faith, belief, truth and reality, how to?

juantoo3

....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb
Messages
9,508
Reaction score
1,797
Points
108
Location
up to my arse in alligators
I have a thought I am trying to form into words, and I'm struggling to find a good way to express this, so please bear with me. This is going to be clumsy to start.

What seems such a simple and straightforward subject can get really convoluted, and I suspect it may have to do with the complex interactions between concepts as we sort through things in our minds. Some of the problems may even arise from competing memetic paradigms. And there is the possibility I am overlooking something in my own assessment. So I am seeking input from others here, not so much in a "this way is the correct way" light as a "this is what works for me" light.

In a recent conversation I was asked "what is faith?" My gut response is "what is truth?" Add to the mix "what is belief?" and "what is real(ity)?," and that is the essence of the storm of thoughts raging in my mind as I try to write this.

It would certainly be easy enough to quote the philosophers and sages past, but I am seeing great contradiction between what "they" say these things are and how people tend to use these concepts in everyday practice in this day and age.

This is an adjunct I suppose, or footnote or sidebar or tangent, to the old "religion vs. science" discussion. But how do we justify, or rationalize, or make any real sense of the contradictions between the two? On the one hand, I suppose one could adopt the tactic of the atheist and outright dismiss anything to do with religion, including religious experiences. On the other hand, I suppose one could find a way to dismiss those rationales that contradict spiritual experiences as being evil sacreligious blasphemy. In modern practice though, I think most of us have made a kind of peace between the competing paradigms.

So my question is "how do you maintain this balance between what is expected of you to believe from your religion and what is expected of you to believe from your secular pursuits?" Do you use the exact same methods of reasoning to satisfy a belief in Divinity as you do to believe in evolution or physics or sociology? Why?, or why not?
 
Last edited:
Wow Juan, you're head must hurt a lot. :)

I think it makes as much sense for theists and atheists to argue as it does for someone to denigrate one stage of development as compared to another.

Now here it gets sticky because most people will see a hierarchy and thus eschew the whole idea.
I rather like the idea of "holons" or complete systems/memes nested within each other. As you grow you might leave old concepts behind in favor of new ones but those old ideas still serve a purpose. For instance, I do not really believe in the warlike agression of my ancestors per se, but let someone break into my house to harm my loved ones and I can revert instantly. Some call this regression, but it has its place.

In the case of religion I remember my sunday school lessons, my confirmation, and then as time went by there was a time of atheism, pure rationality. Later in life I took up meditaion and discovered a certain something that can be best described as "post-rational" because it didn't violate the tenents of reason, it sort of... fulfilled it.

Using Wilber's model of relating to the Divine in first person, second person and third person, we see each approach having some validity.
Each stage of development has its imperfections but that does not negate the validity nested within it.

For example, Faithfulservant uses a third person perspective in her worship. Involved in that practice is a smattering of archaic/magic/mythic culture, but even this isn't necessarily wrong or bad in and of itself, it simply is part of that perspective.
Of course for the sake of discussion I'm not going in to the unhealthy side of the memes under discussion, and that includes all of them.
 
OK, there's some interesting things to consider.

I guess what confounds me is whether we can, do or should use the same types of "guidelines" within our minds to justify and verify the religious and secular, the sacred and profane, in our minds? I like to think I use the same methods on both, but I get the impression that some people use two differing sets of parameters to accomplish the same end result.

In using two different ways of validation I see potential for psychological crisis. Perhaps this "nesting" you refer to may help explain how this can be accomplished without crisis or conflicting error messages...but its still early in the game and I'm wide open to see how others view this.

Do we use the same methods in our reasoning to verify "G-d" (for those who believe in G-d) as we do to verify evolution (for those who simultaneously believe in evolution). I feel certain there are comparable challenges even for those who do not believe in G-d, per se, yet still believe in something inherently mythical and irrational.
 
Hi Juan

So my question is "how do you maintain this balance between what is expected of you to believe from your religion and what is expected of you to believe from your secular pursuits?" Do you use the exact same methods of reasoning to satisfy a belief in Divinity as you do to believe in evolution or physics or sociology? Why?, or why not?


