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Thread: Why do humans believe?

  1. #1 Why do humans believe? 
    Forum Junior superluminal's Avatar
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    I am an atheist regarding all things (a non-believer). In matters regarding objective reality (i.e. you claim something exists as a physical reality that others can perceive) I require direct proof in the form of physical evidence.

    Show me the crashed UFO being examined by teams of scientists.

    Build a particle accelerator and show me a Higgs boson.

    Sit in a lab and repeatedly levitate a book under a variety of control conditions under the scrutiny of scientists from varied disciplines.

    Make sparks in your lab and show me the correlated sparks happening in the lab across the street (i.e. radio).

    Show me god.


    So, do you require proof in your life? For everything objective? Do you believe based on an inner conviction? Why?

    Why do humans behave in one or the other or a combination of belief/nonbelief modes?

    Mods: I hope this stays in the religion section. I expect to focus on that...


    Huh?
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    I think its a pretty good argument to posit that the human brain has some natural tendency to believe as a mechanism of natural selection. This predisposition can be harmful at times, but I think it's overall helpful, which is why it has been naturally selected.

    To demonstrate this, think of the extreme gullability of a child. You can easily fill a child's head full of all sorts of cool information that is readily accepted as fact regarding entities such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the boogey man, etc. All beliefs designed to motivate the child or produce desireable behaviors: "Be good, or Santa will put coal in your stocking;" "be brave with that tooth, the TF will put a quarter under your pillow;" "the Easter Bunny" ... uh... well... Okay, I really don't know what that little bastard's purpose is... but you get the idea.

    This predisposition to believe also makes learning language and essential customs of gestures easy: the patterns are transmitted and duplicated from person to person, and the resulting communication provides a distinct advantage in subsistence or reproductive strategies. Obviously traits quickly selected by nature.

    I also contend that belief is the mechanism that is directly responsible for the rise of complexity among H. sapiens, and that it's very possible that an intelligent species that did not have the predisposition to believe may not have become a complex society since it wouldn't have the beliefs such as the continued existence of ancestors in some afterlife or reincarnation, the belief that individuals can possess magical or divine power; that individuals can be divinely recognized by gods that are believed in; etc.

    The belief that some individuals in a society have a status above others because of divine association or magical empowerment was directly responsible for probably all monumental and public architecture and the intense labor needed to produce it (the city of UR, Egyptian pyramids, Maya cities, etc.). Belief in the mother goddess and the fertility she provided in unison with the sun god gave rise to agriculture as early humans began to recognize that the sun and the earth can make a seed sprout and produce a plant that will produce a seed that can be planted or eaten.... etc.

    The unfortunate side effect of this virus of belief -it really is a virus, since beliefs can self-replicate and spread from person to person- is that harmful or non-benifical trends can develop as well. It could very well be that that very traits that selection was kind to could go on to create situations that are deleterious to the species.

    It's easy to convince a child that Santa is real and that presents will come each year if they are good. It's also easy to convince a child that some invisible being will judge them and either give or disallow an "eternal life" if they are good. Indeed, children are quickly convinced of all sorts of harmful behaviors through the same mechanism: that smoking is cool, that promiscuous sex is the mark of adulthood, that bell-bottoms are stylish, or that physical aggression with those that are physically different is an act of bravery and loyalty to one's own group, etc.

    Beliefs are best when based on observation and experimentation. When merely accepted as a "mind-virus," they're simply obstructive.


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    Skinwalker,

    Very good post. I've thought many of the same things but you presented some new ones that are very intriguing. Thanks!
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    There's a whole subject I'd love to discuss. What if humans had no "belief engine"? How would we have progressed from savages to, well... advanced savages? Is a belief engine necessary as you speculate?

    Maybe a new thread in the philosophy sub...
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    As long as one is not enlightened, all one has to go with are beliefs.
    Of all kinds and contents.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    Richard Dawkins says it best in "Viruses of the Mind," an essay in his book, The Devil's Chaplin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Dawkins – The Devil's Chaplin pp 137-138
    Like computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard for their victims to detect. If you are the victim of one, the chances are that you won't know it, and may even vigorously deny it. Accepting that a virus might be difficult to detect in your own mind, what tell-tale signs might you look out for? I shall answer by imagining how a medical textbook might describe the typical symptoms of a sufferer (arbitrarily assumed to be male).

    1. The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn't seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as 'faith'.

    2. Patients typically make a positive virtue of faith's being strong and unshakeable, in spite of (emphasis by Dawkins) not being based upon evidence. Indeed, they may feel that the less evidence there is, the more virtuous the belief (see below). This paradoxical idea that lack of evidence is a positive virtue where faith is concerned has something of the quality of a program that is self-sustaining, because it is self-referential. Once the proposition is believed, it automatically undermines opposition to itself. The 'lack of evidence is a virtue' idea would be an admirable sidekick, ganging up with faith itself in a clique of mutually supportive viral programs.

    3. A related symptom, which a faith-sufferer may also present, is the conviction that 'mystery', per se, is a good thing. It is not a virtue to solve mysteries. Rather we should enjoy them, even revel in their insolubility.

    4. The sufferer may find himself behaving intolerantly towards vectors of rival faiths, in extreme cases even killing them or advocating their deaths. He may be similarly violent in his disposition towards apostates (people who once held the faith but have renounced it); or towards heretics (people who espouse a different – often, perhaps significantly, only very slightly different – version of the faith). H may also feel hostile towards other modes of thought that are potentially inimical to his faith, such as the method of scientific reason which could function rather like a piece of antiviral software.

    5. The patient may notice that the particular convictions that he holds, while having nothing to do with evidence, do seem to owe a great deal to epidemiology. Why, he may wonder, do I hold this set of convictions rather thanthat set? Is it because I surveyed all the world's faiths and chose the one whose claims seemed most convincing? Almost certainly not. If you have a faith, it is statistically overwhelmingly likely that it si the same faith as your parents and grandparents had. No doubt souring cathedrals, stirring music, moving stories and parables help a bit. But by far the most important variable determining your religion is the accident of birth. The convictions that you so passionately believe would have been a completely different and largely contradictory set of convictions, if only you had happened to be born in a different place. Epidemiology, not evidence.

    6. If the patient is one of the rare exceptions who follows a different religion from his parents, the explanation may still be epidemiological. To be sure, it is possible that he dispassionately surveyed the world's faiths and chose the most convincing one. But it is statistically more probable that he has been exposed to a particularly potent infective agent – a John Wesley, a Jim Jones or a St Paul. Here we are talking about horizontal transmission, as in measles. Before, the epidemiology was that of vertical transmission as in Huntington's Chorea.
    Dawkins' chapter on the 'Viruses of the Mind' goes in-depth in discussing the idea that beliefs and ideas are transmitted from person to person like viruses, both computer and biological. He makes a good case that a mind-virus, such as a belief, can find a friendly medium in the human mind. The demands are a the same as they are for parasites of both cells an data: "a readiness to replicate information accurately, perhaps with some mistakes that are subsequently reproduced accurately; and, second, a readiness to obey instructions encoded in the information so replicated."

    The book is worth buying if only to read that chapter in its entirety. I realize that the excerpt above was lengthy, but for me to paraphrase Dawkins would do a great disservice to his words and, hopefully, it will inspire others to read the book, a wonderful collection of essays on topics of evolution and modern innovations of science.

    "Enlightenment," from the perspective of the victim of such a mind virus would undboubtedly be an unattainable goal who's purpose is an apologetic one - providing "proof" that faith has a direction. Occasionally, there are those that claim to be "enlightened," but doubtless it would take another "enlightened" person see or understand their enlightenment.

    True enlightenment comes from recognizing the virus of the mind and shedding it to see the universe without its cloak of obscurity.
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    SkinWalker,


    "Enlightenment," from the perspective of the victim of such a mind virus would undboubtedly be an unattainable goal who's purpose is an apologetic one - providing "proof" that faith has a direction. Occasionally, there are those that claim to be "enlightened," but doubtless it would take another "enlightened" person see or understand their enlightenment.

    True enlightenment comes from recognizing the virus of the mind and shedding it to see the universe without its cloak of obscurity.
    Do you consider yourself enlightened?


    Beliefs are just mental contents. It is what value we ascribe to them and whether we are devoted to them that makes the difference between them.

    Whatever we speak of, those are mental contents for us. However, a person does not value all contents the same, neither is a person equally devoted to all of them.
    Those mental contents that they value least, then in effect, appear as if said person had not believed them.

