Twittering Away at Philosophical Naivety

I’ve addressed philosophically naive statements before.  They always seem to come from Twitter, which is why I had to absolutely laugh at the recent issue of Writer’s Digest when it suggests writing dialogue in Twitterspeak (140 characters or less) as an exercise in creativity.

Sure.  That might work for a good writer, but not for Average Joe Twitterhead.

Enter BibleAlsoSays, a frequent contributor to mass ignorance. He has struck again with two statements.  First:!/BibleAlsoSays/status/159474512163897344


Well, let’s break this down a little bit.

First, BAS is operating from a faulty definition of the word “faith.”  Faith is not “belief without evidence,” but loyalty based on prior performance.  That loyalty is manifested in the actions of the believer; which means both belief and practice are required for a truly biblical faith.

We see now that BAS’s statement misses the mark entirely.  I take ownership of my faith by my actions, regardless of who passed the knowledge to me.  My wife brought me to faith through seeds planted years earlier by my grandpa, and the church, the Bible, and influences too numerous to name have taught me what it means to own the faith I was given.

My actions — primarily through my writing, but also through a local youth ministry co-op and by assisting in the presentation of church services — have made my faith my own.

Second, even if we allow for BAS’s faulty definition of “faith,” he’s still off-base.  Taking ownership of abstract ideals is the same as taking ownership of concrete objects.

The computer I’m typing this on is a perfect example, as it came from my church.  I didn’t build this computer, I didn’t load the original software on it, and I didn’t use it for the first few years of its existence.  The Dell factory built it, loaded the software, and shipped it to my church, where it sat on the secretary’s desk for a few years.  They sold it to my father-in-law, who then gave it to my wife and I after he realized that he didn’t need it.

I didn’t build it.  I didn’t use it at first.  But it is my computer now.  It served many before me, now it serves me.

Same with a belief.  It becomes my belief when someone shares it with me, and I accept it as true.  So it is now mine in a sense, yet it still resides with the original person — the advantage abstract ideals have over physical objects.

A belief is never really “owned” by anyone.  Rather, it is shared by a group of like-minded people.

A belief will pass from one to another, from generation to generation.  Each generation is free to question and discard it.  Religion is not immune to this — in fact, the growing number of nonreligious is testament to the fact that many do question religious belief and eventually discard it.

But to say that no one can take ownership of a religious belief because it was passed from parent to child is philosophically naive.  No belief is really one’s own, since all or most of our most fervently held beliefs were taught to us by someone at some point.

Yet, despite this, people take ownership of beliefs all the time.  And we let them, never questioning the source of the belief.  If I say, for example, that I believe Mercury is the first planet from the sun, no one scolds me by saying, “You discover that yourself, there, Copernicus?”

Whoever discovered it, it was taught to me by a science teacher and is my belief now.

Religious belief is not in a special category by itself.  What applies to it applies to every belief under the sun — though I much doubt BAS wants that to be true.  His hatred of religion blinds him to a lot of philosophical truth.  In sum, if faith is solely equal to belief, we can still claim it as our own in the same semantic sense we claim any belief our own despite it being part of a collective body knowledge that we did not personally discover.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on January 17, 2012, in Philosophy, Religion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Christianity really sucks

  2. I don’t think it is acting in good faith to take a person’s statement, change a definition, and then assert that they are wrong under the new definition.

    It is strawmanning.

    • What’s really funny about this is that I took it on under both the correct definition of faith and the definition that I knew he meant. I spent more time on the definition that I knew he meant.

      You know what? This comment burns my butt because you are usually the most fair evaluator of what I say. I can’t believe you even posted this when, I acknowledged the definition BAS meant and spent more time refuting that then the actual definition of faith (which never entered into his head).

      Furthermore, why is it wrong to correct someone’s misperception and show why the correction renders his statement untrue? Am I supposed to let it pass when someone uses an incorrect definition??????

      • Cory Tucholski said: “Furthermore, why is it wrong to correct someone’s misperception and show why the correction renders his statement untrue? Am I supposed to let it pass when someone uses an incorrect definition??????”

        The definition of a word is not determined by divine decree, or iterative scientific investigation; it is determined by popular usage.

        Imagine that you and I disagree on the “correct” definition of X. How do we reolve that dispute? We cannot, because there is no arbiter.

        “Faith” has several definitions, two of which are “belief without evidence,” and “loyalty based on prior performance”. These two definitions are neither correct or incorrect. Definitions cannot be correct or incorrect, just popular or unpopular.

        Furthermore, this person was not criticising you. He was criticising someone else; A christian with Faith(belief without evidence). But you morphed it in to a criticism of yourself.

        Imagine if someone said: “Cory Tucholski, christianity is false because christians just believe whatever the pope says”. Or if someone said: “Boz, atheism is false because atheists have faith that somethign came from nothing”. These are not criticisms of your opinion or my opinion, they are criticisms of the opnions of others. There is no need for you or I to respond.

  3. But you were not taught from an early age that mankind, including yourself, was doomed and only that computer can save you. You could reject the computer with little to no consequence.

    However while you were learning how the world works, someone implanted a sense of guilt on you for yourself and your fellow humans. You were not free to make a rational decision about accepting or rejecting faith.

    I was a VERY ACTIVE member and lay leader non my church. When I started seriously questioning my faith, it was a trip to the elementary school age hall that did it. There I found children seated On the floor, dutifully repeating what they were told. They were not being told how to think, but what to think. I left and it has been quite a journey.

    So I think BAS is saying, no matter how much you think you have had the opportunity to choose your faith, you really did not. When you were developing a sense of self, you were bombarded with a message that Christianity is right and that you needed it. It was you parents who chose your faith.

    Think of it. We’re you exposed to zen meditation, Islamic prayer, Kabbalist rituals, Hindu stories, native American creation myths, African spiritualists along the way? Perhaps you had some nominal exposure to these things. But honestly, it was a Christian indoctrination that gave you your faith. And perhaps you are glad for it!

    Br along the way some people decide it is not for them, some play along as a social nicety, and some make a life out of it. You seem to be the latter. This requires you to put aside doubts about things that rational people know are not true. Perhaps they crop up here and there, the nagging problems with god drowning everyone or endorsing rape. Maybe it bothers you to believe dead people can live again or that Jesus promises the greatest genocide in history when he returns. Maybe you know that even in the new testament the treatment of women and homosexuals doesn’t reflect a loving and all knowing god. But for now you rationalize or ignore. I know I did, until I realized that some things just are not true.

    You have taken the stories you were given, and pretended you came to the conclusion to follow this way of life, regardless of how irrational it is, on your own. We are all products of our environment. To pretend otherwise is willful ignorance.

    That computer is going to get old, outdated, and worn out. Wouldn’t it seem silly to keep it and in 20 years only run programs or apps that still work on that old machine? I hope that you are able to cast aside the old and worn out when it is time. When you are ready for a new computer to help you move forward, I hope you evaluate it’s strengths and weaknesses, read the reviews, and take the time to get the one that suits you, regardless of which one your parents gave you.

  4. A book written thousands of years ago with no proof that Jesus or God even existed back then, is taken so seriously now. We have furthered our science, gazed into the stars, smashed atoms and molecules, but we as a species still lack common sense in determining what is real and fake. It really saddens me that no one thought to actually write about Jesus back then, well, besides in the “bible”. If he was real, i’m sure there would be a lot more information documented about this guy. But, there is not. Get it through your fucking skull, RELIGION ISN’T REAL, IT WAS INTENDED TO CONTROL THE MASSES.

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