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  1. #1
    Closer than ever efreysson's Avatar
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    Having faith in the modern era

    I'll start this by stating that I am an atheist. I am on the autistic spectrum, and autists are generally atheistic, due to a rigidly logic-based mindset. I can't find it in myself to believe in something based on zero evidence. This is not a criticism, this is just how my mind is structured. I sure would LIKE to believe I have a soul... I just can't.

    But I also can't write solely about characters that share my viewpoints, and that leads me to my question: How do people maintain a spiritual view of the world in this modern age of scientific understanding? I am genuinely curious about this aspect of the human experience.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW PyriteFool's Avatar
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    Fellow atheist here, but a vast majority of my nearest and dearest are religious/spiritual in some way. For a lot of them their belief seems to come from two directions. There's a lot we don't understand and spirituality fulfills a need for explanation, order, comfort, beauty, and even humility. The act of believing in whatever their higher power both humbles and uplifts. It's pretty beautiful.

    The other side is finding faith in all the science, evidence, and logic. It's like they are discovering and caring for the world as an act of faith in and of itself. Discovery enhances their faith rather than diminishing it. Like how knowing art theory and history let's you fully appreciate a painting. I know a lot of religious scientists feel this way. Understanding just increases their wonder at the world. After all, just because you know how the system works, it doesn't mean something divine isn't involved. Knowledge just gives you greater insight into the divine.

    Again, take this with a grain of salt. This is based on observation and discussion not my own beliefs. But I have a lot of respect for spiritual traditions, so I'm eager to see what else people say
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  3. #3
    Live a poem...Or die a fool. \/ Beanie5's Avatar
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    There are more things in heaven and earth;
    I also remember reading once that a scintists on the avaiable evidence said there was over a 60% chance of there being a godlike being https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...reducation.uk1
    Intro also recently posted scientific speculation on weather the universe was an entity, my reading was it was non sentient, but who knows
    he also followed up with an article that said the universe had an unexplained cold spot this article said it might have been due to the collisions of our universes with another
    it may also indicate that somehow the universe (this was not mentioned in the article) may somehow actively be contrivening the second law of thermodynamics ( a possible indicator of life,

    one thing is certain even the best scientific minds on our planet have no idea on what is going on out there so you can believe whatever you want and noone can prove you wrong ( douglas adams " and god disappears in a puff of logic " when he digresses on the babel fish as being certain proof ther there is a God is worth looking at) i wouldn't let non belief stand in your way ( i am a bit dislexic so sorry for the nature of the post we all have our cross to bear
    Last edited by Beanie5; 07-03-2017 at 06:46 PM.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by efreysson View Post
    I'll start this by stating that I am an atheist. I am on the autistic spectrum, and autists are generally atheistic, due to a rigidly logic-based mindset. I can't find it in myself to believe in something based on zero evidence. This is not a criticism, this is just how my mind is structured. I sure would LIKE to believe I have a soul... I just can't.

    But I also can't write solely about characters that share my viewpoints, and that leads me to my question: How do people maintain a spiritual view of the world in this modern age of scientific understanding? I am genuinely curious about this aspect of the human experience.
    You believe in lots of things based on zero evidence, and people believe there's more evidence than you do for things they believe, same as you believe there's more evidence than they do for things you believe. You simply discount what you think isn't 'real' evidence, and vice versa. You're looking at this as if your view is the only one that uses logic. It's not; it's just your view.

    There are scientists who believe in a higher power. There are people of faith who believe in science.

    The Vatican, for instance, has no problem with science; I was taught science by more than one nun and priest fully invested in evolution, Darwin, scientific principles, the scientific method, etc., and who will tell you clearly and absolutely that the Bible is a metaphorical book written ages ago, not to be taken literally. These are people who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of faith and to the Catholic Church.

    These things are not as incompatible as you think -- they're incompatible to you, or to your thinking. That's not universal.

    Some people are swayed by the inexplicable, some think the inexplicable is just something we haven't explained, but neither view is provable. Each is simply a view. Neither is more logical than the next.

