Faith

Prologue: Please read the footnotes, they are an integral part of the article. 

It wouldn’t be an understatement if I were to say that faith is perhaps the most abused human attribute. A cousin of trust1, faith is often used by men controlled by greed for their own benefit. But what exactly is faith? Why do we possess the quality of having faith when it leaves us so vulnerable? Does it have a place in a largely scientific and progressive society that we have created?

Faith is the daughter of belief (Okay I admit, I suck at metaphors) and belief in turn is a choice that we make when presented with a proposition. For example, when presented with the argument that the earth revolves around the sun, I may choose to believe it or not. This is a case of a phenomenon that is supported by irrefutable evidence; I may be compelled to believe it, but I still have that choice. I can believe in the said phenomenon, or I can refuse to acknowledge the evidence and act like a pompous ass. As Stephen Fry once said, “He who does not care for evidence is an ignorant fool who has a brain the size of a peanut when magnified 100 times under a powerful microscope.” Alright, that was totally made up, but it is a scarily accurate description of such a person.

So, what about cases where there isn’t enough evidence or no evidence at all? In such a case, if we choose to believe, then we have what is called “faith”. “Faith in what?” you may ask and that’s a good question. Faith has been hijacked by advocates of religion and God. This has led to a very religious interpretation of this word. As a result, when we hear “faith”, our mind automatically thinks of God and other supernatural phenomena2 that are purported by religious scripture to be true. This is the result of being exposed to years of “Have faith in Yahweh” or “Believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus” or “Don’t lose hope, have faith in the miraculous verses of the Glorious Qur’an and read it 3 times a day.” Due to years of conditioning, a lot of us have in fact developed an unshakeable faith in the existence of God and religion and never question it. This makes it simply too convenient for false God men like Sathya Sai Baba3 to take advantage of innocent folk looking for a panacea to their suffering. People have no problem in accepting miracles and ideas for which there is no indisputable evidence. However, when they are told that the use of a condom prevents AIDS4, they will question it and refuse to use it just because they feel that an omniscient figment of their imagination will be offended if they boink5 their wives wearing latex.

An acquaintance that I made on Facebook states, “Faith = believing in something despite there being no evidence. Believing in anything without evidence = a really bad idea.”  The definition is spot on. The conclusion though not always true, is quite accurate as faith in the wrong entity has often led to dubious results. There is no better example of this than that of faith healers. Contrary to what they call themselves, they have never been able to heal anyone, despite millions having faith in them. Often this has resulted in people clinging on to their faith, only to suffer for want of proper medical care6. Also dangerous is our faith in alternate medicine, which is simply a marketing term for gimmicks that have either been proved not to work or have never been proved to work7. There have been innumerable cases where people put their faith in charlatans disguised as entrepreneurs, and invested huge amounts only to find out that they had been duped. Incidences of misplaced faith are too many to list here. However, having faith isn’t always a bad idea.

Let’s look at a modern and progressive interpretation of faith. During a television interview, once Morgan Freeman was called a “Man of God” by the interviewer. To this, he replied that he wasn’t one, rather, he was a man of faith. Later, he went on to clarify that this wasn’t the faith in seriously flawed imaginary beings, but faith in science8. Isn’t this indeed a well placed and well deserved faith? Faith in the way we understand the world, faith in something that is ever changing; always being improved in some way or the other. This is a world view that encourages the pursuit of excellence and believes in the tremendous potential of man. Yet, it is humble enough to accept that we humans are a mere speck in the fabric of the universe and despite our amazing ability to interpret things, we are liable to make mistakes. When such mistakes are found out, it has been the people associated with science that have stood up and told the world about it and corrected our wrong understanding of the phenomena around us.

Some say that there is no place for faith in science, that science seeks evidence. Of course it does! However, science and faith aren’t incompatible. In fact, whenever a theory is put forth, it is first accepted to a great extent, on faith. But soon, the scientific method9 kicks in and everyone starts testing the theory by means of experiments; not with the agenda of disproving it, but to find corroborative evidence. In this process, many theories have perished like the Luminiferous aether theory, made popular by Christiaan Huygens and the plum pudding atomic model put forth by J. J Thomson; only to be replaced by better theories that revolutionized the way we look at the world. However, there have been remarkable cases like Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, which have been proved thanks to the scientific method and the healthy skepticism of the people of science10. Herein, lies the triumph of humanity.