"May the outward and inward man be at one." Socrates

This is the goal of my path so there is no objective contradiction between external secular interests, the pursuit of science, and the inner pursuit of objective "Meaning." The contradiction is an artificial construct.

The inner man is psychological while the external man is habitual; governed by external physical and emotional conditioning and dualistic associative thought.

The psychology that balances the inner man is inner empiricism and really just the scientific method used to become psychologically able to "know thyself." The outer or secular man uses scientific knowledge to further its aims in the external world. The goal is to actualize Socrates' axiom so that the outer man reflects the awakened nature of the inner man rather than the man of inner chaos it does now. Psychology and science then work together to develop the "Whole Man." It is far easier said than done and not at all flattering. It requires real courage and the need for reality which is why it is so little known
 
Good quote from Socrates...that is exactly what I am trying to point to.

Do we use the same mental acrobatics to believe in G-d as we do to believe humans descended from other simians? Should we? Why or why not?
 
OK, there's some interesting things to consider.

I guess what confounds me is whether we can, do or should use the same types of "guidelines" within our minds to justify and verify the religious and secular, the sacred and profane, in our minds? I like to think I use the same methods on both, but I get the impression that some people use two differing sets of parameters to accomplish the same end result.

In using two different ways of validation I see potential for psychological crisis. Perhaps this "nesting" you refer to may help explain how this can be accomplished without crisis or conflicting error messages...but its still early in the game and I'm wide open to see how others view this.

Do we use the same methods in our reasoning to verify "G-d" (for those who believe in G-d) as we do to verify evolution (for those who simultaneously believe in evolution). I feel certain there are comparable challenges even for those who do not believe in G-d, per se, yet still believe in something inherently mythical and irrational.

Understand Juan that the perspective that sees the two methods is only one of many. It may be that the stage you find yourself in just does that sort of thing. :)

Remember Dame Julian of Norwich? What perspective do you suppose would lead her to see that: "...all manner of things are well" ?
Now compare this perspective to say a Rev. Falwell who saw a constant threat of secular evil.

Again, there is the term neti-neti or not this, not that referring to a non dualistic state. Tony Parsons once remarked humorously enough: "either there is bloody oneness or there bloody well isn't!"

It seems to me that once a certain stage of understanding is reached we will see the value of the different memes and the apparent conflict will dissipate like the mist that it is made of.
 
Good quote from Socrates...that is exactly what I am trying to point to.

Do we use the same mental acrobatics to believe in G-d as we do to believe humans descended from other simians? Should we? Why or why not?

For a person that has never experienced higher love or "grace," it is natural to think that it could be verified scientifically. But love touches us psychologically. It is an inner experience. It is naive then to think us able to verify it scientifically when it has to be experientially psychologically verified. Once we can experiencially verify it, we can use deductive reason to see how it has been actualizied in the external world.

There is no way then that the intellect based on associative thought that seeks to trace man's development back to simians can verify either divine love or the inner experience of human meaning. It is a psychological experience. Only after the experience can we perceive a framework such as cosmology that the intellect can grasp and develop indicating the experience is not just imagination.
 
trying to understand spiritual things with your intellect wont get you very far but just round in circles, thats my experience anyway.

glorytogod-albums-one-picture873-big-headed-tiny-dog-chasing.gif



and even believing in science takes faith IMO.
 
Do you use the exact same methods of reasoning to satisfy a belief in Divinity as you do to believe in evolution or physics or sociology? Why?, or why not?

Yes. Buddhism is a very "scientific" religion. Everything is rooted in cause and effect. There's no magic, no miracles. In the end, there's really no enlightenment at all, merely the ability to accept what is.

This is why I struggle with Christians who don't believe in "Old Earth". So many arguments require an acknowledgement of scientific principals and theories, even if you disagree with what these theories might mean. But to throw out 4 billion years of history, and just saying "God did it" renders almost any argument moot.

I've never understood the need ignore science. Even if everyone accepted as fact that the universe "exploded" from nothing 15 billion years ago and that life on Earth is a product of evolution, there's still plenty of room for divinity. Science vs. religion is not a zero sum game. Both can play a role in our lives.




