring out this: When did religion become viewed as a negative thing? When did having faith make my opinion less worthy to be heard than an opinion from an individual without a stated faith or religion?

John in Salem on the blog asked why their can not be a discussion of abortion without religion. John and I had a good exchange but I would still like to ask “why should we have a discussion without religion”?

Individuals based decisions on their paradigms; the way they view the world. Cliff Walker of Positive Atheism Magazine estimates that over one-fifth of the world’s population is some form of atheist or agnostic.

That means that four-fifths of the world’s population believes in God. Four-fifths of the world has religious beliefs and those beliefs, along with other beliefs, influence their paradigms; influence what they believe and the decisions that they make.

It has also been implied that people with religious beliefs can not have rational points. I would argue that people with religious beliefs are just as rational as those without. “Logic can be used to justify almost anything. That’s its greatest strength. It is also its greatest weakness.”

Four-fifths of the world’s population believes in religion, but the one-fifth dismisses us because, according to their beliefs, it is not rational to have faith. Faith is a belief in something known but not seen. But even the one-fifth who does not believe in religion still believes in faith. Isn’t love faith? Isn’t hope that your children will make the right decisions in their life faith?

Is 80% of the world’s population wrong?

Bob in Queensland said on the blog that “religions (organized) seem to become the number one cause of strife and war in the world.”

I do not agree with Bob’s comments. I’ve been trying to think of examples of what Bob is referring to, and I can not think of any modern examples. World War II was not caused by religious differences. It was caused by a Nazi Government trying to take over the world.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is not one religion against another but one of a people trying to remove a group that they see as invaders of their land. Religion is just used as an excuse.

The United States did not invade Iraq because of a religious disagreement.

The suffering in Myanmar (Burma) is not being caused by religion. The military government is stopping aid, from government and religious organizations, from reaching their people.

The only close example I can think of that is close to Bob’s point is Al-Qaeda. These terrorist attack groups who do not agree with their beliefs, including their own people. The religion that they say they believe in, Islam, does not practice or preach this kind of behaviour.

It seems to me that the problems caused in the world are caused by individuals, and not religions. I am still learning about the world’s different religions, but I know of no religion that promotes violence. I have learned about religions that promote the betterment of their people, to grow and to come closer to an ideal.

However, I know of people who promote violence. We call these people extremist. I know of extremist who say that they are acting on behalf of their religion, or their God, but whose actions go against their stated religions beliefs.

I’m sorry for those who have had bad experiences with individuals’ who are religious. But why should the religions be blamed for the acts of individuals?

I have always been amazed at the diversity of the WHYS Listeners, so I pose the questions to them. I look forward to their replies.

91 Responses to “When did faith become a four letter word?”

  1. May 23, 2008 at 16:14

    “Faith becomes a “4 Letter Word” when used in the context of a debate among people who do not hold the same “beliefs”. When trying to gain a solid understanding based in a shared reality the subject needs to have some basis in accepted fact. No debate argument should start out with, “I believe”. It is the same if you say, “I have faith”. There are no facts to argue with that statement.

    Faith: 2 a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust

    Irrational: not rational: as a (1): not endowed with reason or understanding (2): lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence b: not governed by or according to reason : having a quantity other than that required by the meter.

    Thought: 3: something that is thought: as a: an individual act or product of thinking b: a developed intention or plan c: something (as an opinion or belief) in the mind d: the intellectual product or the organized views and principles of a period, place, group, or individual

  2. 2 Roberto
    May 23, 2008 at 16:20

    But why should the religions be blamed for the acts of individuals?

    ———— Because much if not most of common folk and their leaders have not yet evolved beyond their generalist genetics that allowed them to be part of the tribe, clan, nation, ethnic group, religion or race and see everyone else as “the other” who was to be feared.

    Violence preceded religious beliefs and obviously the history of the world mostly painted in blood. As long as we have these limited genetics creating the conditions for violence, it’s just an endless cycle until the great masses and leaders cease creating these conditions.

    BTW, atheism is a religious belief also, although they are loathe to admit as such.

  3. 3 Ryan Beveridge
    May 23, 2008 at 16:38

    ‘Faith is a belief in something known but not seen’

    I find it amazing that even in a moden society it is considered a comendable trait to have blind faith. It reminds me of a wonderfull quote (of which i am afraid to say i do no know the author):

    George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and christians love him
    for it. If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer,
    they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair
    dryer makes it any more absurd.

    Riligion (my knowledge is only of the abrahamic religions) allows individuals to form almost any standpoint as the religious texts are so open to interpretation taht any person can push there own values through it.

    Another quote, this tim from Seneca the Younger 4 b.c.- 65 a.d:

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

  4. 4 Justin from Iowa
    May 23, 2008 at 17:08

    Its not Faith and Religion themselves which throw debaters from those backgrounds into a negative light, it is the fact that many people arguing from a faith background use that as a crutch and justification instead of rational points of arguement.

    Of course, some topics are argued over simply because of faith and religion backgrounds, so faith-based arguements are rational.

    Its a murky border, usually defined by intent. Some people argue (pardon the pun) in good faith from their religious backgrounds, while some people throw their faith under the bus to win an arguement.

    Also, people arguing from a faith background are far less likely to back down or concede points, because their arguments in many discussions come from rationalizing their faith, rather than rationalizing empirical evidence. Faith by its very definition is resistant to being convinced of the rightness of any other perspective. Now, that’s not saying that people arguing from a purely rational/empirical perspective are necessarily better, but the option and opportunity for a change in perspective is more possible.

  5. 5 Brett
    May 23, 2008 at 17:17

    I’m sorry for those who have had bad experiences with individuals’ who are religious. But why should the religions be blamed for the acts of individuals?

    This question poses an interesting dilemma.

    If Christians feel justified for being upset on the attack on their religion. Why is it that many Christians persecute Islam as a whole and not the extremists which give it a bad name?

    This isn’t just against believers of God and non-believers. The problem of blanketing is often applied by everyone and to everyone when religion is on the table.

    I hear Islam haters of faith and of-no-faith alike on this board. Is it not the pot calling the kettle black if you can get upset when your religion comes under attack, then denounce anothers religion but insist that you remain correct in your followings?

  6. May 23, 2008 at 17:54

    My Precious Ian from Arizona : Again, I do agree 100% with what you said… And again I say, a human being can be good or bad regardless of his/her faith and whether he/she believes in God/Allah/Lord or not…. If we all believe in that concept then surely the world will change for the better… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  7. 7 Pangolin
    May 23, 2008 at 18:08

    To argue with somebody standing on a foundation of faith is to argue with ‘turtles all the way down.’ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down) The faith bearer will set up a pretense of a logical argument for their conclusions for you to observe; a ‘turtle’ holding up his world view.

    Should some other person succeed in constructing a logical argument that successfully displaces that ‘turtle’ he will discover that instantly another turtle just as shiny and well constructed has replaced the previous one as a support for the world. No matter how well constructed your argument their stack of turtles decreases by not an atoms width.

    Until both parties agree to base their arguments on observations of mutually observable causes and effects their is little point in discussion. A party relying on ‘faith’ has no need to listen to the other party in a dispute when his/her personal cosmology has informed them that they are already correct.

    Thus all over the world it can be observed faithful religionists passing homeless, destitute, poor, sick and abandoned people to attend religious services that claim a foundation on love, charity, generosity and peace. There many religionists will hear arguments in justification of hoarding, inequality and violence towards ‘the other.’

    Only where atheism is ascendant is there a virtual lack of homelessness, starvation, true poverty and group violence. These are also the nations that have managed to provide health care to their entire populations. Thus in the religious US the poor rot in the streets while empty houses rot, healthcare is spotty, and food security is a matter of chance. Meanwhile in Finland or Cuba everyone is fed (however poorly) housed, and provided with health care. To be fair India, with dozens of faiths, fares even worse than the US.

    It seems that faith is not a benefit to society.

  8. 8 Ian from Arizona
    May 23, 2008 at 18:16

    I want to thank everybody for their comments so far. I have enjoyed reading them.

    We have been talking it about it for awhile now in the “talking points” page. Please take a look at what has been said there: https://worldhaveyoursay.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/talking-points-for-23-may/

    From what I have read from people who have replied so far is that:
    1. Beliefs should never be part of a debate. A debate should only be based on facts. However, even the validity of the source of the facts are subject to debate.
    2. Closed minded people will never be open to any type discussion; both religious and non-religious people alike.
    3. Religious extremest are to blame for most people’s negative view of religion.
    4. Most people, right or wrong, use stereotypes to describe members of a religious organization.
    5. Logic can be used to justify any point of view.

    World Have Your Say is a Global Conversation and the comments so far have been from a global perspective. I am grateful to those who have made comments so far and who will make comments. Thank you.

  9. 9 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 23, 2008 at 19:25

    None of the religion ever teach violance, actually fight start when one religion try to impose, enfoce his superiority on other religion or occupation a peace of land or property at the name of religion like Isriel & Pakistan.

  10. 10 Dennis Jr
    May 23, 2008 at 19:29

    Faith became a four-letter word many years…Because of Reglion became a intolerant towards certain parties..

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  11. 11 Justin from Iowa
    May 23, 2008 at 19:52

    Basically, religious arguments have a tendency to devolve into basically sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting “NA NA NA I”M RIGHT YOUR WRONG CAN’T HEAR YOU NA NA NA” …more often than non-religious arguments.

    Or, religion is more often used to justify the above example than any other style or basis for discussion.

  12. May 23, 2008 at 20:32

    Unrelated to this conversation I just got into a debate over the exact same thing with a co-worker. We found the TV in the break room was on a science channel doing a documentary on dinosaurs. He said, “How do they prove that. They use Hypotheses. How is that any different then faith?” I kind of had to shake my head as I tried to sum up the scientific method in 3 sentences. A little later he brought up “The Big bang”, “evolution”, and “global warming.” How can you prove that these are true? While my mouth could open, I realized that I arrived at the understanding that these were true after many series of studies. An understanding of the scientific method, through many credit hours of experiments, to biology, self study, and reading of advanced research papers over the course of 30 years. I was faced with trying to explain that to a guy how I came to believe in these concepts. My competition is this guy that stands in front of a group of people and says, “This is the way it is because this here book says that god says so.” Wow that took less then 30 seconds to convince him. I was going to need his undivided attention for at least 48 hours, and a chalk board. I stumbled to give him an overview, offered the growing disinterested party some web sites to check out, and finally let the conversation die. How do you debate that?

  13. 13 Shirley
    May 23, 2008 at 21:09

    I don’t see any necessity for faith to be part of a discussion about abortion. At the same time, however, I don’t understand why people are so reluctant to discuss religion or spirituality. It’s one of those topics that is banned from the dinner table, ao to speak. Why shouldn’t people be able to include discussion of their rleigious beliefs as an aspect of other discussions? Yes, this would include abortion – I was trying to say that a discussion on abortion need not be tied to religion. With religion being such a big part of the lives of so many people, of course it will influence their thinking on other issues.

  14. 14 Robert in Angola
    May 23, 2008 at 21:18

    My personal belief is that in previous generations, religion was one of the few fixed things people had in they’re life. In a world that they didn’t understand it provided a means to explain everything as the will of God. Because of its security religion was popular.

    Today most people have a better knowledge have how the world works. Not only science but also better communications and democracy have played a part in people understanding what influences our life’s. As humans if we understand something we seem to have a need to control it. This is where traditional religions (i.e. those of a creator god) have become a bad word in the general populaces eyes, as they restrict the control over our own free will.

