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Friday, May 7, 2010

On Faith

It is key to note that faith is used many different ways like to have faith in someone. I am going to concentrate on the religious definitions of faith and its uses. Of course my definitions are going to be a bit controversial, partly because I find faith the enemy of philosophy.

Faith as currency: Used as a bargaining chip with God, believers often see their faith as something one can gain and use. Their faith is earned or proven and as a result of having it, miracles may occur and a reward may be given. Many believe heaven as a reward, so a certain degree of faith is the cost of entrance into heaven. Some believe in the prosperity Gospel, which argues that God rewards faith with earthly prosperity.

"Man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; on religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment or hope of reward after death." - Albert Einstein

Like Einstein, I find faith as currency as a morally bankrupted system. Intellectually, the basis for the benefits of faith are all superstitious.

The Faith Card: It is often used as an excuse to be ignorant, to disregard evidence that contradicts the religion, and alter discourse in favor of the religion. When something like evolution comes up, a believer can use the faith card as an excuse to be ignorant of the actual claims and evidence of evolution. The believer may use the card to speak from religion as if that gave them authority to speak about something they have no credible evidence against. By changing the theory of evolution into an affront to God, the theist is making the debate into a false dichotomy of being for or against God.

"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof."- Christopher Hitchens

"I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it." - Edith Sitwell

Simply Faithful: One goal of religion is to simplify a person's lifestyle into being more and more about the religion. Everything else is removed. I have had conversation with religious people where they claim that I have had thought too much or I over analyze religious claims. In my opinion, it does not take all that much critical thinking to see something is definitely amiss with the beautiful, harmonious picture religion paints itself as. Sadly, this means religion, in order to survive, has tried making people simple or gullible.

"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence." - Bertrand Russell

Faith as philosophical suicide: The love of wisdom or philosophy is the method humans authentically create meaning in there lives when there is no objective meaning. If there is objective meaning imposed on man by a deity, there would be deciding what is moral, what is desired, and what I am. Albert Camus describes the leap of faith as philosophical suicide.

I value philosophy because with it one actively becomes a moral agent. Knowledge, moral truth, and meaning are not just ends in themselves but are used to achieve human purposes like helping the sick and impoverished. Fulfilling man's unlimited desires is difficult can philosophy is the endless task of trying to give justice to the human condition.

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration--courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth." - H.L. Mencken

"What have been [Christianity's] fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." - James Madison

So in summation, faith is my enemy in my philosophical pursuit. The religion meme has changed how I think because I can still be emotionally persuaded by the music of the church and the radiant desire of my theist friends. It is like a scar in my brain; however, I have always been a person who actively looks for nonsense and has the irreverence to expose it to other believers. I only hope faith will be replaced by the age old wisdom of critical thinking.

Here is a link for those who want to learn more about Godless intellectual values:
http://atheism.about.com/od/godlessamericaamericans/p/ValuesIntellect.htm?nl=1

Monday, May 3, 2010

A conversation with my wing-nut fundie friend

Me

how is my favorite wing-nut fundie?

6:53pmJohn

Studying Computer Science and writing an essay on how Moral Relativism is a Left-Wing Conspiracy meant to make me legalize fags getting married.

6:53pmMe

i really find moral relativism to be a very weak philosophy

i think there is at least some ojective standard at which we can judge how well moral systems provide well-being

6:54pmJohn

I agree with the fact that most morals that fall outside of the "Golden Rule" are relative.

I suppose I agree with the idea.

6:54pmMe

the "fact"

...that is a strong word, not to be used by nonphilosophers

6:55pmJohn

Yeah.

I'll just stick to my science. Where the world is a lot less cold. And equally weird.

6:56pmMe

I understand where people disagree, and it is important to disagree in order to innovate new ways of acting morally

but there are things that are just personally valuable, like some people like Television, some hate it

some like theater, some dont

but this is not the basis of a moral system for society

6:57pmJohn

Why do we need morality?

6:57pmMe

It matters what you call morality

6:57pmJohn

Except in a few base cases obviously.

