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Redefining Faith - Comments

yarisajarfullofjr's Avatar Comment 1 by yarisajarfullofjr

Might I suggest the poster is looking at the wrong end of the problem? The point shouldn't be to make the term faith a term of derision. That's too negative a strategy to catch on. Negative strategies work wonders for elections, but don't do so well with long-term movements. I hope I don't sound too business jargony here, but think positive. Instead of outright making faith a negative term, we ought to focus on making terms like intellectualism, scholarship, studious, freethinking (etc.) Into terms recognized as universally positive. Right now they are positive terms for a sub-culture. We need to find a way for the culture at large to embrace them. This will give the target audience something to be for, and not just against.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 09:55:18 UTC | #530193

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 2 by sunbeamforjeebus

Sorry Comment I by yarisajarfullofjr but I disagree that we should not make 'faith' a term of derision.I think we should merely substitute either ju ju or woo woo,these being equally accurate/valid terms to faith.You use the term 'business jargony' as reference to the adjective 'positive',but in a business environment, certainly the one's I've worked in; 'faith' would certainly be a term of derision.If challenged over say projections or predictions one were to justify prediction by proclaiming 'faith' ,a new job would surely beckon. If one does not rigorously oppose the 'faithfull'they will never question the validity of the term themselves.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 11:13:11 UTC | #530216

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 3 by AtheistEgbert

Religious faith is negative. It is allowing the opinion of others to hijack a normal health brain to become an ignorant unthinking one. Religious faith is unreasonable, so is religious belief.

It is also impractical. No one ever drove to the supermarket through religious faith.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 11:17:08 UTC | #530219

Reversenorm's Avatar Comment 4 by Reversenorm

In both instances, positive or negative, this topic is about ascribing a new value to terms like faith or freethinking. As I understand it there two really good ways to ascribe value to anything.

  1. Rewards or status, given or removed.

  2. Association with something else positive or negative.

In the case of Faith the unfortunate truth is that, especially in the US, the more a person expresses faith the more people will listen to them (status) and if they're in the clergy the more cool little religious things and activities are available to them (rewards). For intellectual, freethinkers, the more knowledge you have the less people understand you (reducing perceived status) and our our society does not offer enough little badges, special cloths, or entrusting of special items (especially if you're outside a college system) with a weekly chance to display them. The few things that learned people do get to display (like Dr. in front of a name) are often disregarded as arrogance by the population at large (association with the negative).

So what to do?

Create a framework where for as little cost as possible a whole generation will re-value these terms and perceive existing rewards for the learned better and demand better displayed rewards as well. In short make Games. The next generation is stewed in MMO's and social networks and if you want to change they're minds about things like faith or intellectualism you'll need to operate in they're world or status and rewards, the world of generation G (born 1998-200 today's tweens).

In short the best medium for ascribing new value within the next 5-10 years is to make online games where the title "Dr." is very important. Where people who exhibit factual knowledge about the world get cool cloths and neat toys for their avatar show off with. Or, if you's like to be especially insidious tag enemies in the game-world as faithful or believers.

...wow...actually writing this out seems a lot like new age brainwashing for atheism...I still think this would work but the ethics are well...questionable.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 11:22:22 UTC | #530222

lilalindy's Avatar Comment 5 by lilalindy

"It's a matter of fact"

I think it says it all. Evolution - matter of fact ... and so on.

If they want to disprove it, let them go do it - in a scientific, (with the emphasis on reproducibility (no pun intended)) way, of course.

As far as faith goes, people need to realise that faith is just a euphemism for lazy thinking.

In the same way that drinking and driving is not looked down upon (pretty universally) and smoking is becoming that way (in 'thankyou for smoking', if I remember correctly, the protagonist says something along the lines of 'the only people that smoke in movies nowadays are murderers and paedophiles'), people need to realise that the word 'faith' is something that they don't want to be associated with.

Words do change their meaning or use through time - one example of change is the word 'decimate' which used to mean reduce by one tenth (leaving 90 per cent) from the Roman practice to its current (annoyingly incorrect IMHO) meaning of reduce to one tenth.

