Our Labels versus Our Beliefs

The post below represents results from my Religious Labels survey. If you have not yet taken it, please do (first, because these results will not make sense to you otherwise, and second, because I need more data)…

I have broken down the responses to Question #1 (which was — When someone asks, “What religion are you?” How do you reply?) into three groups (“Believer,” “Unbeliever,” “Between Believer”). I’m sure everyone will not agree with how I sorted the responses, but I did so to be able to compare answers from various “types” of responses (if anyone has suggestions for improvements, please let me know). The groups are as follows: Continue reading

I Reply that I Do Not Have a Religion

Commenter Roger Norling was curious to know among those who answered #7. Do you think it is important to understand the tenets represented by a label before using it? — with “Very Important“, how many were in the “I reply that I do not have a religion” category from question #1. The answer 19.7%

The problem is that doesn’t really say much because the number of respondents to the survey is rather small. So, what I’ve done is broken all the answers out for that “Do not have a religion” group (of which there are currently 92 members). Here is how their answers broke out. I hope you find it interesting Roger! (and please take the survey if you haven’t yet…)

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Religious Labels Survey Results: Week 1

First, thanks to all who have taken the time to complete the Religious Labels survey! Here are results from the first week of 428 respondents.

If you find these results interesting or informative please forward a link to your family and friends. My goal is to have at least 1000 respondents, but I would love to double or triple that.

Here is the URL… https://truthisawoman.wordpress.com/2008/08/09/religious-labels-an-online-poll-please-help/

Below you will find two results for each question asked. The first I am calling “Those who affirm belief in something they call ‘God’” or “God” Group, and the second I am calling “Those who do not affirm belief in something they call ‘God’” or No ”God” Group.

I find the results of questions #2 and #9 particular interesting… enjoy!

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Survey Results — A Delay

I had hoped to post some results from my Religious Labels survey over the weekend, but I’m running into some formatting problems… sooo… there’s a delay…

As of 10:00 pm Sunday night, 428 folks have completed the survey — a pretty good number I think, but I’d certainly like to see more — so please continue to spread the word, and stay tuned…

Disarming the Quarrel between the Advocates of Hard and Soft Images of God

Many of you who have taken a look at and/or completed my Religious Labels Survey have asked, “What the deuce is this thing for?!”

Well, as you may or may not know, I am in the final stages of writing my Masters Thesis, the title of which is “Disarming the Quarrel between the Advocates of Hard and Soft Images of God.” I focus primarily on the various images and conceptions people have for whatever they mean by the word “God” and the quarrels that erupt between those with starkly different conceptions. A significant topic in this “deconstruction” is an examination of the religious labels people adopt and what they mean (or don’t mean) when using them. The survey is a mechanism to both gather data and to test some of my theories.  

It is also my hope that the survey will itself inspire discussion and thoughtful reflection. Please forward it along to family/friends as appropriate!

Religious Labels: An Online Poll… PLEASE HELP!

I am deep in the throes of research for a project about religious labels, how people use them, and what those labels represent. Please follow the link below to take a 5 minute survey on your use/non-use of religious labels… and thanks!

Click this link to take a survey on RELIGIOUS LABELS 

Avampirism

Recently I’ve run-up against the argument that atheism is “just another faith” — as if that somehow raised the merit of a believer’s position, which of course, even if atheism were, it does not.

I’d like to begin by quoting my buddy Sam Harris:

I think that ‘atheist’ is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people ‘non-astrologers’. All we need are words like ‘reason’ and ‘evidence’ and ‘common sense’ and ‘bullshit’ to put astrologers in their place, and so it could be with religion.

And I agree… a lot. The label “atheist” makes me bristle in the same way I bristle when someone calls me “Catholic” because a white-collared guy dripped water on my head before I was young enough to object or say “I do”…

Now if by “atheist” one means I am not a “theist,” well then yes, ok — for I am definitely not a theist. I do not believe in a personal God that listens to my thoughts and has a plan for me, who occasionally usurps the laws of physics to do his bidding but cannot seem to figure out a way to give me both free-will and also alleviate “the problem of evil” (I really think I could design this, btw).

Why is the label “atheist” at all necessary? We do not need a term for those who do not believe in bigfoot or vampires, no one is compelled to call me an abigfootist or avampirist…

Furthermore, the idea that atheism is a faith (where this post started) reveals just how caught up in the idea of faith the faithful are — it is as if they cannot imagine approaching the world in any other way. Now, to be fair, extreme atheism can become a bit faithlike, there may be some folks who “blindly” rattle on about “knowing” that God does not exist, and I would say that is a faith-based position… but even Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, writes, “Reason alone could not propel one to total conviction that anything definitely does not exist.

