The Non-Religious Perspective (and Q&A)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Kessel Runner, Aug 5, 2002.

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  1. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    Regarding TC's thoughts on the frequency with which we see one another in a very large city:

    I think that this is in very large part impacted by how most people live in a Big City. Despite having a very large, diverse region in which to move around, the vast majority of people stay within a very tight circle of this Big World. For example, I live in Los Angeles, yet the majority of my time here is spent at home, at work, and going between the two places. I go out for lunch from work and see the same people over and over because we're all going to lunch from businesses in the same neighborhood. When I go down to the Chinese theater I see many of the same people over and over because many live and work in this neighborhood.


    Regarding the thoughts on believing vs. knowing. I knew TC would take that perspective given what we all know of her thinking we're all holograms ;), but I think you've hit on a very interesting little dilemma. Most people take what they see as fact. They inherently know it to be so because they see it. If this is in fact the truth, then someone who has "spoken" to God then must "know" that there is a god and therefore no longer believe, they know a fact.

    I would be curious to see if the literature and scriptures of all faiths have any description of this situation...in other words, do the people who "know" God change the way they refer to religion...is it no longer belief?
  2. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    Like, i'm the only real human and everyone else is like a robot and it's like i'm on stage and i'm the show etc. and stuff. :p

    So treecave, when are we going to hang out again?
  3. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    KR, I didn't say you guys were holograms, hehe. And I'm not aware of any Christian scriptures addressing the question of faith v. knowledge, but that's all I know well. I mean, Moses talked to God in the form of a burning bush, and the subject didn't come up there. In fact, God almost routinely talked to OT people of note.

    Enforcer, Christianity does generally teach that it was God's plan that his existence be unprovable, which would necessitate faith, and faith is the key to salvation, or life everlasting, etc.

    Let's translate this into a larger-than-Christian context, and see if it holds up: in more universal terms, the Christian teaching is suggestion faith is the key to your ultimate spiritual growth.. Perception is so unreliable that we can never be sure what's real. Therefore, every day that you go into work assuming everyone will expect to see you there is an act of faith on your part - perhaps you're really schizophrenic and your belief that you've been working there is really a delusion brought on by your illness.

    According to mystics and occultists, the key to doing the impossible is simple willpower - they advise that you devote your entire will, leaving no doubt and no unfocused energy within you, to making reality what you "will" it to be. If they're right, then if you believed 100% that you were going to wake up rich and tan tomorrow morning, you would. I certainly can't prove that's true, but I think we've probably all met ugly people who were so confident they could attract the opposite sex that they had dates every night. Faith, will and confidence are all very close to the same thing, if not the very same thing. What you believe creates your reality. If you believe hard enough that you're sexy, other people believe it too and react accordingly.

    Does this make any sense, or just seem like a nonsequitir to you guys? It just kind of hit me that maybe there's a point to an alleged God giving some of his creatures the ability to be logical, then demanding they illogically believe in and fear Him. Perhaps there is no knowledge, there is only belief, and ALL reality is based on beliefs, and therefore can be changed with beliefs. Marketing advertisers and the press seem to think so. ;)

    I don't think we know anything. I don't think I know I exist, let alone whether God does. So I can either collapse in a confused heap, uncertain of everything, or I can choose to believe what I will and try to improve reality in that way.

    Cy, aren't we all the central players in our little universe? ;) Seriously, there is actually a serious personality disorder (narcissistic) wherein the person never really comprehends that other people are real. You know how developing kids don't really "get" that you're real until they're like 4 or so (I think that's what psychology says nowadays)? Well, some people never develop beyond that stage in their social relationships. I believe sociopaths (another personality disorder) are this way, too. I've unfortunately known one or two narcissists and they are creepy to be around, but everything always goes their way because they are incapable of doubting in themselves.

    I dunno exactly when we will get together, Cy - I've got to call you sometime soon. The job I got is keeping me busy more than 40 hours a week (good for money, not so good for time) and I'm still trying to get my money back from that fat redneck thief in Oregon - the law is wonderfully on my side, but there's a lot of work to be done. Maybe sometime next week, though.
  4. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    I know how it is. I'm working 7 days a week these days....snore... wha?
  5. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    You are sort of right that perception is unreliable, but if we assume that there is a God as described by the Bible, then the world we live on can somewhat be taken at face value. It did not say that God made Adam and Eve and C3PO (or the holo-game table in the Falcon). And my whole question is assuming there is a God as described by the Bible.

