Religion is Different

Hi Uccisore,

No, I don’t think of it as accusing, but it was aimed a little at me.

And still, if it was unimportant, you wouldn’t have posted it. I think it can be expected of people in a society, especially where education plays such a role, that they are informed. That doesn’t mean they should be shaken (only stirred) in their beliefs.

If there is any “proof”, then it is by looking back at past occurences and their “prophecy”. By showing that a prediction actually happened, you prove the reliability of an authority, but you can’t prove that this authority will be right again – you appeal to people to trust. I think the inability to find consensus on such subjects as those above is down to the fact that people have lost their ability to trust and their ability to judge.

Don’t you see that all of the Prophets and Jesus, and the Apostles found themselves in the “difference” camp?

I think that whereas Protestantism can be made responsible for bringing individuality into religion, politics and philosophy require the debate (at least in a democracy) and politicians require majorities, therefore they are forced to approach the masses to get them behind their ideas. Religion can be practised (though in my opinion not effectively) in solitude, which opens a vast range of possibilities with regard to interpretation and practice.

I think the true philosopher would try to prove it to you, just as someone positing religious “claims” would be doing.

Agreed, if those disagreeing with us have a common trait, we would have to find out how that particularity bears on the argument.


I’m sorry Bob, I just really need an answer to this to procede:

If religion is different because it’s not about logic and proof, then what accounts for all disagreement in fields like philosophy, which is totally about logic and prood?

Hi Uccisore,

I believe that the disagreement in fields like philosophy is where “sin” is effective. It comes from the attempt to achieve status instead of service and is what Paul pointed to in the churches (“where are the wise…” etc.). If the church falls into the trap of promoting status rather than service, then the same dangers are there – and of course they have been over the course of history.

The mystics often sought ways to serve people best and became heard as spiritual counsellors for that reason. The authorities only saw their status in question, because they wouldn’t serve people in the same way. But the mystics were only following the example of Christ, who avoided the status of Messiah and sought instead to be the (suffering) servant.

If people working in philosophy would understand themselves as part of a community serving the rest, I suppose they might also be able to overcome their differences and approach each other, but they are in competition and they struggle for recognition.



I know this question is directed to Bob, so forgive my intrusion.

I have to answer this question with a question. Aren’t all forms of disagreement traceable to our apriori assumptions? While the inability to “prove” anything in the metaphysical realm is easily understood, the same “proof” problem exists in the world of logic as well. Take any philosophical argument and the “not” argument is immediately created. Philosopher A says the world is pink, and carefully lays out the logic behind pinkness. Philosopher B says the world is blue and puts forward his logical construct. Both have logically “proved” their viewpoint, and only by going back to their original un-provable assumptions can one understand the disagreement. Any position, any statement of logical “fact” is a construct. A construct that relies on acceptance of un-provable assumption. Whether the world is pink or blue or some other color depends on our personal life experience as to which assumptions ‘fit’, and from that, our agreement or disagreement with any logical construct. The proof is in the pudding? Nope. The proof IS pudding.


Hello F(r)iends,

I must ask you guys this:

Are you guys afraid to admit that religion is no different from any other school of philosophy?

Also, if there is a difference, I would suggest that the difference may be in degrees: for example, religion appears to combine so many different schools: epistemology, ontology, ethical, political, etc. So, perhaps some people find it more difficult to take strong stance in religion. This, however, shouldn’t preclude someone from taking a stance.


From Bob and tentative, I see something that I may be misunderstanding. It seems like in answering why there is so much division in philosophy and politics, you are both drawing paralells to religion, not contrasts. “That’s my line”, I should be saying. Yes, I agree that a priori assumptions, emotion, intuition, and quests for status can all lead to disagreement in otherwise logical fields. I think this is true in religion as well as the other topics we’ve mentioned. ANd still I return to my original point - pluralism is not leveled as an accusation in these other fields.

Hi Uccisore,

I have the feeling that the accusations generally come my way when I appeal for a more pluralist approach. I find myself accused of leading people astray, being the devil’s henchman and whatever else people think up, just because I see the centre of a religious issue elsewhere – however, it is generally in confrontation with fundamentalism.


