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Old 6th December 2018, 10:47 AM   #1
attempt5001
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Balancing Skepticism and Faith

This is a difficult and very personal topic for me, so I figured an anonymous forum of strangers would be the perfect place to discuss it (actually serious about that).

I grew up in a Christian home and have interacted with a variety of Christian people, groups, organizations in a variety of roles throughout my life. With very few (minor) exceptions, it's been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again thanks to generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith. I think I've experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer.

I also am middle-age, have a family, a Ph.D. and am a critical thinker with open eyes/mind to the world around me. As such, there is inevitable (and increasing over the last number of years) tension/conflict between my faith and my skepticism. The former is both foundational and precious to me, but the latter is also essential to my ability to live life and explore and interact with the world-at-large in a genuine way.

I thought I would voice that in hopes there are others here who have a similar experience and would like to discuss it. Thanks.
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Old 6th December 2018, 10:49 AM   #2
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I sort of feel like there's no answer we can give you or that you really want.

There's nothing wrong with holding two directly contradictory ways of looking at the world. But we can't talk you into saying that's not what you are doing. If you can't solve the contradiction for yourself or just leave with it we can't do it for you.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:22 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I sort of feel like there's no answer we can give you or that you really want.

There's nothing wrong with holding two directly contradictory ways of looking at the world. But we can't talk you into saying that's not what you are doing. If you can't solve the contradiction for yourself or just leave with it we can't do it for you.
Seconded and well said 'JoeMorgue'!

Also, welcome to the Forum 'attempt5001'.

And sorry to be so negative, but if you wish to believe your various fairy stories about supernatural beings and events, then you are quite at liberty to do so.

After all, it is quite unlikely that you will ever find a valid process which contains both subjective religious beliefs and objective scientific understanding. Because many people have been searching for such a process for many hundreds of years now, and so far nothing positive has ever developed from all of this effort.

Furthermore, as our science keeps getting better and better, then the divide between religious beliefs and good science just keeps getting wider and wider.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:32 AM   #4
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Probably the best way is to ignore the problem.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:33 AM   #5
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Don't worry about it too much. We really don't need a Grand Unified Theory for Everything. Take the best of each, and don't focus unnecessarily on the shortcomings of either.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:44 AM   #6
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I grew up in an atheist home (well, no religion anyway, it just wasn't a thing.) I have interacted with many people, groups, and organisations throughout my life.

Most have been positive, helpful and supportive.

Some have been total dicks.

Very few, on either side have been religious.

I learnt long ago that there are good people and not good people. Associate with the good ones and you do ok.

You have been lucky, I doubt divine intervention had anything to do with it.

As Crossbow mentioned, fairy stories (except as entertainment) and scepticism are basically incompatible.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:55 AM   #7
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There are lots of scientists who are religious. My experience is that they are far more studious about the details of their science than they are about the dogmas of their religion. I think that is where the best balance resides.

Take the positive community experience that your faith offers, along with the comforts you can give and get in that community, for what they are: a positive community. Much in the same way other people view their bowling league, country club, boy scout troop, or high school alumni organization. These are supportive communities that offer you and your family the opportunity to help others and feel a part of something bigger than yourselves.

But when seeking out truth, you have found better tools.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:57 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I grew up in a Christian home and have interacted with a variety of Christian people, groups, organizations in a variety of roles throughout my life. With very few (minor) exceptions, it's been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again thanks to generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith. I think I've experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer.
I grew up in an atheist home, have interacted with atheists throughout my life, and have also experienced all of the above positives. A lot of Christians are really very nice people; but a lot of people are really very nice people. The place to exercise your scepticism, I think, is in the direction of asking how much of the positives you experience are actually attributable to the religious beliefs of the people providing them, and how much simply to the fact that they are good people who have chosen that framework as a convenient one to work within.

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Old 6th December 2018, 12:24 PM   #9
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There is not and need not be a conflict between religious faith and skepticism, any more than the lack of religious belief equates with skepticism. It has been my experience that some of the most fervent atheists you will find are some of the least skeptical/tolerant people you will meet.

Case in point, less than an hour after you posted this thread, some folks were deriding your beliefs as "fairy tales." Certainly that was not a reasonable, or skeptical position, but there you have it, it is appallingly common unfortunately.
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Old 6th December 2018, 12:31 PM   #10
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I think Stephen Colbert addresses this very well in this interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Look around the 6:00 minute mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FktrNFjZfKg

My own contribution is to point out that our own tiny dust-speck of the Universe is huge and complex beyond the understanding of any one person and that it's not necessary or even feasible to come to a complete understanding of everything during our brief lifespans. Therefore you shouldn't worry too much if you haven't arrived at your own final answer on the religion question because very few other people have either.

