Statesboro, GA, USA
I’ve noticed that most of the people who say they do know, substitute other forms of knowledge, such as faith or such, to substitute for evidence-based knowledge, The kind we use to tell whether to walk over the edge of a cliff or not. The answer is ‘No,” gravity forbids, and to depend of miracles assumes a theological status it would be presumptuous for most of us to claim.
I still think you're demonstrating the popular secularized definition of "faith" whenever you talk about it, which goes something like this: believing what you know isn't true.
But faith isn't belief contrary to evidence. It may however represent belief apart from strict empiricism, or belief apart from the possibility of simplistic verification. And since there are a host of such beliefs that you and I both hold without a shred of agnosticism, religious faith can be thought to fall within that same category.
Consider C.S. Lewis' summary of Christian Faith:
"... Reason may win truths; without faith she will retain them just so long as Satan pleases. There is nothing we cannot be made to believe or disbelieve. If we wish to be rational, not now and then, but constantly, we must pray for the gift of Faith, for the power to go on believing not in the teeth of reason but in the teeth of lust and terror and jealousy and boredom and indifference that which reason, authority, or experience, or all three, have once delivered to us for truth." (From the essay "Religion: Reality or Substitute")
This of course does not automatically exonerate all types and examples of "religious faith". It does however inform us that there are many motivations to doubt other than evidentiary.
I said nothing at all about God having obligations to us. I’m sorry you felt the need to defend yourself against something I didn’t say. I would still say that impersonal forces, by definition, are under no obligation to follow rules, specifically the imaginary rule that they act reasonable in doing anything, even in giving rise to phenomena that we are most often comfortable ascribing to a loving and personal God.
I wasn't defending myself. I was pointing out that my argument was whether it was reasonable to think that impersonal nature made someone like yourself. Your reason-based argument (strangely) isn't that it is. Rather than answering "yes" or "no", you say that the ultimate reality may indeed be irrational, regardless of our own tryst with reason. And while this is possible in the barest sense of the word, I think it takes a person into a much more mystical position than the Christian answer, since it makes reason itself an accident or illusion. It undermines the deepest of our convictions and assumptions. It reminds me of Francis Schaeffer's statement that when Man loses God, he loses himself. I'm not saying that its never good to explore or question assumptions. But by making human life a sheer accident, we have a kind of clean sweep.
I suppose I can be glad that you seem wise enough to doubt your doubts as well. And I do appreciate your earnest and thoughtful replies.
Should you read the Skeptical magazines, you’d see the same group of people in reverse, disillusioned ministers, former choirboys, ex-priests, lapsed Catholics and the like ready to stand up and be counted for their new faith—Athiesm. How much actual difference there is between the two sorts of stories isn’t really very clear to me. They’re both sincere enough.
By mentioning the likes of Anthony Flew, C.S. Lewis (among other converts from professing atheism to theism), I am not making an appeal to majority. I am merely pointing out what my purpose and aim is: namely to encourage people who have seen something more than atheism, to pursue it. And also to suggest that Faith in God is reasonable. The difference between the two kinds of stories (as final choices) I will address below.
I have spent long portions of my life among ugly people and things, and I’ve found a lot of these things in myself. Yet I see myself as needing to extend compassion to others and to myself, especially to those parts of people that are ugly. I love beauty, but in many ways it takes me away from the compassion that is more important and difficult.
And so you have recognized the truth that beauty is hierarchical in nature. Moral beauty (ie showing compassion) is "more important" than physical beauty or comfort. Still beauty itself is a reality that goes beyond the molecules in your own cerebral cortex. Beauty (like God) is not proveable via strict empiricism, and that was my point.
I’m saying that talking about the reasonableness of God at all is Begging the Question, as though there was universal agreement on the existence of God, and now all that remained with to iron out a few of the remaining details. Please tell me who made that concession for the Atheists I know who haven’t yet been informed of their new position. Maybe we could send them festive cards.
Of course there is not universal agreement. But there are pervasive tendencies to believe in a "higher power". (cringe).
For those who have thoroughly convinced and argued themselves out of a belief in God, I'm not sure that I have much to offer. But I can explain to you my belief about the universality of God's general revelation by referring to Paul's words in the book of Romans:
" ... For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:18-22)
This of course can be taken wrongly to mean that all men automatically know that Christianity is true. But then how could one make sense of Paul's own attitude and practice of evangelism and apologetics? In a much more general sense I think it asserts that everyone sees, at some point and in some fashion, some evidence for the reality of God even if only as the undefined "higher power". When Paul says they are "without excuse", I think he is referring to the responsibility of exploring or pursuing the inklings of God already possessed ... of seeking the truth.
The reference to becoming "fools", may be insulting to those who have honest questions or doubts (and I do believe many do). I don't think Paul however is addressing that situation. How else could he write elsewhere to "be merciful to those who doubt" (Jude 1:22)? He is speaking of the end of a long process, and of final resolves: Either the intentional denial of a once seen conclusion, or the apathetic procrastination of beginning the expedition in light of insights (however fleeting) with religious implications.
I know this view will not sit well with some, since every sure atheist insists on absolute integrity and objectivity in their denial. But I suspect that's the fixed gulf that must be between these two worldviews. I the deluded, and they the rebel. Kirkegaard wrote much about the subjective element of belief and unbelief. And I too think that while reason enters the picture, deeper realities are present as well falling along the lines of love, autonomy, shame, rebellion, and devotion. The kind of realities and motivators which Dostoevsky observed are quite "beyond" reason.
Me: While I respectfully disagree with your view of the non-necessity of a "higher power" as it pertains to reality, (and I'm sure we'll continue to explore that question) I don't think you should make the same kind of denial in regard to this discussion or thread.
Bob: I chose to state that opinion, because I thought then and still think it was a reasonable one. And I choose to believe that I have as much right to state such an opinion here as anyone. It adds to the conversation, it is polite, and to state that there is no logical necessity for positing a Higher Power is a well recognized and reasonable position. It is not the same as saying, “NO,” despite your conflation of the two
... If the thread has to do with objects of worship, adoration, or origins, and speaking of such is entirely proper to the discussion, then raising questions about such things and the necessity of their presence in a discussion of the universe is surely proper to the discussion as well.
If you'll revisit my words here, you should see that I was not addressing your argument that "there is no logical necessity " for a higher power. (though again I think it is more accurate to say you are arguing that logic need not apply to the question at all) I was addressing your seeming suggestion that speaking of a "higher power" was somehow unsuited to the discussion. I was merely pointing out that that was (beyond dispute) the subject matter of the thread. Of course I guess in the philosophy forum nothing is "beyond dispute" .
But Bob, I probably misunderstood you here. But what is indisputable to me is that your replies are polite and thoughtful.