Baha'u'llah claimed to be the Return of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad and all the Prophets. The claim puts the fate of billions of Souls, and indeed the planet, at stake. True or false, it is a claim that demands urgent, independent investigation and deep prayer. See some of those amazing prayers here...
The astonishing and prophetic thread below can be found in the review discussions of A Manual for Creating Atheists on Amazon.MAKE SURE you read the very last post, it is AMAZING!
Atheist: Did you read this? There are no strawmen here. And the author is going after Christians much more than Islam, except for the “fear” of offending Islam in academia by the left.
Baha’i: Read cover to cover if you consider kindle having covers. The whole idea of finding subtle ways to "convert" away from faith based brainwashing is a little foreign to me, as none of my religious friends, most of who are in science, "push" their system, and their beliefs are based on reason, intuition, tradition and logic. For example, other than warning against "fearing" Islam, I didn't find a lot of deep knowledge of the much more detailed information in this book or from this atheist author about the Deity in Islam-- more earth is flat Christian strawmen, but still enjoyed the idea of "practical epistemology" more from a cognitive bias viewpoint. I think the author would be surprised at an "Islamic" God Who "Sees through all eyes but is seen by none" etc., compared to floods and animals!
Atheist: Boghossian makes it abundantly clear that he does not want his Street Epistemologists to proselytize, but rather to encourage doxastic openness.
He also goes to great lengths to cite his sources, so your repeated insinuations that Boghossian is "setting up straw men" are simply false. For these reasons and more, this review didn't seem to come from a careful reader of the book, so I had to ask. Thanks for letting me know. I suppose it's just yet another testament to the power of confirmation bias.
Baha’i: Cool, thanks! I thought you were possibly angry as a "person of faith" because instead of supporting the 20 atheists who will love this, I am encouraging the 20 million religious folks to read and enjoy it! Strawmen and sources are not mutually exclusive. To define faith with the limiting condition of either being disengenous and stupid, or believing without eviidence is far too simplistic. Assuming he's very bright, that can only leave the strawman standing. For example, I define faith as mathematics. It is a confidence interval in the face of uncertainty. On the feeling side, it is trust. Do you trust the 500 million lines of code running beneath the Obamacare website right now, or the 300 million lines of code running beneath the 777 you're flying? Trust and calculating the odds are everywhere, and if you see faith in that light, we're all on quicksand and both religious folk and atheists might want to look at the valuable positions in both frames with an independent but skeptical mind. As a Native American my deepest "trust" is the "belief" that were are ALL poor, powerless and stupid. I "believe" we're living in an infiniite dimensional sim and can barely see the first few of those dimensions. Or, as Muhammad said, "God holds the keys to infinite doors, whereas man can't imagine even one." Context is everything! I agree with you that Dr. Bogh doesn't encourage proselytizing, but to assume religious folks have a mental disorder groups faith (as trust in the chances you'll cross the street successfully using the partial differential equations your brain processes to estimate your relative motion) misses the fact that ALL trust in what Arendt calls "received opinion" is faulty, biased and dangerous, whether you're trusting God or math. Independence, and Dr. Bog's "tough" individualism in front of societies and movements that encourage herding, is another "evidence" to me that the Creator LOVES autonomy above all else. It's not creating autonomouse robots that excites me, it's creating robots that CREATE autonomous robots. IOW, the design plan for an ant brain, schematics courtesy not of God, but an evolved, immortal human soul.
Christian: As a conservative Christian, I found your review fascinating, and a breath of fresh air. You are more right than you may know, and certainly more than Atheist knows, about Boghossian's book being an exercise in straw-manning: I have studied, and written, extensively about what Christians mean by "faith," and he gets it completely wrong. I simply don't think he knows very much about religion. Unfortunately, I'm not sure he or most of his fan base are willing to learn. I love a lot of the things you say, though I'm not nearly as enthusiastic about Islam as you seem to be. (The Quran does, however, certainly not define faith in the foolish way Boghossian assumes.) PB certainly does encourage proselytizing, though -- that is the point of this book. Which is fine. My objection is he seems to avoid people who disagree with him, and can shoot down his hair-brained theories and maybe teach him a little something, like the plague. Come to think of it, that's his metaphor, not mine.