Hi Uccisore,

I can only come back to my original post in that pluralism in religion is anathema because of the stakes involved. Political or philosophical differences are tolerated because they are primarily about how we shall or should live. Pluralism and the concommittant necessity of compromise is understood. Pluralism in religious issues is different because, in most cases, the stakes are eternal life. Once a person has committed themselve to a specific path to heaven, they aren’t likely to admit to pluralism in any form. Each religion proclaims exclusive ‘truth’ replete with warnings about straying from the path that leads to eternal heaven.

If I’m still missing your point, say it a different way. I’m slow, but eventually I catch on.


Uccisore wrote:

It isnt different, its the same as all the others. The same evidence that you speak of that is being observed in the other situations and being interepreted differently is simply just smaller aspects of what different religions are interpreting differently… its reality.

Jt, I added a correction:

I think Uccisore is wondering why he should be expected to have a “skeptical” viewpoint of his own belief. When you speak of a philosphical or political standpoint are you skeptical of your standpoint?

Should you be?

Hi MB,

I don’t know that I would admit to skepticism, but its a habit to question my ‘beliefs’ in any area. Each new experience brings new awareness, and what I ‘believed’ yesterday is constantly modified by today.

I’m always aware that products of the mind are a construct and while I make use of them out of necessity, all constructs are subject to the endless revision of new experience. Regardless my saying this is ‘how it is’, such statements are always temporary and conditional.

For all our pronouncements of ‘belief’, doesn’t everyone understand this? :unamused:


Hey JT,

I wonder how many of us are skeptical in all areas of our lives though? Certainly I also try to be in every area… some areas are easier to be skeptical of than others though, simply due to what makes “sense”.

I think though if I were behind christianity, it would make sense (in fact at one point it did.) and I would accept it as a truth, and all other methods of thought about the nature of the universe would be fallacy. It’s not like the devout (of any religion) is any less skeptical than you or I, they are just skeptical of everything but what they believe.

But like I was trying to state earlier I think it’s important to have some absolute grounding in your relativity, or else you’ll be afloat in the sea of constantly changing ideals. The problem with thinking all “truths” are relative is that you lose any sense of what a lie is.

The problem with believing too strongly in your own belief (whether it be religion or politics) is that you are willing to overlook the shortcomings of said belief, simply to keep it as an absolute truth.

(hence the saying, “the truth is somewhere in the middle”)

absolutely. There is nothing more temprorary and conditional than our time here on earth. If you want an idea of how much your beliefs affect your actions, consider this; What if you were told by a doctor that you had 2 days to live. Think about how this would absolutely change your life. Now think about it in the terms of what you believe, and how earth shattering that is.

well what is a belief?

is it absolute in it’s position or subject to the changing forces of one’s life?

How subject to change is it? Will you completely switch to a different set of beliefs? or a subsect of what you believe?

very few of us understand each other, so it’s not surprising that very few come prepared with a new wine flask.


It isn’t that we don’t treat much of our ‘knowing’ as some sort of constant, because we do in order to make sense of the world. It is the tendency to let it become set in stone that should be avoided if possible.

It is difficult to accept an open-ended ambiguous ‘seeing’, and few do not struggle with this. I’m certainly not suggesting any mastery of this as I am constantly tripping over my own assumptions, but it is in attempting to remain aware and performing the ‘reality check’ of anything and everything that I find valuable - even as poorly as I perform.


MB writes … past-00056

This is the appeal of esoteric Christianity. The natural mistake made in secular religion is to try to pull God down to our level which is impossible and only serves IMO to create objectively meaningless expressions of relative “truths”. Efforts towards re-birth strive to develop man’s"being" to a state of inner unity that can objectively partake as a whole in what is impossible for us in our scattered states other than in our imagination.

The “grounding” is an inner capacity for “faith”, not in something, but in the emotional acknowledgement and acceptance of something higher than ourselves that is the source of “meaning.”


