God belief hypothesis

For intuitive and critical discussions, from spirituality to theological doctrines. Fair warning: because the subject matter is personal, moderation is strict.

Moderator: Dan~

God belief hypothesis

Postby Silhouette » Fri Oct 05, 2018 8:36 pm

I've been trying to understand the way religious people come to believe in their religion.

It seems to be traditional for either side of this story to frame the other side in their own side's terms rather than the other way around, and this appears to be getting nowhere beyond providing entertainment and reinforcing each side's view that they already hold. Very very occasionally you see a half-baked attempt to represent the other's side in fairer terms, but it's usually patronising and only a token gesture before they revert to pushing their own side just as before. I'm trying my best to do it properly here.

Is it fair to say that believers think in terms of types and non-believers in terms of tokens?

Often you hear atheists arguing that specific things in religion when read literally are absurd, could not have occurred, are not scientifically possible etc. and the religious will call a straw man. Is it then the case that the religious are instead looking at the kinds of things you come across in their texts and teachings? That the meaning behind what is being said is relatable and that is the truth that they are finding rather than the literal specifics? That would explain why they respond to the morals behind the events, behaviours and consequences that the religion lays out. The morals, how the stories make you think and feel - that is what is being said to be true to the world and what seems to result in more preferable ways of living, no?

Yes there's slavery, rapes and tribalistic murder, and of course that's not what's being communicated as moral, it's the lessons behind what merely happens to be the social norms at the time the text was written - I've often come across religious thinkers arguing that the texts had to be relevant to the times in order to gain traction. The literal atheist is obviously right to point out that many of the old customs have no place in modern society, and that this is a valid point about the place of ancient religions in today's context, but the metaphorical theist is also obviously right to point out that the lessons set within the old customs are still valuable within new customs.
Both are right and wrong in different ways.

You see this mismatch in contemporary popular thinkers, such as when Sam Harris debates Jordan Peterson about truth. They're talking about different ways in which to draw truth, both valid, but the paradigm is different - so they talk past each other. Does JP believe in God? He never seems to answer this question to Sam's satisfaction or to the satisfaction of atheists alike. He's answering it in terms of stories and "types" of truth. Sam and other atheists want specifics about believing that a God is a Being that exists "out there" in the world in some kind of detectable way. I imagine the answer to that requirement in atheist terms would be "no", although it would be phrased as "not exactly" in theist terms. It's not as though God doesn't exist at all "out there" in the world in some kind of detectable way, because in a way He does, but not in the same way as matter, energy and forces do in science. God won't have a specific temperature or mass etc. but that which is being identified as His effect is detectable to humans in a way that at least appears to be just as ubiquitous and eternal as any scientific law because as the religious point out - the morals appear to be valuable in ancient and modern contexts alike, and there's no reason to believe that this will change in future.

Am I on the right track here with my distinction between type-truth and token-truth?

Is one more valid than the other? I think it depends on your values. I've been an atheist for as long as I can remember because I value specifics and drawing patterns from literal detail only in order to maximise accuracy in prediction in the most objective way possible. I imagine that theists are looking more to ethical decisions to guide the tendencies in how they act towards more preferable outcomes according to what they want from life. If so, the theist is in a way more engaged "in the world" than the atheist who is standing back from the world first before engaging themselves with it. I would presume that this is a similar difference between continental and analytical philosophical schools of thought, where the poets see the trees more than the wood, and the mathematicians see the wood more than the trees.
User avatar
Silhouette
Philosopher
 
Posts: 3426
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 1:27 am
Location: Existence

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby Dan~ » Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:02 am

It seems to be traditional for either side of this story to frame the other side in their own side's terms rather than the other way around, and this appears to be getting nowhere beyond providing entertainment and reinforcing each side's view that they already hold. Very very occasionally you see a half-baked attempt to represent the other's side in fairer terms, but it's usually patronising and only a token gesture before they revert to pushing their own side just as before. I'm trying my best to do it properly here.


I consider that a consequence of the dream-like state that most beings are in on earth.
Fantasy is more appealing than reality.
I like http://www.accuradio.com , internet radio.
https://dannerz.itch.io/ -- a new and minimal webside now hosting two of my free game projects.
User avatar
Dan~
ILP Legend
 
Posts: 9975
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:14 am
Location: May the loving spirit of papa hitler watch over and bless you all.