    You, for example, do believe in God; that is, you have mental contents about God. But you do not value those contents, neither are you devoted to them. Which then, in effect, appears as if you had not "believed" in God.


    The whole issue of "belief" and "faith" as it is in modern English is completely nonsensical, no wonder there is so much fighting about it.
    When, in an English Bible, the word "faith" is used, in that same verse in another language, like Slovene, the word "vera" is used. "Vera" literally means 'trutfulness, devotion, dedication', and has nothing to do with the lofty nebulous meanings that the word "faith" has.


    When I look at texts like that from Dawkins, I cannot but shudder -- he is fighting fantasy windmills, and doesn't even know it!
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    As long as one is not enlightened, all one has to go with are beliefs.
    Of all kinds and contents.


    Agreed. Enlightenment is education through knowledge. Beliefs however, do not preclude that knowledge by mere ignornance. One must also reject the knowledge placed before them in order to rationalize their beliefs.
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    The above post is a good example of the justifications and apologetics that Dawkins discusses in the essay. Interestingly enough, she minimalizes the very words "belief" and "faith" in order to continue the mind virus that inhabits her mind.

    I do have mental contents about the god you reference, as I do many gods. The antiviral part of my mind makes no distinction of importance between these products of humanity with regard to which is considered "correct" or "more right." I also have within the contents of my mind the information about malaria, HIV/AIDS, Polio, and many other viruses - but I am not, to the best of my knowledge, afflicted with any.

    I also have mental contents about Harry Potter, Jedi Knights, and big foot, alien abductions, and tarot - but believe in none of them. So your assertion that I 'believe in god' but don't value the information is fallacious. As is your opening question, which is obviously intended (though you will doubtless have a justification) as a Red Herring.

    I'm not interested in going down the slippery slope of debating atheism vs. theism, nor am I interested in isolating any specific form of religious thought: my observations are in regards to magical thinking in general, of which theistic thought is but one facet.

    With regard to your statement on Dawkins, "he is fighting fantasy windmills, and doesn't even know it!," I find I must smile. It is precisely the Quixote-like thought processes of the "mind-virus" that he is being critical of. Windmills are being fought and the enchanted castles of belief are but modest inns whose innkeepers (the priestly classes and con artists of beliefs like astrology) are all-too-happy to maintain the illusions of grandeur for their clientele.
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    hopefully, it will inspire others to read the book

    It has, thanks!
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    SkinWalker,


    You are caught in the surface structure of English. If you had spoken at least one, or better yet, more other languages, you'd begin to understand things better, first hand.
    For now, suffice to say that English as it is today, is a strange conglomerate in which complications are possible that are not possible in other languages.
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    Quote Originally Posted by water
    SkinWalker,


    You are caught in the surface structure of English. If you had spoken at least one, or better yet, more other languages, you'd begin to understand things better, first hand.
    I take it German and Spanish don't count then? My linguistic abilities notwithstanding, what has any of it to do with the topic of discussion? You can say it in one of the two languages above if you feel it to be the only way.

    Quote Originally Posted by water
    For now, suffice to say that English as it is today, is a strange conglomerate in which complications are possible that are not possible in other languages.
    I say that provides you with an easy cop-out rather than simply refraining from participation in the discussion to begin with. An easier way to avoid it is by simply not posting.
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    Dude, you havent read my website? LOL
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    I really can't see what difference it makes that the word "faith" in English doesn't mean the same thing as "vera" in Slovene.

    Well. Actually, I can see. If one considers the bible to be the literal word of god and thus the true definition of the word being important rather than the understood meaning, then I can see it.

    But, the topic of discussion is belief. And it's a conversation taking place in an English-speaking forum. So. It doesn't matter that the words might mean different things in other languages. It only matters what they mean in the language in which they're believed.



    Anyway.
    Another consideration on the topic of belief is efficiency.

    Conscious thought is metabollically expensive. The brain tends to sublimate tasks to the point where it seems as though they are being done without any conscious volition at all. When you become a master carver, you carve. You don't think about the specifics of every action. You instead set a general command and the sublimated processes do the work subconsciously.

    The instilling of belief follows this same trend. When one is instilled with various beliefs, then when a situation arises where this belief structure comes to the fore, then no thought is required. It becomes automated.

    There are facets of existence which prevent a thorough belief system from taking hold. If it weren't for the unpredictability of life, then belief structures could form which would encompass every aspect of a human life and no thought would be required whatsoever.

    Intelligence is seen to be how one deals with the unpredictable.
    Belief is how one deals with the predictable.
    Intelligence and belief are mutually exclusive.
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    SkinWalker,


    I take it German and Spanish don't count then?
    I didn't know about your language skills.


    My linguistic abilities notwithstanding, what has any of it to do with the topic of discussion? You can say it in one of the two languages above if you feel it to be the only way.
    Have you noticed that if you speak about faith in German, that there, "Glaube" has a different field of meaning than "faith"?
    In German, the word for "faith" is "der Glaube", "das Bekenntnis" or "die Religion" -- it is primarily about belonging to a particular religion/denomination, not about a particular way of accepting mental contents on blind trust (as it is in English).
    Similary in Slovene.
    Bottomline, when it comes to "faith", some European languages focus on 'party allegiance', not on the opposition of "to accept something on proof vs. to accept something without proof" -- as it is today in English.

    And going back to the first Bible translations which have introduced the religious vocabulary into our languages, the explanation that faith is a matter of party allegiance seems most plausible.
    I was studying Old High German texts, baptismal forms from around the 9th century. The person to be baptized was asked (from the "Fränkische Taufgelöbnis")


    Gilaubistu in got, fater almahtigan?

    This would nowadays read as "Do you believe in God, Father almighty?"
    But the word "gilauban" (which later developed into "glauben") was then made anew for the purposes of religion; gi-laub-an then literally meant 'to hold dear, to prefer' and was reserved for religious texts.
    The person to be baptized was thus not asked 'Do you have [mental contents] about God, or not?', but they were asked 'Do you prefer God, Father Almighty?'

    The baptismal form began with:

    Forsahhistu unholdun?
    Forsahhistu unholdun uuerc indi uuillon?
    Forsahhistu allem them bluostrom indi den gelton indi den gotum, thie im heidene man zi bluostrum indi zi geldom enti zi gotum habent?


    'Do you forsake the devil?'
    'Do you forsake to follow the devil in works and will?'
    'Do you forsake all the sacrificial gifts, sacrifices and gods, that are the sacrifical gifts, sacrifices and gods of the heathens?'

    What was important was the duality between the Christian God and the heathen gods; the baptismal decision was that of whom one will pledge allegiance.

    Further questions were:

    Gilaubistu in Christ, gotes son nerienton?
    'Do you believe in Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour?
    Gilaubistu lib after tode?
    'Do you believe in life after death?'

    Here, it seems that they were making no difference between what we now consider "belief" (as in 'mental content') and 'preference'.


    The reason why these old texts are important is because through them, the religious vocabulary was introduced into the language. And some words from this vocabulary then spread into other fields of language use, they did not remain in the domain of the religion. This was so regardless of language; German or English.
    And this is what happened with the words "faith" and "belief" (among others) -- when leaving the domain of religion, their meanings also altered, became secular.

    What is happening is that we nowadays tend to read the biblical texts with the secularized understanding of "faith" and "belief".
    And thus, contents are introduced into religion that are extraneous to it.


    For now, suffice to say that English as it is today, is a strange conglomerate in which complications are possible that are not possible in other languages.
    I say that provides you with an easy cop-out rather than simply refraining from participation in the discussion to begin with. An easier way to avoid it is by simply not posting.
    I'll refrain from comparing languages any further, as the field is very broad and any argumentation takes a lot of preparation.


    * * *

    invert_nexus,


    I really can't see what difference it makes that the word "faith" in English doesn't mean the same thing as "vera" in Slovene.
    The difference it makes is that some European languages present their speakers a different image of what it entails to have faith.
    Sometimes, this is absolved as "cultural differences" -- but if any objective argument about faith is to be made, then it has to be such that is not language-specific.
    That different languages present their speakers a different image of what it entails to have faith does shed some light in the direction of this argument.


    Well. Actually, I can see. If one considers the bible to be the literal word of god and thus the true definition of the word being important rather than the understood meaning, then I can see it.
    Yes, it is about not introducing contents into religious understanding that are extraneous to it.


