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Posted by Harvey on October 30, 2003 23:13:12 UTC

in many ways, I consider myself to be a rather spiritual person, I simply have no reason to take these sentiments seriously enough to call them "beliefs." As a matter of fact, I would suggest that ideas and notions of spirituality are more edifying and rewarding than faith in some ways, as I can remain open minded and not chained down by a preconcieved notion. Not to say that the emotional and spiritual security faith provides is without merit, however I find it illogical and thus not for me, essentially by definition.

I don't want to judge someone spirituality in terms of what works for them. All I can tell you is that for most people such 'spiritual' notions that lack a belief in God and an afterlife are very disheartening and hollow. I myself would find nothing at all bright of a universe that emerges from randomness and disappears in randomness with death being our final end. If you somehow manage to do so, then congratulations. When people generally lose someone that means a great deal to them, then they find their beliefs on this topic to be the only thing that matters. They generally don't care much about anything else. For some, the circumstances are far worse, and the only value that life gives is their religious beliefs. I think the Western societies, because of adequate healthcare, nice living conditions, etc, tends to be more cut off from these beliefs that the rest of the earth holds about their religious beliefs. We still mostly hold those values, but not as universally among all varieties of people (e.g., agnostics).

I think it would be much more fair to say that science is an attempt to bring meaning to the universe through analyzing the cosmos, while faith is an attempt to bring meaning to the universe through analyzing oneself.

Meaning always involves oneself. That's why something having meaning is meaningful. It is meaningful to oneself such that we say such and such is meaningful. Although, I agree that faith provides a much more personal sense of meaning than science since the meaning that science provides is that we feel a sense of understanding about the universe through our ability to predict nature, control nature, and explain nature. Faith is the ability to predict nature in a way that is meaningful (e.g., afterlife, New Heavens and New Earth, 'endtime sequences', etc.), control nature in a way that is meaningful(e.g., prayer, angels, etc), and explain nature in a meaningful way (e.g., Christian salvation, theodicy, etc).

Oh, and by the way...
Harv: "it is the principle that matters, not the amount of indulgence one takes in such matters."

Harv: "the agnostic gets off the train too early, while the fundamentalist stays on the train too long."

Do you see a contradiction here?

No. The first quote refers to the justification that one has to operate their lives using faith (i.e., we must do so anyway to some degree regardless of the situation). So, the principle allows us to feel comfortable with the notion of faith in the first place. The latter quote refers to the degree of faith that we are justified in utilizing. In other words, we know we are justified in making use of faith in our lives, but what we do not know is if we are justified to use it just a little bit (e.g., a modest belief in the objects around us), or whether we are justified in a great deal of faith (e.g., belief that there are dragons in our garage). Obviously, to avoid contradiction, we must have some limits to our faith so that we don't end up choking the meaning that faith provides in the first place. The limits is what the second quote refers to. The agnostic is too strict on the limits since they miss the whole point of the use of faith in the first place: to provide human meaning to life (whether that refers to our families, future, observations, etc). And, by cutting a devotional belief of God out of their lives, they are getting off the train too soon. That is, they use faith for the little things (e.g., belief in material objects around them), but are not using faith for the things that really matter (e.g., having a fulfilling life that makes the future so promising for us personally). A moderate Christian stance is where, I think, one is better off to live their lives since the meaning one obtains is very substantial (whether that be at weddings, births, health issues, funerals, dying, etc), while at the same time one is not required to cast away rational thinking such as what science requires (e.g., biological evolution, cosmology, etc).

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