Tuesday, March 20

So you don't believe, huh?

Warning: Brilliant argument ahead. Pliss to watch out for sudden curves, road-blocks, cul-de-sacs and terrifying leaps of faith.

Atheists! Gah!! What do they know? They're like color-blind insomniacs attempting to appreciate Dreamland. Missing the essence for the smell, the texture for the taste, the tone for the color. I would like to propose, hereby, that atheists cannot exist. Not that they do not exist, or that they will not exist or they did not exist but that they simply can't. It's impossible. Wait, wait, do not jump down my throat just yet. There shall be plenty of time for that in a bit.

My argument is simplicity in itself. Let us consider the believers. The devout-when-in-trouble ones, the not-so-pious priests and the sometimes-pious common man. And yes, yes also the truly hypnotised believers (I fear I'm allowing some bias to creep in here, but let us pass along merrily pretending to not see it). The ones who see God and his mum in subway puddles (interesting anecdote: I was once accused by a grad student in my lab of seeing the Virgin in my southern blot! I would like to restate my total innocence in the face of that accusation, just for the record). These multitudinous hordes of believers, the religious Muslims, the lacklustre Hindus, the righteous Christians, the martyred Jews, the we're-not-asking-for-trouble Buddhists, all of them believe strongly in a God. A supreme Saviour. A Man for Every Crisis. Yes? Is everyone with me so far? Right. Now, we realise that some beleagured believers are born with a miracle, some achieve miracles and some have miracles thrust on them. But, by and large, most of us never catch sight or sound of a miracle. Still the believers believe. They genuflect. They rejoice in the knowledge that they are Taken Care Of. And this, this is the seduction of God, isn't it? A receptacle for all that needy belief.

What about atheists you ask me. After all you began with a bitter diatribe on atheists, you point out smugly. Please do not interrupt sir, I say coldly and with merciless dispatch. I was coming to atheists. Now, these great atheists, these supposed non-believers, these heretics. Can they attest that they have no belief? Can they vouch for this and say we don't believe, with one voice? Can they swear on the Bible in a court of law? Of course not (cept maybe for the last, cos that's a little umm..suspect)! They can't. Because they do believe. Just that they believe in themselves, or they believe in their family, or their country, or money. Or Science. Or something. They still believe, don't they? And no, this is not mere semantics. This is Truth! The thing we guard most jealously, protect from all those other heretics, nurture among our children, foster within our communities and argue about most passionately is Belief. It is immaterial whether God exists or not. For people who tell me they can't decide whether there is a God or not, I have only one word : Pshaw! It is not about whether he exists or not, it's not about which one is the true god. It's not about how many times you pray or in which direction or how long your beard is. It's about this: Do you believe or not?

I might not know whether God exists or not, I might not know whether God can work miracles or even if God cares about each and everyone of us. All of that is open to doubt. But what I do know is that the world would be a million times worse off if we didn't have Belief. I do know that God cannot exist without Belief, but Belief can exist without God. So, in the eyes of Belief, putting all my trust in It, I summarily reject all my claims to being an atheist. Cos I Believe. I do.

PS: Click on all the links. They're good ones. I promise. None of that annoying wiki stuff. Also I'm sharing all my glory with Picoult (because I was inspired to write this because of her, even though the thoughts were mine before I read hers, or so I'm claiming, as Belief is my witness! :P).

Update: A guide that facilitates understanding of the post. Like an easyreader.

KG: You're not saying that faith is a good thing
Revealed:
or a bad thing
KG:
you're saying that we have an all-pervasive need for faith
Revealed:
yeah
KG:
so if there wasnt god
there would have been something else
Revealed:
there'd b smthng else
zackly
so we re all asking the wrong q
it dsnt matter whether there's god or not
tats jst totally beside the point
atheism mks no sense
cos they're protesting the wrong thing
god is jst a name
at the end of the day
its jst a means to the end
KG:
we need to question our need for faith
Revealed:
yeah
zackly!!!!!!!!!
whoooooo hooooooooo


Update 2: And I give you someone who said it much better than either of these two pathetic attempts.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh dont bait...please dont...:P
sure it did live up to the warning;);)but why would a color blind "insomniac" be bothered about "Dreamland"???