One example where the negative interpretation of a word becomes the only used meaning is the word 'egregious' - familiar to fans of The League of Gentlemen (UK TV); 'Pauline, would you say you have an egregious personality?'. The word originally just meant 'outstanding'. Now, it almost always means 'outstandingly bad'.

One example of where a religious symbol has been hijacked is the swastika. It features in various eastern religions including Jainism (an ancient religion of India that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings). The use by the Nazis is normally the only use that western people are aware of so when they see it in its original context, they assume a Nazi connection (that somehow reaches back to neolithic times - an interesting breach of the second law of thermodynamics).

I'm not suggesting that someone goes and murders millions of people in the name of faith so that the word 'faith' is discredited - this has already been done and it didn't work - it's just that some sort of socially unacceptable connection needs to be made with the word.

Mel Brooks used to use laughter to downgrade people's importance (Nazis, racists and so on). Maybe that is another angle of subtle attack.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 11:25:53 UTC | #530225

lilalindy's Avatar Comment 6 by lilalindy

Comment 3 by AtheistEgbert

It is also impractical. No one ever drove to the supermarket through religious faith.

Faith v practical application of science (physics in this case)

Episode 3 of Father Ted series 3 - 'Speed 3' - demonstrated how effective faith (and prayer) was in the scene where Dougal is in the milk float (trying to keep the speed above 4MPH) and the priests hold mass for him from an altar on a trailer attached to the back of a tractor moving alongside. This is before they take the more practical step of using a brick to hold down the accelerator.

17'30" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG3FfFgGNz8

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 11:55:05 UTC | #530243

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 7 by SaganTheCat

further to the reference to Father Ted, the answer if you want to take the power out of a word is through the media using comedy

If for example a highly successful sketch show were to make a punchline out of the phrase "because I have faith!" or simliar (can't be difficult surely?) and let it run for a series, you'd soon give the word a new slant (not to mention cause some extra irreverend titternig in sermons among kids dragged along to church).

you don't need to even write a series of anti-religious sketches, because "faith" in every non-religious TV sit-com setting will always result in comic failure

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 12:06:14 UTC | #530249

Outrider's Avatar Comment 8 by Outrider

Personally, I try to remember to do a search/replace of each post to swap 'Faith' or 'Belief' for 'unjustified confidence'.

A simple paraphrase, but with a significantly different emphasis. I don't always remember, and sometimes it doesn't fit, but it's a reasonable starting point.

O.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 12:20:30 UTC | #530256

pfrankinstein's Avatar Comment 9 by pfrankinstein

HOLYSMOKES

How can we make it synonymous with the word "foolish?" Just how does one change the meaning of a single word in the eyes of the public?

You must work long and hard to change Joe publics perception of the word.

You will need faith in your own ability to bring about the change.

: - )

What foolishness.

Paul.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 13:10:48 UTC | #530271

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 10 by cheesedoff17

Unless we come together to form some sort of pressure group, I don't see how we could collectively change the the notion of faith into a negative, meanwhile there are any number of ways the individual can work towards making fence sitters or others think. Any form of parallel education could help. For example,I have been "sharing" via StumbleUpon for a few years with never a visitor to my homepage. Recently I added my priest Gravatar, suddenly visitors!

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 13:14:20 UTC | #530273

jawbone's Avatar Comment 11 by jawbone

What you chattin' about, blood? Sounds a bit faith (pronounced faif). You get me?

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 13:16:52 UTC | #530274

pfrankinstein's Avatar Comment 12 by pfrankinstein

cheesedoff17

Recently I added my priest Gravatar, suddenly visitors!

Your avatar is praying.

You wanted more visitors and your prayer was answered.

Hallelujah

: - )

Paul.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 13:24:10 UTC | #530277

holysmokes's Avatar Comment 13 by holysmokes

pfrankenstein

Blockquote You will need faith in your own ability to bring about the change.

On the contrary, I have no "faith" that any methods will work. The only way to find out is to test them. It's called science.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 16:00:22 UTC | #530333

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 14 by Enlightenme..

Not gonna happen!

Faith is used all the time, whether we're talking in the fidelity-like sense here, or the aspirational 'keeping the dream alive', it's all blurred together, and the ad-men will keep showing the traffic-free blacktop through the alpine gorge.

