Jimmy Strobl

This conversation is closed.

What makes YOUR belief the correct one?

Who/what is god, and why is the evidence that you can give more reliable then other's?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95VTh4FA_gE

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    Jun 28 2011: My belief is correct because I have no beliefs. My opinions are fickle and go wherever the evidence leads.
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      Jun 29 2011: A person who actually puts the conclusion at the end? Thumbs up, Simon! :)
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    Jun 29 2011: On beliefs.....................When I say I believe something, I am saying that that something is my truth and not anyone else's. I believe something that appears "reasonable " to me. I trust my judgement insofar if my belief is compassionate for me as well as my fellow man and does not conflict with "known" scientific theories. I do not fear that this will ever happen. I like this quotation from the Book of Micah........."Do the right, act justly and walk humbly with "YOUR GOD"". Amen
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    Jun 28 2011: My beliefs are correct insofar they correspond to reality.

    Obviously, I think that what I hold to be (most likely to be) true is actually more true than what other people think/say about it.
    I do accept new information to revise my beliefs though.

    nice clip Jimmy!
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      Jun 28 2011: Thanks Christophe, I got it from Ray Anon, it was part of a post of his and I just felt that I had to start a conversation about it.
    • Jun 28 2011: In a recent novella I allege that the physical world lies and lies and lies and scientists are naive enough to believe in the lies. Therefore they will be perpetually confused. Consider what happens if all so-called "constants" are really non-linear terms giving only "approximately" correct values. What this means is: what happens if units of mass, length and time evolve and are not constant? Constants are useful to "run the numbers"; without them physics is impossible, but Mother Nature did not design the universe for the convenience of mathematicians.

      I prefer a system of wisdom where the physical world is viewed with skepticism and that intuition, the ability to "know" without knowing how or why, is a separate yet equal way to view reality. I have had great success using the methodology of Intuitive Iteration (discussed elsewhare---from my experience the "facts" and logic always change and my intuition is validated) to develop paradigm shifts (several are in the review process). Logic and intuition (not emotion) are equally valid ways to view reality.
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        Jun 28 2011: You seem to suggest that if the physical constants of the universe were not constant then this would cause some catastrophic faliure for science. It would not. All of our models of the universe are approximations that are open for revision. If the constants of the current models turned out to vary in ,time or space for example, we could detect this and work it into revised models.

        Also, you say intuition and logic are valid ways to view reality. I would say neither are valid ways to veiw reality. Logic is a tool for interpreting evidence gathered from the world or to accertain appriori concepts like mathematics. Intuition is just the word we use to describe the various quick heuristics that have evolved in our brains to deal with things quickly. There are many demonstrable faliures of our intuition.
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          Jun 28 2011: Simon said it way better then me!
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          Jun 28 2011: Although of little practical importance, I think Richard's idea is a bit fascinating. Science depends on an assumption that inductive knowledge is not an illusion and that the universe behaves in a way that we can understand and codify into physical law.

          If things like physical constants did change in a chaotic or random way it would be catastrophic for science and would make the world almost incomprehensible to us. It would appear to us that the universe was without time translation symmetry. Laws that seem true today would be false tomorrow in a unpredictable way.

          The assumptions about inductive truth, of course, were a sticking point for David Hume, and although I don't think science is suspect, I do think there is some room for skepticism and inquiry into the nature of what and how we know the universe.
        • Jun 29 2011: My intuition tends to be long-term not quick; sometimes it takes years for my intuition to be validated by the facts and logic, but only after iterating hundreds of times when the "facts" and logic change. To go from an original unpublished paper called Plate Dynamics to the published paper "Beyond Plate Tectonics: 'Plate' Dynamics" published on line took me 27 years for my intuition to "cook". To get the entire model published in this world of sound bites (look how quickly this thread became sound bites) was something a world class geologist told me he couldn't do.

          You will read a 1925 New York Times article starting with the headline (I found this on an unconfirmed website so skepticism is justified), "Ether Drift Confirmed: Light Found to Travel at Different Speed in Different Directions!" There is a very real possibility that light does travel at different speeds at different times (From The New Scientist: "The speed of light, one of the most sacrosanct of the universal physical constants, may have been lower as recently as two billion years ago.") How much of modern physics depends on the speed of light being constant?

