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  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miriamele
    I think the majority of Christians believe that the Bible is indeed a recounting of historical fact, and as such is not fantasy no matter how fantastic are the stories it contains. In any other book a talking donkey, a woman turning to a pillar of salt, or a voice eminating from a burning bush would be fantasy, but since these things are in the Bible they really happened. (In some people's opinions, not mine.) I know people in my family who firmly believe that every event told of in the Bible is indisputable fact, that it happened exactly as described.
    There are some catholics/christians (they are two diff groups of pplz) who take the bible as literal and some that take it as metaphorical (i think thats the word?)

    But, if an unbeliever were to read the Bible, many of the stories would seem like very imaginitive fantasy!
    Myself i live in a house full of catholics yet i dont believe in God and stuff . . . . . . .maybe thats got to do with the fantasy thing? interesting thought really . . . . okay back to answering da statement thing . . . . . i have actually read most of the bible but bcoz i dont believe in it yes i did see it as a darn good fantasy book. the fact that you've read it like that also, Miriamele doesn't surprisde me. it is an excellent story to read and very entertaining.

    What is it that allows people to believe in the theoretically impossible when it comes to the Bible? Faith. A lot of people have it, just not me
    okay i go to a catholic skool and my friends r catholic and christian and stuff but i personally find it amazing how many people out their name to that particular faith. i mean what makes it more 'better' or 'believeable' than other religions and fatihs?

    ~ Tari

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    What is it though about this particular 'fantasy' that has allowed it to endure for so long?
    isn't there a religion based on Tolkiens writings? i remember reading ti somewhere? theres people who believe that what tolkien wrote was true as word. they take it seriusly, literally. they think Tolkien was a prophet. yet olkien was catholic was he not? y dont pplz riducule people who believe in tolkien's writings as well as anyone who believes in christ?

    ~ Tari

  3. #18
    Kiss my axe! kahnovitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maus99
    (Noah's story is the biggest and most blatant rip off).

    I heard that too.
    Apparently a lot of ancient Sumerian fantasy literature, has been re-written and treated as gospel.

    "Gospel", gotta love that word

    I remember seeing a documetary about "the gospels" which basically said they were handed down stories that were written many years after Christ's glory days, by people who never actually met or even saw Christ "in the flesh" so to speak.

    Religion has always been about blind faith.

    Personally, I like to keep my eyes open.

  4. #19
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Living is about blind faith. Period.
    We blindly believe everyone will stay on their side of the road, will stop at red lights at intersections, will yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk.
    We believe that gas stoves will not leak, electrons exist and power our PCs, that the meat in the grocery stores comes from cows and not horses.
    Einstein couldn't make the leap to quantuum mechanics. Does that mean it's wrong or does that mean it's right and he was wrong or does it matter? It works, just like electricity and I know of no one who has seen electricity or can explain how it gets from one end of a wire to another. Doesn't matter; it works.
    Once you accept the necessity of blind faith, then how people choose to leap is pretty much their problem. If it works for them, good enough.

  5. #20
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    I agree. Blind faith kind of clarifies itself.

    What I find so interesting during all of these discussions is that so many fantasy readers are also skeptics when it comes to organized religion. I wonder if there is a real correlation. Maybe we are just so accustomed to reading fantasy and to exploring other worlds, that we gain a different perspective on scripture. It seems little different than some very good fantasy.

  6. #21
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Eurypides, Seneca....Nietzche, Schopenhauer, Montaigne....The Magna Carta, The Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, Principia, the Special and General Theories of Relativity...ethnic cleansing, weapons of mass destruction, international borders.
    Each and every can seem like pretty good fantasy. All it takes is a mindset to see it.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; April 5th, 2005 at 09:23 AM.

  7. #22
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    Living is about blind faith. Period.
    I entirely disagree, both with this statement, and with the examples you give, HE, which simply conflate what are in fact sound inductive generalizations (in the past, cars haven't swerved into our path, so we infer that they won't do so in the future) with 'faith.' What you're doing is using absolute knowledge as your yardstick for what is and isn't 'blind faith.' This simply makes the concept meaningless, since it obliterates the very distinctions that make it useful. Not all beliefs are equal.

    When we talk about 'faith,' we generally use the term to distinguish certain beliefs from those we tend to call 'knowledge.'

  8. #23
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    And aren't those exactly the lines that scripture attempts to blur?

