Believers VS Non-belivers

(490 Posts)

Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact; yet if someone doesn't believe in something, they will say this as an absolute fact and ridicule those who believe?

It's almost as if those who don't believe (in whatever the subject: angels, God, reincarnation) consider themselves superior to those who do, and view those who do as stupid for doing so.

Surely everyone's beliefs are their own belief and opinion - nothing "woo" can be either proven or disproven, so therefore nobody is right or wrong.

It just seems that every thread that starts "Do you believe" on this board ends up in a bun fight with believes defending themselves against non-believers who tell them they're being ridiculous. The clue is in the title of the board - if you don't believe in anything that's likely to be discussed under that heading, just avoid the board!

HowardTJMoon Sat 07-Jun-14 13:20:10

Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact

Absolutely. Why, I remember being taught the Lords Prayer at school with its first line of "Our Father, who while I may personally believe to inhabit Heaven, I accept as a matter of personal belief and not a statement of fact..."

CorusKate Sat 07-Jun-14 13:23:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JodieGarberJacob Sat 07-Jun-14 13:25:02

I very rarely see the bun-fights on here but if you say 'I believe' then it's a belief, if you say 'there are angels' then you are saying it's a fact not a belief. Likewise non-believers. I say there's no god. Not because I believe there's no god, I know there's no god.

Tuo Sat 07-Jun-14 14:00:46

Threads with the title 'Do you believe...?' are asking a question - a question to which the answer 'no' is perfectly valid. I don't therefore think that there's anything wrong with people who don't in fact believe whatever it is to post to that effect. Of course, one would always hope that posters, of whatever persuasion on a particular issue, would treat others with respect and not abuse or belittle them for their beliefs, but that's in general (the same could be said of the breast/bottle threads, or the private/state ones, or any number of other vaguely controversial topics).

I'd contrast threads that ask 'Do you believe...?' with something like the Christian Prayer Thread (which is where I mostly post). It's fairly clear that that thread is aimed at believers (though it's open to all, and we're sometimes visited by posters of other faiths, or by non-believers passing on requests on behalf of others, and all are very welcome) and I can honestly say that no-one has ever posted on one of those threads to say 'I think that prayer is all a load of rubbish' or whatever. However, if I posted to say 'Do you believe in the power of prayer?' then I'd be expecting that some posters would say 'yes' and others (maybe the majority) would say 'no'.

That doesn't mean that I don't recognise some of what you are saying. But I think that, in general, robust debate is a good thing, and that's what debate threads are for, whereas support threads are another matter.

Would it be helpful to categorise posts so that the different types of thread are made clear in the title.

Support - I'm struggling with church at the moment.
Debate - Why do people go to church?

Support - Anyone else studying philosophy?
Debate - What is truth?

Just a suggestion.

sunshinemmum Sat 07-Jun-14 19:44:06

I honestly think that would help Green, but only if there was some sort of footnote or a reinforcement of the talk guidelines under this section heading. In most other sections goading or trolling is monitored and posts removed. It rarely happens here.

"if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact"

Sometimes that is how it works, but often religious people decide it is fact and try and force it on the rest of us.

When was the last time an atheist knocked on your door to tell you that you are going to die with no after-life? Yet I have been told many times that I and my children will burn in hell for eternity because I won't join someone's church. You are allowed to put that on signs outside churches and even visit schools to tell the kids that.

Also if you heard someone say "yes eating toadstools is good for you" wouldn't you feel a duty to point out that this is incorrect and dangerous advice?

"nothing "woo" can be either proven or disproven, so therefore nobody is right or wrong"

Wrong.

Take homoeopathy for example. That's been tested and proven not to work. Every time someone says it does work I shall say "no it doesn't" and I will wonder if they are spreading disinformation maliciously or because they are stupid.

In the matter of religion it's not possible to prove that there isn't some kind of god somewhere, but it's quite easy to prove that a particular god with a particular set of habits is a lie. Most religions are not consistent internally or with known facts.

I don't leap on everyone who has beliefs to tell them they are wrong. If someone is having a crisis of faith for example then they really are suffering (even though pointlessly) and I can sympathise with that.

Btw was this inspired by the guardian angel thread? If not you might want to check it out. I was just catching up on it and at least one poster claims their beliefs are fact. There's a bit of a debate on the ethics of charging people for using your magical powers to treat them.

beatingwings Sun 08-Jun-14 07:40:09

"Why is it that if someone believes in something, they will talk about it as exactly that - something they believe in - and not portray it as absolute fact"

Ha ha - that's a laugh.

Not the religious and evangelical people I have met. Thay absolutely know that their belief is fact- no question at all.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 07:55:50

If we're talking about Christianity, then obviously what people believe is their own business. The problem comes when their belief impinges on the lives of others. And in this country Christianity does.

