belief

Agnosticism and Cats

My latest post on agnosticism seems to have elicited much attention and response — my sincere thanks to all who weighed in!  I was especially pleased by the variety in the kinds of responses I received — often it seems I am disposed to attract comments chiefly from those who vehemently disagree with me 😉

One response in particular came from Vinny, whose recent addition to our community here has been most welcome — I appreciate his consistently fair-minded and non-inflammatory approach to these discussions, and I always welcome what he has to say.  Something he said in this particular discussion caught my attention so powerfully that I felt compelled to devote a post to its response.  I’ll quote the comment in its entirety below, but first a quick synopsis of our discussion up to this point: (more…)

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Let’s Leave Motives Out of It

When discussing ideas, I think it best to keep motives out of it.

Often, I am told that my experiences of God (and therefore my belief in Him) are nothing but the results of an elaborate physiological ruse, where I am held victim to the workings of my own brain (boy, aren’t we all?) — or, even worse, my belief in God is just the manifestation of my own wishful thinking.  Freud made this view popular, saying that religious beliefs are “illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind….  Thus the benevolent rule of the divine Providence allays our fears of the dangers of life.”  And Freud was a smart guy, so we can just take his word for it, right?  No need to look at evidence or reasoning or anything — or even lay me on a sofa and come up with any direct support for your diagnosis, O great mind-reading wizard on the other end of the computer screen.  It must be true, because (as you say) it can’t be that God actually exists — there has to be a “simpler” explanation (because the explanation that God actually exists is way more far-fetched than my brain’s ability to create, sustain, and continually reinforce a series of ordered and consistent delusions that in every way resemble the qualities of an actual relationship — not to mention do things like granting insight into unknowable yet pertinent information and future events and healing emotional wounds — all in a manner that holds up to corroboration with others who claim similar relationships).

Sorry, I guess I’m feeling a little snarky today, aren’t I?  C’mon, Seth, let’s reign it in… a little. (more…)

Belief vs. Knowledge

Ah, tildeb, you’ve done it again — you’ve raised such an incisive point that I have no choice but to devote an entire post to my reply 🙂 Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

Now, I for one highly recommend my readers to take the time to go through the entire discussion (it actually starts back here, then jumps to here) — but, since this may be a tall order for people who already live rich and busy lives, I’ll set the stage by saying, simply, that the discussion thus far has been characterized by tildeb offering critique of my methods in arriving at the truth about God.  I have provided evidence of both subjective and substantive natures, but all were rejected because, at the end of the day, my metaphysical worldview boils down to faith — I cannot know definitively that what I believe is the truth, because none of my conclusions can be independently verified in ways consistent with the naturalistic method of attaining knowledge.  (I think this is an accurate picture of our discussion thus far, tildeb, but I am of course open to correction.)

So, now the rest of this post will be a direct response to tildeb: (more…)