    In western society we seem to love taking risks we think we can control and getting new experiences. The regular fixtures of an unchanging weekly service contrast with this. As a result the major religions do not provide what the general population needs and in do so have been largely ignored or only paid lip service. This then empowers the enemies of religion to openly start attacking institution’s as most of the general public are neither concerned or bothered.

  15. 15 Roberto
    May 23, 2008 at 22:06

    It seems that faith is not a benefit to society.

    ————— It seems this is something you believe in, blindly.

    Therefore, it must not be a benefit to society.

  16. 16 Ian from Arizona
    May 23, 2008 at 22:40

    Science has been brought up as a reason that we no longer need religion. I know that WHYS had a show about this last week, I believe with the premise that religion holds back progress.

    The Templeton Foundation has raised the question “Does science make belief in God obsolete?” It can be found online at: http://templeton.org/belief/. There are some interesting points from many scientist, both for and against, whether God is obsolete in our modern world. One point, by William D. Phillips, a Nobel Laureate in physics, states (I added the spaces to make it easier to read):

    “On the first question: a scientist can believe in God because such belief is not a scientific matter. Scientific statements must be “falsifiable.” That is, there must be some outcome that at least in principle could show that the statement is false. I might say, “Einstein’s theory of relativity correctly describes the behavior of visible objects in our solar system.” So far, extremely careful measurements have failed to prove that statement false, but they could (and some people have invested careers in trying to see if they will).

    “By contrast, religious statements are not necessarily falsifiable. I might say, “God loves us and wants us to love one another.” I cannot think of anything that could prove that statement false. Some might argue that if I were more explicit about what I mean by God and the other concepts in my statement, it would become falsifiable.

    “But such an argument misses the point. It is an attempt to turn a religious statement into a scientific one. There is no requirement that every statement be a scientific statement. Nor are non-scientific statements worthless or irrational simply because they are not scientific. “She sings beautifully.” “He is a good man.” “I love you.” These are all non-scientific statements that can be of great value. Science is not the only useful way of looking at life.

    “What about the second question: why do I believe in God? As a physicist, I look at nature from a particular perspective. I see an orderly, beautiful universe in which nearly all physical phenomena can be understood from a few simple mathematical equations. I see a universe that, had it been constructed slightly differently, would never have given birth to stars and planets, let alone bacteria and people.

    “And there is no good scientific reason for why the universe should not have been different. Many good scientists have concluded from these observations that an intelligent God must have chosen to create the universe with such beautiful, simple, and life-giving properties. Many other equally good scientists are nevertheless atheists. Both conclusions are positions of faith.

    “Recently, the philosopher and long-time atheist Anthony Flew changed his mind and decided that, based on such evidence, he should believe in God. I find these arguments suggestive and supportive of belief in God, but not conclusive. I believe in God because I can feel God’s presence in my life, because I can see the evidence of God’s goodness in the world, because I believe in Love and because I believe that God is Love.”

    Presented in this essay are two people; one from a scientific background who believes in God, and a former atheist who found belief in God through science. Does this Nobel Laureate have a valid point? Can’t science help prove God’s existence as it helps explain and creates understanding of our modern world?

  17. 17 Scott Millar
    May 23, 2008 at 23:08

    + Faith is pompous arrogance to the extreme. Stating your faith is the correct answer to zillions of years of history and debate is abominable. On top of that, the inherent views of many faiths, usually require that all the other faiths are incorrect! These faiths are then used to dictate morals, judge others and sometimes limit rights. Is it possible to be more arrogant?

    + Faith in love is also preposterous.

    + Hope is not faith.

    + Problems not caused by religions but people? Of course! Many problems are technically or generally caused by people. People after all invented religions. There isn’t much of a distinction to be made.

    + Religion and faith can be a negative in a discussion if it is used subjectively as a premiss for an argument. Because religion and faith do not make a sound premiss.

    + Yes 80% of the world can be wrong! Can 80% of a country be wrong? Of course. Actually even 100% could be wrong.

    + Why did the USA go to war in the first place in Iraq and Afghanistan? It was most likely a direct result of 9/11, which was a result of lop-sided religious views.

    + If religion is correct and god created the earth, then religion or god caused the suffering in Burma. Intelligent design in its finest hour! Way-to-go!

  18. May 23, 2008 at 23:27

    Hi WHYSers!

    I think the subject of faith is, largely, a personal matter. It defines a part of and a place in your reality that is sufficiently personal as to have significance, in a real way, only to you. As a confirmed Catholic I still feel that women have the right to choose to have an abortion, notwithstanding that my faith teaches that all life is sacred and should be saved, regardless. Matters about morality, such as it is, cannot be legislated or enforced.

    Faith means different things to different people at different times and in different places, even within the same (faith) community. For instance, I believe in a God that is merciful and compassionate; Who accepts you as you are – no ifs, ands or buts about it. This relationship may evolve over time. However, there is nothing that says that only certain people can be loved by Him and not others. Or that, we all need to become replicas of the same cultural expressions to be in better community with God.

    There are moments when the line is not always as clear cut. Saying there was no evolution and that Adam and Eve is THE Correct version of reality is flawed reasoning! We have widely accepted that faith stories like that about the beginning of the human family have their basis in a sort of mythological genre of literary expression. These, in the main, seek to highlight the awesome powers of faith and the God from which they descend and around which they revolve, rather than rational or even historically accurate realities under which the Earth was created.

    Does that mean I do not believe God created the Earth in seven days? Quite the contrary! As an expression of faith we articulate a particular representation of reality that is largely accessed through a believer’s own consciousness and sense of communion with God. Does that also mean, there is no room for faith in legitimate debates about real issues? Of course there is!

    It is, of course, a question of rational minds coming together to debate, hopefully, in an atmosphere of respect and a key reliance on accurate and credible information. That means, fundamentalism, hate speech and myopic reasoning are to be strongly resisted as much as falsehoods, sentiments and baseless feelings, etc.

    Faith to me is very legitimate topic for discussion and is, certainly, not a bad word! It is a matter of application in context. Not, all people, sadly, are necessarily very rational in their interactions with each other on this very emotional and, admittedly, perplexing subject. Even within this blog community we have seen these examples.

  19. 19 Venessa
    May 23, 2008 at 23:49

    This is a quandary and hard to sum up. Religion seems to be becoming the basis for laws contributing to forms of oppression and intolerance without regard for the freedom of other people to have their own belief systems. In my experience religion has a tendency to be very prejudiced against those that are not subscribing to the same views. It’s this close mindedness that I think people get frustrated with.

    Just because it’s in the bible (or any other religious doctrines one follows) does that mean it’s absolute and everyone should live by it? Sure, for some people. I could say, “All weather is sin-related,” because Stephen Colbert writes it in his book and his book is now my doctrine. Based on the belief that weather is sin-related hurricane Katrina was a result of someone or a group of people who really infuriated God. (I’m being facetious in this example).

    An extension to the definition of religion can also include: “The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. “Organized religion” generally refers to an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity. Other religions believe in personal revelation. “Religion” is sometimes used interchangeably with “faith” or “belief system,” but is more socially defined than that of personal convictions.”

    A belief system is defined as: a life stance, a religion, a worldview, a philosophy and/or an ideology.

  20. 20 Venessa
    May 23, 2008 at 23:51

    @ Scott Millar (May 23, 2008 at 11:08 pm )

    Bravo & spot on!

  21. May 24, 2008 at 00:10

    I find this to be such an interesting discussion. I rather like Scott’s point about intelligent design. I certainly cannot suggest an argument to refute his contentions and do not feel like it.

    However, I would love to add that it has been my experience that to the extent that religion in its various formats across the globe gets such a bad wrap, often by non-religious people, would suggest to me that there are similarities between that and other religions. The very argument of refuting religion seems to me to be part of the standard religious doctrine of denouncing other faiths as somehow insufficient to provide a meaningful explanation of and about the world and one’s place in it.

    I often wonder about that. Whether those who claim a non-religious heritage are not also themselves just as dogmatic and judgemental as religion is often criticised for being? My view is, can’t we all just get along? Does it matter if I am Jew, Catholic or Muslim, etc? Of course, the easy answer is yes! But, in reality the question of love and compassion knows no boundaries. We either love and respect each other or we do not, regardless of religious, racial, class, national or even gendered differences.

    One of the greatest problems with the discussion of religion, I have found, is that it often magnifies the differences between people, usually in a hierarchic way which seemingly accords or takes away political power. We spend more time, as a result, highlighting our differences rather than our similarities.

    I agree, with Venessa. Using religious views as a basis for writing laws can present us with serious problems. Often, we discriminate against each other on the premise of religious differences, which really says nothing about the other qualities of faith that are, I think, part of why people are attracted to it to begin with. Shared values, love, respect, etc. These are some of the more noble characteristics that do not always get emphasised, I find.

  22. 22 Ian from Arizona
    May 24, 2008 at 00:20

    ~ Scott

    Is it possible to be more arrogant?

    Yes. I think you comments proved that it is. Basically, you are stating to me and the other readers of this blog that your belief that “faith is pompous arrogance to the extreme” is the only correct view. You are “stating [that] your faith is the correct answer to zillions of years of history and debate is abominable”.

    Aren’t you trying to push your belief system, as Venessa defines it, on us?

    ~ Agostinho

    There was a Eve, and science has proven that. The question comes in was the Eve that science has proven existed the Eve in the Bible. My personal believe is Yes, but it is up to all of us to figure that out from themselves. But this is a scientific fact that does help support the argument for the truth of some religions.

  23. 23 Will Rhodes
    May 24, 2008 at 00:28

    · When did religion become viewed as a negative thing?

    For that you have to blame both the fundamental Islamists and NeoCon Christians

    · When did faith become a four letter (inappropriate) word?

    See above

    · When did having faith make my opinion less worthy to be heard than an opinion from an individual without a stated faith or religion?

    It shouldn’t. If it does then you are either:

    1) Being tarred with the same brush
    2) Spouting the fanatic religious nonsense that were mentioned above.
    3) The person you are discussing something with has an inferiority complex
    4) You are preaching to a choir that cannot have their minds changed through normal debate.

  24. 24 Joel Salomon
    May 24, 2008 at 00:37

     Pretty obviously, if the debate centers on matters of doctrine then one participant’s “faith” puts an end to the discussion. But (as I understood him) Ian wasn’t referring to that but to the question of why debates about other issues seem also to be killed by mention of faith.
     Take the abortion debate for an example. It’s certainly possible to take any position on the issue, all the way from “life begins at conception so all abortion is murder” to “life begins at birth and abortion is a private matter”, all without reference to religion. The fact that most people’s views are informed by their faith’s teachings does not (or rather, should not) de-legitimatize these views.

  25. 25 Will Rhodes
    May 24, 2008 at 00:46

    @ Brett

    If Christians feel justified for being upset on the attack on their religion. Why is it that many Christians persecute Islam as a whole and not the extremists which give it a bad name?

    I am a Christian and I don’t persecute Islam. My voice as a Christian is clouded by those who shout louder than I. I don’t like being shouted down but I will not raise my voice louder than others because I am tolerant of them and their frustrations and paranoia – will I help them? I will when I can.

    Those who persecute others in the name of Christianity are not Christians – it really is as simple as that.