Baha’i: Thanks, Christian, for letting me know I'm not totally crazy in the way I define strawmen. I mean, I don't believe God "exists" either if they define His existence in terms humans can understand! My idea of a strawman is to say, ala Bill Maher types "Look how ridiculous this God is they love and believe in" then make fun of us as people of faith. I laugh at that too because I wouldn't believe in a God with THEIR definition either! I'm certainly a Christian, but grew up in a Catholic seminary where, during the "ecumenical" movement, they made us study the Quran. The think I liked about it was the more "scientific" approach to the greatness of the Creator, which of course Jesus also taught. For example the Egyptians telling Joseph in the OT, "Wow, a Prophet that also consults the Nile flood records...!" Certainly Christ knew about galaxies even though we didn't until 1925, and Muhammad described atomic power long before its scientific advent also. But in the end I think you're really right that a lot of the "fix those faithful" folks haven't really studied any of this in depth. In fact, I enjoyed Golan's "God Man and Nietzche" as he's more of a "you didnt get it" than an apologist, and Nietsche pushed for the self sufficient "original person" -- if they thought about it, religious folks would see their own originality in accepting spirit based on their inner life just as scientists are skeptical about nearly all "evidence" -- and giving scholarly bibs isn't original either, it's quoting others!
Atheist: I happen to me a mathematician too (if you have any doubts about that, I'd be happy to send my credentials), and I used to define faith the same way. However, I eventually educated myself out of this interpretation of faith. It took book after book, and discussion after discussion, to finally come to the conclusion that there is in fact a dichotomy between faith and reason. They are, in fact, mutually exclusive. Apologetic gymnastics can be entertaining, and they may make you feel enlightened, but sometimes, the simplest explanation is in fact the best one. You either have evidence, or you don't; and Hume's axiom that "a wise man proportions his belief to the evidence" remains true as long as there is evidence to observed. (And if you have any qualms about how to quantify and reliably interpret "proportions," which is a criticism I receive every now and then, the short answer is Bayesian analysis.) I appreciate Dr. Boghossian's clarity in defining faith as "pretending to know things you don't know," because that's exactly what I was doing when I conjectured that the contingent principles underlying pure mathematics was "God." Essentially, I was pretending. I plan on writing a review of Boghossian's book, and I will make a similar criticism that he fails to adequately address the spectrum of interpretations of "faith." There are those who deny they have faith altogether, and there also those who insist that their faith is based on evidence-despite not having evidence. Boghossian advises, "You allowed to sit at the adult table if you bring evidence in support of your position. Absent evidence-go to the children's table." He's right, but this fails to address the problem of how to address those firmly implanted at the children's table, as I was for many years. Rewiring my brain to go back to proportioning my beliefs to the evidence took humility. It took pointed question after pointed question to finally grow out of saying things like, "Faith is mathematics." I eventually realized I was pretending, and it was childish of me. My problem with Boghossian's book is that he gives too much credit to people of faith. He primarily focuses on the contemplative stage in the transtheoretical model of change, and not in the precontemplative stage, which is where I was at when I interpreted faith as mathematics. Unfortunately, even after reading Boghossian's book, I still feel inadequately equipped to help others grow out of this children's table interpretation of faith.