What if I am not a scientist? What reason would I have to follow such an approach? I’d say – plenty! There are many superstitions and urban legends that perpetrate around the world, causing nothing but grief to the ones who believe in them and also their victims. Horrifying examples include human sacrifices, untouchability, black magic, cannibalism, body piercing etc. A little less horrifying but equally dangerous are faith in Karmic healing, astrology, homeopathy, acupuncture, chi energy, tarot cards and various other instances of untested and unproved alternate medicine11. The only way we can prevent our friends, family and even ourselves from falling prey to such nefarious schemes, is by keeping a rational mind and a skeptical attitude with faith in nothing else but honest science.

That, I can say with immense faith and pride, is the way forward.

Thanks for reading. I would like to thank my friend Sigmoid Curve12 (alias) for helping me frame a definition for faith and everyone else including my anonymous friend from facebook and Trish Delaney for helping me understand various points of view on faith.

– Written by Guest Writer, Aamil Syed Naeem, as a lead-up to this blog’s 3rd Blogoversary.

Footnotes/References:

  1. Okay I was just testing you here. Promise the next one will be an actual footnote. Keep coming back!
  2. A nice Google search will yield various such phenomena. But, I make the job easy for you; visit http://www.blindloop.com/index.php/2010/03/5-weird-religious-phenomenon/  or  http://paranormal.about.com/
  3. Read http://saibabaexposed.blogspot.com/ and http://www.saibaba-x.org.uk/ to know more about the kinky ascetic.
  4. Condoms are in! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byTYP36KPFo
  5. boink : A word that your parent’s use to describe sex to you, even when you are an adult.
    -Oh my lord, Jennifer! You’re… you’re not BOINKING him, are you?
    -Yes mom, he’s my husband.

    courtesy: urbandictionary.com
  6. What’s the harm? – http://whatstheharm.net/faithhealing.html
    A little boring but eye opening – http://skepdic.com/faithhealing.html
    Shocking! – http://goo.gl/skUOy
  7. Definition courtesy: Tim Minchin. My whole essay can be summed up by his poem – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGuXCuDb1U but then he is awesome!
  8. I am a bit too blunt here, but Morgan was much more politically correct – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WaEJVj4Zfk
  9. A hilarious comparison – http://goo.gl/3X6XN
  10. Google the other theories I have mentioned. For the test of Einstein’s theory visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tests_of_general_relativity
  11. Richard Dawkins – The enemies of reason. Must watch!
    Part 1 – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7218293233140975017
    Part 2 – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4720837385783230047
  12. Sigmoid Curve, for the curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmoid_curve

31 thoughts on “Faith

  1. To give you a surprise considering the last argument we had on faith/science (it wasn’t faith vs science, but calling it that here) and the positions we held during the argument, for my final year graduation project, I had chosen the subject of Belief. I am sure I still have it somewhere with me. Very interesting things I came across, one of them being The True Believer Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True-believer_syndrome). Then there were evolutionary reasons for it and social and neurological and lots of things.

    One extremely extremely important thing I came across was Blind Faith in Science. The last 300 years has seen the rise of an attitude to turn a blind eye towards anything that you don’t understand at that given point in time. It may be humbling to note that these anythings are not just religious superstitions or miracles but also scientific theories and paradigms. I am sorry I can’t find where I saw this, but I quote from memory, “When it comes to faith, even scientists are as human as the rest of us. Do not think that just because someone decides to be a scientific explorer that he loses all the trappings of belief that keep us human. If you follow the patterns of scientific discovery and assimilation into known knowledge, you will see that most breakthroughs in science are older theories being disproved. This leads scientists who ‘believe’ in the older theories to face a cognitive dissonance of giving up their belief in face of new evidence – which hardly ever happens. What happens more often is that the older generations die off and the newer generations already ‘believe’ in the new theory. And this pattern repeats itself more often that we would like to imagine.”

    Blindly trudging only ‘Forward’ has cost the world a lot of things, including losing a whole lot of true knowledge from the past. This has been a known, proven and classical mistake of the Modern Era. We live in the post-post modern era. It was the learning of the post-modern era that we are going nowhere if we simply discard all our old knowledge as blind faith and superstitions. Even blind faith and superstition doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is the job of the scientist to use science to separate the chaff from the grain, not to simply shovel away everything into the dust pan. But alas, like I said above, even scientists are human and their blind faith seems to be the strongest of us all.

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    1. @Above: Citing just three examples of “lost knowledge” would be nice.

      Alright, make it one. One example of lost knowledge. Which was NOT due to wars but due to the pride of the scientific community.

