Saturday, January 05, 2008

Doubting Faith?

My friend poodles over at Athiest Rants has started a new blog that we hope will serve as sort of a resource center for people who are questioning their faith, seeking the path of reason, and who have legitimate questions that they need answered without recrimination or ridicule.

In poodles' own words,

"So, today I started a new blog. I am not sure how this will turn out and I might end up deleting it. It focuses on doubt. I want it to be a place where someone who is questioning their faith can go for answers that their religions won't give them to questions they might be afraid to ask."


She asked for contributors, I volunteered, and she accepted.

I know some of my regular readers are also athiests. Joe and Keith leap immediately to mind. Perhaps you could get involved as well.

A true person of faith (belief without evidence) will never be swayed by evidence. It's a waste of time to try. Texans like to say "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It justs wastes your time and it annoys the pig."

But a person who see's crack's in their blind faith and can glimpse the reasoned enlightenment that exists in an objective reality beyond those walls, may need a helping hand to guide them out of the middle ages and into the modern world.

I hope that this new site can be a clearing house of resources and place to get answers that the faithful can't get from their pastoral leadership.

Looking forward to seeing how this pans out in 2008.

31 comments:

Midtown Miscreant said...

I'm agnostic, but I let her know I'd write a little something if it would fit with the subject matter.

Keith Sader said...

Awesome. Thanks for the link XO!

Poodles said...

Glad to have you all come along!

Stinkbait Boucher said...

You're going to Hell.

Great...here comes the neighborhood!

Leigh Ann said...

LOL I used to be an athiest... a militant one, too. Now I'm the other way, but Christians still can't stand me. Back then I was all, like, "There's no such thing as God." Now I'm all, like, "God hates it when you eat bacon."

Believe me, you'll get farther with the ones on the fence than I will!

~*Peace*~

JM said...

Faith is fundimental to life so what is the big deal. It,s all a question of what or who you choose to put your faith in. It,s your choice.

JM

Xavier Onassis said...

jm - sounds like it's fundemental to your life. But by no means is it fundemental to everyone.

Nightmare said...

Fundamental? How is a belief system Fundamental? Does JM really think that Peking Man REALLY needed faith to survive? Fundamental? Do you really think while he was looking for a cave and trying to chase lightening so he could capture fire that he was NEEDING some spiritual guidance? I'm guessing while he was trying to make that saber tooth tiger stop gnawing on his ass he was really thinking "Ow ow my ass ow".

Religion is for the slow. Lets kick them to the edge of the herd and wait for the lions.

meesha.v said...

I grew up non-believer and non-spiritual. And I actually went to atheism classes in school,so that makes me a pro. But I don't really care for people who go from one extreme to another. Some people become new-born,other ones become atheists.I think both cases are somewhat equal.Both kinds are still looking for some belief/support system.I don't feel the need to convince anyone of anything. I just do my thing and I don't need any theory, name or classification to keep doing it.

satyavati said...

It took me 12 years to get all my questions answered. I don't think most people would be that persistent. I do think it's a good idea to have a forum where people can ask questions; but I'm not sure why all the questions would be answered by people who are atheists or whatever. It sort of seems counterproductive to me.

Another thought: Jim said 'faith is fundamental'.

Well, it is. I don't mean religious faith; but we all have implicit faith (you can substitute the word 'trust' if you like) in things. When you go to sleep at night you have faith you'll wake up in the morning. That kind of thing. Without that kind of faith you couldn't even function, or if you did, you'd be huddled up in some corner on a lot of medication.

Anyway, I plan on checking out this blog and seeing what's happening. It's just important, in my mind, that if people have questions they should get balanced answers; not just answers from fundamentalist Christians or rabid atheists or born-n-bred Protestants or militant Jews or whoever. The problem with lots of theories is that when they get presented, they're presented as fact. In the same way, if someone has a question about religion, they should get all kinds of perspectives from different people on the answer, and then make a decision for themselves based on all of the different things they've heard and the research they've done on their own.

Only misguided faith is blind. Knowledge is power.

Xavier Onassis said...

satyavati - "...not sure why all the questions would be answered by people who are atheists..."

It's because poodles felt that there were many places for people to go to find information on their own faiths or other faiths. But there weren't any good places to go to get the athiest perspective.

"When you go to sleep at night you have faith you'll wake up in the morning."

No. Not really. I know that in all likliehood I will wake up in the morning. But maybe not. I could drop dead writing this comment (so far, so good). But I have no faith in anything. I believe what I know to be true, nothing else.

