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Switch to Forum Live View Analytic thinking threatens beliefs
3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 2:08PM #31
TemplarS
Posts: 6,924

This is one of these either-or propositions to which the proper answer is "both."  Analytical thinking can of course impact what one believes.  But there is much more to belief than that.


There is a place for analytical thinking; and if one allows for such thinking one must allow for the logical changes it may require to one's beliefs. But, at least part of the religious experience is subjective.  Now, what is objective can be subjected to analytical reasoning; what is subjective cannot.


I think on the constant bickering (in the west) about the nature of the Eucharist, about transubstantiation or consubstantiation or trans-signification, which is exactly symptomatic of trying to think and explain rationally something which is experiential and thus subjective.  To my mind, those who engage in such are asking the wrong question.  It is not "How exactly is Jesus present in the Eucharist?" but "If Jesus is present in the Eucharist, what does that mean to me?" 


Another point can be made about the analysis of "divine" events which occured in history.  One can analyze the historical event, but not the divine meaning.   As an act which occurred at a point in history to a real woman living in a real town called Nazareth, the virginal conception of Jesus is in principle as fit a subject for historical analysis as any other historical event (the main problem is the lack of data, not the method itself).  But one cannot analyze the incarnation in the same way.  As one modern Christian scholar puts it: "I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history. But I believe God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus."


Therefore, if one decides that things such as the precise nature of the Eucharist, or the historicity of everything in the Bible, are key to one's faith, then I suppose analytical thinking might be a threat to that faith.  Which is why various Evangelicals are so adamant about insisting on a six-day creation in 4000 BC.


But there is more to faith  than that.


 


 

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 6:43PM #32
Buggsy
Posts: 4,731

Apr 30, 2012 -- 2:08PM, TemplarS wrote:


This is one of these either-or propositions to which the proper answer is "both."  Analytical thinking can of course impact what one believes.  But there is much more to belief than that.



The sense of wonder and connection to it all.  You just can't analyse that

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 10:35PM #33
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,750

Apr 30, 2012 -- 2:08PM, TemplarS wrote:


This is one of these either-or propositions to which the proper answer is "both."  Analytical thinking can of course impact what one believes.  But there is much more to belief than that.


There is a place for analytical thinking; and if one allows for such thinking one must allow for the logical changes it may require to one's beliefs. But, at least part of the religious experience is subjective.  Now, what is objective can be subjected to analytical reasoning; what is subjective cannot.


I think on the constant bickering (in the west) about the nature of the Eucharist, about transubstantiation or consubstantiation or trans-signification, which is exactly symptomatic of trying to think and explain rationally something which is experiential and thus subjective.  To my mind, those who engage in such are asking the wrong question.  It is not "How exactly is Jesus present in the Eucharist?" but "If Jesus is present in the Eucharist, what does that mean to me?" 


Another point can be made about the analysis of "divine" events which occured in history.  One can analyze the historical event, but not the divine meaning.   As an act which occurred at a point in history to a real woman living in a real town called Nazareth, the virginal conception of Jesus is in principle as fit a subject for historical analysis as any other historical event (the main problem is the lack of data, not the method itself).  But one cannot analyze the incarnation in the same way.  As one modern Christian scholar puts it: "I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history. But I believe God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus."


Therefore, if one decides that things such as the precise nature of the Eucharist, or the historicity of everything in the Bible, are key to one's faith, then I suppose analytical thinking might be a threat to that faith.  Which is why various Evangelicals are so adamant about insisting on a six-day creation in 4000 BC.


But there is more to faith  than that.




I agree that both intuitive thinking and analytical thinking are important, and one is more important than the other, depending on the situation. 


I think the examples you discuss show that when certain religious claims are scrutinized analytically, people come up with the conclusion that they don't believe the claims. They may view the claims as myths with an important underlying meaning, fine, but that's different than a belief in the claim.


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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 8:09AM #34
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,750

Here is one example of what can happen when a person analyzes their religious beliefs.



MacBain, 44, was raised a conservative Southern Baptist. Her dad was a pastor and she felt the call of God when she was 6. She had questions, of course, about conflicts in the Bible, for example, or the role of women. She says she sometimes felt she was serving a taskmaster of a God, whose standards she never quite met.


For years, MacBain set her concerns aside. But when she became a United Methodist pastor nine years ago, she started asking sharper questions. She thought they'd make her faith stronger.


"In reality," she says, "as I worked through them, I found that religion had so many holes in it, that I just progressed through stages where I couldn't believe it."


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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 9:03AM #35
TemplarS
Posts: 6,924

Apr 30, 2012 -- 10:35PM, newsjunkie wrote:


I think the examples you discuss show that when certain religious claims are scrutinized analytically, people come up with the conclusion that they don't believe the claims. They may view the claims as myths with an important underlying meaning, fine, but that's different than a belief in the claim.




That is certainly true; but you really need to decide what is the significant point: the story or the meaning.  The point is, the story may in fact be historically true; or it may not be; often (in my view), it makes no difference- in terms of the moral of the story it makes no difference whether Job was a real man or not.  But the key is how much significance you assign to the historical factuality of the claim.


Properly taken, again, it is a balance.


If you go in stating that your faith hinges entirely on everything in the Bible (or other traditions) being absolutely accurate, your faith will be able to stand very little analytical reasoning- so most people in this category refuse to engage in this activity, or if they do they invent new myths (creationism) to back up the old myths.


