Forum documents restored Some MyCards restored
Roleplaying Video Games Entertainment & Media Politics & World
General Spirituality & Philosophy Worldbuilding Creative Forum
The Sports Center Science, Math, & Technology The Nostalgia Forum Sexuality
Community feedback needed: add_comment New add_comment New request

Spirituality & Philosophy

on the semantics of faith

Posted Over 3 Years ago by nullfather

As I chew on various issues that I have with religion and belief over the years, I occasionally reach some kind of realization - or I manage to convince myself of something. I'm not entirely sure which is which, sometimes, which is why I'm here. My question today is about the semantics of faith: specifically, of the difference between a belief and a claim.

I've been unraveling the enigma of the role of dogma in psychology and sociology. My thoughts on this have led to a conclusion that is extremely out of character for me, which lends it a certain verisimilitude in my eyes: that a belief does not require evidence because it does not attempt to make a statement about the external world. When someone says "I believe", they are describing the idea that they hold a stance - not the idea of any evidence for or argument leading to that stance. Arguing against them about this belief is inherently flawed, because they themselves are the arbiter of their own beliefs. Trying to tell them that they're wrong about their religious beliefs is no more tenable then trying to tell them their their sexual orientation is incorrect or their favorite song isn't their favorite song, but many people gloss over the actual terminology used and attempt to argue against statements like "I believe in God" as if it's "God is real".

It's a little weird to think that it took me this long to consider the semantics of how the communication in these arguments of faith change the subject drastically. I should have had this breakthrough years ago. Or, perhaps, this breakthrough being as fundamental as it is makes it deserving of its late occurrence. Anyway, thoughts and contributions, anyone?

There are 23 Replies


That’s probably because when “many” people say “I believe in God,” they really actually mean “I believe in God *because* He’s real.” In my experience, Agnostic theists are a rarity. If more people actually did recognize their religious beliefs as beliefs and not objective truths, there would be a lot less tension.

Over 3 Years ago
Recalescence Ghost

To a certain extent, there is a catch-22 in dogma for people who realize it anyway.

Over 3 Years ago
nullfather

between a belief and a claim

A belief is something you have. A claim is something you express - specifically the expression of something you have.

When someone says "I believe", they are describing the idea that they hold a stance - not the idea of any evidence for or argument leading to that stance. Arguing against them about this belief is inherently flawed

I believe you're wrong about that.

Over 3 Years ago
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

A belief is something you have. A claim is something you express - specifically the expression of something you have.


In other words, a belief is only safe from criticism if it is not expressed? If we are going to be that critical, then it is obvious that people act on beliefs that they may never express and are still subject to criticism.

I believe you're wrong about that.


Of course, what I'm talking about is the phrase in and of itself. Nothing precludes the response of "OK, but why".

Over 3 Years ago
nullfather

In other words, a belief is only safe from criticism if it is not expressed?

Well that is true isn’t it? The moment other people hear an idea a criticism is liable to happen. Personally though I won’t be bothering anyone unless they:
A. Invite my opinion
B. Challenge my opinion
C. Persuade me to their opinion

Of course, what I'm talking about is the phrase in and of itself. Nothing precludes the response of "OK, but why".

Elaborate if you please.

Over 3 Years ago
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

Well that is true isn’t it?


Is it? If infringed upon, would you not criticize beliefs that are demonstrated more than beliefs that are merely spoken?

The moment other people hear an idea a criticism is liable to happen.


I'm not talking about what is "liable" to happen. I'm talking about the semantics of when and how it is reasonable for that criticism to happen. As far as I can tell, it's not when someone is talking about personal beliefs instead of the external world.

The idea that people tending to act a certain way justifies the fact that they act that way is ridiculous - and could be easily applied to the other side.

Elaborate if you please.


A belief (i.e. article of faith), if we were to assign it a place in the structure of an argument, would be a conclusion. A conclusion being valid or invalid is the result of analysis of the premises. A man can believe that the sky is blue (and be completely correct in stating that he believes that the sky is blue) regardless of if the sky is blue or red and, if the sky is blue, if he believes so because he looked at the sky or because the gremlins living in the ceiling fan told him so.

Over 3 Years ago
nullfather

Is it?

I think it is.

If infringed upon, would you not criticize beliefs that are demonstrated more than beliefs that are merely spoken?

Dude you need to talk more coherently. I can't do a dialogue with you if I don't know what the heck you're trying to say.

I'm not talking about what is "liable" to happen. I'm talking about the semantics of when and how it is reasonable for that criticism to happen.

Well that's fine but a "claim" does not imply a reasonable criticism. What you meant was:
My question today is about the semantics of faith: specifically, of the difference between a belief and an ARGUMENT.

But I guess that's nit picking at this point. So forget it.

The idea that people tending to act a certain way justifies the fact that they act that way is ridiculous - and could be easily applied to the other side.

Ok as a hoot I'm gonna try to rewrite this sentence more clearly. Here we go:

Just because people tend to act a certain way doesn't mean they are justified in doing so.

...How did I do?

A man can believe that the sky is blue (and be completely correct in stating that he believes that the sky is blue) regardless of if the sky is blue or red and, if the sky is blue, if he believes so because he looked at the sky or because the gremlins living in the ceiling fan told him so.

Ok I was following you pretty good until the gremlin part. But w/e I was just being a smart ass with the "I believe you're wrong about that" comment anyway.

