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cuchulain

levels of belief

58 posts in this topic

So I have explored the topic of extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.  I decided maybe a touch on levels of belief.  Do different things require different levels of belief?  Dan would say he is wholeheartedly Christian, and I would probably agree with that assessment even though it really isn't my place to tell him whether he is or not.  It seems to me that that particular level of belief is very strong.  If my kid came home from school and told me he had been in a fight that the other kid started entirely, I would investigate.  Not that I would immediately disbelieve my kid, he's usually pretty honest with me so far as I can tell, but there are some things that it just seems like you investigate a little more.  I guess that would be middling belief?  Then there are claims that are just so far fetched as to be ludicrous on the face of it.  I was in jail one time with a guy.  He had a different story about everything.  He was a ninja.  Said so himself.  Now that's one of those that I just straight out didn't believe.  

I guess with this topic I am looking into insights into what people might believe, and why, and what level of belief there is.  I mean, some things just aren't worth pursuing for proof, like if I said I had a peanut butter sandwich I doubt many people would choose to quibble about it, although they might.  But what general level of belief would there be in something like that, that wasn't investigated further to prove?  Middling, low, strong?  Non existent even?  I hear occasionally that I just "need to believe"...but do I really?  And what level of belief should I have?  If someone tells me that Zeus sometimes wanders around Earth in disguise and he takes vengeance on those who displease him, but often grants a boon to those who he likes, why should I just believe that?  I mean, it's well documented from ancient sources after all.  It's written down, and it's not like anyone can come along and prove otherwise....on the same note, someone tells me I need to believe in Jesus, he's coming back and burning his enemies in hell and the only way to righteousness is by following him.  Again, it's well documented, it's written down in ancient sources, and nobody can come along and prove otherwise, right?  Both stories, they are along the same lines with the exception that one was believed while the other wasn't.  What's the real difference though?

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Posted (edited)

40 minutes ago, cuchulain said:

So I have explored the topic of extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.  I decided maybe a touch on levels of belief.  Do different things require different levels of belief?  Dan would say he is wholeheartedly Christian, and I would probably agree with that assessment even though it really isn't my place to tell him whether he is or not.  It seems to me that that particular level of belief is very strong.  If my kid came home from school and told me he had been in a fight that the other kid started entirely, I would investigate.  Not that I would immediately disbelieve my kid, he's usually pretty honest with me so far as I can tell, but there are some things that it just seems like you investigate a little more.  I guess that would be middling belief?  Then there are claims that are just so far fetched as to be ludicrous on the face of it.  I was in jail one time with a guy.  He had a different story about everything.  He was a ninja.  Said so himself.  Now that's one of those that I just straight out didn't believe.  

I guess with this topic I am looking into insights into what people might believe, and why, and what level of belief there is.  I mean, some things just aren't worth pursuing for proof, like if I said I had a peanut butter sandwich I doubt many people would choose to quibble about it, although they might.  But what general level of belief would there be in something like that, that wasn't investigated further to prove?  Middling, low, strong?  Non existent even?  I hear occasionally that I just "need to believe"...but do I really?  And what level of belief should I have?  If someone tells me that Zeus sometimes wanders around Earth in disguise and he takes vengeance on those who displease him, but often grants a boon to those who he likes, why should I just believe that?  I mean, it's well documented from ancient sources after all.  It's written down, and it's not like anyone can come along and prove otherwise....on the same note, someone tells me I need to believe in Jesus, he's coming back and burning his enemies in hell and the only way to righteousness is by following him.  Again, it's well documented, it's written down in ancient sources, and nobody can come along and prove otherwise, right?  Both stories, they are along the same lines with the exception that one was believed while the other wasn't.  What's the real difference though?

 

In your analysis, you left out the element of what is likely.  Is it plausible?  If you tell me that you had peanut butter for lunch -- whether you did or not -- it is at least possible that you had peanut butter for lunch.  On the other hand, if you want to tell me that you have the ability to bend space, and that you used this ability to eat lunch on Mars, then return by the same method -- I would not believe you without proof.  This is not plausible.  Even if this actually happened.

The ability to eat a peanut butter sandwich is plausible.  The power to bend space is implausible.  In my perception -- I specify -- my perception -- The existence of the Biblical God is implausible, and eternal damnation for unbelievers is even less plausible than that.  

No one is required to show me anything.  Unless they want to alter my perception of what is possible.  In which case, I require strong proof. Then again, if the people who have these beliefs, are content to leave things as they are, I require no proof.  

Edited by Jonathan H. B. Lobl

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Posted (edited)

I believe that belief is mostly the end result of processes that occur on a subconscious level. For the most part, we are not really aware of what we believe and we rarely know why we believe what we believe. I believe belief is binary, and it is confidence that comes in levels. This may be hair-splitting, but it is a distinction I think merits attention.

