Obama and faith.

Here is a quite good and fairly long video of Obama talking about the topic of faith in quite some detail. Of course, I, who find faith to be inherently dishonest and the opposite of a virtue, do not see precisely eye to eye with Obama on this topic. That being said, it does seem that he’s given it quite a bit of thought, and his ideas about how faith fits into the political discourse seems to be about the best a person like me could reasonably and realistically hope for in a candidate. I might prefer a candidate for President of the U.S. would have a view of faith more like my own, more like the views of Richard Dawkins, but this is simply not realistic. Failing that, Obama’s views on faith seem, while, as he has expressed them in that video, somewhat distasteful to me, they are at least pragmatic, and it seems like he recognizes faith can be a dangerous thing and needs to be contained in a box, walled off from the government’s process of making real world decisions which affect the citizenry — as the citizenry cannot be assumed to share the same faith.

Edit: The words “contained in a box, walled off from the goverrnment’s process…”, etc. are my words, not Obama’s, and he probably would not find that to be an accurate characterization of his views. Watch the video — and watch the whole video — because he takes some time going over a lot of different aspects of the relationship between people, faith, and the government, and expresses his views better than I can, and better than I’m able to express even my own views.

Edit: Nov 3, 2008: Linus Torvalds has endorsed Obama, and linked to (a youtube version of) the same video which I linked to above. He seems glad that Obama can “see the other side” when it comes to religion, and I suppose he might not like what I write, because clearly, I cannot “see the other side.” Well, I can see the other side is completely batshit insane, but I don’t think that’d count in his book. Oh well. Sometimes when you’ve looked at something long enough, you know when you’re looking at bullshit, and there’s no option but to call it bullshit.

~ by scaryreasoner on October 25, 2008.

25 Responses to “Obama and faith.”

  1. I am almost sure that the two of us do not see eye to eye and I sure do not see eye to eye with Obama. However, you cannot possibly keep faith in a box. There is no way any of us can be objective in anything we do. No matter if the president is Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, or Hindu, they will always carry their own bias and opinions and no one will ever agree with anything that the government does. Just a thought.

  2. You cannot have watched the video because the time which has elapsed between when I posted this and when you posted your comment is less than the duration of the video.

    You conflate two things — objectivity, and keeping faith in a box. One big difference between me and most people in the U.S. is that I think that faith is not a virtue, but rather the opposite of a virtue. If I grant you, for the sake of argument that even I cannot keep my “faith” in a box — cannot be objective (how you equate these two things I cannot fathom) — at least I recognize faith for what it is and try to keep it in a box instead of trying to nurture and spread faith.

  3. Hello scary reasoner thank you for including the video where Obama speaks more candidly about his faith in your post. I included in a post that I recently put up on my blog “The one vote that matters”, you are welcomed to check out the post, you will find that my ideas are vastly different from yours, however I encourage you to give your perspective because that is what democracy is about.
    Thanks again
    Deneen

  4. I do not need to watch a video by Barack Obama to know that faith can not be kept in a box, because that is by its nature inconceivable.

  5. To me, faith is idiocy. Without exception.

  6. And why is that?

  7. Because exercising faith is deliberately attempting to be more certain than one would be without faith. Exercising faith is the attempt to deliberately be incorrectly certain.

    Choosing deliberately to be incorrect is idiotic.

  8. We exercise faith in everything we do. I exercise faith that the chair I sit in is not going to give out on me and I break my tailbone. Is it idiotic then to sit down on a chair without fully inspecting it? Is it idiotic then to have faith that the pilot who is flying your plane is not drunk and actually knows what he is doing? Isn’t that placing faith in a whole lot of things? I have faith that the air I breathe has enough oxygen in it and few pollutants. I have faith that the food I buy is safe for consumption. By definition, everything we do is by faith and therefore idiotic. Even if we did inspect absolutely everything we do, we have faith that our inspection is thorough enough, that we have examined every possible “failure” that could happen, that we could even list every failure. By your definition, we are all idiots all of the time.

  9. Ah, the usual bog-standard equivocation of the proponents of faith, right on schedule, so bog standard it even includes that idiotic chestnut that it supposedly requires faith to sit on a chair.

    I don’t think you bothered to comprehend my definition of faith, which I arrived at by watching how people who are proponents of faith actually use the word.