And what was that about a virgin from the south who had a blot in her escutcheon? :| and dost thee not useth thy old gmail id?

Revealed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revealed said...

That's what the warning's there for! :P

Dya want me to explain the analogy piecemeal (cos I was soooo hoping someone would ask! I have the most erudite explanation :D).

And your punning is abysmal sir, just abysmal!! :P

Old gmail id is def used. How old?

Heh Heh said...

If there is one thing science is about, it is *not* belief. It's not mere semantics - it is at the core of the definition of the scientific method. By definition, belief is the "confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof".

The scientific method is just about the exact opposite of belief, because science is all about *skepticism*.

Revealed said...

*sigh*. You have missed the point completely. As a scientist I *believe* in myself and my ability to evaluate experimental data and formulate hypotheses. Is that not a belief?

Tabula Rasa said...

but that 'belief' is born of rigorous proof, no, ms. scientist-in-umpteen-years-of-training?

part of the problem is that the word belief can itself imply different things across contexts.

i believe i can fly

Revealed said...

@tr: I know I know. I realize that. I'm talking about leaps of faith. Not belief engendered by rigorous training. I believe in myself. That I can rise to challenges and get through this life. That's a belief which is a leap of faith in itself, isnt it?

Szerelem said...

I find the atheist arguments a bit ridiculous in all honesty. Rather be agnostic.

Heh Heh said...

flaffy, but if you take the scientific method in its true spirit, even the scientist is supposed to be skeptical about his/her own abilities to analyze data and all that. That's what robustness checks are all about. That's why we have peer review.

The spirit of scientific discovery is that the scientist goes about rejecting all possible causes of a certain effect, and arrives at the one about which he/she is most certain of, because he cannot *reject* it to any convincing degree.

I realize I might sound like an idealist, but I'm going to press my point - science is about belief in nothing and skepticism in everything until it is rigorously proven to hold.

Inspissated Gloom said...

Oh! I know of miracles :) (And I know *who* to thank for that - i think :P) In fact, i saw one today!! 3ppm sulfur in reformer feed, Lead-Acetate Test highly positive and not a sign of a dwindling RON.
Thats miracle all right! :D Trust me on this :)

P.S. - Can't help singing "I'm A Believer" (and I haven't met *her* yet ;)) hehehe

Anonymous said...

@revealed : the one with the "asti" after a "yes" and a "we"...

now that wasnt very abysmal was it? :p A pun is always the lowest form of wit if you havent thought of it before..dont recollect who said this..but has served me well for quite some years :P

But where was the "pun" anyway? it was just a rearrangement of words which put forward a totally different point..:P

@szerelem :
Like what ridiculous arguments might one ask?

I "believe" "heh heh" has been spot on here..you are arguing semantics here. And couldnt disagree with tr too...

*if* you really want a good discussion it would be better if you clearly state your poshish :)
Art thee talking about psychology of belief? what has that got to do with God anyway?

Else we will indulge another debate about atheism and why it is not a tenable stand...frankly I am tired of it..I have been doing that for years now...

Revealed said...

OK people! First this is *not* about science. Let's not get carried away in the wrong direction here. Science is a profession, it's a job. I'm talking about life. I'm talking about philosophy. I'm talking about why we need god. We need him as a prop for our belief. As somewhere to take all our belief and dump it. See? So what I'm saying is it's not about who god is or what god is or even if god is! It's about what faith is and why we need faith. Very few people can live without some sort of belief. Some sort of feeling that somehow things will work out. Things will be alright. If you guys are telling me that you feel no need for any such belief then I bow before your superior resignation to life. And confess myself unable to do the same.

