mitchellmckain wrote: Saying that "there is something about the experience of life itself that people find meaningful" is like saying "people find true statements in mathematics". But does this mean that mathematics requires no proofs? No. So likewise does your statement fail to establish that faith is not involved in the belief that life is worthwhile. But perhaps life experience intrudes here because I came to that conclusion right around the time my sister attempted suicide during a visit. Yeah our life experiences lead to different conclusions about things like this.
I'm sorry, I don't find your analogy helpful. But anyway I didn't and wouldn't argue that faith is not ever
involvedin the belief that life is worthwhile (I am certain that it is), just that it needn't
be involved. Faith has nothing to do with my
belief that my life is worthwhile, and from my observations I don't think I am unique in this. Really for me I wouldn't describe it as belief exactly. I experience
meaning in my life.
Yes, I agree about experiences affecting our beliefs. Interestingly, I too have a sister who has attempted suicide. She's struggled since adolescence with depression and bi-polar type issues, and is doing well at the moment. Thinking of her (funny how the closer things are to you, the more real they seem), I can see where at certain times in peoples' lives (some lives more than others), something you might call faith would be needed to believe that life is meaningful and worth living. For me I think it would be faith in myself, or faith that the future will be better than the present. And for many, it would be their faith in God. I guess the difference in my perspective and yours is that I think what these people are actually having faith in would be the same as me, faith in themselves or in the future; whereas you would say my faith is really in God? In any event, I recognize that it is a decision
, a choice to believe, to have faith, not a belief based on reason. Optimism is a kind of faith, I suppose, and I consider myself an optimist. But I don't see that introducing God into the matter illuminates anything.
I am a pluralist. I make no argument that Christianity is the one truth of the universe.
. . . . and then proceeded to do what most people do, because they really have no choice, and that is simply make sense of what they could of the world with whatever perceptual process they have. Mine started with more of an embedding in the scientific world view than most.
If you read my intro in the fellowship hall you would find some of the other things that played a role, but I will clarify and expand. After the scientific world view, I would say that exitentialism (especially Albert Camus) played the biggest role, then perhaps a little familiarity with Buddhism, encounters with Mormons, JWs and moonies, then there was that class in the religions of China and Japan, then a survey of the history of philosophy in which I loved Aristotle, hated Plato, loved the Pragmatism of C. S. Peirce, and hated the process philosophy of Whitehead. All this time I was reading the Bible and deciding what I made of it because of encounters with those all around me who had regard for it.
Angela wrote:My other question was, is subjective evidence useful in understanding life, the world, the universe, ourselves, religion, God (any or all of the above)?
Good lord! Is it not obvious that my answer is yes? If anything can be called an overall theme of all of my posts it would be this.
OK, Mitch, I think I am finally starting to "get" you.
I did go back and read your thread in the Fellowship Hall. And I wholeheartedly agree with you on some fundamental points. Let's see if I can state what we may agree on. (I do this with hesitation and the expectation that I will get some (a lot?) of things wrong here, but I'm gonna go for it anyway.):
Both of us (and many other people with differing and often contradictory beliefs) are making sense of the world the best we can. Both of us (and all those others too) have probably got some things wrong and some things right. It is possible, even probable, that either or both of us have it all entirely wrong. (Have I gone too far there?) The truth is too big to be contained in any one religion or set of beliefs. And, we both deeply value diversity and difference.
I thought I could get more than that. Oh well. I love your statement from the other thread that "religion is 90% language." I completely agree. I wonder what you say the other 10% is? I would say it is the unknowable and/or the indescribable. Also, I think that religion is only one kind of language through which we can understand the nature of our existence; poetry and story, the arts, and philosophy being others. And I don't think religion is a necessary
language. (Of course I would think that wouldn't I?) And since I see religion causing so many problems, I wonder if we would be better off without it.
Angela wrote:I think the social sciences are also useful disciplines for examining any religion, not only as a participant in it, but from outside of it, in order to understand its nature, origins, evolution, etc.
Sure and if you can come up with anything that is more than ideological speculations I would like to hear it. A scientific theory of the origins of life based on based on genetic and fossil evidence is one thing. A theory based on assumptions without a single shred of hard evidence is something quite different - not a scientific theory at all. Such assumptions is why Einstein stuck that cosmological constant in his gravitational field equations - what he said was the biggest mistake of his life.
OK, so are you saying anything any of the social sciences have contributed to our understanding of religion(s) amounts to "ideological speculations"?
Angela wrote:Yours is more internally consistent than many, I think because you seem to feel very free to shape your interpretation of the Bible to your idea of what God must be, rather than, like many Christians, thinking it has to be the other way around.
If it is not internally consistent then it is not meaningful.
I agree. I do not find your belief system to be internally consistent, though. Just more so that many Christian ones. For example, I do not think you have solved the problem of evil/hell/suffering. Saying that people create hell for themselves doesn't let Father God off the moral hook, I don't think. To illustrate: If as a prospective parent I could somehow know that one of my children would of their own free choosing create for themselves an existence of eternal torture, but all of my other potential children would choose eternal life, I'd choose not to have any children. I think that would be the only moral choice. To bring children into existence knowing this would be selfish in the extreme.
Angela wrote:It seems plausible that other forms of energy may exist that we can't detect, even that some forms of energy may exist that don't obey the laws of physics. Of course if we can't detect them then we don't know that they exist. Or know anything about them at all. It's kind of like the question of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe. Of course it might, but since we haven't run into any evidence of it, we can't say anything about what it is or is not like. Saying "I believe there are spiritual forms of energy" is like saying "I believe there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe." WHY do you believe that? On what basis?
Its basis is the only thing it can be -- my subjective perceptions of reality. I have stated these several times elsewhere. ..sigh.. OK, I will repeat them here.
Thank you, I appreciate your patience and generosity.
I perceive in the laws of physics an intentional design of the universe to give birth to the self-organizing process of life in such a way that there is interactions with causes outside the physics worldview. This is a subjective perception. I perceive in the vast diversity and near universality of human belief in a nonphysical aspect to reality, evidence that there is indeed an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality. This is a subjective perception of evidence which is therefore subjective. I percieve in the gestalt of my experiences of life the actions of a person (God) who is not spacially localized that gives substance to my fundamental faith that life is worth living. This is a subjective perception.
OK, I think I get it. I'm afraid I have to be difficult (as usual) though. How do you "perceive" intentional design? Normally, one cannot perceive either intention or design. We infer intentions from the behavior of others, and we perceive patterns and may infer design. Would it not be more accurate to say that you infer intentional design from your understanding of the laws of physics?
People are very open-minded about new things--as long as they're exactly like the old ones.
God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.