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:12 am

Silhouette wrote:I've been trying to understand the way religious people come to believe in their religion.
One reaction right of the bat is that most religious people find themselves already in their religion. It is not so much a matter of cming to believe, but in continuing to participate. That participation will likely include a great many different beliefs and epistemologies - and most of the latter sloppily thought out in most people. That isn't a shot at religoius people, most people in general don't really notice their own epistemologies. And if they do, they tend to idealize them. For example, most people I encouter FIND an explanation when challenged but these often seem ad hoc and after the fact. And generally, few people will justify on intuition, when it becomes clear in the discussion that this likely was the case.

Is it fair to say that believers think in terms of types and non-believers in terms of tokens?
I don't think so, but I will admit that despite relooking at Stanfords PHilosophy encyc on types and tokens, I still feel a bit hazy. I think different believers and different disbelievers vary. Though I would guess there would be more similarity amongst disbelievers, in the west, in any case.

Often you hear atheists arguing that specific things in religion when read literally are absurd, could not have occurred, are not scientifically possible etc. and the religious will call a straw man. Is it then the case that the religious are instead looking at the kinds of things you come across in their texts and teachings? That the meaning behind what is being said is relatable and that is the truth that they are finding rather than the literal specifics? That would explain why they respond to the morals behind the events, behaviours and consequences that the religion lays out. The morals, how the stories make you think and feel - that is what is being said to be true to the world and what seems to result in more preferable ways of living, no?
But there are religious people who DO take things literally. Also there are many religious who will point to specfic events and experiences - I prayed and this happened, I felt the holy spirit, after I gave my problem to God, I never took another drink, to the experiences of mystics which often can take on the more miraculous token type stuff.

You see this mismatch in contemporary popular thinkers, such as when Sam Harris debates Jordan Peterson about truth.
JP is not a very usual kind of theist, if he is one. I think also, again, most people, including people like Sam Harris are not so savvy about where their beliefs are coming from. I would bet he has beliefs that would not pass the muster he expects religious beliefs to pass. They might be more mundane - like 'what women are like' but these beliefs will inform how he acts in the world (that is will have real world consequences,) who he votes for, how he raises his kids, how he interacts with other races and so on.

Is one more valid than the other? I think it depends on your values. I've been an atheist for as long as I can remember because I value specifics and drawing patterns from literal detail only in order to maximise accuracy in prediction in the most objective way possible. I imagine that theists are looking more to ethical decisions to guide the tendencies in how they act towards more preferable outcomes according to what they want from life. If so, the theist is in a way more engaged "in the world" than the atheist who is standing back from the world first before engaging themselves with it. I would presume that this is a similar difference between continental and analytical philosophical schools of thought, where the poets see the trees more than the wood, and the mathematicians see the wood more than the trees.
Many Eastern theist practitioners would be very focused on specifics, accumulating skills and predicted experiences. Pagans and indigenous also. You might disagree about the quality of their 'research' but I don't htink the type token distinction holds in general for theists. I can see where you are going with the main atheist debate in the US ,say, between Christians and Atheists, but even there I think many believers have a rather diverse set of epistemologies, both openly and then unconsciously.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby felix dakat » Sat Oct 06, 2018 11:45 am

Interesting questions. As Karpel seemed to suggest, many of us are indoctrinated into a religion when we are children. So we initially accepted the symbols, the narratives, the stories, the imagery, the rituals uncritically.

Many religious people that I talk to resist examining their beliefs philosophically. And indeed it does appear that the objects of a person's faith are put at risk when a person tries to understand them.

So the question is whether the type/token distinction is helpful for understanding religious beliefs. To begin to examine the question, I will apply the distinction to a reading of a Biblical text.

Could we say that if Exodus 12 is read as an event that may or may not have been historical that it is being looked at as a token? And conversely if it's read either as that which applies to me because I am a member of the Jewish community to whom the Passover was given or to me as a Christian because it symbolizes Christ who was sacrificed for me that in those instances it is interpreted as a type?

User avatar
felix dakat
Janitor
 
Posts: 8192
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:20 am
Location: east of eden

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:39 pm

felix dakat wrote:Interesting questions. As Karpel seemed to suggest, many of us are indoctrinated into a religion when we are children.
I really do mean something more neutral. Of course families take their kids to the mosque, church, synogogue. Of course humanist families will have their kids coming up in the midst of stated and implicit assumptions about reality.

