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When faith and reason conflict


Lost in Place
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  • Added on: June 27th, 2008
Do you ever feel that there is a conflict in your head between "reason" and "faith"? For example, you don't see evidence for God but you believe in Him anyway? Or you want to believe in God but your logical side won't allow you? Or you feel a tension between the two and you swing back-and-forth between believing and non-believing?

I guess I'm an ex-Catholic agnostic who admires genuine faith but could never quite decide if I believed in God or not. Spiritually, I identify with Buddhists and Pantheists and certain Christian saints such as Francis of Assisi. Morally, I admire the Quakers for being so ahead-of-the-game on issues like slavery and gay marriage, although I'm not convinced by pacifism-at-all-costs. Intellectually, I want proof, preferably of a scientific large-scale-controlled-study type.

Recently I read Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion". It is a very challenging book, his style can be offputting, but logically it's hard to challenge him when he claims that there is very little evidence behind God and the afterlife and associated ideas.

So I'm left with a tension between the scientific and logical part of my brain ("this God stuff is nonsense") and the emotional and spiritual part of my brain ("But I still believe!")


Lost in Place
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  • Added on: June 29th, 2008
at times it's a vicious cycle. the more i look into the history of religious movements, the less i am inclined to be impressed by them.

one troubling thing about reason is that it can only account for so much. it has limited scope. it can lead to errors. but the same can be said about religion.

the way i am currently framing this 'conflict' is to try to make sense of the role that politics has played in shaping both institutionalized religions and science. it's not certain whether this pursuit will lead me anywhere. if nothing else, i feel more informed, and thus more certain in my doubt. is this a mark of progress? i feel that it is! there is so much more to know about what we thought we already knew. our historical recordings of events are not impervious to errors- they have a bias.

i'm not certain why i felt compelled to post. it might be that i feel i might be in the same boat. it is because i cannot see otherwise, without being dishonest, that i feel at peace with it.


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  • Added on: September 5th, 2008
Autumnleaf, I am in a similar position as a renegade Catholic. Although I am drawn to the beauty and traditions of Catholicism, I do not buy the whole package. I believe in the existence of God -- but can adduce no proof for my doing so.

I think that faith and reason will always conflict, and that is part of our journey in this life, and its challenge: To live a meaningful life as if it mattered.

Perhaps I am more influenced by Blaise Pascal and his "bet" than by Richard Dawkins.


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  • Added on: September 6th, 2008
Autumnleaf, Reason cannot prove the existence or non-existence of God because by definition, anyone omnipotent enough to make this universe and frame the rules of existence cannot be described by human logical language. Its a proof related to set theory. those elements inside the set of all creation cannot describe the mechanisms of that creation or the Creator.

Can a mouse define the Gods that are men, who put them through their mazes?

How do you describe the world view or motives of an omnipotent being as a limited viewpoint being?

So, the question is nixed, so to speak, and replaced with a better question.

How can I fit faith in an omnipotent creator into a logical scheme created by man? That only you can answer, not Daryl Dawkins. He's placed his faith in science, and forgotten that science has always served those with LESS ethics well, not getting involved in the questions of right and wrong at all.

Live in the world of knowledge and recieve knowledge. Live in the world of faith and recieve THOSE benefits. Or both, as you wish.


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  • Added on: September 9th, 2008
Autumnleaf, Reason cannot prove the existence or non-existence of God because by definition, anyone omnipotent enough to make this universe and frame the rules of existence cannot be described by human logical language.

Not if the human has been created in His image.

Faith and reason simply don't go together. If you believe in a god, don't argue it with reason - you will always loose the argument. (I love faithful people who fall into the trap of having a 'theological discussion' with an Atheist.)
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  • Added on: September 12th, 2008
God MUST exist, because if he does, so does the devil, and if they don't exist, then just WHO would I blame for my present predicament and moral foibles? I can't blame myself, certainly, and I'd rather not blame my parents or my upbringing.



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  • Added on: October 15th, 2008
Faith - religion - church.
I make a distinction between those three notions.
Sometimes I see a contradiction between faith and religion, or faith and church.