In other words, as the scientific method dictates, new evidence can always come in, no fact is unrevisable… and we can never prove the non-existence of something. In an infinite universe, there is always someplace one has not looked, and a healthy scientific worldview requires that questions are answered by probabilities, not by absolutes…

If Philosophy Were Religious: Part Second

 

The second of a two-part post… you can find the first installment here.

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Recently, a new minority has become active; folks who are willing to speak out against extreme philosophical positions and to challenge the demagoging old guard of dogmatized philosophy. They are called “moderates” or “liberals” and many of them think that neither Rationalists nor Empiricists have the corner on Truth.

Moderates believe that many paths may lead to the source of True Knowledge. Some even believe that Empiricists and Rationalists are right at the same time. They point to the fact that The Empiricalon and The Rationalists Creed promote thinking as a guide to living a fruitful and healthy life, and argue that certain philosophical concepts point us in the same direction — the great and inspirational philosophical books, however, make far more exclusive claims.

Some Moderates go so far as to assert that knowledge may come partly from Experience and partly from Mind; oddly, though, they continue to wear the old labels of their philosophy — Rationalist or Empiricist — skewing statistics and creating the guise of philosophic-homogeneity that in reality does not exist.

This skewing confounds not only researchers, but it falsely elevates the leaders of philosophy. Rationalists, for example, claim over a billion adherents worldwide, giving great authority to their supreme philosopher, the Phope, while adherents themselves hold many views anathema to Rationalist doctrine. Moderates nevertheless cling to the labels for various and unclear reasons, even in the face of continuing philosophical intolerance and violence perpetuated by so-called True Philosophers.

A further curiosity, one found in both schools, are large numbers of members who have never read the philosophical texts nor learned the key tenets of their philosophy, yet still emphatically call themselves Empiricist or Rationalist (even taking great offense if their ill-informed philosophical views are not respected). For example, some Empiricists do not know the meaning of a posteriori — thinking it an anatomical term. And some Rationalists do not know why Mind is held in such high regard or the many miracles attributed to it. They know not that one’s Mind may provide answers to life’s deepest and most complex problems — or so Rationalists assert.

To be fair, both philosophies promote thinking, yet some adherents do not know that thinking each day can enrich one’s life — or even that the power of thinking  has been shown (anecdotally at least) to be as useful in regular life as it is in deep philosophical trances. It should be mentioned, however, science has never adequately backed-up the miraculous claims of thinking championed by either school of thought.

The final oddity is the known fact that Rationalists come from Rationalist families and Empiricists from Empiricist families. What is strange about this fact is not the close correlation to one’s upbringing, but that followers of each philosophy do not recognize the label they wear is often an accident of birth. Again, we must keep in mind the long and bloody history between these schools and the deep social taboos against marrying outside of one’s philosophy.

In any case, it is remarkable that liberal and moderate followers of each philosophy continue to wear such potentially divisive labels. Even those who are aware of those labels’ arbitrary nature, who stand opposed to the highly-charged environment in which both philosophers and politicians leverage philosophy for personal gain, seem unreasonably attached to these old ways of defining themselves.

This society has seemingly harnessed itself with a great yoke, one which separates and divides individuals, communities, and nations. Many are dedicated to fighting the most egregious violence done in the name of philosophy, both followers and non-followers alike. One wonders, however, what would be the effect if those who were not True Philosophers simply dropped the labels which harnessed them.

Philosophers would lose their undeserved clout and power, millions of young people would have the freedom — instead of inheriting a philosophy — to study philosophical texts and choose to accept or reject them based on merit. For many, the Truth-Books’ utter exclusion of competing philosophies prove the limited scope and dated value of the words. Some suggest, although many consider this heresy, that Truth does not come through revelation, it is not handed down fully-formed by great philosophers — that Truth requires us to be willing to make revisions as new discoveries and new insights occur.

If only the old philosophies of Rationalism and Empiricism were recognized as the archaic and divisive systems that they are, this world could get beyond much of its violent past and resentments. But the pull of philosophy is strong, not only does it provide a foundation to one’s life, but it allows individuals to stop thinking and simply to know the source of True Knowledge — and it seems to show no signs of abating.

Perhaps Philosophy’s grip will one day be loosened — perhaps it will come from the inside, by the Rationalists’ use of thought or by the Empiricists’  technique of opening eyes and looking around, but something surely needs to change in this world. As an outside observer I believe change will come from those who are not already and completely sold, by those liberal and moderate philosophers who are willing to step away and disown philosophy as it has been practiced… and I, for one, hope that the day is soon.