So the question is whether the type/token distinction is helpful for understanding religious beliefs.
I think it is useful in any specific discussion between people with different beliefs. A way to look at how they may be talking at cross purposes.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby felix dakat » Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:27 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
felix dakat wrote:Interesting questions. As Karpel seemed to suggest, many of us are indoctrinated into a religion when we are children.
I really do mean something more neutral. Of course families take their kids to the mosque, church, synogogue. Of course humanist families will have their kids coming up in the midst of stated and implicit assumptions about reality.

So the question is whether the type/token distinction is helpful for understanding religious beliefs.
I think it is useful in any specific discussion between people with different beliefs. A way to look at how they may be talking at cross purposes.

Sounds good. What would that look like? I've reached an impasse in discussions with some of my fundamentalist Christian friends.

User avatar
felix dakat
Janitor
 
Posts: 8192
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:20 am
Location: east of eden

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:00 pm

felix dakat wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
felix dakat wrote:Interesting questions. As Karpel seemed to suggest, many of us are indoctrinated into a religion when we are children.
I really do mean something more neutral. Of course families take their kids to the mosque, church, synogogue. Of course humanist families will have their kids coming up in the midst of stated and implicit assumptions about reality.

So the question is whether the type/token distinction is helpful for understanding religious beliefs.
I think it is useful in any specific discussion between people with different beliefs. A way to look at how they may be talking at cross purposes.

Sounds good. What would that look like? I've reached an impasse in discussions with some of my fundamentalist Christian friends.

I suppose, instean of focusing on the differences in your beliefs, you might focus on how they use the stories and images and personalities in their religion. It might not resolve anything, but it might bring some light into the differences in how you approach participation.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby barbarianhorde » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:18 pm

You know Silhouette like with any scientific question the answer is: try it. Gotta try to believe in some God. Then you can maybe find out why and how. So pick a cool God. Not some megabrand God but just a God or a buncha them that seem cool enough to suspend disbelief.

I tried it when I was 24. Pretty cool brain chemistry.
It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.
~ Владимир Ильич Ульянов Ленин

THE HORNED ONE
User avatar
barbarianhorde
Philosopher
 
Posts: 1356
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:26 pm
Location: in the cupboard by your kn knees

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:55 pm

barbarianhorde wrote:You know Silhouette like with any scientific question the answer is: try it. Gotta try to believe in some God. Then you can maybe find out why and how. So pick a cool God. Not some megabrand God but just a God or a buncha them that seem cool enough to suspend disbelief.

I tried it when I was 24. Pretty cool brain chemistry.
This is rarely even considered in theist/atheist interactions. That drawing conclusions could be based on experience, that theism might be empirical, though not in the sense of experiments in a lab. If one engages in the practices over a long period of time, what happens to me? What would I come to believe? Would it seem useful? Unfortunately in the West we are often dealing with less transformatory and tightly organized religious paths. The athiest imagines going to mass, confessing. Or getting baptized, once, then going to church and hearing about God and the Bible. And since theists in the West focus so much, especially in discussions, on belief, rather than practice and transformation, they find themselves trying to prove God with words or making threats about what's coming, neither of which appeals to anything like the epistemology of the atheists. Off the table is the approach of learning by doing, deep practice with the idea that I might have to change before my beliefs might change. Or that I might find something useful.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby Silhouette » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:19 pm

There are many atheists who once believed like theists and/or practiced theism, but something happened or "didn't happen" and they came to be atheists.

In my case I was brought up into some loose but prevalent and long term practicing of theism, and eventually I confronted the fact that I was getting nothing out of it. Enough time had passed for me to have developed a fear of "God", so in a sense I abandoned the practice but had not rid myself of some elements of the belief side of theism. This required stern philosophical inquiry, but also guts - I was fighting underneath everything a guttural reflex that was instilled within me, and after a while reason was enough to think objectively and eventually live truly as an atheist without even a fear of God.

I would be surprised if this wasn't a common story, at least with plenty of variation in methods of getting over a fear of "God".
It also appears to be common that people believe more completely, with various commitments to the practice, but then something happens that makes them question their faith and in some cases abandon it.

On the flip side, I have heard of people "finding faith/religion" through all sorts of avenues. Maybe last year or so I tried a thought experiment to switch myself back into the mindset of a believer. It didn't go anywhere, but I was toying with the mentality of becoming aware of an omnipresence from what I remember. Obviously there was a lot more that I could have done, but in this way as well as with the aforementioned transition of many from theism to atheism, the solution to transitioning to theism from atheism isn't just to practice theism (and I'm sure it wasn't suggested as a 100% route to success) - but I think more is needed to develop or re-develop a belief in God.