Edited by mererdog

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5 hours ago, mererdog said:

I believe that belief is mostly the end result of processes that occur on a subconscious level. For the most part, we are not really aware of what we believe and we rarely know why we believe what we believe. I believe belief is binary, and it is confidence that comes in levels. This may be hair-splitting, but it is a distinction I think merits attention.

This is why I generally prefer the Agnostic label over the Atheist label.  I can have an intelligent conversation about what I know and how I know it.  Or at least, how I think I know it.  The moment belief enters the conversation -- it's all about opinion.

I know.  It's a nuance.  People get more steamed when their belief is questioned than when their facts are questioned.

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Posted (edited)

36 minutes ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

This is why I generally prefer the Agnostic label over the Atheist label.  I can have an intelligent conversation about what I know and how I know it.  Or at least, how I think I know it.  The moment belief enters the conversation -- it's all about opinion.

I know.  It's a nuance.  People get more steamed when their belief is questioned than when their facts are questioned.

Two people who believe different things to be true will call different things facts and call different things knowledge. You can't talk about facts or knowledge without simultaneously expressing your beliefs.

Edited by mererdog

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Posted (edited)

30 minutes ago, mererdog said:

Two people who believe different things to be true will call different things facts and call different things knowledge. You can't talk about facts or knowledge without simultaneously expressing your beliefs.

I submit that facts are not facts at all. When enough people believe they perceive the same things they label them as facts. Once something is labeled as fact, to many it becomes a closed subject and their minds close to other possibilities.

Edited by Brother Kaman
Grammar

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9 hours ago, Brother Kaman said:

I submit that facts are not facts at all. When enough people believe they perceive the same things they label them as facts. Once something is labeled as fact, to many it becomes a closed subject and their minds close to other possibilities.

That is one of the functions of science.  To determine which facts are true.  With objectivity.

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On 4/8/2017 at 6:35 PM, cuchulain said:

 

I guess with this topic I am looking into insights into what people might believe, and why, and what level of belief there is.  I mean, some things just aren't worth pursuing for proof, like if I said I had a peanut butter sandwich I doubt many people would choose to quibble about it, although they might.  But what general level of belief would there be in something like that, that wasn't investigated further to prove?  Middling, low, strong?  Non existent even?  I hear occasionally that I just "need to believe"...but do I really?  And what level of belief should I have?  If someone tells me that Zeus sometimes wanders around Earth in disguise and he takes vengeance on those who displease him, but often grants a boon to those who he likes, why should I just believe that?  I mean, it's well documented from ancient sources after all.  It's written down, and it's not like anyone can come along and prove otherwise....on the same note, someone tells me I need to believe in Jesus, he's coming back and burning his enemies in hell and the only way to righteousness is by following him.  Again, it's well documented, it's written down in ancient sources, and nobody can come along and prove otherwise, right?  Both stories, they are along the same lines with the exception that one was believed while the other wasn't.  What's the real difference though?


"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3). "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). For me, its as simple as believing that you ate a peanut butter sandwich :). I don't need to investigate the existence of God, creation demonstrates intelligent design, not a series of random accidents.

Zeus was not a man who walked the earth, there were no eyewitnesses to his existence. The prophecies of the coming of Christ were real, right down to the time and place of his birth to the details of his death. As pointed out in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, proof does not convince anyone, they wouldn't believe regardless of evidence; "And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead"  (Luke 16:31).

 

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7 hours ago, Dan56 said:


"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3). "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). For me, its as simple as believing that you ate a peanut butter sandwich :). I don't need to investigate the existence of God, creation demonstrates intelligent design, not a series of random accidents.

Zeus was not a man who walked the earth, there were no eyewitnesses to his existence. The prophecies of the coming of Christ were real, right down to the time and place of his birth to the details of his death. As pointed out in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, proof does not convince anyone, they wouldn't believe regardless of evidence; "And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead"  (Luke 16:31).

 

Seriously?  :rolleyes:

All of the gods are false.  Except for your God.  Your God is real.  :whist:

Does that cover it?     :rolleyes:

 

:sigh2:

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10 hours ago, Dan56 said:


"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews 11:3). "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). For me, its as simple as believing that you ate a peanut butter sandwich :). I don't need to investigate the existence of God, creation demonstrates intelligent design, not a series of random accidents.

Zeus was not a man who walked the earth, there were no eyewitnesses to his existence. The prophecies of the coming of Christ were real, right down to the time and place of his birth to the details of his death. As pointed out in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, proof does not convince anyone, they wouldn't believe regardless of evidence; "And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead"  (Luke 16:31).

