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Old 06-27-2008, 02:10 AM   #1
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True religion vs. false religion

I've encountered believers whom I've truly respected, and religious people who have excited nothing but my contempt. And, whether you call it God or the Universe, I think the big difference is this:

A genuine believer compares his self to the Divinity, and is humbled.
A false believer conflates his self with the Divinity, and becomes arrogant.

Albert Einstein said "To know that what is impenatrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself amoung profoundly religious men."

George W. Bush said "I feel like God wants me to run for President."
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:03 AM   #2
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I would say that there are truly spiritual people who transcend the religious box and those who use religion as a crutch and excuse for anything and everything.

Mother Teresa was the former, Tammy Faye Baker was the latter.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:34 AM   #3
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:23 AM   #4
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This is fascinating.

"A genuine believer compares his self to the Divinity, and is humbled.
A false believer conflates his self with the Divinity, and becomes arrogant."


I would argue, however, that to conflate one's self and be humbled is still possible - and perhaps more "desirable" than to compare. But, then again, I don't see a consequential difference.

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Old 07-04-2008, 04:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiling Ted View Post
A genuine believer compares his self to the Divinity, and is humbled.
A false believer conflates his self with the Divinity, and becomes arrogant.
What if the divinity is defined to be the totality of creation, not some independent entity? How would a worshipper worship 'genuinely' without worshipping also (in part) oneself?

What if a person is humble for reasons of other than divine comparison, and worships? Is that genuine or ingenuine belief?

What if a person is arrogant for reasons other than conflation with divinity?

What if a person is humbled by the possibility of a divinity, but holds no opinion about its veracity?

The point I'm alluding to is that 'true' religion (i.e. sincere, faithful and devoted religion) seems to have little to do with the details of belief, but much to do with values, commitment, practice and openness.
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Old 07-04-2008, 06:43 AM   #6
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"The point I'm alluding to is that 'true' religion (i.e. sincere, faithful and devoted religion) seems to have little to do with the details of belief, but much to do with values, commitment, practice and openness."


One reflects the other, and vice versa. Acts reveal faith, and faith is the cause of movement in action (sic TS Eliot, and thus probably Aquinas or Augustine). Details are everything and all the time, Ruv!

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Old 07-04-2008, 04:35 PM   #7
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"The point I'm alluding to is that 'true' religion (i.e. sincere, faithful and devoted religion) seems to have little to do with the details of belief, but much to do with values, commitment, practice and openness."
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One reflects the other, and vice versa. Acts reveal faith, and faith is the cause of movement in action (sic TS Eliot, and thus probably Aquinas or Augustine). Details are everything and all the time, Ruv!
People confuse belief and faith all the time. Belief is the stories we tell ourselves. Faith is how we turn our values and visions into action.

Belief is pretty cheap. We can hold contradictory beliefs, half-beliefs, beliefs we don't act on. It costs us little to believe in things, until we decide to care about them or act on them - then it requires faith and that can get quite expensive.
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Old 07-04-2008, 05:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruv Draba View Post
Faith is how we turn our values and visions into action.

I always thought faith meant accepting things without proof, not turning values into action. To make sure, I looked it up again. This is what I found:

Strong belief in a supernatural power
Complete confidence in a person or plan
An institution that has a strong belief in a supernatural power (Religion)
Loyalty to a cause or person
Trust in a cause or person

I have not seen any definition about turning anything into action, unless it is some private definition. Otherwise, faith is just a stronger version of the word "belief." I think you might be thinking of a different word.
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Old 07-04-2008, 06:42 PM   #9
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"Loyalty to a cause or person"

"To a cause possesses" great significance! If your cause is to silence, you shall try to be silent. If your cause is to God, you shall try to be humble (or whatever else....). If your cause is to destroy the Jewish people, you shall try to destroy the Jewish people. etc etc etc

Faith, which is not a word used in Buddhism, indirectly relates to "devotion". I think this is more what I refer to by religious faith - I'm well aware of faith also being the "belief of things unseen".

Even that, however, is an amazingly valuable thing to me-- in certain instances.