    Here is the definition of faith I as see it practiced and used by those who are proponents of faith:

    To “have faith” is to believe something to a degree of certainty which exceeds what is warranted by the available evidence. And lest you accuse me of moving the goal posts, see: https://scaryreasoner.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/on-the-notion-of-faith/
    which I wrote long before you showed up.

    In your example, when you sit down on a chair, you do not believe that it will not collapse to a degree of certainty which exceeds what it warranted by the available evidence. You see a chair with no obvious defects, you sit down on it, as you’ve done thousands of times before. You believe that it won’t collapse to a degree of certainty which is only commensurate with the available evidence.

    If the chair makes creaking noises as you sit down, you might take a harder look at it, and if you find it wanting, you might switch to another chair.

    None of that involves any faith. To claim that it does is try to wriggle out of what faith really means and make it seem like nothing at all different from ordinary thinking. Such wriggling is flat out dishonest.

    An example of faith would be claiming that you can sit on an invisible, untouchable chair which cannot be sensed by material means, and then, when you attempt the feat and fail on your ass, conclude that, “ah, I guess I didn’t have enough faith in the magic invisible chair.”

    If faith means what you say it means in your chair example, then faith is nothing at all different from ordinary everyday materialist thinking, and the word can be done away with entirely. In your defense of faith, you have thrown the meaning of the word away completely.

    Either stand and defend faith, or discard it for the worthless piece if idiocy that it is. One or the other.

  10. According to Webster faith is: confidence or trust in a person or thing. It can also mean believing in something without proof. I don’t understand why it is idiocy to believe in something and then to live it out. Sure I cannot prove without a doubt that God exists. And many juries cannot prove without a doubt that person A committed crime B. Faith is very much something that ALL of us use and trying to act like it isn’t is ridiculous. Somehow, my faith in God, becomes worthless and dishonest, somehow, simply because my faith is in God. I am sorry, but that is completely biased, irrational, and prejudiced.

    I will, and have been, standing and defending my faith. I have enough evidence to convince me that the gospel account is true. That God loves us, even though we are bratty little sinners who would rather live for ourselves than for his purpose. I also happen to believe that Christ was sent to us and died and that if we die to ourselves and follow him we will have eternal life and the blessings that God originally intended for us to have from him. I could share with you why I believe that, but you have already made up your mind against God and have placed your faith in that way of thinking.

  11. You give two definitions of faith, and when you want to defend faith, you fall back to the meaning which is easy to defend: “confidence or trust in a person or thing,” and do not try to defend the other one, “believing in something without proof.” Doing that is called equivocation, and it is dishonest.

    Now Webster’s is a fine dictionary, but I’ve been looking at faith for a very long time, and have arrived at my own definition which I’ve tried to make as precise and accurate as I can, according to my observations of the use of the word as used by proponents of faith, not when they are attempting to defend faith, but when they are among fellow believers.

    And that definition, as I linked to in the second link, in the second sentence of the opening post to which you’ve been responding is “believing in something to a degree of certainty which exceeds what is warranted by the available evidence.” Now Webster’s is written by people, and odds are, by a committee of people, and their definition of faith likely has to satisfy theists, and no theist who subscribes to the notion of faith as a virtue would acquiesce to a definition which paints the bald truth of what idiocy faith really is as my definition does.

    I strive not to use faith, I recognize it as a failing, not a virtue. You have not shown that I use faith, and all your examples of faith are equivocations.

    If you have enough evidence to convince you that God exists, fine then that is not faith. But you haven’t got this evidence. If you have, present it. You cannot, because you do not have it. I am fairly sure, having had many, many such discussions with theists that the “evidence” which you imagine you have is just as compatible, probably more compatible with the circumstance in which there is no God. If that is the case means it fails as evidence.

    Look at the insane claims you are making:

    1) There is such a thing as sin.

    2) The creator of the universe came to earth in human form, “Jesus”, 2000-some years ago.

    3) This “Jesus” died for our “sins”.

    4) Jesus resurrected himself from death.

    5) There is life after death.

    6) If you believe this crazy story, and behave according to certain other rules, after you’re dead, you go to heaven. Oh, and if you don’t behave according to the rules, as long as you believe and sincerely ask for forgiveness, you also get into heaven. Mind you, this is after you’re dead.

    7) If you don’t believe the crazy story, you don’t get into heaven after you’re dead.) (maybe you think after you’re dead, you go to a place of eternal punishment, as Jesus supposedly says at the end of Matthew, ch. 25.)