We can't let people go murdering everyone and stealing everyone's valuables.

6:57pmMe

If you care about how your actions affect others, then morality makes sense

if you want to be brainless squid and just be about eating and sleeping and your mate, then that is for u

6:58pmJohn

Well obviously I don't.

6:59pmMe

Now, we recognize that there are consequences for our actions

We have very complicated ways of creating systems of interaction in order to deal with talking with people and organizing events

Now it is very demanding to ask for perfection so we make rules that are easy enough to be incorporated by the basic person

There is also unlimited desire but limited resources

also some people are psycopaths

so society must make economic choices about how resources should be managed to the benefit of perserving society and individuals

psycos are dangerous and put to prison and some difficult choices are made about how to take care of people when resources are low

A moral system in today's lingo, is a well thought out way of achieving human purposes

now there can be emotion compontents to ones moral system, but things get complicated because of all the natural tendencies people have that harm people

FOr instance, peer pressure, mob mentality, supertious mind-sets

humans are not perfect, and a moral system can not demand the impossible

7:04pmJohn

Obviously.

7:05pmMe

So, do you understand that we have morality whether u want it or not?

If not morality, then a person has convention

7:05pmJohn

I don't think morality is completely absent.

7:06pmMe

it is everywhere a person has been and had to make a choice which affects others

7:06pmJohn

But I do think there is a relative nature to certain moral issues. And to try and say that absolute right or wrong exists is usually a false dichotomy.

7:06pmMe

there is a difference between acknowledging the gray and relativism

relativism is to say there is no objective way of evluating moral decisions

while the grayness of issues to recognize the bsacrifices we make in certain decisions

7:07pmJohn

And I do think you can cultivate "wrong" morals. I haven't seen enough evidence to believe that morality is genetic.

Obviously.

7:07pmMe

Well, then u have never seen very young children

Anything that can recognize something is wrong and try to fix it, even very young children and some animals, have some form of morality

7:09pmJohn

Yes but what we say is moral and isn't moral isn't genetic.

7:09pmMe

ANimals can understand pain (something DNA has predisposed them to have) and can notice patterns (learn) and is a social animal (prime apes) will exhibit morality of a sort

7:10pmJohn

You can be taught "morals" is what I'm saying. It is truly a perspective that you are taught.

7:10pmMe

the ability to learn is genetic

7:10pmJohn

We're taught that killing people is bad and it's reinforced by the pattern that murderers are taken to a bad place.

7:10pmMe

so it is still environmental and biology to me

7:10pmJohn

So we are born with a capacity for morality.

7:10pmMe

it not that difficult

all you have to do is know something, learn, feel, and choose

and a bit of understanding of others

dags can do all those things, but they cannot do complicated moral decisions

which requires complex prediction making

all these attributes are evolved and useful

they help animals help each other

mothers may take care of animals that are not their children

7:12pmJohn

Which in turn helps themselves.

7:13pmMe

good things can help the moral agent

not a bad thing

Now humans also have the capacity to share ideas

which gives us the ability to be hyjacked by dangerous ideas

People can convince themsleves that suicide bombing is moral even though it does not help anyone but the idea

the idea of islam replicates, spreading from mind to mind, and protects itself

it is not rational, but it evolves

and our brains all us to harbor and spread them

Ideas can change our brains, because they are like software

It is possible to see the differences between a literate brain and an illiterate one

taxi drivers have special improvements on their brains to handle all that street information and navigation expertise

religious people have special ways of interpreting phenomena in order to understand what THor or Seus wants them to do

Zeus*

So that is how you can get a moral system that is not based on self-benefit

it has to deal with the brain and ideas

7:18pmJohn

Always interesting.

I really would enjoy to continue but I really need to study for my AP Computer Science test tomorrow haha

7:19pmMe

well, i hope you learn something

that is why philosophers are very useful, they make it a job to know how we think

because they think about thinking

all the time

well, tah tah for now

7:20pmJohn

Haha. I'm sure we will be talking again some time.

7:21pmMe

I think that is the most succinct way I explain memetics (the theory of where ideas come from)