Category Archives: Faith

Faith and Facts

May 23, 2009

“I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.” [Clarence Darrow]

“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever. This is a somewhat new kind of religion. I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.” [Albert Einstein]

My main thesis is narrower and, I think, more defensible: understanding reality, in the sense of being able to use what we know to predict what we don’t, is best achieved using the tools of science, and is never achieved using the methods of faith.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

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Mr. Einstein’s statement, in the quote attributed to him, in which I see much merit, demonstrates a developed version of the temporal kind of religion you have been reading about in these pages. As stated on previous pages, my views on religion are that if faith is required to believe something, that does not constitute knowledge. If you can show how you know it, and make it obvious to others and irrefutable in itself, by its own nature, it must be true and, therefore is knowledge. As you also saw in the preceding pages, people use all kinds of trickery to convince a naïve audience otherwise.

If something is known to be demonstrably true, it is not called faith. It is factual and faith is unnecessary. The only facts that can be found in religion are in regard to where some scriptural quote can be found. The quotes themselves, unless somehow already granted scientific support as a result of having had that process applied to them, so that they become understood as true for known and repeatable reasons, are anecdotal in their evidentiary nature. Without scientific support, they are not facts; they are, at best, guesses, fables, unsupported opinions, mythical or legendary, most times misinformation of undocumented origin. To call them ‘scientific’ is an attempt to scam.

That condition leads directly to the fractured condition of religion in our own times, that the nature of belief without credible verisimilitude loses in both directions; that is, that anyone can say whatever they wish others to believe and find support, and those same others will choose from the mess of it what to believe without requiring any vindicating support. Faith is never in what can be shown to be true; it is always in what one supposes or wishes could be true, and that is why it is called faith and not fact.

Knowledge is about facts, items that can be demonstrated to be true however one has gone about attaining to their awareness. Even the proponents of faith will demand that of their opponents in any argument. “Prove it.” Knowledge may be about what a scripture says, in the form that claims and can show the scripture actually does say it, but is not about the unverifiable information contained in that script or any other. Facts do not require faith to uphold them because they can be known and shown.

Before science, written records were humankind’s attempt to achieve veracity and uniformity of knowledge. As far back as art on cave walls gets dated, agreements were recorded about how the various important or interesting events took place, and put on display for all to see.

Later, discussions that would take place about those events could be settled by a viewing of the drawings and, later after the innovation of writing, the recorded words that described them. Not all recountings would agree, however, when groups of doubters gathered to produce their own accounts. In the drawings, small details most likely were varied from one accounting to another. In later writings, jots and tittles may have held different meanings to later interpreters. It still seemed necessary to devise some way to present a uniform view that all could understand alike. The scientific method has demonstrated itself capable to produce information that maintains cohesive verisimilitude for all who have adopted it and learned to understand how and why it works. That to which it cannot lend its support does not demonstrate a weakness in science, but does present the weakness inherent to unverifiable stories about reality and nature. To understand why requires a good understanding of how to apply abeyance in the principle of defeasibility.

To me as a toddler, my grandmother told stories about the fairies living in the lawn, whose table settings could be seen in the morning dew, and that I would destroy were I not careful while running across them. My faith in Gran’Ma’s admonitions faded over the years as my possession of factual knowledge increased while her stories went unreinforced, until now I can understand that as the nature of all faith: unreinforced Faith fades as knowledge about reality increases. Faith requires reinforcement and the avoidance of factual knowledge for its survival; for that exact reason you will find admonitions against erudition throughout biblical scriptures, even from their very beginnings in Genesis, attempts to enforce misinformation and derogate knowledge. Even possession of scriptures were forbidden in early Xianity, lest questioners emerge to cast doubt on priestly words that had served to reinforce faith.

So, why would anybody wish to proclaim faith to be a source of knowledge? To understand that, all one needs is an awareness of the political aspects of ecclesiastical religion: Knowledge is bad stuff, according to all kinds of biblical edicts, but centralist religion must hold its own in the face of advancing technology and the growing exposure and ease of access to information. When a growing skepticism, fueled in part by recent fiascoes created by attempts to tie political success to religious backing, inspires increasing numbers of people to become interested in discovering why such a controversy exists as has been initiated by the religious right, claims to knowledge must be raised by those who back faith in order to save face and avoid out-of-hand rejection.

