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llogical

Exploring The True Meaning Of "belief"

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It seems to me that to most religious folks, the word belief holds the highest credibility even when it's detached from reason.For example for someone who believes in Allah or Jesus or the teachings of Joseph Smith no scientific evidence can change their minds since they have a strong belief. My question is then how do we consolidate this reality with the fact that there are so many beliefs with each claiming that they have the right one? Chances are that most strong believers follow their parents or ancestors, How do we differentiate strong belief from being socially conditioned and or brainwashed?

Edited by llogical

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Hi Ilogical,

 

When I was a kid, I was a Muslim because it's my parents' religion, and it's also the religion embraced by most people in thea area where I lived in.

But now, as a grown up who can think for myself, and I realize that the reason that I am now still a Muslim because I do want to be a Muslim, and to remain a Muslim. I feel peace of mind with the teachings of Islam, its logics and the spiritual experiences that it offer me.

 

I learned about many other religions, and found many things that do not make sense even in their basic concepts of God and Divinity, not to mention the way they pray that do not make sense to me either.

 

So, I am fully satisifed with my religion. It's my choice now to remain a Muslim.

 

Yasnov

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Thanks Yas,

What you mentioned makes sense but doesn't address my concern. You were Muslim because you were borned a Muslim. You remained a Muslim because as a rational being you can justify Islam being superior to other religion, hence you are a Muslim by choice. Now just like you there are other people, some one who was borned a Jew not by choice but remained a Jew a because he/she found Judiasm to be the superior religion ( that and Bcaz Jews get more holidays :) )

How do you distinguish yourself from that person who is following the same exact rationale? I am certain you have your reasons why you are right and he will have his reasons. What's the tie breaker? You have strong belief but so does he. (Notice how once gender neutral our subject is now a he)

 

I am certain if you have him cornered with sound rationale he will not sway. The only difference between you and the imaginary Jew is that you guys were exposed to different culture and social stimuli.

 

So my question stands how do we differentiate strong belief from being socially conditioned or brainwashed?

Edited by llogical

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Short answer llogical - by thinking for yourself , independent of what is taught or written in a book . And Yasnov gave you the other main reason -he is comfortable with his beliefs .

 So your question stands -   as rhetorical .

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So short answer is by thinking independently of what is written in a book? Guess you and I are on the same page just different books. Thanks for answering my rhetorical question with astounding levels of granularity. I guess my problem is that Sometimes I expect too much from I want to say people?

Cheers mate (Not British btw this just kinda came out )

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Thanks Yas,

How do you distinguish yourself from that person who is following the same exact rationale? I am certain you have your reasons why you are right and he will have his reasons. What's the tie breaker? You have strong belief but so does he. (Notice how once gender neutral our subject is now a he)

 

llogical,

 

Strong is a relative word, on a scale of 1-10, it's a 10 for me. I remain a Muslim because I am content with this religion, I am satisifed with the spiritual experience that it offers me. I remain a Muslim due to informed knowledge about this religion and other religions as well. As Eclipse said above, thinking for yourself independent of what is taught or written in a book, and that's why education is important. And this is even recommended by Islam to read, Iqra, Read. So, you can learn. If the imaginary Jew with all his spiritual holidays remains a Jew after going the same process as me, then good for him, and in that case, Lakum dinukum waliya dini, meaning: "To you be your religion, and to me my religion."

 

Yasnov

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llogical , You might find it easier to simply say what you really are asking for. No ? My answer did not contain any exceptional or hidden wisdom , just common sense and logic. However you should qualify , what kind of belief are you talking about. Belief in known physical things like, cement is hard and feathers are soft , anyone would be hard put to disagree , in fact that would be irrational. If you are talking about a belief in something that is philosophical , then the answers do not have to correlate with physical law or experience. Whether such a belief is good or bad depends on what the consequences of said belief are in the physical world .

If one holds beliefs blindly then that is through ignorance , if one believes by social acceptance, fear, or by being born into a belief system then that is based in tradition . If one through , logic , observation , experience, access to books , exposure to the sciences ,and philosophical views , then reaches a conclusion , as to a belief , then you could say that was reached independently , by way of that persons own reasoning process. Obviously there is a lack of agreement as to conclusions , just as there is in the sciences, so too the philosophical.

