[Mb-civic] Re: Debate Over Faith
ialterman at nyc.rr.com
Wed Jan 11 08:53:39 PST 2006
With all due respect, this is absurd. The search for a "God gene" has gone
exactly nowhere, providing even less data than the search for a "gay gene."
Thus, your assumption that faith and belief are simply "human behaviors" is
based on zero empirical or even quasi-scientific evidence.
And although you may be somewhat correct re faith and religion playing a
role in "survival of the species" - in as much as it provides a strong
"tribal" bond that might allow one tribe to survive while another does not -
this argument falls apart completely once the notion of "individuality"
enters the picture, sometime around 10,000 years ago. Thus, like any
eventually useless (or at least unnecessary) "survival" trait, based on
Darwinian theory we would have expected it to be "weeded out" once it no
longer played a role in survival. That it remains the strongest bond on the
planet belies your position entirely.
Let me suggest another possibility.
I believe that faith is something like a "sixth sense" - not in the way that
term is bandied about re "psi powers," but rather in a very real, human way.
Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. We call each of these "senses" because
they "capture" "hard data" which our brains then turn into useful
information. Yet consider. If you tried explaining sight to a person who
was blind from birth, s/he would never "get it." Sure, you could put a
piece of paper in his/her hands and say, "this is a piece of paper," or
"this is a square." But you would not be explaining "sight," you would
simply be noting "solidity" and "form," which are both "touch"-based. And
forget entirely about trying to explain "color" - s/he would think you are
daft. Similarly, if you tried explaining hearing to a person who was born
deaf, they would never "get it." You might be able to do so
intellectually - i.e., by having them read about it, even to the most
technical degree - but, again, the limits of language would preclude the
ability to truly explain "hearing" in a way in which they would
"experience" - and thus "understand" - that particular sense.
It is in this context that I see faith as a "sense": because if someone
lacks that sense, then there is no way in which a person who has it can
adequately explain it. This is not a simple matter of "proof" of one's
belief. After all (to sidebar relatedly here), one cannot "prove"
"feelings," one can only describe the thoughts, actions and related feelings
associated with them. That is, one cannot "prove" the existence of love,
anger, joy, sadness, etc. One can only express those feelings via thought,
word and action. [Indeed, it occurs to me that describing feelings is
exactly similar to describing faith. After all, non-believers accuse
faith-based people of "talking in circles"; e.g., "I have faith because I
believe. I believe because I have faith." Even I can see the difficulty
that non-believers have with such circular logic. However, describe "love."
Or "anger." Or "joy." I believe that, in doing so, you will find yourself
using the same sort of circular logic inherent in a description of faith.]
Similarly, one cannot "prove" faith. One can only describe the thoughts,
actions and feelings associated with it. This is because, just as language
is limited in its ability to describe a particular "sense" to a person who
has never had that sense, language is limited in its ability to describe
"faith" to a person who lacks that "sense." Thus, your inference that faith
is "not rational" only holds water if you are also willing to say the same
thing about love, anger, joy, sadness, etc.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Patrick Hunter" <hunter at sopris.net>
To: "Michael Butler" <michael at michaelbutler.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 2:54 PM
Subject: [Mb-civic] Re: Debate Over Faith
> Hi Michael,
> Human behaviors, such as religion and worship, are rooted in our genetic
> make-up. Our genes are the result of thousands of years of evolution and
> adaptation to the realities of existence. Humans that followed religions
> proved to be successful and passed on their genes. Humans with these
> traits persevered because groups succeeded where individuals could not.
> Thinking beings were more successful when they could point to reasons for
> the otherwise unexplainable world they found themselves in. (Less anxiety
> and stress, therefore better health and longevity.)
> Religious obediance and support of your group's political leadership have
> a lot in common. Going it alone is very hard, and not as successful.
> Better to fit in with the group and to follow your leaders.
> If science could ever truly discover the "meaning of life", things might
> evolve. (Will that be allowed?) There may someday be an option to
> deactivate the religion genes. What a battle that will be.
> Debating religion is trading one theory of the supernatural for another.
> None of it is rational or factional. It may be useful for mental
> exercise, but so are crossword puzzles.
> Best regards,
> Pat Hunter
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Michael Butler" <michael at michaelbutler.com>
> To: "SPECIAL from Michael Butler" <michael at michaelbutler.com>
> Sent: Sunday, January 08, 2006 11:26 PM
> Subject: Debate Over Faith
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