      If you say “But it’s lost, hence I can’t tell you what it is”, your whole argument is invalid.

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    2. “blind faith of scientists is strongest of them all”

      I was largely nodding my head sympathetically throughout up until I reached that point. Then the Streisand Effect kicked in.

      Yes indeed. The scientific incorrectness of nascent scientists and their naivete to accept things at face value is far far far more pronounced and repulsive than the delicate and subtle rationality of people who fly planes into buildings in the name of an entity they have never ever seen, heard or spoken to.

      Yes I can see how evil the scientists are – those evil men wearing spectacles and twirling their mustaches!

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  2. @Anish: Firstly, what exactly was the surprise? Secondly, I am not very clear what you mean. It would have been helpful if you had said, “I do not agree with blah blah and this is the reason for that…”
    However, you haven’t done that and so I am left to grasp at whatever little I can see in your argument.

    1.

    “Then there were evolutionary reasons for it and social and neurological and lots of things.”

    I agree. Nowhere have I mentioned anything that refutes this. In fact, if you read the article closely, you will notice that it is an article that stresses that, “faith” in the scientific method is an integral part of scientific progress.

    2.

    “Blind Faith in Science.”

    Really? Do you even know what the scientific method is? It is the rigorous examination of evidence and thorough experimental testing, before accepting an idea to be a close and approximate explanation of a phenomenon. Even after all this, science will maintain that it isn’t absolutely correct. It will only say that it still hasn’t been proved wrong. Until then, this explanation that predicts such a lot of things should be retained, while others work on better explanations.
    When I eat an aspirin and my headache subsides, I don’t call it blind faith in science. I may not know how it works, but it does. Since, I see and feel that it works, I believe that it does.

    When I go to a faith healer for a headache and he reads mumbo jumbo over my head and asks me to pray and I keep on reciting something even though my head is aching, just because I have faith that the prayer will work; then that is called blind faith.

    Just consider this: If I say, “I have blind faith in Physics” what does it even mean? Does that mean I believe in gravity without any PROOF for it? This is a phenomenally absurd idea. Now, if I say “I have blind faith in the virtues of consuming human blood”, that constitutes blind faith as it isn’t true.

    3.

    “The last 300 years has seen the rise of an attitude to turn a blind eye towards anything that you don’t understand at that given point in time.”

    Contrary to what you think, science actually means “Understanding through study. So turning a blind eye towards anything that you don’t understand is simply not what you’d call a scientific attitude. This is what religion asks you to do. Very often you will hear a preacher say, “Don’t question the scriptures as you will not be able to understand their deep rooted meaning”

    4.

    “It may be humbling to note that these “anythings” are not just religious superstitions or miracles but also scientific theories and paradigms”

    There is no theory put forth by anyone in science that has been completely understood. However, there are conclusions that have been drawn from observation of experiments and other phenomena that support these theories. If that is not the case, the said theory is put to rest. As an example, I have given the testing of Einstein’s relativity.

    5.

    I am sorry I can’t find where I saw this, but I quote from memory, “When it comes to faith, even scientists are as human as the rest of us. Do not think that just because someone decides to be a scientific explorer that he loses all the trappings of belief that keep us human. If you follow the patterns of scientific discovery and assimilation into known knowledge, you will see that most breakthroughs in science are older theories being disproved. This leads scientists who ‘believe’ in the older theories to face a cognitive dissonance of giving up their belief in face of new evidence”

    I agree with this

    6.

    “– which hardly ever happens. What happens more often is that the older generations die off and the newer generations already ‘believe’ in the new theory. And this pattern repeats itself more often that we would like to imagine.”

    I severely disagree with that. If you have followed the development of the theory of the structure of the atom, you will find that in a span of merely 30 years, we went from fixed orbits for electrons to a Quantum behavioral model. However, all of the scientists who put forth the theories that were disproved were alive when the latest idea was put forth and ALL accepted it. This is not an isolated incident, this has happened in Chemistry (structure of Benzene) as well and there are perhaps many more incidents that I am not aware of. When scientists are proved wrong, they may find it difficult to swallow, but they HAVE TO DO IT. When a theory comes up that disproves an older one, it is put into the bin and analyzed only as an artifact of history, nothing else.

    If at all, opposing views exist (Stephen Hawking opposes the existence of the Higgs boson) it is because none of them have yet been proven wrong. In fact, there is a famous incident wherein, astronomer Arthur Eddington, refused to accept the existence of Black Holes as proposed by Subramanyam Chandrasekhar. He held that belief until his death in 1944. However, the scientific community continued to test Chandrasekhar’s theory and finally found evidence that supported it. This story is truly a triumph of science.