          If the physical universe is being converted to a spiritual universe then I suggest the following equation to describe this process: The "sum" of all spiritual energy + the sum of all physical energy + the sum of all matter = Nothingness. In other words we are seeing the conversion of physical energy and matter into spiritual energy. How can we be certain a trillion years from now this won't impact on the gravitational constant? This process is no more easy to prove than tapping a feather will always produce acoustic energy capable of being converted into mass according to the equation E=mc^2.
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          Jun 29 2011: Simon,JImmy,Richard

          Here is what Einstein has to say..a man of wisdom as well as a man of genius

          "knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence." ( A NY Times article 1930..Albert Eisnten)
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        Jun 28 2011: Richard...
        Yes, there are theories that the constants aren't constants but variables... this discovery would not mean the end of physics but an improvement of them...
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        Jun 28 2011: @Mark

        Yes if we go right to the epistemological root then we cannot be sure of anything. The only real reason we have for believing that inductive reasoning is valid is that it has always worked in the past.
        You say of little practical importance, I say of 'no' practical importance. :)
        Worth bringing up though.
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        Jun 29 2011: @ Richard (Sorry this is down here but TEDs nesting wont allow it to be better organised.)

        I fear we're wandering off into the land of gibberish here but I'll press on in case i'm being premature.

        Perhaps 'quickly' wasn't the best word for describing intuition. You're right you can have intuition that develops slowly. I would like to replace the sentece :"Intuition is just the word we use to describe the various quick heuristics that have evolved in our brains to deal with things quickly"
        with
        "Intuition is just the word we use to describe the various quick heuristics that have evolved in our brains to deal with things for which there is limited data. Through either limited time, limited data or large complexity."

        I'm not much of a physist so wont try to argue about the constancy of the speed of light. All I will say is that even if it were found to be variable this would not mean a faliure of Science. It would pose futher questions for physics certainly but would be incorporated into Science in time.

        I'm not really even sure what you're talking about in this last part. What exactly do you mean by spiritual universe and spiritual energy? What are their effects and properties and how did the idea of our universe being converted come about?

        With a little algebra on your equation there it seems that Spiritual Energy = -(Physical Energy+Matter).
        if so by spiritual energy do you mean some kind of Anti energy? Possibly related to anti matter?
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    Jun 29 2011: My current belief is just the latest version, hopefully it will change when I learn more.
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      Jun 29 2011: nice Julian..I agree
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      Jun 30 2011: Yeah, well put!
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      Jun 30 2011: I gave you the thumbs up a couple days ago and didn't have time to comment then.
      You are exactly where I am on this. I have worked hard to understand many subjects so most of what I consider to be my opinions are based on substance and I believe what I do for solid reasons. Still, I always realize that a new piece of information could change my entire stance and so I am always hungry for, listening for, testing out and considering new information. For me beliefs are what I consider my opiinions on a variety of topics not necessarily religion.
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    Jun 28 2011: One's beliefs are the right one's for us if they serve us well in navigating a complex pluralitistic global wolrd and also serve life, life that is here now on earth, life that will inherit the earth.
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      Jun 28 2011: No relation to the actual truth then? Just what's useful? :)
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        Jun 28 2011: why is that so bad?
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        Jun 28 2011: It would be a odd sort of belief to believe something, but at the same time not think it is the truth. Can you even call that belief? Does it make sense to say, I believe something I know to be untrue? If you know it to be untrue, then you don't believe it. Seems like a contradiction by definition.
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          Jun 29 2011: would a belief have to be true or untrue? could it just be? maybe a belief is a work in progress, to be directed to a side of truth or lie.
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          Jun 29 2011: Tim, I love that. Absolutely!!! That's it!!! Our belief systems should always be a "work in progress"!!! If we keep that awake to our belief systems they will not only grow with us but help us grow.
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        Jun 29 2011: Jim and Tim: both good points. To admit uncertainty into one's beliefs is naturally a prerequisite for learning and getting along in the world with incomplete knowledge. To believe something and understand that it might not be true is simple humility.

        My point, however, was not so profound—just the analytic observation that it doesn't seem possible to believe something and also think it is untrue. The act of thinking something is untrue is to not believe it.