    But, the topic of discussion is belief. And it's a conversation taking place in an English-speaking forum. So. It doesn't matter that the words might mean different things in other languages. It only matters what they mean in the language in which they're believed.
    If we are to make any objective argument, it has to be such that is not language-specific, and can be translated 1:1 from one language into another. Meaning that we must use exact, non-metaphorical logico-philosophical terminology (those usually are translatable 1:1).



    Intelligence and belief are mutually exclusive.
    This is like saying
    "Logic and premises are mutually exclusive."

    "Intelligence" per se can do nothing unless you feed it some input -- and that input are "beliefs".

    * * *

    I suggest that for objective analysis, the terms "belief" and "to believe" be refrained from, and instead "mental content" and "to accept" be used.

    "Belief" and "to believe" are by now so loaded with connotations that they have become misleading, useless (outside of a particular religious discourse, that is).
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    Water,

    The reason why these old texts are important is because through them, the religious vocabulary was introduced into the language.
    Then you should be concentrating on three languages.
    Hebrew.
    Greek.
    Latin.
    Maybe a little Aramaic.

    I can see your point that you see faith as something other than what an English speaker does. But, this leads to another topic altogether. Wherefore art thou, Whorf?

    I forget the chapter and verse that deals with Faith and Grace, but it clearly speaks about someone believing without proof is in Grace while he who is shown proof lacks that Grace. These verses were brought up long ago in some thread in Sci.

    I suppose they mean something completely different in Slovene too? Maybe they're instructions on how to dig up radishes? (Kidding.)

    Anyway. Consider something.
    German. Lutheran. (Well. Some Catholic. Especially in the Bavaria region. Read a Bavarian Bible? Does it read the same as a Lutheran Bible?)
    Slovenia. Eastern Orthodox? (I'm guessing.)

    These two religions are not the same as the Western church. Should it be a huge surprise that they use different words? Have you ever considered that the fault in translation lies in the translation to Slovene and not to English? I believe that the English interpretation of Faith is the proper one according to the Greek. I think your religion is wrong.

    Did you know that 'demon' derives from the Greek word for Knowledge?
    And 'science' is Latin for knowledge?

    Yes, it is about not introducing contents into religious understanding that are extraneous to it.
    Then present the Greek etymology of the word.

    If we are to make any objective argument, it has to be such that is not language-specific, and can be translated 1:1 from one language into another. Meaning that we must use exact, non-metaphorical logico-philosophical terminology (those usually are translatable 1:1).
    Mmmm mmm mMMmmMm mmMM mMph Mmpmmph MMMMmmmM mm.

    What the hell is logico-philosophical terminology and why should they not suffer the same problems as practically every other word that is translated between languages?

    This is like saying
    "Logic and premises are mutually exclusive."

    "Intelligence" per se can do nothing unless you feed it some input -- and that input are "beliefs".
    No. The input is sensory information. Beliefs are an obstacle. They get in the way. You know, preconceived notions and all? They come in handy when you need to know that fire is hot and things like that, but get in the way when you believe things like 'Slavs are sub-human'.

    I suggest that for objective analysis, the terms "belief" and "to believe" be refrained from, and instead "mental content" and "to accept" be used.
    I don't think so. So. Because 'faith' means something else in Slovene, then you think that 'believe' (which is the very title of the thread) be considered off-limits? Does believe mean something else now?

    Anyway, as Skinwalker said, we all have mental contents, this does not mean that we believe these mental concepts to be true.

    Can't you use your language skills to make an agreement on the meaning of belief in English even if the word doesn't translate properly to your language? Consider it an English excercise.

    To believe is to consider something as true.
    To Believe is to consider something as true to the point of fanatical adherence to that belief.

    People kill for their beliefs.
    You know. Kill a commie for mommy. Better dead than red. That sort of thing.
    People used to believe in witches. And people burned for it.
    People believe that evil exists in the world and can be transmitted through unholy writings. Books have been burned for it.
    (And. Yes. I'm not using the capital b terminology. The type of belief, weak or strong, should be apparent by context.)

    "Belief" and "to believe" are by now so loaded with connotations that they have become misleading, useless (outside of a particular religious discourse, that is).
    How about we say "knockwurst" and "to tango" when we mean "believe" and "to believe"...?
    Seriously. I think your objections to the language are nonsensical.
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    The reason why these old texts are important is because through them, the religious vocabulary was introduced into the language.
    Then you should be concentrating on three languages.
    Hebrew.
    Greek.
    Latin.
    Maybe a little Aramaic.
    No, and that is the point. The first Bible translations into European languages were mostly based on the Vulgate and the understanding of it.
    Our present religious terminology is the one set back then. The first traslators either made new words to translate the Vulgate, or they assigned new meanings to already existing words, sometimes, they also adopted the Latin word directly (but this is less frequent, because it would not be understood). This is how the Bible and Christianity took root and lived in Europe.

    The translations from the original languages only come much later, in the 16th century -- when the religious terminology set by earlier translations was already well established.


    I forget the chapter and verse that deals with Faith and Grace, but it clearly speaks about someone believing without proof is in Grace while he who is shown proof lacks that Grace. These verses were brought up long ago in some thread in Sci.
    That's probably Hebrews 11.


    Anyway. Consider something.
    German. Lutheran. (Well. Some Catholic. Especially in the Bavaria region. Read a Bavarian Bible? Does it read the same as a Lutheran Bible?)
    Slovenia. Eastern Orthodox? (I'm guessing.)
    Whenever we read a translation, we are also reading a particular interpretation of the original. This, plus we have to account for the changes in the meanings of words after the translation had been set. We are eventually dealing with a double interpretation.
    This should be enough to refrain from literalism.


    These two religions are not the same as the Western church. Should it be a huge surprise that they use different words? Have you ever considered that the fault in translation lies in the translation to Slovene and not to English? I believe that the English interpretation of Faith is the proper one according to the Greek. I think your religion is wrong.
    I am not saying any translation is faulty per se. But what definitely is the case is that words change meanings over time, and this happens with particular motivations. Especially words that are particularly exposed or denote problematic meanings, those changes are intense.

    My hypothesis is that the meaning of the word "faith" changed from 'devotion, commitment' to 'believing on blind trust' because devotion was ridiculed.


    Did you know that 'demon' derives from the Greek word for Knowledge?
    My dictionaries say that a daimon is a 'godly being'.


    And 'science' is Latin for knowledge?
    And?


    Yes, it is about not introducing contents into religious understanding that are extraneous to it.
    Then present the Greek etymology of the word.
    I'll look it up as soon as I get to the library.
    But it suffices to say that the terms "faith" and "belief" originate in the religious discourse. Once a word is torn out of its native discourse, it loses the meaning is had there, and adopts a meaning imposed on it by the discourse into which it was transferred.
    It is easy to refute, and esp. ridicule a concept once it is torn out of its native discourse.


    What the hell is logico-philosophical terminology and why should they not suffer the same problems as practically every other word that is translated between languages?
    Philosophical dictionaries translate well.
    "Solipsism" means the same in English as "Solipsismus" means in German and "solipsizem" means in Slovene. And so on.


    No. The input is sensory information.
    Without some interpretation of this sensory information, sensory information is useless.


    Beliefs are an obstacle. They get in the way. You know, preconceived notions and all? They come in handy when you need to know that fire is hot and things like that, but get in the way when you believe things like 'Slavs are sub-human'.
    This is then hardly a problem of "beliefs" as such.

    It is that *some* beliefs are *more problematic* than others.


    I don't think so. So. Because 'faith' means something else in Slovene, then you think that 'believe' (which is the very title of the thread) be considered off-limits? Does believe mean something else now?
    No. I object using those terms on the basis that they are part of a particular discourse, namely that of religion, and make sense only within that discourse.


    Anyway, as Skinwalker said, we all have mental contents, this does not mean that we believe these mental concepts to be true.
    Then we are at the problem of truthfulness. What is true and what is not true.


    To believe is to consider something as true.
    To Believe is to consider something as true to the point of fanatical adherence to that belief.
    If presented this way, then it is clear that the term "belief" itself is problematic.


    The type of belief, weak or strong, should be apparent by context.
    And what standards do you have to make this assessment?


    Seriously. I think your objections to the language are nonsensical.
    You don't understand them, and I agree that they are hard to present briefly.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Water
    I suggest that for objective analysis, the terms "belief" and "to believe" be refrained from, and instead "mental content" and "to accept" be used.

