Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts

On Faith

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Faith as an attitude toward truth is always blind faith. It adds nothing to the quest for truth except the dangerous feeling of certainty. It is always irrelevant, superfluous and unnecessary. It impedes the quest for truth. Any questions?

"The most charitable thing we can say about faith is that it's likely to be false."

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The title quote above comes from a talk by Peter Boghossian. He also said "We are forced to conclude that a tremendous number of people are delusional. There is no other conclusion one can draw." In this week's religion photos of the week you should see why. LINK. Christian, just ask what if you were them? You could've been.

Why Faith? Reviewing Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity" Part 3

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Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it.

The third important matter that comes to mind is to wonder what Mittelberg was thinking when he defined faith? He defines faith as "beliefs and actions that are based on something considered to be trustworthy--even in the absence of proof" (p. 2). According to Mittelberg then, if your conclusions (i.e., beliefs) and actions are located above the threshold of what is trustworthy, you have a reasonable faith. If they are located below that threshold, you have an unreasonable faith. His main polemical point is that everyone has faith. For if we base our conclusions on anything less than absolute proof we do so on faith.

Mittelberg brashly tells readers Richard Dawkins has faith because on his 1-7 spectrum of atheist probability Dawkins is only a 6.9! Dawkins's conclusion, he says, "is a belief that he holds in the absence of real proof...one that goes beyond what can be known with certainty." (p. 4) "Dawkins doesn't know there is no God...Rather he takes it on faith there is actually no God" (p. 4, italics from Mittelberg). Dawkins "exhibits what might best be described as a religious faith" Mittelberg says, because he can only say God "almost certainly does not exist" (p. 141, italics from Mittelberg).

The Debate Over Definitions of Faith

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The debate over faith is whether Christian definitions of faith make any sense (they don't), whether they are consistent with each other (they're not), and whether Christians do what their own definitions say they do (they don't). No, we emphatically do not have to use a word such as "faith" in the same way Christians use it, when the concept behind it is the debate itself. Although, if faith is trust, as they say, there is no reason to trust faith. If "faith is trust in a person", as they say, there's no reason to trust extraordinary miraculous claims such as the sun appearing as blood, or standing in the sky for a day, or that its shadow backed up a stairway, or it was eclipsed by the moon for more than an hour; nor that a virgin really had a baby in an ancient superstitious era where it was believed several important fetuses were birthed without sex, or that Jesus, Elijah and Moses really levitated before Peter, James and John, or that Zombie's came out of their tombs. There's no reason to trust these claims especially since they come from superstitious ancient people, such as prophets, apostles, priests, rabbis, sorcerers, shamans, and guru's, without having seen them for ourselves, or without being there to investigate them for ourselves.

Because of this sad state of faith, atheists and skeptics have come up with definitions of faith that make sense, are consistent with each other and describe what believers actually do. Here are some of mine:
Faith is an irrational leap over and beyond the available evidence.
Faith is an irrational leap over the need for evidence.
Faith is a mother of all cognitive biases.
Faith prohibits one's cognitive faculties from functioning properly.
Faith is the permission believers give themselves to accept bullshit as the truth.
Faith is trusting in a god who is believed as trustworthy based on faith that he is trustworthy.
Faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities. (OTF, p.207)
Faith is an attitude or feeling whereby believers attribute a higher degree of probability to the evidence than what the evidence calls for. (OTF, p.207)
Faith is an irrational, unevidenced, or misplaced trust in something or someone. (Unapologetic, p.152)
Faith is a cognitive bias that causes believers to overestimate any confirming evidence and underestimate any disconfirming evidence. (Unapologetic, p. 55)
Here are a few of Dr. Matt McCormick's definitions, from chapter 11, "The 'F' Word", in his book, Atheism and the Case Against Christ:

The Essence of Our Debate About Faith

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The debate over faith is whether Christian definitions of faith are consistent with each other (they're not), whether they make any sense (they don't) and whether Christians do what their own definitions say they do (they don't).

David Marshall Now Accepts My Definition of Faith (or he doesn't even know what faith is)

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Unbelievably, David Marshall now clarifies what faith is by rejecting the need for reason, based on sufficient evidence, saying:

"... having sufficient evidence is PART (not all) of having faith....Good reason to believe is a necessary, not sufficient, part of biblical faith. It really wouldn't be faith if that were all there were to it..."

Marshall is now opposed to scientific thinking, which only accepts sound reasoning based on sufficient evidence.

The only thing faith can mean at this point is that it's an irrational leap over the need for sufficient objective evidence, that is, wishful thinking. For it is the all-important undefined bottom line Marshall maintains, that can and does over-rule reason and sufficient objective evidence, whenever necessary.

What Marshall has repeatedly denied he's now been forced to admit, that my definition of faith is correct after all!