On the other hand, surely there must be some factual basis supporting your beliefs, even if you do not insist on everything being literally true.  If your analysis leads you to believe that Jesus never existed at all, or that the resurrection was a hoax perpetrated by the apostles,  or if your studies into cosmology or biology lead you to think that God cannot exist at all- then, you will be left with no basis whatsoever for Christian belief.  But this is an extreme position in the sense that there is really little evidence to support such claims- in truth, if you believe these claims it is as much a matter of faith as the opposite.

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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 9:50AM #36
SeraphimR
Posts: 10,103

Apr 29, 2012 -- 4:46PM, newsjunkie wrote:


Apr 29, 2012 -- 4:19PM, SeraphimR wrote:


Apr 29, 2012 -- 3:31PM, newsjunkie wrote:

The research seemed to be asking the question, what effect does analytical thinking have on religious belief, rather than, is religious belief due to intuitive thinking. 


Then the researcher shouldn't have written:


" "Recently there's been an emerging consensus among [researchers] … that a lot of religious beliefs are grounded in intuitive processes,"


But what you've written here is very interesting. You're saying "it's obvious" that religious beliefs are based on intuitive thinking (feelings). Does analytical thinking, then, have any positive role in religious belief, or is it simply problematic, in your view? 


Just wanted to add that I think intuitive thinking is appropriate in certain settings or situations, just as analytical thinking is appropriate in certain settings or situations.




Intuitive thinking is not feelings.  It is getting from point A to point B without plodding the ground in between.  It is a way of knowing without reasoning.  Look up the biography of the mathematician Ramanujan.  He was a prodigy of intuition, most mathematicians have to develop their intuition.  It is kind of like how an infant must learn to see or learn language.  After a while they just pick up the knack.


I personally don't have much use for analytical thinking, but that might be just an Orthodox thing.  I understand that Catholics are much more attuned to reasoning; there will never be an Orthodox St. Thomas Aquinas.  I do have an admiration for the best of Catholic thinkers, both progressive and conservative, and whether I agree with them or not.  But such thinking is not very relevant to my faith journey.


Other Catholics seem to be more attuned to emotional reasoning.  My position is that emotional reasoning is different from intuition.  We Orthodox are also warned against emotional reasoning, against the use of imagination such as rehearsing the crucifixion in the mind.


There is an article floating around on the net about Orthodox Epistomolgy which asserts that faith is a way of knowing not blind belief in the unknowable as described by vulgar materialists.  I could try to find it and post a link if anyone here is interested.




Thank you for your detailed reply. I would like to make some responses, mostly based on intuitive thinking because I'm heading out the door in a few minutes!


I appreciate your thoughts on what intuitive thinking is. Yes, it is more than a feeling; as I see it, it is often based on one's past experiences as well. I'm not sure what the difference is between "emotional reasoning" and intuitive thinking, however. Is emotional reasoning something like, "if it makes me feel good emotionally it must be good or right"? If so, wouldn't analytical thinking be better? Not sure I understand how imagination is involved. Anyway, maybe there's a website you could refer me to that explains it.


Your last paragraph is very interesting. Many religions say there is a mystical way of knowing.It is certainly not analytical; I think it is intuitive, don't you? It sounds like that's what you're referring to in that paragraph. I happened to read your tagline recently, and I'm sure I can't recall it exactly, but it gave me the impression that you think "The kingdom is within you" is a very dangerous phrase. Yet isn't that at the heart of Christian mysticism, trying to get in touch with the kingdom within? 


So I wonder how you feel about mysticism and intuition and orthodoxy (not in the sense of EO, but in the sense of "right beliefs"). That is something I hope others would comment on as well. What is the relationship between intuition and mysticism? How does one assess which are "right beliefs" is it by intuitive thinking, analytical thinking, or simple obedience without questioning, or something else?


I also wonder what people think about intuitive thinking and our conscience. Is hearing the voice of our conscience intuitive thinking? Surely our conscience comes into play when we think analytically about a moral question. I guess I'm asking to hear what people think intuition is.




You ask a lot of very interesting questions.


With regard to mysticism and dogma.  Dogma is an epitome of religious experience which serves as a guide to our own prayers and meditations.  Vladimir Lossky, in his book Mystical Theology writes that the Orthodox Church doesn't make a fine distinction between theology and mysticism.


Just as you have to learn to think analytically, you have to learn how to think intuitively.


As far as the Kingdom of God being within you, I'll give you a quote from Chesterton.


Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.




People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 11:11AM #37
Buggsy
Posts: 4,731

I think when Jesus said ' the kingdom of God is within you' he was referring to his disciples - within YOU people - the people he was talking to.  He didn't say the kingdom of God is within everybody - being some amorphous blob of homo sapiens, past, present and future - but within those who accepted him.  And that was the people he was speaking to.


Some translations say 'among you' rather than 'within you'.


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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 11:19AM #38
SeraphimR
Posts: 10,103

May 1, 2012 -- 11:11AM, Buggsy wrote:


I think when Jesus said ' the kingdom of God is within you' he was referring to his disciples - within YOU people - the people he was talking to.  He didn't say the kingdom of God is within everybody - being some nebulous blob of human sapiens, past, present and future - but within those who accepted him.  And that was the people he was speaking to.




I remember hearing it suggested that "within you" was a poor translation and that "among you" is better.

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 11:23AM #39
Buggsy
Posts: 4,731

I remember watching Shirley MacLaine's movie 'Out on a Limb' where she stands on the beach, arms outstretched saying 'I Am God . . .  I Am God'


After seeing that I thought what a load of shyte the new age movement is/was- taking a page right out of Genesis' original temptation to be 'like God' and packaging it up for the gullible and the naive.


Here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccb2GsnOoBM

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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 12:51PM #40
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,750

some fascinating stuff in the last several posts- very interesting.  I'm super busy today, but hope to catch up with you tonight. 

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