  9. #24
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bakker
    Not all beliefs are equal....
    When we talk about 'faith,' we generally use the term to distinguish certain beliefs from those we tend to call 'knowledge.'
    When a person, say my next youngest sister, believes in the bible as she does, she generally uses the term "knowledge" for the information contained therein. She quite happily informs me that she doesn't believe in science; she believes in the bible. Upon further conversation, she means that she doesn't believe in evolution but that pretty much sums up science for her. And let's don't even think of discussing stem cell reserach, the moment life begins or ends, or any of the more volatile science/religion dichotomies of the day. Her "knowledge" of how we got here and where we are going are your "leap of faith." She isn't alone. There there at least 60 million people in the U.S. alone who share her sympathies. That's the U.S. alone!

    I have a friend who has a Masters in Physics and has spent most of his life working Intelligence Estimates. He belongs to a faith that "scientifically' reads the bible looking for truth. His rationale is that any kind of belief system requires an act of faith. Once you make that, then you can apply sound science to the result.

    I'm not where he is but I stand by the idea I presented: living requires blind faith in something, whether it be the laws of the lands as in my traffic example, the written word as in the bible and my examples..or things we all know for certain like photon complementarity . Whether it be the "useful" knowledge of science or the "useful" knowledge of the bible, we all take some things on faith everyday. Not possible to live without it.

    Now, determining equality of faiths has never been a human strong point. We pretty much deteriorate in rapid sequence from polite discussion to war at the mere thought that faiths can be equal.

  10. #25
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    And aren't those exactly the lines that scripture attempts to blur?
    This strikes to the root of my concern with so much organized religion, which conflates faith, which is belief without justification, with knowledge, which is belief with justification.


    but I stand by the idea I presented: living requires blind faith in something, whether it be the laws of the lands as in my traffic example, the written word as in the bible and my examples..or things we all know for certain like photon complementarity . Whether it be the "useful" knowledge of science or the "useful" knowledge of the bible, we all take some things on faith everyday. Not possible to live without it.
    I'm just not sure what you mean by 'faith,' HE. And it seems to me that this restatement is much more qualified than your previous presentation. What is the distinction between faith and knowledge then?

    I say this because I think you're over-generalizing an old and venerable philosophical problem regarding the 'regress of justifications' or the 'problem of the criterion.' Since every justification we provide a given claim will itself be a claim requiring justification, it means that the justifications - whether implicit of explicit - must run out at some point. This is the sense in which it 'all comes to faith.' But even here, I think we need to be careful to distinguish the 'faith' involved (in the veracity of our senses say, or the principle of induction, and so on), from the 'faith' at stake in most religions. Conflating these senses leads to an apparent consistency argument for religious faith - one which turns on a clear fallacy of equivocation.

  11. #26
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Certainly there are different kinds and usages of the word 'faith', and as usual HE we need to define them if we are going to communicate productively.

    In a sense we have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. We can't be certain that it will, so in that sense, it is faith that we rely upon for comfort. Then there is faith that God exists, which is not based upon past empirical experience but upon a suspension of reason and belief in something that we haven't seen. Clearly they are different kinds of faith.

  12. #27
    www.voxnewman.com kongming's Avatar
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    two cents

    This is an excellent point and one that I wanted to touch on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    I agree. Blind faith kind of clarifies itself.

    What I find so interesting during all of these discussions is that so many fantasy readers are also skeptics when it comes to organized religion. I wonder if there is a real correlation. Maybe we are just so accustomed to reading fantasy and to exploring other worlds, that we gain a different perspective on scripture. It seems little different than some very good fantasy.
    One thing that surprised me was that one of the authors of Dragonlance was a born again Christian. I always assumed that fantasy writers were not part of a faith community. Of course then learning that Tolkien was a devout Christian got me thinking that maybe more authors and fans of fantasy were like myself. Almost all of my friends are either Atheists, Existentialists or Agnostics even the ones that enjoy fantasy like I do. In fact, most of my old friends were confused a few years ago when they found out I was Catholic. Well they knew my mother was Irish and that she attended church er... religiously, but they assumed that I was like them, and many of them are anti-Christian. I don't know exactly how they came to the conclusion that I was too. Never in my life have I ever doubted the basic premise of Catholicism: God exists and Jesus was his son. I can only guess they assumed I thought like them, although that seemed strange since I usually took opposing viewpoints to them. The point is that my view of fantasy has changed: I used to think that fantasy was opposed to religion and maybe that's because for the most part that's how the church views it. Many religious people have the opinion that Fantasy discredits the church. I never understood where this view came from because all fantasy writing as far as I know never claims to be anything other than fiction. And I don't think that the church feels the same way about Science Fiction, which is odd because science fiction being more of a medium for making comments about society does attack the church on occasion. I guess it might have something to do with the worshiping false Idols commandment. But I don't know why they think people in the fantasy community are more prone to that, it's not like a great number of people actually BELIEVE in Tolkien's gods or anyone else's.