I'd also add that it's entirely possible to come to the conclusion that there probably isn't a God, but to still see the value of religion in that it builds community and draws people together.
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Old 6th December 2018, 12:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
This is a difficult and very personal topic for me, so I figured an anonymous forum of strangers would be the perfect place to discuss it (actually serious about that).

I grew up in a Christian home and have interacted with a variety of Christian people, groups, organizations in a variety of roles throughout my life. With very few (minor) exceptions, it's been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again thanks to generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith. I think I've experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer.

I also am middle-age, have a family, a Ph.D. and am a critical thinker with open eyes/mind to the world around me. As such, there is inevitable (and increasing over the last number of years) tension/conflict between my faith and my skepticism. The former is both foundational and precious to me, but the latter is also essential to my ability to live life and explore and interact with the world-at-large in a genuine way.

I thought I would voice that in hopes there are others here who have a similar experience and would like to discuss it. Thanks.

If you are honest with yourself I don't think you will be able to stay on that tightrope. The evidence that your faith, and the faith of others around you, is somehow related to the positive experiences you have had, is not there. The relationship between faith and good people is negative, when we look at the evidence available. Incarceration rates in religious communities compared to the not so religious is a good example of this evidence.

Maintaining a belief in something because you think it is good for you, is not sustainable in my opinion also.
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Old 6th December 2018, 12:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I sort of feel like there's no answer we can give you or that you really want.

There's nothing wrong with holding two directly contradictory ways of looking at the world. But we can't talk you into saying that's not what you are doing. If you can't solve the contradiction for yourself or just leave with it we can't do it for you.
Right. I understand what you mean and appreciate your perspective. I didn't actually ask a question, and I'm not looking for answers from the community here. Nor do I claim there is no contradiction, rather, it is the tension inherent to contradiction that I am interested in discussing with anyone (absolutely including yourself) who is interested.
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Crossbow View Post
Seconded and well said 'JoeMorgue'!

Also, welcome to the Forum 'attempt5001'.

And sorry to be so negative, but if you wish to believe your various fairy stories about supernatural beings and events, then you are quite at liberty to do so.

After all, it is quite unlikely that you will ever find a valid process which contains both subjective religious beliefs and objective scientific understanding. Because many people have been searching for such a process for many hundreds of years now, and so far nothing positive has ever developed from all of this effort.

Furthermore, as our science keeps getting better and better, then the divide between religious beliefs and good science just keeps getting wider and wider.
Thanks for the welcome Crossbow. Appreciated. And I agree, objective scientific understanding and subjective religious beliefs are different concepts entirely. I appreciate your point as well that many religious beliefs that were used to describe/understand the world around us have been (and continue to be) displaced by good science, Faith ascribed to the "God of the gaps" theology is a shrinking domain.

I guess for me though, there is still a value in exploring a faith/science balance that is somewhat akin to exploring the threshold between matter and energy. Kind of like how physical light straddles latter and Jesus ("the light of the world") straddles the former. I realize that sort of talk is a little "out there" for a skeptics forum, and I'm inviting criticism, but I'm happy to receive some critical, (and ideally thoughtful and respectful) responses.
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Don't worry about it too much. We really don't need a Grand Unified Theory for Everything. Take the best of each, and don't focus unnecessarily on the shortcomings of either.
Thanks for the reply Thermal. The "don't worry about it too much" has been a critical part of the process for me

I agree with the latter sentiment too and am trying to find a balance in doing that. Cheers!
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:39 PM   #15
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Welcome to the forum.

This seems part of understanding subjective vs objective truth.

Other than the existence of god, religion is an attempt to understanding good vs bad, good and bad generally being subjective values. Science obviously dealing with the objective values.

Looking at it in such a way, I think all of us, faithful and faithless, experience such a tension.

Is this the direction you are aiming for?
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Old 6th December 2018, 01:52 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by fagin View Post
I grew up in an atheist home (well, no religion anyway, it just wasn't a thing.) I have interacted with many people, groups, and organisations throughout my life.

Most have been positive, helpful and supportive.

Some have been total dicks.

Very few, on either side have been religious.

I learnt long ago that there are good people and not good people. Associate with the good ones and you do ok.

You have been lucky, I doubt divine intervention had anything to do with it.

