Sunday, October 22, 2006

"When Not Seeing Is Believing"

Ok, so I was reading this article in the Time Magazine from October 9 titled “When Not Seeing is Believing” and it just screamed TOK! to me. I thought this article presented such an accurate interpretation on the power of fundamentalist thought and its effects. The article began by noting the smile of certainty present on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadienjad’s face during his visit to the U.N. This smile reflected his trust in the arms of God and the power of his faith. The need to submit to the beneficent, omnipotent will of God has been present throughout all religions throughout time. The article stresses the point that the resurgence of religious certainty has deepened our cultural divisions and caused more polarized political discoures.
I found it really interesting when the article mentioned the impossibility of proclaiming truth with a capital T when it comes to faith. There is always a sense of uncertainty that humans will never grasp. At the heart of religion is humanness marked by imperfection and uncertainty that was even seen in Jesus.
So, as humans strive towards an absolute truth, it is real doubt that teaches people to believe. Faith does not come from sense perception. So I don’t think it can be close to absolute
This is why I see certainty of faith as a paradox. Faith incorporates doubt, so religion cannot be used as a certainty in any kind of political decision. Political divisions then arise so strongly.
What does everyone think about this? It’s a really good article that gives a much better account of what I just said, so you should really read it.


ELanciotti said...

I do agree faith is hard to come by. It is absolute trust in something that others may or may not see. One thing I would argue though is that it can be sense perception because I know from personal experience that I do see my faith reassured through the world around me. But of course that is my experience and has nothing to do with absolute truth. I can see though how faith, though not absolute truth, can be used to influence political decisions. I may feel personally that some things are very wrong because of the influence my faith has on me. Certainty of faith IS a paradox, because no matter how sure you are what you believe is right you can never know; but thats what faith is, the absence of evidence and truth in the face of obstacles, and still believing.

I would be interested as well to see what others say; because religious beliefs do often strongly influence political decisions; so how can they be separate? We have been learning about how one's personal bias affects what that person thinks and therefore does and argues, so how do you separate your own bias from politics?

RKadlec said...

Yes, I agree with elanciotti (interesting name, btw). Faith is something not many people come by in life, whether it be religious or otherwise. You could have faith the sun will rise tomorrow or have faith in God. Through sense perception and knowledge (properly justified true beliefs), I'm sure many people think the "signs" that their religion gives them are true and actual proof that a God exists. Through sense perception, people use what the world gives us to our advantage, creating our own beliefs and proofs.

lasanya said...

Yes, but one must recognize a distinct difference between faith we have in the sun rising every morning and faith we have in religion, God, etc. Otherwise we could justify our knowledge by saying we have faith in everything and call it good. When sense perception is used as a way of knowing for religion/faith, you must also take into account that your experiences and personal biases influence the way your perceive things. Wow, that's just like our first essay prompt.
So, I think it is so important to separate faith and religon from politics not only because we have clearly established and acknowledged a separation from church and state, but also because faith is so subjective and so personal that it can hardly be used as a justification for political, legal decisions that should be made as objectively as possible (since they do affect the entire nation and world)If the whole world agreed on one faith/religion, there wouldn't be such a need for a separation of church and state. And since we don't agree, we need to ground politics in things that are a lot more universal.

Hobbs said...

First off, I'd like to make it clear that you're my hero for posting this Anya because it BLEW MY MIND. Like DaVinci code version 2.0. That being said, I think that the article (and my interpretation I suppose) discussed an important potential knowledge issue that results from fanatical religion. Under a fanatical religious system, justifications that are usually useless in most Areas of Knowledge (such as revelation) can be applied universally. Thus, it's possible to make just about any knowledge claim. This can clearly have DISASTROUS consequences. However, the article brought up the example of President Bush, who, by most, is not considered a religious fanatical at all. Even HE admits that he takes comfort in knowing that he has the righteous hammer of god backing him up (yeah... anytime you wanna bust that hammer out we could use it). The presence of poorly applied justifications is particularly dangerous in a political realm. If a government (such as the US) elects a religious leader (which it has), their leader is no longer accountable to the people, but rather to some form of god or deity. In the most extreme circumstance, this could lead to a breakdown in the democracy of a representative government. In the best scenario, you have vital decisions of foreign policy and national security undermined by a false sense of security provided by a religious ideal. Either way, the political process, and the very survival of a nation is undermined by religion melding with politics. This is why religion and politics should not mix. Not as much to preserve religious tolerance, but to preserve the interests of the nation. This is not only a nightmare for the people occupying the nation, but the world as a whole. In fact, it’s almost more dangerous for those residing outside the nation. If someone’s existence and knowledge base is justified solely by revelation, all of their knowledge claims are infallible. After all, it’s pretty hard to argue with god and come out on top. This means that diplomacy breaks down and conflict is almost inevitable. Political relations and policies MUST be debatable, if they’re not then the only way to resolve a conflict between two nations at odds is through violence. Especially in a day and age where the nuclear club is growing at a rate faster than your neighborhood pool’s membership, learning to avoid conflict without bloodshed will soon become even more vital than in past decades. This means (as is shown with us through ToK) you’d best check your Bibles, Korans, and Torahs at the front desk of the Whitehouse if you want to develop a responsible foreign policy.

Anneke said...

This article explained so many different aspects of religion that are so important today.
The most interesting I thought was his final point that in order to truely beleive in God that a person must question their religion so they don't pretend to be on the same level as God. This was facinating because so much of what is seen today is the exclusive interpretation of religion. In TOK it shows that nothing can be known if it is not proven to hold up to alternate theories. This ties it in with the class in general.
His point on faith and actions was also greatly important for modern day politics. Anyone can say they are a person of faith but if someone truely is, then they should show it through their actions as much as they can.
Awesome article Anya!