    As for the rest of this discussion:

    I don't view the bible as a fantasy. I think the Old Testament may have some fantasy elements to it, but just because of the long existence of it. I don't think it's deliberate I think it might be due to translation and misinterpretation. BUT I think the core of it is for the most part intact. But of course ALOT of it is similar to metaphor. Such as Genesis. I think that assuming that the 6 days that God took to create the world were human days may be the mistake. I always assumed they were God days and I have no idea how long those can be. Also the ages of people in the Old Testament get into the hundreds of years. I have no proof that they didn't live that long but I have an answer even if they didn't: years in many cultures are tied to crop cycles. In the Middle East you can get several more a year than in Europe and North America. So if someone lived in Canada and counted their birthdays by crop yields and they lived to 100 the same person could be 400 or more in the Middle East.

    As for the New Testament, I have come to the conclusion that only the direct quotes from Jesus' mouth are to be taken literally. The rest as far as I am concerned were the views of flawed humans. This helps me justify being okay with things that are highly politically charged, I don't want to specifically mention them b/c this isn't that kind of discussion but I'm sure they are easy to guess. The point is Jesus was never specifically opposed to them but apparently the Church is.

    Now also I don't think any of the other major religions are fantasy either. As far as I'm concerned God brought a message to Humans in different culturally specific forms so that it would be easier to swallow.

    I'd also like to address the earlier comment about possibility. I believe that EVERYTHING is possible. Not everything is probable, however. And science is just another religion that requires belief. Science has yet to PROVE anything. Most things purported as theories are really just really good hypotheses. Most people fail to mention that allot of the evidence for whatever "theory" is just circumstantial. But don't get me wrong I believe there were dinosaurs and that evolution works the way most people believe it does. I also believe in the ideas expressed by Hawking and others about Quantum mechanics. But I accept the possibility that all that may be wrong. Science is another way for humans to find their place in the universe and it requires just as much belief as any of the other major world religions.

    As for the comments about religions using fear, I simply don't see it. I know many churches spread fear, but really the message is HOPE, PEACE, and LOVE. Of course many choose to interpret it differently but that's because they are trying to use it to their own ends to gain some secular treasure. I think we should concern ourselves with death and the afterlife, after all these things are part of life. Of course if you don't believe that the afterlife exists than I guess you wouldn't think so, but if you're wrong then it still is. Anyway even just looking at death it is no different than birth, just its polar opposite. We should have more of a dialogue about death. There is nothing to fear as far as I'm concerned. Hell, even if the afterlife was a hoax I don't see why we should fear death. All we need to do is live a good life and help those who need or deserve help, and not hurt those who don't deserve it. So even if I'm wrong about God (and believe me, there is NO way to actually make me think that, I'm just saying it to make a point) and the afterlife then the teachings of religion are still basically good, useful, meaningful etc in helping us to find our way in the universe and helping us to be happy and helping the Human race to make itself that much greater.

    Oh and my belief in God and science ARE "based upon past empirical experience" as much as anyone's faith in anything is.
    Last edited by kongming; April 6th, 2005 at 05:28 AM.

  13. #28
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    Speak of the devil! I think the argument you give kongming is clear version of the very equivocation I was grumbling about above.

    Surely there is a diiference between claims such as

    As far as I'm concerned God brought a message to Humans in different culturally specific forms so that it would be easier to swallow.
    and claims such as: natural selection, mutation, and sexual reproduction are the primary mechanisms behind genetic variation.

    There isn't a theoretical virtue I can think of - relibility, explanatory comprehensivenss, efficacy, and so on - that doesn't drastically favour the latter.

    Science is, in fact, the most powerful instrument of discovery in the history of the human species. This isn't an exaggeration. In the span of a few centuries it has utterly transformed our lives. And yet people go on and on about overestimating its claims, usually as a prelude to defending some kind of spiritual commitment.