The Delusion of Faith Produces Disingenuous Definitions of Faith

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David Marshall:
The Christian meaning of faith is "holding firmly to and acting on what you have good reason to believe is true, in the face of difficulties." (As Timothy McGrew and I put it in "True Reason," summarizing traditional Christian thought.) I'd say 100%, or close to that number, of humans have faith in gravity in that sense.
One of my definitions of faith is that it's an irrational leap over the need for sufficient evidence. There are many others that accurately define what believers do. Christian apologists insist that our definitions of faith are faulty. This is a substantive debate, not merely a misunderstanding of terms. Non-believers define faith based on what believers actually do. Believers define faith disingenuously based on the need to appear reasonable when they're not. In the case of apologist David Marshall's comment on Facebook, summarizing his co-written book, it's never more clearly seen.

If having faith is having good reasons to conclude something is true, and if this is how reasonable people conclude we shouldn't jump off a cliff, then faith is equivalent to having sufficient evidence for a conclusion. If so, the word "faith" has no distinct meaning. Why use it then? That's the disingenuous part. It is patently obvious that believing a dead man arose from the dead 20 centuries ago in the superstitious past is not the same thing as knowing we should not jump off a cliff. Patently obvious! My claim is that faith so distorts the believing mind that it also forces believers to define it in disingenous ways that are patently false. If you're reading this and think apologists like McGrew and Marshall do a good job defending your faith on the factual issues, then you should take seriously my claim that the way they define faith is indicative of the way they defend their faith. If one is patently false and disingenuous, then so is the other. Let it be known that apologetics in defense of the Christian faith is all special pleading.

Five Major Signs Your Brain is Made Stupid By Faith

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This Is Your Brain on Drugs was a large-scale US anti-narcotics campaign by Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) launched in 1987, that used two televised public service announcements (PSAs) and a related poster campaign. Here's the original 30 second commercial:



I want people to consider the drug metaphor for faith, taking our cue from Karl Marx who described religious faith as the opiate of the people, as I argued previously. When you watch the commercial hear him say "This is your brain on faith." That's what I think. Here then are five major signs your brain is made stupid by faith:

1) When faith makes you denigrate or deny science.

2) When faith makes you think you don't need evidence to believe. (Just think Alvin Plantinga).

3) When faith makes you deny the need to think exclusively in terms of the objective probabilities.

4) When faith makes you deny the need for sufficient objective evidence in favor of private subjective experiences.

5) When faith makes you think it has an equal or better method at arriving at the truth than scientifically based reasoning. Any questions?

Quote of the Day By Rudy On Faith

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Rudy R asks,
Is there no word in the Christian lexicon that describes a belief not grounded on proof or empirical evidence? My question is directed to all Christians. My point is that the common Christian wouldn't know the word fideism. In fact, the lay Christian, who is coached by those who know the weak arguments, quotes Hebrew 11:1 to bat-down the "atheist" definition of faith. When cornered about the lack of proof or empirical evidence, Christians respond with faith as a reason; for if they had evidence, they would state so without relying on faith.
I like these thoughts. How about the word "Faithism" the belief in belief itself? And then say it's equivalent to how "Faith" is used by believers. Or, that it's all faithism? "Fideism" seems to be a a good word as well, the view that knowledge depends on faith. We could say it's all fideism. The word "faith" is therefore equivalent to the words "faithism" and "fideism." Discuss.

My Definition of Faith Spoken at Gateway to Reason 2017

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Just think of Christian fundamentalist Alvin Plantinga here if you need to, whose cognitive faculties are not functioning properly!


The Evolution of God from Yahweh in a Box to the Super Mega Deity of the Universe

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The God of modern Christian theology is a philosophically supercharged God far removed from the physically limited and dimwitted Yahweh whose identity has as much in common as a horse and buggy does with a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4.   Ironically, Christian apologists such has WL Craig totally ignore this primitive and limited tribal God in favor of the easy to defend modern concept of a nameless figure that has evolved from the New Testament whose image is rooted in the pagan Classical Tradition. (1)

 When a person “becomes a Christian”, it’s not the ancient Near Eastern tribal Yahweh they are presented with, but a slick modern super deity with few links to the Old Testament . . . known simply as God with a capital “G” who is really an anthology of Classical pagan attributes taken on after having absorbed the myths of other ancient Near Eastern Semitic gods.  This apologetically hopped up deity which grew out of the ideals of Neo-Platonism is constantly gathering apologetic power be they from the Summa Theological concepts of Thomas Aquinas to Karl Rahner’s Systematic Catholic Theology to Barth’s Protestant Church Dogmatics and on to Alfred North Whitehead’s Processed Reality.  The evolution of God is now considerably much like the woman Lucy in the current hit movie of the same title or a God who continues to acquire any philosophical protection the best apologists can mentally bestow upon him.