.."Yes we can"... Obama 2008 "We're the optimists now (x23)"... Ed Miliband 2010

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 18:49:26 UTC | #530392

pfrankinstein's Avatar Comment 15 by pfrankinstein

holysmokes

On the contrary, I have no "faith" that any methods will work. The only way to find out is to test them. It's called science.

Yes, and through experience science recognises patterns and makes predictions.

Science looks to understand the properties of the big bang by setting off a mini bb by using the Hadron Collider. As a species we are relatively young, the sun is less than half way through it's life cycle, assuming that this intelligence is not just a flash in the pan, where might such knowledge lead us.

It is perfectly reasonable to assert that a universe like our own can arise naturally, it is equally reasonable to assert that the big bang was started by an intelligence beyond our understanding.

You have told yourself that atheism is based on science, it is not.

Paul.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 19:09:05 UTC | #530400

TeraBrat's Avatar Comment 16 by TeraBrat

There's nothing wrong with faith. There's a problem when people are frightened and "bullied" into having faith with things like "you're going to hell if you don't..."

I have faith in a lot of things. Like the fact that the sun will be shining tomorrow, even if I can't see it because of the clouds.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 20:43:34 UTC | #530434

cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 17 by cheesedoff17

@pfrankinstein comment 12

I laughed at what I thought was your atheist joke. Now, from your further comments it is evident that you were not joking but are sir, a crackpot.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 21:05:26 UTC | #530450

Outrider's Avatar Comment 18 by Outrider

It is perfectly reasonable to assert that a universe like our own can arise naturally, it is equally reasonable to assert that the big bang was started by an intelligence beyond our understanding

1 - We lack evidence for any external agency 2 - In the persistent absence of evidence, despite rigorous and long-standing search and enquiry, it is most logical to assume evidence of absence, whilst accepting the possibility of error.

or

1 - We lack evidence for any external agency 2 - Therefore, God did it.

One of these makes sense to, and one doesn't... I suspect everyone would say the same, though.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 21:35:43 UTC | #530469

holysmokes's Avatar Comment 19 by holysmokes

I get the impression that many of you feel that discrediting "faith" is a bad idea. For me, science requires evidence to make more informed conclusions, whereas religious faith does not. It would seem logical to promote one while slowing or stopping the other.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 23:20:48 UTC | #530507

Outrider's Avatar Comment 20 by Outrider

@ holysmokes

I see where you're coming from. It depends, I think, on how you think you're going to attack the religious institutions.

If you are of the opinion that logical demonstrations of the vapidity and stupidity of formalised belief systems can be put the legislative and executive bodies, then you denigrate faith and elevate science.

If, however, you think that politicians who require votes will always pander to a religious subculture if it is there, then this appears doomed to failure.

Instead, you have to convince the current religious to deviate from their faith and accept reason; if you denigrate faith to them, they become overly defensive and reject all your commentary.

Personally, I think that if enough rational people are split between both camps then we can exert pressure on both ends - some people will have to be the coercive teachers, and some will have to be the 'strident' militants.

O.

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 23:28:53 UTC | #530513

Truly Apes's Avatar Comment 21 by Truly Apes

Given the chance to ask even a single question, it's pretty easy to prove that someone who claims to have faith actually doesn't have any faith at all. Any of the following should work:

  1. Do you ever try to exit your house by walking through the wall rather than the door?
  2. When is the last time you filled your car's gas tank with water?
  3. Would you allow a "doctor" who never graduated from medical school to perform a surgical procedure on you?

...and a million others, all of which prove definitively that "faith" is a synonym for "willful ignorance". The same people who accept the existence of an omnipotent deity on the basis of "faith" won't even buy a new washing machine until they've read a dozen positive reviews on Amazon.com. They rely on the scientific method and empirical evidence to govern every inconsequential detail of their daily lives, then gladly throw it all out the window when someone promises an eternal playground after death. Greed, anyone?

That type of hypocrisy and willingness to compromise fundamental personal principles is the exact quality that people always criticize politicians for. They campaign on their morals, but the first million dollar bribe that comes their way is enough to overpower their better judgment.