Fiery said...

XO said..."But I have no faith in anything. I believe what I know to be true, nothing else."

Yep! Exactly.

Satyavati said..."Knowledge is Power".
Which is true, also true: faith is not a source of knowledge.

Stinkbait Boucher said...

I don't know that the sun will come up tomorrow. I only know that it came up today, yesterday and the day before.

I assume it will come up tomorrow. Not because I deserve it but just because that's my best guess and I like to plan my mornings.

I don't trust the person who tells me that the sun rises because it's God's will. I trust even less the person who tells me that it's not.

Answers are snake oil and the peddlers thereof charlatans.

travelingal said...

The premise of the blog "a place where someone who is questioning their faith can go for answers that their religions won't give them to questions they might be afraid to ask" begs a few questions itself.

I have to admit I'd be afraid of asking a member of the Taliban why Allah promises 72 virgins to suicide bombers...I mean why 72, why not 172? But, if some kind expert like XO provides the answer, I might give the blog a try.

Poodles said...

Travelingal,
I always wonder why anyone would want 72 vigins anyway, I think having sluts would be much more productive and pleasurable. :)

emawkc said...

"I believe what I know to be true, nothing else."

Well well, look who's an expert on "The Truth" all of a sudden.

XO, you're starting to sound more and more like Pat Robertson.

Red7Eric said...

I define myself as an agnostic, but when I get into deep discussions about faith and religion with others, I sometimes hear, "See, now I would call that an athiest."

Fair enough -- and looking forward to reading your thoughts on the matter ...

satyavati said...

This has really become a very interesting discussion. I've never really had any in depth discussions with people who are actually atheists, so this is a good opportunity for me to learn something.

XO: I believe what I know to be true, nothing else.

OK, this makes sense at a first read, but how do you come to a conclusion about what's true and what's not? I mean, either you have faith in someone else's expertise on a given topic (say, Einstein and relativity, or Jarvik and his artificial heart), or if you don't, what do you do then? I mean, how do you come to the conclusion that what someone says is worth believing? And what if the person you accept as an authority says something you don't like or don't believe? At that point, does their authority become null and void?

If the argument becomes that someone only believes what they can see or otherwise verify with their own senses, then the question is, how can you trust imperfect senses? Or what if, for example, if you lose your sight or another sense? Then how do you verify what's true and what's not?

I'm seriously not trying to cause a fight or anything, I'm trying to work through this thought process logically so I can understand how it works, so please humour me.

emawkc said...

Many people confuse Truth for fact. Truth and fact aren't the same. Something can me factually false or unverified, and still be True.

Furthermore, XO relies on science, which is good as far as it goes, but science is not necessarily the pursuit of truth, it's the pursuit of knowledge (facts).

Xavier Onassis said...

Satyavati and emaw - How can you separate truth from fact?

2+2=4. That's an empirical, verifiable fact which makes it true.

The Earth is round. That's an empirical, verifiable fact which makes it true.

The Earth's rotation around it's axis creates the appearance of the sun "rising" in the east and "setting" in the west. That's an empirical, verifiable fact which makes it true.

The Earth takes approximately 24 hours to rotate around it's axis. That's an empirical, verifiable fact which makes it true.

The Earth's 23 degree axial tilt as it rotates around the sun causes seasonal changes. That's an empirical, verifiable fact which makes it true.

I challenge either one of you to present a "truth" that isn't supported by any facts.

satyavati said...

I'm still trying to work through my thought process here.

Are you saying that you independently empirically verify things and decide them to be true yourself, or are you accepting that someone else has done the grunt work of verifying and you can just take their word for it?

I don't know about truths unsupported by fact. That sounds kind of like one of those logic problems. The only thing that comes to mind are certain medications that work, but no one knows how they work. This sounds stupid, but there are several medications that actually work, but medicine can't explain how they do it.

If truth depends on fact, then how can anything subjective or emotionally based be rendered 'true'? It's true that I love someone, but what kind of empirical, verifiable fact can I produce as proof? I guess you just have to take my word for it.

That would be faith, wouldn't it?

Xavier Onassis said...

satyavati - "It's true that I love someone, but what kind of empirical, verifiable fact can I produce as proof?."

You can't.

I don't doubt that you love someone.

I don't doubt that it's true to you.

But Truth (with a capital T) must be universal to everyone.

If I drop a hammer, it is going to fall to the ground and stay there until someone or something moves it.

That's true.

Doesn't matter if I do it or you do it or whether you believe it or not. It's what will happen because it's true.