For example, when someone loves unconditionally (is that possible?) they are doing so by blindness or by faith. Assuming for the moment that it is by faith, it is the belief in things unseen and it is devotion. It is a belief in the power of love, isn't it? But can we observe love itself, or just the consequences of love? In my current project, there is a line I hope sheds some light on this topic:

"We have the mustard greens, but what of the seed?"
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Old 07-04-2008, 07:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
I always thought faith meant accepting things without proof, not turning values into action. To make sure, I looked it up again. This is what I found:

Strong belief in a supernatural power
Complete confidence in a person or plan
An institution that has a strong belief in a supernatural power (Religion)
Loyalty to a cause or person
Trust in a cause or person

I have not seen any definition about turning anything into action, unless it is some private definition. Otherwise, faith is just a stronger version of the word "belief." I think you might be thinking of a different word.
All very well taken. I've observed that religious terms are often used or 'abused' in ways that redefine them, moreso than other words and phrases.
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Old 07-05-2008, 01:45 AM   #11
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by Use Her Name View Post
I always thought faith meant accepting things without proof, not turning values into action.
Hey UHN. Thanks for the definitions. Some comments.
Strong belief in a supernatural power - how do you recognise 'strong belief' if not through changes in behaviour?
Complete confidence in a person or plan - how is complete confidence (trust) evidenced save through complete commitment?
An institution that has a strong belief in a supernatural power (Religion) - this one's an 'of the faith' definition; it's not the one we're talking about
Loyalty to a cause or person - loyalty demands and prohibits certain behaviours
Trust in a cause or person - same comments as the above
While committed action is not listed in any of the definitions you found, it is demanded by all of them except the institutional one.

Now contrast with 'belief' definitions:
any cognitive content held as true - Sure. I might believe that it will rain in Buenos Aires tomorrow, but since I live in Canberra, need I care?
impression: a vague idea in which some confidence is placed; Note the distinction between 'confidence' (i.e. 'I am willing to take on some risk about this if pressed) from 'complete confidence' (i.e. 'I am willing to stake my life, comfort etc...' on this)
Faith is more than just opinion. Whatever faith you have will be visible in your actions (what you do and how you do them), where your beliefs sometimes (even often) are not.

To me it's that dividing line of commitment which I think separates true and false (I would prefer to say 'emerging') faith. That commitment doesn't necessarily make it good faith (goodness comes from the quality of the values, not just how strongly we adhere to them), but it does make it 'true' faith.

That said though, the idea of a passive uncommitted belief is very popular these days - perhaps we see it more than the faith kind. But there's a huge difference between 'believing in' world peace or a better environment, or ending poverty (say) and actually having the faith to do something about it. 'Believing' in world peace is what the contestants in beauty contests claim; 'Faith' in world peace is what Nobel peace-prize winners demonstrate.

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Old 07-13-2008, 07:32 PM   #12
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There are many religionists but few true believers in the spiritual planes and its existence. Religion buries men in a box and this stops people from thinking outside of the box. One cannot enjoy the beauty of being a creator and creation when the box is closed.

"A closed mind is a closed heart." from Sacred Words

Many believers are actually unbelievers in the true sense of the word.

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Old 07-13-2008, 09:32 PM   #13
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Beautiful way of putting it.
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Old 07-23-2008, 03:17 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Smiling Ted View Post
A genuine believer compares his self to the Divinity, and is humbled.
A false believer conflates his self with the Divinity, and becomes arrogant.
In my belief (I call it Christianity, but call it what you will), there is no possible way to compare myself to my divinity without completely and utterly falling short.

I fall short in selfless love
I fall short in compassion
I fall short in honesty
I fall short in integrity
I fall short in every thing, in every way

And this is me judging myself. Ask someone else to judge me and I will fall even shorter, and in ways I didn't even know were possible.

But, it gives me something to strive for! And hopefully, in the process, become a better person.
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Old 07-24-2008, 02:33 AM   #15
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"Ask someone else to judge me and I will fall even shorter, and in ways I didn't even know were possible."

If you ask God what is His response?
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Old 07-24-2008, 03:24 AM   #16
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I am profoundly sorry I overlooked this thread, back in June when it was started.

The title alone is so very offensive and breathtakingly arrogant, Conservative-Christian-centric, exclusive, and objectionable, that I'm still reeling.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiling Ted View Post
I've encountered believers whom I've truly respected, and religious people who have excited nothing but my contempt. And, whether you call it God or the Universe, I think the big difference is this:

A genuine believer compares his self to the Divinity, and is humbled.
A false believer conflates his self with the Divinity, and becomes arrogant.

Albert Einstein said "To know that what is impenatrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself amoung profoundly religious men."

George W. Bush said "I feel like God wants me to run for President."
Who the hell are you -- or any of us -- that we're qualified to determine whether or not anyone, ANYONE, is a "false" believer as opposed to a "genuine" believer?



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Originally Posted by Ruv Draba View Post
What if the divinity is defined to be the totality of creation, not some independent entity? How would a worshipper worship 'genuinely' without worshipping also (in part) oneself?<snip>
The point I'm alluding to is that 'true' religion (i.e. sincere, faithful and devoted religion) seems to have little to do with the details of belief, but much to do with values, commitment, practice and openness.
That, at least, is considerably less objectionable. Thank you for acknowledging that any of us attempting to restrict "true" belief to our own interpretation is bound to be offensive and alienating to anyone who believes differently.