Meanwhile, pronouncements against the value of knowledge must remain hidden or that effort will fail. The scientific nature of knowledge must be watered down to a point that anti-knowledge stances can appear to possess legitimate claims to it. Religion can then call its baseless presentations “science”. Misinformation, disinformation and stories must now be presented and accepted as knowledge by the very same people whose religious establishment once forbade and punished the common person for access to the scriptures, and presented tasting the fruit of knowledge as a sin so vile that Adam and Eve got tossed out of the Garden because of it.

There is another aspect of this that takes the discussion of it to a greater depth, that arrives when one realizes knowledge as in a relationship with understanding. Religion attempts to gloss this over with shiny pronouncements about such as “knowledge of God” and “the religious understanding of reality” while attempting to offer nothing substantial for support. Such hallowed words ring as hollow. The appeal is only to those already convinced and willing to accept edicts at the level of urban legends and grant their wholehearted preverified [decided before an investigation, if any, was begun; any search looked for support rather than objective evidence] support with no qualms or compunctions against errors being introduced into their lives.

Despite its criticism of the scientific method, and its avoidance of its application in their own behalf, religions hasten to proclaim vindicated ownership of whatever part of their edicts for which they feel science has found justification. They forget that, according to the law of averages, 50% of what they guess to be true ought to be, and the role science serves ought to be to discover which portion of their claims that applies to. What ought to be disheartening to them is to acknowledge that such edicts become no longer religious as a result of that, but then are demonstrably scientific, faith and gullible belief no longer required. Anything of religion not so demonstrable that still gets proclaimed scientific by their spokespeople, is not.

The scientific method must be shown as the reason and source for such edicts, and repeatedly so for all the future so that it can be demonstrated time and again, wherever and by whomever is so equipped by instruments and knowledge so that accuracy can and will be maintained. Anybody can claim something to be scientific, and when people fail to demand factuality they can and (it is plain through history) will get away with it. Errors multiply faster than they can be corrected. Religions result from that and gain ubiquity from it. Where no corrections dare be offered, the mass of humanity suffers regressive poverty, especially when such errors gain political backing and popularity.

The errors religion serves to perpetuate as superstition, along with the compulsiveness inherent to those with perverse views of nature, serves to thwart the development of common understanding. Understanding develops through applied knowledge; it could be regarded as “body knowledge”. The skill developed through rigorous practice shows as understanding, wherein the body seems to have its own mind and the thought processes of the left cerebral hemisphere become obstructions more-so than guides.

The nature of the interactions between the right and left brain hemispheres becomes perverted into “understanding” by the application of religious misinformation so that even such atheists as Sam Harris willingly support those practices of religion that proclaim spiritual development, that have at other times been shown to lead to insanity.

That which unbalances the homeostatic functions that maintain our bodies and minds at their best must be regarded as wrong and dangerous to ourselves and those who will be affected by our misdeeds. The false understanding to result from rigorous practicing of inducing chemicals, starvation or isolation becomes as much a second nature to such practitioners as it does for those practicing to develop a skill-set. The difference between the two can still be found in science’s requirement for verification, when one who has become capable to perform an unusual task gets compared to one who has become somewhat incapacitated as a result of interfering with the natural requirements of his body to function.

Understanding that has been developed to interfere with natural CC, then, can be rightly seen as misunderstanding and adjudged to be harmful. Misunderstanding is worse than ignorance because it leads to botched and costly actions. A community of that sort will lead into the expensive unbalancing problems so rampant in today’s America. Understanding that has been developed to enhance balanced, healthy vigor in application to a skill must be adjudged to be a benefit to its possessor, but also to his or her community. Why should anyone prefer the former over the latter, were a choice actually ever given before enforced indoctrination?

Love

Love

Love only becomes meaningful by demonstration.

If you have to brag about loving people, you’re not demonstrating it.

If you have to brag about God’s love for people, God’s not demonstrating it.