    Is the multiverse more logical than the pocket universe theory? They're theories. Are either more or less logical than the idea that there's some creator of the universe? *shrug*. You can find people who have experienced things you've not. Are you going to tell them their experiences are 'wrong?'

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by efreysson View Post
    I'll start this by stating that I am an atheist. I am on the autistic spectrum, and autists are generally atheistic, due to a rigidly logic-based mindset. I can't find it in myself to believe in something based on zero evidence. This is not a criticism, this is just how my mind is structured. I sure would LIKE to believe I have a soul... I just can't.

    But I also can't write solely about characters that share my viewpoints, and that leads me to my question: How do people maintain a spiritual view of the world in this modern age of scientific understanding? I am genuinely curious about this aspect of the human experience.
    Fellow athiest here, with lots of intellectual theist friends. One thing I've frequently observed in their mindset is a sort of a "turtles all the way down" approach to thinking about the world.

    Old-timey questioner: Where do babies come from?

    I'm a theist from the 1400s with little to no scientific understanding of the subject, and I can tell you most assuredly that God puts a baby in a woman's womb and makes it grow.

    Modern day questioner: But there's a sperm and an egg, and they combine, and (insert long, complicated scientific explanation of fetal development). Isn't THAT how babies are really made?

    I am an intelligent, modern, scientific-minded theist, and I agree with everything you just said. That is, indeed, how babies are made. But you know how that whole amazing process came to exist? God created it.

    ...

    One relatively common example of this way of thinking is when someone is deciding whether or not to treat a medical condition. You have the extreme end of things, such as Christian Scientists, who eschew doctors and hospitals and have faith that God will heal them. However, most modern theists are likely to point out that if God made everything, then He also made the doctors and the medicine and the treatments, so obviously He wants people to use these good things.

    It's quite an effective method of meshing scientific and religious thought.
    Last edited by Tazlima; 07-03-2017 at 07:38 PM.
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  6. #6
    Hoopy frood JimmyB27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    You believe in lots of things based on zero evidence,
    I can't speak for OP, but I certainly don't believe in things based on zero evidence. Why would I?

    The Vatican, for instance, has no problem with science; I was taught science by more than one nun and priest fully invested in evolution, Darwin, scientific principles, the scientific method, etc., and who will tell you clearly and absolutely that the Bible is a metaphorical book written ages ago, not to be taken literally. These are people who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of faith and to the Catholic Church.
    This baffles me even further. If the bible is not true in the literal sense, in what way is it more valuable than any other book?
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  7. #7
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Probably worth pointing out (because it's often missed in these discussions) that belief is only one component of religion. Ritual and community are just as important, often more so. There are people who participate in religion for the sense of belonging, and because adhering to ritual is spiritually important to them. But even amongst those whose belief that a religion's tenets are 'true' is central to their faith, many of those beliefs won't clash with a scientific understanding of the universe. Why should the religious be expected to suffer unique cognitive dissonance? Plenty of atheists hold beliefs orthogonal to reality and get by just fine.
    Last edited by Albedo; 07-03-2017 at 08:07 PM.

  8. #8
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyB27 View Post
    I can't speak for OP, but I certainly don't believe in things based on zero evidence. Why would I?
    Does this belief have evidence?

  9. #9
    Mankind is my Business AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    One of the difficulties in discussions like this lies in the mushiness of the word belief. People use the term to cover everything from something one posits provisonally for practical purposes to ideas one would rather die than reject.

    This broad spectrum of meaning carries with it a broad spectrum of responses to challenges to views. People are usually willing to discard posits when presented with contrary facts, but unwilling to do so for martyrdom scale tenets of belief.

    it is therefore erroneous and/or disingenuous to say that everyone has beliefs / belief systems. A person who has only provisional views that they know will change with evidence does not have the same kind of mental objects as someone who would rather see all of humanity perish than change one letter of their conceptions of reality.
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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyB27 View Post
    I can't speak for OP, but I certainly don't believe in things based on zero evidence. Why would I?