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"The point I'm alluding to is that 'true' religion (i.e. sincere, faithful and devoted religion) seems to have little to do with the details of belief, but much to do with values, commitment, practice and openness."


One reflects the other, and vice versa. Acts reveal faith, and faith is the cause of movement in action (sic TS Eliot, and thus probably Aquinas or Augustine). Details are everything and all the time, Ruv!

AMC
In your own particular, tiny, narrow, and limited version of Christianity, anyway . . . there are a great many world religions for which this is so alien as to be completely unrecognizable -- and a great many versions of Christianity for which this is not, in fact, accepted doctrine.


Don't ever, ever do this again on these boards, people.

And to those of you that I know full well were dismayed, hurt, and disenfranchised by this kind of crap -- PM me directly, please, when you see it happen.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:41 AM   #17
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Okay. I've cooled down, and had an enlightening exchange with a poster to this thread that's led me to reconsider how I closed this thread.

Since there seems to be a good degree of honest mystification as to what on earth could be considered offensive here, I'm going to take another run at it, referring in part to the Newbie Guide.

1 - This is a forum clearly marked "Other" . . . which means arbitrarily designating anyone else's belief, whether they are present to defend that belief or not, is deeply problematic.

2 - Much of the discussion on this mercifully brief thread centers around that hoary old Reformation conflict about faith vs. works -- and no matter what filter you try to present that stuff through, it still boils down to Western Christian, and a conservative view of Western Christianity, as well. That's also deeply problematic, in that it not only excludes non-Christian religions, and non-Western religions, but it excludes more progressive versions of Christianity, as well as excluding doctrines that lend more weight to "works" . . . thereby consigning them to that shadowy territory not only of "other" but the territory of "False Religion" that's been set up in the false dichotomy presented in the thread title itself.

That, however unintentionally -- and I'm rather unconvinced, since it's been set up in the "Other" room -- is pretty deeply exclusionary.

Now, to quote from the AW Newbie Guide:
Quote:
You'll notice, please, I'm also not demanding that anyone agree with my worldview. You don't have to. And you can absolutely debate and discuss and tell me you think I'm wrong, and why you think so -- PMs are usually more appropriate for that, but if it's a discussion that you honestly believe would benefit the community, I'm willing to have that discussion on the boards in public, too.

What members (and all of us are members, mods too) don't get to do is marginalize other members. And we have Muslims and Catholics and Moral-Majority conservative Pentecostals. Republicans and Libertarians and Anarchists. We have brown people, pink people, pot-smokers, hippies, suburban moms, ex-cons, ex-cops, and Homeland Security specialists. We have married folks, and polyamorous folks, and singles and swingers and queers.

You get the drift, I'm sure.

I'm not inclined to try and prevent people from thinking and believing whatever they're inclined to think and believe -- whether they're fanatic adherents to the use of the serial comma, or won't use any capital letters or commas at all. It would be a fool's errand, for one thing, and this would be a rather stagnant and boring community, for another.

I'm also not inclined to let people behave like bullies about their beliefs.
The sort of smug-sounding discussion that immediately excludes from the discussion any religion that goes counter to some of the rather conservative and decidedly Western stuff that was presented here as some sort of supposed "marker" for "True" religion is a problem, for that very reason.

For example:
Quote:
A genuine believer compares his self to the Divinity, and is humbled.
A false believer conflates his self with the Divinity, and becomes arrogant.
So what about religions that don't embrace any sort of "Divinity" -- as defined by you -- at all? The implication, by omission, is that those religions are somehow "False."

And I don't intend to simply pick on one poster - examples can be pulled from pretty much any of the posts above.

That implication, then, marginalizes any number of religions that have the misfortune of not having a representative on this thread. But I have no idea who might be reading it, and neither do you.

I have a moral obligation and a responsibility not to let this go unchecked as somehow representative of the philosophy of these boards.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:06 PM   #18
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"Much of the discussion on this mercifully brief thread centers around that hoary old Reformation conflict about faith vs. works -- and no matter what filter you try to present that stuff through, it still boils down to Western Christian, and a conservative view of Western Christianity, as well."

To be fair, I noted that my reference to faith is more or less "devotion" (derived from an Eastern tradition) but that I understand the exact biblical definition as well. Neither did I place faith and acts in opposition to one another. Just the opposite. My saying so was of the same conclusion as another poster's, who instead of saying it in one line as I did, went through it deductively.

Because I can speak (out of necessity) only from my tiny, limited view, I apologize to those readers who were offended by anything I have written. I visit, read, and post on these forums to expand my mind, not to narrow it and if what I have written was off-putting, it was done accidentally. Although I am not sure what topics are considered appropriate for the Other subforum, I will do my best to strongly consider any exclusive nature of my posts.