    To bolster my faith I do odd things – one is watching TV evangelists – I find them both sad and funny at the same time. I also listen to radical Muslims and laugh just as much – they, I may add, are not the Muslims I know. Those Christians that believe in the Hell fire do not understand what the Bible says – those Muslims who will not accept what their prophet said are not Muslims. If you read the qu’ran you would see that he said that all religions should be tolerated as they stand certainly not persecuted as has happened. Forced conversion to the Islamic faith is not acceptable – yet radical Muslims want that more than anything – because they want power!

    Evangelical Christians want the conversion of Muslims and other faiths to their form of Christianity because they do believe that Muhammed was a false prophet and more than that they want power!

    Get the common theme running through this?

    Utilising faith and/or religion is a way to power for those who can preach the loudest and most hateful.

    What that leads to is people turning away from faith – many Muslims I know are doing so because of the scars left by those who are using the faith for evil than what is meant. The same can be said with Christianity.

  26. May 24, 2008 at 00:53

    We do not have to come to an agreement on who Einstein is, what his theory of relativity is, or what our solar system is. We only need to debate the validity of the statement. In contrary, we have to discuss who “God” is, what it means to “love”, and according to many religions who “us” is. That is even before we discuss the validity of the statement, “God loves us.”

    Here is the thing. We need to have hard facts about valid statements to cure things like cancer, hunger, and “accidental” pregnancy. The statements you gave can be addresses scientifically. As a matter of fact many are by marketers. You say, “She sings beautifully.” I want your money. So I am going to study scientifically “why” you think that so. Then I can offer you more artists that sing like her and charge you a premium for it.

    Lol, I hate to load the other side, but I do have to admit to an epiphany that I had a few months ago. It happened when writing this blog post.
    http://logicandpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/02/10-questions-i-would-like-to-ask.html. I am re-writing my self-discovery with out the political accusations woven into this post. Basically I took an objective view of why God would have developed the system we have. The stripped down version of what I came up with was this. God is busy trying to find candidates to leave in eternal peace and harmony. To do this he needs a community that meets a few criteria. A) Everybody must be patient, forgiving, and tolerant to get along with everybody else. B) They must prove that they can live with very simplistic and meager means. C) God needs to know we will not question his actions or motives no matter what. Above all we must have “faith” in him. For whatever reason we are created with free will. The almighty needs a way to separate the angels from the demons.

    That said, the pieces al fit only after a suspension of the facts. So even if I did figure something out. I am missing the key element. “Faith”. It is not a capacity of mine to have it. It is why I do believe that Jesus had a good plan. It is the only way I can allow religious ideas to enter a debate and have validity.

  27. 27 steve
    May 24, 2008 at 00:55

    I’m just curious, how can you have faith without evidence? Words written in a book is not evidence. I could write a book.

    I can see how you could have faith in a person, if you trusted them and believed in them, someone you personally knew, that you could base your opinion on……..

    Until then, I think religion has done enough to hold back humanity. I think for a while it served a purpose. People some to only be motivated by fear. Back before police, you needed religion to stop people from stealing and killing, for fear of hell. Now,we have police and jail, which stops most from being criminals, but neither religion nor jail can stop everyone. I’ve read that had christianity had not persecuted science, such as Galileo, and others, we would have had airplanes hundreds of years earlier, computers in the 18th century. Imagine how more advanced we would be technologically. I don’t know about you people, but I would love to be exploring the galaxy rather than sitting in a synagogue or a church.

  28. May 24, 2008 at 01:11


    The abortion issue is difficult for me because I generally fall in the camp with most religious perspectives. I am four square against it for scientific reasons. However, while I am glad people with these views showed up on my side, their views when it comes to debating things that will become policy are not “litigate.” If we were going to put you on the stand and your only contribution is that “God told you it was wrong”, then your opinion is of no use to a people who believe in a different or no god. I can’t think of an issue where “faith” provides a legitimate point.

    Some people believe the Internet here works off magic. I can assure you it doesn’t. I can assure that every email will either be delivered or I can explain why it didn’t with a few diagnosis tools. Most people just have faith that it is going to work. The Internet would have never been assembled if we had just strung up some lines and had “faith” that it would work.

  29. 29 Brett
    May 24, 2008 at 01:19

    @ Will:
    I am a Christian and I don’t persecute Islam. My voice as a Christian is clouded by those who shout louder than I. I don’t like being shouted down but I will not raise my voice louder than others because I am tolerant of them and their frustrations and paranoia – will I help them? I will when I can.

    I understand that and applaud you at how tolerant you are of other peoples views no matter how preposterous. I have the utmost respect for the way you handle discussions.
    My argument was geared more towards anyone of faith who has applied the Islam = bad blanket over Muslims or a similar religious stereotype, on this board and under discussion on this board.
    And of course even my statement cannot be held true for all Christians, as all of them don’t hate on other religions. Just the ones who do stereotype other religions have no ground to stand on in a debate such as this.

  30. May 24, 2008 at 01:28

    @ Ian from Arizona,

    Thanks for your response and, more importantly, thanks for your response to Scott, whose view I can understand. However, I wonder when people say some of these things if they themselves are not being just as, if not more arrogant than the religion about which they claim to be in disagreement with? For my part, I do not care really if you are religious or non-religious just don’t push your views down my throat, that is all. And, by pushing your views down my throat I mean, spare me the diatribe and tell me what you really think, notwithstanding what we were told to think.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that it would be interesting to hear what people actually think about their faiths. For me that is a challenge because based on all that the faith tells you about a life in Christ, I will be amongst the first to admit that that is not an easy road to walk. Nor, is it one that I would eagerly tell people they should do unless they are prepared for the sacrifices and the consequences of these actions, in a very real way. In other words, matters of faith are, most importantly, a clear question of choice! We either choose to believe or we do not! Simple!

    As for the Eve of science, I am aware of her existence. However, I am not so sure, like you though that she is the same Eve from biblical register. And, in fact, I would not be too keen either way. If it is the same Eve then more power to the Creation Story. If it was not, then such is life. My problem sets in where these stories are assumed to be so factual that there is little that can be done to challenge them at the level of reasoning and the like. People become so passionate about them that some – even those who are, at best, the most secular you will come across, make an argument against homosexuality through the use of the Creation Story.

    I find this objectionable, if only because the convenient explanation of hatred has no place in the same scriptures which also preach love, tolerance, brotherhood and forgiveness. The same scriptures which claim that judgement rests with God and no other. So, for me it is sufficient for the time being that this is mythological story which signifies the larger-than-life importance of the Creator who I believe in wholly and completely. Whether it is proven to be factual is neither here nor there for, at least not immediately!

    Indeed, I rather like the explanation abou the mystery of faith, according to the Catholic Church: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again! Alleluia! Amen!” I enjoy singing it during Mass. Now, if that is not everyone else’s cup of tea. So be it!

  31. May 24, 2008 at 01:31

    If this gets reposted in the future pleas disregaurd. I am going to try using HTML and see if it lets me post a Hyperling.

    We do not have to come to an agreement on who Einstein is, what his theory of relativity is, or what our solar system is. We only need to debate the validity of the statement. In contrary, we have to discuss who “God” is, what it means to “love”, and according to many religions who “us” is. That is even before we discuss the validity of the statement, “God loves us.”

    Here is the thing. We need to have hard facts about valid statements to cure things like cancer, hunger, and “accidental” pregnancy. The statements you gave can be addresses scientifically. As a matter of fact many are by marketers. You say, “She sings beautifully.” I want your money. So I am going to study scientifically “why” you think that so. Then I can offer you more artists that sing like her and charge you a premium for it.

    Lol, I hate to load the other side, but I do have to admit to an epiphany that I had a few months ago. It happened when writing this blog post. Here

    . I am re-writing my self-discovery with out the political accusations woven into this post. Basically I took an objective view of why God would have developed the system we have. The stripped down version of what I came up with was this. God is busy trying to find candidates to leave in eternal peace and harmony. To do this he needs a community that meets a few criteria. A) Everybody must be patient, forgiving, and tolerant to get along with everybody else. B) They must prove that they can live with very simplistic and meager means. C) God needs to know we will not question his actions or motives no matter what. Above all we must have “faith” in him. For whatever reason we are created with free will. The almighty needs a way to separate the angels from the demons.

    That said, the pieces al fit only after a suspension of the facts. So even if I did figure something out. I am missing the key element. “Faith”. It is not a capacity of mine to have it. It is why I do believe that Jesus had a good plan. It is the only way I can allow religious ideas to enter a debate and have validity.

  32. May 24, 2008 at 02:54

    @ Dwight,

    Does it matter really? As in, whether we believe in God or not; have faith or not; love each other or not? I completely take the point that people have a right to believe what they want to believe in, as per free will. However, where the issue comes in for me is where the notion that what someone else believes is somehow a basis on which to declare it nonsense. That is a little much I must say.

    We each have our own experiences, whether with “faith” or whatever else! As far as I am concerned, to each his own. I believe what I do because it has value and purpose in my life. If someone else doesn’t – great! That is not the same as saying that I do not question elements of this “faith”, or even wonder why somethings happen in the way they do. It just means I have “faith” and that, that has a particular significance in my universe. However, we formulate that concept to mean, is really not that deep as far as I am concerned. The key is whether there is room in the world for us to agree to disagree on these things.

  33. May 24, 2008 at 03:03

    Furthermore, whoever said we all had to experience “faith” in the exact same way as the other person? Life is an interesting hodge of different experiences, ideas and encounters, etc. How we deal with that is largely a matter that we resolve on our own. By which I mean, to the extent that whichever rules we learn from whoever in our lifetimes do not always apply.

    “Faith”, such as it is, has taught me that there is no simple, or hard and fast explanation of phenomena of this kind. We ‘work with the programme’ most times. At best, that is the nature of the human existence. Our difficulty comes in, I think, where we try to tell other people how to live as well as create arguments based which seek to penalise and judge others based some history which, sometimes, has nothing to do with them. In other words, my position is right no matter what!

    “Faith”, I think, calls on us to acknowledge such a reality and move on, as best we can. It is certainly not for me to say what others should be doing or how. That is between them and their own consciences. I do not especially care for discussions about the existence of God, etc., or where we say: “this is wrong because…!” Spare me! We choose! We move on! We work with it!

  34. May 24, 2008 at 03:49


    This whole debate started with the question of “why faith is looked upon negatively.” The context in which Ian asked the question was why is that true during debates. If we are debating things that might become public policy then faith can not a reference. I love to have discussion about how people arrived at their faith. I even envy them sometimes. I wish I could just believe in something. But, if we are talking about passing laws, “I Believe”, “The Bible says”, or “God says” are not acceptable prefaces to your argument.

  35. May 24, 2008 at 04:28

    @ Dwight,

    Well, perhaps you did not quite read my earlier responses to the question, which said NOTHING about using the Bible as a basis for passing laws! In fact, I stated categorically that that, more often than not, has no place in a rational world where, hopefully, we are called to pass laws on something more tangible than “God says…!” Indeed, I stated that faith is largely a matter of personal choice. To that extent, all people can choose to have “faith” or not. It is worth remembering, however, we may choose different things.

    The law has to be based on a something more rational, hopefully also, a common agreement from a group of people who want to live in a particular community. That suggests a similarity of values, at the very least. At no time did I advocate that the Bible, or any other holy book for that matter, should be used as a basis for making laws! That is certainly not a position I am inclined to agree with. (See above!)

