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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Does religion require self-delusion?
strathclydezero

# 180

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Blind faith is self-delusional, almost by definition. Christianity demands blind faith. Self-delusion isn't an insult - it can be argued it's one of the greatest virtues of humanity. People who are emotionally or morally weak couldn't recover from life traumas if they didn't have the possibility of self-delusion. People convincing themselves that their marriage is OK, or that living with an illness is OK are self-delusional. It's part of our humanity which helps us to survive. We define ourselves within our own boxes to make life that bit more bearable. Belief in God makes life more bearable, I have never met a religions person who says it doesn't bring them some form of comfort.

At the risk or repeating myself, I'm not taking delusion, or self-delusion, as negative things, but rather I'm interested in whether religion, and in particular Christian belief is compatible with realism, and whether Christianity has anything to offer people who cannot find a way of getting all the answers from a book.

[ 08. January 2006, 21:58: Message edited by: Erin ]

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by strathclydezero:
Christianity demands blind faith.

I certainly wouldn't go that far. Christianity demands faith, but there's nothing blind about it. Faith isn't wishful thinking, but an assurance of what is based on some form of evidence ... a step into the unknown maybe but not a leap into the dark and certainly one not taken without any basis.

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English Ploughboy.
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# 4205

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Delusion: 'A belief held in the face of evidence to the contrary that is resistant to all reason.'
I am not aware of any prima facie evidence that God does not exist, that Jesus was not born was not crucified or that he did not rise from the grave. I know of no evidence that God does not love me and that he will not go on loving me for ever. However I am only an ignorant peasant so perhaps you could enlighten me.

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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Sorry SCZ ... you're not offering a critique of my kind of Christianity. Not blind, not thumb sucking, not a book, not a survival strategy. Too many "nots." I suspect what kind of Christianity might be involved though but I won't go headlong into that. It's just not my thing.

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strathclydezero

# 180

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There seem to be lines here which are blurred - between self-delusion and critical realism - highlighted by both Alan and Fr.G. However English Ploughboy has kindly illustrated my point delightfully. Of the little I know of ancient religious texts, they are never intended to be read as history or evidence of any kind. They are myth and metaphor, poetry sculpted by the author for the preservation of ancient wisdom. For me there are no certainties in this world, everything has a level of trust, and trust has to be gained in anything. Are religious institutions places which hand down the box in which to cocoon yourself, or are they places to critically assess life and the world? Or is the spectrum broader?

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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Athiesm requires faith and involves unprovable assumptions about God.

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by strathclydezero:
Of the little I know of ancient religious texts, they are never intended to be read as history or evidence of any kind.

Not even evidence of the nature of God and how he interacts with people, and how he thinks people should respond to him and others?

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strathclydezero

# 180

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Ah - I see - the nitpick crowd are out. What about tackling the central question in a meaningful way, or does that require sufficient thought to suggest that faith is never fully worked out, and all that that entails ... ?

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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Faith can never be fully worked out. If that faith is in an infinite then it's illogical to even assume it's possible.

That's a long way from saying faith is either blind or delusional.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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lapsed heathen

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You're right of course, it's a form of self delusion, any belief is. If it was'nt it would be a hypotheses rather than a belife. So what? the most sane people are the most likely to be self delusional, by some standard or other.
And thats the real question, is my delusion any less real than the delusion that contradicts mine?

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strathclydezero

# 180

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We all have faith. I have faith that the train station will exist tomorrow morning. I have faith that I'll get paid. Choosing to belong to an established religion is quite different and removes the "working it out for yourself". Is this self-delusional?

[cross post with tommy]

[ 07. March 2004, 21:38: Message edited by: strathclydezero ]

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

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Left at the Altar

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# 5077

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To a degree, it has to be. Much of what is taught (in all religions) is taught as fact, when it cannot possibly withstand rational analysis. But the instruction is to have faith. The degree to which something is accepted as fact, or taken to be illustrative varies between various groups within a religion. So far as I can see, the more fundamentalist the belief, the more blind faith is required, because everything is taken as fact.
But I might be wrong.

[ 07. March 2004, 21:40: Message edited by: Glasnost at altar ]

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Vikki Pollard
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# 5548

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Strath, it might be helpful to make a distinction between blind faith and self-delusion to avoid people feeling they have to be overly defensive.

As for your question, I think my answer is that religion does not require self-delusion, but it does seem to be involved at times. Looking back, I believe that there was a lot of self-delusion involved in my case. However, that doesn't mean I can speak for others. It's not always helpful to extrapolate from one's own experience - that way Fundamentalism lies...

