Joined: Jan. 2006
|If so, and religious faith has no basis in evidence, do you know what might have caused the change in faith?|
Evidence. This is not a contradiction. The "unborn again" stories I've heard, of those who have managed to escape the fetters of faith, tend to describe an "AHA!" experience where the essential nature of evidence suddenly struck home. They tended to recognize that if reality is to be the judge, the claims being shoved on them were, uh, lies. But lies can't be identified without some profound "compared to what"? Evidence.
|If religious faith did not depend in the first place on any evidence or experience, how did earthly events cause changes in this faith?|
I can only expand on my speculation here. I work with a couple of Believers, and after some (reasonably polite and thoughtful) discussion with them, I've come to realize that they have roped off the "faith territory" pretty specifically. Of course, one would expect something similar, since the rejection of reality some faiths require, if broadly applied, would render them incapable of functioning at all. And I've noticed that within that territory, evidence is simply not admitted, the rules of logic and inference are inoperative, eyes glaze over and the professions of faith (in the sense of, I believe it, that settles it) are all that's left.
So what I think sometimes happens is, Reality ™ on some rare occasions breaks the barriers and invades this territory.
|Also consider the flip side: people who have faith. Did they aquire this faith without any experience, teaching, or study? Since it was not based on "evidence" how did it come about?|
Here is where St. Thomas Aquinas agrees with Piaget: Give me a child until the age of 7, and I will shape his faith. After that, anyone can have him, and the faith is secure. Dawkins has speculated (admitting it's wooly speculation, to be sure) that humans have such a very long period before reaching maturity that a survival trait has evolved: in early childhood, a kind of imprinting occurs, where the child takes *at face value* what it is told. Things like "don't touch hot stove, don't eat THAT, God is good, use the potty." Dawkins thinks this *biological* propensity willy-nilly gives parents immense power over a stonkingly large range of their child's future development. In all good faith, they can produce a John Stuart Mill or a Kent Hovind before the child is old enough for kindergarten.
|Consider the person who had never heard of God, never had any religious thoughts, feelings or experiences, yet one day claimed they they had faith in god based on nothing happening at all. That would be strange wouldn't it?|
My position is that beyond a certain age, this *does not happen.* It can't. Could YOU suddenly embrace the mythical Christ?
|Suppose instead they said God sent an angel that spoke to them which was the source of their faith. Wasn't this experience evidence of God that led to their faith?|
Now you're losing me. I recently read that self-professed UFO abductees almost always suffer from sleep paralysis, an otherwise uncommon malady. The effect feels like being tied down, and happens during a period of intense dreaming. I have personally worked with people who *sincerely heard* voices in the walls. At first, the voices frightened them - they knew perfectly well there were no voices in the walls. But this didn't prevent the voices from being audible and understandable, any more than someone who's had a leg amputated is prevented from an exasperating itch on the missing foot.
So the human brain plays nontrivial tricks with our perceptions. Which permits otherwise perfectly rational, evidence-demanding people to see ghosts, hear the Voice of God, experience aliens and out-of-body voyages, see themselves surrounded by pervasive conspiracies, and then build superstructures around these experiences they talk themselves into beyond extrication. I've seem aliens marching across the road myself, when I've been driving half-asleep and lighting conditions are just right.
|A fundamentalist Christian friend of mine once said something to me that I found absurd. He told me "don't you think you should belive in God just in case there really is one! No joke, I think he thought saying that might help me believe. To me it is absurd to think that somebody could decide to believe something (have faith) with no experience, or indoctrination to base it on.|
I find this kind of thing disturbing. I simply cannot comprehend how *anyone* could actually believe some of the stunningly preposterous things they claim. So you say that there are these gods that don't DO anything, but are still all-powerful? Right. And one of them screwed a virgin, who gave birth to a demigod? Right. And that demigod did lots of miracles, but nobody noticed until a couple generations after he died, at which time they were "recalled" by people a thousand miles away who weren't at the scene? Right. Hello? Are we looking at physical, organic brain damage here? Either that, or the human capacity for self-delusion is so profound one marvels that we can tie our shoes and come in out of the rain. If Dawkins is right, surely we have grounds for capital punishment of their parents, for (usually) permanently crippling their children beyond hope of rehabilitation.
I'm quite sure that I could alter my sexual orientation so as to become aroused by corn (at least the young and succulent variety), before I could believe in any gods, at least in the absence of any evidence for them. And as far as I'm concerned, if there WERE any gods, the evidence would be, uh, unambiguous. And correspondingly, I suppose the True Believers could more easily lust after cornstalks than abandon their delusions.
|I'll agree that most likely we'll get nowhere asking believers to search for the basis of their faith, but I have faith that everyone does have a basis, and this basis can be considered evidence.|
I've always been most persuaded by the "indoctrination during the first few years" approach, though I admit it doesn't always "set up" fully, and for the lucky few, the nature and meaning of evidence eventually penetrates that roped-off area. As far as I know, my own preference for best-fit explanations of the preponderance of the evidence were ALSO forged in infancy. No easier to abandon than those indoctrinated into Faith before they were old enough to defend themselves.