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Is Extremism the Default for Faith?


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Unyielding faith, a belief so strong and unswerving that it provides comfort and guidance in the face of life's trials seems to be the cornerstone of many religions. But wouldn't that seem to suggest that faith taken to the extreme is the best faith of all? Where does faith cross the line into extremism?

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I'm beginning to think that the problem is that you don't understand how confidence predictions/probability works.   If I were to ask you a serious of questions and ask you about your probability as

Where does faith cross the line into extremism?

 

Where it becomes impractical or detrimental. The extremist would probably not agree with this assessment as applied to himself, however.

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Unyielding faith, a belief so strong and unswerving that it provides comfort and guidance in the face of life's trials seems to be the cornerstone of many religions. But wouldn't that seem to suggest that faith taken to the extreme is the best faith of all? Where does faith cross the line into extremism?

 

No, but I think there may need to be some discussion on how you define "extremism" before I can state my point further.

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By definition doesn't it have to be?

 

To believe in something without evidence, requires an extreme amount of faith (in your teachers, books and myths).

 

How good are you at estimating probabilities?

 

I've been using this website to keep track: http://predictionbook.com/

 

People are pretty poorly calibrated about 1) knowing how improbable something is and 2) being confident/ accurate about guessing that probability.

 

That being said, being very confident (eg. religious) about something with very low probability (ex. God, due to lack of evidence) seems to require a certain amount of extremism.

 

If your skeptical, assign a lower probability to your religious beliefs being true... why believe them?

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By definition doesn't it have to be?

 

To believe in something without evidence, requires an extreme amount of faith (in your teachers, books and myths).

 

How good are you at estimating probabilities?

 

I've been using this website to keep track: http://predictionbook.com/

 

People are pretty poorly calibrated about 1) knowing how improbable something is and 2) being confident/ accurate about guessing that probability.

 

That being said, being very confident (eg. religious) about something with very low probability (ex. God, due to lack of evidence) seems to require a certain amount of extremism.

 

If your skeptical, assign a lower probability to your religious beliefs being true... why believe them?

 

But you are throwing around the word "extreme" in a fashion that "religious extremism" was never meant to define. What you are talking about is religious fundamentalism, which isn't by definition "extremism".

 

Amish are fundamentalist but but you couldn't rightly argue that they're "religious extremists".

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But you are throwing around the word "extreme" in a fashion that "religious extremism" was never meant to define. What you are talking about is religious fundamentalism, which isn't by definition "extremism".

 

Amish are fundamentalist but but you couldn't rightly argue that they're "religious extremists".

I think you're equating extremism with violence. I define extreme as a viewpoint at the far end of a scale, whatever the scale.

 

To me, the Amish are extreme anti-technologists. Their faith is unyielding with regards to modern technology, even when it can be proven more efficient. To them, work isn't about efficiency, it's about things they equate with their faith in God. They have taken the idea of working hard with their hands to reap the bounty of the earth to an extreme, and to me this seems like what faith is supposed to do, to fly in the face of rationality yet still provide something that rationality can't.

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I think you're equating extremism with violence. I define extreme as a viewpoint at the far end of a scale, whatever the scale.

 

Well that is my point. If that is how you define "Religious Extremism" then you are defining it wrong. You are defining "Religious Fundamentalism".

 

To me, the Amish are extreme anti-technologists. Their faith is unyielding with regards to modern technology, even when it can be proven more efficient. To them, work isn't about efficiency, it's about things they equate with their faith in God. They have taken the idea of working hard with their hands to reap the bounty of the earth to an extreme, and to me this seems like what faith is supposed to do, to fly in the face of rationality yet still provide something that rationality can't.

 

To you they are extremists because you are using the word incorrectly. They are a fundamentalists sect of the Mennonite faith... who are also not extremists.