I know what you're getting at. The Christianity I came into as a new convert required me to believe that my emotions and sexuality were not nearly as important to me as they were to people who didn't know Jesus. I accepted totally that as a woman I was not able to hold certain positions in the Church community (um, ministerial, not sexual [Hot and Hormonal] ). I believed that everyone around me was acting purely in the interests of everybody else, and never put themselves first.

Worst, I accepted that everything I was told was to be believed without question. This last, I believed without question - as I was taught. I learnt that people with Southern accents who had been to the right Churches were closer to God (and I don't say that as a joke, it was what we were implicitly taught, and much damage it did to many of us). Later on I came to believe that at events such as New Wine, all the manifestations of the Holy Spirit were just that - no hysteria involved at any point for any person. I had a hotline to God, naturally, and knew that either anything I prayed for would happen, OR else, God had a get-out clause and there was some reason it couldn't be.
Oh, and of course, I was right, and everyone who disagreed was in error.

Just a smidgeon of self-delusion in parts, I would dare to suggest.

(And that was mainstream Anglicanism! [Frown] )

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strathclydezero

# 180

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I'm interested in the theme of self-delusion, because it opens up the idea that an individualistic liberal faith could be just as deluded as a conforming fundamentalist belief. Perhaps forming a world view of any sorts requires a level of self-delusion.

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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To expand on Lapsed Heathen's point a tad - I am quite sure that some of my views are self-delusion. Freud spoke quite a lot about sublimination as an avoidance of things one doesn't want to face. I can't remember if it was also Freud who said "man cannot face too much reality" but it may well have been. I am sure he meant women as well [Razz]

On the other hand, how do I know which beliefs of mine are caused by self-delusion? How does anybody? We could get into radical doubt as, scz, I think it was the logical conclusion of your arguement that drove Decartes into doubting literally everything - even his own very existence.

I am too tired atm to get all Cartesian and, in any case, people have a tendency to muddle on regardless. It is both one of their most admirable and one of their most irratating traits. The question is a tad academic really. The theist thinks the athiest is delusional and vice versa.

I don't think we can ever be 100% certain of anything - but I do feel that if we notice our beliefs and attitudes changing over time than hopefully we are not simply braindead.

(spelling is of the devil. Always was, always will be)

[ 07. March 2004, 21:46: Message edited by: Papiovavitch ]

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Vikki Pollard
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# 5548

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BTW can anyone tell me - does this thread still exist when I'm not reading it? [Frown]

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by Vikki Pollard:
BTW can anyone tell me - does this thread still exist when I'm not reading it? [Frown]

Well I think it does, but how do I know? [Razz]

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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I may be mistaken in my beliefs, and they are therefore always open to reassessment in the face of new circumstances. Even if I'm wrong, that doesn't mean I'm deliberately believing something that I know to be false ... ie: self-delusional.

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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Dear SCZ

The absolute all inclusive nature of these claims staggers me. Do you really infer ALL?!

quote:
Of the little I know of ancient religious texts, they are never intended to be read as history or evidence of any kind. They are myth and metaphor, poetry sculpted by the author for the preservation of ancient wisdom. For me there are no certainties in this world, everything has a level of trust, and trust has to be gained in anything.
quote:
Choosing to belong to an established religion is quite different and removes the "working it out for yourself".
All of this is born out of a radical agnosticism which predicates delusion of anything excluded by its own definition. You try and make the illusion acceptable but the reality is that your aforementioned premise is false. It is false because it is a contention, not a proof. I can take it, therefore, as a personal position ... but it is still misconceived as a definitive statement for all that. However, if you present a personal position as the only dependable outlook on life your presentation has made itself watertight against any counter-proposal.

[ 07. March 2004, 21:54: Message edited by: Pops Gregorios ]

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lapsed heathen

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# 4403

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I think their is a danger in working it out yourself to become compleetly self deluding. Any working out is best done in reference to other peoples working out.

Papio;
quote:
but I do feel that if we notice our beliefs and attitudes changing over time than hopefully we are not simply braindead.
And if you still hold the same faith you did years ago it just shows you learned nothing from the life God gave you. Sadly true of too many people.

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"We are the Easter people and our song is Alleluia"

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strathclydezero

# 180

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Semantics Alan. We can't all be right - in fact - we're almost certainly almost all wrong.