    I am, however, responding to the notion that it has become voguish for us to put people down on the premise of their declared faiths. It’s almost as if it is open season on the subject of religion. I wonder about that. To have “faith”, in other words, is equivalent to being religious and all religions are bad! Often, the arguments used to support these claims are themselves just as judgemental as the accusations that they make. I, for one, prefer to pass.

    If you do not see eye to eye with me then that is fine. You have a problem with the fact that I am Catholic, that too is okay. You think all Christians are hypocrites – great! Cause, in the end, those are largely a set of judgements that have nothing to do with me. That is the context in which I responded to your arguments about “faith”. Whether we have it or not to me is neither here nor there. We all have something. That to me is sufficient as far as I am concerned!

  36. 36 Jeff Minter
    May 24, 2008 at 07:53

    Of course you can’t be rational with faith – the very meaning of rationality is to base your judgement on fact – not a belief. Even if 100% of the world believes it is true, it is still not fact.

  37. May 24, 2008 at 13:10

    I have always been proud of my faith and God willing there won’t be any occasion during which I will be afraid of professing my faith in Jesus Christ. I think it is because of this obsession for modernism that many people find it hard to find a place for God in their lives and also to accommodate those of different faiths.

  38. 38 Shakhoor Rehman
    May 24, 2008 at 13:18

    Charles Darwin was a phemomenal scientist and a believer in God. He is not the only ‘famous’ example by a long way. It is quite possible that God is an atheist since the world is in such a mess it cannot truly represent his or her will or the various religions’ failures to take it out of that condition in his or her name. Does that mean that Faith as the world knows it is over? No, it means that God daily tests us to see how much we rank in his or her estimate of how we implement his or her Grand Design for our Planet and its relationship with the afterlife.

  39. 39 Bob in Queensland
    May 24, 2008 at 14:44

    I’m late to this discussion because somehow I missed noticing it. Sorry!

    In the part of my post that you quote, you’ll note that I was very careful to criticise ORGANISED religion, not faith, as one of the worst things invented. I’m afraid I stand by that statement.

    I don’t share your faith but I can respect it. Faith–or belief–in my opinion is not something you can choose. Because belief transcends logic there is no discussion that can persuade me to believe in an all powerful god. I either believe or I don’t–and I don’t. Perhaps life would be easier or more fulfilled if I did believe but so be it. I can learn mathematics. I cannot learn belief.

    In any case, it was organised religion, not personal faith, that I was critical of. I must disagree with you about religion being the cause of wars–history is full of examples. I must disagree with your view of the Israeli-Palestinian question being political not religious. Without religion, Israelis (at least the Jewish people who lived in the middle east) and the Palestinians are the same people. Yes, the conflict is led by politicians but religion is the rallying call.

    You mention World War II. Yes, that was caused by territorial ambition, not religion. However, Hitler used religious hatred against the Jews to secure his position–and this hatred was responsible for the holocaust, probably the worst atrocities of the war.

    Other examples? Well you could look back as far as the crusades, a bloody conflict completely religiously based. Greece vs. Turkey? Very similar people, split by religion. Northern Ireland vs. the Irish Republic? Catholic vs. Protestant.

    Terrorism vs. the “West”? To a large extent, Islam vs. the religious right..

    Will Rhodes made a post I agreed with previously in this thread. Extremists from any belief (he mentioned Islam and the Neo Con christians) are something I fear and distrust greatly. Alas, both come under the umbrella term of “faith” and that, to me, is why it has a bad name.

  40. 40 Shirley
    May 24, 2008 at 16:29

    Dwight, you have guts that I do not. So if you can post a hyperlink, then I wonder if I can modify the text that I am posting. Can we use img tags, too? Is this how people are indexing and bulleting their posts?

    By the way, I agree with you about the mixing of religion and politics: Bush’s reference to the “chosen people” was not an accident.

  41. May 24, 2008 at 16:36

    Amen Bob! LOL!

    Thanks for your post. I am especially happy to hear your distinction made between faith and religion. Like you, I think they are very different because I can have faith without being religious and I can be religious and still not have faith. In fact, inasmuch as the two are related there is a way that many non-religious people, I have discovered, express a great deal of faith their beliefs – that religion is a bad thing! I am not so sure that they are wrong.

    I rather suspect that that is another version of ‘religious behaviour’- disavowing something else almost as if to foreground the singular importance of the normativity of a set position. This is the equivalent of a sort of ‘gospel’ (truth) which sees itself as the only applicable and normal expression of human behaviour, ideological and spiritual realities of the times. I find though that that position is perhaps just a little bit more arrogant and disingenious as it attempts to achieve the same goals as religion even while claiming a significant difference from it.

    From where I sit, the problem is not religion perse as much as it is the people who practise these religions. Now, I am sure that that is only a cosmetic distinction. I was dragged over the coals by some colleagues of mine for becoming Catholic, as they felt that the Catholic Church had alot to answer for and that, I would have to give an account by assuming this faith. I, on the other hand, disagreed with them. I made a decision based on a personal conviction which may or may not have anything to do with the history of the church, which is admittedly worthy of criticisms.

    Rather, I decided to become Catholic because I felt a very strong push to do so. Does that mean I believe that Catholics are always correct or that there is no room for questioning, or even that there are not areas of glaring stains on the practise of the religion over time? No! It, however, means that faith is never always an easily explained, or even practical consideration under the circumstances. The seeds of fiath tell us this.

    Examples include, the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the turning of water into wine and the Resurrection. These ideas, at their very core, defy logic. They ask for a total committment to a set of beliefs which are largely just that – beliefs, but which are so absolutely important that the best if not the only way of realistically coming to terms with them is through one’s own personal commitment/ faith. That to me is different from being religious.

    Indeed, being religious would suggest a sense in which one practises a set of rituals in a particular way at certain set times. Religiousity does not, as a rule, require the presence of faith at all times, though it argues for its inclusion as a useful enough starting point. We worship on a set day because of rituals (and history). However, we are asked to pray and reverence God and be grateful for His gifts for as many opportunities as present themselves in the course of our lifetimes. That means, even if you do not go to Church, etc., you can have faith. The two are not necessarilly one and the same, though there are areas of overlap, at certain times.

  42. 42 Roberto
    May 24, 2008 at 16:40

    I must disagree with you about religion being the cause of wars–history is full of examples. I must disagree with your view of the Israeli-Palestinian question being political not religious. Without religion, Israelis (at least the Jewish people who lived in the middle east) and the Palestinians are the same people

    ——– Clearly violence of just about every imaginable form was present for as long as there has been life, and still exists everywhere on this earth.

    The violence is either predatory or territorial. Organised religion is just a tool, and like any tool man makes, it can be used for good or bad.

    War is almost exclusively territorial in nature and you can’t spin it any other way. If no territory were involved, most assuredly there would be no Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Religion is also about the political which also part of business, sports, child rearing, every human activity has elements of basic politics.

    Might as well claim that nations are the cause of war too, or guns, or computers, or exlosives, or clothes, all being tools used by man for good or bad purpose.

    Religion may be used to rally the troops to go to war, or so can soccer moms, race, nationalism, or famously in the battle of Troy, the love of a woman. Win one for the Gipper, worked well for Knute Rockne and, later, Ronald Reagan. Anything that strikes a chord can be used.

  43. May 24, 2008 at 16:43

    I guess that I am confused. I personally don’t know anybody who cares or looks negatively at someone because of their religion. (With the exception of “Muslims”. That is state sponsored. Communism dies in the 80’s and Republicans need us to have an “enemy” to remain in power. It also makes them very rich. Communism was destroyed by Rocky Balboa as we all know. So a new enemy was needed.) Besides that I do not know anybody who actually is concerned with other people religion, let alone look negatively upon them. Right now polygamist Mormons are not real popular. Again a media driven issue. In this area being an atheist is something you mention under your breath. Many people who do not remotely follow any of the doctrine of their childhood cling to the identity because they would not want to admit that they either A) do not believe in a god or B) do not want to admit they are going to hell via their own teachings.

    Agostinho, Can you give me an example of where faith is looked on “negatively” that doesn’t have debatable policy connotations?

  44. May 24, 2008 at 17:18

    @ Dwight,

    I am not sure I completely understand your question. However, insofar as I understand parts of it in relation to where religion/ faith is looked on negatively and its implications for public policy, I think of abortion here in Jamaica. Recently, Church Leaders, the vast majority of who are older men, stated in no uncertain terms to the Government’s proposed abortion bill that they are in clear opposition and will resist it for as long as it is on the table. Now, this sounds very noble given the Christian sacred regard for life, and the argument that abortions are only one way of normalising the ‘culture of death’. Euthanasia and others, they claim, will come in shortly afterwards. I am not so sure, though, that I fully agree with the Church Leaders on this one.

    In fact, in Jamaica issues of this nature are largely impactful for the vast majority of those who do not live in or have access to upper class resources. This is especially the case in the Church, where the bulk of the population is made of people who do not come from privileged circumstances. So that, the regulation of female sexuality and, ultimately, identity in the context of this discussion more directly impacts those who do not have the means by which they are able to take advantage of safe, affordable and stress free abortions like their privileged betters.

    Hence, inasmuch as the Christian theology argues in favour of life as a very sacred gift, the policy as it is being debated currently misses the larger point that Church and its various resources have mainly to do with a large population of people, in this case women, who are not able to gain access to these resources for various reasons. That the Church Leaders seem unmindful of that part of the discussion is problematic for me, as it is a way of regulating peoples’ lives by suggesting to them that they have little, if no control over their own lives. This is akin to the concept that this is God’s wish for my life!

    How do they know? Via what means have they arrived at such a position? And that is not to say they are wrong just that they need to give people more information and to also recognise that accidents do happen. Hence, a little compassion would also be nice, especially considering that childbearing does make one poor, in a very real way, especially in cases where there are already few oppourtunities. Of course, if you are mindful enough to have sex then you are also mindful enough to know the consequences is the popular argument used. I am not so sure I agree with this position.

    Now, to the extent that I am also Catholic I have come in for a fair amount of criticism on this and a number of other issues. One of the criticisms claim that I am part of a Church that has nothing to do with God. We are, in other words, the Anti-Christ embodied, that is if you believe in that sort of stuff. Then, there is notion that religions like Christianity are judgemental and fuel hatred like homophobia, a particular concern for us here in Jamaica. In all of these instances, these criticisms are made by people who call themselves non-religious. However, I have often found their rabid decrying of Christianity and Catholicism, specifically, to be just as judgemental and arrogant as they claim we are. Quite ironic, if you ask me because, according to them, they have no agenda! Please….!

    Hopefully, that answers your question about my thoughts in relation to the issue.

  45. 45 viola anderson
    May 24, 2008 at 17:23

    Faith in a specific higher power becomes unacceptable to thinking persons when its practitioners degenerate into superstition.

    Abraham’s insight that “God is one” continues to be a powerful concept that should be capable of uniting all religions when properly understood.

    Unfortunately, original visions such as Abraham’s become corrupted by cultures.

  46. 46 Shirley
    May 24, 2008 at 19:39

    Font changes and color changes did not appear in that, only bold and italic. Are we so anti-font tag that current browsers don’t even recognise it?