    7.

    Blindly trudging only ‘Forward’ has cost the world a lot of things, including losing a whole lot of true knowledge from the past. This has been a known, proven and classical mistake of the Modern Era.

    I agree. Hence, I have asked through my article that one should be skeptical of what one believes in and question everything. Blind faith is bad faith.

    8.

    It was the learning of the post-modern era that we are going nowhere if we simply discard all our old knowledge as blind faith and superstitions. Even blind faith and superstition doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is the job of the scientist to use science to separate the chaff from the grain, not to simply shovel away everything into the dust pan.

    That is what scientists have done. They have analyzed the superstitions and blind faith in supernatural phenomena and found them to be irrational and ill-founded. As a result, they have found them incompatible with the modern day society and have rightly discarded them.

    Also, ancient knowledge is not necessarily good knowledge. The ancients may have known a lot but we surely know a lot more than them. I respect our ancestors for being curious and trying to work out explanations for things around them. That is the very reason why we are where we are. However, as we have grown as a society, we have grown past the age where we need to incur the supernatural to explain what happens around us.

    9.

    But alas, like I said above, even scientists are human and their blind faith seems to be the strongest of us all.

    You really don’t understand faith. Faith by definition is “blind” there is no “seeing” faith. If faith could see, it would be called fact. We can’t deny “fact”, we HAVE to believe in it. When it comes to faith, we have a choice. We can either put our faith in the age old religious method or we can accept the scientific method to be the way forward.

    I would also like to add that although you seem to be convinced that scientists too have blind faith and that it is bad for society to blindly trudge forward with the help of science, you have failed to cite any incidence where this has been found to be true. So I now call upon the reader to decide if they have faith in your argument. As for me, I have none.

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  3. Homeopathy and Accupuncture are horrifying example of blind faith? How about listening to people other than the AMA? I know a person who has battled with Glaucoma with nothing than those tiny pills and those spikey rolling pins!

    You can say what you feel like but when I see live examples then I am forced to believe that the so called alternate medication is also medication and are in no way “horrifying examples” of blind faith!

    It take a lot of guts to have faith in something. So when I believe in the miracles of the virgin birth of Christ and in the miracles of The Quran I an having faith in what my parents have taught me! And they have been taught by their fathers and fore fathers! And if after 100s of years i still see them acceptable i dont call it blind faith.

    Like i said, the things i dont understand in the bible and the quran i dont doubt them. I wait for my questions to be answered!

    Did i tell you that the “person” who i was talking about is my own father!

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    1. @Fayesal: Don’t take this personally.

      1.
      “Homeopathy and Accupuncture are horrifying example of blind faith? How about listening to people other than the AMA? I know a person who has battled with Glaucoma with nothing than those tiny pills and those spikey rolling pins!”

      First of all, I don’t know what AMA stands for, so I will skip. So you have heard of A PERSON who has battled glaucoma with the help of Homeopathy. Great! There are on an average 130 people per 100,000 in the world who are battling with galucoma. Surely doctors aren’t so stupid that they aren’t seriously considering this as an actual treatment for glaucoma. Did your dad get completely “cured” of glaucoma? Does he no longer have it? If yes, then I am relieved. I don’t know how he was helped, but I can sure tell you it wasn’t homeopathy. If that was the case, why are people going in for more expensive treatments for the same disorder?

      Do you even know how it works? Do you know the scientific principle behind it? Do you know that homeopathy was started only in the late 1800s? Yet, it has NEVER been proven to work. This is why the medical fraternity has not accepted it and the only reason why it still exists (as an ALTERNATIVE to medicine) is because people like you mistake the effects of something else to be the effect of homeopathy.

      Tomorrow I may claim that eating paper cures diarrhea. I may say that it is because of the fiber content of paper. It may even be true in my case. But does that make it an established cure for diarrhea? NO. It will only be accepted after rigorous testing, experiments and analysis, which homeopathy has failed.

      2.
      “You can say what you feel like but when I see live examples then I am forced to believe that the so called alternate medication is also medication and are in no way “horrifying examples” of blind faith!”

      If that is the case, then you are adamant, and no amount of reasoning will work for you. This is what wikipedia says about Alternative medicine – It is any healing practice, “that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine.” It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence. So by “definition” alternative medicine cannot be “medication”. I said horrifying examples of blind faith because so many people are duped of their money and trust on the pretext of treatment that doesn’t actually work. That is what horrifies me.