    "Belief" and "to believe" are by now so loaded with connotations that they have become misleading, useless (outside of a particular religious discourse, that is).
    I'm going to have to abstain from using "mental content" in lieu of "belief" or "to believe." It doesn't make for complete or unambiguous discussion of the topic at hand. Indeed, a distinct and clear "Belief Engine" exists in the human psyche independent of religious thought, and it would appear that religion is but a symptom of this condition. "Mental content" is far too broad a discriptor, regardless of if it is coupled with "accept" as a verb.

    I did, however, read your explanation of the etymology of words like faith and believe with great interest and this is something that I suppose I already understood, but the reminder is always good. Even in reading Die Brüder Grimm in their original German (which is, by the way, the best way), realizing this can change the meaning of the tales if ever so slightly.

    I also realize that modern forms of words have religious etymology and are used in everyday language in most languages. Der Himmel
    is a good example in German, as are the words "good" and "dia" in both English and Spanish respectively. Himmel is Heaven and sky. Good comes from the word "god" as does "dia" (day).

    But the vernacular of modernity is what it is. We can remind ourselves of the roots of words when examining human history, but when speaking of modern anthropological or sociological examinations of human worldviews, "belief" and "faith" suffice quite well.

    But for those interested in the etymology of the word "belief," which, I think, is relevant to this discussion, let me offer this: the word ‘believe’ comes from the Old English ‘belefan’ (from ‘gelefan’) derived from the Gothic ‘ga-laubjan’ meaning ‘hold dear’ or ‘trust in’. (This is from ‘be + lief’ and the Old English word ‘lief’, ‘leof’, ‘liob’, ‘liub’ – from the Germanic ‘lieb’ and Gothic ‘liufs’ – means ‘to love’ or ‘beloved’ as in ‘dear’ meaning ‘desirous’).

    So ‘believe’ means ‘hold dear’ as in ‘love desirously’. Thus ‘believing’ means ‘dearly trusting or desiring to be true’. Thus the word ‘believe’ means ‘fervently wish to be true’.

    I cut/pasted that from some notes I have in another file, but I've since lost the source, perhaps it wasn an OED, though the online version doesn't go into that much detail.

    At any rate, belief is 'fervently wishing an idea to be true' based on information transmitted from another host, not from direct observation. Most people get their religions from their parents. They, in turn, got it from their parents, and so on, and so forth. There is no direct observation to support the belief (or the gelauben/galaubjan/etc.), only the word, or faith (from the Old French "feid", which is from the Latin "fides", meaning "trust, belief," from root of fidere "to trust") of previous, more ingnorant people.

    Quote Originally Posted by water
    My hypothesis is that the meaning of the word "faith" changed from 'devotion, commitment' to 'believing on blind trust' because devotion was ridiculed.
    It would appear, that based on the etymology above, which I obtained from the Oxford English Dictionary, faith is a derivitive of the Latin, federe, which means "to trust." It doesn't appear to have anything to do with "devotion" or "commitment."
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    No. The input is sensory information. Beliefs are an obstacle. They get in the way. You know, preconceived notions and all? They come in handy when you need to know that fire is hot and things like that, but get in the way when you believe things like 'Slavs are sub-human'.
    This is not a good thing to say; all your arguments here are based on beliefs.

    (If you say that 'belief' in your context means differently then you concede to water)

    All things which are written depend on beliefs. These beliefs are the 'preconceptions', which you deride, and they allow subjects to be understood.

    It is not possible to understand without preconception. What you have done is assert that some preconceptions are good and some are bad. I think perhaps what you have forgotten by mistake is that this same assertion is itself based on a preconception.

    Now water warns us that the preconceptions brought to mind when we hear of 'belief' in these contexts have been contaminated. (The 'contaminant' per se is of no concern at this point)
    Her valiance has however misled her into advocating her proposed remedy. What water forgets is that those substitutions ('mental content' for example) invoke preconceptions as well. This renders her suggestions equally unfit for discourse.

    The only way to sidestep dissonance is to communicate in a culturally inspecific mode. That is, we must assume romantically, like water does, that religion is not culturally specific in order to treat it "objectively".
    As we know this is not the case, for religion is indeed culturally specific, let us not waste time trying to get on the same page using words which have subjective meanings.

    This is self defeating - and circular.

    Intelligence is seen to be how one deals with the unpredictable.
    Belief is how one deals with the predictable.
    Intelligence and belief are mutually exclusive.
    Unfortunately, this argument is bogus. Your conclusion stands because you have set the premises so. Far from what you imply, and even as we see evidently here, we are not unanimous on the meanings of words. Maybe intelligence and belief are mutually exclusive for you because you understand them so. When you say 'is seen to be' you imply a concensus which is simply not self evident. For this reason, I think the provided definitions are arbitrarily set up to support the conclusion.

    EDIT: When I say all written things stem from beliefs, I don't mean typing 'asldkfjsdlkfj' is a reflection of one's philosophy. There are some who like to raise trifles, that's all.
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    Albus,

    Hi. You must be a philosopher. Anyway...

    I "believe" that mu mesons (muons) decay, on average, in about 2.2 microseconds. I've never seen a muon, or done a muon decay experiment, yet I state this firmly as FACT and would bet my life on it. Why?

    Someone else says "god exists" even though they've never seen god or done any "god" experiments, yet they would bet their life on it (and often do!). Why?

    Can anyone answer my questions?
    Huh?
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    Quote Originally Posted by superluminal
    Albus,

    Hi. You must be a philosopher. Anyway...

    I "believe" that mu mesons (muons) decay, on average, in about 2.2 microseconds. I've never seen a muon, or done a muon decay experiment, yet I state this firmly as FACT and would bet my life on it. Why?

    Someone else says "god exists" even though they've never seen god or done any "god" experiments, yet they would bet their life on it (and often do!). Why?

    Can anyone answer my questions?
    Hello superluminal,

    I'm not a philosopher; I'm a wizard. :wink:

    Remember that your knowledge depends on your preconceptions. I mindfully avoided delving into the 'contaminants' I adumbrated in the previous post. But since you ask:

    You believe this scientific information is factual because you have come, by no small process, to value scientific findings. This goes for the theist too, who has been raised in a unique environment which has led to his/her specific philosophy. Now I would like you to imagine for a moment that you were born in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán.

    Let's say in a particularly crucial war, one in which the odds were stacked firmly against your people, your Aztec army undisputably routed the enemy and the most vicious among them were taken as slaves along with their wives and children. Now as is normal in your culture, the chief priest prepares the altar to sacrifice the demonized enemy and his family members. (Do remember that you have been born and fully bred in Aztec customs and religion) Would you object to the sacrifice on "moral grounds" or would you accept it as a normal part of the Aztec life? That is, would you be willing to state it firmly as "fact" and bet your life that these sacrifices would gain the gods' favour?

    Probably so.

    Would you be justified in making such a claim? Probably so!

    Why is this? Because of culture! Just as you now take scientific findings without making much fuss and hulabaloo, you would also have no moral compunctions in such a scenario.

    Now what do you think would happen if some man tried to raise tumult by insisting that rain was solely dependent on atmosphere and not the gods? Would you be afraid that his actions would anger the gods? Would you want to sacrifice him to appease them? Probably so!

    Would that happen today? Of course not!

    Evidently, the priorities of this culture are more geared towards the sciences than in Aztec times.

    In the same way, a theist's priorities are more geared towards God, or rather his culture's perception of God, just as you would as an Aztec. It is not surprising then to find the theist's morality tied inextricably to his beliefs just as your morality (or the lack of it) might have been tied to the beliefs of your culture.

    We can thus safely say your personal philosophy and proclivity for the sciences are as much culture specific as the theist's is culture specific. They are both biproducts of your respective and unique milieu.

    Now the proper question we must address is if it is at all sensible to judge the theist as 'unreasonable' or 'deluded'. Let us do this by analogy:

    Is it reasonable to compare the morality of the society you have been raised in to the morality of the Aztec who sacrifices humans and conclude that the Aztec is "morally inferior"?

    Is it fair?

    If not, then can it be fair to do the same to the theist (or vice versa)?

    Is doing so not circular in reason?

    (Now these are the preconceptions I spoke of earlier. Yours might be that science is 'better' than religion, or that you are more 'civilized' than the Aztec. They are not observations based on what YOU think, but rather what you have learned from your own unique background.

    Now if you don't believe me, you can find an Amazon tribe never exposed to what we call 'civilization' and find out whether they value dollars or science or Christianity or bank accounts or anything of the sort.)



    And so the next time you marvel at science, do well to remember that fate could have just as well placed you in a setting where you would rather have "bet your life" on what the Chief Oracle divined.