        The relationship between truth, belief, and knowledge, of course is very well-studied, interesting, and difficult to avoid with Simon's question. (For instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettier_problems)
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          Jun 29 2011: Mark..yes agree completely but what we mortals hold for truth about any one thing at any one time..even if we are dedicated whole hearyedly to truth is just an approximation. We ahve to sort of stay on our toes..not settle in on any one versionof "truth:, keep moving, keep fluid, keep open, keep learning. Yes?
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          Jun 29 2011: Simon Re woking models of truth

          Yes a gruesome example (I hope having no reality)_ but a useful one.

          I think we have to be a bit humble about our own limits of knowledge and understanding to be really out there in the fast central currents that can get us anywhere worth getting. If we have a need for certainty, a need to nail it down, a need to know for sure we will be washed up on the shore..stuck and stagnant.

          I don't think it serves us well to imagine realities that are easier to deal with than possible truths just to protect us from the devastation of what alternatives might be. In fact I think that hinders us greatly in personal actualization .

          I work very hard at maintaing intellectual rigor, discipline, open heartedness so that I can try to face whatever comes with some kind of wisdom , maybe a bit of courage but the greatest wisdom in that is knowing how little I really can understand no matter how much I devote to it. As long as that doesn't stop me in my tracks..keeps pushing me forward to know more, to think more clearly, to be even more open hearted.."all is well and all will be well" ( Julian of Norwich.
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        Jun 29 2011: Hi Simon,

        Isn't truth something we seek..something we strive for rtaher than something we attain?

        I apologize if the word "useful" didn't sit well with you. What I meant was we have thi slife on earth, thi slittle time to unfold who we really are and create a way of living that hopefully inclydes and serves others..I meant "useful" in the sense that it guides and help us in achieving that...
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          Jun 29 2011: I agree truth is something we strive for and can never fully attain. It might be usefull here to say that by belief, we generally mean propositions we consider very likely to be true. I have absolutely no belief of which I am certain. By this non absolute standard I am safe to say that I believe many things to be true while allowing for their continual revision with new evidence.

          In response to your idea of truth being utility:
          Imagine my girlfriend were killed in front of me by a man who later escaped never to be seen again. The police find nothing. This would clearly damage me severly. It would probably be much more useful if I were to believe a fantasy that she died peacefully of natural causes but this is not the case. In this situation am I free to just choose the most useful belief? I would say not.

          Apologies for the morbid example. Worryingly, it was the only thing that came to mind :/
          Must be all this violent TV...
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        Jun 29 2011: Where and what is this universal truth everyone seems to think exists but can't measure, articulate or pin down?

        What you believe is true whether it is or not..
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          Jun 29 2011: Unfortunately, the world can be rather rough with those who think that whatever they believe is true: ask anyone who's jumped off a building believing they could fly. This is a case where Lindsay's idea that beliefs that serve us well might be a better idea.

          There are some truths that can be pinned down and easily articulated. Syllogisms and other deductive proofs are one example.
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      Jun 29 2011: I quite agree with the obvious and concrete consequence of leaping from a great height sans wings regardless of how firmly someone believes they can fly. But does the sudden reality at the end of the fall change that initial belief?

      It seems that while people will often believe things that have no positive effect on their lives, there is no denying the strength of their belief (I do not necessarily mean that belief = faith).

      Right or wrong (according to..?) it doesn't alter the fact that what a person believes is true, is true, for them. Since we obviously construct our world based on a combination of what we know, perceive, think we perceive and think we know, what we believe IS real.

      Outside influences (people, experience and concrete streets rushing up to meet you) that have immediate and jolting influence will give most people pause and cause them to reassess their beliefs - you don't often make the same mistake twice if it burns, hurts, and so on.

      I think racism is an example of when someone's 'reality' is completely their own, based usually on ignorance and inherited hate. It is abhorrent to many and yet they persist with their racist beliefs despite having no grounding in rationality or fact.

      Am I just talking in non-useful generalities? I feel like I know what I mean and yet am struggling to express it properly.
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        Jun 29 2011: Well I'm struggling to get a coherent idea from you here so perhaps its not being expressed how you mean it.
        On one hand you argue that truth IS what people believe yet with the other you acknowledge that there is an external reality to ones beliefs.

        I am confused as to what you're trying to say.
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          Jun 29 2011: That there is a reality but everyone's definition is different so which is the 'truth'.

          When we disagree with others, we might class their belief as delusional, irrational - as they might do to ours.

          There are certain material realities that can't logically or rationally be argued against - like the attempting to fly example - but extend the conversation into the abstract, where there is no hard evidence handy, and it becomes easier for people to base their beliefs on things other than an obvious reality.