      3.
      “It take a lot of guts to have faith in something. So when I believe in the miracles of the virgin birth of Christ and in the miracles of The Quran I an having faith in what my parents have taught me! And they have been taught by their fathers and fore fathers! And if after 100s of years i still see them acceptable i dont call it blind faith.”

      I’d say it takes a lot of stupidity to believe in the virgin birth of Christ. My dear friend, what evidence do you have of the miracles of religion? I am simply saying what is true. If someone belives ANYTHING that is not supported by evidence, its faith. Why are you taking it to be a refutal of what your parents have taught you? I am simply saying that believing in holy books is blind faith as you have never seen the miracles yet you believe in them..

      I have a question for you – Why is it that miracles don’t happen today? Why is it that inspite of “miracles” like splitting the moon in two by Muhammed, which will be visible from anywhere on half the earth, did people convert to Islam. If it did happen, why were there still people (and a lot of them) who opposed Muhammed and why was almost the entire world unaware of him until his followers came to those places? Surely miracles like that grab the attention of people!

      4.
      “Like i said, the things i dont understand in the bible and the quran”

      That book is God’s message according to you and others, then WHY do you have difficulty in understanding it? I have told youi this before, but you ignored it.. So I repeat..

      I have only one argument. When Allah (or any other God) made the Qur’an (or any other holy book) to be his message to the whole of humanity for all eternity, I don’t think he would have made it in such a way that it isn’t possible for you to grasp it.

      Imagine it this way – I send a message to you that is extremely important, but I write it in Hebrew. So now you have to spend many years to learn Hebrew just so that you can “read” my message. But, then you realize that I have also written in such a way that it is extremely difficult for you to interpret and you have to either spend even more time to master that or depend on someone else, who has every reason to convey the wrong meaning to you so that he can take advantage of the situation.

      Isn’t it odd?

      If I were God, I’d not send my message to my creations in a way that confuses them and leaves them vulnerable to treachery.

      Think about it.

      5.
      “..i dont doubt them. I wait for my questions to be answered!”

      And while you are unanswered, you just accept it and live with it? Well, in that case, I will tell you something doubtful and not answer your doubts.. will you then accept it and live with it?

      Also, who answers them? Have they always convinced you? What if the answers are not convincing enough?

      Think about it.

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      1. @Aamil: Don’t take this personally:

        1. “There are on an average 130 people per 100,000 in the world who are battling with galucoma. Surely doctors aren’t so stupid that they aren’t seriously considering this as an actual treatment for glaucoma.”

        I have been reading this discussion and I have inferred that you have some serious problems in trusting anyone. You’re scared to have faith. I got cured by Homeopathy when “Allopathy” couldn’t do a thing for a whole year! I am another person. Doctors can be stupid. I don’t see why is it such a big problem to disregard a certain branch of medicine cos it doesn’t work for some people. Did you not notice that it works for others. We’re all different, and what’s the big deal with it if people believe in something and other don’t?

        “Yet, it has NEVER been proven to work.” The fact that i am okay now PROVES that it works. You can’t disregard it just because it didn’t work for someone else. Allopathy DID NOT work for me, but will you disregard that as a science? Will you? No, because you choose to believe books that are not in your line of sight. You want to believe “journals” but you don’t wanna believe real people? Really?

        2. I need to read up on this. So, later.

        3. “I’d say it takes a lot of stupidity to believe in the virgin birth of Christ.”
        Well, again! I really think you have major issues in trusting something. You’re scared that if you do, you’re going to be right someday and you don’t wanna see that. It takes guts to have faith. Let alone God, in your own friends and family. And sometimes even in strangers. It needs courage. Have you ever tried losing yourself and just implicitly believing in something (except for so much “ratified” atheism)? I am probably guessing not. I do hope that when you love, you do it with your heart and not with an algorithm. Because human beings are not computers, they don’t work on a flowchart and “If then else” statements. Atheism works on a flowchart. Faith does not.

        I do believe there is a God and I do believe that there was Christ and that he was of virginal birth. And you know what, just the fact we can’t see any of the “miracles” today is because a LOT of people just get up and start calculating and questioning how it happened. We have stopped believing. We want to rationalize things, because if we don’t what use is our encephalon? Really? Won’t our egos hurt if we could not explain how a man was born of virginal birth? Oh yes, it would hurt! Implicit belief and acceptance has gone out and rationalism and egotism has crept in. If we can’t prove it, it doesn’t happen because “I” can’t see how it happened.