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by Alanski Creskovich:
I may be mistaken in my beliefs, and they are therefore always open to reassessment in the face of new circumstances. Even if I'm wrong, that doesn't mean I'm deliberately believing something that I know to be false ... ie: self-delusional.

Are you sure self-delusion means deliberately choosing to believe something you know to be false? I know it can mean that, but can't it also mean giving yourself or a view that appeals to you too much benefit of the doubt?

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Martin60
Shipmate
# 368

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I'd like to try, Strath. I'd like to try. T'trouble is, my faith - the substance of things hoped for and itself the gift and work of God - or that valid part of it if I try and be objectively faithful ... isn't blind and all religions apart from Christianity are irrelevant [Smile] I'm sure all other religions and many ways of claiming to be Christian are self deluding. And that self delusion and blind faith are part of my make up. But the work of God in me, the presence of the triune God in me, with me, regardless of the toxic, cracked pot that I am, the ambulatory toilet from Trainspotting, is not a delusion, despite my fear that it is.

The truest thing I'm coming to know is that despite the truth of what I am and what you say, despite the lifetime of ammunition I've given Satan to accurately use against me, he doesn't have to lie about me, God loves and actually approves of me. He actually LIKES me. That's so outrageous.

If there's a God, and their incontrovertibly, empirically, demonstrably is, only fools like Dawkins can be in denial of that, He is the Christian God and He loves me and you mate. Desperately. Effectively. Individually, personally. From conception. If not before.

You can rationalize and doubt and intellectualize ALLLL day long and hang out here with fellow minded eejuts like me, but at the end of the day you're a sinner like me who needs your legs breaking or whatever it takes to get you to surrender, again, like me, to God.

You've got no where else to go mate. Repent TO belief. Behave as if you believed. Go to Church, say the words. You'll start to mean them. And whatever you do, don't challenge God to do what He likes with you. He will.

What do I know, eh? I'm externalizing the last four months of my life. A 50 year old burnout who thinks He's discovered God again.

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Love wins

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Ender's Shadow
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# 2272

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quote:
Originally posted by Glasnost at altar:
Much of what is taught (in all religions) is taught as fact, when it cannot possibly withstand rational analysis.

What do you mean by 'rational analysis'?

The central claim of Christianity is that Jesus was raised from the dead. That will stand up to 'rational analysis' - it's the best explanation of the facts surrounding that 'event'. Once that's in place, the central planks of Christianity follow quite happily.

And THE central question is what happens after we die - in the long term (10,000 years upwardss) anything else is a detail..... The resurrection provides a coherent and not delusional answer to that question. (IMO!)

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Papiovavitch:
Are you sure self-delusion means deliberately choosing to believe something you know to be false?

Well, that's the most common use of the phrase in my experience.

And, scz, I'm not sure it is semantics. Yes, we disagree and so therefore the chances I'm mistaken are high. Accepting that is realistic. If I held to the position that I'm right, even though logic says I may well be wrong, then I'd accept that a charge of being self-delusional may be appropriate.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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Lapsed Heathen mate, trust me, I believe very few of the things I believed 5 years ago. [Biased]

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by Alanski Creskovich:
quote:
Originally posted by Papiovavitch:
Are you sure self-delusion means deliberately choosing to believe something you know to be false?

Well, that's the most common use of the phrase in my experience.

And, scz, I'm not sure it is semantics. Yes, we disagree and so therefore the chances I'm mistaken are high. Accepting that is realistic. If I held to the position that I'm right, even though logic says I may well be wrong, then I'd accept that a charge of being self-delusional may be appropriate.

Hmm, I have heard people say that. but then I have heard them say that about faith as well. I suppose that I am very well aware aware how easy it can be, for me personally, to believe things I want to be true, without having full evidence - but that doesn't mean I am choosing to eschew logic.

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Grits
Compassionate fundamentalist
# 4169

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My theory is that, until one can totally remove "self" from the equation, it is, indeed, hard to become completely invested in religious faith. I think that was the hardest lesson Jesus tried to teach His followers. They just had trouble letting go of this present world. We still do, and we are held back spiritually because of it.

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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Papio ... I'll say again, I don't have full evidence. That means I'm not entirely convinced (rationally) because I know that there is more evidence that might alter my position. Considering how my faith has developed over the past 20y or so since I first learnt of Christ, further development is a certainty (and I'd hesitate to say I have a living faith if it didn't).

