Can someone with faith explain something to me please?

(198 Posts)

This isn't intended to be offensive or goady, I'm asking out of curiosity.

I was on the thread about atheists posting on believers' threads the other day. Someone commented that having their (Christian, I think) faith compared to believing in Thor, Zeus, Apollo etc was offensive.

It made me wonder - what convinced you that your faith is the true one and all others are false? I mean, the Romans and Ancient Greeks were convinced of the authenticity of their pantheons (and I know someone who believes in the Norse pantheon). So why is the comparison offensive? (Obviously I understand that 'sky pixie' and 'imaginary friend' are offensive because they imply a degree of childishness).

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 05:24:14

Not at all, I question science and research all the time. The evidence in terms of IQ is a little different because it's actually more of a social study than a scientific experiment per se. But you are making an assumption that because I haven't written a paper and pasted it here that I haven't looked at the evidence.

The big difference is that I made a statement and then I backed it up with some evidence. When I hear religionists come out with crap like "I just know" they offer nothing of evidence whatsoever. The answer is always "well, it says this in the bible", or "I know someone who got better from being sick", it literally means nothing.

However, the lovely thing with science is that you can take someone's experiment and actually go and do it yourself. And people do. And that is how it gains credibility. So in actual fact, trusting the results of an experiment which is published in a respectable scientific journal, whilst not fool proof, is a far more reliable thing than believing a text written thousands of years ago that contains no method for testing.

Gingerdodger Mon 25-Mar-13 08:15:15

Reflecting on the studies above which suggest that there may be a tendency for people of 'lower intelligence' to be religious I cannot see that that is necessarily a problem if it is true.

Jesus was quite clear in his teachings that he was there for the poor, the humble, those who society shunned etc so it wouldn't surprise me if this was true. Particularly as 'intelligence' is so hard to measure, takes so many forms and is representative not only if our capacity to learn but also our upbringing and education.

So, even if this is true I would see this as outward manifestation of Jesus's teachings rather than a sign that 'clever' people reject religion due to their deeper level of thinking, but again that is because I see religious views as rooted in faith rather than being driven or curtailed by our ability to be think. No matter how much I critically think about it my faith remains with me.

Gingerdodger Mon 25-Mar-13 09:00:54

To think not to be think. No matter how much I critically think my phone inserts random words! grin

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 09:13:18

And that's a perfectly valid point. Indeed the IQ test may just happen to be a good test of someone's scientific reason. Perhaps there's a test for religious intelligence we could use. No doubt that would find that those who do well are more likely to be religious.

All I was showing was that there is a negative correlation between IQ and religiosity. That's the fact, how you interpret that evidence is open to debate.

My personal interpretation of it is that those who score highly on the IQ test have a more logical mind, they are better at recognising patterns, better at manipulating 3D objects in their mind, better at lateral thinking than those who don't score as highly. This is based on the content of the test and the tasks which the testee is asked to perform.

What I draw from that is that if you apply sound logic and reasoning to your thoughts on god and religion, you are more likely to dismiss them as concepts by which you would allow your life to be controlled.

But that's just my interpretation. The facts remain.

pedro - I'm not making any assumptions. I was questioning the way you put forward your views on, respectively, science and faith, so the way you put your views forward is pretty important, and the things you undoubtedly know, but choose not to say, are kinda important too, right?

Science does not work because 'you can take someone's experiment and actually go and do it yourself'. It would indeed be lovely if that were true, but of course it is utter nonsense. Studies have to be carried out by experts in controlled conditions. What you are describing is anecdote.

This misrepresentation of how science works is actually quite important IMO, because you either don't know how science works - but have a trusting faith in its power for some inexplicable reason - or you know, but choose to provide a rather dubious account of it, because you feel it will be more rhetorically convincing.

And surely, trusting faith and rhetoric are what you're accusing religious people of employing?

Your argument is shifting slightly every time someone takes issue with a point - at which time you say oh, yes, I knew that, honest, I just didn't feel the whole truth was really important here, what with religion being a load of crap. But that invalidates your whole argument, that you are advancing a rational attack on religion.

It always surprises me, btw, how many people (religious and not) have an extremely low opinion of what scientists do, despite claiming to support them. It's as if they think scientists are manual works down the fact mine, bringing up solid lumps of fact ore, doing a job the rest of us could easily replicate if we chose.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 25-Mar-13 11:29:20

Thanks for those studies Pedro.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 12:20:08

Now you're just being silly. The point is that when a proper experiment is done, the methods and materials, etc. are written down so you can see how the experiment is performed. The results are also provided as is the conclusion. This you can use to a degree to ascertain whether it was a good experiment. It also means that, should you have the facility, you could go and perform the same experiment yourself. Not all experiments are so far beyond everyone you know. There are plenty of simple experiments which you can do at home.