 

Sure there were.  Haven't you read them in school?  I am not being facetious with this, but there is just as much evidence for Zeus as any other deity.  There were stories written by people anonymously in ancient times that claimed to be first hand accounts about Zeus walking the Earth perpetrating various deeds, he even had kids(though on a much more numerous basis).  Prophecy?  Ever heard of the Oracle of Delphi?  I am willing to wager that if you could get some of those, you would see that some of them might be interpreted to have come true as well.  

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On 4/8/2017 at 6:35 PM, cuchulain said:

So I have explored the topic of extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.  I decided maybe a touch on levels of belief.  Do different things require different levels of belief?  Dan would say he is wholeheartedly Christian, and I would probably agree with that assessment even though it really isn't my place to tell him whether he is or not.  It seems to me that that particular level of belief is very strong.  If my kid came home from school and told me he had been in a fight that the other kid started entirely, I would investigate.  Not that I would immediately disbelieve my kid, he's usually pretty honest with me so far as I can tell, but there are some things that it just seems like you investigate a little more.  I guess that would be middling belief?  Then there are claims that are just so far fetched as to be ludicrous on the face of it.  I was in jail one time with a guy.  He had a different story about everything.  He was a ninja.  Said so himself.  Now that's one of those that I just straight out didn't believe.  

I guess with this topic I am looking into insights into what people might believe, and why, and what level of belief there is.  I mean, some things just aren't worth pursuing for proof, like if I said I had a peanut butter sandwich I doubt many people would choose to quibble about it, although they might.  But what general level of belief would there be in something like that, that wasn't investigated further to prove?  Middling, low, strong?  Non existent even?  I hear occasionally that I just "need to believe"...but do I really?  And what level of belief should I have?  If someone tells me that Zeus sometimes wanders around Earth in disguise and he takes vengeance on those who displease him, but often grants a boon to those who he likes, why should I just believe that?  I mean, it's well documented from ancient sources after all.  It's written down, and it's not like anyone can come along and prove otherwise....on the same note, someone tells me I need to believe in Jesus, he's coming back and burning his enemies in hell and the only way to righteousness is by following him.  Again, it's well documented, it's written down in ancient sources, and nobody can come along and prove otherwise, right?  Both stories, they are along the same lines with the exception that one was believed while the other wasn't.  What's the real difference though?

 

Greetings to you my brother,

Interesting.  I suspect it is really a matter of the context in which you are using the word.

If we are talking about a matter that can be proven or disproven using the scientific method, it is really a matter of what the physical evidence shows.  I believe the earth revolves around the sun, I believe in evolution, I believe the Holocaust happened.  These things are all generally accepted to be true by the vast majority of scientists and historians who actually work in these respective fields.  I accept the generally accepted consensus of the experts in these fields of science and historical research.  But I would also always qualify my belief by adding on the caveat "according to the best evidence we have available."  This is because I realize that ideas we accept as facts of science or history can occasionally be proven false if and when new facts come up that disprove ideas that were once held to be true.

In matters of faith though, belief can be based on other things.  A lot depends on the cultural context we grew up in and even our own psychological makeup.  Once you make the leap of faith (forgive the pun) and accept that a deity can work outside of physical laws that bind humanity, and once you accept moral precepts that resonate within you, it really boils down to this, "I feel in my heart this is true."  For someone who doesn't have the same psychological makeup,  faith makes no sense.  For those of us who do, it's perfectly rational.  

In solidarity,

Rev. Calli

 

 

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3 hours ago, Rev. Calli said:

In matters of faith though, belief can be based on other things.  A lot depends on the cultural context we grew up in and even our own psychological makeup.  Once you make the leap of faith (forgive the pun) and accept that a deity can work outside of physical laws that bind humanity, and once you accept moral precepts that resonate within you, it really boils down to this, "I feel in my heart this is true."  For someone who doesn't have the same psychological makeup,  faith makes no sense.  For those of us who do, it's perfectly rational.

Very true and succinctly put.. Our rationale is limited to what we observe, and to many, its difficult to comprehend anything beyond that.

15 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

All of the gods are false.  Except for your God.  Your God is real.

There you go..... In monotheism, one God is the ticket, everything else is idolatry.

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, Rev. Calli said:

In matters of faith though, belief can be based on other things.  A lot depends on the cultural context we grew up in and even our own psychological makeup.  Once you make the leap of faith (forgive the pun) and accept that a deity can work outside of physical laws that bind humanity, and once you accept moral precepts that resonate within you, it really boils down to this, "I feel in my heart this is true."  For someone who doesn't have the same psychological makeup,  faith makes no sense.  For those of us who do, it's perfectly rational.  

 All belief works that way. If you were raised differently enough, with a different enough psychological makeup, you would interpret all evidence differently. Proof of a round Earth becomes proof of a conspiracy, you know?

