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February 13, 2006



I'm with you so far....

If a web forms in the woods and no one sees it, does it really exist? That is sort of tongue-in-cheek, but if we have belief without others seeing it, do we really belief (no matter how beatifully crafted the web).


I don't think we, as individuals, can have a completely separate web of beliefs from any other person. In other words, each personal web of beliefs is unique, but none exist in a vacuum. Our webs are formed by the communities we are a part of.

Does that answer your question?


I suspect if you sat down with the Top 50 evangelicals and could manage to get them to be honest with themselves, God, and you, you would find about 50 different webs of beliefs.

We tend to "believe" what we want to believe.

I think the mystics were the truly enlightened ones-- for they gave themselves over to the mystery.

Much "belief" is a disguise for "control".

I like the post!


In the two thousand years since Christ came and died to save us nothing has changed in that truth (or fact). There is no data to change it and there will never be. The "standard" that we use to justify what we believe (as christians)is always Christ's work on the cross. I perhaps am a simplest, I just dont believe that God made it so difficult for us to know truth and to use scripture to decipher life.
John 10:10 ...I came that they(us) may have life and have it more abundantly.
John 14:6 Jesus said.. Iam the Way, and the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but through me.
There in is your mystery.


I think as we experience or learn new things, it affects both what we believe and the way we understand those beliefs. What I talked about in the post is the way in which we hold on to, change, or get rid of those beliefs.

Have you always had the same exact beliefs about Christ all of your life? I don't think anyone could do that. What we believe changes, even if only in small ways.

What do we base those changes on? The "new data" I talked about in the post could be a new experience of God, a sermon that puts a scriptural passage in a new light, etc. This is where I think Lakatos's ideas come in. How do we justify the changes we make in our beliefs? Are we moving in the right direction?

Furthermore, how do we justify our beliefs as being correct and others' as being wrong?


Bill, great points. Things change... beliefs change.

I think there is much to be said for changing our culture and context in which we worship (new data). I think most of our beliefs are shaped by the dominant culture we find ourselves.

As our consciosuness changes so does our beliefs and vice versa...

Here's the scary part,like you said, how have our beliefs changed over the years? Things we were absolutely certain about at one point in our journey we may no longer believe. If our beliefs can change we ought to use caution in what we are so certain is "true".

Great post... I think there is a depth of thought here that cold be mined.


Thanks, Rick.


Are you saying that everyone has a different web of beliefs, or that some people have a web and others have a building (foundationalism)? I think(believe) that people have different ways of building their belief systems. Some are more flexible and use a web, which is extremely strong and can be quickly repaired, routing around the "damaged" portions. Others are more concrete and have a building of belief. When one of the foundation blocks is compromised their whole belief system becomes unstable and requires extensive repair, and often the "damaged" portion is shored up rather than replaced.


Others have their belief system in an underground bunker (seemingly). They have a system of beliefs and no matter how logical and/or rational the arguement against, they firmly stay where they are.
(Hey, I'm having fun with these metaphors.)

I think that those that have belief systems that are more akin to the web metaphor are going to tend to congregate together. We tend to gravitate towards those of similar slant as ourselves. Bill is talking about those that have a web system of belief and their interaction with others of a similar system.


I guess you could say that some people have a building in the sense that that is how they choose to justify their beliefs.

I think that part of my web can be pointing out the weaknesses in that endeavor, though! ;-)


In the web illustration, are truth and experience outside forces acting on the web?


What do you mean by truth? (I know...that's one of those slippery sounding questions!) Do you mean the reality that's out there?

In the web model, experience is what forms the outer rim. It's described as forming the boundaries for what we know or believe. You don't differentiate between foundational and non-foundational beliefs, but you DO talk about their "distance" from experience.

I don't know if I'm understanding that principle correctly or not, but it sounds like beliefs that are more closely connected to your experiences will be stronger. That wouldn't necessarily mean your beliefs HAVE to be closely connected to experience, though.


I guess by truth I would mean reality. What is true is therefore real, what is real is true. Is reality/truth only processed through our experiences? Can we experience truth at all? (Hey, you questioned truth) I believe that we can believe things that are not true as well as things that are true. We can also believe things that we have not experienced. So, to my thinking, we have our web of belief that exists, and our interaction with truth and experience would change our belief.

I am also thinking that religion is only a part of our belief system. Does that match what you have been learning or are you studing this only within the confines of theology?


I don't know if I can agree that we can interact with truth, per se. I think we interact with things that we perceive about reality. Does that distinction make sense?

In philosophy class, we have generally talked about models for epistemology and then applied them to theology. I think one of the basic points of the class is to demonstrate that postmodern philosophy has some useful "tools" for understanding and doing theology.


I don't know Bill. I think that I am going to have to disagree with you. If Jesus is the way, truth and life and we believe that we interact with Jesus, which I do, then we interact with truth. Just as there is the truth of gravity, I can deny it all I want, in the end I can not fly, and the consequenses for that denial would be grave.

Truth exists, regardless of what we believe. If what we believe is true, then good for us, if what we believe what is not true, we don't invalidate truth. Maybe I'm just a little fundamental about this, maybe it is just one of my "hard core" beliefs, but I think as Christians, we need to be very careful about getting this right.


I will permit you to disagree with me. ;-)

One problem is that Jesus "tells" a lot of people to do things that I don't think Jesus would tell them to do. Know what I mean?

To me, "Jesus is the way" means that if you truly seek to follow that way you will truly be on that true way. (Did I use the word "truth" too many times in that sentence?) The problem is that no matter what, we're gonna screw something up. No matter what, we're going to misunderstand something Jesus has said or done. Or we'll misappropriate our beliefs.

It sounds like kind of a pessimistic view, but it doesn't have to be viewed that way. I think one of the main reasons why postmoderns attack the idea of certitude, or absolutes, is because they're so dangerous. I would prefer to be optimistic about what I can know and yet humble.


I understand what you are saying, in fact, is speaks to an e-mail forwarded to me from a very hurt Christian. Many evil things have been done in the name of Christ. While those things are wrong and the beliefs that supported them were flawed, that does not negate Jesus. Our understanding of him may not be truthful, but he is always true. I'm not sure all of the doctrines or absolutes that surround Christianity are correct, but I know in whom I believe.

At the same time, I am struggling to respond to someone who is so pessimistic (way more than you), and hurt because those around them were screwed up in their view of Christ and their interpretations of what he said and did. The Bible should never be used as a bludgeon.

Think on this some more I will.

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