    You say you have evidence sufficient to believe this? You do not.

    You say you believe it on faith?

    Well then you’re an idiot.

    You say I’ve made up my mind? Of course I have made up my mind. The proposition Christianity makes if completely fucking retarded. You have to be retard to believe it, or have been brainwashed into it as a child.

    Why to you think the threat of hell after you’re dead is in there, and the promise of reward, after you’re dead is in there? Why the coercion? Because there’s no evidence for the claims, and the only way to get people to believe this crap is to threaten little kids into believing it.

  12. http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/thoughts.html may also be of interest.

  13. Well, I was not raised a Christian. I became a Christian my freshman year of college. Of course I do not have convincing evidence for Christianity. My evidence cannot prove it. However, it is compelling. If there is a God who is all knowing and we are limited in our knowledge it would only make sense that there are going to be things that don’t make sense to us and to accept these obstacles and still make that leap of faith in trusting in God, is not idiotic or retarded. You also don’t know as much about Christianity as you say. You can’t believe and sincerely ask for forgiveness and still be saved if you don’t repent, because, really, how sincere is that? Christianity isn’t a cop-out belief system or anything like that. Christ says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. It shows just how much one must sacrifice for Christ.

    As far as faith goes, you do have it. You parade around the idea that atheism is true, though you can’t prove it. You live your life as if it is true, though you can’t prove it. And what about your morals? Do you believe things like murder and lying and stealing are not right? What gives you the right to make that choice? Can you prove that they are wrong, can you prove that they are right? You take a lot more on faith than you care to admit.

    I think your name fits you well. Your reasoning is scary. Its scary to think that there are people out there who think that only retards or scared little brainwashed children are the only ones who can believe in a loving God. I don’t know your story, I don’t know what has happened in your life, but you don’t sound loving or compassionate at all. The way you throw around offensive terms like “retard” make it seem like you can’t even feel the emotion of compassion or love or joy.

    There is a grand world and life out there. As a Christian you should enjoy it because it is a gift from the Father. As an atheist you should enjoy it because once you’re dead, you will never have the opportunity to enjoy it again.

  14. P.S. I read most of the article. It was interesting, kind of like Dr. Seuss, with made up words like “meme”

  15. I don’t have faith that atheism is true. I think it is the most likely true answer, given the alternatives on offer. My certainty that say, deism, is false is less than my certainty that say Christianity, Scientology, or Hinduism is false.

    To say I live my life as if atheism were true is not to say that I have faith that atheism is true. Acting on incomplete information is not the same thing as having faith. I have insurance on my house which would pay it off in case it burns down. Does that mean I have faith that it will burn down? No, In fact I think it probably will not burn down. Yet I still pay my insurance premiums. It only that means I do not have faith that my house won’t ever burn down under any circumstances. Do you see the difference?

    Bertrand Russell famously wrote about a teapot which may or may not be orbiting Saturn. Do you think there’s a teapot orbiting Saturn? Of course not. Can you prove there isn’t one? No. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Christianity makes extraordinary claims, and provides no evidence whatsoever, and attempts to claim that you should believe on faith — that is, for no reason. That is insane.

    If I throw around offensive terms like retard it is only because after years and years of arguing with Christians they have finally convinced me, — they have thoroughly convinced me — that they are idiots. In 2000 years, the very best arguments in existence for Christianity do not just fail to be good arguments, they are absolutely terrible and every last one fails completely and instantly.

    As for where I get my morals? I get them from precisely the same place you do. Here’s a question for you: What makes an act good? Is what is good only good because your god has decreed by fiat that it is good? If so then what is good can change at God’s whim. (and lest you think I judge God, you have already judged him a well, and found him to be good. I have only arrived at a different verdict with regards to that fictional character.) If what is good is good for reasons other than a god’s fiat, then goodness is something which exists independently of any gods. Where do I get my morals? From the same place we all do — millions of years of evolution have produced what we call culture, and part of culture is morality. Some aspects of morality are deeper even than culture, and exist as instincts. Even many animals demonstrate altruism and seem to have a sense of fairness for example. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050212191635.htm for instance.

    Now, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose morality were solely the invention of religion, and that as an atheist, I could have no morality, and further suppose you found this objectionable. In what way would this be evidence that atheism were false? You are making an argument of the form: If X is true then Y happens. I don’t like Y. Therefore I think X is not true. This is an example of a logical fallacy known as “appeal to consequences” and it is a favorite fallacy of theists the world over. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_consequences

    You are essentially saying, “If atheism is true then morality is baseless. I don’t like the absence of morality. Therefore I think atheism is not true.” Let’s try that with some other examples. “If it’s raining, then I will get wet. I don’t like getting wet. Therefore I can’t believe that it’s raining.” Fail.