    This baffles me even further. If the bible is not true in the literal sense, in what way is it more valuable than any other book?
    Because you're human?

    Catholics, and other people who share that belief, I'd wager, believe that the Bible is divinely inspired to reveal truths, but those aren't like, literal truths as told in the stories, but larger truths. The Vatican has no problem with science, and does not suggest literal interpretation of the bible stories.

    To wit, Pope Pius XII (in 1950), said:

    The teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution...
    This is the current pope, Francis, speaking about how the Genesis story is not meant to be taken literally, the Earth is not 6,000 years old, the Big Bang is accepted knowledge, and btw, climate change is real and we must use science and knowledge to attempt to right the ship.

    When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything. However, it was not like that.

    He created beings and left them to develop according to the internal laws that He gave each one, so that they would develop, and reach their fullness. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time that He assured them of his continual presence, giving being to every reality.

    And thus creation went forward for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia until it became what we know today, in fact because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities. The beginning of the world was not the work of chaos, which owes its origin to another, but it derives directly from a Supreme Principle who creates out of love.

    The Big-Bang, that is placed today at the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine intervention but exacts it. The evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.

    In regard to man, instead, there is a change and a novelty. When, on the sixth day of the Genesis account, we come to the creation of man, God gives the human being another autonomy, a different autonomy from that of nature, which is freedom. And He tells man to give a name to all things and to go forward in the course of history. He renders him responsible for creation, also so that he will dominate Creation, so that he will develop it and so forth until the end of time.

    Therefore, the attitude that corresponds to the scientist, especially to the Christian scientist is to question himself about the future of humanity and of the earth and, as a free and responsible being, to contribute to prepare it, to preserve it, and to eliminate the risks of the environment, be they natural or human.
    There are, of course, other religions that embrace science as well, just saying, as I think there's an idea that Christians, especially U.S. ones, are all of the evangelical, fundamentalist bent that does take the bible entirely literally, fights to have creationism taught in schools, etc. Catholics run a LOT of schools -- from elementary to university -- in the U.S., and embrace and perpetuate the study of modern, real science.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW stephenf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by efreysson View Post
    How do people maintain a spiritual view of the world in this modern age of scientific understanding? I am genuinely curious about this aspect of the human experience.
    I don't have any religious belief, but a large percentage of the human race do . According to the internet there are 4,200 religions in the world today . I don't have any evidence that is true .

  12. #12
    Hoopy frood JimmyB27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    Because you're human?
    So they say. What does that have to do with anything? Are you perhaps conflating evidence with proof? I believe things without 100%, cast iron proof (most things, in fact). But not without any evidence at all.

    Catholics, and other people who share that belief, I'd wager, believe that the Bible is divinely inspired to reveal truths, but those aren't like, literal truths as told in the stories, but larger truths. The Vatican has no problem with science, and does not suggest literal interpretation of the bible stories.
    But the only place that says the bible is divinely inspired is...the bible. And we've agreed that's not to be taken literally, so...?
    Last edited by JimmyB27; 07-03-2017 at 09:46 PM.
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  13. #13
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
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    Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    I've been saying this in this part of the forum for years. It's not (always) about belief; it's about experience.

    Personally, I think atheists are spiritually colorblind. I'm not. I experience a vast flow of ecstasy and an ecstatic flow of vastness that has nothing to do with belief. I call that experiencing the presence of God. (That's the only place I can think of where belief comes in.) Your mileage may vary.

    Then there's intuition. This has nothing to do with belief either. Except a sure sense of what to do and when to do it that proves much more life-enhancing that what my logic would have had me do.

    And so, the proof of religion/spirituality is in the living of it. The real living of it, not the mouthing of us/them idiocy.

    Blessings,

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  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW PyriteFool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siri Kirpal View Post
    Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    I've been saying this in this part of the forum for years. It's not (always) about belief; it's about experience.