    I hope you see now that science is neither "superior" nor "inferior". In fact, the two adjectives have no meaning unless you make an a priori assumption.

    Based on a preconception.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albus Dumbledore

    Is it fair?
    Yes.
    we are no longer living in the dark ages, the aztec did not know any better, but now the religious should know better. we have education now. we know whats real and whats not, we understand what our five senses tell us, anything other than that, we should know to be unreal/supernatural.

    there is an advert in england, where as, a man is offered two camera's for the same price, almost Identical, but one has a zoom, he choose's the inferior one, this man can only be looked upon as an idiot, he should know better.
    it is not an asumption but a fact, an "educated" man, should know better.
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense - Buddha"
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    Albus,

    Of course your analogy with other cultures is correct as far as it goes. Cultural indoctrination is virtually impossible to breach and I would most likely be unperturbed by sacrifices to appease the gods (I'd like to think better of myself...). My answer to my own questions though is this:

    The method of science is fundamentally different than other endeavours and is culturally neutral, if carried out honestly (which it is the vast majority of the time) and reveals simple truths that are verifiable.

    I have access to hundreds of documented examples of a specific experiment with the same results, done all over the world. There is no disagreement. A millenium from now, if I read an old physics text from "the golden age" I can, with enough wherewithal, reproduce those results. I "believe" in muon decay times for that reason. The results are testable and repeatable and have been done. The only "assumption" I must make is that the scientific method is valid and that science journals are not in a conspiracy to fool me. If I suspect that, I can go find out unambiguously.

    Belief in god is highly culturally specific. The attributes of most gods cannot be tested or verified or proven. Only lack of evidence gives any indication. Religious documentation is hearsay and contains few, if any, testable hypotheses. So belief in god is not scientific, but cultural and emotional. No simple, verifiable truths are gleaned from such a belief, as they vary from culture to culture. For those unable to make the paradigm shift from cultural/emotional belief to verifiable scientific behavior, then belief will be all they have and it will be as strong as the culture wants to make it (strong enough to die for?).

    It's late. Hopefully this makes sense to me in the morning... (YAWN).
    Huh?
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    SkinWalker,


    I also realize that modern forms of words have religious etymology and are used in everyday language in most languages. Der Himmel
    is a good example in German, as are the words "good" and "dia" in both English and Spanish respectively. Himmel is Heaven and sky. Good comes from the word "god" as does "dia" (day).

    But the vernacular of modernity is what it is. We can remind ourselves of the roots of words when examining human history, but when speaking of modern anthropological or sociological examinations of human worldviews, "belief" and "faith" suffice quite well.
    My point is that you insist on understanding religious texts with a secularized understanding of the termonology.

    The secularized understanding is of course simplified and biased in comparison to the original meaning. So it is not hard to "refute" religious texts with a secularized understanding of their terminology. But this is not a far scientific approach to those matters.


    So ‘believe’ means ‘hold dear’ as in ‘love desirously’. Thus ‘believing’ means ‘dearly trusting or desiring to be true’. Thus the word ‘believe’ means ‘fervently wish to be true’.
    /.../
    At any rate, belief is 'fervently wishing an idea to be true' based on information transmitted from another host, not from direct observation. Most people get their religions from their parents. They, in turn, got it from their parents, and so on, and so forth. There is no direct observation to support the belief (or the gelauben/galaubjan/etc.), only the word, or faith (from the Old French "feid", which is from the Latin "fides", meaning "trust, belief," from root of fidere "to trust") of previous, more ingnorant people.
    Your motive is to discredit faith, and you will use any means to do so.
    If someone "fervently wishes something to be true" this can mean two things, at least:

    1. they are committed to make something happen, to make it come true, and they work towards it,
    and
    2. they are fooling themselves (because any plan, any ideal one has is not reality yet, and to insist that it can come true is a foolishness).

    In accordance with your motive to discredit faith, you go for 2.


    It would appear, that based on the etymology above, which I obtained from the Oxford English Dictionary, faith is a derivitive of the Latin, federe, which means "to trust." It doesn't appear to have anything to do with "devotion" or "commitment."
    Trust put into practice has the form of devotion, commitment.


    * * *

    Albus Dumbledore,


    Now water warns us that the preconceptions brought to mind when we hear of 'belief' in these contexts have been contaminated. (The 'contaminant' per se is of no concern at this point)
    Her valiance has however misled her into advocating her proposed remedy. What water forgets is that those substitutions ('mental content' for example) invoke preconceptions as well. This renders her suggestions equally unfit for discourse.

    The only way to sidestep dissonance is to communicate in a culturally inspecific mode.
    I have, on purpose, held the corollarium of my argument to myself, until the time be ripe to produce it: It is not possible to discuss something regardless of discourse; there is no such thing as an objective discourse in which we could discuss ANY THING.
    Things make sense only within their native discourse.

    But.

    That is, we must assume romantically, like water does, that religion is not culturally specific in order to treat it "objectively".
    As we know this is not the case, for religion is indeed culturally specific, let us not waste time trying to get on the same page using words which have subjective meanings.

    This is self defeating - and circular.
    What is possible is that within the discourse of cognitive science, a meta-religious discourse be developed; a philosophy of religion. Where it is analyzed how religion works. But this, however, demands a new terminology that is not simply the one took from the discourse we analyze, for that would lead to all the culturally specific problems we are familiar with by now.


    * * *

    Welcome to the forum!
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    Mysticism est a mental desease a virus si vos mos , unus ut has spawned pessimus in men , monastica. fides ut nonnullus alius inscribo est superus quam ego , pro voluntas manipulus ingnoran strues.

    The above is written in Latin, in no other langauge can I make it more clear, the mystics are dellusional, this is not an attack against them, it's an observation of reality.

    Mystizismus ist ein Geistesdesease. Im Bruch unten des Bicameral Verstandes (julianisches Jaynes) erlernen
    Sie wann und waren der Verstand durchmachten einen Sprung in der
    Geschichte von Selbstawarness, und der Grund von warum die Götter, bestehen Sie und bestehen Sie noch heute.

    http://www.julianjaynes.org/evidence_summary.php

    Σε πόσες γλώσσες σκέφτεστε ότι μπορώ να επαναλάβω το ίδιο
    πράγμα;
    Ο μυστικισμός είναι ένα διανοητικό desease, κάποια που έχει κρατήσει τους ανθρώπους από να εξελιχθεί
    throught αυτό είναι ιστορία, είχαμε τις σκοτεινές ηλικίες, η αναγέννηση του λόγου κατά τη διάρκεια του Reinessance, και τώρα μια επανόρθωση των απόκρυφων πίστεων σε έναν τέτοιο
    εκπολιτισμένο χρόνο. Δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία επιδιώκουμε τη μόνη καταστροφή μέσω των
    πολέμων, και indiference, είναι becuase των θρησκειών ότι τέτοια πράγματα υπάρχουν. Ο καθένας που προσπαθεί να αναγκάσει τα θρησκευτικά idealogies
    τους επάνω σε άλλο.

    Godless
    Don't count your money while your sitting on the table.
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    well put, godless.
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense - Buddha"
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    I have, on purpose, held the corollarium of my argument to myself, until the time be ripe to produce it: It is not possible to discuss something regardless of discourse; there is no such thing as an objective discourse in which we could discuss ANY THING.
    Things make sense only within their native discourse.
    This final statement is sophistry.

    Although it is 'common sense' to say so, experience tells us that native discourse is not as formal as you imply.

    Jesus preached in the 'native discourse' that the laypeople and even the Sanhedrin might understand. But we know from the recorded Gospels that even they who shared His tongue often marveled at the things He said and furthermore, the prophecy was fulfilled by Him:

    10And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"

    11He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
    "Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
    And seeing you will see and not perceive;

    15For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
    Their ears are hard of hearing,
    And their eyes they have closed,
    Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
    Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
    So that I should heal them.'

    (Matthew 13)

    Now an objective discourse is impossible by language; cultural preconceptions can and will have a ruinous effect on intended meaning. Perhaps by 'native discourse' you would have us hark back to the original or native culture in order to share similar preconceptions (preconceptions cannot fully be done away with, if at all)? This would be too tedious and insufficient to reach your goal.

    You see, to eliminate preconceptions and unseat discord through a native discourse is to establish a utopia.

    Hence my labeling you a romantic.

    That is, we must assume romantically, like water does, that religion is not culturally specific in order to treat it "objectively".
    As we know this is not the case, for religion is indeed culturally specific, let us not waste time trying to get on the same page using words which have subjective meanings.