    Science has yet to PROVE anything. Most things purported as theories are really just really good hypotheses. Most people fail to mention that allot of the evidence for whatever "theory" is just circumstantial. But don't get me wrong I believe there were dinosaurs and that evolution works the way most people believe it does. I also believe in the ideas expressed by Hawking and others about Quantum mechanics. But I accept the possibility that all that may be wrong. Science is another way for humans to find their place in the universe and it requires just as much belief as any of the other major world religions.
    These statements completely miss the point, since they take what is in fact the greatest strength of science to be a levelling weakness that warrants the credibility of religious claims. If anything, the exact opposite is true! The hypothetical methods of science are the very things that have made it so incredibly powerful, and so utterly alien to religious claims, which are simply warranted by traditional authority. In science you pose 'tentative conclusions,' then let the evidence decide. In religion you pose 'authoritative conclusions,' then rearrange the evidence accordingly.

    Far from something that legitimates religious claims, the tentative nature of scientific claims is the very thing that embarrasses them. Science is institutionally structured to be skeptical, and that's the source of its strength. The fact that we need so much institutional and methodological discipline just to let the evidence (as opposed to our desires and biases) determine our conclusions shows just how bad we humans are as truth-seekers in the first place.

    This is why we came up with fantastic worldviews before institutional science arrived.

    But if you still think scientific claims are of a par with religious claims, kongming, then why the drastic difference in the theoretical virtues enjoyed by each?
    Last edited by Scott Bakker; April 6th, 2005 at 08:30 AM.

  14. #29
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Although I agree with you, Scott, in most of what you say, it is almost impossible to convince a religious person that the rules of evidence that science uses are different from those that the church uses. They see in HIS works the evidence of HIS existence. How do you argue with that? We have named it blind faith for a reason. For a scientist, it can be exasperating.


    I do agree as well with kongming that science does not provide us with all that we need. Our needs are more than factual ones.

    I also agree that it is the abuse of faith and the faithfull by fear that is so damaging, not that religion necessarily teaches fear. Though I can't think of anything more fearful than the threat of eternal damnation!


    As far as fantasy and religion goes, there is a tradition of christian moralism in much of the fantasy that has been written in the last seventy years. It is not the ethical aspect of fantasy that I was questioning, but the magical and otherworldly aspects. The church, in order to protect it's POV cannot accept another that competes with it. Magic cannot manifest itself among men, though of course miracles somehow are possible and possession as well. If religious leaders were to lower themselves and start to view the entire basis of their beliefs as grounded in what we call fantasy, the supreme credibility that they attribute to scripture would be undermined. Without that claim, that special relationship that makes their fantasy world view the 'one' that is acceptable, the entire house of cards starts to fall down.

    I know this is a very sensitive issue. People who believe in God do so based upon reasons other than those that lead us to believe in most things in this world. We really have to redefine the word empirical if we want to assert that there is empirical evidence supporting the existence of God, and in so doing, we would have to alter it to the point of meaninglessness.

    Science and religion are two totally different things. The confusion is that they both attempt to explain things in the world. But the motives for choosing one over the other make them thoroughly distinct. The reasons that one might seek a religious answer determine to a great extent the methods that are used, and those reasons frequently presuppose the answers that are found . That is not the case with science. Though its conclusions can satisfy, they do so for intellectual reasons.

  15. #30
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    k a couple of comments regarding wat pplz have said:

    There there at least 60 million people in the U.S. alone who share her sympathies. That's the U.S. alone
    1: Theres about 1.6 billion people in the world who claim to be catholic and it is the number one largest religion in the world. (RE classes need to be useful for something)

    2: There is a difference between faith and religion. so lets clear this up. Religion is a set of rules a person will follow to become 'holy' and a faith is believing you are 'holy' through grace. (my friend is a very didicated AOG). so which are we talking about?

    3: Science is a religion: technically.

    Science has yet to PROVE anything
    4: Science does not prove a hypothesis it will merely support it. and if u repeat an experiment over and over the more you look into it and do it he less likely experimental error is likely so no Science has not proven anything (Human Bio . . . i actually do do skool work so Alison dont feel bad about undermingin the Education System) but then again there are scientists who are dedicated to proving acts in the bible actually happened and things Jesus did are physically possible. (although Jesus wasn't really completely human) so thats not really an arguement.

    5: i think there is a link between fantasy readers and non believer in religion. i mean think about it. someone mentioned the ways we look at religion is that we see it as a damn good fantasy but really it's wat we've been told. i mean if you were taught that the sky is green not blue you will argue 4eva that the sky is green not blue simly bcoz thats wat you've been bought up to believe. and that is blind faith in a way. that we believe wateva we're taught at a young age is correct unless we discover otherwise ourselves.

    i think you've had enough of me so i'll stop now.

    ~ Tari

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