If you're talking about "woo" - then once again, believe what you want. But don't go on about "disrespect" when people point out the scientific evidence against your particular "thing". And if you say something like "yes, I have read all the properly conducted, double blind trials which show that [eg] homeopathy doesn't work, but I took a remedy for a cold and only 5 day later my cold was better so I believe in it" then surely you should expect o be challenged on it?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 08:11:23

I see what you are saying OP but if you absolutely believe something to be true, with every fibre of your being, before much too much time you will be talking about it in terms of fact, because you truly believe it.

I have to continually remind myself, because a lot of what I believe is by faith, that is not proven in the most absolute scientific empirical sense, other posters will not exercise their faith in the same things as myself. To be very honest I forget sometimes, to state what I take by faith is my belief because I do believe it IYSWIM.

And it is this forgetfulness that riles the more scientifically (in terms of their world view of truth) inclined....I usually do have to reiterate I talk in terms of my faith and belief at some point in the conversation.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 08:21:17

I think a personal faith is a different thing- it goes without saying that it can't be proved- that's rather the point "Lord, I believe- help thou my unbelief". It would obviously be pointless to challenge a personal faith like that- all the person concerned could say is "yes, I see that it is illogical and unprovable- nevertheless I believe"

The problem comes with Christianity when either people claim categorically that prayer works directly- or they claim special privileges because of their faith or they try to impose their faith on other people. All of these are untenable positions, and people should,surely, be expected to be challenged on them.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 08:27:43

Hak you cannot impose faith, by the definition of what faith is. Faith is by choice, take the choice away and you are not talking about belief through faith at all, you are talking about belief through ignorance, which gets nobody nowhere.

Talking about your own faith, belief and experiences is not imposing your faith on anyone IMO.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 08:33:42

You can't impose faith- but you can impose faith schools and compulsory Christian worship in non faith schools and an automatic Christian input into all law and policy making.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 08:42:55

But it is not, strictly speaking, worship, if you don't believe in what is being worshipped...and parents can opt their children out of worship if they wish. However, yes, schools do have to provide Christian worship, which some do find problematic.

As for law and policy making there are all sorts of inequalities of opportunity within our system, peerage being another, Quangos being another.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:01:39

Yes- of course there are other unfairnesses. But I thought we were talking about faith and the areas where it impinges on public life?

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 09:05:31

Are we?

OP was talking about believers being able to talk about their beliefs on MN without being ridiculed. Talking about beliefs on MN, within the talk guidelines, does not impinge on public life.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:11:53

And I said there was a difference between personal faith- which by definition is not amenable to reason and is therefore not really a debating point, and faith which impinges on others, which is absolute fair game.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 09:19:20

How does faith impinge on others, in terms of MN discussion boards, Hak?

Talking about your own faith, belief and experiences is not imposing your faith on anyone IMO.

It need not be, but of course that's not what Hakluyt was referring to and you knew it really.

I do wonder what you and other religious people would say if you caught me telling your kids/family in the local park that 'mummy only pretends god exists because she is evil and sick inside and wants you all to suffer'

If you complained I could say "Hey! you can remove them from the park if you don't approve".

take the choice away and you are not talking about belief through faith at all, you are talking about belief through ignorance, which gets nobody nowhere.

That's an interesting position, Capsium, and one you might want to start a thread about some time. I'd be on your side in that one.

After all there are lots of religious people who think it's wrong to tell kids that other religions exist or that scientific proof for evolution exists and so on. Presumably they think belief through ignorance is the best kind.

capsium Sun 08-Jun-14 09:54:37

I do wonder what you and other religious people would say if you caught me telling your kids/family in the local park that 'mummy only pretends god exists because she is evil and sick inside and wants you all to suffer'

? Surely you don't believe this Back? So is this very likely?

Here, on this thread, I am talking in terms of MN discussion of beliefs, within talk guidelines, which does not include saying offensive things to children and their parents.

After all there are lots of religious people who think it's wrong to tell kids that other religions exist or that scientific proof for evolution exists and so on. Presumably they think belief through ignorance is the best kind.

I cannot speak for them, Back, I stand by what I said earlier, in that I do believe through ignorance is not desirable and distinctly different to choosing to believe through faith.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 10:21:48

I know some pretty fervent Christians who have views that I find challenging, but I see far more people imposing their atheist viewpoint as fact on these boards. I mostly stick to the prayer threads and support, rather than the debate, because I find them safer and less tedious.

CorusKate Sun 08-Jun-14 10:32:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 10:41:05

That would be fine except posters don't respect Christian threads asking for support from other Christians, or threads asking specifically to discuss Christian literature. There are people who aim to ridicule, in order to hammer home their unbelief as here on the angel thread.

Absolutely. I will ridicule the ridiculous. You think it would be good if we couldn't?

You wouldn't do this in the other sections, where people asked for support, for example in the relationship threads or in the mental health section. As Green suggests up thread there should be some sort of way of stopping this bombardment, by flagging up support threads, which are clearly not asking for debate.

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