The evidence I do have all points in basically the same direction ... and even when the immediate evidence doesn't, my recollection of the past and the faith that has engendered holds me firm. That is what I believe faith is, if it changed with every puff of wind in another direction it wouldn't be faith.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Papio

Ship's baboon
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Alan - I think we are disagreeing about the meaning of words, rather than anything more substantial.

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by strathclydezero:
Of the little I know of ancient religious texts, they are never intended to be read as history or evidence of any kind. They are myth and metaphor, poetry sculpted by the author for the preservation of ancient wisdom.

Wow that's impressive that you know so much about the intent of these ancient authors, where thousands of years of critics, scholars, saints and sages are still undecided. Talk about self-delusion.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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strathclydezero

# 180

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I knew you'd find a bone to pick Mousethief. [Big Grin]

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

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Martin60
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# 368

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Oooooh, you can be rougher than a cat's tongue sometimes Alexis. Or do I mean sharper than a hound's tooth?

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Love wins

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PaulTH*
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# 320

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Mousethiefovich scores again in his 10,260th post! Grits also made an excellent point. That egocentred self is all that comes between us all and God. Only as it is progressively surrenderd to Him do we grow in faith. It is in no way blind.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

Posts: 6387 | From: White Cliffs Country | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dave the Bass
Shipmate
# 155

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Faith in anything - a religion, or some other sort of world-view - involves both choice and risk. We choose to accept a certain view of the world, and go on to live in a way that accords with that view. In doing so, we run the risk that at some point the world-view will prove inadequate (in fact, this risk is a certainty - our world-view, religious or otherwise, will fail us). This is self-delusional if we fail to live according to the world-view we espouse, or if we fail to accept the inadequacy of our world-view. But if we are honest about how we live out our faith, and we are prepared for it to develop, or even for it to be torn apart and rebuilt, then we are not deluding anyone.

quote:
Originally posted by scz:
Choosing to belong to an established religion is quite different and removes the "working it out for yourself".

Not necessarily - I belong to an established religion (C of E) which means I am working things out in the light of a tradition - in fact, several traditions. I am also working things out as part of a community, and while this can be restricting, it can also be liberating as it gives me a secure base for my explorations.
Posts: 2162 | From: In a forest | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Bonzo
Shipmate
# 2481

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There is a point, as Alan says, that incomplete evidence leaves us with an alternative. Either we must remain agnostic and be happy with that (can people really be happy with that), or we must explore the uncertainties.

The only way that different faith positions can be properly explored (IMO), is for us to actually inhabit those faith positions. It's much more than a view from the outside - a cold analysis of data, but it's a testing of 'what works for me' by actually living life as if our faith is true. Trust starts small and grows bigger if we aren't let down by it. We trust, not because we are deluded, nor because we have certainty, but because we need something that we haven't got and we keep trying to get it.

We don't have to let go of the fact that we could be mistaken, but we do have to live (at least to some extent) as if we are not. Does that make sense?

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Love wastefully

Posts: 1150 | From: Stockport | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Duo Seraphim*
Sea lawyer
# 3251

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quote:
Originally posted by Attilla of ye steppe:
Delusion: 'A belief held in the face of evidence to the contrary that is resistant to all reason.'
I am not aware of any prima facie evidence that God does not exist, that Jesus was not born was not crucified or that he did not rise from the grave. I know of no evidence that God does not love me and that he will not go on loving me for ever. However I am only an ignorant peasant so perhaps you could enlighten me.

Hosting

Great pun, English Ploughboy. Could you please record your usual name in your sig. so that others may revel in its punniness?

Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich, more usually

Duo Seraphim, Purgatory Host

.... but this week you may refer to me as "Your Beatitude".

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2^8, eight bits to a byte

Posts: 3967 | From: Sydney Australia | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged
mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by strathclydezero:
I knew you'd find a bone to pick Mousethief. [Big Grin]

Arrogance is one of my hot-buttons. Ironic, ain't it?

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

Posts: 63536 | From: Washington | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Nutmeg
Ship's spice girl
# 5297

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I found this quote by KAHLIL GIBRAN

"Faith is an oasis in the heart which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking"


I think that is lovely. As to whether it is true.. well that is what we are debating isn't it?

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" Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" - Groucho Marx

Posts: 2285 | From: under the verandah at the rum distillery | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Quizmaster

Quick quipper
# 1435

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quote:
Originally posted by strathclydezero:
Semantics Alan. We can't all be right - in fact - we're almost certainly almost all wrong.

