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Belief


romansh
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I was intrigued by Terry's eleven beliefs in his introduction thread and rather than rebut there I started this thread.

 

Welcome Terry by the way. :)

 

As a self described devout agnostic, I try and avoid belief as such. Plainly I fail miserably.

 

The one core belief I do hold is that beyond my perception there is a reality out there and somehow my perception is a reflection of that reality. Not necessarily an accurate reflection though. Otherwise I end up in some solipsistic quagmire and I just don't want to go there.

 

After that, this quote works for me:

 

by Siddhãrtha Gautama (Buddha):
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

 

When I read Karen Armstrong's book The Case for God (the title was a little misleading, I thought), I could not buy into much of what she wrote. But, there was one line that struck home where she suggested that Christians (and Muslims) were too fixated on what they believe and less so on what they do. I also understood this would be true for agnostics and atheists as well, it is not what we don't believe or actively disbelieve that matters ... it is what we do.

 

Rather than believe stuff I try and understand (I believe).

 

ex pat living in BC

Edited by romansh
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Joseph

What I find interesting about the quote is that it asks us to "accept" rather than "believe". It is a subtle difference that I am having trouble teasing out the original intent.

 

It could be acceptance could be seen in a similar sense to accepting a gift. This could be a way of looking at the apathy versus acceptance conundrum.

Edited by romansh
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Yes, I like that . I have found it agreeable to me to neither believe nor disbelieve these kinds of matters. Rather i choose to accept , view, and practice things until i have discovered otherwise and then merely modify my view.

 

Yes, acceptance is often confused for apathy by many. That is an unfortunate thing but the confusion i have found is usually by the other who looks more at words than deeds.

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I choose to believe something. I remain open-minded, but I take a stance. I try it out. Maybe it has merit, maybe not. Maybe it helps me achieve my goals. Brings more love and peace in my life,

 

If I had a belief-crushing litmus test to guide me I'm concerned I might just end up rudderless

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I choose to believe something. I remain open-minded, but i take a position. I try it out. Live with it for awhile. Maybe it has merit, maybe not. Maybe it helps me achieve my goals. Bring more love and peace in my life. We are rational, reasoning creatures capable of discerning things for ourselves perhaps without even experiencing them. But I lean toward experience.

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The flow of our pure Existence always seems to find expression in the different aspects of living as it gives us peace in the midst of disorder and confusion usually associated with our interests and ambitions. We don’t fight the wind when we fly and we can allow others their private gusts also as they too respond to their personal communications with the universe as we relax, glide and enjoy God’s abundance together. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in Spirit.” (Galatians 5:2)

 

I agree if it works keep it if not catch another gust of wind to soar above the mind.

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The flow of our pure Existence always seems to find expression in the different aspects of living as it gives us peace in the midst of disorder and confusion usually associated with our interests and ambitions. We dont fight the wind when we fly and we can allow others their private gusts also as they too respond to their personal communications with the universe as we relax, glide and enjoy Gods abundance together. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in Spirit. (Galatians 5:2)

 

I agree if it works keep it if not catch another gust of wind to soar above the mind.

That's real nice, soma. Catch another gust.

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Certainly one of the major issues I have struggled with regarding my time in Fundamentalist Christian circles is the word "truth" Yes, I am very aware that there are many absolute truths particularly when it come to natural events, day, night, hot, cold. But my decision to step away was my deep concern regarding the judgement and condemnation of others who believed differently.

 

I met a guy who was a Bahai, this man had a significant impact on my life and in many way was a major catalyst in my eyes being opened to spiritually instead of fundamentalist religion, as you all know there's a HUGE difference.

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Certainly one of the major issues I have struggled with regarding my time in Fundamentalist Christian circles is the word "truth" Yes, I am very aware that there are many absolute truths particularly when it come to natural events, day, night, hot, cold. But my decision to step away was my deep concern regarding the judgement and condemnation of others who believed differently.

 

I met a guy who was a Bahai, this man had a significant impact on my life and in many way was a major catalyst in my eyes being opened to spiritually instead of fundamentalist religion, as you all know there's a HUGE difference.

 

A common problem I encounter with the fundamentalists (and sometimes the progressives), is their absolute belief that they are right and I am wrong. There's not question about it, there's not relativity. The only point of the discussion is to better understand their perspective and to help them better articulate what they believe. Often, there are elements of scripture that they have never considered. If I give a fundamentalist pause for thought, then I feel like I've accomplished a great deed! And if they give me pause for thought, then I feel like my perspective can grow.

 

As far as being judgmental, that goes both ways. There are a lot of conservative bashers out there. I'm not saying you are one, but there certainly has been some of that on this forum in the past. One of my principles is that it's never personal. Their attitude has more to do about them and their path than it does about you. The problem, however, arises when a group of these folks gain political sway and try to push their perspective on the rest of us. Then it becomes my problem as well.

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I choose to believe something.

 

Funnily I don't choose to believe things.

I find myself either believing them or not.

I find this too true, Rom. I don't think I have any choice in my beliefs - I either believe something, or I don't. There is no 'choice'.

