RE: MD On Faith

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Wed Oct 27 2004 - 01:20:43 BST

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    [Scott:] 'Faith', to a religous practioner, is as undefinable as 'love',
    'reason', or 'quality'. To some extent, one can get an idea of what faith
    means to practitioners by reading what they have to say about it. You can't
    get it from a definition. Suppose I have never been in love, and never read
    novels or watched movies or TV about people being in love. Should I call
    you "lame", "condescending", "weaselish", "indoctrinated", "hypnotized" for
    not being able to define it in such a way that I could know what being in
    love is like?

    Your name-calling has gotten out of hand, so let me just repeat the
    disagreement as I see it.

    I said there is no conflict between non-fundamentalist, contemporary
    Christianity and science. By that I mean, as I said in an earlier post (to
    Mark): "Religious faith has changed, however. One of its big changes is
    that --always excluding religious fundamentalists -- Christians (to be
    specific) acknowledge that they lost the battles against science (Galileo,
    evolution), but more importantly they acknowledge that they deserved to
    lose, and that religion has been improved thereby."

    You, however, claim that there is a conflict, because Christians believe
    things that are not supported by reason based on empirical evidence.
    Leaving aside all the intricacies of what sort of things Christians
    believe, you are claiming that belief in anything that doesn't meet your
    standard is bad intellect. Well, let us, for the sake of argument, agree on
    that. To you this is conflict. To me it is creating the conflict, by
    setting a dividing line through an absolute standard (and one that is, in
    my opinion, unrealizable in non-scientific matters, but that I will address
    elsewhere if I ever get around to it). The real conflict, in my opinion, is
    between fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists, and it would be better to
    see the non-fundamentalists as allies in this conflict than enemies.

    On the rest of your post, I will limit myself to this:

    > [DMB had said:] I think you have to be using all those key words (faith,
    > theism and mysticism) in ways that are used inside the church and make no
    > sense to those of us who speak english.
    > Scott replied:
    > How else am I to use them? "Inside the church" is their natural
    > context. They will make sense if you study the topic, just like any other
    > vocabulary. If you want to know how a Christian uses the words, read them.
    > I recommend Kathleen Norris' "Amazing Grace". She is not a theologian, and
    > in fact doesn't think much of theology, but she's an intelligent
    > Christian, It won't convince you that faith is good, but it should at
    > make you aware that not all Christians are mindless believers, and that
    > people like her are better considered friends than enemies.
    > dmb says:
    > Ah ha! I knew I smelled a rat. You haven't studied christianity so much as
    > indoctrinated yourself, hypnotized yourself.

    [Scott:] I am truly perplexed by this. How you got from what I said to an
    accusation of being hypnotized I just can't fathom, though I suppose you
    will take my inability to fathom it as further proof of my being hypnotized
    (like the psychiatrist interpreting the mental patient). So how about a
    clear explanation of how you came to that conclusion, so I can, just
    possibly, de-hypnotize myself? What rat did you smell?

    - Scott

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