    Personally, I think atheists are spiritually colorblind. I'm not. I experience a vast flow of ecstasy and an ecstatic flow of vastness that has nothing to do with belief. I call that experiencing the presence of God. (That's the only place I can think of where belief comes in.) Your mileage may vary.
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by color blind. I've experienced, ecstasy, the sublime, etc. I just call it the presence of dopamine rather than God. The feeling is no less real and affects me no less. And I still appreciate whatever the stimulus was.

    I suppose this is the divide. How do we process the world and our experience of it? And of course neither approach is mutually exclusive. As stated above, you can easily think God gave you whatever brain chemical is flooding your system. That's valid and satisfies many people. I'm happy to stop at the chemical "scientific" definition but a lot of people aren't. That's fine by me.
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  15. #15
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    One of the difficulties in discussions like this lies in the mushiness of the word belief. People use the term to cover everything from something one posits provisonally for practical purposes to ideas one would rather die than reject.

    This broad spectrum of meaning carries with it a broad spectrum of responses to challenges to views. People are usually willing to discard posits when presented with contrary facts, but unwilling to do so for martyrdom scale tenets of belief.

    it is therefore erroneous and/or disingenuous to say that everyone has beliefs / belief systems. A person who has only provisional views that they know will change with evidence does not have the same kind of mental objects as someone who would rather see all of humanity perish than change one letter of their conceptions of reality.
    It would be erroneous to assume that martyrdom-scale beliefs are always religious in nature, or that atheists can't hold them, IMO. But efreysson isn't necessarily talking about those beliefs that the believer holds to the point of dying for them. Life after death, for instance, isn't a central feature of many faiths. People may or may not believe in it, but not on a martyrdom scale.

    I think where a lot of atheists get it wrong when approaching religion and religious attitudes is assuming that they are always matters of belief, and so if those beliefs can only be disproven then the believer's faith will crumble like the house of cards it is. Like Siri said, spiritual truths aren't always about belief so much as experience, or knowing. If I have experienced a profound spiritual event, your attempts to disprove its significance using physical evidence are working at a disadvantage. If I know a particular spiritual insight to be true, ditto.
    Last edited by Albedo; 07-04-2017 at 07:25 AM.

  16. #16
    Mankind is my Business AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albedo View Post
    It would be erroneous to assume that martyrdom-scale beliefs are always religious in nature, or that atheists can't hold them, IMO. But efreysson isn't necessarily talking about those beliefs that the believer holds to the point of dying for them. Life after death, for instance, isn't a central feature of many faiths. People may or may not believe in it, but not on a martyrdom scale.

    I think where a lot of atheists get it wrong when approaching religion and religious attitudes is assuming that they are always matters of belief, and so if those beliefs can only be disproven then the believer's faith will crumble like the house of cards it is. Like Siri said, spiritual truths aren't always about belief so much as experience, or knowing. If I have experienced a profound spiritual event, your attempts to disprove its significance using physical evidence are working at a disadvantage. If I know a particular spiritual insight to be true, ditto.

    That isn't my point. I've pointed out many times that religion isn't largely a matter of belief, but of practice. And from that point of view, the distinctions between theism and atheism are not so sharp. It is quite possible to be atheistic and practice many religions in whole or in part (Judaism, Taoism, and many forms of Buddhism for example).

    But the primacy of belief isn't posited by atheists. Rather, it is broight forth by some groups of theists as a challenge to others including atheists. Questions such as "What do you really believe in?" or claims such as "Everyone has beliefs." are framed largely by subgroups of theists.

    Most atheists I know would rather dispense with argument on grounds of belief as it is infertile ground for conversation.

    The point I was trying to make is that these questions and claims are mushy because the idea of belief itself is mushy.
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  17. #17
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    That isn't my point. I've pointed out many times that religion isn't largely a matter of belief, but of practice. And from that point of view, the distinctions between theism and atheism are not so sharp. It is quite possible to be atheistic and practice many religions in whole or in part (Judaism, Taoism, and many forms of Buddhism for example).

    But the primacy of belief isn't posited by atheists. Rather, it is broight forth by some groups of theists as a challenge to others including atheists. Questions such as "What do you really believe in?" or claims such as "Everyone has beliefs." are framed largely by subgroups of theists.