    Are you sure that the conflicts that you listed haven’t co-incidentaly pitted peoples of different religions against each other? Japan and the U.S. have different predominating religions in their populations; and I think that the peoples of Germany and France also followed different Churches. I don’t think that most Cubans are evangelist protestant Christians, yet the U.S. government still haa a problem with them. And the people of China definitely follow a different set of beliefs than do those in the States, but those two governments get along nicely enough. It makes more sense to me to consider the differences in religious or denimnations among peoples whose governments are fighting as coincidental and not part of the original problem. What do you make of the mantra of the clash of civilisations?

  47. 47 Bob in Queensland
    May 25, 2008 at 05:53


    You say that, if no territory were involved, there would be no Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, you can just as easily turn this argument on its head. If no religion were involved to differentiate between the two sides, who would fight who?


    I certainly wouldn’t claim that religion is the only cause of conflict, just that it’s a major one. Indeed, I’d take this a bit farther. Any “banding together” of people to differentiate between groups is likely to lead to conflict eventually. This may be ancient tribal differences in indigenous peoples, it might be violence between fans of different football teams, it may be the jingoistic level of patriotism encouraged by some countries–or it might be organised religions. Anything that leads one group to set itself apart from others–and generally feel superior–is liable to end in conflict. Given this suppostiion, organised religion with its huge membership and long history is bound to lead to conflict.

  48. May 25, 2008 at 09:16

    Religion is despised because much of it is either shallow emotionalism or token traditionalism.

    Effective religion is the cultivation and expression of high levels of wisdom (the correct interpretation of phenomena, beings and events) and compassion (the willingness and ability to bear the suffering of others within one’s own mental continuum), and these transcend ordinary knowledge/insight and ordinary moral norms.

    Unfortunately there are not many people who exhibit these religious attainments. Those who do possess an inherent authority and credibiity and are treated with respect, except by fools.

    It’s a pity that religion ( and the religious ‘sensibility’) are disappearing from our total culture. It’s a loss to us, and the results of this loss are seen everywhere, including in our maltreatment of others and of our world in general.

    As for faith becoming a four-letter word, look for the origins of that attitude in the misinterpretation of descartes’ Cogito ( and the inconsistencies in Descartes’ own treatment of his insight). Religion, to be effective, must be subjectively discovered; that is, as an energy of one’s own deep mind. then the result is growth in religious insight and practice, without the silly display and rhetoric of religious posturing.

  49. 49 Rick
    May 25, 2008 at 09:38

    Faith was invented by people who could not accept their own mortality. It comforts them and gives them a sense of security. It worked as well for the ancient Egyptians and Greeks as it does for us moderns. Its like Santa Clause only for adults. Where’s the harm?Whatever gets you through the day, right? I know lots of happy, sincere loving religious people and even though I am not, I have no interest in shaking their beliefs (even if I could). It find it interesting though, that there are three (Christian) Religions within my family and I have a better relationship with each of them than they have with each other.

  50. 50 Roberto
    May 25, 2008 at 09:54

    You say that, if no territory were involved, there would be no Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, you can just as easily turn this argument on its head. If no religion were involved to differentiate between the two sides, who would fight who?

    ———- Territory has been involved in every war I can think of.

    You’ve gotten off base here. If no people were involved and this was just carrots and cucumbers, there would be no fight, but your argument would at least be palatable to vegans.

    The causes of war and endemic violence go way deeper in history than organized religion and for anyone to claim otherwise, just shows a lack of integrity in understanding the timeline of history.

  51. 51 Bob in Queensland
    May 25, 2008 at 12:11


    Of course territory is involved but, put bluntly, had there been no Jewish religion who would have demanded a Jewish homeland? If the Palestinians weren’t Muslim, how would you differentiate between them and the Jewish Israelis.

    Put another way, they may be fighting over land, but they “choose up sides” on the basis of religion.

    We seem to keep coming back to the middle east in this debate but I’m certainly not talking exclusively about this conflict. As I’ve said several times, organised religion (as opposed to faith) is certainly not the ONLY cause of war but it is all to frequently a major contributory factor.

  52. 52 Roberto
    May 25, 2008 at 13:37

    Put another way, they may be fighting over land, but they “choose up sides” on the basis of religion.

    ———– Really now, you should get out of the house and buy a newpaper.

    Palestinians are at war with each other……OVER TERRITORY!

    There are no Jews in Gaza Strip anymore unless the Israelis briefly rumble in with a few tanks to wipe out Gaza rocket staging areas.

    As I have previously mentioned, religion just a tool, one of billions of tools invented by mankind for better or worse.

    Palestinians also choose sides on the basis of weaponry. You gonna blame guns for war now? How about flags? Maybe we should just blame the notion of a Palestinian state for war.

    Personally, I sorta favor blaming clothes if given the choice to go off the deep end of reality. If everyone had to be naked, they’d probably be too busy scratching, shivering, and otherwise protecting their thin skins to kill each other when they weren’t falling over in hysterics.

  53. 53 Bob in Queensland
    May 25, 2008 at 15:23

    @ Roberto

    Are you honestly saying you don’t think religion plays any part in the middle east conflict?

    If so, we shall have to agree to disagree.

  54. 54 selena
    May 25, 2008 at 15:40


    Anyone who thinks religion is not the cause of all the world’s problems has his/her head in the sand… methinks.

    But in a strange sort of way Roberto may have a point. The people in power may not be motivated by religion.

    However, they would never be able to get anywhere with their land grabbing projects and separatist ideas, if it were not for religion.

    Religion pits one against the other and keeps the masses occupied, while the rich get on with their life and times, oblivious to the plight of the majority of humanity.

    In order to change this way of being, religion has got to be what the leaders have alway preached but never practiced… a harmonizer.

    We won’t hold our collective breath waiting for that to happen.

  55. May 25, 2008 at 16:00

    @ Rick,

    I am compelled to ask, despite the apparent nobility of your sentiments raised above – why do you associate faith with a failure to accept one’s mortality? Beyond the obvious issue of life after death in Christian theology other people and other religions are no less faithful, even those who believe that we are on the wheel of fortune and come back as different things in the course of a life time.

    Indeed, faith is really not so much about mortality I find as in a knowledge that is often ‘unexplainable’ in a very rational way, sometimes; a confidence about something that is not really known, but is proven only by vitue of what the knower knows. So, we turn on our taps and expect water as much as a telephone book to give us directions, as someone pointed out to me recently.

    Those things have nothing to do with life and death issues, necessarilly, as much as they are about a sort of confidence in something that we know. And by knowing, I am saying that we know that tomorrow will come, at some very core level of our being, notwithstanding that we might not live to see it. In any event, the events of tomorrow are on their way. Expressing knowledge in that is what I would consider faith.

    Hence, faith does not always have to be a religious kind of faith but a knowledge that really cannot always be proven but which is nonetheless so. It is not Santa Claus for adults. It is a sheer necessity of the human experience. The issue, then, is less about whether we have faith but in what we express this faith, as we all have it in some measure or other. Some believe in gods, others in material acquisition, even while there are those who believe that love conquers all. In all this, there are people who claim no religious heritage but are nonetheless committed to that as a sort of abiding faith by which they live their lives.

    Scientists base their existence almost on questioning everything and seeking proof – in a way expressing faith in a theology of doubt, as it were. By not accepting that something cannot be proved scientists base their entire existence, at a certain level, on a notion of the quest for more knowledge, for proof of the existence of their right to question. Religion, on the other hand, argues that faith in a higher being of some kind is necessary for our existence. In either instances, it amounts to the same thing. Different but equal! So, no it is not mind candy. Because if that is so, then, we are all hooked on something, I think!

  56. May 25, 2008 at 16:05

    And, I was not suggesting that you said it was mind candy (for adults). However, your arguments more or less amount to the same thing – faith is a drug, similar to Marx’s (?) religion is the opiate of the people. My argument is that faith supercedes and may well have preceded religion because faith is one of the basic building blocks of the human experience. We have to trust what we know. That takes faith, even if that faith tell us to question the recieved wisdom of generations, as per this faith. I am not sure if we can exist outside of faith in something. It is largely a question of what our faith is and why.

  57. 57 Roberto
    May 25, 2008 at 17:05

    Are you honestly saying you don’t think religion plays any part in the middle east conflict?

    ——- What kind of question is that?

    What if I asked you, “Are you honestly saying you don’t think guns plays any part in the middle east conflict?”

    What would you think of such a question?

    Everything that people use every day plays apart in any conflict, including religion IF and when it’s being used.

    Repeat after me, “organized religion NOT the root cause of war.” Territorial disputes are and always have been about territory way before organized religion. The timeline is clear.

    Was organized religion the cause of the American Civil War? The Russian and Chinese Revolutions? The Rawandan genocide?

    Think about it, please.

  58. May 25, 2008 at 17:12

    @faith in general

    I really don’t trust any form of faith as arguments. That includes faith gleaned from a book, a person, or deity. Blind patriotism is as unnerving to a debate as personal “beliefs”. You know Hitler just spoke. How many millions of people put faith in his words so much that they didn’t even question taking the lives of their neighbors? Here was a nation filled with Christians. Yet a leader trumped all of the teachings of the church.

    People who are willing to believe without proof and act without question scare me. How do I know that some subculture I am part of won’t be the next target?

  59. May 25, 2008 at 18:22

    @ Dwight,

    For what it is worth, and I am sure you were not speaking to me, specifically; however, I feel I must say that in defense of “faith in general” that I certainly do not see faith as, necessarilly, having a link to a sub-culture or even religious communities. Or, that faith is blind to the extent that there are never any questions. The reality is that faith is not always about some fanciful term to be feared as in: “I have faith and you don’t”. The reality is that we all have “faith in general”, as you say. Faith, as far as I am concerned, is more than a matter of religion. It is a basic sense in which we trust in a knowledge that we assume, more often than not, is never wrong, even if we do question that knowledge occassionally. That supercedes a sub-culture, religion or community.

    For instance, I have faith in my friends; I have faith that they will do the right thing, even if that ‘right thing’ might include betraying something I hold dearly. It might even mean they will betray me. But, I hold steadfast to my faith in them as people. We err. That is normal, I hope. I also have faith that we will be true to ourselves, ultimately. That water is wet; that the sky is blue, etc., etc. I have faith, becasue I have faith. Not because I think that there is no means by which such a faith can be questioned, but precisely because it can be, it is an expression of faith – faith in a questioning reality.

    This type of faith, I also believe can operate in a religious context but is much bigger than that. We have faith that what we say will be understood in the context of this discussion; that the other party will get “it”. We have faith, simply because faith is! Nothing more, nothing less. The manifestation of that faith, however, varies according to context and from person to person in greater or lesser degrees. So that one thing is certain, we cannot live without faith. That, I think, is next near to being impossible.

    Indeed, you say do not have the same type of (religious) faith that other people claim they do. You have faith nonetheless that whatever you believe will sustain you, based on whatever your own life experiences are. In Jamaica, for instance, we say: “six ah one, half a dozen the other!” It is the same either way, in other words, at least from where I am sitting. So that, there is “faith in general”. Just that there is no one kind of faith, just simply that faith is. And it is this “is-ness” that is common to all of us. It is that faith which is general with no particular manifestation beyond the nature of human societies, cultures and experiences across and through time. Faith is what faith is, if I could try and muddle the point some more….!

  60. May 25, 2008 at 18:38

    Indeed, I think the notion of “blind faith” is a contradiction in terms. For, if faith were blind then surely so too would we. Our faith, such as it is, comes from our experiences over and through time. We learn to accept (perhaps without questioning?!) that the basic facts of our existence are just that – basic and are, therefore, beyond question.

