4 billion loosers!

Scott Adams asks

Now I have another question for the believers. And by the way, I’m genuinely curious. I don’t do this just to stir up things, although that’s fun too. I actually wonder how you think. My question is this: How do you explain to yourself that 4 billion people (minimum) believe different from you?

These are the only reasons I can imagine. Pick one or tell me what I missed.

A good read.

11 thoughts on “4 billion loosers!”

  1. <blockquote>I can wrap my head around the metaphor of reincarnation more easily then I can being told that folks which do not agree with a certain religion will burn in Hell, metaphor or not.</blockquote>I have exactly the opposite reaction. Buddhism says that suffering is the lot of all creatures (everyone is in hell in a way) and that the only way out is non-existence. I find both the preoccupation with suffering and the concept that not existing is better than existing to be extremely troubling. At least Christianity has a heaven.

  2. There is no evidence for or against a universal truth. Therefore, it is up to what some would call faith. However, my beliefs are grounded in a reasonable, logical deduction based on what circumstances there are around me. Others might perceive things differently then I do – and that’s OK, as long as they do not try and force their beliefs onto me, or anyone else who does not wish to believe the way that they do.

    They might believe that there is some super reality where the essential tree lives – and from their point of view they might be very grounded in believing that.

    <blockquote>Blind obedience/blind faith; bad idea. I agree with that assertion as well. Though some confuse ‘blind faith” with trust, and they are not the same thing.</blockquote>

    True, true. I define Trust as a slowly built understanding that some one or something will be act in a certain manner. Blind Faith, I define as "<i>Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. </i>" (the <a href="http://www.answers.com/library/Devil's%20Dictionary-cid-2093737035&quot; rel="nofollow">Devil’s Dictionary</a>, and slightly tongue in cheek).

    I trust in the teachings of the Buddha, because I have tested them, and they have worked as advertised up to this point. I do not trust God, because if he/she/it does exist as an anthropomorphic being, he/she/it certainly has not been there for me in any fashion that I can understand, comprehend and/or fathom.

    Most of the teachings of Jesus fall under the same category as Buddhism. Many of his teachings were love and compassion based. I have problems with certain passages that are currently in the Bible. This leads me to my fascination with the history of that document, and who decided what was put into it. Be that as it may, are we to simply take the parts of his teachings that we agree with, and ignore the rest? Or just assume that one day, the hateful passages will make more sense?

    I am certain that someone will point out that it seems that I do the same thing with Buddhism. However, at this point in space-time I can wrap my head around the metaphor of reincarnation more easily then I can being told that folks which do not agree with a certain religion will burn in Hell, metaphor or not. It’s this dehumanization of disagreeing people that I really have a problem with.

    If we can agree that everyone perceives everything differently then everyone else, it’s just a small step to understanding that truth is based on perspective. When that leap is made, you simply have to allow others to believe as they wish, perhaps asking pointed questions about what and why and how. What they do with those questions is up to them. However, if they do not have good answers, perhaps they should start looking?

  3. I concur on the statement that "There is no Universal Truth" is also contradictory in-and-of itself. Again, a logical fallacy.

    Blind obedience/blind faith; bad idea. I agree with that assertion as well. Though some confuse "blind faith" with trust, and they are not the same thing.

  4. The point with movies and music is that people percieve things differently. You can call it a ‘matter of taste’ but that doesn’t really explain why it occurs, it is a label without a distinction.

    Yes, the Buhdist comment is directed at you as a Budhist who believes in supernatural powers, such as fill the story of Siddartha, would have a very different interpretation of things. It was certainly not meant to be an attack, simply pointing out that you are similar to an atheist in this regard.

    I think you should decide which it is, don’t you know or are you smarter than other people.

    We have went back and forth on questioning before. I concede that some religious people, and some religions disprove of questioning. However, certainly not all do. Most religious people I am aware of believe questioning is a good thing and that everyone needs to develop personal faith, questioning is part of that process.

    However, part of faith is obediance without full understanding. If God says ‘where purple on thursdays’ it is not necessary to know why purple on thursday is good, simply that one trusts God, and has faith that following his guidance is for the best. Quantum Physics is still way beyond by ken, but I have faith that when some really smart people say the universe seems to work this way, they are not totally wrong (Obviously they don’t understand everything so they are probably partially wrong.)

    I don’t see that a God that expects obediance is incompatible with a God that created free will. If there was no free will, obediance (a concious choice to obey) would be impossible. Free will is necessary for obediance.

    The biggest thing in the room comment wasn’t directed at you personally. It does seem to me though that some atheists are motivated by that impulse. Pride seems to prevent them from having faith. I myself have faults along those lines, but I am not inclined to brag that it is a strength, instead I suspect it may be a weakness.

