Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

Danny Mayes writes:

I haven't participated in the list in a while, but I try to keep up with the discussion here and there as time permits. I personally was raised a fundamentalist Baptist, but lost most of my interest in that religion when I was taught at 9 years old that all the little kids in Africa that are never told about Jesus Christ go to Hell. Even at 9, I knew that wasn't something I was going to be buying. Who wants to believe in a God that cruel? Even without the problematic cruel creator, I have always been to oriented toward logic and proof to just accept stuff on faith.

I sympathise with the conclusions of the young Danny, but there is a philosophical non sequitur here. The fact that I would like something to be true, or not to be true, has no bearing on whether it is in fact true. I don't like what happened in Germany under the Nazis, but that doesn't mean I should believe the Nazis did not exist, so why should my revulsion at the thought of infidels burning in Hell lead me to believe that God and Hell do not exist? It might make me reluctant to worship such a God, but that is not the same as believing he does not exist.
Religion means believing something in the absence of sufficient evidence.

Stathis Papaioannou

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My belief is that in matters of faith, you can choose to believe or not believe based on whether it suits your personal preferences. Your example of the Nazis would not apply because there is overwhelming evidence that the Nazis existed. Perhaps it can be argued that there is meaningful evidence that the God described in Sunday school class exists as well, however I don't think anyone would argue that the evidence for that God is nearly as strong as evidence of the Nazis. As you say, religion, by necessity, is based on faith and therefore little to no objective evidence. I guess your point was that if you already have the faith in something without evidence, the fact that you are then taught as part of the belief system that there are some aspects not very appealing should not have any bearing on whether you still have your faith? I would disagree with that in that you can have faith in something because the concept is attractive to you, but then lose your faith when the concept is shown to be less attractive. (this was not really my situation as a child- I was never really presented the opportunity to examine the faith until presented with the teachings described in the original post). This is not entirely unrelated to the sciences. Science has pushed into many areas into realms that can only tangentially, at best, be proven with objective evidence. The MWI is a good example. I believe in it, because I think it provides the most explanatory power over competing ideas. However, it would be difficult to fault someone for demanding more in the way of direct evidence. In a sense, there is an element of faith in such theories. String theory is another example. I'm not saying these things are not science, just that they are theories beyond our reach to prove or disprove at the present time. Many scientists are quoted as endorsing string theory in part due to the elegance of the theory. This goes with what I was saying above about accepting something on faith as long as it appears to be the most attractive idea, even if it is not supported by much objective evidence.

I doubt the beliefs of fundementalist Christianity will ever be absolutely proven or disproven, and as a faith belief I reserve the right to discard it at my choosing!


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