Revealed said...

@szerelem: Which atheist argument? There are some ridiculous ones and some not so ridiculous ones :D

@heh heh: No wrt science ur not being idealistic. I believe that's why science works. Cos it *is* about disbelief. But I wasn't talking about science. I don't *believe* that karela tastes awfully bitter. I tasted it and learnt that it was bitter. But I *believe* that even though I've had a shitty 3 months it's gonna get better. And that is based on no proof whatsoever but simply a belief that I can cope with anything :).

@BM: Geek Speak :P. You and your first love :P.

@tmwwt (?): Yeah that one :P. I was trying to reclaim some anonymity belatedly. So much for that :P. Thank you muchly for kindly spilling it out. Hehehe. I concur heartily about the pun bit :D

Tabula Rasa said...

well, science is a philosophy for some people.

and some people also 'believe' that things will *not* work out, and that they're in fact getting worse. such beliefs are often formed on the basis of available data, for instance the front page of the morning newspaper.

i'm not sure of the extent of overlap between the two groups but i tend to think of myself as a member of both.

Revealed said...

@tr: Zackly. Ty for atlst bring this back on track :P.

People who believe in science as a philosophy believe that science has the answers, right? To fundamental questions. But that belief is not really irrefutable. Is it? All we've got so far from science are more questions, more complex questions. No perfect answer. So that's a belief without a blemishless foundation. And there *are* miracles that haven't been explained by science (like AIDS patients who miraculously "lose" the disease, or cancer patients beyond help who get discharged from hospital, go to a God-man and come back in 2 weeks completely cured). Maybe there's a reasonable physiological explanation. Maybe it's caused by Belief. No?

And even people who believe that things will only get worse don't have complete proof of it. Yeah, it looks superficially like things are getting worse. But that could be because communication has increased and bad news travels fast especially through the agencies of news agencies whose bread and butter calamities are. So that is *still* a belief. Isn't it? In the final analysis? Underneath everything? It's a belief that brings with it calm and resignation and allows you to live your life out with some sort of certainty. That's all I'm saying. I'm saying it's not about God. If we didn't call it God we'd call it something else. All we need is a place to keep our belief. Does that make sense?

Inspissated Gloom said...

Not believing in something is sort of a belief too! So even if I said I didn't believe in God - I'd be putting my faith in to the belief that there is no God!
Am I making sense?

Revealed said...

@BM: That's more like it :P. Zackly my point. Cept that I'm saying that if you don't put your belief in god u put it in something else. U have to put it somewhere. Stands to reason.

@anony (who might or might not b tmwwt :P): Dont know if you meant the bit about explaining posish and what belief has to do with god (which question took my breath away) to be addressed to szerelem or to me. If it was addressed to me, read on. Otherwise skip blithely.

I'm partially talking about the psychology of belief but mostly about it's irrefutable presence. I'm talking about why the God debate is completely pointless and misplaced. God is a name. That's about it. I could call it Science or I could call it Life or Humanity and continue believing in it and live perfectly happily and even consider myself an atheist (but being an atheist seems pointless because you're just basically saying to all the religious people that *their* god isn't the right one but *yours* (which might be science, or philosophy or kindness or whatever) is.). Which is why I said atheism has recently begun to strike him as a most ridiculous position to hold on the God debate.

Revealed said...

s/me/him

Anonymous said...

Alrighty you literally "asked" for it..being a veteran(?) Frankly I have no illusions of this discussion going anywhere but still let me endeavor to throw in my hat...

Science is a profession, it's a job. I'm talking about life. I'm talking about philosophy.

If someone hasn’t pointed this out already who said Science itself cant be a 'philosophy of life'??? Not that it really "means" anything...I guess you are arguing for the
"religious" scientists ( so does your conception of religion preclude or include an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God? )

I'm talking about why we need god. We need him as a prop for our belief. As somewhere to take all our belief and dump it

?? That's a circular argument. That anyway begs the question why "God" for it? and hence the "breath-taking-question" of significance of Existence" ( the word I missed ) of God
:)

It's about what faith is and why we need faith.