    Also, many have told me that if God would appear to me, there would not be any doubt that that was him. That you would know 200% that the thing in front of me is God.

    Maybe it would be good to ask what is the difference between knowing something and believing something. I think the difference is based on observation, or lack there of. I think it comes down to evidence. If you have some evidence for something being true, then you know it, but if you don?t have evidence for something, and still think it true, then it is just a belief. My roommate has just stopped snoring, so I have evidence to assume he has woken up which means I know (with a small degree of certainty) he is awake. I believe that a person down the hall is on his computer, but until I go look, it is just a belief.

    Maybe a better overall question to ask is: Can the faith required by religion be founded on knowledge? or belief? A good follow up question (if it cannot be founded on knowledge) is so what? So people in the Bible did not have faith, and the same for people who say that they personally know God exists. But so what?

    TreeCave, I don?t feel I answered your question that well, but I am having trouble figuring it out. However, if reality can be shaped by people can change by people with an belief that is accepted as completely as true, then it is more important than ever that we keep asking people questions. ;) Also, how would we know if it had been changed? Would the world completely turn left and everyone notice it? or would the past change as well to accommodate the recent change? If the later, then we would never know it has changed.
  6. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Well, ignoring for the moment my belief that we can't possibly "know" anything and just keeping to the context of your example, knowledge DOES rule out faith. Faith requires a lack of evidence. Having faith that my hair is brown would just be stupid (it is), in the ordinary scheme of things.

    I realize my example was going outside what you're talking about, so we can treat it as a separate issue. We had a discussion a few pages back about whether the past is changeable. I argued that if the chronological nature of time is only a dimensional limitation that humans perceive and not a real phenomenon throughout the cosmos, then the past and future are the same thing - moments out of time that we currently have no access to. Therefore, they would be equally changeable or unchangeable. Which they are, I don't know, but it's illogical to assume one is fixed and the other changeable if you don't believe chronology is a real force in the galaxy.

    This of course makes the question of destiny and free will even murkier - if the past and future are both set, we obviously would seem to have no free will, no choice. If they're both changeable, then presumably our choices are constantly shaping both past and future, which could explain those events which seem inevitable (destiny).

    I dunno, man. Bit too early on a Saturday morning to get into this any further. ;)
  7. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    Ok, so for people who have had God proven to them...are they no longer religious? Holy men from the Bible no longer have the right to say we should believe in God since they dont?

    Time is simply something that keeps us from observing events all at once (i think). Also, I dont want to say that matter observes events (it is not alive, no eyes or ears...) but matter gets affected by things, and time is something that keeps everything from happening all at once to matter (maybe same with energy).

    Keep in mind that if the past is changed, then the past will always have been what it has been 'changed' to. I think.

    Yeah, way too early on Saturday...
  8. Master-Aries Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2002
    star 1
    Reality for everyone is choice that I am sure, one chooses to believe the reality before them if not then we change it as best we can.

    The question still remains, why do people have faith in something, what is the reason to believe in a possible event or person or omnipotent one, before the event occurs, the person comes through on what he or she promised, or if God does what he proposes.

    That is the question do we as a people need faith to allow reality to exist, do we cumulatively construct reality, and that the clashes are as a result of ?reality bites? for some people so they fight against it in order to change the faith.

    Someone can truly believe in something that others don?t see we call these people schizophrenic, but yet they truly believe what they see or experience, yet the biggest case of schizophrenia is religion if you take into account that it is all based on faith.

    Why do people believe in God if not to escape reality for a moment, this to me is the purpose of religion or faith it is a form of escapism the collective alternative reality, to feel a sense of purpose and a need to be better that what one feels or experiences in reality.

    Ask yourself this if people knew aliens existed what would they do, would they accept it in there belief and have faith that they coexist, and that they are indeed not the only apple in god?s eye, or would they fight to change that reality, or surrender to death as they cannot perceive and alternative to this faith that they have escaped to for so long.

    But at the end of the day the few who seek no from of structure who question most ?accepted? norms prove that reality does change and that it is not written in stone, but if it is an illusion what can be done are we at the mercy of ?external factors? as propose in the Matrix if so now what.

    Sincerely

    Master-Aries
    (MA)
  9. origami Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 23, 2002
    If the past could change - How will we know that it has changed?

    Does knowledge not require faith - or does faith require knowledge?

    Do you have prove of your knowledge?
    Or do we simply belief in what we know?