    Most atheists I know would rather dispense with argument on grounds of belief as it is infertile ground for conversation.

    The point I was trying to make is that these questions and claims are mushy because the idea of belief itself is mushy.
    Okay, I think I'm with you now, Richard—if by mushy you mean that people don't believe what they believe they believe. I don't think, though, one should get too caught up in practice or ritual when discussing belief. Some of the posts here come rather too close to the idea that religious belief requires the suspension of rational thought; that's not only too easy an argument, it might also be a mistake. Very likely is. We use the same cognitive mechanisms for evaluating religious beliefs as we do for everything else. Our cognitive mechanisms aren't compartmentalized by subject matter.

    For efreysson and anyone else who wonders why religion in a scientific world, I'd recommend reading some works of cognitive scientists & cognitive anthropologists. Some that I have and are good for getting your own cognitive juices flowing to start with are:

    The Naturalness of Religious Ideas: A Cognitive Theory of Religion by Pascal Boyer (Though do try to find it in a used bookstore as even Amazon's price is outrageous)
    Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer
    How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
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  18. #18
    Mankind is my Business AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ari Meermans View Post
    Okay, I think I'm with you now, Richard—if by mushy you mean that people don't believe what they believe they believe. I don't think, though, one should get too caught up in practice or ritual when discussing belief. Some of the posts here come rather too close to the idea that religious belief requires the suspension of rational thought; that's not only too easy an argument, it might also be a mistake. Very likely is. We use the same cognitive mechanisms for evaluating religious beliefs as we do for everything else. Our cognitive mechanisms aren't compartmentalized by subject matter.

    For efreysson and anyone else who wonders why religion in a scientific world, I'd recommend reading some works of cognitive scientists & cognitive anthropologists. Some that I have and are good for getting your own cognitive juices flowing to start with are:

    The Naturalness of Religious Ideas: A Cognitive Theory of Religion by Pascal Boyer (Though do try to find it in a used bookstore as even Amazon's price is outrageous)
    Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer
    How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
    It's not so much that people don't believe what they believe, it's that many distinct mental actions are all grouped under the word believe. So that a person using a working hypothesis until and unless it is disproved is deemed to be performing the same mental action as someone making a lifelong profession of faith.

    But these are not the same mentalities. The former mindset is always on the lookout for evidence for or against the hypothesis. The latter anchors their worldview around the profession of faith. There is no correspondence of mental practice, ergo the equivalence is a false one.

    One of the sources of pointless argument that shows up in these discussions is the presumption that people mean the same things by the terms they use. It is, for example, not uncommon for people of faith to ask others if they "believe" in evolution. The implications of this question lie in the idea that all ideas that a person acts according to are matters of belief. The most common answer is to say that evoluton isn't a matter of belief, it's been demonstrated.

    My point is that belief is an overly generalized term that people tend to think only fits their particular usage, and that the arguments that ensue are often caused by that over generalization.
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  19. #19
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyB27 View Post
    But the only place that says the bible is divinely inspired is...the bible. And we've agreed that's not to be taken literally, so...?
    I'm not convinced that the Bible says that. Pretty sure it doesn't, in fact. Even if you believe that the individual scriptures or some of them are divinely inspired, the Bible is a made creation, to the point that the Catholic Bible is different from the Protestant Bibles and neither are what they were a thousand years ago.

    That said, I'm not someone who believes that the Bible or Christianity are not compatible with science, evolutionary theory or the like.
    Last edited by AW Admin; 07-04-2017 at 04:55 PM.

  20. #20
    Cultured vulture Albedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    That isn't my point. I've pointed out many times that religion isn't largely a matter of belief, but of practice. And from that point of view, the distinctions between theism and atheism are not so sharp. It is quite possible to be atheistic and practice many religions in whole or in part (Judaism, Taoism, and many forms of Buddhism for example).