Faith for Faith's sake? You are "ok" with living under an illusion in spite of knowing it as a delusion?? Why one needs to do it beats me..

Some sort of feeling that somehow things will work out. Things will be alright.

:) I recollect reading somewhere about why this could possibly be a evolutionary trait..the "optimism" bit cos' frankly there is no point in "living" thinking things will get
worse ( they usually do) or one is going to die any moment ( which one might) unless you are a charatcer in a Dostoevskyian novel. If one is going to die well one just dies.
That's it. Ashes to ashes dust to dust that sort of thing.

If you guys are telling me that you feel no need for any such belief then I bow before your superior resignation to life

Bow!and genuflect. On a serious note like I was saying trying to understand the psychology of belief will render it useless and at best superficial. Though ofcourse one might
argue about the usage of "resignation" but that again is just semantics. Life is contingent. It just "is". It getting "worse" or "better" is largely a matter of perspective and
depends on which side of the fence one is. Again a no brainer one would think.

People who believe in science as a philosophy believe that science has the answers, right? To fundamental questions. But that belief is not really irrefutable. Is it? All we've
got so far from science are more questions, more complex questions. No perfect answer. So that's a belief without a blemishless foundation


We might run the risk of over generalization here :) Even if I "believe" science as a philosophy of life at best what I am saying is there is a better chance of understanding the
world that way than resorting to "mystery" and invisible man in the sky. Again one would assume a no brainer.

And there *are* miracles that haven't been explained by science (like AIDS patients who miraculously "lose" the disease, or cancer patients beyond help who get discharged from
hospital, go to a God-man and come back in 2 weeks completely cured)


Reliable citations please..:) Dont tell me you are using anecdotal evidences...:)

I'm talking about why the God debate is completely pointless and misplaced. God is a name. That’s about it. I could call it Science or I could call it Life or Humanity and
continue believing in it and live perfectly happily and even consider myself an atheist


Tut tut..come on that's too convenient. You pretty well know when one claims he is an atheist he basically doesn’t believe in an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God. That's
it. I dont understand how it can be pointless and misplaced? :| How many atheists do you know at all??? I am rather surprised you wrote that!! From someone who doesnt know about
atheism (again by that I mean the aforementioned definition ) I can understand ( have come across that plenty of times!) but saying "atheism" is also a kind of "belief" is vacuous
at best..it is like arguing "terrorism" is also a kind of "patriotism".


Of course the moot question is "why" should life have a purpose at all?? "why" should things be "better"? "why" should things work out for the "best"? If one is extremely cynical one might even say "belief that things will work out better" is just an excuse for not having enough guts to change the quo of the status. This again begs the question "why" change at all? Everything can matter..nothing can matter..all depends on the individual. Maybe you should brush up the Camus again...:)

Over and out...

Cloudy said...

Phew! I really must stop reading comments before commenting... make me forget the post, they do...

So does your belief exist with god, or without?

Revealed said...

@anony: I could hate you just for taking me this seriously :). I'm touched by the point by point analysis. But the point of a point by point analysis is lost when you seem to decide at the end of each point that it's a no-brainer. Why bother then? But to reply seems fit :).

I guess you are arguing for the
"religious" scientists ( so does your conception of religion preclude or include an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God? )


An amazing assumption. I am not arguing for anyone. My conception of religion is irrelevant to the discussion cos my main point (which has been lost in all this prolixity) is that religion is irrelevant :). Why would you think I'm arguing for the religious scientists? My point was simply that when you consider science as your philosophy you expect it to provide some answers re: life. I was under the impression that that's what philosophy was mainly about. Maybe I'm clueless (but for pity's sake don't quote a defn of philosophy at me). Hence my argument that science does not have the answers. Science is not a substitute for philosophy. Science cannot give meaning to your life.