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 00:58:39 UTC | #530526

njwong's Avatar Comment 22 by njwong

The problem is that the word "faith" has multiple meanings, some of which are not religious. For example, there are 6 entries under the heading "faith" in "The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language", and entries 1 and 3 are not religious:

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, an idea, or a thing.

3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.

If you try to associate the word "faith" with "foolish", your opponents will simply make the claim that if your claims were true, then your faith in science and reason is likewise foolish.

I think it is better to target the word "religion" instead of the word "faith". That is why Christopher Hitchens says "Religion Poisions Everything" and not "Faith Poisons Everything".

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 03:33:43 UTC | #530572

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 23 by ZenDruid

"Faith", as believers use the term, is the flimsy membrane between the superstitious believer and full-blown primordial fear.

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 05:36:56 UTC | #530621

Balance_Maintained's Avatar Comment 24 by Balance_Maintained

Even the biblical definition of the word faith does not have an inherently religious connotation (i.e. Faith is the assured expectation of things to come though not beheld). By that definition, even things such as dark matter, dark energy, etc become matters of 'faith' (If you want to challenge that statement then please show me some of either of those things). So criticize their ju ju, just realize that you are criticizing your own as well.

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 06:43:05 UTC | #530634

pfrankinstein's Avatar Comment 25 by pfrankinstein

@cheesedoff17

I laughed at what I thought was your atheist joke. Now, from your further comments it is evident that you were not joking but are sir, a crackpot.

Funny not funny crackpot. Perhaps you would like to qualify your cheeky insult by specifically pointing out where in my other comments you believe me to unrealistic eccentric or impractical.

Paul.

Fri, 08 Oct 2010 10:06:16 UTC | #530710

Jim Callum's Avatar Comment 26 by Jim Callum

Comment 21 by Truly Apes :

Given the chance to ask even a single question, it's pretty easy to prove that someone who claims to have faith actually doesn't have any faith at all. Any of the following should work:

  • Do you ever try to exit your house by walking through the wall rather than the door?
  • When is the last time you filled your car's gas tank with water?
  • Would you allow a "doctor" who never graduated from medical school to perform a surgical procedure on you? ...and a million others, all of which prove definitively that "faith" is a synonym for "willful ignorance". The same people who accept the existence of an omnipotent deity on the basis of "faith" won't even buy a new washing machine until they've read a dozen positive reviews on Amazon.com.
  • True in a sense, but faith in the face of proof – especially proof that one can easily gain through first hand experience (i.e. banging into a wall, your car not starting or dying from an operation conducted by an amateur enthusiast) is much harder to maintain than faith in the face of uncertainty. Or as is the case with fictional deitys, lack of evidence that they do not exist.

    It is hard for someone to have faith in the idea that they can walk through a wall when they can actually try to do it and fail. It is slightly easier to believe that whilst they are away from their house and no one else is in it those walls become intangible and they could walk through them if they wanted to but they're not there to test it. Still stupid but easier to have “faith” in.

    As God said (according to Douglas Adams) “Proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing”

    This leads to the potential to have faith in creationism or other such insanity when the individual who has faith hasn’t actually observed evolution and can wilfully keep themselves away from any actual evidence that could burst their bubble. The further you are from the evidence the easier it is to have “faith”.

    This is why more people have faith in one or other of the fictional gods man has created that have faith in creationism. As there is of course no evidence that they do not exist the individual is even further from the evidence that could deny their faith. Just as there is no evidence the Spaghetti Monster or Richard’s teapot don’t exist.

    So whilst it is easy to take someone out of a delusion that immediate and simple proof can refute it is much harder to take someone out of a delusion for which the evidence is complex and requires effort to understand.

    There are people who have faith in their ability to walk through walls – they are labelled (correctly) insane and locked away for their own protection

    There are people who have faith in creationism – they are tolerated and indeed actively supported by a worryingly large crowd of fools

    There are those who have faith in Gods – they seem rampant

    It seems the further you are from the proof that denies your faith the more people will share that delusion and the more it will be deemed acceptable by society.

    Fri, 08 Oct 2010 11:32:25 UTC | #530757

    guyver_dio's Avatar Comment 27 by guyver_dio

    Comment 15 by pfrankinstein :

    Yes, and through experience science recognises patterns and makes predictions.