    But the primacy of belief isn't posited by atheists. Rather, it is broight forth by some groups of theists as a challenge to others including atheists. Questions such as "What do you really believe in?" or claims such as "Everyone has beliefs." are framed largely by subgroups of theists.

    Most atheists I know would rather dispense with argument on grounds of belief as it is infertile ground for conversation.

    The point I was trying to make is that these questions and claims are mushy because the idea of belief itself is mushy.
    This may be so, however the OP, an atheist, is the one who brought up belief in this thread (as something that is in opposition to a scientific understanding of the world). I think it's important to clarify that belief is not the be-all and end-all of religion in this setting, as well as examining the preconception (belief??) that holding spiritual beliefs is incompatible with scientific understanding.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    It's not so much that people don't believe what they believe, it's that many distinct mental actions are all grouped under the word believe. So that a person using a working hypothesis until and unless it is disproved is deemed to be performing the same mental action as someone making a lifelong profession of faith.

    But these are not the same mentalities. The former mindset is always on the lookout for evidence for or against the hypothesis. The latter anchors their worldview around the profession of faith. There is no correspondence of mental practice, ergo the equivalence is a false one.
    I think there are many grades of belief on the spectrum between these two extremes. And people can operate at both extremes depending on the time of day, whether theist or not. A bunch of theologians nutting out an obscure point by poring over texts are working in the first mode. A bunch of atheists taking as received the words of St Dawkins are acting in the second.

    But yes, the vagueness of the word 'belief' doesn't help these arguments go anywhere.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW buzhidao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by efreysson View Post
    I'll start this by stating that I am an atheist. I am on the autistic spectrum, and autists are generally atheistic, due to a rigidly logic-based mindset. I can't find it in myself to believe in something based on zero evidence. This is not a criticism, this is just how my mind is structured. I sure would LIKE to believe I have a soul... I just can't.

    But I also can't write solely about characters that share my viewpoints, and that leads me to my question: How do people maintain a spiritual view of the world in this modern age of scientific understanding? I am genuinely curious about this aspect of the human experience.
    I suppose it depends where your line of "spiritual" is. But I would say, generally, there is still room for the spiritual where science does not or cannot provide a complete answer--or else, where there is still room for a "why?"

    Buddhism, for example, comes in many forms, but is often focused on issues of the mind. The mind is not something well-understood by science. Conceptualization of self or non-self, the practice of meditation, the origins and remedies for suffering, the connectedness or non-connectedness of living beings--are all problems and solutions that tack right into both the spiritual realm and the realm of scientific inquiry, yes? Meditation especially is something often relegated to the "spirituality," but it slots quite well into scientific questions as well.

    One can also fully accept scientific answers to things while also allowing room for the spiritual or metaphysical. A person can accept evolution as simply a method and manifestation of God's creating and so forth, or, not having a god-concept at all, one can simply feel a more spiritual way about nature and its workings...

    Is that what you meant? Or are you talking about concepts of God and organized religion specifically?

  22. #22
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzhidao View Post
    I suppose it depends where your line of "spiritual" is. But I would say, generally, there is still room for the spiritual where science does not or cannot provide a complete answer--or else, where there is still room for a "why?"
    Yes, this. I'm an atheist, and in my experience I'm no less spiritual than my friends who are religious. The difference is I don't have a framework wrapped around my spirituality.

    As for writing: I don't write about religion. It's not part of my daily life, so I don't see a need to cover it in my fiction. Spirituality, though - and ethics, and morality, and our duty to our fellow humans - I write about that all the time.
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW Opty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AW Admin View Post
    I'm not convinced that the Bible says that. Pretty sure it doesn't, in fact.
    Pretty sure that it does:

    20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
    There are also several Old Testament passages that unequivocally state that they came directly from God's mouth.