As Crossbow mentioned, fairy stories (except as entertainment) and scepticism are basically incompatible.
Thanks for sharing your perspective fagin. You're right that attributing my positive life experience with divine intervention creates the conundrum of apparent divine favouritism, which is a challenging idea (for me at least).

I'm not sure you (and others) who use terms like "fairy stories" to describe religious texts are being genuinely skeptical or scientific though. At the very least, they demonstrate and describe an exploration of certain universal anthropological questions and challenges and are valuable to contextualize a lot of human history. Calling them "Fairy stories" strikes me as a way to express derision towards (and to get a rise out of) people who hold them valuable. I don't think exploring their value as more than "children's fiction" is incongruent with skepticism, though I appreciate your underlying point that skepticism must assert they are not historically or scientifically literal or factual.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:04 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
There are lots of scientists who are religious. My experience is that they are far more studious about the details of their science than they are about the dogmas of their religion. I think that is where the best balance resides.

Take the positive community experience that your faith offers, along with the comforts you can give and get in that community, for what they are: a positive community. Much in the same way other people view their bowling league, country club, boy scout troop, or high school alumni organization. These are supportive communities that offer you and your family the opportunity to help others and feel a part of something bigger than yourselves.

But when seeking out truth, you have found better tools.
Thanks DrK. That has been my experience with most scientists who are religious as well. And I agree that many communities capture and reflect the characteristics I described in the OP as well.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:14 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
I grew up in an atheist home, have interacted with atheists throughout my life, and have also experienced all of the above positives. A lot of Christians are really very nice people; but a lot of people are really very nice people. The place to exercise your scepticism, I think, is in the direction of asking how much of the positives you experience are actually attributable to the religious beliefs of the people providing them, and how much simply to the fact that they are good people who have chosen that framework as a convenient one to work within.

Dave
Thanks Dave. That's a fair and well articulated point. For me, the fact that "good people" (e.g., showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control) can be found ubiquitously encourages me towards faith (though simultaneously away from many doctrines I must admit).
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
There is not and need not be a conflict between religious faith and skepticism, any more than the lack of religious belief equates with skepticism. It has been my experience that some of the most fervent atheists you will find are some of the least skeptical/tolerant people you will meet.

Case in point, less than an hour after you posted this thread, some folks were deriding your beliefs as "fairy tales." Certainly that was not a reasonable, or skeptical position, but there you have it, it is appallingly common unfortunately.
Hi TBD. For me there is definitely some tension and have been some conflicts in thinking and reasoning along the way. I do prefer trying to work through those conflicts though without simply tossing one away in favour of the other though. I know what you mean about some people ascribing passionately to atheism at least in part based on the "say-so" of people they have chosen to believe. Though I think many people adhere to faith in a similar manner, again at least in part. Both sides are populated by some prone to throwing stones at the other as well I think.

I'm not too upset by people who express skepticism/atheism in ways that are designed to irritate/offend. Some do it out of habit and others on purpose, but there is often opportunity for discussion there either way.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:34 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
I think Stephen Colbert addresses this very well in this interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Look around the 6:00 minute mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FktrNFjZfKg

My own contribution is to point out that our own tiny dust-speck of the Universe is huge and complex beyond the understanding of any one person and that it's not necessary or even feasible to come to a complete understanding of everything during our brief lifespans. Therefore you shouldn't worry too much if you haven't arrived at your own final answer on the religion question because very few other people have either.

I'd also add that it's entirely possible to come to the conclusion that there probably isn't a God, but to still see the value of religion in that it builds community and draws people together.
Thanks for the thoughts Mycroft. I'll check out the video when I get a second. I agree with your own contribution as well. Part of my goal in discussing this is to explore it without an expectation of absolute resolution. (I expect that idea will frustrate many, as it would for me in any scientific exploration). I feel like there is value in the exploration.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:38 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks DrK. That has been my experience with most scientists who are religious as well. And I agree that many communities capture and reflect the characteristics I described in the OP as well.
I'll just note that my list was not meant to be comprehensive or dismissive. In looking it over it seemed like I was saying your church group was nothing special. That is really the opposite of what I was trying to convey. The fact that you found a community that works really well for you and your family is nothing to set aside easily. There are lots of good people in the world, but that does not devalue the specific good people you have found in your life. I would cherish that group, even if the beliefs that the group was based on are not so central to your life.