My words. I will not ask you to believe them. Most of us are astute enough to recognize when love is absent. We are most of us astute enough to recognize when we are confronted by hatred. Whether religious or atheist, we are poorly served by displays of hatred, and edified by displays of love directed toward us. Whether Christian or atheist, we read the signs and attempt to understand the intentions of those who approach us. If we are mistaught or inexperienced, we may misunderstand and read them wrong. We read as hatred attempts to foist onto us opinions unaccompanied by evidence. No matter what we believe, we are alike in that. Also, we commonly understand attempts to preach to us without first asking our permission to be hatred. Common to us also is our way of understanding displays of love. Showing respect is accepted as love. The ability to disagree without devolving into enmity is a loving trait.

If we could develop a meter to measure love and hate, we would label the midpoint between love and hate as apathy. That is the most of what God demonstrates in our lives, as in the kind of God the deists believe in. The impression that God does not exist, as the atheists would have it, arrives from the total lack of valid evidence in support of it. That someone wrote a book 2-or 3000 years ago is meaningless without any new developments in addition. Rather than frivolous, the demand for evidence follows precedents set by law, science, and any investigatory practice. To proclaim faith as its own evidence is the same as saying faith has no evidence. Results of praying linger close to statistical expectations as if there is no God. There can be only one legitimate reason for the total lack of evidence to support the existence of a god named God.

Persecution

persecution

Persecutor

A persecutor is a person or group guilty of the following wrongs:

1: those who stalk, harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically: those who cause to suffer because of belief or absence of belief or difference of belief.
2: those who annoy with persistent or urgent approaches (as attacks, pleas, or importunities) :PESTER synonyms see WRONG, stalker.

All religious groups have, sometime in their history, been persecuted. Christianity is not the only religion to have sometime been persecuted, or, at least to claim that. That people persecute each other tells us that it is a political act that could evolve into a crime. All monotheist religions have dirtied their histories with braggadocio scriptures about their heinous actions. Accounts of their actions tell of the use of guillotines, swords, machetes, stocks, imprisonment and more; all to perform political acts with a stated intention of glorifying the god named God, or inducing fear of it. They accomplished neither. All that effort got for them was the torture and murder of the honest saints who preferred death over lying to deny their beliefs, the preservation of weak-willed liars, and a centuries-long bloody mess

If a god of any kind exists, and it’s a sure bet against that, you can also bet it created memes to make us confused and docile, and it was the devil who stirred a fly into the mix.

Outcomes

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Outcomes

It’s not necessary to know a lot of science to be a good atheist, but it helps you to hold your ground when confronted by the inevitable Christianists lusting to Christianize you. To deal best with them at their own level, however, it might be best to be completely ignorant.

Unlike honest, hardworking Christians, alongside whom you can work for years without getting into each other’s private affairs, they will spend endless hours pulling all kinds of tricks while learning how to Christianize you. Their aim to “win you over” is to WIN whatever it takes. Need to lie? Don’t hesitate, we gotcha covered. Is browbeating required? Of course. Whatever it takes. Never relent. The bastard will give in or give up. Make the bitch run. We don’t want that kind around here! Good riddance!

If you’re alive and breathing, you have probably been subjected to that kind of mistreatment at least once, most likely from someone wishing for you to adopt their denomination. While changing your sects may not be as intense to consider as taking up a whole religion, if you felt happy with your old sect there would be some stress involved.

We can take lessons from Christianist practices; our aim for avoidance of confrontations is our intended outcome, versus the Christianist’s intention to engage you until you give in, or else run for the foothills. That is not a good choice; they have cousins living there who will be alerted to your impending arrival. Unless you feel threatened, it might be best to just stay put and provide a good example of how they should behave. Passing advice without knowing your situation could be dangerous. Act disinterested while you size your culprits up. Arguing will get you nowhere and exasperate you by demonstrating the immense flexibility built into the Christian version of reality.

Orthodoxy

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Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is taking the word of an ancient line of thought without question. To swallow anything that’s old whole without a very careful check is guaranteed to lead to pain. It matters little whether it’s food or information, if it’s older than yourself, be sure to chew it thoroughly. Whether it’s for your stomach or brain, it’s going inside you to become a part of whom you are.

If we have to live with it the rest of our lives, we should be wary about what we allow to gain entry inside ourselves. We humans are notoriously willing to stuff ourselves with anything with an appealing aroma and deal with the consequences later. Brain or gut, we feed ourselves crap, some of which can be addictive, and aim the force of law onto others whose addictions differ from our own.