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Old 08-14-2008, 05:47 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by MacAllister View Post
For example: So what about religions that don't embrace any sort of "Divinity" -- as defined by you -- at all? The implication, by omission, is that those religions are somehow "False."
The unfortunate title aside, I thought that the question was faith, and not religion. That being so, I think it's a fair question: if you want to talk to someone about a faith (any faith or spirituality), how can you tell that they're sincere and not just paying lip-service?

I didn't read all the Calvinism vs Catholicism stuff that you read into it. I didn't see it as especially Western either - my Hindu friends are certainly happy to discuss divinity and humility, and have indeed done so with me on occasion.

You're right about the false dichotomy and the implicit theistic assumptions but I think it was discussable respectfully.

I'm glad to see that you opened it up again - or at least the meta-discussion. Thank you.

Last edited by Ruv Draba; 08-14-2008 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 08-15-2008, 09:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruv Draba View Post
The unfortunate title aside, I thought that the question was faith, and not religion. That being so, I think it's a fair question: if you want to talk to someone about a faith (any faith or spirituality), how can you tell that they're sincere and not just paying lip-service?

I didn't read all the Calvinism vs Catholicism stuff that you read into it. I didn't see it as especially Western either - my Hindu friends are certainly happy to discuss divinity and humility, and have indeed done so with me on occasion.

You're right about the false dichotomy and the implicit theistic assumptions but I think it was discussable respectfully.

I'm glad to see that you opened it up again - or at least the meta-discussion. Thank you.
I agree with you Ruv Draba.

Also it would be a good idea for some people to do some word studies on what words like 'believer' and 'unbeliever' meant in their original translations. The word faith was also developed by theologians in the 1300's.
The orthodox have dominated world views for over 2,000 years and opening up the debate and discussion is healthy for the world.

I appreciate ethics and rules of a board. However, there is a declaration of human rights as well.

UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ARTICLE 19

"Everyone as the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions, without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media, and regardless of frontiers. "

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Old 08-15-2008, 10:27 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Sophia2 View Post
Also it would be a good idea for some people to do some word studies on what words like 'believer' and 'unbeliever' meant in their original translations. The word faith was also developed by theologians in the 1300's.
Mac has made it clear that there's no place on AW for one ideology to de-legitimise another, and I strongly endorse that. Freedom of expression does not entail freedom to abuse or marginalise people wherever we wish. We're here to write, learn about writing and help each other write. That's our ethos; it's an inclusive ethos, and everything else must serve that.

With that said, I'm an atheist who has very strong respect for the moral and ethical thought developed by both theistic and non-theistic spiritual thinkers. In that regard, I think it's useful to distinguish belief from faith in a way that people don't seem to do much.

I've attempted to do so above, and had a crack at the trust/faith issue recently here. I think that they're important questions for increasingly pluralistic societies - and here's a simple argument in support of both my definitions and concerns: we each believe different things, but to be cohesive we must have faith in one another.

I'm personally concerned that we may be seeing a movement from faith toward belief -- not just in religions but in our human interactions. I feel that there may be consequences for this - in terms of our sense of purpose, relationships, cohesion and obligation to one another. That may seem like an odd thing for an atheist to say, but it's true.

I don't know for sure that this was the OP's original point, but it felt like it might be. What Ted described as 'arrogance' could equally be characterised as supercilious indifference and concealed xenophobia.

From a writing perspective, I increasingly see myths that promote and reward individual belief, but de-emphasize the need to sacrifice and exercise what I'd describe as active faith. I'm vaguely disturbed by this.

Anyway, this distinction and my general concern about mythic trending are my sole substantive contributions to make to this issue. I'm not really interested in separating sheep from goats so much as looking at the consequences of a sheepier or goatier world.

If anyone has interest in discussing that, perhaps we could start another, more targeted thread.

Last edited by Ruv Draba; 08-15-2008 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 08-15-2008, 12:43 PM   #22
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As far as the meta-discussion is concerned:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacAllister View Post
since it's been set up in the "Other" room
As far as I can tell, it's been set up in the atheist room and moved to the "Other" one. I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes, but since the post mentioned the "Other" room twice, I thought it was relevant to point it out.

Also, assuming the thread is an atheisist's inquiry into the function of relgion in a religious person's life (singling out "guidelines" and "legitimisation" and generalising them onto ideal types of religious people for the sake of argument): where would this thread go?

I must admit that I'm often confused about what goes where in the religious genre boards. If there were a "general/religiosity" sub-sub-sub-forum, that's probably where I'd put it, but then is there such a thing as a "cross-religious religiosity genre"? (This is within "get with the genre" after all).

As an only indirectly writing-related thread, "Take it outside"?
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:17 PM   #23
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Yeah, I was trying to start a cross-religious religiosity (including non-religious) thread in here. It seemed to be the place!
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