The mechanism that explains that is gravity. Gravity may or may not be true. But it explains and predicts the phenomena of the falling hammer and it is never, ever wrong. Therefore I accept gravity as being true. Until a better explanation comes along.

emawkc said...

If the only thing that matters to you is the sum of 2 and 2, or the weight of a pound of lead, or the air-speed velocity of a coconut-laden swallow, then sure you can live your life believing only in facts.

But you run the high risk of becoming a bitter, crotchety old double divorcee.

You might want to re-read Dickens' Hard Times (no homo), a story that, despite NOT being factual, still contains a great deal of Truth.

Xavier Onassis said...

"...then sure you can live your life believing only in facts..."

Why on earth would I want to believe in anything else?

I would love to believe in hobbits and elves. But they don't exist. It isn't true. Why would I willfully delude myself with nonsense?

Bring me a hobbit. Show me an elf.

So called "Truth" without facts is just faith (belief without evidence).

satyavati said...

But again.. are you only considering facts to be those things you yourself empirically validate, or are you letting someone else do the validation work and believing them when they tell you, oh yes, we tested this, it's true?

Because then that's faith.

And if you only believe things that are empirically validatably factual, then how can you believe someone who tells you that they love you, or that they're in pain, or whatever other subjective thing?

How is it possible to establish relationships with others in this case?

If "Truth" is all that's to be believed, and "Truth" has to be universal, then this sounds as if it's totally negated the individual, and individual relationships.

If there's "Truth" and "truth", one of which is empirically validatable facts universally applicable, and the other personal and not subject to universal empirical validation, then we have a double standard and an attempt to disguise "faith" as "truth".

I'm just not finding a way out of this that makes sense to me, so I need some help here.

Xavier Onassis said...

"...are you letting someone else do the validation work and believing them when they tell you, oh yes, we tested this, it's true?

Because then that's faith.

And if you only believe things that are empirically validatably factual, then how can you believe someone who tells you that they love you..."

It's not faith at all. It has to do with the weight of the evidence and credibility.

People don't say "I love you" in a vacuum. There is generally evidence through their actions to back up the fact that they love you.

If someone said "I love you" and then hit me with a baseball bat, I would have to doubt that their claim was true.

travelingal said...

This is indeed an interesting discussion. Sat...you're quite a debater and make compelling points.

XO - You say that 2 + 2 = 4. That is correct in emperical terms. However, what is 2 or what is 4 other than numbers that "man" created? Man tries to explain how the earth/universe was created, but he can only invent calculations or scientific theories to explain it based upon "man's" abilities to do so. What man cannot do is independently create life without using life. Furthermore, man cannot prevent death. Who can?

satyavati said...

The weight of evidence and credibility.

Hm. OK.

So because we know it to be true that Stephen Hawking is a frickin genius when it comes to theoretical mathematics we have faith that his pronouncements are credible.

Thus we have faith that when he says the universe came about as a result of a very big bang, he's telling The Truth.

Although we have absolutely no way to verify whether it was a bang, a pop, or something completely different, we've already established that we believe he's credible, and thus worthy of our belief that he's telling The Truth.

If Stephen Hawking, having already established his worthiness and having added further to his impressive list of credentials, goes on to pronounce that his calculations on the origin of The Big Bang (which we have already accepted as Truth) have mathematically proven that God pushed the GO button, do we then, based on our own previous convictions about the existence of God, determine that Stephen Hawking is full of shit and no longer worthy to be believed despite his impressive credentials and previous statements we accepted as implictly true?

Because then what we have is an attempt to manipulate 'Truth' so that it is defined by what we want to believe, not by what exactly's true.

And I'm just not buying the whole argument about how someone says they love you and so on. There are plenty of people in the world who can tell you how they 'believed' someone who said 'I love you' only to later discover that the person was playing them all along, right from the get go.

What you have in that case, again, is someone who wants to believe, and who has faith that the person meant it when they said it.

I'm still not finding my way out of this.

(travelingal: thanks.. someone once said I could talk my way out of a paper bag. My husband told them to use plastic and tie it real tight and they won't have to worry about anything like that.)

Ambitious Fledgling said...

"I always wonder why anyone would want 72 vigins anyway, I think having sluts would be much more productive and pleasurable. :)"

Funniest damn thing I've read all day. lol

KC Sponge said...

Hobbits exist.

That's the truth.

I don't need evidence.

I feel them in my soul.

My non-hairy one.

emawkc said...

Okay XO, I now expect a written acknowledgment of the one-time existence of Hobbits.