Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Our actions are based more on faith than on knowledge

January 18, 2021

Surfing through my computer in these corona times, I came across this talk I gave 4 years ago. I might even have posted something about it but I can’t remember.

“My thesis tonight is that all our actions are much more dependent on faith, and less dependent on knowledge, than one superficially believes.

Of all that I claim is my knowledge, only a very small part is what I have observed or developed or proved myself. Most of my knowledge is actually the knowledge of others or part of humanity’s collective knowledge, along with my belief that it’s true.

I “know”, for example, that the earth is a flattened spheroid, not because I have personally observed this, but because I “believe” in all the people who have made such observations and have brought this truth into the knowledge of mankind. Most of our actions are then based, not on our own personal knowledge, but on the belief that everything that lies within the knowledge of the whole of humanity is true.

I would argue that faith goes even deeper. “To believe” is a necessary and integral part of “to live”. The future can never be in the field of knowledge. “Living” requires a basic belief that the future exists. Even when I take my last breath, I will do so in the belief that there will be another breath to take. This belief is deeper than thinking and comes far before knowledge. I claim that it is the deepest faith that exists. Believing in a future is existential.

Without this belief in a future, life does not exist. Every time I breathe, I do it in the belief that I have a future. And that day, when I take my last breath, that belief becomes false”.


Charlie Brown has faith

Another conundrum: Religion is more about ancestry than about any true faith

May 6, 2015

This news item caught my eye:

BBCWhat happened when an anti-Semite found he was Jewish?

Three years ago, a Hungarian far-right politician with a strong line in anti-Semitism discovered that he was Jewish. He left his party, and set out on a remarkable personal journey to learn and practise his Jewish faith. …. 

As deputy leader of the radical nationalist Jobbik party in Hungary, (Csanad) Szegedi co-founded the Hungarian Guard – a paramilitary formation which marched in uniform through Roma neighbourhoods.

And he blamed the Jews, as well as the Roma, for the ills of Hungarian society – until he found out that he himself was one. After several months of hesitation, during which the party leader even considered keeping him as the party’s “tame Jew” as a riposte to accusations of anti-Semitism, he walked out. ……

Not a man to do things in half-measures, he has now become an Orthodox Jew, has visited Israel, and the concentration camp at Auschwitz which his own grandmother survived.

He found out about his ancestry and then set out to “learn his faith”!

Is “faith” really something which can be learned?

“Faith” is necessary. It is necessary because there are questions which I cannot answer for lack of evidence or lack of knowledge and where I resort to “faith” to provide me with an answer. But they have to be my answers. By definition “faith” is then about matters which cannot be proven. Since “faith” or “belief” are required only when there is no knowledge or no evidence, I would think that “faith” cannot ever be “learned”. It can only be generated internally by the exercise of a mind or it must be imposed.

There is something very perplexing here. The vast majority of children, of course are brainwashed/indoctrinated by their parents into a religion. Any religion which did not permit the brainwashing of its members’ children could not survive. “Faith” is not contained within our genes. Religion is not naturally hereditary – except that we make it so. Children are not born with any “faith”, it is pounded into them. And most Christians, Muslims or Hindus are Christians, Muslims or Hindus only because their parents were. And what their parents have as “faith” was, in turn,  pounded into them. Most people therefore, who claim to follow some “faith” or “religion” do so because that faith or religion was imposed upon them by their ancestry – not because they used their minds to decide what they believed to be true.

For Csanad Szegedi at least “faith” clearly is dependent upon and follows ancestry.  (Of course some of his even more distant ancestors probably followed shamanism). His “learning” is now nothing more than getting others to tell him what his “faith” should be or figuring it out himself – but only consequent to his ancestry. He is learning what his “faith” should be according to others – not what it is. It may be more self-imposed than imposed, but it remains something external now being imprinted upon him. But a copy is a copy is a copy. It is never the original.

So what we loosely call the  “freedom of religion” is little more than the freedom to have a “faith” imposed upon us and to then impose our imported beliefs, in turn, onto our children. What we believe depends on who our parents are (or grandparents were in the case of Szegedi).

An imposed belief is not something which is generated by an individual by the exercise of his own mind. It seems to me intrinsically impossible for any imposed belief to be considered a “true faith”. Religions and faiths are propagated less by discussion and overwhelmingly by mere dissemination of the beliefs of authority (prophets, disciples, sages, authors and other “enlightened” folk) to the masses. To believe something only because someone else does, seems a poor qualification for a “true belief”.

And so my respect for any person’s “beliefs” evaporates when I learn that they are not their own true beliefs, but those of others which have been imposed upon them. And my opinion of Szegedi’s sudden conversion to Judaism based on his ancestry is not very high. I see damage control and I see opportunism but I see no “true faith”.


“Climate policy” has degenerated into ritualistic actions with no measurable objectives

April 5, 2014

I met some old friends yesterday and we were discussing development in SE Asia and  the diversion of resources from real actions with real objectives into “faith-based” actions where there were no objectives or where the objectives were not measurable.

There was no disagreement that any government policy to be characterised as policy needed proposed actions to be first tied to results and second to results which could be measured. There was no dissension from the proposition that any policy where the results could not be measured was a fundamental waste of resources.

The discussion got a little more heated when I challenged the gathering to name a single  “climate policy” action – whether proposed by any government or any environmental group or any UN organisation – which had a result on climate which was measurable. Carbon taxes, carbon footprint, renewable energy, shifting from fossil fuels and carbon emissions were all mentioned. But in not a single case could anybody find any measurable climate objective. The only measurements that were possible – and which were often quoted – were of the actions themselves – but never were any of the objectives measurable or even definable.

It soon became apparent that many governments set targets for how much energy would be generated by renewables, for example, and that this could be measured but in not a single case could a climatic effect to be achieved even defined – let alone measured.  It was the same in every case. The input could be measured but the output – the effect of the action on climate – could not be defined or measured. It was always taking actions for the sake of taking actions in the belief that there was a climate benefit. But the climate benefit was always undefinable and unmeasurable. Measuring inputs with no measurable objectives do not a policy make.

Every policy was based on the “faith”  that it would be good for climate but the benefit was unknowable and unmeasurable.

There is not a single climate policy proposed by the IPCC or by any government in the world  which has a definable and measurable climate benefit.

Hopes and faith are insufficient to convert religious rituals into rational policy.

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