Now, with the more complex ones which you won't do for yourself, I can be confident that the results and the experiment are rigorously checked, especially when the result suggests a massive change in thinking. You might remember recently that a group of scientists had measured particles exceeding the speed of light. After much checking it was determined that there was a problem with the measuring equipment. But, you'll have also noticed that the scientific world didn't all jump around cheering, they knuckled down and examined the evidence to check if it was really true.

Even if you can't do these experiments for yourself, if you understand the science, you could always go and look at the results for yourself. This is EXACTLY how science works. I also notice that you've run out of all of your own ideas and have resorted to picking holes, which incidentally, is EXACTLY how religion works.

No, I'm not being silly. It is a crucial point. Science is not about everyone pitching in and doing experiments for themselves, or advancing anecdotes.

I know why it's an attractive idea that we could all verify experiments for ourselves. I think that is a huge part of the appeal of learning science, isn't it? But unless we are trained, we can't actually do anything very complicated.

It is - IMO - crucial to acknowledge that science is complicated, and requires us to be constantly interrogating what we take as 'fact'. I honestly didn't take from your posts that you were doing this. I feel that this presentation of science is both falsifying what scientists do, and a cheap argument against faith, because it's based on a simplified image of science.

I'm sorry you don't agree, and I absolutely accept it's your right not to agree, but please don't tell me it's 'silly'. If you have an argument, you need to make one.

I'm 'picking holes' - as you put it - because I think these are really important things. If interrogating and not accepting things on face value is 'how religion works', why is that a bad thing?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 12:48:48

You and I might not pitch in, but scientists do. Before a theory can really gain any ground, it has to be corroborated by other scientists. And, like I said, all of the proper experiments are available for anyone to read up on to see how they were done and look at the results.

If you don't understand the experiments, then I guess you'll just have to have a bit of faith(!)

Anyway, the point you seem to be making is that I don't write EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING in a single post, we'll, I could say the same about every single post on Mumsnet, it's a ludicrous statement and one very typically made by a cornered religionist.

Btw, if you're interested in my ideas, or if the OP is, I would love to share them, I just didn't realize you were interested - if you repeat the question?

I do genuinely think it is fascinating why some people have faith, others don't, and lots of us seem to have faith but also believe other faiths may be right too. I would love to talk more about it, but if we're constantly talking about 'why religion is wrong and science is right', I think we need to do that properly, instead of simply listing insults. It must get a bit boring after a while.

pedro - I think we are talking cross purposes.

I am interested in why you are presenting a particular, rather simplified and twisted, view of how science works, because I think the way you misrepresent science has a lot to say about why you are so very anti-religion.

You are interested in insulting religious people and advancing no argument.

Perhaps instead, we could start again?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 13:27:42

A gracious handshake moment has occurred!

I think part of the problem is that it is very difficult to properly cover everything you want to say in a short post. I guess that's why many, many books have been written on this subject.

I do understand the scientific method very well, I also understand religion pretty well too and I've made a point of learning about it because what's the point in trying to debate if you have no knowledge. I'm also not simply insulting religious people. I apologise if that's how it came across. It can be very frustrating though, when someone just quotes chapter and verse (so to speak) as fact and evidence when it quite clearly isn't. That's the reason why atheists get so heated, because it can be like talking to a brick wall sometimes (not suggesting this conversation has been like that, but many are).

I must admit, I forget what the argument was in the first place......so yes, let's start over!

I'm sure that's true, that it's hard to cover everything you want to say.

All I can say is ... it seemed to me that the way in which you were arguing was important, that's all. I promise it wasn't nit picking for the sake of it. It was me trying to get across that I do feel there is something important going on.

I don't think I have quoted chapter, or verse, or cited anything as fact or evidence, though.

The one thing I do think is an absolute truth, that I'm happy to put my hand up to, is that faith is not rational, nor does it claim to be. I really think that's the point here.

All of the explanations people put forward for why they have faith - like, say, the one about oxygen - well, to my mind they are analogies, they're not 'evidence' and they couldn't be. In the same way, that study about brain imaging and love is not trying to speculate on what love is, but only on how its actions might be detected in the brain. Don't get me wrong, that is absolutely fascinating in itself! It really is. But I think it's really important to keep in mind the differences.

If you are looking for rational evidence of God, or of the rightness of one faith over another, IMO, you will never find it. There is absolutely no point looking.