Even Mother Teresa doubted the existence and holiness of God. That us normal working folks haven't nailed that stuff down should be unsurprising.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:46 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
If you are honest with yourself I don't think you will be able to stay on that tightrope. The evidence that your faith, and the faith of others around you, is somehow related to the positive experiences you have had, is not there. The relationship between faith and good people is negative, when we look at the evidence available. Incarceration rates in religious communities compared to the not so religious is a good example of this evidence.

Maintaining a belief in something because you think it is good for you, is not sustainable in my opinion also.
Well, I will certainly try to be honest both with myself and with others, so I guess we'll see. I take your point, but the more I think about this, the less it feels like a tightrope. I'm not sure there is such a knife edge between faith and skepticism as you perceive. Again, kind of like the division between matter and energy, a frontier that many physicist have spent and continue to spend their entire careers exploring.

There are also a number of assertions in your comment that I don't think are defensible based purely on the subjectivity of the terms (e.g. the links between faith and positive experiences or good people), but I appreciate your opinion on the challenge of sustaining belief. I agree, in many contexts that can be challenging and potentially exhausting.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:55 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I grew up in a Christian home and have interacted with a variety of Christian people, groups, organizations in a variety of roles throughout my life. With very few (minor) exceptions, it's been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again thanks to generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith. I think I've experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer.
Argumentum ad Rose-Tinted-Glasses.

Have you also interacted with a variety of non-Christian religious people, or have you stayed pretty much within your extended Christian family comfort zone? Would your Christian life-style have been so “apple-pie” if you had lived where a different faith/religion (that also believe it has great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities) would persecute or even kill you for your Christian beliefs (Bibi Asia)? That you have experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer doesn’t mean faith/religion doesn’t also offer (and enforce) much worse.

Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I also am middle-age, have a family, a Ph.D. and am a critical thinker with open eyes/mind to the world around me. As such, there is inevitable (and increasing over the last number of years) tension/conflict between my faith and my skepticism. The former is both foundational and precious to me, but the latter is also essential to my ability to live life and explore and interact with the world-at-large in a genuine way.
Seems you want to have your cake and eat it too. Good luck with that. Does cognitive dissonance taste nice?

Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I thought I would voice that in hopes there are others here who have a similar experience and would like to discuss it. Thanks.
I’ve never had faith/religion in my life, yet it's also been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again. No generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith required, merely generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of decent fellow humans. You’re welcome
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:56 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by The Greater Fool View Post
Welcome to the forum.

This seems part of understanding subjective vs objective truth.

Other than the existence of god, religion is an attempt to understanding good vs bad, good and bad generally being subjective values. Science obviously dealing with the objective values.

Looking at it in such a way, I think all of us, faithful and faithless, experience such a tension.

Is this the direction you are aiming for?
Thanks also for the welcome. Yes, subjective verses objective truth is a big part of it. For my part, I have found value in exploring objective truth (using a scientific approach) and exploring more subjective matters such as morality, hope, grace, kindness etc, through community and faith. I suppose in short, I am grateful for scientific avenues to explore some aspects of life, and I am grateful for faith to explore others, even though there is sometimes tension between these two.
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Old 6th December 2018, 02:59 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Argumentum ad Rose-Tinted-Glasses.

Have you also interacted with a variety of non-Christian religious people, or have you stayed pretty much within your extended Christian family comfort zone? Would your Christian life-style have been so “apple-pie” if you had lived where a different faith/religion (that also believe it has great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities) would persecute or even kill you for your Christian beliefs (Bibi Asia)? That you have experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer doesn’t mean faith/religion doesn’t also offer (and enforce) much worse.


Seems you want to have your cake and eat it too. Good luck with that. Does cognitive dissonance taste nice?


I’ve never had faith/religion in my life, yet it's also been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again. No generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith required, merely generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of decent fellow humans. You’re welcome
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:01 PM   #26
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Argumentum ad Rose-Tinted-Glasses.

Have you also interacted with a variety of non-Christian religious people, or have you stayed pretty much within your extended Christian family comfort zone? Would your Christian life-style have been so “apple-pie” if you had lived where a different faith/religion (that also believe it has great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities) would persecute or even kill you for your Christian beliefs (Bibi Asia)? That you have experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer doesn’t mean faith/religion doesn’t also offer (and enforce) much worse.


Seems you want to have your cake and eat it too. Good luck with that. Does cognitive dissonance taste nice?


I’ve never had faith/religion in my life, yet it's also been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again. No generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith required, merely generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of decent fellow humans. You’re welcome
Hi Ynot. I can't say how my thinking would have been affected by circumstances other than the ones I experienced. Although it seems that historically, persecution has not been a very effective means of eliminating faith.