In solitude I can relate to my God and the world is benificent and peaceful.

It is only when meeting "religious authority" that my spirit is weakened and I begin to doubt the power of love as 'the rules' take over.

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The more questions I ask the more I ask fewer questions.
OR=========================================
The wise person does not know all the answers, but always asks the right questions.

Posts: 3326 | From: Exeter, Devon | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
lapsed heathen

Hurler on the ditch
# 4403

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Ender's shadow;
quote:
The central claim of Christianity is that Jesus was raised from the dead. That will stand up to 'rational analysis' - it's the best explanation of the facts surrounding that 'event'
Actualy it's the least likly explanation. For one, it's unprecedented, two, it's not been replicated and three, it's more likly someone removed and hid the corpse.
A faith is not a working asumption, it has to be taken as fact. If we ignore the obvious delusion involved in this 'leap of faith' we are in danger of presuming too mutch; Extremist fundamentalism stems from this position. Danger, danger !!

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"We are the Easter people and our song is Alleluia"

Posts: 1361 | From: Marble county | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Chorister

Completely Frocked
# 473

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A darned good question, SCZ. I wish more people would realise the power of the telling of myth in religion, and not have to keep thinking it has to be completely factually true or they have to reject it. (I have an illustrated book of world myths and find it fascinating how they compare and contrast with early biblical accounts of how life started, etc.)

I see in my own faith a creative tension between my belief and never being 100% sure of most of what is peddled as 'fact' in Christian Teaching. And I rather like that creative tension and find it positive and life-enhancing. In fact, I don't think I'd want it any other way..... Wouldn't it be boring if we knew all the answers? And this sort of faith is not a prop - props are for people who need certainty. How can you prop yourself up on jelly?!

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

Posts: 34626 | From: Cream Tealand | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
humblebum
Shipmate
# 4358

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Hmm.

I guess what SCZ and some others are saying is that some degree of self-delusion is inevitable in life.

I guess this may be so.

But unless I've misunderstood you, SCZ, you're going further this and implying that self-delusion is to be actively encouraged. If so - no, no, no. [Disappointed] [Disappointed]

If faith is not about getting ourselves in touch with reality, then it is worthless. And, I'm no therapist, but I can't imagine that the philosophy of self-delusion is terribly popular in the therapeudic world either, as you have suggested, SCZ.

---
humblebumski
(normally just plain humblebum)

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humblebum

Posts: 584 | From: Belfast | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Papiovavitch:
Alan - I think we are disagreeing about the meaning of words, rather than anything more substantial.

That's quite possible. But perhaps trying to agree on, say, "what does 'faith' mean?" is worthy of its own thread.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
strathclydezero

# 180

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quote:
Originally posted by humblebumski:
But unless I've misunderstood you, SCZ, you're going further this and implying that self-delusion is to be actively encouraged. If so - no, no, no. [Disappointed] [Disappointed]

No. I said that it's an important and integral part of humanity. It's hardly something that can be encouraged but while some people will find it dishonest others will take great comfort from it.

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

Posts: 3276 | From: The Near East | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
humblebum
Shipmate
# 4358

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Okay, thanks for clarifying, SCZ.

I do wonder what happens to these people who are drawing comfort from their own self-delusion when they realise that that is what they are doing. I really don't think that deliberate and intentional self-delusion is at all healthy.

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humblebum

Posts: 584 | From: Belfast | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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[Snore] I... agree with... [Snore] zzz -- wha? Oh, yeah... Alan and Mousethief and Fr. G and .... snore... Ender's Shadow... [Snore] [Eek!]

David
really felt he ought to say something but everyone else beat him to it, gosh darn it! [Waterworks]

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

Posts: 14068 | From: Clearwater, Florida | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
strathclydezero

# 180

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You're self-delusional as well then CM. [Biased]

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All religions will pass, but this will remain:
simply sitting in a chair and looking in the distance.
V V Rozanov

Posts: 3276 | From: The Near East | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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In good company, then. [Smile]

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

Posts: 14068 | From: Clearwater, Florida | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
mr cheesy
Shipmate
# 3330

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And whats so wrong about a little bit of delusion scz? Maybe the truth is hard and we can't cope with it in its entirety.

[A bit like Zaphod Beedlebrox and the vortex machine which was a multi-dimensional representation of the entire universe with a little arrow saying 'you are here'. Most people went mad when they were shown how totally insignificant they were.]

[ref: Hitch-hikers Trilogy]

C

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arse

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