          My only conclusion is that they are all true, in so far as that they inform our view of the world (right or wrong) and in turn inform our actions. All of which, often reinforces our beliefs.

          As far as an objective, undeniable, universal truth or belief goes - if it does exist, it is beyond our nature to define it. Hopefully, many of us will get closer to defining it. Maybe then we reach the next level.

          Where we defeat Donkey Kong and get the pixellated princess..
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    Jun 28 2011: I would really love to share this with you all but there is always a risk of my comments being deleted by the admin simply because it would be too religious.So,should I or should I not? Whatever is is,I plead to you all to be open-minded.Have a nice day.
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      Jun 28 2011: Hi Muhammad,
      Please do share your story! As long as you keep within the Terms of use http://www.ted.com/pages/conversations_terms there shouldn't be any problem.
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        Jun 28 2011: Hi Jimmy!!! It's so good to know that you're okay with me telling about my beliefs.As you all know,I'm a Muslim.I profess the religion of Islam.

        From the very first day I was born into this world,I was already introduced to Islam.It taught me how to live this life happily and how to be successful in the after life.Personally,this is how I see it.

        I've seen the trees,majestic mountains,waterfalls,numerous floras and faunas.Wonderful things.It doesn't make sense to me that there is no creator for all of these beautiful things.I believe everything has to be logic.Hence,I believe in Allah.I know that you may think that a Christian would say the same but it's different when talking about Islam.I will tell you more if you like but for now I will stop here.I'm so scarred at the risk of you not being comfortable with me.I just want to be friends and share with you my beliefs.I hope this would bridge the gap between you and I.
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          Jun 28 2011: Muhammad, it breaks my heart to hear that you're scared of sharing your beliefs here, even though I asked for them...

          As you all know, I'm an Atheist, and to tell you the truth I am mostly "uncomfortable" with religious people, I feel that they can not embrace reason, which I think is crucial...

          I do however sense honesty in your words about friendship and bridging gaps and I'm all for that!

          So please Muhammad, continue your story!
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          Jun 29 2011: Jimmy..you'd enjoy Einsteins papers on science & religion. He says there is noclonclict..they are each extensions of different inherent human faculties and both needed for a full exprssionof huanity ( religion for him is boradly defined..includede a que here somewhere..with you in mind).
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          Jun 30 2011: Actually Lindsay, I didn't...
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        Jun 29 2011: Don't be heart broken Jimmy.I will continue if you say its okay.

        When you talk about Islam,the Koran will always be mentioned as well.It has numerous scientific facts,histories of the prophets and teachings/guidances that are to last forever.I normally see that people in TED argue about the scientific facts presented by the Koran.Some claim it to be true and some claim it to be false.As I see it, they usually misinterpret the passages of the Koran.It's not their fault though.This miracle to me,takes time to understand fully.But for what I know,it taught me to believe in peace ,love,respect and charity.How can someone say that the Koran is teaching us wrong things? I know that you might say that we still can be good without this 'book' from god.But do you realise where does the idea of peace,love and respect comes from?

        Scientific findings to me is a need to us all but it also has limits.Science cannot explain everything but we can't say that science is false.Things like after death,beyond the big bang...we wouldn't know what happened and what will happen.This uncertainty is all gone after I read the Koran.Indeed, it'll take time for me as well to understand it fully but if it does kill the uncertainties I have,so be it.

        Agreeing to you,I too once felt that religious people cannot embrace reason but that's because they don't have the knowledge to tell you about reasons in Islam.I too,I'm afraid can't explain to you a few things regarding Islam.If anything I wouldn't know about Islam,I would always go to the Imam for answers.I don't just let it be and say that Islam is false.I work it out until I know the answers to the questions I have.
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    Jun 30 2011: It's dynamic driven by new understanding , facts , reasoning etc...........
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    Jun 30 2011: I believe beliefs can only be "correct" to the extent that they are open to question. If the belief is correct, questioning it will deepen the understanding. If, upon examination, any part of the belief is not correct, that too would deepen our understanding. Many of the problems in our world result from people refusing to question their beliefs.
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    Jun 30 2011: Religion is a belief. You cannot prove that one is more reliable than the other.
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    Jun 30 2011: Jimmy, I think that all our beliefs are correct in one way or another. I believe there is an underlying unity of all our faiths and convictions and we now need to translate into the language of our mutual interests and contribute its power to transform our world.
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    Jun 29 2011: Lindsay wrote “One's beliefs are the right one's for us if they serve us well in navigating a complex pluralistic global world and also serve life, life that is here now on earth, life that will inherit the earth.”