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Well that is my point. If that is how you define "Religious Extremism" then you are defining it wrong. You are defining "Religious Fundamentalism".
Religious Extremism:

any religious theory favoring immoderate uncompromising policies;

the actions or ideologies of individuals or groups outside the perceived religious center of a society;

literal interpretation and strict adherence to a set of basic religious principles.

 

I don't see how I was defining it wrong.

 

 

To you they are extremists because you are using the word incorrectly. They are a fundamentalists sect of the Mennonite faith... who are also not extremists.
So you equate religious extremism with violence? How do you define it?
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Religious Extremism:

any religious theory favoring immoderate uncompromising policies;

the actions or ideologies of individuals or groups outside the perceived religious center of a society;

literal interpretation and strict adherence to a set of basic religious principles.

 

I don't see how I was defining it wrong.

 

Where did you get that definition from?

 

Also, by that definition "extremism" would be rather malleable depending on the society. This seems like such a definition would still mean "No" for the original question since the question does not take into account the society it is being judged by.

 

It's like asking "are liberal views by default extremist?"

 

 

So you equate religious extremism with violence? How do you define it?

 

No, I am not equating extremism with violence.

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Where did you get that definition from?

 

Also, by that definition "extremism" would be rather malleable depending on the society. This seems like such a definition would still mean "No" for the original question since the question does not take into account the society it is being judged by.

 

It's like asking "are liberal views by default extremist?"

 

 

 

 

No, I am not equating extremism with violence.

 

I think if you asked most people they would think that the lifestyles of the Amish are actually quite extreme Jryan.

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Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say on "extremist":

 

One who is disposed to go to the extreme, or who holds extreme opinions; a member of a party advocating extreme measures. Also
attrib.
or as
adj.
Hence extremism, the views or actions of extremists; extremistic a., of or pertaining to extremists or extremism.

 

Not a very specific definition.

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An extremists does the same things as everyone else, but takes it to the nth degree. For example, we all care, to various degrees, about the environment. An environmental extremist takes that to the nth degree. Not all church goers can accept all religions. An atheist extremist, dislikes all religions in any shape or form. They take that the nth degree.

 

The direction of one's views/actions, left, right, up, down or sideways, are not relevant to extremism. It is only when we take that angle to the nth degree. Many people might grumble about western culture. Some might grumble only when drinking or arguing politics. The terrorists take this to the n-th degree living, breathing and sleeping this. Many people think unions are one of the valid ways to organize labor. A union extremist may see this as the only way and may even use force to show people the way to labor salvation.

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No, but I think there may need to be some discussion on how you define "extremism" before I can state my point further.

 

But you are throwing around the word "extreme" in a fashion that "religious extremism" was never meant to define. What you are talking about is religious fundamentalism, which isn't by definition "extremism".

 

Amish are fundamentalist but but you couldn't rightly argue that they're "religious extremists".

 

If that is how you define "Religious Extremism" then you are defining it wrong.

 

No, I am not equating extremism with violence.
In case you missed me asking it earlier, how do *you* define extremism? Because by every definition I've seen and heard here, the Amish are religious extremists. So are creationists, due to their narrow literal interpretations and unyielding insistence in a young earth in the face of physical evidence to the contrary. My opening question revolves around the idea that the burning faith that is the hallmark of so many religions appears to be similar to all these definitions of extremism.

 

So once again, how do *you* define extremism?

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In case you missed me asking it earlier, how do *you* define extremism? Because by every definition I've seen and heard here, the Amish are religious extremists. So are creationists, due to their narrow literal interpretations and unyielding insistence in a young earth in the face of physical evidence to the contrary. My opening question revolves around the idea that the burning faith that is the hallmark of so many religions appears to be similar to all these definitions of extremism.

 

So once again, how do *you* define extremism?

 

Your question is whether or not extremism is the default for religion and your definitions put extremism as a subjective term based on the surrounding society. So by your argument extremism isn't the default for religion as the definition has no default reference since there is no default society.

 

I mean, would you consider atheism to be extremist as well?