What you advocate for, and the tone with which you do so also demonstrate a certain dissonance, no?

(and who the ****** wants cake you can't eat)
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:02 PM   #27
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I will say that it is amazing that a person comes here and requests a discussion of faith and skepticism, and the anti-religious just flat come right out of the box slinging gratuitous sarcasm and insults.
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:05 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
This is a difficult and very personal topic for me, so I figured an anonymous forum of strangers would be the perfect place to discuss it (actually serious about that).

I grew up in a Christian home and have interacted with a variety of Christian people, groups, organizations in a variety of roles throughout my life. With very few (minor) exceptions, it's been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again thanks to generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith. I think I've experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer.

I also am middle-age, have a family, a Ph.D. and am a critical thinker with open eyes/mind to the world around me. As such, there is inevitable (and increasing over the last number of years) tension/conflict between my faith and my skepticism. The former is both foundational and precious to me, but the latter is also essential to my ability to live life and explore and interact with the world-at-large in a genuine way.

I thought I would voice that in hopes there are others here who have a similar experience and would like to discuss it. Thanks.

I have a hard time understanding what your faith is: On the one hand, you describe yourself as a "critical thinker with open eyes/mind" who is into skepticism, and on the other hand, you talk about an "inevitable (and increasing over the last number of years) tension/conflict" between this skepticism and your faith. However, when you talk about your faith, I notice that you don't really describe your faith. What you describe is your appreciation of your interaction with people of faith.
I'm not sure, but it seems to me that the "tension/conflict" you're talking about might be a conflict between your skepticism and the people you associate with, rather than between two views of the world.
Have you been open about your skepticism? Do you fear how your religious friends, family and acquaintances will react if they find out about it?
If your friendships are as sincere as you claim they are, wouldn't they survive even if you were open about your critical thinking? However, if their kindness and goodness are contingent on sharing the Christian faith, maybe they aren't as genuinely kind and good as you would like to think ...
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:13 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Although it seems that historically, persecution has not been a very effective means of eliminating faith.

On the contrary! Persecution seems to be the best way to make sure that a faith survives.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:16 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
I will say that it is amazing that a person comes here and requests a discussion of faith and skepticism, and the anti-religious just flat come right out of the box slinging gratuitous sarcasm and insults.

Unlike true Christians, who would never resort to sarcasm and insults ...
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:19 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Does cognitive dissonance taste nice?

You mean like the cognitive dissonance that you experience when somebody tells you about his positive experiences with people of faith?
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:21 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks also for the welcome. Yes, subjective verses objective truth is a big part of it. For my part, I have found value in exploring objective truth (using a scientific approach) and exploring more subjective matters such as morality, hope, grace, kindness etc, through community and faith. I suppose in short, I am grateful for scientific avenues to explore some aspects of life, and I am grateful for faith to explore others, even though there is sometimes tension between these two.
I appreciate your thoughtful answers. I don't mean to sound aggressive, and my questions sincere, so error on the side of charity in the following.

I get exploring objective truth with scientific approach. No confusion here.

But morality, hope, kindness, etc. I'm not seeing a relationship to faith. Do you take subjective truth about any of these on faith (which to me means, without evidence)? I find my choices in morality, hope, kindness have no faith component. Perhaps you are using a different meaning to faith?

Grace is god's favor. This, to me, is a minefield, both in the seeking and finding. Does one make decisions on morality, hope, kindness because god says so to gain his favor? Or does his favor grant special wisdom figuring out the others? Or does grace grant faith? Help me understand your view.

In relation to morality, hope, kindness, etc. how/where does faith come into play? I have those things, and as far as I can tell, faith nor grace enter the equation.

I was a believer in my youth and understand faith, but it never entered morality, hope, kindness choices. In fact, demands of me to accept a any sort of truth on faith never felt right. Even subjective truth, I want the pros and cons. Thus, I'm not getting the tension.
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:29 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Hi Ynot. I can't say how my thinking would have been affected by circumstances other than the ones I experienced. Although it seems that historically, persecution has not been a very effective means of eliminating faith.
Hi attempt5001 (how did the previous 5000 attempts go? ), and welcome. Rather than how your thinking would have been affected, I was was questioning how your “tremendously positive experience“ of Christian life might have been affected in different circumstances. My post was nothing to do with eliminating faith, it was to do with challenging your implication (at the very least) that your “tremendously positive experience“ of life was due to Christian faith/religion rather than merely decent people being decent to others, regardless of their faith/religion, or whether or not they even have any.

Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
What you advocate for, and the tone with which you do so also demonstrate a certain dissonance, no?
Sorry if my tone offended you. It was meant as “straight talk” rather than “hate talk”. After having spent so many years debating on this forum I’ve come to favour “tell it like it is” rather than “let’s be nice”.

Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
(and who the ****** wants cake you can't eat)
Exactly
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:39 PM   #34
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I'm a long way from the God belief I had in my Christian youth, and yet I've never lost my Faith. Instead its expansion was integral with my letting go of belief in a parental supreme being.

Faith is our capacity to accept and affirm reality as it is beyond our fantasies of how it is supposed to be. Faith is our solidarity with reality and inter-participation.

I found that the Christian God was not only too small and narrow-hearted for an Open Faith, but carried belief baggage that simply refused to be transferred on my journey.

I don't mind using the word, "God" in a metaphorical way. It has always been that in our faith languages. We just continue to forget that Being transcends any kind of super-existing individual. The Divine is a quality of relationship we have with ourselves, the world, and each other, in which we all are Holy.

In pith: I believe in Grace.
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:41 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
You mean like the cognitive dissonance that you experience when somebody tells you about his positive experiences with people of faith?
The message I received was that his/her positive experiences were attributed to the Christian faith/religion rather than the decency of the people. Perhaps I got that message wrong?
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Old 6th December 2018, 03:48 PM   #36
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I also grew up in a Christian home, went to parochial schools (Lutheran), whole nine yards. Walked away from it in high school - well maybe galloped away.
Mainly because of what I feel is an over-dependence on faith (in Christianity) - given a reality close at hand - why rely on faith when knowledge and understanding are available?
The role of faith - in my opinion - should be to get one off the couch. Once off the couch and in the game (like training for a marathon), your actions should be rewarded - there should be reinforcing sign posts.
So stop carrying around the faith and look to the reality right in front of you. So, if we assume for the moment God is real, and you have reality close at hand - How would you proceed?
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Old 6th December 2018, 05:02 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks Dave. That's a fair and well articulated point. For me, the fact that "good people" (e.g., showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control) can be found ubiquitously encourages me towards faith (though simultaneously away from many doctrines I must admit).
These attributes describe my dogs quite well. Well maybe not the "self-control" part, . I came to this forum years ago by way of the '9/11 Conspiracy Theories' subforum, so pardon me if I'm a skeptic on your true motivations, attempt5001. That said, I can somewhat relate to your position. I was never really a believer, although I grew up nominally Catholic. I'm now firmly an atheist, yet I attend the RC church with my spouse, who doesn't know anything about my beliefs (or lack thereof).

The idea of a tension suggests that you are being pulled in two directions and maybe feel that one or the other must eventually win out. Does that concern you? Are you able to get to the absolute core of where your skepticism lies? Or is this not something you have explored in enough depth because you are afraid of what the outcome will be?
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Old 6th December 2018, 05:24 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I thought I would voice that in hopes there are others here who have a similar experience and would like to discuss it. Thanks.

No real advice to offer you. I'm an atheist and have almost no appetite for religious services, but my family is Jewish and I enjoy participating in Jewish life-cycle and family events. It's not ideal, but it's good enough.
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Old 6th December 2018, 07:13 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I guess for me though, there is still a value in exploring a faith/science balance that is somewhat akin to exploring the threshold between matter and energy.
If my understanding of modern physical theory is correct, there is no threshold between them. They are the same thing.


Quote:
Kind of like how physical light straddles latter and Jesus ("the light of the world") straddles the former. I realize that sort of talk is a little "out there" for a skeptics forum, and I'm inviting criticism, but I'm happy to receive some critical, (and ideally thoughtful and respectful) responses.

Why Jesus? Why not Shiva? Or Zeus? or Amaterasu?

In fact, why your particular brand of Christianity and not another one; why Protestantism and not Catholicism, or vice versa?

If you want to examine the tension between your faith and your skepticism, perhaps you could look at some of the beliefs you hold -- on both sides -- and see where the evidence leads you.
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Old 6th December 2018, 07:26 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by The Big Dog View Post
I will say that it is amazing that a person comes here and requests a discussion of faith and skepticism, and the anti-religious just flat come right out of the box slinging gratuitous sarcasm and insults.
Yeah, I know what you mean, but I'm not too surprised that discussions of faith or religion spark some strong reactions. I'm encouraged though that most folks are willing to discuss things further.
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