    We trust that the news anchor, for instance, will tell us the truth and organise our realities, accordingly. This does not mean that we may not be told false information. However, in the context of a suspension of this type of disbelief, given the nature of the relationship established between ourselves and the news/ station/ anchor, we must believe that what we are being told is true.

    Indeed, if it is not then that is a serious breach of trust and may, ultimately, lead to sanctions. This is why, I think, people who work in news have to get their stories straight and double-check the facts before reporting them, as well as to report them in such a way to elicit a wide listner-, viewer- or readership. People are relying heavily on what they are being told at six, seven, ten or whenever the news comes on. The violation of this kind of faith can and, often, leads to all sorts of problems, mostly for the anchor and news agency, as noted above, but also for us. Often, we do not know what to believe. So, we go right back to believing that what we hear is mostly true and act, accordingly, and trust that the anomalies will come to light because someone else out there is committed to stablising our universe that way. That, I believe, is faith.

    And it takes faith live in that kind of existence which tells us that there are just somethings which are beyond questioning simply because to question them makes for a whole deal of trouble which we would prefer not to deal with. That is not about our own mortality, as Rick said earlier, at least not in a life and death sense of the word. Rather, it is about sanity – plain and simple. For our peace of mind there are certain boundaries, for want of a better word, which will agree not to question, not unless we absolutely must! That is faith, at least from where I sit.

  61. 61 HARSH
    May 25, 2008 at 18:50

    Faith or religion is the way to God, it’s the set of rules that we follow to reach the Almighty.
    There can be various unrelated roads to the same destination. There can be different set of rules to be followed but the basic aim remains, to achieve the ultimate truth. Since nobody knows what and where the ultimate truth is, everyone can define it in their own way and discover their own methods to reach that. Its still an unexplored area where science is clueless.
    Since when does this change its meaning? As far as I know religion was made only to connect one person to another. If it does not attach you with other living beings in some form or the other then it is not religion, it is something else. A religion can never teach you to kill, it can only teach you to save and love others.

    We need to question ourselves, do we really need religion ? looking at the current scenario, what for ? religion was created to decrease fear and create mental peace, are we achieving that. Is it justified to take the life of other human, just on the pretext of different faith ? Answer to all of these is surely No.
    Its high time now, to work together and respect others faiths and beliefs. Considering every human being as a extension of God and its creation. If we understand that, then we will realize the importance of mutual respect, love and sharing, which in the true sense is the religion that is the ‘faith, in humanity.

  62. 62 selena
    May 25, 2008 at 19:23

    “Faith or religion is the way to God, it’s the set of rules that we follow to reach the Almighty”.

    That is fine as long as one believes in “God”. But what is faith when one has no concept of “God”?

    From birth we are told that there is some mysterious other world entity called God. If we follow a set of rules then somehow, sometime, we will reach, in some way, this almighty.

    But what if one simply believes this “God” is a construct of the human mind?

    People of faith have their God. People of reason have their Big Bang and evolution.

    But no one has explained the nothingness out of which came God and the Big Bang.

    So, it is easy for people of faith to imagine an entity like themselves, only possessing all the power that they would like to possess.

    It is easy for scientists to posit a rational evolutionary theory.

    But the big questions are how and why we could matter in the vastness and wonder of the universe.

  63. May 25, 2008 at 19:59

    Excellent questions Selena! Indeed, I would love to hear an answer from the rest of the bloggers. Though, I fear that people may assume that these questions to be a disavowal of faith? Is it? LOL!

  64. May 25, 2008 at 20:30

    @ Agostinho

    As a student of logic and a system designer, many of your statements are circular and therefor confusing. “For, if faith were blind then surely so too would we.” Would we what? Be blind? What criteria makes that so?

    “We learn to accept (perhaps without questioning?!) that the basic facts of our existence are just that – basic and are, therefore, beyond question.”

    This is again a case where the qualifier is just a restatement of the assertion. It sounds profound, but solves no proofs.

    I guess my whole life is surrounded by proofs, books filled with information, and people. I am paid to question everything and everyone’s opinions. Basing my results on faith could cost lives or at there very least money. There is no faith here. The things I put “faith” in have been thoroughly parsed. They have a trajectory of accuracy.

    The ultimate question that religion and science meet at is the beginning. Is it more practical to believe some mysterious being created the universe or that some not as of yet understood event occurred? If it was a deity, then who or what created it. How did it come to be?

  65. 65 selena
    May 25, 2008 at 20:55


    Thanks for asking the question. 🙂

    No, I don’t disavow faith! Too many people believe for my opinions to matter in that equation.

    As well, I don’t disavow science. But I have serious reservations when scientists scoff at the beliefs of people of faith.

    It seems to me, scientists take the same position as all people who believe they are right and everyone else is wrong.

    It deeply saddens me to listen to Richard Dawkins speak of people who have faith as if somehow they are lacking something which he possesses.

    Dawkins and others can shout their beliefs until the cows come home and, at the end of the day, they still don’t know what banged.

    How are they any more believable than a person of faith?

    For me, the problem lies in believing that we alone possess the truth, whatever truth that happens to be. Whoever believes that sits apart from reality and they are people of reason as well as people of faith.

  66. May 25, 2008 at 21:21

    @ Dwight,

    I am certainly not questioning your faith (or the lack thereof). I am simply suggesting that faith is. That is all. I moved outside of the realms of religion, or even science to argue instead that faith is not blind. Indeed, it is learned over time and that, that learning rarely allows us an opportunity to question it.

    I also said that, we are all, some level, people of faith and that, our faiths differ (for various reasons) and that all human experiences are based on (some kind of) faith. Whether we choose to cal it science; a doubting Thomas approach, or whatever, the point is that faith is where we accept some knowledge or other, over time, perhaps based on experiences which we then accept as unquestionable for the most part. Indeed, we structure our lives around this philosophy. Yours apparently is structured around questioning the existence of God. That, I regret to say, is not a question for me to answer as I am sure it has nothing to do with me. In fact, I am sure you could attempt your own responses on that one.

    In other words, it does not really matter whether we call this religion or not. All I am saying is that for basic human experiences to be facilitated there has to be a certain (basic) acceptance of certain core truths about our reality. Otherwise we would all go crazy with trying to prove everthing.

    I, for one, am not interested in that option and I, certainly, am not interested in being right, as a result. I am simply just explaining my position on the matter. So, whether you feel that I am being illogical or attempting to sound profound, as I hear you accusations, is neither here nor there. Perhaps, it would suit us to recall that you are the same person who attributed comments to me that I did not make at any time throughout this conversation (See above).

    Your position seems bent on creating a case against faith. I am simply saying a denial of faith does not make it any less a reality with which we contend and that, at some level and to varying degrees, we all put “faith in general” in different things. Some people claim that they do not believe in religion – that was not my argument, notwithstanding that I have declared my own position on the matter. Indeed, I would strongly suggest that for as many people as there are who claim no religious heritage that they are just as “faithful” to that claim as the people who claim to be religious.

    The point is, that every human action requires some amount of “faith” in some measure or other. Faith that what we are doing is going to happen regardless. We go to bed each day, more or less, thinking that we will get up in the morning. That to me is an expression of faith in a certain type of reality which is fundamentally premised on a knowledge we do not really question.

    Now, it remains to be seen whether we will actually get out of bed. That is another matter by itself, but surely none of us really expect death at the hour of rest. We expect rest. Whatever else happens is a different issue. But faith/ wisdom/ experience/ parent (whoever) says when you are tired you rest. Why? Because experiences teach us that rest is a useful cure for exhaustion. We express complete faith in that often without questions.

    So, my version of faith has nothing to do, necessarilly, with this very narrow definition whereby all matters of faith are, strictly, religious or not. That sounds way too absolutist an argument for me to be sufficiently interested in. Truth be told, I don’t especially care for religion. It is enough for me that we have faith – whatever that is, and that faith is! That is all I saying. Whether you want to accept that is really entirely up to you.

  67. May 25, 2008 at 21:31

    I have said before there is this envy I have for some people who have that much faith. I can remember when mine left me. Here is a parenting lesson. I was about 7 yrs old. I still believe in all the childhood fairytales. My bedroom was not too far from the kitchen. I woke one morning not too long before Christmas to hear my mother and father discussing whether it was right to lie to their children on religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. I thought, “What? No Easter bunny, no Satan Clause. How can I believe anything they tell me? What about this ‘Jesus’ guy? He died and cam back, so what. He didn’t even bring me presents or candy. Why should I believe in him?” I don’t think I have ever accepted anything with out question since that day. It made for a rough childhood.

  68. May 25, 2008 at 21:39

    Indeed, if you feel my arguments make no sense we can discontinue this conversation. However, I feel it an imperative that I point out that your claims against me are false. I am neither interested in “sounding profound” nor am I being “illogical” as you seem to be saying. Whereas, sounding profound would even presume style or over substance you have not engaged with my own arguments about whether we all have faith in some measure. Or whether, regardless of what we call our personally and, usually, deeply felt emotions, thought and ideas in relation to some important issue like, for instance, religion that that is faith.

    Your argument seem bent on pointing to two main things – 1) religion makes no sense to the extent that it does not offer a rational and, or scientific explanation for the existence of God and, therefore, has no credible basis for law0making (your earlier argument); and 2) that science is singularly more important reality to replace (?) God, in large part, because it offers proofs and explanations.

    Now, whether these are actually true or not to me does not speak to the larger question of what is faith and whether or not one can actually exercise faith over and above a religious vocation or belief in a higher power. That is the basis of my contention. My arguments are premised on the view that – faith is. Most of what we do is about faith. However, I would choose to suggest that we prefer (?) not to see it this way. However, as Shakespeare notes: “a rose by any other name would be just as sweet”.

    I am saying also that, to the extent that people claim religion to be arrogant and judgemental while simultaneously claiming to not believe in religion, I find that that position is perhaps just as judgemental and arrogant as the claim it makes against religion. Denying that we are religious does not, by itself, make us any less complicit in the act of judging others, often without really knowing or caring about what we claim.

    I am not sure how else to say this, but I am not really in an argument with you, so much as I have been seeking from the point at which you claimed I said that religion should be used as a basis for law-making to clarify my interventions in this discussion throughout. And, to actually point out that I never said that. Indeed, my original comments said that religion and related issues of faith, such as they are, are personal matters that they have very little, if any, useful basis on which to support a project for law-making in society. I get it, though, if you do not wish to hear that. Just be guided by the fact that those were not my words, as you construed them in one of your earlier responses to me. And, to the extent that that is so, everything else that you have claimed I have said on this issue was flawed, for the most part.

  69. 69 selena
    May 25, 2008 at 22:15


    I was three years old when I realized that religion would never be a part of my life.

    My family had, some months before, gone through the tragedy of losing my teenage brother suddenly. As a consequence, my mother was severely depressed and unable to care for me, even though I was in her care.

    My father couldn’t move much without experiencing angina, so he, too, was preoccupied with his own problems. They were both middle-aged and a small child must have been a great burden for them.

    The Minister of the local church was always visiting and trying to help but his platitudes were not much comfort to anyone.

    I kept out of the fray by teaching myself to read and write and virtually looking after myself. One day the minister said something to me like, “You be the good little girl that God made.”

    Quick as a flash I asked, “Who made God?”

    From the stunned silence and the tut tuting, I learned fast that such a question is taboo. One is not supposed to question the origins of god.