    As for made up words like “meme”… where do you think words come from? You do realize that at the time your favorite dude Jesus was supposedly living, English did not even exist, and that means every word you’ve typed so far in this exchange was “made up” at some point. Besides, everyone knows that “meme” is a perfectly cromulent word. Apart from those criticisms though, your rebuttal of the article was of course devastating.

  16. I wasn’t necessarily trying to rebut the article. I just like Dr. Seuss and Dawkins reminds me a lot of him, writing a bunch or rubbish for children (Just kidding….I sense you don’t joke a lot).

    I am not saying, “if atheism is true then morality is baseless. I don’t like the absence of morality, therefore I think atheism is not true.” Just because I don’t like something, doesn’t make it not true. Just like you not liking Christianity (though the whole idea of it is something quite beautiful, true or not) doesn’t make it untrue. However, if atheism really is true, why even attempt to be moral? Why not do what you want? Stop giving in to culture. Rise above the limitations that our cultures have evolved into us. If we just dropped this whole “moral masquerade” we would really have evolutionary success. Think about it.

    Oh and I do not get my morals from our culture if that is what you are implying. Our culture is a free for all. Look at it. We live for the material, we fight to get ahead, we are selfish brutes. I live by a higher standard. I do what is right in my heart (as best I can). Whether atheists like to admit it or not, this country is not Christian, it pretends to be, but you can’t really deny that it does not come anywhere close to living up to the standard that God has set forth.

    And as far as evidence for the gospel being true, the evidence fails to you because you have prejudiced yourself against God. I know what you are going to say next, that I have done the same with Darwin, but you know that’s just not true. I was indoctrinated with Darwin, but it never made sense. I never questioned it though because my culture dictated it to me as truth, though it was highly unsubstantiated. The more I asked questions, the more it fell apart. Not so with Christianity.

    I can admit, though, that over the last two years or so, I have really developed a prejudice against Darwin. I hope that I would be able to look at the evidence objectively though. And I hope that you are able to admit that you are prejudice against Christianity and I hope that you would look at the evidence more objectively as well.

  17. Of course you weren’t trying to rebut the article — if you sense I don’t joke a lot, you missed several jokes in my last comment, or maybe you’re making a comment as to the quality of those jokes.

    As for “culture” I meant the word in the anthropological sense — not specifically our culture but culture in general — that is, civilization. However, even our culture today includes, guess what, Christianity. Christianity and all the religions are part of culture. You absolutely do get your morality from culture. Had you been raised in Saudi Arabia by Muslim parents, there is little doubt that you would have a different sense of morality at least in regards to some things, and that this difference would be due to culture.

    Oh, great, you’re an evolution denier. I bet you don’t even know what evolution is.

    Of course I’m prejudiced against Christianity. It is very obviously idiotic. You haven’t made any arguments yet at all for the truth of claims Christianity makes. Why? because there do not exist any good arguments for those claims. Basically, you’re simply asserting that it’s true, and saying I’m prejudiced against it for not bending over backwards not to offend you by failing to call a spade a spade, and failing to call the obviously idiotic claims of Christianity idiotic. Asserting your disbelief of evolution does not make your case stronger, it makes you look (even more) like an ignorant idiot than you already look to be.

  18. As for this: “if atheism really is true, why even attempt to be moral? Why not do what you want?”

    How do you know that what I want doesn’t just happen do coincide with what is, for the most part, deemed moral?

    In fact it does, and this is no surprise because the same is true for the vast majority of people, and the reason it is no surprise is that morality is defined by people, so of course they are going to define it in such a way that, for the most part, leads to a peaceful coexistence with others.

    BTW, if you suddenly found yourself unable to believe in Christianity, would you suddenly think to yourself, “Hey, now I can go on that killing and raping spree I’ve always wanted to go on, but which my religion prevented?”

    I seriously doubt it. People are not nearly as bad as Christianity makes them out to be, (esp. Calvinists) though they do seem to be for the most part as stupid as it makes them out to be.