BTW — GtG still doesn't possess the little lamb nuggets necessary to address my questions in the Holocaust thread that GtG started.
 
and even believing in science takes faith IMO.

I agree, that is a significant part of what I am trying to get at.

It just seems strange to me that there should be any dichotomy between truth and reality. While I understand the nature of subjective POV, in that we are limited to our sensory perceptions and inputs cross-referenced to our experiencial catalogues so that we likely are experiencing an illusion of reality, and that no two of these illusory realities are identical. Even with this in mind, I mitigate psychological conflict by maintaining a critical demand for "my" truth to equate with "my" reality.

It seems though that others often approach these things with a bit different tact, in that what passes as truth may have no association with reality.
 
trying to understand spiritual things with your intellect wont get you very far but just round in circles, thats my experience anyway

Thank you for this GTG, this is an excellent example of the pre-rational POV. Please keep in mind I'm not denigrating it, just defining it.
Here the rational is automatically eschewed, thus the conflict. The rational is exceptionally useful in continuing personal growth, but even this has its eventual limits.
 
I've never understood the need ignore science. Even if everyone accepted as fact that the universe "exploded" from nothing 15 billion years ago and that life on Earth is a product of evolution, there's still plenty of room for divinity. Science vs. religion is not a zero sum game. Both can play a role in our lives.

OK, I can accept that both science and religion play a role, and that a zero-sum game isn't necessary. But doesn't it require a bit of faith to presume the universe exploded 15 billion years ago? Stay with me here...just in my lifetime that figure has changed from around 7 billion to 10 billion to 12 billion to 15 billion. 1 billion is a huge number...I'll never see a billion dollars if I had every dime I ever earned in my life. So throwing around these huge numbers as if they were candy really is only a variation on the theme of faith, no?
 
But doesn't it require a bit of faith to presume the universe exploded 15 billion years ago?
You missed my point.

It doesn't matter when the universe began. But even if was somehow proved that it did begin 15 billion years ago what does that knowledge really give you? A few hundred years ago we had know idea how big the Earth is. Today we know is has an equatorial circumference of 24,901.463 miles. Big deal! It's just a number. Luckily the Bible didn't weigh in on this issue or else there'd be people denying that too.

Science is a combination of measurements combined with theory as to what those measurements indicate. Call it faith if you like. I personally think it goes beyond mere faith because it is based on things measurable, observed and predicted. But you don't have to fear it or fight against it. There is still so much that science doesn't tell you that you can have your measurements and God too.
 
You missed my point.

Perhaps, that is always a possibility. I am only human.

It doesn't matter when the universe began. But even if was somehow proved that it did begin 15 billion years ago what does that knowledge really give you?

Well, in many cases I think it provides a false sense of self-importance bouyed by the smug congratulatory confirmation of supposed fact...emphasis on "supposed." In that sense it is really not much different than the triumphalism exhibited by some religions.

Science is a combination of measurements combined with theory as to what those measurements indicate. Call it faith if you like.

I do...of course it gets me into a lot of trouble, but I think that only demonstrates the limits of imagination and the self-imposed barriers some refuse to cross.

I personally think it goes beyond mere faith because it is based on things measurable, observed and predicted. But you don't have to fear it or fight against it. There is still so much that science doesn't tell you that you can have your measurements and God too.

If by "things measurable, observed and predicted" you mean something like "experienced," then I can't really agree that it goes beyond mere faith. It is precisely faith. There are experiences that don't make rational sense, yet they are still valid experiences.

I do wish the average typical run of the mill scientist, particularly of the atheist inclination, would agree with your final comment. "There is still so much that science doesn't tell you that you can have your measurements and God too;" sounds nice, but doesn't jibe with my usual experience. ;)
 
For a person that has never experienced higher love or "grace," it is natural to think that it could be verified scientifically. But love touches us psychologically. It is an inner experience. It is naive then to think us able to verify it scientifically when it has to be experientially psychologically verified. Once we can experiencially verify it, we can use deductive reason to see how it has been actualizied in the external world.