    I think knowledge is faith that has reached it's full potential. - Does that make sense?
  10. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Enforcer, the holy men may be hypocrites if they insist you have faith they don't have, but what if they're saying, "I wouldn't lie to you, I know God exists, believe it and you'll be happier"? If a traffic law has recently changed and I heard about it but you didn't, I might advise you of it so you don't get a ticket. So it depends if the holy men are speaking from an advisory point of view ("do as I say because I sincerely want to help you") or a hypocritical standpoint ("do as I say so you'll be busy following non-existent rules while I'm out having a good time at your expense").

    Regarding "the past" - I believe if it's changed, we wouldn't know it. Except I have noticed little tiny things I'm convinced have morphed over the years. But so far nothing as obvious or history-altering as, say, JFK not being assassinated. But who's to say that's not exactly what happens to schizophrenics? They become aware of the original past, or various altered pasts, or perhaps alternate realities (which physicists seem to find plausible but far from provable)?

    Master-Aries, I think you're probably right, but since "escapism" has such negative connotations, I'll just say I think faith is an attempt to cope with a reality that seems fundamentally cruel and unfair. Think of it this way - your life has no point, in the natural world, but to spawn a rough copy or two of itself, then die and fertilize the ground. Nature certainly doesn't care if you die, so you can't rely on nature for your survival. Other people or animals may help you out, but you're ultimately on your own, no matter whether you have the same resources as others or not. If you think this is all there is to life, it would seem unbearably cruel. So we turn to concepts like a God who will protect us and smite our enemies, or karma which ensures perfect justice in the end. I can totally admit my (shaky) belief in karma is something I've consciously chosen for much the same reason many people choose to believe in God.

    As for aliens and how people would react, I dunno.... our capacity for denial is just amazing. To so many people, it's just really obvious, for example, that the Warren Report's version of the Kennedy assassination can't be quite right - a pristine bullet piercing flesh 7 times is ridiculous. Yet just a few years ago, yet another book came out defending the idea, and many people immediately reported they were convinced the bullet did exactly that. These are people who use hunting rifles, clean animals and know what happens to bullets that go through just ONE wound. Oh, well.

    Origami, interesting thought on what knowledge is.
  11. Master-Aries Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2002
    star 1
    To further my point as motioned earlier, that we choose to believe the reality we are presented with, on several occasions in my life, my mind has been elsewhere or I am sleeping, in my delta mind set I perceive my mother about to enter the room, not to wake me rather to get something.

    This is not a routine it is a random occurrence yet I am distinctly aware that she is about to enter usually about 2 to 3 minutes before hand. It is as if an extra sensory ability comes into its own, coinciding with the sub-consciousness apprising me of the event to take place. This has not happen once or twice but on several occasions.

    A movie I recently watched called ?Amelie? has scene close to the end of the film where it shows Amelie preparing to bake a pie. A thought bubble appears on the side of her head showing the viewer what she is thinking about, the man she met earlier in the film is represented on his way buying yeast for the pie, he comes home and proceeds to the kitchen he carefully tries to pull back the bead curtain that separates the kitchen and the lounge, to try and surprise her, at that moment she awakes from her dream realising that indeed the bead curtain has made a noise, hoping it was the man she envisioned she turns around expectantly but with a sense of trepidation, only to find that her cat is causing the beads to move. Was she dreaming the event and that it was purely coincidence that at the same time the cat moved the beads she envisioned, or was it her mind incorporating her reality in the dream state?

    That is the closest representation I have seen to date that can accurately depict what I have experienced. A rather lovely French movie with English sub titles, I highly recommend it, if you appreciate French genre.

    http://www.amelie-lefilm.com/english/intro.htm

    Sincerely

    Master-Aries
    (MA)
  12. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    Sorry I was gone for a while

    Congrats TC!!!! I'm glad you finally broke through! We have to talk/get together soon. A bunch of us are going to see LOTR:TT at Arclight on opening night...maybe we'll see you there.
  13. Humble extra Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 12, 1999
    star 5
    back to an earlier point, about "blood on their hands"......i have to say, does it really matter which religion has the most? i mean the fact of the matter is that trying to get some sort of value judgement out of comparing suffering caused over the centuries by different relgions is a little like saying stalin is better than hitler cos at least he only killed his own citizens......the fact of the matter is IMO that most historic recognisable relgions have caused suffering and death by the spadefull and in many cases continue to do so, not because they are inherently wicked, but because they are both creations of, and reflections of their believers, us, dirty, rotten, selfish humans
  14. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Humble, good points.