Edited by ECLIPSE

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Are you saying you have no blind beliefs, you understand everything you believe?

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Tanker?

 

What? To whom did you ask that question?

 

Yasnov

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No Tanker , I have no "blind beliefs " and what that means quite simply is , I believe nothing blindly. Is there anything in that sentence you are having trouble understanding ?

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llogical,

 

If the imaginary Jew with all his spiritual holidays remains a Jew after going the same process as me, then good for him, and in that case, Lakum dinukum waliya dini, meaning: "To you be your religion, and to me my religion."

Yasnov

So your position is I'm right. And if he's not Onboard then he can go to hell?

Try to approach it differently. If I am standing at a two way intersection where one road leads to a pool party and other to quick sand. I see you going right and the Jew going left while both of you think you are going to the same destination. You can say hey we both want to go to pool party lets consolidate and see which one is right, your answer is you go your way I'll go mine screw cooperation or the notion of team work?

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If one holds beliefs blindly then that is through ignorance , if one believes by social acceptance, fear, or by being born into a belief system then that is based in tradition . If one through , logic , observation , experience, access to books , exposure to the sciences ,and philosophical views , then reaches a conclusion , as to a belief , then you could say that was reached independently , by way of that persons own reasoning process. Obviously there is a lack of agreement as to conclusions , just as there is in the sciences, so too the philosophical.

So belief is installed by culture and then validated via logic or rationale not hunches a warm fuzzy indescribable feeling In the heart etc? If so then it's alright to subject a belief to test of logic and rationale and if it fails to satisfy then should be rejected? Correct?

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So your position is I'm right. And if he's not Onboard then he can go to hell?

Try to approach it differently. If I am standing at a two way intersection where one road leads to a pool party and other to quick sand. I see you going right and the Jew going left while both of you think you are going to the same destination. You can say hey we both want to go to pool party lets consolidate and see which one is right, your answer is you go your way I'll go mine screw cooperation or the notion of team work?

 

llogical,

 

In that scenario, I'll tell him kindly the reasons why he should follow me. I'll invite him to take the road that I'm taking. But that's all that I can do.

 

Yasnov

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Well you know what follows,he will tell you the same thing.:) He will say come with me if you want to get to your destination. so the point is , is there any chance that at this point you can admit " hey let me check my directions because there maybe a possibility that I maybe wrong?" because if you say I am 100% convinced my choice is the right choice then you have the burden of proof

Edited by llogical
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Well you know what follows,he will tell you the same thing. :) He will say come with me if you want to get to your destination. so the point is , is there any chance that at this point you can admit " hey let me check my directions because there maybe a possibility that I maybe wrong?" because if you say I am 100% convinced my choice is the right choice then you have the burden of proof

 

llogical,

 

This is spiritual thing. Spiritual feeling. I can do what you suggested if I was unhappy with my direction. But no, I am happy enough already with my own direction. I don't know about the Jew, if he's happy enough with his direction despite of what I told him, then it's up to him to decide, there's nothing I can do.

 

Let's take it to Emotional Realm.

 

You have always fallen in love with Girl A. You want to marry her and spend the rest of your life with her. There's no reason for you not to marry her in fact. But then one day, when you wake up in the morning, you just decide and told yourself, I wanted to marry Girl B instead and see how's my feeling for Girl B. Isn't that what you're implying here?

 

To me, to move from one religion to another I must have a reason first to do that, and the reason must be something spiritual.

 

Yasnov

Edited by Yasnov

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Yasnov.

 

If everything is a product of its circumstances,

which is basically what you're saying here... (and I agree).

Then the only reason that you're still a Muslim (and not a Jew) is happenstance;

 

"I think (X) is true, because I was born into a circumstance that has encouraged me to think so."

 

This applies to everyone, for everything. And should be enough to dilute the idea of pride/achievement, for any man.

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Donald,

 

What you said that everything is a product of its circumstances -- might be true. Though, sometimes I wondered that if I was born into, say, Christian family, but with the same feeling and mindset and critical thinking that I am having now, I might be end up questioning the concept of God in Christianity. Or, in other words, I would end up feeling discontent and unhappy with the belief that I had, and I may start looking somewhere else just like many Christians who have converted to Islam from Christianity. But then you could also say the same thing about Muslims leaving the folds of Islam and embracing other religions. That's why I said that belief is spiritual personal experience.