Baha’i: Good grief, I surely believe you and don't need to see credentials! I'm a semi retired old MIT prof and have tons of both athiest and believer buddies, I sort on ethics for my buds, not philosophy. We can agree that Dr. B is way too narrow on the multifaceted concept of faith. As a mathematician you can surely see that there are summation/linear methods and nonlinear dyamic methods to achieve "confidence" in our beliefs and postions, whether odds based on utility functions, or calculation. If you go with summation, you are putting your faith in linear processes. If NLD, in strange attractors, chaos/random walks, equilibrium, or oscillation. These ALL take faith if you define it as your utility and log likelihood weights! In that sense, stochastic or nonlinear dynamic faith is simply your own utility function weights of the odds. Except in the "past" life is always stochastic, God DOES roll dice. If you limit faith to Dr. B's definition, of course it is silly and of course God (as he defines Him) also doesn't "exist." But to limit faith to a "slam" of misinformation (as you said) misses all the faith our brains (consciously or unconscously) put in our calculated weights and factors to condition our native uncertainty which is based upon information loss at each recursion step. Uncertainty long ago proved (ala Godel) there is no "evidence" in math that is not stochastic or dynamic. It too is a high degree of probability when you leave linearity and stochastic summation, and join the real world of nonlinear dynamics. I personally feel we are ALL like rocks trying to comprehend humans when we attempt to love or please God; "englightenment" is silly when put in context. In Islam, there is only one topic "forbidden" to be discussed-- the human soul. If you've ever had a dream that you then "see" happen 20 years later, you KNOW that "evidence" exists that there is FAR more to humans that merely physical, even quantum physical, field theory allows. But defining faith, as you said, while limiting the many facets of the diamond of "trust" in the odds, which science does all the time, does create a pretty shallow and childish strawman! To simplify, as you suggest in smart occamesq fashion, the question really is: how sure are you? This doesn't bring up all our study, it goes directly to our biases in assigning the weights and odds-- which is what I'd INCLUDE in the definition of trust, belief or faith. If Dr. B keeps it to mean the narrow defintion of deluded idiots, then of course I agree with you, as a tautology!
Christian: Atheist: Feel free to peruse the following anthology I put together on this subject, from the 2nd Century to the 21st: http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2013/11/great-christian-thinkers-on-faith-and.html This just covers the Christian tradition.
Baha’i: Wow, GREAT series of resources! I love the Augustine "Faith is trust in a reliable source" as it gets right to not only epistemology, but also adds a math term-- defining reliable as predictably consistent over a number of observations or trials, or in less postitive terms, reduction of uncertainty vs. the corresponding utility function (be it practical dependability, salvation, weighted anova scores, or whatever...). I think this link really proves David's point that the accusation of "childlike faithful" not understanding decision theory has a reflection in atheists not studying what they are against very deeply. This is surely a wealth of "non strawman" faith, as linked to reason, philosophy, science, and in my frame, math and the least biased match of the odds vs. a wide range of utility functions, individual and social.
MUST READ!: Baha’i: Emailer comment: I have doubts for the VERY REASONS discussed in this thread: faith as based on proof vs. faith as opposed to proof. The "story" (or thought experiment as he calls it) the emailer told me to consider is a young woman whose car breaks down on a deserted road late at night, and the headlights of another car pull up behind her. My emailer's question is: if this is someone you love, would you like the foundation proof system of the three men who get out of the car behind her to be a spiritual foundation of the fear of an all seeing God, or a scientific foundation of faith in survival of the fittest? My emailer also states that his "doubt" is the same slippery slope for atheists as atheists use to disabuse the faithful of their "childish" beliefs-and is contrapuntal and recursive to the same exact pivot point of proof/faith, but seen through different frames. That doubt is that faith in EITHER world view requires proof. The emailer also asked for the source of my quote on "proof of belief" as the real standard of faith in any system. It is here, and thank you for your obviously painful but honest communications, and I'd say that my prayers go out for you and your family, but that might be cold comfort. The Source of Baha’u’llah's "By what proof have ye believed in God?" quote is the Tablet of Ahmad, found HERE, 6th paragraph down.
Also, SCIENTISTS might want to consider the FACTS at the bottom of every page on THIS site, as well as the SCIENCE and RELIGION section HERE.
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"The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chainsthat mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain to true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness. This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions, that ye might prosper and flourish. He Who hath come to build anew the whole world, behold, how they... have forced Him to dwell within the most desolate of cities!"
"Wert Thou to bestow on one of Thy creatures what would equal the kingdoms of earth and heaven, it would still not diminish by even as much as an atom the immensity of Thy dominion. Far greater art Thou than the Great One men are wont to call Thee, for such a title is but one of Thy names all of which were created by a mere indication of Thy will.
There is no God but Thee, the God of power, the God of glory, the God of knowledge and wisdom."