Mind or body, it makes little difference; addictions are addictions, harmful harms, and it all poses a societal toll the tax collectors either pass on to the rest of us, or delegate to eventual collection at the John Doe body dump. Thanks to memes, introduced by Richard Dawkins, we now understand how orthodoxy can become addictive.

Memes can be said to exist because, by inducing humans to perform actions attributed to them, they generate timelines that can be described and drawn as records of mimetic activity. The record would be of the observed human involvement only, from the inciting impulse until cessation. Because it would be subjective, any other information would originate internally from the people involved. (It is just as true for the god named God, that a timeline can be drawn of actions inspired by that meme. That is about belief. There still is no evidence that any god exists on its own.)

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Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Oppression

Oppression

The lot of a not quite smart animal just bright enough to pick the least hazardous path toward the future, oppression builds as societies age and politicians wrestle to gain power and control. America has apparently reached an age where the importance of watchfulness is important. Of paramount importance, of course, is to know what to look for and why.

The typical atheist’s regard for religion is despisement. I believe that results from misapprehension of the ties between religion, politics, and the never-ending struggle for power and control. The misapprehension is not just an American failing, it is worldwide. It originates in the mind games the rich and powerful play against all the layers of humanity they consider to be “beneath” them. They may have been born with that status already in place but they still shit the same as you, and need to wipe the same way, too. Their status rises from our acceptance, their own, plus whatever blood may have been shed or deals have been made to buy it. That is true across the board, for the wealthy, religions, and politicians, with few exceptions.

A more correct view of religion would show it, politicians, the greedy rich, and every form of priest, unburdening our pockets of everything of value we may once have hidden there. Never take me at just my word. Listen to, and analyze, their every word. Don’t choose gullibility. Practice healthy skepticism. Ask questions and Google for answers. What would it look like for him to be lying?– telling the truth?– the opposite of the truth? What do I have for verification? How did I learn to trust that source?

We oppress ourselves as much by believing false information as by every other means. Not every politician, rich or religious person, banker, priest, preacher or rabbi harbors dishonest aims. Most may, in fact, be known to uphold the highest of scruples. Observe to learn: what do your leaders harp on? Do they express worry about their followers backsliding or jumping ship? If your initial indoctrination was much the same as theirs, it will be harder for you to spot the holes in their logic. Of what do they accuse people? An old saying warns us, “for every finger pointed in accusation, four point at the accuser.” It is hard to think one’s own side might be wrong in any way, but nobody is perfect. Check: which side is pointing fingers? Do they have facts on their side?— or do they depend on rabble-rousers to stir emotions in their crowds while offering little of substance.

No Sin

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No Sin

Words like sin, evil or morality are often resisted by atheists, who are apt to see them as something that, like the god named God, has no demonstrated existence. The common good seems easily discerned, enough so that adults accept it for the most part. We all recognize good and bad behavior and most of us could describe it with little effort; those who can’t will agree or disagree with others’ descriptions with ease. How does that happen?

Sin, evil, morality, values, principles are words. Words mean things to those who read and hear them. The conversation becomes lopsided when one side refuses to recognize terms the other side spouts with impunity. Sin and evil are powerful words, poignant with churchly suggestions of ethereal meddling. Secular people ought to love them and revel in the powerful expressions they enable, but we resist. Why?

The reasons, I think, are threefold: Conflation, resistance to metaphors, and the incomplete picture of existence most people have, thanks to the archaic dogma normal to our cultures.

  1. Conflation: the mixing together of secular and supernatural concerns is an unfortunate byproduct of religion that guarantees that most religious “knowledge” is erroneous.

  2. Metaphors: picture-words can be accurately used or made to lead others astray. It seems like blasphemy against the idea of atheism to refuse this powerful tool to defend against constant attacks by those using religion to shield their political agendas.

  3. 4-d existence: We can present events and processes as 4-dimensional existences because a complete picture requires a display of their time-lines. Understanding anything anything as 4-dimensional grants acknowledgment of its existence. It does not deny anything about ourselves, but requires that we be shown as a complex assemblage of events and processes, each running its own course.

  4. We need to update our dispersal of knowledge; the public’s information and misinformation about science is now absorbed, rather than taught, from such sources as advertising, movies, politicians, games and the like, which bodes ill against a correct common awareness of facts from which the average person can benefit. No one will do a web search for something of which they are unaware.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.