    It is perfectly reasonable to assert that a universe like our own can arise naturally, it is equally reasonable to assert that the big bang was started by an intelligence beyond our understanding.

    Look at what you first wrote then read the bottom paragraph again. Every experience science has had has been one of natural explanation. There hasn't been a scientific experience that can be confirmed as supernatural. It is reasonable to predict that the universe started through natural processes because anything contrary to nature has not been found. In terms of intelligence it may be arguable that the universe began by some sort of natural intelligence (i.e. not a god) but not a supernatural intelligence (it is a total scientifically unsupported, incredible and therefore imaginative speculation so how can you call it reasonable). Where would you draw your reasoning from, Religion? Bahaha

    Fri, 08 Oct 2010 15:22:12 UTC | #530912

    cheesedoff17's Avatar Comment 28 by cheesedoff17

    pfrankinstein.

    Crackpot is the endearing term I use for those who believe in the doG.

    "You wanted visitors your prayers have been answered Hallelujah"

    I neither wanted nor prayed for visitors. I never even thought about them.

    It is not reasonable to assert that the cosmos was created by an "intelligence" beyond our understanding. "an event beyond our present understanding" would be more reasonable.

    "You think that atheism is based on science. it is not" I'm sure holysmoke doesn't think anything of the kind.

    Fri, 08 Oct 2010 19:27:22 UTC | #531036

    Truly Apes's Avatar Comment 29 by Truly Apes

    Comment 26 by Jim Callum :

    True in a sense, but faith in the face of proof – especially proof that one can easily gain through first hand experience (i.e. banging into a wall, your car not starting or dying from an operation conducted by an amateur enthusiast) is much harder to maintain than faith in the face of uncertainty. Or as is the case with fictional deitys, lack of evidence that they do not exist.

    It is hard for someone to have faith in the idea that they can walk through a wall when they can actually try to do it and fail. It is slightly easier to believe that whilst they are away from their house and no one else is in it those walls become intangible and they could walk through them if they wanted to but they're not there to test it. Still stupid but easier to have “faith” in.

    The degree of their hypocrisy isn't lessened by the difficulty or ease with which varying beliefs can be tested. This is the problem:

    Theist methodology for everyday decision-making:

    1. Doubt
    2. Seek evidence
    3. Believe

    Theist methodology for religious decision-making:

    1. Believe
    2. Disregard evidence
    3. Believe

    All it takes for them to compromise is fear and greed. They fear retribution, and they desire eternal happiness. Theists are the epitome of hypocrisy...

    Fri, 08 Oct 2010 20:09:13 UTC | #531053

    holysmokes's Avatar Comment 30 by holysmokes

    cheesedoff17

    Blockquote "You think that atheism is based on science. it is not" I'm sure holysmoke doesn't think anything of the kind.

    I can only tell you that my atheism is based on a complete lack of data regarding a higher power. ANY higher power. I feel that the only acceptable method to explore the notion is science. Want answers? Then probe, test, examine, experiment, observe, review, compare etc. all that we can in the natural world. Rhetoric has it's place, but it will never replace hard/repeatable evidence.

    To date, I am unaware of any evidence pointing towards a creator. Does that mean it's impossible? No, however why entertain an idea with no evidence? Doing so was like saying, "The back side of the moon is made of cheese" before space flight was possible. The moon is phase locked with Earth, so we never saw the back side. It looked a bit like Swiss cheese on the visible side. Ok, that's enough evidence, let's go with it. Cheese it is! Paper to be published soon. The funny part is that there is actually one more piece of evidence for this silly idea then there is for a human believing in a god/s. At least we can see the moon!

    I've rolled off topic again, sorry. The only real point I'm trying to make is; Should we as a society allow the specific word, "faith" to continue as a positive word for religion? I personally feel that degrading it will help more of the "undecided" folks on the planet think a bit more rationally. If you agree, what thoughts do you have on going about it? If you disagree, why? As a few of you have pointed out, word meanings have been changed in the past.

    Daniel Clear (comment #7) above has a potentional idea. Why not use the media? Surely there must be more a few "Free Thinkers" in the Television and Big Screen world.

    Fri, 08 Oct 2010 20:21:27 UTC | #531057