    This is self defeating - and circular.
    What is possible is that within the discourse of cognitive science, a meta-religious discourse be developed; a philosophy of religion. Where it is analyzed how religion works. But this, however, demands a new terminology that is not simply the one took from the discourse we analyze, for that would lead to all the culturally specific problems we are familiar with by now.

    What you recommend is an impossible task. A philosophy of religion must assume, erroneously, that religions can be lumped into the same basket and carried with one "meta-religious discourse". Even if you analyzed how one religion works, various minute differences in what each believer believed would prove a gargantuan obstacle.

    For a family with father A and son B who both believe in religion Debby, there is no harmony in the indivdual understandings. Father A learned the religion from his parents in a slightly different time and culture, and son B learned the religion from his parents in a slightly different time and culture. As we have seen with experiments where one person whispers a message to another until all have heard the message, messages are seldom preserved. Now when we factor in time, the meanings of the message change - even if the message does not.

    Father A does not see Debby the same way son B does, although they assume otherwise. Now your job in creating this new philosophy is then to compare what son B believes to what father A believes. Which one's belief is closer to the 'real' religion Debby? Now compare these to their fathers and their father's father's until you reach the originator of Debby. Do you consider him to be the true follower of Debby? Do you start your meta-religious discourse by interviewing him?

    Now that aside, do you assume that the religion is preserved as he narrates from his lips to your ears? Or perhaps from pen to paper?

    Or will you opt for the Holy Book of religion Debby? Will you assume that the inspired writers somehow preserved the "true" religion?

    Even in the closest families there is room for misunderstanding, rendering talk of a 'native discourse' to fantasy. Whose discourse shall you arbitrarily deem as the native discourse - Father A or Son B? Or both!?


    Welcome to the forum!
    Why, I thank you!
    Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
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    Gee whiz. If you wrap enough words around a subject you can make anything sound cool.

    there is no such thing as an objective discourse in which we could discuss ANY THING.
    Yes, there is. It's called science. A common language shared around the world.

    Unless you just want to form a meta-scientific religiocentric focus on the concepts that stem from the higher spatio-cognitive functions in humans as evidenced by the outward manifestation of material manipulation and utilization? This could lead to a subcurrent of understanding between disparate philosophical realms that heretofore have exhibited a dissonance in mental constructs. Of course, the paradigm shift represented by this is based on the apriori assumption that the psycho-religious and the meta-scientific cognitive subprocesses can share a mental construct space as defined by the temporo-spatial relationship between brain hemispheres.

    But I could be wrong...
    Huh?
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    Quote Originally Posted by superluminal
    Albus,

    Of course your analogy with other cultures is correct as far as it goes. Cultural indoctrination is virtually impossible to breach and I would most likely be unperturbed by sacrifices to appease the gods (I'd like to think better of myself...). My answer to my own questions though is this:

    The method of science is fundamentally different than other endeavours and is culturally neutral, if carried out honestly (which it is the vast majority of the time) and reveals simple truths that are verifiable.

    I have access to hundreds of documented examples of a specific experiment with the same results, done all over the world. There is no disagreement. A millenium from now, if I read an old physics text from "the golden age" I can, with enough wherewithal, reproduce those results. I "believe" in muon decay times for that reason. The results are testable and repeatable and have been done. The only "assumption" I must make is that the scientific method is valid and that science journals are not in a conspiracy to fool me. If I suspect that, I can go find out unambiguously.
    Let me ask you:
    If you were born and lived in a Muslim country, in its fundamentalist prime when there is no interference from other civilization, as an Imam, would scientific findings be your priority?

    Now don't answer for me again, but ask yourself and articulate to yourself the reason for your answer. Make sure you understand it for yourself.

    With the answer you gave yourself for the last question in mind, let me ask you some final things which might put it in perspective (you don't need to give me an answer):

    Can a homosexual get up one day and choose to be straight? Why or why not?

    If you wanted to, could you, at this moment, just simply choose to start believing in God? Why or why not? (Keep in mind your answer to the first question I asked)

    Would you be convinced if someone advocated human sacrifices to you? Why or why not?

    Would you be convinced right at this moment that it was moral if someone showed empirically that human sacrifices brought rain and good harvests to all in the land?

    Why or why not?

    Now can a theist simply choose to disbelieve in God in favor of science (or for whatever other reason)?


    Once you have sorted out these questions for yourself, we can move on the next part of your reply. I hope you and geezer now understand a little more what my point was. I will get to his as well once both of you have read this.
    Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
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    Quote Originally Posted by superluminal
    Gee whiz. If you wrap enough words around a subject you can make anything sound cool.

    there is no such thing as an objective discourse in which we could discuss ANY THING.
    Yes, there is. It's called science. A common language shared around the world.

    Unless you just want to form a meta-scientific religiocentric focus on the concepts that stem from the higher spatio-cognitive functions in humans as evidenced by the outward manifestation of material manipulation and utilization? This could lead to a subcurrent of understanding between disparate philosophical realms that heretofore have exhibited a dissonance in mental constructs. Of course, the paradigm shift represented by this is based on the apriori assumption that the psycho-religious and the meta-scientific cognitive subprocesses can share a mental construct space as defined by the temporo-spatial relationship between brain hemispheres.

    Hello superluminal,

    If you take a careful look at the statement it reads:

    "there is no such thing as an objective discourse in which we could discuss ANY THING."

    Now I don't know about you, but I am quite sure science cannot be used to discuss "ANY THING" at all.

    But I could be wrong...
    [

    I think you might be.

    When you say 'science', you probably mean the western science. There are Asian and African versions of science much older than the science you know. What makes you refer to the western science? Might it be because you have learned from a western culture?

    Or are you going to arbitrarily insist that western science is the "real" definition of science?

    Might this also be because you have learned from a western culture?
    (If you say no, we will go back to the drawing board and put you in a scenario where you were born in Asia/Africa before the invasion of westerners and ask the right questions)

    P.S. The subprocesses you refered to don't exist
    I just checked my copy of 'The Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks' :wink:

    (These smilies are terrible!)
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    Professor Dumbledore,

    I am going on holiday for a week but I will get back to your questions. They are good ones.

    Here's one for you in the interim:

    If you, as a surgeon, get appendicitis, can you reasonably be expected to operate on yourself?

    See you next week.
    Huh?
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    Albus Dumbledore,



    Although it is 'common sense' to say so, experience tells us that native
    discourse is not as formal as you imply.
    I'm not implying that the native discourse is formal, not at all.

    There may be a misunderstanding of what "native discourse" is:
    The native discourse of terms like "plus" and "minus" is the mathematical discourse.
    The native discourse of terms like "lyrical subject" and "iambic verse" is the literary discourse.
    The native discourse of terms like "faith" and "belief" is the religious discourse.
    The native discourse of terms like "orientation advantage" and "living system" is the discourse of cognitive science.
    Etc.

    Terms can be taken from their native discourse and placed into another one; like you can say in everyday talk "They already had plenty of trouble, *plus* the kids".
    Not rarely, terms carry along the information of the discourse they belong to (like "phrasal verb" belongs to its native discourse of grammar theory).
    But with time, they can become "common goods", and their origins unclear (as it happened with terms like "compensation", "sublimation", "alter ego"; "faith", "belief"; "social security"). But this doesn't mean that there is no native discourse for them within which they have their intended meaning.


    Now an objective discourse is impossible by language; cultural
    preconceptions can and will have a ruinous effect on intended meaning.
    I hope you see my point by now.
    Within the discourse of mathematics, for example, it is possible to establish objectivity.
    Within the discourse of literature science, it is possible to establish objectivity.
    Etc.

    I see no reasons why it should not be possible to establish objectivity within the discourse of the philosophy of religion.


    Hence my labeling you a romantic.
    'M 'fraid you labelled me that for the wrong reason.
    My position is very plain.


    What you recommend is an impossible task. A philosophy of religion must
    assume, erroneously, that religions can be lumped into the same basket and
    carried with one "meta-religious discourse". Even if you analyzed how one
    religion works, various minute differences in what each believer believed
    would prove a gargantuan obstacle.
    I don't think so.


    Father A does not see Debby the same way son B does, although they assume
    otherwise. Now your job in creating this new philosophy is then to compare
    what son B believes to what father A believes. Which one's belief is closer
    to the 'real' religion Debby? Now compare these to their fathers and their
    father's father's until you reach the originator of Debby. Do you consider
    him to be the true follower of Debby? Do you start your meta-religious
    discourse by interviewing him?