        4. “That book is God’s message according to you and others, then WHY do you have difficulty in understanding it?”

        Simple, because you are not making enough effort. You don’t wish to make one. You want to see the Earth being created and then you will believe in it’s creation. You want to see Adam and Eve in Eden then you will believe that the garden existed. You want to see Iblis refuse to bow down before Adam then you will believe the incident. You want a movie and then you will believe. You know what, just you are not that important that we’d have to go through the whole thing again! We don’t have time, Dooms Day is here! (That is not an offence, it just means that even if I wanted to see it, as much as I’d like to, I am not that important that we’d have an encore.)

        “If I were God, I’d not send my message to my creations in a way that confuses them and leaves them vulnerable to treachery.”

        I am sorry, I would do that. Just to see who makes an effort enough! Even as friends, we sometimes leave things in such a way so as to see who is a real friend and who is not. I don’t see why God need not have done that.

        5. “And while you are unanswered, you just accept it and live with it? Well, in that case, I will tell you something doubtful and not answer your doubts.. will you then accept it and live with it?”

        Have you read the 4th Qul? “Qul ya aiyuhal qafir’un”? You must have and don’t know the meaning. Allow me to explain: It says that, “I have my faith. You have your faith. We agree to disagree because you will not believe in my faith and I will not believe in yours. And so, this is where we leave each other. “

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      2. @Aamil:

        1: Do I have to know HOW it works? Do I HAVE to know WHY it worked? You’re talking about PROOF and I am giving it to you! Or does my father not count as PROOF! Do YOU know the WHYs of every Allopathy medication works? Do you know the WHYs of Accupunture/pressure NOT working! Or are you also just repeating what YOU think is right?

        The same medical fraternity banned DDT and introduced Benzene which, btw is much more harmful when consumed either directly or indirectly!

        The AMA is The American Medical Association, btw! There is a lot to be said about the way they work but it would be not directly related so chuck it!

        2: Huh! You’re using wikipedia again!

        3: My friend you just crossed the line there! You have absolutely NO Business to call MY faith stupid! Debate. Dont gimmi personal shit!

        4: I’ll have an answer to that. Trust me. You will see. And sameen said something about it too.

        5: I am NOT a megalomaniac Boss! I dont consider myself an authority to every damn thing that i read or hear about! Probably you think that the conclusions you draw at the scintillating age of 24 (23?) are right, But i have no such illusions!

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    2. lol …. welcome to the internet …. I am guessing this is your first ever internet debate

      in which case, let me introduce you to rule number 1 …. don’t bring your father, mother, grandmother or piano teacher into the discussion!

      relax …. breathe easy …. oh boy! I hope you don’t go off on Youtube with this rookie attitude!

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    3. in case you didn’t notice, the Bible/Quran preach a lot of crap which a lot of people take very seriously – the result being supreme self-indignation and a smug sense of moral righteousness and the wish to impose your preconceived notions by force on others.

      None of that has any place in the 21st century.

      Oh and just because your forefathers and their ancestors preached a particular idea – doesn’t automatically make that idea valid, good or true. In fact, if history is to be believed, they tend to be invalid, evil and untrue! 😉

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      1. I dont even know you man so i’m gonna take care that YOU don’t feel bad about what I say. Thats why i am just saying it for you to take note and NOT offend:

        By saying that the Quran and the Bible preach a lot of crap you’re not exactly giving a fair assessment. Not in any of my posts have i ridiculed Atheism or the likes knowing that it wouldnt be fair play on my part to unnecessarily throw fingers at something just because I dont see their point!

        Now, my friend, I’d like YOU to show the same attitude to me, or someone else, who actually believes that the BIble and Quran are NOT crap by not being uncouth and by NOT calling those books or their ideas “invalid, evil and untrue!”

        PS: By adding a “smiley” you cannot hide the sarcasm as a joke. Just saying!

        PPS: Btw, Me being a muslim doesnt make me disrespect the Gita either for the same reasons i respect the Bible and the quran. Go figure!!!

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      2. Ever notice the trend that atheists and humanists tend to be calm and use satire and sarcasm very calmly? Ever notice them not coloring their posts with melodrama by bringing in piano teachers and grandpas and grandmas?

        There is something more important that God – its called a sense of humor.