But to take a really small example ... is it maybe a bit like, say, the fact I love a bunch of flowers on the table? I could claim I like them because the scent is known to have a calming effect, lowering my heartrate, or because the colour is restful and raises this or that hormone, or whatever. And you could argue back that the flowers will most certainly die soon, and they're giving off pollen that is a known irritant, and the leaves of this particular one can cause toxic reactions, etc. etc.. But surely, if we had that argument, both of us would kinda know that it's a funny argument to have, because TBH we know that it basically comes down to something very simple: some folks like a bunch of flowers, others don't, and neither can explain the emotion behind it all, really.

thegreatestMadHairDayinhistory Mon 25-Mar-13 15:58:57

To answer the OP: I believe that there is in the person of Jesus Christ a unique and compelling representation of who God is. I think that his life, ministry, death and resurrection have a depth of explanation to the human condition that surpasses anything else I have explored.

I don't think all religions are just a 'different way up the mountain', and actually think that's a fairly arrogant view in itself - basically surmising that all those religions are in fact wrong in their claims to be unique or the only way. If I took that view, I'd need to widen it to say all worldviews are just another explanation for why we are here and who God is/isn't - I'd have to validate Pol Pot and Amin as much as the ABC and Chief Rabbi. Or I could say that only some worldviews/religions lead to the same thing, but again that would be claiming something out of intolerance and arrogance - how could I say that some do but not all? So people may think I am arrogant to believe that Jesus is the way to God - but I could say atheists are arrogant to say nothing is the 'way to God'.

But in saying that I believe Jesus has pointed the best way to God, this does not mean that I am condemning everyone who is not a 'christian' to 'hell'. Not at all. Part of my experience with God is that God is just, the most just of the just.

I think that religions are too different to be lightheartedly lumped together in a kind of relativistic soup. As the poet Steve Turner puts it, 'we believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one we read was. They all believe in goodness. They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God and salvation.'

And so therefore I have come to think that there is one way which has the answers to the awfulness of the human condition, the broken world and broken us. No other religion - to me- comes close to the ultimate freedom we can find in reconciliation with God through Christ - in turning from living for ourselves to living for a different purpose.

And yes, I'm more than aware that none of these words are sufficient to convince anyone of anything, and that great big holes can be picked in them for the purpose of trying to prove I'm wrong/deluded/thick/arrogant. But the OP asked grin

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 18:43:44

You qualified your whole post by suggesting that it's full of holes to be picked at... which is true, but I was especially interested in the way that you say atheists can be called arrogant for saying there's no way to God...... How is that arrogant?

Also, genuine question because I hear it a lot and I don't understand what it means. "Find reconciliation with God through Christ", what does that mean? One is a supernatural force and the other is a (probably fictional but for argument's sake we'll assume he was real) guy who has been dead for nearly 2000 years. I don't understand why you should have to go through the one to get to the other when, if anything, god is the one who can hear you.

'I don't think all religions are just a 'different way up the mountain', and actually think that's a fairly arrogant view in itself - basically surmising that all those religions are in fact wrong in their claims to be unique or the only way.'

But all religions don't claim to be the only way. Lots of religions claim that other religions also have a point, don't they?

'If I took that view, I'd need to widen it to say all worldviews are just another explanation for why we are here and who God is/isn't - I'd have to validate Pol Pot and Amin as much as the ABC and Chief Rabbi.'

confused Why? I don't see that at all. Surely, saying you don't think your faith is the only possible right one is not at all the same thing as saying every possible faith or cult is equally valid. They're clearly not.

LRD I would be very interested in a thread to discuss faith as a phenomenon, I find religion and theology fascinating. Not sure how you'd stop it degenerating into a believe vs non-believers bunfight though; these threads always seem to no matter what the OP is. hmm

I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to derail it, and I can see that I did. blush

Sorry.

I wasn't getting at you, sorry if it came across that way! Oops. blush

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 26-Mar-13 10:38:57

Pedro, what was the reasoning behind your learning about religion?

greencolorpack Tue 26-Mar-13 10:47:01

I don't think the comparison is offensive, it makes perfect sense to wonder why you pick this religion when there are others on offer.

If you didn't think your religion was true it would make it difficult to motivate yourself to follow it, that to me is why syncretism is problematic. You kind of have to believe it is true or else why bother at all?

I am convinced of the truth because I made that leap of faith that meant I put my trust in God being there and that was a long time ago and he has been there ever since.

I know that argument won't sway you. I don't like arguing so you can disagree as much as you like.

Not at all - but I realized I'd done it when you said, is all.

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