That's a circular argument.
No it isn't. I'm not saying that belief is a prop for God. I'm very clear on which is the prop. Belief as I pointed out in my post can exist in the absence of god, but the opposite isn't true.


That anyway begs the question why "God" for it? and hence the "breath-taking-question" of significance of Existence" ( the word I missed ) of God

God because he fills the role of care-taker. Like a mother. You believe in his goodness, his kindness, his mercy, his ability to make your life meaningful. But it needn't be god. Which was the original argument :). God is just one of the props for belief.


You are "ok" with living under an illusion in spite of knowing it as a delusion??

But of course. Don't we all do it anyway? You could claim that you have no faith in anything, you see no point in life. And then you're just going to have a depressing life. So I live under the illusion that my being on this earth actually makes a difference. Which is a ridiculous illusion but most of the time when I'm not sitting reflecting about the meaning of life it's an illusion that let's me get on with it. I'm not claiming to be logical and eminently practical. Dunno where you got that idea! :)

Why dya think weed is so popular? :D

If one is going to die well one just dies.
That's it.


I'm the wrong person to explain existentialism to :). I never said this wasn't true. I'm not claiming it's not an evolutionary trait. Most behavioral patterns that survive generation after generation *are* evolutionary traits. What does that have to say to anything? Belief itself is an evolutionary trait. So?

Life is contingent. It just "is".

Again existentialism! Sigh. Even when you accept that life just is, when life knocks you down will you just lie down and roll over? All of us strike out in the hope of something better. What is that hope if not a belief? But seriously if you don't have that belief i do bow and genuflect :). Albeit mentally.
Studying the psychology of belief doesn't make it redundant. Love has been studied from one end to the other but you don't see people giving up on it just cos it's an evolutionary enticement for mating do u?

than resorting to "mystery" and invisible man in the sky

Or a round glob of rock floating in space at just the right distance from a flaming ball so that a plethora of life forms can arise on it.

Or a cat in a box with a closed lid that might or might not be in the box.

All I'm saying is there's different perspectives. Science stands in grave danger of losing its round eyed wonder and willingness to test all hypotheses.

Reliable citations please

Sorry, I didn't know we were going to publish this in JCB :D. It was not anecdotal evidence. It came up in a conference I was recently at. I'm not going to hunt up citations. Take it or leave it. It's boiled down to a question of trust apparently :P
Points of the case were that chappie over in the UK had AIDS. He was being treated for secondary infections and his blood cell levels were being monitored. He shows up for his periodic check and voila everything's back to normal. Blood counts, Ig levels. Everything. ELISA to confirm and apparently the HIV's vanished. They're hoping to get a clue to solving it from his tissue samples.
Cancer case was a 2 year old girl. Sibling with cancer. Two cancer gene knock outs. Multiple cancers. Family tree with predisposition to cancer. Basically a no-hoper. She's alive and well and 5 today.

he basically doesn’t believe in an omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God

I believe in Evolution. Very close to an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent god, sint it?

How many atheists do you know at all???

Dya want a headcount? :P

it is like arguing "terrorism" is also a kind of "patriotism

Uh-oh. We're gonna disagree again. :P Terrorism is def a kind of patriotism. I'm not really a grand approver of patriotism I'm afraid.

But even if you consider my statement vacuous, I'm sticking to it. It's all about substituting belief systems. The thing that keeps us going as a species, that allows us to achieve things, that allows our kids to grow up with a sense of security is belief systems.

Not gonna get into the last bit :P. Have a feeling you'll classify my responses either under no-brainer or vacuous :D

Phew! Over and out it seems! That's fifteen minutes out of my life, senor!

(Also some of the order of the stuff might have gotten switched around. It's as muddled as my mind. My apologies)

Revealed said...

@Cloudy: LOL!

My belief exists without :)

Heh Heh said...