    Now that aside, do you assume that the religion is preserved as he narrates
    from his lips to your ears? Or perhaps from pen to paper?

    Or will you opt for the Holy Book of religion Debby? Will you assume that
    the inspired writers somehow preserved the "true" religion?

    Even in the closest families there is room for misunderstanding, rendering
    talk of a 'native discourse' to fantasy. Whose discourse shall you
    arbitrarily deem as the native discourse - Father A or Son B? Or both!?
    It is my experience that the differences, while they at first seem so overwhelming, are not so big anyway. What is problematic that one person rarely has grasped the whole system, and they may have inconsistencies they have not noticed, but they themselves could resolve, once pointed out for them.

    My ideal is to rewrite the biblical doctrine into a logico-philosophical tractate. I can imagine this would take a lot of study. But it would eventually be a system of arguments that all Christians who adhere to the Bible would acknowledge.

    If you look at discussions at religion forums, this is exactly what is being done -- arguments are being sought that all Christians who adhere to the Bible agree with. What is necessary is to organize these arguments into an abstract logical form.
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    superluminal: "If you, as a surgeon, get appendicitis, can you reasonably be expected to operate on yourself?"
    *************
    M*W: Yes! It has been done and reported in the literature. General anesthesia could not be used, of course, but it could be done with a regional block or even a series of locals. We performed an emergency C-section using locals in a medevac helicopter over Turkey. Mother and baby did just fine, but I needed a stiff drink after that one!
    "Baby, you don't have to live like a refugee."

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    Quote Originally Posted by water
    Albus Dumbledore,

    There may be a misunderstanding of what "native discourse" is:
    The native discourse of terms like "plus" and "minus" is the mathematical discourse.
    The native discourse of terms like "lyrical subject" and "iambic verse" is the literary discourse.
    The native discourse of terms like "faith" and "belief" is the religious discourse.
    The native discourse of terms like "orientation advantage" and "living system" is the discourse of cognitive science.
    Etc.
    Ok.

    Terms can be taken from their native discourse and placed into another one; like you can say in everyday talk "They already had plenty of trouble, *plus* the kids".
    Not rarely, terms carry along the information of the discourse they belong to (like "phrasal verb" belongs to its native discourse of grammar theory).
    But with time, they can become "common goods", and their origins unclear (as it happened with terms like "compensation", "sublimation", "alter ego"; "faith", "belief"; "social security").
    What was the native discourse of 'faith' and 'belief'?

    But this doesn't mean that there is no native discourse for them within which they have their intended meaning.
    It doesn't mean that there is.

    I hope you see my point by now.
    Within the discourse of mathematics, for example, it is possible to establish objectivity.
    Within the discourse of literature science, it is possible to establish objectivity.
    Etc.

    I see no reasons why it should not be possible to establish objectivity within the discourse of the philosophy of religion.
    What does "iambic pentameter" relate to in literary discourse? Poetry.

    The term was made for the purpose of making 'objective' a form of literature.

    What do "faith" and "belief" relate to in religion?

    Were these terms made for the purpose of making 'objective' (anything in) religion? If so, what is this purpose?


    It is my experience that the differences, while they at first seem so overwhelming, are not so big anyway.
    And you say you're not a romantic.

    What is problematic that one person rarely has grasped the whole system, and they may have inconsistencies they have not noticed, but they themselves could resolve, once pointed out for them.

    My ideal is to rewrite the biblical doctrine into a logico-philosophical tractate. I can imagine this would take a lot of study. But it would eventually be a system of arguments that all Christians who adhere to the Bible would acknowledge.

    If you look at discussions at religion forums, this is exactly what is being done -- arguments are being sought that all Christians who adhere to the Bible agree with. What is necessary is to organize these arguments into an abstract logical form.
    Do you understand the original tongues of the Apostles?
    Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albus Dumbledore
    Let me ask you:
    If you were born and lived in a Muslim country, in its fundamentalist prime when there is no interference from other civilization, as an Imam, would scientific findings be your priority?
    Possibly.

    Now don't answer for me again, but ask yourself and articulate to yourself the reason for your answer. Make sure you understand it for yourself.
    Ok. Thinking... Done.

    With the answer you gave yourself for the last question in mind, let me ask you some final things which might put it in perspective (you don't need to give me an answer):
    Ok.

    Can a homosexual get up one day and choose to be straight? Why or why not?
    Hmmm...

    If you wanted to, could you, at this moment, just simply choose to start believing in God? Why or why not? (Keep in mind your answer to the first question I asked)
    Ummm...

    Would you be convinced if someone advocated human sacrifices to you? Why or why not?
    Ahhh...

    Would you be convinced right at this moment that it was moral if someone showed empirically that human sacrifices brought rain and good harvests to all in the land?

    Why or why not?
    Mmmm...

    Now can a theist simply choose to disbelieve in God in favor of science (or for whatever other reason)?
    Hmmmm...


    Once you have sorted out these questions for yourself, we can move on the next part of your reply. I hope you and geezer now understand a little more what my point was. I will get to his as well once both of you have read this.
    Ok.
    Huh?
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    Albus:

    When you say 'science', you probably mean the western science. There are Asian and African versions of science much older than the science you know. What makes you refer to the western science? Might it be because you have learned from a western culture?

    Or are you going to arbitrarily insist that western science is the "real" definition of science?

    Might this also be because you have learned from a western culture?
    Woah! Hang on a second there pardner!

    Typical science definition:

    a method of learning about the physical universe by applying the principles of the scientific method, which includes making empirical observations, proposing hypotheses to explain those observations, and testing those hypotheses in valid and reliable ways; also refers to the organized body of knowledge that results from scientific study
    Your statements belie a misunderstanding of science and make no sense to me. In fact, your previous set of questions make me think that you believe science is somehow subjective and culturally biased.

    Does the spectrum of heated sodium differ from culture to culture?

    Do Asians have elements we don't?

    Do Africans use a different value for h (Plancks constant)?

    Did gunpowder work differently for the ancient Chinese?

    Did ancient Arabic peoples weigh less because they had a different theory of gravity?

    Will hexapods from MizarB5 have a different value for the speed of light? Or the weak nuclear force?

    See where I'm going with this? Science is about objective reality only. If you can do a controlled experiment and show me the results, and I can go repeat it and get the same results, in any culture, it's science.

    Anyone who believes in anything as being objective without any way to test it, is simply obeying an ancient survival-enhancing instinct and is subject to being easily duped.
    Huh?
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    superluminal,

    You have taken a big leap to accuse me of misunderstanding what science is. The response you gave shows that it is you who has interpreted my post outside of the gist.

    In other words, what I said was meant to be interpreted based on what I was saying previously. Not in isolation.
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    Ok Albus. Come, let us reason together. I expect your understanding of science is as good or better than mine. So what are we trying to get at here? And I'd appreciate not being lead by the nose with a series of self reflective questions. It's a technique that fails miserably with me. Cut to the chase, please.
    Huh?
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    Albus Dumbledore,



    What was the native discourse of 'faith' and 'belief'?
    Religion.


    But this doesn't mean that there is no native discourse for them within which they have their intended meaning.
    It doesn't mean that there is.
    Again, it is religion. Devotion to God and a particular kind of party allegiance to other men who share the same devotion to God.


    What do "faith" and "belief" relate to in religion?
    They are the names or summary terms for the relationship between man and God.


    Were these terms made for the purpose of making 'objective' (anything in) religion? If so, what is this purpose?
    Yes, to make the relationship between man and God a graspable matter; we first need names for things before we can communicate them.
    The purpose was at least this, as it still is: 1. devotion to God, 2. party allegiance to the fellow in devotion to God.


    It is my experience that the differences, while they at first seem so overwhelming, are not so big anyway.
    And you say you're not a romantic.

    Dwelling on the surface of various religions, the differences may indeed seem overwhelming.


    Do you understand the original tongues of the Apostles?
    No. But some people do. I have no doubt that a logico-philosophical tractate as I mentioned it can be devised. I claim logic. Everything else is a problem of premises.
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  41. #40  
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    Devotion to God and a particular kind of party allegiance to other men who share the same devotion to God.

    You are therefore a non-believer, an infidel... to a Muslim, as you do not share the same devotion to Allah and will burn for an eternity in their complex version of hell. This is undeniable according to Islam - nothing will save you from this ultimate destiny.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    Devotion to God and a particular kind of party allegiance to other men who share the same devotion to God.