    This struck me as a very helpful insight that requires some clarification. A belief that serves a person well from their perspective might also serve life from their perspective but be harmful to others. I imagine that Hitler thought his beliefs served him well as were best for the future of the earth...

    The Dalai Lama discusses this question in “Ethics for a New Millennium.” He leads me to think that a belief would be right to the extent that it does no harm to another person or the health of our world and builds compassion and empathy towards others. (The second part makes the first part possible).
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      Jun 29 2011: Hi Bob..nice to see you here.. yes that was my point exactly..our belief sysyems should serve life, including our own, and including all life that will inherit the earth

      .by "useful in navigating a complex pluraluistic modern society"I meant one that enables us not to be intimidated by or take offense at beliefs that are diffrent from our own..that help us to live fully and openly into our own lives and our own actualization., belief systems that are fluid and dynamic that allow us to engage life at a very high level intellectually and spirtiually.
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        Jun 29 2011: Lindsay, A "fluid and dynamic" belief could take us in a lot of different directions. Beliefs form a compass for our lives by helping us discern where we are and where we want to go. Beliefs need to evolve and mature. They also need to adapt or change in light of contradictory information. I think that beliefs that are "useful" or "right" would be fairly stable over time.
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          Jun 29 2011: Stable yes..but not stagnant. I am pretty sure we are on the same page.

          I had hoped you might notice and join the conversation I just hosted on updating our belief systems. Its a good readif you get a chance including a wonderful post on belief systems by modern day wise man Tom Atlee.

          What I am pointing to is a constant mindfulness of contenet of our beleief systems..an intentionality about it rather than a blind invisible operation..exactly what you are suggesting.. i think in stasaying that our belief systems need to be capable of "changing and adapdting to contradictory information"..but also , I would add, stretching to enable us to meet new challenges and new experiences...
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    Jun 29 2011: Enjoyed the vid, there is a lot of truth in it. The most important questions we have to answer during our short time here relate to the God question. If there is any chance of a god existing, afterlife & all that, then can we afford to get it wrong ?
    So we have 2 questions to answer.

    1. Is it logical that a god exists ?
    2. If 1. is in the affirmative then which of the possible candidates is the most logical ?

    It's not rocket science, but requires sincerity & an open mind.

    :-)
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      Jun 29 2011: Peter & Helen

      I no longer ask myself or answer to any one else about what I believe about God or what "God" might be. I think I decided long ago I could devote all of faculties for a life time and never really know the answer to that for myself so I cannot possibly answer it to anyone else's question.

      I have my own sense..my own certianty that there is something external to me, beyond my own faculties that plays a role in my life..but beyond that I could not begin to tell you what that might be. And that's fine with me. So I am withyou Helen that we have our own truths that require no explanation or defense and if that helps us as Helen says to "Do the right, act justly and humbly" well what more do we need?

      Ken Wilber a great wisdom master of our time says that all roads from all the wolrd great religions ( and that includes those that make no reference to God..lead to the same place. He also says, quite wisely, that once we have chosen our particular path to get there we should work within that tradition and not worry about its superficial conflicts with other paths. Speak the language of your path, use the mind set and practices of your path. It all leads to the same place..
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    Jun 29 2011: In my opinion, the correct belief is your sensation.
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    Jun 28 2011: the fact that it doesnt need to be correct.
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      Jun 28 2011: So does that mean that you're okay with living a potential lie?
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        Jun 28 2011: i dont think in the end it would matter
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        Jun 28 2011: what i am trying to say is, what i believe about god could not be proved or disproved, truth or lie, god would be both. and in the end, the arguement would have probably felt like wasted time, imo. and to be honest, i live in america, i probably already am living some sort of lie.
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    Jun 28 2011: What makes YOUR belief the correct one? For me a belief can't be correct. All beliefs are elusive and subjective. The only thing that is "correct" to us is something tangible like 1 plus 1 which we can all agree is 2, no argument. Plus depending on which angle are you approaching "belief," it means different things in different contexts. I'm thinking your referring to religious/spiritual belief. What is most reliable is what is most tangible.