    Later I learned that, never mind God, I was not supposed to question science. Actually it seems to be taboo to question anyone who is convinced that s/he knows “truth”.

    I find it dispiriting when people say something unknowable (under the current system of knowledge) and then bring out a big name like Einstein to support their claims.

    We need to understand the limitation under which humans operate. Only then can there be a change that embraces all.

  70. May 25, 2008 at 23:20

    @ Selena,

    Thanks for your response above re science and unknowable statements. I must tell you that I was writing a response before the thunder and lightning storm here (Kingston, Jamaica) disconnected the power. Consequently, I am starting from the top…again!

    What I wanted to say was that I always find the God-science polarity very interesting. It seems we can only really operate within these two black and or white poles, almost as a sort of counter-discursive response of one to the other. Our biases towards science, more or less, confirms that which we already ‘know’ – God does not exist.

    However, whither this existence? How is that to be defined? What is the basis on which we rationalise God’s existence? Is that through the manifestation of a physical and sensory/ sensual body in the same way that humans exist? Or, is it that, perhaps the ultimate definition of God exceeds this type of understanding? Should it?

    If, in fact, that is so (the definition of God excceeds man’s capacity), then whether or not God really exists is neither here nor there. We choose to believe what we want, regardless. Scientific “proofs” of the kind which argues for a type of “existence” similar to man’s does not rationally capture the existence of God and, therefore, how He/ She or It came to be.

    That is not to say that the question is not legitimate. Rather, it is to ask what do we really mean by existence? And whether this existence, necessarilly, has to follow the kind of logical expectations set out by our own existence as a precondition?

    I almost always find it a little frustrating that the ultimate explanation of the lack of the existence of God, as a result, is a scientific one which says, as you rightly note, who created God. Though a legitimate question and one which, perhaps, rightly requires an explanation, I do not accept that questions like these are off limits.

    Much to the contrary. It is out of this type of questioning that new propositions and ideas come about the world as we know it. To simply explain it away at the level at which God cannot be questioned or that science has all the “proofs” about an otherwise unknowable reality (aka an unknowable God) is absolutely simplistic and, therefore, unacceptable reasoning. Indeed, such a position does not put too great a value on the power of reasoning, logic or even rational thought.

    Faith, however it is defined, provides some means by which we may choose to resolve certain experiences which venture outside of the realms of this binary oppositional model we construct to provide these answers. It is, of course, not everybody’s cup of tea. That, to me, is perfectly legitimate also. We arrive at our own answers when we arrive at them, never before…After all, timinig is everything.

  71. May 26, 2008 at 02:18

    @ Agostinho

    Now you are starting to get a sense of what mechanism drives me when faith is enterend into a discussion. In the spirit of the original question of the post, I do not look down or negatively upon people of faith, but rather they might as well be speaking a completely different language. You might even be speaking a valid point, but I haven’t the capacity to understand it. I have quested long and hard to understand that mechanism that allows people to just accept a concept. That is why I have shared some of these things here. The closest I have come is taking an abstract view of what the system would look like if there were a supreme deity. But if I were an apostle I wld have been Thomas. I would have had to touch the wounds with my own hands.

    @ Selena,

    Seems we have had many similar experiences. I have lost a lot of people close to me. My mom when I was 24 to cancer. That was a week after one of my best friends dies of the same disease. Two really good people. Yet I would watch the news and see stories of priest using “God’s” name to rape little boys in “his house” and God did nothing. As far as questioning anything else, I have always needed a confirmation source. When I read information books that cite other sources I must at least read reviews of the other sources. Like I mentioned in a earlier post, It is really of now use, because in the end somebody can say, “how do you know that global warming is cause by humans and not part of a natural cycle? All that you can do is say, “because I know.” They get to say, “me too”. I say it because I have spent hours of research and listen to renowned scientists. It would just take forever to explain it.

  72. 72 Tino
    May 26, 2008 at 03:46

    Would like to post a question. Do any of you who are religious honestly feel you would believe in God if you were not raised in a particular religion? If you had the same life, but your parents/some authority figure never told you about religion.

  73. 73 Rick
    May 26, 2008 at 09:18

    Tino, your point is a good one. Im sure that only a small percentage of religious people get there without being indoctrinated at an early age. Why is that?

    In the original question and blog, the words faith and religion are coupled and intercangable. They mean the same thing. So you guys are getting off track and bit too deep for me.

    Faith by its very nature is blind. You accept as fact something that is not provable. Like the Bible contains THE TRUTH, Mary was a virgin or Krisna deflowered a thousand maidens in one night. If you get old enough to think logicly you are likley to question these truths.

  74. May 26, 2008 at 15:49

    @ Dwight,

    Perhaps it is just me, but you seem to have missed a very important point in all of this – whether you think I am “just beginning to get a sense of what you are talking about” really does not interest me. You made comments which were both inaccurate and offensive. Which, up to now, you have not yet indicated that you have, nor have you retracted.

    For what it is worth, I have no special interests in what people believe on the subject of religion insofar as whether it is a basis for enacting laws in society. Why? As I noted at the beginning of my post – religion and matters of faith are largely, personal and, often, do not fit neatly into a very rational world where ideas must contend.

    Indeed, I made the point that the heavy reliance on facts, logic and rational thought has to be the basis for writing laws. I went further to say, at the very least, there is need for a similarity of values in such a community and that, there should at least be the opportunity for debate under such circumstances.

    To ensure that I was being upfront I stated that I am a practising Catholic and that, I have often found it interesting that people who generally declare they are not religious are usually complicit in their judgement of and arrogance towards to religion. As a result, to this extent I also stated that I do not especially care for religion and, therefore, implied that I have no interests in knowing whether people feel it was a bad word. Either way that would not change the basic facts about prejudices of this kind. I moved on to question what exactly was faith.

    However, you accused me of being illogical and “sounding profound” by way of my comments as they related to that issue. The main point of which was that, faith is. This is unacceptable, by any stretch, as it implies that you, somehow, sit in judgement of what constitutes the boundaries of this discussion. As such, at your own convenience you retreat to familiar territory because the going forward seems a little less than smooth. You are welcome to doing so, I just would prefer not to join you on that trip.

    I also thought your comments about “faith in general” seeemed a little unbalanced and said as much. Your desire to misreport what I have said as well as go on to accuse me of things which have no place in the discussion to begin with are not very appealing characteristics. So, you might understand that I do not really care for a discussion in which I am being accused of things I did not say as well as “spoken down to”.

  75. May 26, 2008 at 15:54

    Additionally, in the interests of clarity – I have always felt that “faith” such as the type that I have seen discussed here, has no place in the business of making laws in society. That does not mean there is no room to be inspired, even directed to the extent that such a “direction” is founded on a logical premise that, hopefully, addresses the needs of all/ the majority.

    Further, regarding your comments about “faith in general”,I also queried whether faith was the same as being religious. I made the point very clearly that I think the two things are different and that, to the extent that there is that important distinction I do not see religion as, necessarilly, needed for one to have faith. Indeed, faith supercedes, even surpasses it.

    Notably, you have not addressed any of these comments and have insisted in telling us whether you believe in Santa Clause and how damaged that made you as a child. Whereas, I empathise with your pain you might forgive me my apparent lack of concern about your need to share this information; as well as, your selective addressing of points which you yourself raised is questionable. So, no, I do not really care to hear whether I am “just getting a sense of what you are saying”.

    Of course, I am sure you could understand why.

  76. 76 HARSH
    May 26, 2008 at 16:03

    Now the eternal question, whether there is God ?
    There has been many occasions in my life when certain things happened and the probability of their happening was almost nil. So I believe they cannot happen without the divine intervention. That is my belief , a strong belief is what we call faith.
    Majority of people believe in God, that is the reason why there are so many followers and religions. Faith in God is what religion is. You cannot have faith in Unknown, that’s absurd. If you don’t know something how can you have faith in it. The problem is we cannot understand even human nature clearly and to understand Gods nature is beyond us.
    Let us go to the origin of God and religion.
    Centuries ago, man used to live in caves ,almost naked, only thing he needed most at that time was food. He went to hunt, he could not find food daily plus there was risk to his lif efrom wild animals . His crops were dependent on environmental factors . So the struggle of man was dependent on so many uncertain factors.
    To decrease the uncertainty and increase the chances of success , he started a sort of ritual/worship of stones, animals, forces of nature like sun. It was like positive autosuggestion, may be he felt more confident after talking, offering, praying to the unknown in various forms. He thought this thing can bring luck .
    Gradually these rituals or ways progressed through ages and became what we called today as religion. Religions today are made by some followers and some strict followers are leaders in that field so called Godmen.It was refined slowly and slowly and certain set of rules /ways were defined by the followers of that particular religion according to age old customs, convenience, local factors etc.
    Presently there are more than 40 organised religions, with various followers and of course some people follow more than one religion. Some change their religion due to various reasons. But the central idea is whatever religion you are born with or you choose to have faith in, you should treat all religions with the equal respect because they all are serving the same purpose.

  77. 77 HARSH
    May 26, 2008 at 16:05

    In my opinion, freedom is to do what you want to do as long as it is not interfering with others freedom. So please try to enjoy your religious freedom in a way that somebody else is not being devoid of his or her right to religious freedom.

  78. May 26, 2008 at 16:16

    @ Tino, Rick

    I became Catholic as an adult. I was raised in a home where spirtuality was the preferred modus operandi, though we did go to church as children. I, however, took a very long hiatus from that vocation shortly afterwards, as I felt that Church was not really addressing my needs, at least as I thought at the time. Much later, as an adult I became interested in Christianity, again, except this time in a vien more akin to wanting to know for myself and not where adults tell you this is the required action in order to “save” yourself.

    I am not sure whether I would have been religious as an adult if I were not exposed to it as a child. Of course, I say that advisedly, because I certainly feel no desire to “evangelise” or highlight the areas of peoples’ lives that are “unaccceptable, as per the traditional course of religious politics. To each his own. We are all on our own journeys. We get there when we get there.

    But, to get back to the question of the coupling of religion and faith and whether I feel I was “indoctrinated” as a child. Firstly, as I noted above, I do not see religion and faith as, necessarilly, the same things notwithstanding the way in which the question was posed. In fact, I would go so far as to say that faith is learned – whether that learning is premised on a logical set of realities such as the virgin birth or the story related to Krishna, as Rick noted, is not really that important, I believe. Why?

    Well, because the matter of the mythological nature of the story would, I hope, be fairly obvious to all who could read and make sense of it. That is not to say that this may not have happened, just that the likelihood seems very slim and, therefore, exceeds the capacity of human beings to digest it as a practical explanation of human reality.

    However, I do believe that these stories point to the much more important question of “who is God?”, or “what is God?” That would suggest that if one accepts the notion of an all-powerful God with these abilities then it is perfectly legitimate for God to be able to do these things. I profess no deeper knowledge of God in this regard. I can only speak of the importance of my faith in my own universe on that one.

    Now, it remains to be seen whether all people, even the professed believers actually think that these things are “true”, though belief is the first step to which we are introduced. For my part, I accept in “faith” (that troublesome word, again!), that there are truths about the world that I do not completely understand but am, nonetheless, open to learn about. In that regard, I am not so sure that I especially care to know whether Adam and Eve actually existed or whether the story of a virgin giving birth is real, necessarilly. Why?