    You are therefore a non-believer, an infidel... to a Muslim, as you do not share the same devotion to Allah and will burn for an eternity in their complex version of hell. This is undeniable according to Islam - nothing will save you from this ultimate destiny.
    And? My faith is not their faith. God will decide who goes where. Man cannot see into the heart of another man, so it is not up to man to make judgments about who goes where.
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  43. #42  
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    God will decide who goes where. Man cannot see into the heart of another man, so it is not up to man to make judgments about who goes where.

    That's what I said, Allah has decided that you (and me) are infidels and will burn for an eternity in their version of hell. You cannot avoid this destiny. Accept it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    God will decide who goes where. Man cannot see into the heart of another man, so it is not up to man to make judgments about who goes where.

    That's what I said, Allah has decided that you (and me) are infidels and will burn for an eternity in their version of hell. You cannot avoid this destiny. Accept it.
    What is your problem, Q?

    You chase me around forums. And then you go in silly circles.
    Are you the "Unholy Atheist Inquisition", or do you, perhaps, ... erm ... like me in some way (unthinkable, what a shame for an atheist!)?
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    What is your problem, Q?

    You chase me around forums. And then you go in silly circles.


    I have no problem, the problem is of your own making.

    I've just stated that you will go to hell as a non-believer and infidel, and all you can do is muster a ridiculous retort that I'm chasing you around.

    You simply can't admit that your religious beliefs are fallacious, at best.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    What is your problem, Q?

    You chase me around forums. And then you go in silly circles.


    I have no problem, the problem is of your own making.

    I've just stated that you will go to hell as a non-believer and infidel, and all you can do is muster a ridiculous retort that I'm chasing you around.

    You simply can't admit that your religious beliefs are fallacious, at best.
    Fallacious according to whom?
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    They are fallacious to everyone, including you. The only difference is that you have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale, hence you'll never recognize nor understand the fallacy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    They are fallacious to everyone, including you.
    What statements of totality ...
    Are you sure you are a scientist?


    The only difference is that you have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale, hence you'll never recognize nor understand the fallacy.
    Prove to me that I "have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale" ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by water
    Prove to me that I "have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale" ...
    LOL... am I the only one that sees the irony in that demand?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Quote Originally Posted by water
    Prove to me that I "have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale" ...
    LOL... am I the only one that sees the irony in that demand?
    And the irony is that you cannot prove to me, or to anyone else, that I "have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale".
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  51. #50  
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    And the irony is that you cannot prove to me, or to anyone else, that I "have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale".

    That is true, for no one has proven that better than you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    And the irony is that you cannot prove to me, or to anyone else, that I "have not the capacity for logic, reason and rationale".

    That is true, for no one has proven that better than you.
    Where, how?
    Present evidence, summarize.
    Presto!
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    What was the native discourse of 'faith' and 'belief'?
    Religion.
    Which one?

    But this doesn't mean that there is no native discourse for them within which they have their intended meaning.
    It doesn't mean that there is.
    Again, it is religion. Devotion to God and a particular kind of party allegiance to other men who share the same devotion to God.
    or gods, or spirits, or who knows what. Where to start an objective lingo with so much to choose from?

    What do "faith" and "belief" relate to in religion?
    They are the names or summary terms for the relationship between man and God.
    Too vague of a description. That will not do for an objective discourse - it tells us nothing.

    Were these terms made for the purpose of making 'objective' (anything in) religion? If so, what is this purpose?
    Yes, to make the relationship between man and God a graspable matter; we first need names for things before we can communicate them.
    The purpose was at least this, as it still is: 1. devotion to God, 2. party allegiance to the fellow in devotion to God.
    It is my experience that the differences, while they at first seem so overwhelming, are not so big anyway.
    And you say you're not a romantic.

    Dwelling on the surface of various religions, the differences may indeed seem overwhelming.
    Well so 'faith' and 'belief' are names for 'things' we need to communicate (such as devotion to God and party allegiance). But you are still saying that these things are objective (or can be discussed objectively). 'Devotion to God' is a straight forward phrase but what it means is not universal. The same goes for 'party allegiance', the means of which, and also what it means in itself, are not understood the same way individually. Yes, from religion to religion these phrases can differ in connotation but even more so from individual to individual so that there is no feasible method of making them objective. Hence the grammarians simply take the language of the old bourgeoisie and swear that is 'correct grammar'. But this is a subjective way of making discourse objective.


    Do you understand the original tongues of the Apostles?
    No. But some people do. I have no doubt that a logico-philosophical tractate as I mentioned it can be devised. I claim logic. Everything else is a problem of premises.
    [/quote]

    Even if one were to understand the original tongues of the Apostles, it remains that you have no original epistles to work from. Only variant copies addled with interpolation and tweaking. Where to start, where to start?
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  54. #53 Re: Why do humans believe? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by superluminal
    So, do you require proof in your life? For everything objective? Do you believe based on an inner conviction? Why?
    Very little in life is accessible to proof and clinging to a need for proof is one of the barriers that must be overcome on the road to maturity.

    With that said I turn to the topic of "faith" which is where this thread seems to have ended up.

    In the earliest uses of the word in the Bible, faith is not a source of knowledge but an understanding or a trust between two people, similar to a contract requiring each participant fulfill certain obligations to each other. Deuteronomy 32.51 and Ezekiel 10.2 But inherent in that relationship was the belief that the other person would fulfill his obligations. In the New Testament it becomes the measure of a person's righteousness or relationship to God. In Matt. 21.21 it is put in opposition to doubt, "if you have faith, and never doubt..." It is the means by which one knows and obeys God. Faith is a power which can move mountains in Matt. 17.20. In Rom. 10.17, "faith comes from what is heard," ie. a response to what one is told. But by 2 Cor. 5.7, "we walk by faith, not by sight," it is a source of knowledge comparable to sight as it is in Heb 11.1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

    For Weigel faith is reduced to communication (in the common sense of the word), as it often is by Catholic scholars. This is the logical conclusion if one equates faith to belief in scripture and church doctrines. It is supported by the passage in Rom. 10.17, but it doesn't fit the uses elsewhere in the bible. Consider John 5.39, "You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have life." All throughout the bible, adherence to the letter of the law is never considered faith. The rigidity described and denounced in John 5.39 is not faith but dogmatism. The opposition between faith and doubt hinted at in Matt. 21.21, has lead to an interpretation of faith as the willful silencing of all doubt in a stubborn irrational belief. This along with Matt. 17.20 has been misinterpreted to mean that faith is an assertion of will over reality. In such a case, faith would be no source of knowledge but either a means for changing reality or for deceiving oneself. Those who fear uncertainty find this concept of faith very comforting, but this does not cover the meaning that is given to the word in the bible. The demand for certainty is the essence of dogmatism, but it is the opposite of real faith and the desire for truth. Faith can only exist in the midst of uncertainty; it must begin with an admission of ignorance as part of a sincere desire for truth. "A faith which does not expose itself to the possibility of unfaith is no faith but merely a convenience; the believer simply makes up his mind to adhere to traditional doctrine." Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. by Ralph Manheim, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959), p. 7.

    Consider the origin of the word in a mutual obligation between two people, where to keep faith is to fulfill one's own responsibility. What knowledge is given by faith? It is the knowledge that other will fulfill his obligation. But how is this knowledge really given? It is given by the very act of doing one's own part. If you do not do your part, he will not do his, but if you do then he will. It is a dynamic and participatory type of knowledge, where the very act of knowing produces the knowledge. Many of the things which we hope for most in life such as trust, love and happiness, only become believable in the act of coming to believe in them. For example, it is only by trusting a person that he can be known as trustworthy. This is the same dynamic concept of knowledge which is called "pragmatism" by William James. "Truth happens to an idea" means that the truth of an idea can only be discovered by acting on it. Faith is the dynamic source of knowledge, discovered by acting in the face of uncertainty. The dogmatic demand for certainty is the death of faith. As long as there is the admission of ignorance, faith remains dynamic, actively growing and seeking greater truth. But as soon as one presumes that the final object of faith has been obtained, faith becomes static and sterile dogmatism. C. S. Peirce demonstrated that this dynamic concept of truth was also the essence of the scientific method. Only by accepting the hypothesis in uncertainty and then acting upon it, can its truth be discovered. It is a delicate balance between believing in the hypothesis so strongly that reality is ignored, and doubting the hypothesis too much to give it a chance. In this way, faith and the scientific method can transcend the limitations of the other sources of knowledge such as the senses.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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