Religion is created by humans, as a set of rules and codes of one's faith. Even if the intentions were good, there may be different ways of understanding it. It can be misinterpreted and misused. But, that shouldn't mean that someone's faith in God is wrong.

I accept the fact that religion has always been there. Gods and beliefs have been present in all cultures. The only differences are in images of gods and religious rituals, but it's always the same belief in a greater power.

In my recent travels to South America I found the beliefs of the indigenous Andean people interesting.
Pachamama, or mother earth, is the main god(ess), and the mother of other gods. The earth is the god. We, as people inhabiting the earth and living of its gifts, should treat it with care and be grateful for everything it offers.

That made me think, how much would our world (and the environment in particular) be better of, if we could implement some of those beliefs in our wasteful western civilisation.
gdzie mnie wiatr poniesie


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  • Added on: February 20th, 2009

Spiritual matters are a matter of what you wish to decide to believe in. Whether its true or not according to other people is their propaganda. If you wish to believe in something believe in it. The only thing irrational about such a thought is when beliefs cause physical harm to someone. Cultures have lived side by side and somehow we have not destroyed (in the sense of annihilation of our kin) of each for it since there are many conflicting ideas. Find answers that matter to you. Listen to yourself and follow that. Its annoying trying to accept all the time what others think.

Live life by taking responsibility for your choices. Don't react to the world, act upon it.



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  • Added on: February 22nd, 2009
Responding to the original poster, I would like to share my 2 cents. Theism, the idea that there is a personal God who interferes in the lives and history of humanity, be that God Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, does not add up logically. If you want I can send you a long treatise on why, but for now just trust me: Theism= no way, no how. It is impossible. And this is coming from a guy who used to be very religious and really wanted things to be other than how it turns out things really are. Without theism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are entirely useless because they all rely on it entirely.

So then you can decide to believe in a deistic god, which would be undefined and impotent. The only use for deism is to try and explain the first mover, i.e.: who created the universe?, argument. But aliens would do just as well if not better as an answer. I prefer simply stating that I do not know. Either way it really doesn’t matter. If you do decide on using God you are still stuck with the question that every child with a iq above 90 has asked early on: If God created the universe, well then who created God, and what was there before God? This is a good question, it is an unanswerable question, and in my view it destroys the first mover argument. If you decide to stick with God all the same, it really doesn’t matter, because belief in an indifferent deistic divine being will not save you according to any religious tradition that I know of.

Then you have agnosticism: We cannot know if there is a god. I personally view any trace of religion the way that a reformed ex-smoker views any trace of tobacco: I am free of it, I don’t want to be near it, and I feel sorry for people who are still wrapped up in it. Religion, with all of the guilt, intellectual oppression, divisiveness, and trivializing of life, is a vice rightly cast off. So for me agnosticism, holding on to the remote possibility of a God, is akin to an ex-smoker carrying a pack of cigarettes around in their pocket for old times sake or something. Be free, enjoy life while you have it, and don’t worry about all of the bullsh$t.

As for Pascal's Wager: Give me a break. It is one of the worst ideas in the history of ideas(as far as coherence goes). It is so bad that for an idea that can be well summed up in a sentence or two, you can produce many interesting volumes on what an awful and idiotic sentence it is. Pascal was a great mathematician, but he was no philosopher.

If you take religion seriously and wish to treat God as an adult, then I don’t see how it can come out any other way. BUT, life is short and it is all that we have, so if you enjoy going to church or temple or mosque, if it enriches your life and you are not hurting others, then I say go for it. The one thing to be said for religion is that it has been a repository for (to varrying degrees)culture, litterature, art, wisdom, community, and charity for thousands of years, and these aspects of the institutions perhaps shuld not be so quickly shrugged off. I am a "devotee" of reform Judaism, which is essentially a secular Jewish cultural institution. I don’t think that most of the people at my temple believe in God, and the ones that do I don’t think really believe in the theistic God of the Bible.

Christopher Hitchens' book "God is Not Great", was a fantastic read, far superior to "The God Delusion" in my opinion. "Farewell to God: My Reasons For Rejecting the Christian Faith" by Charles Templeton, a former evangelist and close associate of Billy Graham, was also fantastic. Julia Sweeney's "Letting go of God" was both encouraging and hilarious(you can download the audio version online or watch clips on youtube).