It's probably not helpful that "converted" atheists think of the standard theist as simply not practicing atheism and seeing if it does anything for them - whether or not there is truth in this assumption - but I think the solution to practice theism to try and bridge the gap goes both ways.

But I think very few people have a genuine knowledge of what it would take for them to change either way from theist to atheist or vice versa - myself included I think, even though I've put a great deal of thought into it. Many scientists and speakers have put forward how it would simply be a legitimate case of scientifically verifiable evidence, but I'm not sure if anyone in practice has that much plasticity in their ideology - I think in many ways it's incorporated into your physiology. Physiology and how something is embedded into it can change, but I don't think it's as easy as flipping a switch.
User avatar
Silhouette
Philosopher
 
Posts: 3426
Joined: Tue May 20, 2003 1:27 am
Location: Existence

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby The Eternal Warrior » Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:28 pm

Silhouette wrote:I've been trying to understand the way religious people come to believe in their religion.

It seems to be traditional for either side of this story to frame the other side in their own side's terms rather than the other way around, and this appears to be getting nowhere beyond providing entertainment and reinforcing each side's view that they already hold. Very very occasionally you see a half-baked attempt to represent the other's side in fairer terms, but it's usually patronising and only a token gesture before they revert to pushing their own side just as before. I'm trying my best to do it properly here.

Is it fair to say that believers think in terms of types and non-believers in terms of tokens?

Often you hear atheists arguing that specific things in religion when read literally are absurd, could not have occurred, are not scientifically possible etc. and the religious will call a straw man. Is it then the case that the religious are instead looking at the kinds of things you come across in their texts and teachings? That the meaning behind what is being said is relatable and that is the truth that they are finding rather than the literal specifics? That would explain why they respond to the morals behind the events, behaviours and consequences that the religion lays out. The morals, how the stories make you think and feel - that is what is being said to be true to the world and what seems to result in more preferable ways of living, no?

Yes there's slavery, rapes and tribalistic murder, and of course that's not what's being communicated as moral, it's the lessons behind what merely happens to be the social norms at the time the text was written - I've often come across religious thinkers arguing that the texts had to be relevant to the times in order to gain traction. The literal atheist is obviously right to point out that many of the old customs have no place in modern society, and that this is a valid point about the place of ancient religions in today's context, but the metaphorical theist is also obviously right to point out that the lessons set within the old customs are still valuable within new customs.
Both are right and wrong in different ways.

You see this mismatch in contemporary popular thinkers, such as when Sam Harris debates Jordan Peterson about truth. They're talking about different ways in which to draw truth, both valid, but the paradigm is different - so they talk past each other. Does JP believe in God? He never seems to answer this question to Sam's satisfaction or to the satisfaction of atheists alike. He's answering it in terms of stories and "types" of truth. Sam and other atheists want specifics about believing that a God is a Being that exists "out there" in the world in some kind of detectable way. I imagine the answer to that requirement in atheist terms would be "no", although it would be phrased as "not exactly" in theist terms. It's not as though God doesn't exist at all "out there" in the world in some kind of detectable way, because in a way He does, but not in the same way as matter, energy and forces do in science. God won't have a specific temperature or mass etc. but that which is being identified as His effect is detectable to humans in a way that at least appears to be just as ubiquitous and eternal as any scientific law because as the religious point out - the morals appear to be valuable in ancient and modern contexts alike, and there's no reason to believe that this will change in future.

Am I on the right track here with my distinction between type-truth and token-truth?

Is one more valid than the other? I think it depends on your values. I've been an atheist for as long as I can remember because I value specifics and drawing patterns from literal detail only in order to maximise accuracy in prediction in the most objective way possible. I imagine that theists are looking more to ethical decisions to guide the tendencies in how they act towards more preferable outcomes according to what they want from life. If so, the theist is in a way more engaged "in the world" than the atheist who is standing back from the world first before engaging themselves with it. I would presume that this is a similar difference between continental and analytical philosophical schools of thought, where the poets see the trees more than the wood, and the mathematicians see the wood more than the trees.



I believe that I have to point out that there is more to religion than just christianity and catholocism, though most people reduce what they know of religion to just that. Certainly Odin, Zeus, Ra; are all Gods pertaining to peoples religion. If you wish to understand it, pacing around the outside is alright as a start, but whether I tell it to you or you make the decision yourself, you'll find yourself jumping right into the middle of belief to figure it out from the inside, just what it's all about.

