When I was in college (multiple lifetimes ago) I took a class where we studied the nature of belief and disbelief. It was actually a class about logic and situational analysis, but (despite being raised Lutheran) I attended a Jesuit college, so the emphasis on belief versus disbelief was well aligned with their gestalt.
I loved the class (for many reasons, not all of them scholastic). The topic of what we believe — or disbelieve — has fascinated me ever since. It’s a key branch of philosophy under the umbrella of epistemology, the theory of knowledge.
Because our beliefs affect everything from science to politics to personal relations.
5 Comments | tags: belief, epistemology, ideas and beliefs | posted in Philosophy, Politics, Society
My dad and my dad’s dad were Lutheran ministers, and my dad’s brother taught theology at a Lutheran seminary. Lotta preachers on the paternal side of the tree. (Lotta teachers on the maternal side; mom and sis among them. I grew up with preachers and teachers.)
All of which gave me something of an insider view of religion and the organizational church. It also provided a cornerstone I’ve built on through much of my life: a reconciliation between the Yin of my science side and the Yang of my spiritual side.
One interesting place the two meet is Pascal’s Wager.
41 Comments | tags: atheism, belief, deism, faith, God, Pascal's Wager, theism | posted in Sunday Sermons
Long-time readers of this blog know I very rarely re-blog. Occasionally something strikes my fancy so hard, I have to (if nothing else) mention it and post a link to it here.
Derek Lowe, a chemist who also writes In the Pipeline, a great chemistry blog, recently posted something striking:
…a new analysis of clinical trials for pain medication shows that the placebo effect in [the area of pain relief] has been getting stronger. The same also seems to be true for antipsychotics and antidepressants, but this effect seems to be mainly (or only) visible in large-scale US trials…
1 Comment | tags: belief, chemistry, Derek Lowe, drug trials, In The Pipeline, medical trials, pain relief, placebo, power of will, USA | posted in From My Collection, Science
Sometimes, when discussing the possible existence of God (or Gods), there is the question: “Where is the evidence God exists?” One problem with that question is that different groups (believers and non-believers) are seeking different kinds of evidence. It’s a bit like how different groups — often the same two groups — get stuck on meanings of the word “theory.”
Evidence can be probative, circumstantial or even merely suggestive. When it comes to the question of God, some require probative evidence to prove God’s existence. Others, believing faith is central to belief, require only circumstantial or suggestive evidence.
Here are some thoughts about evidence I find suggestive.
28 Comments | tags: awe, beauty, belief, Cape Canaveral, circumstantial evidence, Death Valley, evolution, God, Mallory Square, Mt. Everest, music, North Pole, probative evidence, South Pole, starry sky, suggestive evidence | posted in Religion
When it comes to a spiritual position, there are at least three major positions you can take. There are three metaphysical questions you can ask yourself. Each question, if you answer “no,” halts the process and defines your position.
The questioning continues so long as your answer is “yes.” As the questioning continues, you approach a more and more specific concept of “God(s).”
Basically, it’s a flow-chart that calculates your metaphysical point of view.
11 Comments | tags: agnostic, atheism, belief, deism, faith, God, metaphysics, prayer, spirituality, theism, three | posted in Basics, Philosophy, Religion
One of the things that strikes me about the idea of God is how universal that idea is. To the best of my knowledge, every society in every age has had some sort of spiritual core belief.
I used to state this as the assertion that every society believed in some sort of god or gods, but it was pointed out to me that Buddhists don’t actually have a god. They do have some metaphysical entities, and more importantly, Buddhism is certainly a belief in a metaphysical reality that transcends this one.
So the question is: if humans universally find themselves finding God(s), what does this mean?
10 Comments | tags: atheism, belief, creation, evolution, faith, God, psychology, spirituality, theism | posted in Basics, Philosophy, Religion, Science