    I often wonder if we don't obsess too much about violence. I mean, animals are violent, and we are animals. Eating anything - even veggies - requires killing. Does it really matter if the killing is bloody and violent because the prey fights back, or peaceful because stalks of celery lack muscle coordination? Life begets death. That's all there is to it. To deny this is to deny what we really are.

    I keep coming to the conclusion that most people secretly believe this, anyway. In fact, I doubt many of them even truly comprehend the ideas of negotiation v. war, or courtesy v. doing exactly what they want no matter how it affects others. This is not a criticism - it just seems to me that this is human nature and most people are pretty true to it.

    That said, we have every right to decide nature can be improved upon - after all, nature gave us brains, and it's our brains that can decide to not follow our instincts, so this conflict is entirely natural. We can aim for a totally non-violent world - an impossible and ultimately disastrous goal, IMHO - or we can aim for a world where things are at least straight-forward.

    For example, I don't see us ever eliminating murder because (right or wrong) it's totally natural to want to hit someone who angers you. However, child molestation is not natural - at least I'm aware of no other species that does this - so I have faith there's some way to wipe that our of our society.
  15. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    In regards to the elimination of violence, I think that this is something that can never truly occur across the species, but this change can be invoked by individuals. Look at some of our most "enlightened" beings throughout human history:

    Jesus
    Gandhi
    Buddha
    MLK, Jr.

    These were men who faced tremendous violence towards their believers and their personal beings, yet they held to their beliefs in non-violence to the bitter end... I find strmeendous inspiration and power in that. Sticking to your guns, no matter what the consequences.
  16. Humble extra Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 12, 1999
    star 5
    this is sorta what freaks me out about humanity, the inherent violence that rests just below the surface, even amoung supposedly civilized societies.......

    i don't really mean the casual violence that exists say in pubs, when you are out rinking, or at sporting events.......more the descent into mass chaos that occurs like in yugoslavia, or say the riots in northern nigeria........
  17. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    KR, I tend to agree, and I'm going to take it a slight step further: half your list of non-violent protestors died as martyrs to extreme violence. In fact, when the ruler of Rome got queasy about putting Jesus to death and told the people, "Tell you what - I'll let either this Jesus guy or this extremely hardened violent murderer called Barabas go", they chose Barabas. Apparently, Barabas' violence was less threatening than some guy who never hurt anyone but made blasphemous claims as to his origins (from their POV, as they didn't believe he was the messiah). Well, actually, this story could indicate either or both of 2 things: (1) people secretly accept violence and don't find it as disturbing as ideas and/or (2) ideas can actually change reality and are therefore far more powerful than violence, in the long run. Christianity, like it or not, proves #2 all by itself. Unfortunately, violence is always the human response to someone suggesting change, especially positive change - positive change leaves behind those who can't grow and move on, so they react as if to defend their very lives. This is again something we can only change within ourselves, not in a mass movement for all humanity.

    It's also a pity - while Jesus and MLK both started a lot of change, we'll never know if they might have been even MORE successful had they lived longer. OTOH, I doubt it - we love martyrs because we secretly love violence. If you ever really want to change the world, do it through teaching or preaching or whatever, then get yourself killed or fake your own death. It's almost a prerequisite. ;)

    Humble, we could probably eliminate some of the stupider violence. For example, since you mentioned pubs, I've been thinking if we legalized pot and made alcohol illegal, we'd get rid of some of the violent crime we have. Alcohol is involved in roughly 40-50% of all violent crimes - rape, beatings of all sorts, driving accidents, etc. Pot probably makes for bad driving, too, but I don't think I've ever heard of someone stoned going on a rape spree, brawling with someone who looked at him funny, or beating her family up for fun. It would be logical to pick a more mellow drug as our legal vice, if we insist on having just one legal substance (not counting cigarettes, which are not linked to violence, just lung damage).

    So, bottom line, we could eliminate some of the more petty violence, but basically life is about eating or getting eaten, and there's not a lot of room in between.
  18. Humble extra Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 12, 1999
    star 5
  19. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    Martyrdom is almost a requirement for advancing a new/progressive way of viewing the world.
  20. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    Yeah, doesn't that suck?

    Pardon my lack of eloquence tonight. Me think world suckage sad thing. Sad! Want to hit evil with big mallet, squash.
  21. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    I too, feel less than eloquent. I'm ill...very ill, yet I am also at work. Not fun.
  22. Humble extra Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 12, 1999
    star 5
    don't worry, i have more than enough goodspeak for us all
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