The problem with a phrase like "believe in yourself" is that it is loaded - what part of your belief in yourself comes from the fact that in the *past* you have come through, and what part of that belief is just a leap of faith?

For me, its mostly the former.. If i hadn't known myself to do well in a field of my choosing, I would not have taken a leap of faith and 'believed' that I could do it.

Leaps of faith are part of the human condition. You fall in love and its a leap of faith.. (although over time, you tend to get more judgmental about the people you choose to be with). But they are not necessarily about belief in an unmeasurable force external to you.. mostly they are simple risks that we take because life has taught us that taking risks sometimes pays off.

It is possible in this sense to answer Camus' principal question on whether or not to kill oneself.. and that has to do with the irreversible nature of the act.. a good reason not to choose death is that we have no evidence it is a better experience than life is, regardless of the kinds of hard times we are going through - and "experience" is important, because as sentient beings, it is the one thing that separates from the rest of the universe. Relying on mystical 'belief' of *any* kind will not work because we can never convince ourselves of it.. and the answers to such fundamental questions cannot be grounded in leaps of faith.

To put it simply: I don't think we need meaning, purpose or some form of belief to keep on living. Or at least what I would like to think.

(This is only one side of a debate that is always going on in my head. I don't think it is possible for anyone to be completely objective with the issue of belief.. but I'm starting to conclude that denial might be a good way. :))

Heh Heh said...

ps: Evolution is not God. Evolution is a mechanical process. It is an inevitable part of how complex systems organize themselves - and not necessarily biological ones - even scientific ideas themselves follow a process distinctly like evolution.

You don't need to 'believe' in evolution.. evolution is simply the best possible and most parsimonious explanation for why we exist - one that cannot be rejected to any reasonable degree of confidence.

Revealed said...

@heh heh:
But they are not necessarily about belief in an unmeasurable force external to you
I agree completely. All I meant was that what one person might see within themselves what someone else might see outside of themselves. That's all. I'm not contesting the difference between the two beliefs, I'm just saying there might be a different way of looking at it. Sorta like a frameshift mutation :). What if we all considered it, not as whether there is god or not (because I do believe that that question is largely inconsequential) but simply whether there is a place for belief or not. I find I don't wnt to be atheist anymore, cos the more I think about it, the more I realise that an atheist is finding fault with the symptom not the disease.

And though you might like to think that we don't need belief, don't we all have some? Somewhere? Buried under layers of consciousness?

(This is only one side of a debate that is always going on in my head. I don't think it is possible for anyone to be completely objective with the issue of belief.. but I'm starting to conclude that denial might be a good way. :))

This I empathize with the most and this makes me felt understood the most of all the arguments so far :). I was kinda hoping that one of you would wisely explain to me just exactly how belief smarvellous, swonderful :P. So much for that, huh? Instead I'm thrust into the position of reluctant supporter of belief. Heh.

Re: Evolution. Yeah, I know. But was just responding to the omniscient, blah blah bit of anony's comment. Point is I could call it god and worship it. Wouldn't change anything. But I could. From where I'm standing it seems to be the same as going to the temple and praying before a lump of stone, no? Which brings me back to the initial point. Belief changes something from obvious to miraculous. Maybe belief serves a purpose and it's important to cherish it.

Y'know I feel like our generation is Victor Frankenstein. In the process of creating something that is gonna spiral out of control.

Anonymous said...

Ah come come...:) you seem (unnecessarily?) offended with my comment. Sure I called some of them vacuous and no brainer because they were err..vacuous and no brainer. If you didnt think so there wouldnt be a more delighted man than moi to listen to the counter arguments and change my viewpoint. The point by point rebuttal was to serve two purposes
a)Present my view point
b) To carry forward the discussion where I disagreed with you and "why"

But then I didnt know this :p


I'm not claiming to be logical and eminently practical. Dunno where you got that idea! :)

This changes everything...there is no point in discussing then is there?:P:)

You seem to be seeking "vindication" for your "beliefs" than "answers"...which forgive me I am not equipped to deal with Senorita!