        In my observations (and I have had the privilege of reading vast debates across print, TV, Youtube and the wider Internet), I have noticed that religious people tend to become defensive and melodramatic and tend to clutch at straws. They also tend to take themselves, their religions and everybody else too seriously and deem any differing opinion not only with suspicion but with offense.

        Everybody needs to grow up. Getting a sense of humor will really benefit everyone. As opposed to crying hoarse at how victimized religious people feel.

        And just so you know – stoning someone to death because they cheated on their spouse or chopping off someone’s hands because they stole – is NOT something I wish to tolerate in the name of religious integration. All religious people can kiss my ass. The Quran and Bible are about as full of wisdom as a Govinda Karishma song.

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      3. guess what …. you are welcome to burn all the atheist books …. and spit at them …. it won’t offend me.

        you know why? because I have a sense of humor! 😉

        I realize that those books (Quran/Bible/Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter/God Delusion) were written by human beings and express human ideas – some of which might be flawed. And I don’t give a shit if some other guy pisses on it or burns it. Because I value freedom of speech and a sense of humor above everything else.

        Hope that settles it. Hope that tells you how morally bankrupt and perverse religion is. How twisted and warped it gets.

        Have a good day praying for the Lord to strike me down with great vengeance! 😉

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      4. You learnt a lot in life about the freedom of speech. Guess you didn’t learn anything about respecting people’s emotions.

        You’ll learn that as well! 🙂 I am sure, the hard way!

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      5. Aah yes. That is exactly yet again the argument which comes from religious people.

        Although, I might say – this time it comes cloaked with some legitimate sophistication and wistful sarcasm – something I always readily enjoy.

        Would you wish to be a sycophantic slave pleasing other people, tolerating bullshit which you know causes people to crash planes into towers? which you know causes stem cell research to be banned on moral grounds? which you know encourages genital mutilation of boys and girls?

        Or would you wish to stand up and speak your mind – hated as you may be. I choose the latter.

        There are certain human emotions which aren’t worth respecting – those are Anarchy and Barbarism and Despotism (among others).

        And I would gladly accept the Lord’s vengeance on me (as you guys might say). And I would gladly learn it the hard way and still stay unrepentant and steadfast to my absolute loyalty to:
        (1) Freedom of Speech
        (2) Not being morally sanctimonious and Ekta Kapoor esque melodramatic pious
        (3) Sense of Humor

        I won’t abandon those three come what may. Thanks! 😉

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      6. You know Rajiv, freedom of speech is only respected when it comes based on reason. You are, of course, free to say what you want. But as human beings we need to be empathize with each other.

        You may be wrong, I may be wrong. There is a 50-50 chance to it, you know. Know that.

        As far as the towers are concerned, are you very sure it was just a religious motive. Rajiv, people are not what you think them to be, so don’t draw a blanket method to treat everyone.

        I don’t think you need a God to tell you to be sensitive of other people and have some basic manners.

        Don’t give up on what you believe, fine. Don’t tell me to respect you after you insult me.

        Sent from my BlackBerry®

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      7. I seek respect from people I admire. And I admire people who are grounded in rationality. So in that sense, I have never ever sought respect from religious people.

        I admire and respect those who don’t require a fancy story to serve as the basis for their compassion and kindness. Human morality needs to be derived from within. The sooner people realize that, the better it is.

        Doesn’t it strike you as strange that in this entire conversation – its only religious people who claim to be offended? At the slightest drop of the hat?

        Can you show me evidence of me complaining about being offended? Nope.

        I reiterate. Because I don’t bury myself in moral self-righteousness, I don’t bury myself with a sense of smug supreme indignation – I don’t think I have “God” on my side.

        Everybody needs to get a sense of humor. Everyone. Especially the gentleman here who seems to get too carried away on an internet discussion.

        And about people flying planes into towers – hahahaha – I am not even debating that here. I could fill a 1000 comments giving more examples. But its pointless. I realize that your mind is not going to be pursuaded.

        I too hope that you too learn it the soft way one day. By reading some awesome literature by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Dennett, among many others. By reading Bertrand Russell. By reading and exposing yourself to a plethora of philosophical thought.

        Unfortunately, the only book you guys seem to value (some of you to the point of threatening to kill anyone who “disrespects” it – even by verbal criticism) …. is the one book which is so mediocre and so lame that the mind boggles.

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      8. And to reiterate …. I never insulted you. Its in your mind my dear! 😉

        I wonder why people are not so touchy about 3 million dying of starvation in Darfur or the thousands of girls and boys who get mutilated or the women in the middle east who are domesticated like cattle …. instead they reserve their touchiness for religion and god.