    As to how our faith should inform our political processes, that is a complex thing and different religions (and non-religious philosophies) have very different answers. I am inclined to follow, as I think are you the ‘harm’ principle and leave matters of conscious to individuals. Many with strong faith agree, some obviously do not. However, the most contentious of the social policy debates along those lines, abortion, doesn’t fit easily into this principle.

    As an asside, it seems pretty clear to me that believing that there is no universal truth, is just as ‘faith based’ as anything else. It is also of course self contradictory.

  5. <blockquote>One could make other parallels. Why do some people like Star Wars Episode I when others don’t? Why do some people like country music?</blockquote>

    Matters of taste. If you claim that there is a universal truth (a belief that I do not hold), following that truth is not a matter of taste.

    If Religion is simply a matter of taste, then why get worked up if others feel differently then you about it? After all, does it upset you that others prefer lemon-pecan pie, when you do not? Should you pass laws to restrict others from eating said pie? Behead them?

    I think that most of the world feels that religion is a little more then a simple question of taste, or preference.

    <blockquote>Atheists (and Buhdists who don’t believe in any supernatural powers) of course deny that the elephant exists at all.</blockquote>

    I assume that was pointed in my direction :). Perhaps it’s because we see the entire elephant? Perhaps by being detached from the emotional undertones of Religion, we can see reality for what it really is? I don’t know. I just try and do the best that I can with the tools that I have. Questioning is a big part of my tool chest. After all, if we did not question, would we have developed computers?

    When I question Religion, I do not get answers that satisfy me. I get a lot of fluff, telling me to ‘just believe and it will all make sense later’. When I ask pointed questions about ‘how it works’ I am told that ‘we cannot understand that, it’s beyond us’. However, Quantum Physics was once beyond our ken, but now we have a pretty good handle on it.

    Personally, I do not accept ‘we cannot understand it’ as any kind of acceptable answer. It’s a copout.

    <blockquote>After all, if you are in a room with an elephant, it does limit your ability to feel like you are the biggest thing in the room</blockquote>

    Honestly, I do not care about being big or powerful. If there is a God, then I will stand in judgement with my head held high – I stand by what I say. It’s not perfect, it might not even be true, but it’s what I see as correct, with the knowledge and experience that I have. It’s what I have done. If God requires blind obedience, then S/He should not have created us with free will.

    I might have an epiphany tomorrow, and everything might change. Who knows? I certainly do not.

  6. If you did not mean to be condescending you failed.

    It is true that a religious person would have to answer the question ‘why don’t others believe what I do?’ with an ‘I don’t know’. I think it is just as true for a non-religious person.

    For some religious people, their faith gives them guidlines as to why that might be. Some feel that only certain people will recieve faith, others that unless a person seeks faith they will not be able to find it, some would simply conclude that nonbelievers are unwilling to accept God.

    One could make other parallels. Why do some people like Star Wars Episode I when others don’t? Why do some people like country music?

    Many people have of course reported that they have tested the faith that they hold and feel strongly that they have recieved confirmation of it. It is unarguable that they have different views on what exactly that means and what message God or the Gods have for us.

    The story of the blind men and the elephant seems to fit here.

    Atheists (and Buhdists who don’t believe in any supernatural powers) of course deny that the elephant exists at all. Perhaps they do in fact see clearer. It is equally possible though that they are blind a also leperous and unable to feel, that they have simply not felt where the elephant is yet, or perhaps most likely, they refuse to feel around to see if an elephant is there at all.

    After all, if you are in a room with an elephant, it does limit your ability to feel like you are the biggest thing in the room.

  7. I disagree.

    Faith is belief in a truth which cannot be proven. It is not the job of the folks who do not believe to prove why they should not believe, it’s up to the folks that believe to show why others should agree with them.

    If <em>your</em> truth is so compelling that you have no problem in following it, they why does every one else not see what you can?

    To put my chestnuts in the fire, as it were, I do have certain beliefs – and probably some would say a faith in certain things. I would answer that question with "Others are not as smart as I am". I do not mean to sound condescending, however I do not think that what I see as truth is self evident. It has taken me a lot of years and a lot of explorations in religious theories and practice, a lot of self searching and questioning and a lot of pondering. With out that footwork, I do not believe that I would hold the truths that I do.

    Faith that is put to the test of questioning and searching is stronger then faith that is read out of a book.

  8. If nothing else, the question is a logical fallacy (and therefore applies to no one): Ad Populum. Just because a majority hold a certain belief it doesn’t mean that belief is true. Conversely, if a minority hold to a certain belief it doesn’t mean it is false.

    And I do like Scott Adams; Dilbert is funny. :)

    Not all believers expect others to share their faith.

  9. I would suppose that it could – however the believers have this pesky thing called faith – that they expect everyone else to share. It’s not based on evidence – so – it’s kinda up to them to provide a good explanation.

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