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Extremes are objective, but dependent on the allowed range. Given the range of 100-1000, 100 and 1000 are the extremes. Given a range of 0-200, now 100 is the exact middle and 0 and 100 are the extremes. This is entirely objective -- no one is going to give different values for said extremes.

 

I wouldn't agree that society defines the middle ground though. Societies themselves can be extremists on certain ideologies; our society is extremely in favor of democracy for example.

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Your question is whether or not extremism is the default for religion and your definitions put extremism as a subjective term based on the surrounding society.
No, my question is whether or not extremism is the default for *faith*, it's right there in the title.
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No, my question is whether or not extremism is the default for *faith*, it's right there in the title.

 

That doesn't change the point that extremism is measured, by your definition, from the "societal center".

 

So in the U.S., for example, the answer would be "No" because at least 83.9% of Americans have faith, so *faith* is not extremist in the U.S. any more than religion is... but atheism would be considered extremist.

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That doesn't change the point that extremism is measured, by your definition, from the "societal center".

 

So in the U.S., for example, the answer would be "No" because at least 83.9% of Americans have faith, so *faith* is not extremist in the U.S. any more than religion is... but atheism would be considered extremist.

 

Well I think some Christians could be considered extreme, Pat Robertson to name one of them.

 

I mean the Mormon is a sec of Christianity, a perfect example. If one followed the teachings of Joseph Smith and then one decided to have multiple wives, that would be considered extreme.

 

When everyone uses cell phones, computers, and other various technology, and the Amish still live roughly and rurally, that could be considered extreme socially, but not violently extreme.

 

It is okay to say that some secs of Christianity that are extreme and others that aren't, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I guess if you are saying that atheism is extreme, maybe in this day and age socially yes, violently extreme, not the majority.

 

But of course not in all cases and probably not in most cases here in the United States, it is all shades of gray really, you can have an extremest from any religion or non religion, but I think what the OP is implying that more strict adherence to a religion leads to extremism. And I think that could be more simplified, strict adherence to any 'manifest-destiny' ideology can lead to extremism.

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That doesn't change the point that extremism is measured, by your definition, from the "societal center".
No, I think Mr Skeptic's example is correct. The extremes are measured from the allowed range, not from the center.

 

So in the U.S., for example, the answer would be "No" because at least 83.9% of Americans have faith, so *faith* is not extremist in the U.S. any more than religion is... but atheism would be considered extremist.
Perhaps we differ on the word "faith" then, because "extreme" seems very clear to everyone in this thread so far but you. When I talk about faith, it's not just belief ("I believe in God"), but an unshakable stance that may fly in the face of rational observation and yet still survive all criticism ("God as the Presbyterians believe in Him is real and nothing you can say can convince me He isn't"). The fact that almost 84% of people in the US say they have faith is questionable in this regard. I think they are saying that they think what they hear in church is true, not that they will stand by the tenets of their religion in the face of all reason and evidence to the contrary.

 

What I'm asking is if a person is judged by their faith, then isn't "I have unshakable faith" better than "I think this is true"? And if a person has the most faith a person can have, couldn't that person legitimately be considered an extremist?

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What I'm asking is if a person is judged by their faith, then isn't "I have unshakable faith" better than "I think this is true"? And if a person has the most faith a person can have, couldn't that person legitimately be considered an extremist?

 

The example of Abraham comes to mind. 100 years old and childless, and God is going to make of him a great nation. Then he gets a kid and God asks him to sacrifice his one and only kid, OK no problem. This is highly praised by the New Testament writers.

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The example of Abraham comes to mind. 100 years old and childless, and God is going to make of him a great nation. Then he gets a kid and God asks him to sacrifice his one and only kid, OK no problem. This is highly praised by the New Testament writers.
That was absolutely an extreme act of faith.

 

I would class Richard Dawkins as a religious extremist.
He certainly is at an extreme end of the allowed range.
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