    I do agree, though, that science and religion (in general) aren't necessarily incompatible. It's a shame when specific doctrines and beliefs demand that they be so.
    Last edited by Opty; 07-05-2017 at 05:54 AM.
    "I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses." - Johannes Kepler

  24. #24
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ari Meermans View Post
    Okay, I think I'm with you now, Richard—if by mushy you mean that people don't believe what they believe they believe. I don't think, though, one should get too caught up in practice or ritual when discussing belief. Some of the posts here come rather too close to the idea that religious belief requires the suspension of rational thought; that's not only too easy an argument, it might also be a mistake. Very likely is. We use the same cognitive mechanisms for evaluating religious beliefs as we do for everything else. Our cognitive mechanisms aren't compartmentalized by subject matter.

    For efreysson and anyone else who wonders why religion in a scientific world, I'd recommend reading some works of cognitive scientists & cognitive anthropologists. Some that I have and are good for getting your own cognitive juices flowing to start with are:

    The Naturalness of Religious Ideas: A Cognitive Theory of Religion by Pascal Boyer (Though do try to find it in a used bookstore as even Amazon's price is outrageous)
    Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer
    How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
    It's not so much that people don't believe what they believe, it's that many distinct mental actions are all grouped under the word believe. So that a person using a working hypothesis until and unless it is disproved is deemed to be performing the same mental action as someone making a lifelong profession of faith.
    Okay. Just as a matter of clarification, I did not write "people don't believe what they believe"; I wrote "people don't believe what they believe they believe" (two different meanings and also that phrasing for the record is Pascal Boyer's). I have to admit that I don't know if by "mental actions" you mean the same thing I mean by "cognitive mechansims". If so, then no, I don't agree; we use the same cognitive mechanisms for processing all data. The conclusions we draw differ according to culture, community, and other factors.
    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    But these are not the same mentalities. The former mindset is always on the lookout for evidence for or against the hypothesis. The latter anchors their worldview around the profession of faith. There is no correspondence of mental practice, ergo the equivalence is a false one.
    I agree that the mindsets and mentalities are different because, again, other factors play a large part in the formulation of those mentalities and mindsets. So yes, the mental practice is different because of the weight we assign factors and evidence.

    I am an atheist, and the only person in my family who is, but I was brought up in a deeply religious environment . . . and was myself deeply religious for most of my life—until I began to question and reassign the weighting I gave to each of the factors as well as to the data points.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    One of the sources of pointless argument that shows up in these discussions is the presumption that people mean the same things by the terms they use. It is, for example, not uncommon for people of faith to ask others if they "believe" in evolution. The implications of this question lie in the idea that all ideas that a person acts according to are matters of belief. The most common answer is to say that evoluton isn't a matter of belief, it's been demonstrated.

    My point is that belief is an overly generalized term that people tend to think only fits their particular usage, and that the arguments that ensue are often caused by that over generalization.
    That may be. I don't know because I tend to accept Merriam-Webster's definition of belief:
    1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing - her belief in God - a belief in democracy - I bought the table in the belief that it was an antique - contrary to popular belief

    2: something that is accepted, considered to be true, or held as an opinion : something believed - an individual's religious or political beliefs; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group the beliefs of the Catholic Church

    3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence - belief in the validity of scientific statements
    I still think, though, that those who care to explore "why religion" should investigate the work of cognitive scientists on the subject of religious belief. I recommended two, but there are many others both religious and non-religious.

    I, too, am unconvinced that religion and science are necessarily incompatible.
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  25. #25
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    I do admire the way you quote out of context, and ignore what I actually wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by AW Admin View Post
    I'm not convinced that the Bible says that. Pretty sure it doesn't, in fact. Even if you believe that the individual scriptures or some of them are divinely inspired, the Bible is a made creation, to the point that the Catholic Bible is different from the Protestant Bibles and neither are what they were a thousand years ago.
    Go check the actual language, carefully. None of those passages refer to the Bible. They assert that those particular bits are divinely inspired; not every single text. The Bible (note the Latin for "collection of books") is not at all considered to be divinely inspired in its entirety since what the Bible is depends on who decides what bits and pieces go into it.

    Take, for instance, the Apocrypha. Or the Gnostic Gospels. Or any bit that one particular coterie of editors or one particular sect decides isn't part of the Bible.

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