    This goes back to my point that faith is learned. That means to the extent that you have come to have experiences which teach you insightful life lessons, in part, based on this belief then anything is possible. So that, faith teaches possibilities and hope, etc. These are almost always good qualities that the world can certainly use more of. It is at that point, I think, that the confidence comes in, where you do not question the value of that “faith” and its importance in your world.

    I am not sure if that answers the questions as posed, but hopefully it does.

  79. 79 selena
    May 26, 2008 at 16:53


    You question is a good one. I am an example of a person who fell through the cracks when it comes to religious indoctrination/instruction.

    My family circumstances were such that no one had the energy or the motivation to control me. As a child I wandered the wide open spaces and stared at the sky and ocean, following my own thoughts. School work always came too easy so I had lots of time for contemplation. I loved being alone. At the same time I was social and was quite content being around people.

    Once or twice my friends (never my family) enticed me to go to a place of worship but the idea never caught on. It was too restricting. Once I went to Sunday school with Christian friends (not certain if my mother ever knew) and we had to remember a Bible verse for the next Sunday. I choose one that I didn’t have to remember… “Jesus wept!” I went back for that… maybe for a perverse reason… but never went back again.

    In spite of the lack of direct indoctrination, there was plenty of indirect control. The school is a place where we are given basic instruction in how not to think for one’s self. And all other institutions follow suit.

    Might we dream of a society without religion? Who knows what that would produce? I have never had any problems because of a lack of faith instruction but I am only one person.

  80. May 26, 2008 at 17:02

    @ Harsh,

    In reference to the point about faith, please see my response above. Indeed, I maintain that to have faith outside of a religious context is entirely possible. That, however, does not mean that you have faith in an “unknown” as you claim. Much to the contrary. It means, you are not religious, that is all. Whereby, religion follows certain prescriptive rites and customs like holy communion, worship and feast days, sacramentals, even specific modes of dress, etc.

    Conversely, I can maintain a faith in whatever independent of a belief in God, or even religion. That is entirely possible. As I noted before, I can have faith in my friends and their heightened sense of social justice, for instance, or just a core set of beliefs in the greater good of humanity, or whatever else. Whatever it is that I have faith in, is possible outside of religion. Such a faith is neither blind, nor ritualistic. It is learned. It inspires a confidence which facilitates trust which may be equated to “knowledge”. After all, we know what our faith tells us.

    All other matters related to the cavemen and their religious history, I choose to defer to the vast knowledge of others in that area.

  81. May 26, 2008 at 17:24

    I would even go so far as saying I am not really sure you need religion. You choose to be religious. That choice is entirely personal, for all kinds of reasons.

    As for indoctrination, I liked Selena’s point about the school and a number of other institutions which do not encourage independent thought. The media would have to be ranked right up there with religion, school and official politics, as well as the family unit. The irony is that we cannot seem to escape any of these things, in a real way, which can be really opppressive, at the best of times. There is almost always someone professing to know what you should do, how and when. Rarely do they offer real reasons…We need to get over it!

  82. 82 selena
    May 26, 2008 at 18:33

    @ Agostinho and Dwight

    Could I explain my position a bit more and ask for your thoughts? I will try to be succinct. 🙂

    In my view, we are no nearer the origins of the universe today than we were in Plato’s day. That idea probably won’t be very popular with those scientists schooled to believe that if they can construct a rational argument for something then it is necessarily truth.

    That is not to say that we don’t know a lot about the physics. Physics is a wonderful subject and the understanding of physics is increasing exponentially.

    What we don’t understand is anything about the components necessary for the existing First Cause theories which explain the cause and purpose of the universe. In understanding First Cause, it is no more incredible to posit God than the Big Bang. For in both theories there is something fundamental that is lacking. That is “Who made god?” or “What Banged?”

    Reducing the universe to a singularity or a point in time requires time to be absolute. But what is time? Time is a human construct needed to explain evolution and our existence and even to order our lives. There is no doubt that things change but is time needed to explain that change? Nature really does not care much about time. Does it?

    As long as we are locked into linear thinking, we will produces linear theories and results. In this mindset, there will be no movement past First Cause. There really can’t be. Getting past rules and regulations and laws is necessary to take that first tentative step outside the “box”. But even people who know this intuitively can’t bring themselves to shed the laws.

    So we are stuck. But one way to venture into the unknown might be to entertain the idea, no matter how bizarre it may sound to our logical minds, that there is a universe (for want of a better word), which exists within our minds. The human mind is the new frontier, ready for exploration.

    Addendum: Time is subjective. It is not the same for one person as it is for another. Why is this? If we find an answer for this question, we might find an answer for why human minds think and behave so differently.

  83. May 26, 2008 at 19:53

    @ Selena,

    I am not sure how I could properly posit a counter response to your obviously well considered positions on this matter, some of which I also share. I am especially intrigued though by your arguments about time and the human mind. To the extent that you argue in favour time as subjective experience, I am always of the view that values which are connected to the assumed objectivity of time, like objectivity itself, are very subjective and are, effectively, about power. I know that that is not a very popular position as most people arrogate onto the value of objectivity and, therefore, themselves a sort of ‘value-lessness’ which is independent of human manipulations. I totally disagree.

    Objectivity, in this way, is somwhat similar to non-religiousness (as a position) as declared by some. It mainly seeks to erase the obvious parts of itself from detection by either not stating its presence or by actively disavowing its opposite – subjectivity and religion, in the case of the latter. Values like objectivity are to be rigourously critiqued as much as the positions that they claim to call into question.

    To return to your question, therefore, I do share the position that the mind might yet prove our ‘saving grace’ (pun intended!). Of course, this dovetails into my spiritual faith which says that God lives within us and we in Him. That would suggest that I do believe in a God that whether or not He created himself does not immediately interests me. This is because I think that that is a fundamentally frustrating debate with no real way of knowing for certain whether that which is said is actually provable, let alone, sensible.

    Of course, there is an important point to be noted here. This argument moves from the premise the ways of God are not the ways of man and that to impose the limited (?) understandings of man onto an understanding of God only dooms one to frustrations. My question is, is it possible to know the ways of God, as we understand Him, without dooming ourselves to this frustration? And, why is it (so) important that we know from whence God came? Do questions like these make me/ us any less Godly, or religious, or faithful?

    Roman Catholicism preaches that we gain access to the Godhead through, among others, Holy Communion which allows God to transmit critical information to and through us by the powers of His Son Jesus. Whereas, I am aware that that is not everybody’s cup of tea, what I like about this is that to the extent that you ask about the mind I have often felt that the world in which we live is largely one of our own making and that, that world operates, in many instances, inside our heads, souls, spirits, hearts – whatever word appropriately conjures up the sentiment I am trying to express.

    I feel that the mind is extremely powerful and, quite possibly, wild and untapped. Christianity , as I understand it, (like many other organised religions) says that we are to focus that energy – such as it is, on God in order to come into (deeper) communion with the Divine. That means for Christians through the workings of the Holy Spirit, a whole new world is opened up for believers to express a wider range of the human self. I am careful to advise that this all premised on belief.

    In Jamaica, we have a saying that: “belief kills and belief cures” – meaning we live and die by our professed beliefs, faiths, thoughts, worldviews, etc. I suspect that that process of entering into the deep recesses of the mind, if indeed they are deep, can well occur without such a focus (on God). For some people this is akin to the Devil. However, I think this is flawed by the fact that if the Devil is less powerful, anti-thesis of God, then, it presupposes that one has to know who or what God is in order to become aware of and, therefore, focus on the Devil (instead). Often, it is simply that one enters in the world of the mind and its vast resources without instructions, formal or otherwise, in matters of declared faith.

  84. 84 HARSH
    May 26, 2008 at 19:55

    I have faith in God but actually I do not have faith in religion.
    Now , if I make my own religion to display my faith in God, it will not be accepted by many and on the contrary some may hate it too. If a lot of people like it, become followers of my ways, it will be the birth of new religion.
    I like the idea of faith in friends, nears and dears..that is good. Suppose I have ten friends, I believe in them , I feel safe with them, it’s a group..but it is different from other groups. Means that I will not feel safe in other groups.
    Same is with religion, we cannot relate to other religions, we feel alien, may be not safe, may be not as friends. Ideally a person should feel safe and happy wherever he goes. Our tolerance and acceptance to others views, customs , rituals should improve. And may the four letter word for faith is LOVE, which is the need of hour.

  85. May 26, 2008 at 20:01

    Amen, Harsh!

    Love that last post. We do need love! But, there are some amongst us who will ask what is that and whether we actually need love to survive! I say yes! Resoundinly!

    As to what it is? Well, it is the deep sense of goodwill, brother-/ sister-hood and great desire to accept people, within our limited spheres and capacity, for who they are. Of course, love can be romanitc, filial, fraternal, etc., etc. But, love is certain. It is the tie that binds us to each other as people. More of us need it, I would agree!

  86. May 26, 2008 at 20:27

    @ Agostinho

    I have read and re-read your post. It seems that I have offended you. I didn’t realize. The statement about “sounding profound” was to demonstrate why the referenced statement in that post doesn’t work in a discussion. I did not set the boundaries of the discussion. The question was asked “why do people of no faith look negatively upon people of faith.” My post were to offered different perspectives as to why it might be interpreted that way. In an attempt to not repeat being offensive that will suffice.

    @ post topic question

    I am going to assume that Ian and others of faith based opinions are not feeling they are having their opinions shunned when they are discussing who is the best football player or who the next American Idol will be. It is a negative pressure that is felt when people are debating issues like abortion, school curriculum, poverty, curing disease, war, and hunger. When statements such as “The bible says”, “My faith tells me”, or even “The constitution was based on Christian values” are used to preface a stance on an issue then it becomes something not understandable to those how do not “have faith”. Then faith doesn’t become a “4 letter word” it becomes a word of a different language. The discussion is bound to go cold once you start speaking a language the rest do not understand.

    You can have science with out faith, but you can not have faith without science. Faith has had to concede so many points to science over the years. Never has it gone the other way.

  87. 87 selena
    May 26, 2008 at 23:08


    I am going to reply to your post as soon as I have *time* to write, in between meetings and meeting deadlines.

    WHYS is taking a lot of this time 😉

  88. May 27, 2008 at 03:54

    @ Selena,

    Looking forward to your response.



    (PS: I am also called “Tino”. So, you can imagine my shock when I saw my name staring back at me earlier. I wondered whether I had been writing in my sleep, or something! LOL!)

  89. 89 Scott Millar
    May 27, 2008 at 04:11

    + No Ian, I’m not! Not—trying to force my belief system on anyone, nor do I have one on this subject. So how would this be possible? I have not accepted a belief system, which is exactly the point. This is not I like green and you like blue—this is you like blue and I haven’t chosen a color. Very, very different. To advocate with certainty, one color or one answer, to the worlds’ biggest question is arrogance and my calling it so, does not make me arrogant. I am certainly arrogant in many other ways, but this isn’t one of the examples.

    + Sorry for the slow response, I was on holiday.

    – Portland, Oregon

  90. 90 GUY FOX
    May 29, 2008 at 02:32

    Too many people get faith mixed up with knowledge.

    I could lock myself in the loo and close the windows and claim that all the trees are blue… because I have faith that they are blue. But having faith in something doesn’t make it true. However… I could walk outside and see from one of my five senses that the trees are not blue. Knowledge is based on empircal measurements and the five senses. Faith is wishing and hoping.

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