Anonymous said...

Actually you seem to have misinterpreted some of my points in my comment which would require (gasp!) point by point explanations....but free..it doesnt matter...like i said initially I had no illusion of this discussion going anywhere anyway...

Revealed said...

@anony: Sir (which I suppose you are), you're adding insult to injury. I do *not* seek vindication for my beliefs!! I do, however, find endless pedantic discussions which are constituted mainly of one side misunderstanding the other very tiresome.

I was not offended at all :). The vacuous no-brainer comments were tongue in cheek.

Pliss to present a point by point vindication if you have the time and energy, and I will strive to reply as per your exacting standards. I rely more on flair than technique though :P, I feel dutybound to warn you.

Do you never argue with people who aren't eminently practical? :D How terribly boring :)

Revealed said...

And dya really think you have the answers? You are one lucky man :)

Anonymous said...

Do you never argue with people who aren't eminently practical? :D How terribly boring :)

Well actually people who arent find me boring...for quite understandable reasons..and sometimes come up with another post...:p

And dya really think you have the answers? You are one lucky man :)

Depends on the question...again a no brai...errr...

"Sir"?? really??

Revealed said...

@tmwwt: :))))))))))))))))))

I find logical people actually quite enthralling to argue with. Especially cos I think people like me are apt to confuse them and also make mercurial leaps without warning, which infuriates them :).

The sir had a certain ring to it, I thought :)

Nath said...

I've only skimmed the comments, so apologies if I repeat something.

I think that it is possible to go through life without belief. Note that I said 'I think', and not 'I believe'. I understand belief to mean 'certainty' -- no more, no less.

I am an atheist. This means that I do not believe that god exists. This does not mean that I believe that god does not exist.

I am (sort of) a scientist. This does not mean that I am certain that the scientific method is the best we can do. I follow the scientific method because it appears to allow one to make good predictions.

I think that belief is happy self-delusion. Would the world be a worse place without belief? It would very probably be a sadder place, but I think it would still be a better one.

Tabula Rasa said...

People who believe in science as a philosophy believe that science has the answers, right?

No. It's not about the ends, it's about the means. Science gives us a set of processes to follow -- like heh heh said, a reliance on best and most parsimonious explanations that cannot be rejected to any reasonable degree of confidence. "Belief", on the other hand, is about the *ends*. Belief is "No woman no cry, everything gonna be all right" and "I see my light come shining... I shall be released" -- which makes for great, great songs, that are comforting when one is down and out, but are not the be all and end all of philosophy.

Revealed said...

@nath: I hear you. But don't you think that at we all make atlst one leap of faith? To some degree? At some point in our lives? Can you truly say that we never do? Would the world be a better place without belief? I'm not convinced. For some reason evolution has let it stay in humans though belief has caused quite a bit of bloodshed. And evolution is a canny thing. I'm willing to bet she has some ace up her sleeve :D.

@TR: But isn't belief also a means toward the end? The end being living your life? I can believe that this life is the only one I'm going to have (which isn't really based on anything but the absence of evidence which is never the best scientific proof). Isn't that a belief?

Revealed said...

@nath: The I don't believe they exist vs the I believe they don't exist is a bit of a cop-out one feels. It almost sounds like ur agnostic.

I think atheists also make the same leap of faith that religious sorts do cept to a lesser extent cos they've shored their defenses better.

Tabula Rasa said...

you're going round in circles now, because you're saying that belief is a means towards the end of living ones life, but you're also saying that everyone needs belief to survive, ergo, without belief there's no life, ergo, belief is the end. and i'm saying no, one doesn't need to believe to survive. haven't you seen the big lebowski? hey, nihilists are people too (and ve vill sqvish you).