Over 3 Years ago
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

Dude you need to talk more coherently. I can't do a dialogue with you if I don't know what the heck you're trying to say.


Have a nice day, then.

Over 3 Years ago
nullfather

Well alrighty then. Bye bye.

Over 3 Years ago
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

well hes right you are kind of hard to understand . you talk like someone from mensa sometimes lol

Over 3 Years ago
Brandy

Well I don't know anyone from MENSA but I do know that a sign of intelligence is being able to take complicated things and make them simple not the other way around.

Over 3 Years ago
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

Nothing I said here was worthy of MENSA - and I mean that in both ways.

Over 3 Years ago
nullfather

Nothing I said here was worthy of MENSA - and I mean that in both ways.

Ok see what I mean here? "Both ways?" Is MENSA a double entendre? I checked and the only other thing it refers to is a flat stone on top of a Roman Catholic altar. Granted there is not a lot of Catholicism going on here.

Over 3 Years ago
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

It's a little weird to think that it took me this long to consider the semantics of how the communication in these arguments of faith change the subject drastically

What's unusual here is that you've had this realization without first finding faith yourself. As a person of faith myself I know "belief" isn't really a good word. Belief is good for ideas, you can for example believe in Calvinist predestination and through reasoning reinforce or change your mind over time. Faith, meanwhile, is a set of experiences that can inform or detract from belief. This is why even die-hard atheists can find themselves inexplicably drawn to theism -- no matter what reasoned evidence they have, faith operates on a whole different type of knowledge.

Over 3 Years ago
Riven
Sky's the limit

I've been making claims on this site since day one. But everybody says my claims are nothing but belief. How would they know? Do they have something more concrete than opinions and insults about my claims? Unfortunately, no.

Over 3 Years ago
GC/MS

Slightly off-topic, GC, but there's something I've been meaning to ask you. Does the LDS Church subscribe to the doctrine of Unforgivable Sin?

Over 3 Years ago
nullfather

A belief (i.e. article of faith), if we were to assign it a place in the structure of an argument, would be a conclusion.

A belief could be either a premise or conclusion, that depends on how you structure the argument. And if it is a conclusion, then it definitely can be argued against, because, well, then it's an argument and thus subject to counterargument. A mere claim, that is a statement with one-point, as opposed to the two-point structure of an argument, would be unarguable. So, if you're saying that you can't argue against a belief because a belief is not a claim, then that's kind of ironic since claims are unassailable to begin with. But, like I said before, usually when people say things that sound like claims, there is usually an implicit second point that makes it into an argument.

Over 3 Years ago
Recalescent Ghost

I'll say this about the topic:

Assumptions cannot be argued. Conclusions can.

But where do assumptions come from? Are they spontaneous or are they born from a need. Like the need to believe you are loved by something greater than this world. If it is the latter, then one might undermine an assumption by suggesting or supplying an alternate way to meet the need behind it. Like working out problems in your life, so that you don't have an anxious need for the protection of some mighty being. Then maybe finding love by reconnecting with family or looking for a spouse to share your time with.

Take away the motive and maybe the assumption will change.

Over 3 Years ago
Louis De Pointe du Lac
No love = No future

Huh, I can't believe that I missed an entire post.

What's unusual here is that you've had this realization without first finding faith yourself.


The most interesting facet of my personal life over the past year or so is the fact that I am unable to discern if I do or do not have faith. I harbor a number of ideas, if only aesthetically, that many others find religious in nature, though I would still be called a faithless heathen by those on the other side of the spectrum.

I have a great interest in theology because is strikes me as the study of reality at an ultimate level. The mythological aspects of religion, in contrast, I only find useful as entertainment. Gematria and the Kabbalah, for instance, are things that I find greatly intriguing, though I would discard the mythos of the Jewish people from it. Likewise, studying the futhark and the cosmological shenanigans of the Norse have interested me (obviously), though I find the "great adventures" of the Norse to be dry beyond reading. I even studied Koine Greek in college, though not deeply enough. There is subtle logical machinery to be teased out in each of these languages if one dives in, though the subjects that they deal with devolve into base faith in the shallows near the shore.

Over 3 Years ago
nullfather

@nullfather: in that case you should probably check out the upanishads. I'm going to try to get some more of them now that I have some money (I've read the Bhagavad Gita which is the most well-known one I think)

Over 3 Years ago
Riven
Sky's the limit

Does the LDS Church subscribe to the doctrine of Unforgivable Sin?

There is only one unforgivable sin in our doctrine, and that is experiencing the Holy Spirit and then denying you experienced it for the rest of your life. Feeling the presence of God in answer to our prayers and questions is an incredible gift, and sets us apart from all other religions. Denying this gift(any gift, really) is tantamount to slapping the Almighty in the face, and *nobody* likes that.

We don't believe in hell, except for those who have committed that sin and that sin only.

Over 3 Years ago
GC/MS

What is experiencing the holy spirit like?

Over 3 Years ago
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I find it hard to describe because I'm not a poet, but our illustrious former admin whose name I cannot remember at the moment who is also LDS says it's like a burning inside your chest. That's the closest I would every be able to describe it in words, but words cannot do it justice. This only occurs when your prayer which involves the answer to a specific yes or no question is answered with yes. There's a specific format to the prayer which is required in order to receive an answer like this.

Over 3 Years ago
GC/MS

Semi-permanent Lockdown

Accounts are required to post for the forseeable future. Contact me through discord for account issues or registration: Riven#7868