Edited by mererdog

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On 4/9/2017 at 11:48 AM, Brother Kaman said:

I submit that facts are not facts at all. When enough people believe they perceive the same things they label them as facts. Once something is labeled as fact, to many it becomes a closed subject and their minds close to other possibilities.

I can understand this position...to a point.  I have a cracked cd in my car in the case.  It still plays, fortunately for me.  But I am the only person who has observed that this cd is cracked.  Yet still, even though I am the only observer, the fact is still true.  It is cracked.  Maybe I am exemplifying your point, upon further review :)

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20 minutes ago, cuchulain said:

I can understand this position...to a point.  I have a cracked cd in my car in the case.  It still plays, fortunately for me.  But I am the only person who has observed that this cd is cracked.  Yet still, even though I am the only observer, the fact is still true.  It is cracked.  Maybe I am exemplifying your point, upon further review :)

No.  If this is the observer effect -- the CD would work for other people, but not you.  It would not work for you because you know that it is cracked.  It would work for others because they think it's in perfect condition.  

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4 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

No.  If this is the observer effect -- the CD would work for other people, but not you.  It would not work for you because you know that it is cracked.  It would work for others because they think it's in perfect condition.  

I have considered this position in many ways.  My favorite:  The coke user who thinks they can fly.  They might be alone on a roof top loaded to the gills with cocaine, and when they jump they are the only person available to determine the reality of whether they can or cannot fly.  They still sink like a stone.

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4 hours ago, cuchulain said:

I can understand this position...to a point.  I have a cracked cd in my car in the case.  It still plays, fortunately for me.  But I am the only person who has observed that this cd is cracked.  Yet still, even though I am the only observer, the fact is still true.  It is cracked.  Maybe I am exemplifying your point, upon further review :)

Exactly. When enough people perceive something the same way, we label it as fact. That still does not necessarily meam someone else's perception is wrong. Just lowers the probability that it might be wrong. Radical Islamist do not perceive they are wrong and that is a fact, for them at least.

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1 hour ago, cuchulain said:

I have considered this position in many ways.  My favorite:  The coke user who thinks they can fly.  They might be alone on a roof top loaded to the gills with cocaine, and when they jump they are the only person available to determine the reality of whether they can or cannot fly.  They still sink like a stone.

There are enough people who perceive gravity working in the same ways that it has been labeled fact. Everyone who has ever dreamed of flying without mechanical means knows that somehow not all the facts are in on gravity

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Posted (edited)

On 4/8/2017 at 6:35 PM, cuchulain said:

So I have explored the topic of extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.  I decided maybe a touch on levels of belief.  Do different things require different levels of belief?  Dan would say he is wholeheartedly Christian, and I would probably agree with that assessment even though it really isn't my place to tell him whether he is or not.  It seems to me that that particular level of belief is very strong.  If my kid came home from school and told me he had been in a fight that the other kid started entirely, I would investigate.  Not that I would immediately disbelieve my kid, he's usually pretty honest with me so far as I can tell, but there are some things that it just seems like you investigate a little more.  I guess that would be middling belief?  Then there are claims that are just so far fetched as to be ludicrous on the face of it.  I was in jail one time with a guy.  He had a different story about everything.  He was a ninja.  Said so himself.  Now that's one of those that I just straight out didn't believe.  

I guess with this topic I am looking into insights into what people might believe, and why, and what level of belief there is.  I mean, some things just aren't worth pursuing for proof, like if I said I had a peanut butter sandwich I doubt many people would choose to quibble about it, although they might.  But what general level of belief would there be in something like that, that wasn't investigated further to prove?  Middling, low, strong?  Non existent even?  I hear occasionally that I just "need to believe"...but do I really?  And what level of belief should I have?  If someone tells me that Zeus sometimes wanders around Earth in disguise and he takes vengeance on those who displease him, but often grants a boon to those who he likes, why should I just believe that?  I mean, it's well documented from ancient sources after all.  It's written down, and it's not like anyone can come along and prove otherwise....on the same note, someone tells me I need to believe in Jesus, he's coming back and burning his enemies in hell and the only way to righteousness is by following him.  Again, it's well documented, it's written down in ancient sources, and nobody can come along and prove otherwise, right?  Both stories, they are along the same lines with the exception that one was believed while the other wasn't.  What's the real difference though?

I know that others believe what they claim. Shouldn't that be enough?

Edited by scottedward

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1 hour ago, scottedward said:

I know that others believe what they claim. Shouldn't that be enough?

In the best of all possible worlds, it would be enough.  I find that when I am open minded in an exchange, I am often the only open minded one present.  Just for one example, since we are using Dan as an example -- I have lost all track of the times that Dan has insisted that "Atheists believe in nothing."  I know.  It's small of me.  I lose equanimity.

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