 

Right, you can't be proud of something which is happenstance, but of course you can be proud of it if it can make you a better person, or if it can remove the emptiness that you feel within you without it, if it can make your life more fulfilled and more guided.

 

Yasnov

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Yasnov, no offense but I believe I'm looking for someone who can level with me. I don't think you quite get what I'm asking. Still I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

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Yasnov, no offense but I believe I'm looking for someone who can level with me. I don't think you quite get what I'm asking. Still I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Never mind, llogical. Hope you'll find what you're looking for.

 

Yasnov

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Donald,

 

What you said that everything is a product of its circumstances -- might be true. Though, sometimes I wondered that if I was born into, say, Christian family, but with the same feeling and mindset and critical thinking that I am having now, I might be end up questioning the concept of God in Christianity. Or, in other words, I would end up feeling discontent and unhappy with the belief that I had, and I may start looking somewhere else just like many Christians who have converted to Islam from Christianity. But then you could also say the same thing about Muslims leaving the folds of Islam and embracing other religions. That's why I said that belief is spiritual personal experience.

 

Right, you can't be proud of something which is happenstance, but of course you can be proud of it if it can make you a better person, or if it can remove the emptiness that you feel within you without it, if it can make your life more fulfilled and more guided.

 

Yasnov

 

It is very refreshing to hear a believer (or anybody else, really) acknowledge such things. Thank you for this.

 

Could you better describe what you mean when you say 'belief is a spiritual, personal experience'?

 

And what is the best language we (universally) could use to explain/define this 'effect' across all faith systems?

 

Thanks.

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It is very refreshing to hear a believer (or anybody else, really) acknowledge such things. Thank you for this.

 

Could you better describe what you mean when you say 'belief is a spiritual, personal experience'?

 

And what is the best language we (universally) could use to explain/define this 'effect' across all faith systems?

 

Thanks.

 

Donald,

 

Isn't that obvious that everyone has their own unique spiritual journey? Among those who believe, there are those who pray because their family or the people around them pray. Some pray because they are afraid of God's punishment. Some pray because their want to seek God's pleasure. There are also those who pray because they want to seek God's pleasure and at the same time are in fear of His Punishment. Some pray because it gives them peace of mind. Some pray because they are thankful for what they have been blessed with. Some pray because they want to be seen as pious men. Some pray because it's a natural thing to do for creation to worship the Creator. Some pray because they are dependent on Creator's help. Some pray because it makes their life complete and meaningful.

 

And I have to acknowledge that there are also those who think they can just stop believing because they do no longer feel anything as their focus is finally shifted to all the wordly things. That's why you need critical thinking that will allow you to realize that no matter what happens, no matter how fluctuating your faith is, you would always need to be connected with the Creator at the end of the day. You can't be rich forever, you can't be young forever, you can't be healthy forever, and most importantly, you can't live forever.

 

And there are those who think that this stuff about believing in Creator is nonsense. And usually they are intellectually curious people.

 

Yasnov

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Good answer Yasnov. Unfortunately intellectually curious people lack the wisdom to accept that all people do not view reality as they do. They then facetiously contend that the beliefs of others contradict their own version of reality.

  I apologize for breaking into your discussion with Donald_M  , but I sense his questions are simply baiting  in nature ,and as long as any answer  is given  in disagreement with his view , the " honest questions "  will eventually become condescending , with the excuse of curiosity.

 

 Donald_M ,as well as llogical and Russell are atheists , and that is totally ok , as far as I'm concerned. However they argue that they have a better reason for their position than that of the Theist , when in fact , both Theist and Atheist are arguing a philosophical issue , and the conclusions reached by any individual is unique to that individual. There is no proof for or against , only opinion. So both sides are expressing in effect, a "faith " in their own position. Yet the atheist will claim that they never operate in "faith " per se , whereas they would call it  scientific probability , or hypotheses based on as of yet unproven and un- tested science. Some men will look at the Universe , nature , and reality and conclude that it is purposed , while others will view the same as chance. Levels of education have nothing to do  with it , for there are also those on the leading edge of science,  amongst their peers who concluded that there is indications of purpose.