There is no way then that the intellect based on associative thought that seeks to trace man's development back to simians can verify either divine love or the inner experience of human meaning. It is a psychological experience. Only after the experience can we perceive a framework such as cosmology that the intellect can grasp and develop indicating the experience is not just imagination.

I am leaning towards agreeing...could you flesh this out a bit more?
 
Well, in many cases I think it provides a false sense of self-importance bouyed by the smug congratulatory confirmation of supposed fact...emphasis on "supposed." In that sense it is really not much different than the triumphalism exhibited by some religions.

I have no idea what you are getting at here: "false sense" "self-importance" smug congratulatory" "supposed fact".

Reminder: I am not trying to establish the age of the universe! My only point is that IF that age was as readily accepted as the color of the sky (another false-sense, self-important, smug, congratulatory, supposed fact?) it STILL WOULDN'T satisfy (nor necessarily should it) most people's need for religion or the divine.
 
I have no idea what you are getting at here: "false sense" "self-importance" smug congratulatory" "supposed fact".

Reminder: I am not trying to establish the age of the universe! My only point is that IF that age was as readily accepted as the color of the sky (another false-sense, self-important, smug, congratulatory, supposed fact?) it STILL WOULDN'T satisfy (nor necessarily should it) most people's need for religion or the divine.

Fair enough. Perhaps you are misunderstanding me? It just seems that congratulatory back-slapping within the "in"-group is a rather common human tendency.

Other than the margin of allowable error, I see little difference in the mental mechanisms behind the faith / belief between scientific and religious truths.

Isn't it a rather common occurance for a scientist to come across rather smugly in his or her "truth" as though it is unquestionable reality? Yet those same unquestionables tend to frequently get changed (well, semi-frequent, depending how "frequent" is defined). "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" spells it out better than I can in a few short words.

I simply find the whole matter of psychologically validating those "truths" that each of us do a rather intriguing study unto itself.
 
Fair enough. Perhaps you are misunderstanding me? It just seems that congratulatory back-slapping within the "in"-group is a rather common human tendency.

Isn't it a rather common occurance for a scientist to come across rather smugly in his or her "truth" as though it is unquestionable reality?

Yeah, that's just how I would have described it. :rolleyes:

I'm sure when Thomas Edison finally invented that light bulb you could hardly stand being in the same room with that smug S.O.B.

Same with arrogant biotch Marie Curie when she discovered X-Rays.

And don't get me started with Jonas Salk, that self-satisfied back-slapper who invented the polio cure.

Yup. It has nothing to do with exploring the unknown, expanding knowledge or God forbid, helping mankind. When it comes to scientists it's strictly me, me, me.
 
I am leaning towards agreeing...could you flesh this out a bit more?

This is hard to do without establishing a basic foundation. So I have to ask you if you can accept this basic premise that most secularists cannot. Do you believe in the possibility of "objective quality?" If the earth and everything on it including Man on it were destroyed by a collision with a huge asteroid, would objective quality still exist? Is there a qualitative connection, a relative scale of being itself, that connects the Absolute with the lowest scale of being within creation by a cosmological ladder or levels of reality?

If you can accept this then the purpose of the higher emotions as making us aware of objective quality explains a great deal and we can see how levels of being could be mathematically defined. If however you believe that objective quality is meaningless since everything is the same in quality, then whatever I would write as to the relationship between the inner and outer man, religion and science, would seem foolish.
 
~citizenzen

LOL. :D

Ah, Edison, Curie, Salk...let us not forget the hyper-inflated egos of Paracelsus, Alex. G. Bell or R. Dawkins.

These aren't even the people who concern me. It's the pretenders, the "hangers-on," the faithful disciples that speak with unequivocal reassurance that what they have to preach is fact, and as such unquestionable and undeniable reality.

Until next week, when the doers, represented by those aforementioned, "AMENd" their positions.

It doesn't change the fact that these people must justify their preferred belief mechanisms internally...everybody does. Unless one's reasoning process is somehow compromised by injury or disease.
 
Back
Top