  19. Oh great, someone who holds onto evolution so dearly, even though there is not solid evidence in favor of it. I bet that YOU don’t even know what evolution is. It’s a theory that originated by comparing different species (either alive or fossilized) and asserting that their similarities (genetic or physical) proved ancestral relationships. It holds about as much water as me claiming that a fork and a spoon each evolved from a similar ancient concept, say a chopstick. Just like Christianity, it is something that cannot be proven, but if you want to place your faith in it, go ahead.

    I’m not trying to argue for the truth of Christianity, because you admitted you’re prejudice against it, and I knew that whether you admitted or not. No matter what evidence I provide it would never be enough for you. Even if Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh and blood before you this very instant, you would doubt him. You will always have an excuse for anything anyone shows you, no matter how logical it is.

    No one is asking you to bend over backwards to not offend me. I’m not offended by any of the disillusioned things that you say anyway. For me, taking that leap of faith in believing in Christ is logical. Looking around it is hard for me to say that there isn’t a higher creator being. Investigating human nature across cultures across times, I tend to agree with the Biblical view of the human nature. Logically coming to the conclusion of absolute truth/morality, I am able to quickly determine that Christ is either the ONLY way or NOT a way at all. Taking the evidence for and against the OT and NT, along with simple logic, I find it highly likely that the accounts are true. Could they be false? Of course they could be, but I find it highly unlikely.

  20. Peaceful coexistence? I don’t know what planet you are living on. I would hardly look at the world at any point in history and say that it is in a peaceful coexistence.

  21. Not even for the most part.

  22. Right… you’re continually at war with your neighbors, right? I mean, just last week your neighbor killed your cousin, right?

    Moron.

    You’re so enveloped in peace that the slightest bit of war makes you think there’s no peace.

    At a tribal level, there’s practically nothing but peace, esp. in the U.S.

    Well, not surprising that a member of a death cult like Christianity would see the world so darkly.

  23. As for evolution, if you deny it, you’re just plain igonrant: The evidence for evolution is completely overwhelming. Here is a tiny fraction of the evidence:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

  24. As for my prejudice against Christianity, it is no more than your prejudice against, say, Scientology.

    Everyone should be prejudiced against completely obvious fucking idiocy.

    You HAVE no non-retarded arguments for Christianity because ZERO non-retarded arguments for Christianity exist. ZERO. If you believe Christianity it means you have either accepted a retarded argument, or you have believed it for no reason at all. Either way, you’re being retarded. Period.

    Present one non-retarded argument for Christianity. I dare you.

  25. You still have not explained why faith — believing something to an excessive degree of certainty is a good idea, and not totally fucking retarded.

    Why is believing something to an excessive degree of certainty a good idea? Defend faith or abandon the concept, or admit you are a dishonest retard. Those are your choices. Claiming faith is logical does not compute. You make it more and more clear with each post that you aren’t able to think very clearly about these things.

    Who is to say that if there is a God, he has not planted religion on the world in order to weed out those who are easily led, and prefers the skeptical to those who believe. Who is to say that religion is not a test, and that those who adhere to the religions of the world are those who failt the test. You think your god would not deceive you?

    2nd Thessalonians 2:11: “For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.”

    If your god can lie to one set of people, he can lie to any set of people. Your god is an admitted liar. Why do you believe the (alleged) word of an admitted liar?

    You think that’s far fetched? More far fetched than the story of a god who comes to the earth in human form by impregnating a virgin and emerging from her vagina nine months later, has himself nailed to a cross to repent for the sins of those who believe this ridiculous story and who “repent.” The argument that something is “too far fetched,” coming from the likes of you, Mr. “I’m in love with the most far-fetched story in the universe.” is laughable.

    Far more plausible would be a god who does not value faith. Faith is obviously worthless. Faith is, plain and simple, idiocy. Why would a deity value faith. Your religion makes no sense, and is blatantly retarded. Your religion embraces retardedness, and celebrates it, and tries to induce retardedness in its members. Apparently successfully, in your case, I might add.

    The claims your religion makes are so laughable, so far fetched, they do not deserve serious consideration. I do not need to have studied all the writings on invisible textiles to know the emperor has no clothes. Christianity is a fraud, plain and simple.

    It is up to you, who make the ridiculous, extravagant claims of Christianity, to show that they are true. To whine that “oh, you’re prejudiced against Christianity, so I won’t make any arguments for it” is a total cop-out. You have zero non-retarded arguments for your position and you know it, because no such non-retarded arguments exist and you know it.

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