 It is a circular argument.  

Edited by ECLIPSE

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Hi Eclipse

 

I’m not sure who you are talking about when you state that “intellectually curious people lack the wisdom to accept that all people do not view reality as they do”.  I for one am intellectually curious but I fully understand that other people see the world differently to me and I agree that some of those other views do contradict my view.  It can’t be both true and false, in other words it is a contradiction to my view that god exists if he does not.

 

We as humans have been solving mysteries for as long as humans have existed.  We’ve solved mysteries from how to make steel and swords to what drives the weather, how atoms work etc.  Behind every single mystery we have ever solved there was no magic.  Magic (God’s, fairies etc) has a 100% failure rate for every single mystery humans have ever solved.  There are of course always going to be mysteries that we have not yet solved and maybe god hides in there somewhere but that’s not been a good bet to date.  God of the gaps is a fallacy IMHO.

 

You mention levels of education as no determinant of religious belief but that’s not actually true.  Religious belief is more common among less educated people with the most highly educated people generally and especially in the sciences being very unlikely to hold any form of religious belief.  From memory it’s around 3% for the highest tiers in the US national academies of sciences and even at lower levels the inverse relationship between educational levels and belief is clear in all sorts of surveys world wide.

 

As for the idea that all of these belief systems are faith based I think you have misunderstood what we atheists are saying.  I don’t have faith that there is no god, I have no evidence for one but faith is not required, I simply don’t have any faith that there is a god.  You can point to a god and say I believe in him/her/it/them while I can’t.  There is no god that I have ever seen enough evidence for to form a faith.  Now from my position the invisible and the non-existent look a great deal alike so I suspect that there is no god but I certainly don’t hold that position on faith just on a complete lack of evidence to the contrary.

 

As you can see there’s nothing circular about not forming a faith when evidence is not prescent so that charge is false also.

 

Russell

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You mentioned in your post the keyword Russell - IMHO. That is why there are theists and atheists. And yes , the line of Q&A coming from Donald_M directed to Yasnov , was indeed developing into a circular argument .

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Donald,

 

Isn't that obvious that everyone has their own unique spiritual journey? Among those who believe, there are those who pray because their family or the people around them pray. Some pray because they are afraid of God's punishment. Some pray because their want to seek God's pleasure. There are also those who pray because they want to seek God's pleasure and at the same time are in fear of His Punishment. Some pray because it gives them peace of mind. Some pray because they are thankful for what they have been blessed with. Some pray because they want to be seen as pious men. Some pray because it's a natural thing to do for creation to worship the Creator. Some pray because they are dependent on Creator's help. Some pray because it makes their life complete and meaningful.

 

And I have to acknowledge that there are also those who think they can just stop believing because they do no longer feel anything as their focus is finally shifted to all the wordly things. That's why you need critical thinking that will allow you to realize that no matter what happens, no matter how fluctuating your faith is, you would always need to be connected with the Creator at the end of the day. You can't be rich forever, you can't be young forever, you can't be healthy forever, and most importantly, you can't live forever.

 

And there are those who think that this stuff about believing in Creator is nonsense. And usually they are intellectually curious people.

 

Yasnov

 

Yasnov.

 

It was the cool air of determinism that I enjoyed most (from your previous post). My appreciation lies there.

 

For a man to leave Islam, in this hypothetical world of happenstance, he could be attributed no blame.

He would be as much to blame for his apostasy, as you would be for your devotion to the religion.

 

It is this common ground in the idea of determinism that has the potential to be a very powerful ally.

 

If both, believers and non-believers are dominated by these deciding factors (before we exist),

we must consider what language would be most effective in describing the effects of this, as they relate to us and religion.

 

I did not want to presume that 'belief is a spiritual, personal experience' was another way of you saying, 'warm fuzzy feeling'.

And so I thought my question would have been read literally, and you would have included this in the 'determinism hypothesis'.

 

Whether you think we are determined or not, I would be interested to hear what you had to say on the matter, especially from an Islamic perspective.

 

Sorry for any misunderstanding. And thanks.

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