And once you pop just one, hence why I brought up the others, you might just find more answers than you know what to do with right away. 'Might'.
Slenderman can invoke memory loss in all but the most resolute - you could have already had a Slenderman encounter and not remember it.
User avatar
The Eternal Warrior
Philosopher
 
Posts: 2549
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:26 am

Re: God belief hypothesis

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:08 pm

Silhouette wrote:There are many atheists who once believed like theists and/or practiced theism, but something happened or "didn't happen" and they came to be atheists.
Sure, though if we are talking about Christianity, for example, this means that they perhaps were encouraged to pray, without much guidance on that, did not contemplate or meditate, went through the motions of rituals that were not part of what might be called a practice, and likely not a practice that included guidance from experts. They were told a lot of ideas, but not given much support in terms of training in relationship, or in discipline in practice. Of course even in Christianity there will have been exceptions to this. There is no one rule, one set of experiences. I am not asserting that.

On the flip side, I have heard of people "finding faith/religion" through all sorts of avenues. Maybe last year or so I tried a thought experiment to switch myself back into the mindset of a believer. It didn't go anywhere, but I was toying with the mentality of becoming aware of an omnipresence from what I remember. Obviously there was a lot more that I could have done, but in this way as well as with the aforementioned transition of many from theism to atheism, the solution to transitioning to theism from atheism isn't just to practice theism (and I'm sure it wasn't suggested as a 100% route to success) - but I think more is needed to develop or re-develop a belief in God.
Wagging the dog - to really put it in crass terms - seems less likely to succeed than when there is real interest, curiosity, drive...I don't think most atheists, at least those that openly debate the issue are very interested. And this would not only affect the 'experiment' because the wagging the dog would be short term, but also not really driven by any interest that might lead to change.

It's probably not helpful that "converted" atheists think of the standard theist as simply not practicing atheism and seeing if it does anything for them - whether or not there is truth in this assumption - but I think the solution to practice theism to try and bridge the gap goes both ways.
It would if my point or someone's point was that atheists should try it. And I am sure many theists think they should. But my point was more that the issue often comes down to here is a verbal argument why you should join vs. here are the reasons I am not convinced. Which is fine, but very limited. Were an atheist truly interested, I think it incredibly unlikely that any change would happen via logical or 'logical' discussion. Getting the right thoughts in your head or different thoughts in your head is a very limited process. It would likely take something much more pariticipatory. Something that leads to change not just in thoughts. One could think of it in terms of relations. One could think of it in terms of skills - as one might in many branches of Hinduism. Skills and changing the way one relates require more than reading and arguing. Some people might be stunned by an atheist or theist argument and snap over, but I think that's rare.

But I think very few people have a genuine knowledge of what it would take for them to change either way from theist to atheist or vice versa - myself included I think, even though I've put a great deal of thought into it. Many scientists and speakers have put forward how it would simply be a legitimate case of scientifically verifiable evidence, but I'm not sure if anyone in practice has that much plasticity in their ideology - I think in many ways it's incorporated into your physiology. Physiology and how something is embedded into it can change, but I don't think it's as easy as flipping a switch.
Yes, this is more or less what I was getting at. Everyone believes a lot of stuff they have very little or no scientific evidence of. Political issues, ideas about the opposite sex, what it takes to develop as a person, how to raise a child, what other people think of them, how best to get what you want from others. I do realize that these ideas are all congruent with the paradigms of both theists and atheists, but my point is that everyone acts in the world, and these acts have real important affect on them and others, without scientific evidence assuring that their conclusions are right. These beliefs are based on experience and media and parent beliefs and peer beliefs. A mish mash of intuition, perhaps some insight in the human sciences, deduction, and the conclusions based on what they experienced, perhaps some of it on a few experiences as a child.

Most people, even skeptics, not only have these kinds of beliefs, but live them out in the choices they make. Once you open the door for this kind of learning, it is hard to say no one else should draw conclusions based on their experiences. And intentionally choosing to see what happens by undergoing an organized set of practices cannot be ruled out per se without heading into hypocrisy. This does not mean one should explore religion or spirituality or atheism or whatever, however assuming that rational arguments is the given method of ruling things out or being converted seems off to me. Further that implicit judgment by some atheists that they just base their beliefs on science is also problematic.
Karpel Tunnel
Philosopher
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:26 pm


Return to Religion and Spirituality



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users