 To be absolutely technical, no, because I can't have a skeptical viewpoint of my own belief. It wouldn't  be my belief anymore then.  
  What I'm asking is, why should I be expected to embrace religious skepticism (agnosticism) [i]just[/i] on the grounds that 'many people believe differently'? This is allegedly a powerful argument against religious orthodoxy- the Spaghetti Monster affair could even be seen as an allusion to it. My point is that if this argument has meaning, it is JUST as meaningful against hard positions in secular philosophy, politics, and even some science, and yet, nobody seems to be making this argument in those fields.

Hi Uccisore,

Agnosticism is the doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge. In as much that our gathering of information is selective, even to the degree that I may unknowingly shut out evidence for opposing arguments, I believe that we must accept that no one person or group has the whole story. That means for me that I understand all religious systems as facets of the same light and humankind as the prism.

This could make me into an agnostic and have me sitting on the shelf, waiting for the outcome. However, I choose to be part of one facet of this light, working to give that faith substance, following the One who I perceive to be the Master (struggling with myself at the same time), and living to strengthen those around me. I know that I am an individualist and a helper, but there is also an investigator in me, which urges me to look into the other facets of this divine light – and discover that it is not inferior.

Agnosticism also encompasses the belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist. This too, considering the fact that mystical faith is aware that God is no-thing, not some-thing we could dissect or investigate like the “things” around us, could be a stance that places me amongst the agnostics. However, it is one thing to adopt this position in order to see clearly, and another to resign myself to the assumption that no one can know, and remained indecisive about my direction.


Hi Bob,

Aren’t you shifting away from that which is religion and now talking about spirituality? Religion has a specific vision of God, with specific attributes, and very specific messages for the believers. What you’re suggesting is looking behind the dogma to the spiritual messages.


I think I’m getting the drift now. All I can offer is that perhaps you’re seeing the qualitative difference between what is skepticism as a means of denial, and simply asking an open-ended question. I would suggest that questioning the tenets of any religion is healthy, but I find nothing compelling to suggest that questioning the existence of a personal God is necessary. I do see that the pure skeptics would be more than willing to scoff at anyone who doesn’t question their belief in a personal God.

I have no trouble with those who show by their demeanor their absolute belief. On the other hand, the ‘skeptical’ side of me sees the Falwell-Robertson type of head that blindly follow without having any questions whatsoever.

In short, never question your personal beliefs. They are you. But asking questions about the meanings behind the dogma of a religion is entirely in order. Your faith is one thing, but to chain it to the ‘pronouncements’ of religious belief is quite another.

I think that this issue is exaggerated here in the U.S. because of the fringe elements in fundamentalism. They give the skeptics a powerful argument for questioning EVERYTHING.

Did I even get close? :smiley:



The sort of skepticism I’m talking about moves beyond ‘questioning things’ and into the realm of ‘a settled position that nobody knows anything’. Agnosticism, I call it. Certainly, people should question the tenets of their religion- it part of the very practice of theology or some philosophy, and should not have to be argued for among anybody in those fields.

Yes, but not quite there. :slight_smile: You still seem to be addressing the issue of ‘questioning’, which is not really what it’s about. For a living breathing example of the kind of thing I’m talking about, check out Scythekain’s post at the end of the ‘evidence supporting Christianity’ thread. It is a perfect example of a skeptic asserting that a Christian should be phased or shaken by the fact that other people believe differently.

in alot of ways I do think that, but I also realize that having a solid base is important regardless of what other people think.

We all have filters that we use to get the experience of the world around us into our heads. every sense except hearing goes through several layers of extraction before finally reaching the “cpu” (the cortex).

It’s these layers and filters that we apply based upon what we believe that changes what is true and what is false. what is right and what is wrong.

And it controls how we react to the world around us. If we see a tree falling towards us, the filter controls our ability to run and get out of the way based upon past experiences… but if you somehow believe that you can lift large trees, you’ll look at it unphazed and try to catch it.

Well, right now I’m interested specifically in the truth of beliefs, not in their usefulness, though I do agree with what you said above. In general, if I believe something for what seem to me be to be the right reasons, should I stop believing it when I hear that many people disagree, all else being equal?