28th July 2012

“Belief systems provide a programme which relieves the necessity of thought.”

Bertrand Russell1872 – 1970

18 Responses to “28th July 2012”

  1. Jerry Says:

    Conversely, “non-belief” systems provide a program which relieve the necessity of questioning why things happen and fruitlessly trying to make things happen (prayer). This provides true piece of mind that “believers” just cannot achieve, allowing for pure, rational contemplation.

  2. Kittie Aldakkour Says:

    I actually had someone fess up to this fact. She said that it was how she was a believer and she didn’t want to think about all the questions I was asking because she liked her belief and didn’t want to mess with it. Yet then insisted she was sure she would be one of the few who “got it right” to get into heaven.. all you have to do is believe… seems to be the new rules. Just believe Jesus is the son of god who died on the cross for all your sins… but the problem is then you also have to buy the neccessity for this and that sucks you all the way back to the garden of eden…
    That kind of mental gymnastics is impossible to reason through without thought.

  3. Jeff Says:

    The problem comes down to the way in which the human brain is wired. As I have mentioned before, if you believe that the rustle in the grass to your right is a lion hunting you, you’re a lot more likely to get away than if you wait for the proof, which most often proves to be a form of gene pool chlorine.

    Humans are wired for belief, and thought is WORK. We’re also wired to be a bit lazy when it comes to actually using our consciousness. Sorry, but we need to be trained out of it.

  4. Xhim Says:

    This time I’m really disappointed in you. Jerry, what is the difference between a “belief system” and a “non-belief system”? The tenor of this forum indicates that you guys do think, like to think, and have examined much of what you believe as well as what you reject. But this quote can be applied so some less cranial atheists as well. Kittie, I had a very similar experience with an atheist. We got in conversation, she said she was an atheist, but she was raised that way, didn’t really know much else and wasn’t particularly committed to it. She was curious about what I did or did not believe.
    You have a belief system that allows you to not re-invent the wheel. You believe is scientific principles, in the results of scientific experiments that you did not personally perform, and all this relieves you of the “necessity of thought,” at least of thinking through every single detail.
    A lot of these quotes are thought provoking. This one is accurate if Russel is including his own belief system. If not, it is stupid.

  5. reetBob Says:

    I think the difference is that a ‘faith’ in the scientific method might relieve the individual from understanding the full complexity – an expert will understand his/her own specialty and the peer review process provides a measure of accountability, belief in magic or supernatural explanations relieves *everyone* from understanding reality.

  6. Dan Says:

    Xhim,
    Don’t make me laugh – you actually think that we buy into results of experiments we did’t perform so readily? Nonsense. We view any new results with an air of skepticism until it can both be replicated by independent researchers and corroborated by other data sources, preferably using completely different methodologies. Assuming that you comprehend what we mean when we refer to the scientific method (since you mention it),you should know this already.

  7. reetBob Says:

    Dan, although I agree with the spirit of your response, you are probably in a position of having to rely on other people’s studies and conclusions. You personally cannot verify every result.

    I think Xhim makes a fair claim that this is a sort of faith. It’s a totally different sort of faith from that employed by religious people because our worldview is updated when new evidencecomes our way, religious faith is faith in defiance of new evidence

  8. Dan Says:

    General thought:

    To the non-religious it seems that
    A) belief equals not questioning certain claims and accepting them as presented.
    B) skepticism equals proportioning acceptance of such claims against the weight of the supprting evidence, with 100% certainty always being unattainable.

    To the religious however,
    A) same as above for A.
    B) skepticism equals not questioning OTHER claims and accepting them as presented.

    Why is it the religionistas can’t understand correctly what skepticism/non-belief means?!?!

  9. Dan Says:

    Reetbob,
    Of course that’s true I can’t verify everything myself, but then again, when have I EVER expressed certainty over anything non-trivial. Please, do tell…

  10. reetBob Says:

    Dan, you said ‘we’ several times when referring to the scientific community at large. There is no problem with that, you might well be part of the scientific community for all I know, and I agree with what you said.

    However, as per Xhim’s point, we as individuals have faith in the system – we have faith that other scientists have integrity and are objectively reporting their findings.

    ‘Why is it the religionistas can’t understand correctly what skepticism/non-belief means?!?!’ Sometimes it might be because no-one’s patiently explained it to them.

  11. Dan Says:

    Reetbob,
    Also, to your comment at 19:19, it is ashame that scientists at least give the appearance of accepting conclusions outside their expertise with credulity. But appropriate responses to such situations should always be kept to qualified statements. Anything else sould raise red flags of concern that the speaker or writer is a hack.

  12. Dan Says:

    reetbob,
    Who has faith that other scientists accurately and objectively report their findings? Not me. In fact I’ve already refered to weighting acceptance of findings on whether they’ve reproduced and corroborated independently.

  13. reetBob Says:

    Dan, you do right, but I suspect you’re not as thorough as you say.

    For example, if a new vaccine is released I don’t check the veracity of the studies, trials and peer review processes that have gone into producing and testing it. i take it on faith that it just works.

    You may well check this sort of thing, if you do I respect that – im lazy

  14. Dan Says:

    Reetbob,
    That’s not faith, that’s simple trust. Maybe that sounds like a trivial distinction to you, but think about it: faith is total belief in facts; trust is conditional belief that you’re not being lied to.

    Or are you referring to a faith that there’s an agency or organizatio somewhere charged with verifying claims relating to public health? You can look this up you know – no need to take it on faith, if you care enough to know, that is.

  15. Dan Says:

    Also apologies for the typos. It’s tough to type on phones! 😉

  16. reetBob Says:

    I’m not sure that ‘having faith’ is an unacceptable use of the word, you’re right though, ‘trust’ is probably better. I totally agree, this is a totally different concept from religious faith – blind acceptance in defiance of evidence. One word, two meanings.

    I think we agree? I think we also agree that Xhim was off target, but for understandable reasons?

  17. Dan Says:

    Reetbob,
    I suppose, except about seeing Xhim’s error as understandable. They’re not equal concepts.

  18. Kittie Aldakkour Says:

    Christians try to use the word “faith” with their definition of it – and then apply that to a situation like walking into a building – you have “faith” that it won’t fall in on your head. I actually had that thrown at me in an argument about my lack of faith

    No, I do not have “faith” the belief without evidence

    I have the “faith” trust because of experience and knowledge of the building, how long it has stood, we have building inspectors and building codes… regulations and laws which all give me confidence that the building will not fall on me when I walk into it.