Heh Heh said...

why *revealed*?
Assuming I'm reading one of the comments above right - doesn't your name mean 'well-being' in a very 'Let's kill the jews' kind of a way?
If this doesn't make sense, ignore it.

Revealed said...

@tr: Sigh. Clever. But, no. I'm not. Belief might be required for living but not for life. Can't you see the difference?

Belief can encompass many things. What if what lies underneath what is called god, or love, or luck, or hope, or the human spirit, or evolution or the big bang is actually belief. As in the foundation. So (willingly or not) we all believe in something.

Nihilism leaves me unmoved :D. I think it's a little escapist. Too pat.

I believe that most of you will let this argument go if I amend it to most of us require belief instead of all of us :P

Revealed said...

@heh heh: Anonymity!! Anonymity!! Goodness. Why don't we all just shout it out from the rooftops :P.

And what dya mean if this doesn't make sense. I suppose you think I'm retarded! Sigh. Sledged by all and sundry!!!

Why revealed is a long story and unfortunately an insipid one :D.

Tabula Rasa said...

I believe that most of you will let this argument go if I amend it to most of us require belief instead of all of us

naturally. most people require belief; most people require something to call god; most people like mcdonald's. and yes, most people aren't nihilists. doesn't mean i have to be in any of those categories.

Revealed said...

@tr: Course not. You *had* to be in the one category that will not accept the validity of my argument :D.

So excerpt from mail from wise friend for your edification :P

I think almost all of us, religious people and atheists and existentialists, have some irrational belief or the other. And these beliefs affect us to varying degrees, I know many religious people who dont let their beleif in god affect their lives and I assume there are atheists who let their atheism define them.

So while it is fascinating (and somewhat important) to discuss which belief is more irrational and the other, perhaps the more important question that we need to consider is: How/How much are our irrational beliefs governing the way we live our lives?

Heh Heh said...

um, i wasn't sure, and there was every chance that i had gotten it all wrong, so that comment would have made no sense.
But my guess stands confirmed. Very proud of myself

Revealed said...

*pats heh heh on his back and says well done*

Nath said...

I hear you. But don't you think that at we all make atlst one leap of faith? To some degree? At some point in our lives?

Well, we all do so as children. As far as I know, though, I have rejected all the certainties I used to accept without question. I think that it's possible for sentient beings to function with or without the (continued) use of faith.

For some reason evolution has let it stay in humans though belief has caused quite a bit of bloodshed. And evolution is a canny thing. I'm willing to bet she has some ace up her sleeve :D.

Evolution is a hill climbing algorithm -- it doesn't find an optimal solution, simply a 'good enough' one. Besides, even if evolution is an advantage (w.r.t. survival), it may not be a requirement.

The I don't believe they exist vs the I believe they don't exist is a bit of a cop-out one feels. It almost sounds like ur agnostic.

Indeed. If you really interpret the word 'atheist' literally, all agnostics (including myself) are atheists. I've had the debate about strong vs weak atheism before, but this time I'll just be lazy and link to this essay by Bertrand Russell.

Revealed said...

@nath: First, lovely link. He has such a lovely way of making things perfectly clear, doesn't he?

The evolution giving rise to good enough ones is true when there is no obvious damage or ill-effects. In the face of the sort of damage that is after all caused by belief every day I think that it must have some sort of compensatory effect, don't you? I'm not basing my argument completely on this probability. Just saying.

And so you are an agnostic. My Belief Theory stubs its toes the most against agnostics cos they are the most wary of belief :). If you have indeed based your life on certainties and never ventured forth into the hazy realms of belief then you're very fortunate. I really can't continue arguing for belief in the face of someone who tells me categorically that he has chosen to live his life without belief and is carrying on just fine :).

Maybe the truth of it is that we can live without belief just like we can fall asleep without a bedtime story. But the latter is so much more pleasant. Which is prolly why the tradition persists :). Y'know the more I debate this with you guys the more unsure I get, and considering I started off unsure this does not change matters much :P