How a Lie about Bill Gates Disproves Pascal’s Wager

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Can you afford not to trust him?!
Hey Facebook, As some of you may know, I’m Bill Gates. If you click that share link, I will give you $5,000. I always deliver, I mean, I brought your Windows XP, right? ” (And it’s still running on Facebook as a “Friend” Shared it with me.)
In just 16 years over 400,000 Facebook users disproved Pascal’s famous 360 year old Wager due to the fact that these Facebook believers took the Pascal’s Wager Challenge and ALL 400,000 proved Pascal’s Wager was wrong! Even though the facts were out for years, people just couldn’t believe that a picture of Bill Gates himself holding a promissory note shared by hundreds of thousands was a huge lie!
 Hey (according to Pascal’s Wager), go ahead; what have you got to lose except tens of thousands of dollars and can you really afford to be that foolish?!  So can you simply afford not to trust what over 400,000 people believed to have been the Gospel Truth?
Finally, someone needs to post a picture of Jesus Christ also holding up a sign claiming eternal Heavenly bliss if you not only believe yourself, but "Share" this divine promissory note with all your friends.  After all, if you’re a non-believer, what have you got to lose?

Dr. James A. Lindsay's Definition of Faith

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Faith, he argues, is "a form of cognitive bias that tends to overestimate the probabilities that the hypotheses in which faith is placed predict the evidence (of the world) while underestimating the probabilities that alternative hypotheses predict the evidence we have." Or, in other words he says:

Dissecting and Dismantling Rauser's Definition of Faith

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Randal Rauser repeatedly tells us that "Faith consists of assent to a proposition that is conceivably false." I have repeatedly said that faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities, and as such, we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities. He claims I'm ignorant. Okay then, let's see. Rauser's definition is a Christian language game utterly irrelevant to whether Christianity is true, because it forces him to choose between being a skeptic, a non-believer, and beyond this an epistemological solipsist, or he is forced to admit we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities after all.

Honest Christians, Answer This Question!

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I'd like for you to be honest with your faith here. No delusional sidesteps, okay? Answer a question having to do with what came first, your faith or your understanding. As we know, Anselm argued that "faith seeks understanding." That's the same stance other believers view their own religions. First they believe, then they seek to justify it by understanding it. Did you reasonably examine your faith before you adopted it? Or, did you try to justify it post hoc, after believing it?

My claim is that justifying something post hoc is an unreasonable way to examine a religion. It's something the Outsider Test for Faith finds to be an inconsistent double standard. For we know from cognitive studies that the strong human propensity is to unreasonably justify what we believe after the fact. We do this in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance in our heads (that uncomfortable feeling we have from for holding two contrary propositions at the same time).

Here's how cognitive dissonance works. You made a public stance in a confession for Jesus. Then you come across disconfirming evidence. What do you do? You already stated publicly you believed. So you must make a choice, either recant and be embarrassed for making a rash commitment, or find some way to escape the force of that disconfirming evidence. Sometimes that escape hole is so small only an ant could crawl through it, but when it comes to faith that'll do just fine.

In any case, this question has two aspects to it. The first aspect is chronological, the second one is logical.

Ministry of a Healing Amputee and Another Where the Dead Come Back to Life

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This article is about two ministries of note I've found in the past couple of months. One is an amputee that claims that Jesus is Growing her leg back, and one is a missionary that claims that he has witnessed the dead coming back to life by the power of God.

Carole Miller McCleery-Greene. On her website has posted medical information and interpreted it for the reader as proof that Jesus is restoring her amputated leg. She has had two automobile accidents that almost claimed her life and did claim her leg but she credits Jesus with getting her through it all.

David Hogan is a Missionary that has personally witnessed dead people miraculously coming back to life by the power of God through his ministry.
- David Hogan. Freedom Ministries. Faith to raise the dead.
- David Hogan at YouTube

I found the David Hogan ministry thanks to a commenter in another article, and I found the Amputee ministry thanks to my RSS Feed at Scienceblogs.com. The blogger at Respectful Insolence is a surgeon. He analyzed the claims of the regenerating leg, the medical information on the website and the interpretation and in his opinion, she's going to die before her leg grows back. He wonders the same thing I do, which is, if Jesus gets the credit for saving her, why doesn't he get the blame for putting her in that situation?

I didn't look long enough to find any dissenting opinions about David Hogan and the dead coming back to life except for this one from a christian because I am quite confident that if it were true, it would be widely reported in the science journals, because scientists love figuring stuff out.

I wonder, if we didn't live in the age where information can get transmitted in seconds around the world, what kind of impact would these claims have? Do you think more people would believe them? Do you think there is any correlation to the type of thing that went on with Jesus? Maybe, maybe not.

But hey, whats the harm, right? It makes them feel better and gives them hope.