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Belief-unbelief

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Posted by Brian E. Sloan on April 22, 2001 22:26:49 UTC

I have been giving some consideration lately to the nature of belief. That is, why we humans choose to believe what ever it is we believe and why we choose to believe it, or disbelieve, as the case may be.

Firstly, it is my contention, that belief has the element of choice. And this choice, is hopelessly intertwined with, if not dictated by, what we want to believe. Or, perhaps more precisely, we tend to conform our perception of reality to what it is we choose to believe.

This forum provides a wonderful study in this phenomenon. We all are, in essence, "believers" in something, beit from a theistic or non-theistic philosophical/theological foundation, or starting point. In addition, both belief systems require a measure of faith as a sort of underpinning, or glue, to meld the different facets of the particular belief system as to make it cognitively palatable. Or, in essence, believeable to one’s self.

This is all well and good, insofar as faith and belief play integral roles in how [and why] we accommodate or reconcile what are senses tell us, with what we believe is reality. And, most importantly, what reality encompasses. What fascinates me though, is the similarities of the two opposing veiws.

From the materialist’s perspective [which, for this discussions sake includes atheist, agnostic, scientific naturalist, very often the dogmatic evolutionist, etc], reality consists solely of what can be physically sensed, observed, measured, quantified and/or reduced to the interaction of matter and energy with the physical/chemical laws.

In this instance, their belief system dictates that whatever does not fit this criteria, either does not exist
or is entirely irrelevant, ie. God [deemed a concept for the weak-minded], Spinoza’s god, or the deists god [the one that wound-up the universe and then went on an extended leave], paranormal phenomena, or anything that falls under the general category of super-natural or metaphysical phenomena. It is worth noting, that some will begrudgingly aknowledge the existence of paranormal phenoms. However these, in the materialist belief system, owe their existence to some material effect, and are generally percieved as some epiphenomenon of the material world.

When given the issue of origins [beginning of life or the universe], the materialist will believe only that scenario which involves some combination of the aformentioned physical entities and will summarily reject any notion of intervention by an interfereing God [of the Bible-type] and will tolerate [barely and only in certain instances] any notion or scenario involving a diety-type god, as creator or cosmic magician.

It is significant, that they will doggedly persist in this belief/unbelief dispite having to confront insurmountable odds [in the case of abiogensis], or what can only be described as an even more miracalus convergence of events, found evident in the scores of finely-tuned physical laws which allow the universe/life to exist.

In fairness, the Christain world-veiw [belief/unbelief system] includes many of the same attributes.

In essence, their belief system was handed-down to them [second-hand belief?], in much the same manner and for the same reasons that many people dis-believe the Christian, or other theistic world-veiw. Moreover, this speaks to the issue that their belief system is founded upon, or arrived at, through simple indoctrination as opposed to revelation or conversion It is for this reason, that there are many [way too many, in my estimation] Christians who avoid confronting the skeptic-intellect, for fear their belief system will dis-integrate upon the revelation of some theory [quasi-scientific in the case of evolution] or doctorine that would counter it. This is unfortunate.

In my mind, if what I believe is indeed true, it should stand-up to the test. And I have found that it does. In fact, I can say that it has brought nothing short of affirmation and has deepened both my faith and my understanding of why I believe what I believe.

Faith, in the Christian veiw, is neither blind nor without reason. It is often described as a way of "seeing", not with the eyes---very often in spite of them, but with the heart. Which I can only describe as a sort of intuition, only deeper and more unmistakable.

In terms of reason, after acceptence of the Gospel and the Resurrection of Christ as Truth, which I should add, occurs only in the heart, the world-view becomes quite reasonable. [In fact, I am beginning to have serious reservations if men can truly reason in its absence] Thus, the mind knows its highest-state, only when it is brought into subjection by the heart, through the will of God.

It was this, that prompted the apostle Paul to say that "men will be ever learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth". The reference being to the Greeks, the skeptic-intellects of his day, who sought vainly after wisdom [through their rebellious minds], and considered the "Cross of Christ, as foolishness". I guess some things will never change.

May you all know the peace of God.

Brian.




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