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I do believe that what I believe today may become unbelievable at some point. Similarly, I find it unbelievable that all the beliefs I currently hold are believable by others. :)

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In another sense of word I do choose things that we don't often think about consciously.

 

For example at work when I walk back to the car park, I choose a path very often I simply go without thinking about it consciously. I can never take a direct route to the car.

 

So in this sense I have chosen a route to the car.

 

In short we make conscious and unconscious choices and ... belief in this sense falls into the unconscious category. I don't consciously choose to believe that we should be respectful of others, juts that I occasionally remember I should try to be.

 

 

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I agree, romansh. I think our beliefs have both a conscious and unconscious component, and that the beliefs we have about ourselves, others, and our unique vision of reality are mainly of the unconscious variety.

 

 

Steve

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I agree, romansh. I think our beliefs have both a conscious and unconscious component, and that the beliefs we have about ourselves, others, and our unique vision of reality are mainly of the unconscious variety.

 

 

Steve

I guess I've never thought about this. Indulge me. I reason out my beliefs to a degree, but I'm also intuitive about them. I'm not a scientist about personal beliefs. I'm not saying I'm anti-science like with global warming or something. I just don't apply the scientific method do determine my personal beliefs....about life, love, death, faith, relationships. Much of what I believe is a conscious choice. I believe some things that have no supporting evidence. I just choose to believe them because they work for me. I'm perhaps even superstitious. I know it's not rational, but what can you do? Or there are things that I just feel in my heart are true. (like Bigfoot, lol) That's dangerous ground, i admit! There are some things I choose to believe so that I can sleep at night. For example, I tell myself that the day of my death is set. there is is nothing I can do or not do to change it...so why sweat it? Is that true? I don't know. I don't really care. But much of what I believe is in a gray zone of some sort.

 

Example, I'm not sure if I believe in the Resurrection, but I believe something immensely powerful happened; powerful enough that we're still talking about it; an empty tomb, angels, an explosive world-changing idea, a lingering spirit, a compelling hoax...or a resurrection. I don't rule out the impossible, because I DO believe that all things are possible with God.

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Hi fatherman,

 

I think beliefs are artifacts of unconscious habitual mental tendencies. They are empty in themselves, but are constructed to protect us against the unknown. While we think we are aware ofour conscious beliefs, and that they are accurate, we can't say for sure. We don't know if what we state as a belief is what we believe unconsciously, since much of that was planted early in our lives. So, I think beliefs are a product of memories of the past.

 

There is an old expression that says: "There aren't any atheists in foxholes". If that's true, what does the atheist truly "believe" to make him/her pray in a tight spot? Does it even matter, since there is no evidence either way?

 

Steve

Edited by SteveS55
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Hi fatherman,

 

I think beliefs are artifacts of unconscious habitual mental tendencies. They are empty in themselves, but are constructed to protect us against the unknown. While we think we are aware ofour conscious beliefs, and that they are accurate, we can't say for sure. We don't know if what we state as a belief is what we believe unconsciously, since much of that was planted early in our lives. So, I think beliefs are a product of memories of the past.

 

There is an old expression that says: "There aren't any atheists in foxholes". If that's true, what does the atheist truly "believe" to make him/her pray in a tight spot? Does it even matter, since there is no evidence either way?

 

Steve

I disagree with much of what you are saying here. Let's take a belief. I believe that God wants us to love one another. I believed it initially because I was taught it. My dad used to say "We love, because God first loved us" As I began to take my faith into my own hands, I believed it because it was written. And now that I am a middle-agish adult, I believe it not only because of my faith and my relationship with God, but because there is evidence to suggest that our bodies are wired to need love and to give love. The chemical state of our brain is affected by this. It rewards us for being loving. Are there unconscious elements at play? Perhaps. But it is primarily my choosing to believe that this is what God intended for us. In fact, I believe that the primary purpose of the creation of humanity is Love.

 

Is this empty? It is not. It affects my behavior, my thoughts, and my decisions. It affects my understanding of the nature of my relationship with God.

 

Beliefs are certainly built with or against memories in the past. But they are ultimately set by experience. If you experience life in the living of the past, then your assertion is true. However, if you are living in the present, it is not the case. And perhaps, there is no "belief" at all in the present. On that point, we might agree!

 

As far as the atheist in the foxhole. Does it matter if it is true or not? Perhaps not. Perhaps it is in the act of surrender and trust and prayer that puts a person into a state to survive and persevere.

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But it is primarily my choosing to believe that this is what God intended for us.

Do you think it is a choice? Could you really choose 'not' to believe this considering your experiences and learnings?

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Yes! Ok, ok. Circumstances would have to change in order for me to change my mind about what I believe. It happened fairly recently, in fact. A very deeply held belief. But choice isn't arbitrary for me, nor is it sub or unconscious But you're making a good point.

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Fatherman, rather than repeat all my past thoughts on the subject perhaps this thread on Free Choice which has much to do with beliefs might be of interest to you. It addresses ..., we have choice all right but just how free is it? and is is mostly unconscious? Even if we think we are making a conscious choice, isn't it limited by our programming?

 

Joseph

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