        *sigh* …. what a waste! humans valuing fictional work with their lives while completely abandoning true human suffering!

        And you know what – this is the last comment I am gonna write here. I NEVER EVER argue about religion anywhere – except with fellow atheists. I am sorry I opened a can of worms here.

        Apologies if you got offended or felt insulted. But all my points remain. I only wish that eventually everybody gets over this childish touchiness and instead shows some outrage at true human suffering.

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  4. I agree with what Anish has to say, btw. Every rule of physics has an underlying assumption. An assumption is something that you have to unanimously agree to be correct. Agreeing in large numbers is NOT equal to the accuracy OR the correctness of anything!!!

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    1. @Fayesal : Really?

      1.
      “I agree with what Anish has to say, btw.”

      Good. But do you understand what he means? More importantly, did you read my rebuttal? If not, read it. Its long but you will understand why I don’t agree with him.

      2.
      “Every rule of physics has an underlying assumption.”

      Sorry you are wrong. Every rule of physics has an underlying OBSERVABLE FACT. What according to you is the underlying “assumption” behind the rule of gravity? Is it the “assumption” that all particles of matter tend to exert a force of attraction on other material bodies? If it is, then it is NOT an assumption, it is FACT. Please analyze what you are asserting before you say it.

      3.
      “An assumption is something that you have to unanimously agree to be correct”

      No. An assumption is correct ONLY when there is EVIDENCE to suppoprt it. This evidence can be material, experimental or mathematical. In science, it has NEVER happened that we accept an assumption to be “correct” just because everyone agrees with it.. Even the Big Bang for which we have found a lot of evidence (read : http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html) it is still considered to be just a theory and not fact. Accepting things to be true because many people agree with it is what YOU have been doing. This is what you said in your last comment – “So when I believe in the miracles of the virgin birth of Christ and in the miracles of The Quran I an having faith in what my parents have taught me! And they have been taught by their fathers and fore fathers! And if after 100s of years i still see them acceptable i dont call it blind faith.”

      Aren’t you essentially saying that you believe in the Qur’an just because your parents told you so and almost everyone else agreed? For 1000s of years?

      4.
      “Agreeing in large numbers is NOT equal to the accuracy OR the correctness of anything!!!”

      Exactly! That is why inspite of Billions of people agreeing with Islam and Christianity, they are simply delusions of the mind. There is no one who is counting your mistakes or failures in the heavens above. Welcome to freedom.

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  5. @Amil:

    1: No i did not read. It really is long.

    2: Sorry or not being an engineer for that comment. But all my life that i have done some amount of physics i have realised that physics and economics are not very different when it comes to theories. There are underlying assumptions to every theory. The most basic economic theory clearly states that the following assumptions are considered as acting over the universal set for us to apply any given theory. These assumptions range from “assuming” that there is a perfectly competitive market scenario and that the labour market is totally divisible and there is free movement of labour and capital.

    Sorry for moving off track here but the point is clear!

    3 & 4: Read Point number 5 of the reply i made to you yesterday!

    My work here is done. To end it for me i can only say that you’re fighting “Faith”, something that is intangible, with something tangible as “proof”. Its not possible! You believe in something that has an explanation. Good for you. I have faith in the same thing that you had 6 months back. I am not challenging that with scientific theories! The same theories which once said that the earth was flat once upon a time!

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  6. So a theory which has assumptions based on what is observed everyday like (matter has weight, occupies space) is the same as a theory which says that an invisible sky daddy can read your thoughts and gets very pissed off if you are found thinking about the private organs of the opposite sex and will send you to a place full of fire and brimstone to die because he loves you and made you in his image but you might be saved if you believe that his son who died for your sins (which you never committed then because you were born after his son) was born of a virgin and is now an eternal invisible zombie who will rapture you into the sky for singing the daddy’s praises everyday.

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    1. Its strange how simplifications of observed nature to be amenable to a theory are clubbed with outrageous claims of supernatural power

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      1. Hey I did read your post a long time back …. and I was intending to comment on it …. and then unfortunately the barrage of comments was delicious enough for me not to resist …. And I got distracted and wasted my time and energy on the absolutely futile (arguing with people who lack a sense of detachment and a sense of humor and believe they are guided by the divine to the point of becoming hysterical and offended).

        So I will read your post again now. And I will leave my comments soon.

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