Don’t be scared to ask the hard questions. If God is God then God will be able to stand up to the clear light of reality, and if not then said God is merely a mass hallucination, a delusion if you will, and we are better off without it. Reject religious fatalism and make your life extradordinary, listen to jazz, write poetry on napkins, take pointless drives through the country,stop to admire sunsets, have a family, do what you love, lead a good life.


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  • Added on: November 8th, 2009
Here is my history with religion...

My journey was long one. I was catholic for 50 years and am now a freethinking agnostic. The only reason I am not an atheist is I do not know if humans have a soul or not. Or if humans were some sort of alien drop off to this planet. and who knows, there may be some sort of intelligent design to it all..I just don't know. But I do not believe in any traditional' gods.

It all started for me many years ago when an ex-Krishna / Wicca massage lady I used to go to told me that Jesus was not born on December 25 and the Christians adopted that day to steal it away from the pagans holiday. Then she told be it was the same with Halloween.

A few years later I found out that the gospels were not written by the apostles or men that even knew Jesus. Then I came across Freke's book the Jesus Mysteries. I started to study the beginnings of Christianity and how the Nicene council was nothing more than a political convention to find out who had the best spin on Jesus.

Then talked with an ex-rabbi at Jesus Never Existed forum that turned into an atheist and guided me into more detailed study. Meeting that ex-rabbi was a major turning point in my life of religious beliefs.

Then one day read in the news that the church abolishes limbo. This did not go well with the concept of the truth is that which does not change.

Watched some shows on the history channel about religion that gave me more insight. One show especially that discussed where the idea of the trinity came from...The First Council of Nicea, where a group of religious / political aspirants got together hundreds of years after Jesus' supposed life to vote on who had the 'best spin' to adopt for the official dogma of the church. These guys had no recollection to the truth, they were just concerned with what 'sounded best' to their ego.

I started to talk with atheists after being banned from all the Christian and Buddhist forums. (My study time with atheists gets limited from prejudice on their part too, as have been banned from most of the atheists forums including evil bible dot com, ethical atheist, Internet infidels, X-Christians and others.)

From studying with the atheists I discovered throughout history NO ONE that ever wrote about Jesus ever met Jesus. Jesus started with Paul's visualization or dream of Jesus decades after Jesus' suppose life and death and it all mushroomed from there. The story of Jesus is all based on one man's dream of Jesus. EVERYTHING written about Jesus is ALL just hearsay and wishful thinking.

I don't hold prejudices like many hard core defiance based atheists do. Buddhism and yoga are two spiritual paths I use tools from but they are both full of the same myths and overblown hype as the rest of the man-made religions. But it is our job through sift through the mess of lies we have been handed and see 'by testing' what works and what does not work in our quest for spiritual growth.

If the tool can be tested for truth and does not require faith, then I make use of it. (I should say it does take 'faith to test' sometimes, but once you start the test, the need for faith evaporates.)

"When the sun rises I go to work,
When the sun goes down, I take my rest,
I dig the well from which I drink,
I farm the soil that yields my food,
I share creation, Kings can do no more."

Ancient Chinese, 2500 BC


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  • Added on: November 9th, 2009
The existence of an omnipotent god cannot be either proven or disproven, only believed or not believed.

Pascals wager is a pretty good wager if one has some sort of belief, but without it, it has no value.
Its disproof involves the fact that Pascal never gives the option of God definitely not existing.

Most talk about belief or disbelief is pure bunkum, and gets boring after a while.

Either you believe or you don't. This is a personal issue.

People who get on their soapbox about it seem to have something to prove to themselves, more than to other people. If not, they usually want power over others by proclaiming some 'truth' and having people run around for their future opinions.

That's probably why being on athiests boards tires you as much as the religious boards.

Heres something fun: Go on a board for dogs and insist on the right to breed your dog without going through AKC kennels or stud animals! You get the same kind of reaction from people convinced that only professionals like them should be in the dog making business. They want mutts to go to kennels and get euthanized while their 'pure' dogs are given pampered homes...

Its the same for religion. Theres an emotional stake either way, and THAT drives whether someone is an Athiest or not.

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