The common Athiest argument is "I base my life on facts and truth."

My stance is that no one wholly bases their life on facts and truths, because, at some point, facts and truths have a level of faith and belief behind them. Yes, we know that there is some level of reality because we are having this discussion but we don't really know what is real.

A schizophrenic often believes that their hallucinations are real, and on some level they are, but when put in comparison to the reality of the whole population those hallucinations are just that—- hallucinations. I have no real problem with people having their own beliefs; I find having atheist or agnostic views reasonable. What I tend to find unreasonable is when people view others’ views as stupid or misinformed, since, as I said, all views are based on faith.


Attempt to improve this Question:
Is there a basic set of 'rules', 'facts', etc. that reasonable people will agree on, similar to Mathematics these days? [Note the absence of holy wars over arithmetic and gravity]

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 9:03
  • How do you know reality exists? Intuition? Can you prove the validity of intuition in relation to reality? Anyway, refer to my answer elsewhere, which seems to be on a slightly different topic, but it is nonetheless the same underlying assumption. Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 10:24
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    When I see the tired old misspelling "athiest" and the tired old claim "all views are based on faith", I know I can ignore the rest of the utterance, because it's very unlikely to be based on precise and logical thinking... Commented Jul 2, 2022 at 16:58
  • With 8 Answers, I tried to save what seems to me a reasonable and common complaint. Please add on and revise!
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 12:03
  • All views are faith-full, but some are more faith-full than others.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 12:11

8 Answers 8



Well, it's hard to create a blanket response for all philosophers, but I'll respond in the general spirit of physicalists who recognize a dichotomy between the real and the unreal and generally reject the supernatural. By doing so, I take a metaphysical position. While many philosophers disagree on many things, contemporary Western philosophers generally recognize that the craft of philosophy starts here, with what Descartes called first principles. For instance, you write:

all views are based on faith.

This, of course, is one of your first principles, but not a principle shared by me or most thinkers who place a high value on natural philosophy, empirical thinking, or rationalism.

Short Answer

To many, not all views are based on faith. As such, it becomes simple to prove things are real given an adequate definition of proof and real, a subject of ontology. According to WP:

Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of warrant,4 while others who are more skeptical of religion tend to think of faith as simply belief without evidence.6

To those who have considerable experience in philosophy, it is obvious that you presume your definition of faith, as many believers are wont to do; your belief is so predictable, that the article opens up to address the basic issue that not everyone shares your definition of faith. And yet, the notion that all belief is just a degree of faith and thus uncertain is an old, but questionable presumption. Thus, by your metaphysical first principles, you are working with an entirely different frame of context when you use words like evidence, reality, and proof. So, for you, it is a philosophical problem to distinguish reality from the unreal, because for you, the real is based on physically unjustified belief. A cognitive scientist, on the other hand has theories of representation and misrepresentation and more than 500 years of natural philosophy and science to fall back on for separating the two and there is no philosophical problem at all.

Long Answer

Religious folk who wander onto this board often arrive with a conditioned set of beliefs and an agenda to affirm, that such and such a belief in such and such a supernatural doctrine is true, and often twist themselves into conniptions to produce a worldview that avoids cognitive dissonance. Logical contradiction, obviously, is a big no-no among philosophers historically, and events like the publication of Russell's paradox are seminal events in the history of philosophy. Philosophers as a whole range a whole gamut of metaphysical positions, and these positions are what are studied, along with logic, language, and history.

To a physicalist who acknowledges fallibilism, your claim that all views are based on 'faith' is resoundingly rejected, starting with the idea that intuitions are faith. They're not. We all start out with what might be termed a naive realism. From WP:

In philosophy of perception and philosophy of mind, naïve realism (also known as direct realism, perceptual realism, or common sense realism) is the idea that the senses provide us with direct awareness of objects as they really are. When referred to as direct realism, naïve realism is often contrasted with indirect realism.

Thus, we are born with our senses, and that helps us distinguish the real from the unreal. In psychology, for instance, crawling babies who are brought to an edge with clear plexiglass won't crawl over the edge; millions of years of evolution have created the brain to be an organ to separate the real from the unreal. So, philosophers often recognize intuition (which is often characterized as the subconscious mind in contemporary, professional philosophy), and brute facts as a starting point in their beliefs. Neither of those is faith. Let's explore.

Gravity, even to physicists is essentially a brute fact. While progress has been made in describing gravity a la Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, and LIGO may be the first step in discovering how to develop anti-gravity propulsion, currently the stuff of fiction, for a physicist to claim that gravity isn't real would draw smirks and get someone labeled as a crank. First, to claim something is real or not well, one has to be versed in ontology, which is a philosophical domain. But, gravity is practically a trope for that which is inescapably real.

Would you throw yourself out a window and rely on faith to save you? Well, I wouldn't, and I'd strongly counsel anyone not to do so. See, those who have "faith" often don't actually have faith, even by their own standards, and thankfully so. The simple fact, and yes it is a fact, a well-established fact going on 10,000+ years of historical testimony, a fact borne out by conscious thought and memory, a fact born out by reason and trial and error, that a human being who releases their body to gravity from a great height will more than likely die, and that once dead, will not come back. For someone to say "you have faith that gravity will work to kill you in a fall" clearly hasn't been paying attention to how things really work. In fact, this is such a challenge to faith, that those who use the first definition of faith have to invent and use "miracles". You can't pray rockets to orbit; dead people don't come back to life days later; and the sciences produce reasonably more reliable probabilistic information than divine revelation. Those are, quite frankly, facts. That's almost a universal consensus among educated people in Western society. Do oil companies hire geologists or oracles with divination rods? Are hospitals staffed with surgeons and people trained in the medical sciences, or professional pray-ers? When biologists use CRISPR in order to alter genes to produce artificial life or cure diseases, are they operating on faith? Not at all. The theory of evolution is just as reliable as gravity, albeit a lot more difficult to observe; but the empirical evidence is irrefutable, so much so that biologists who reject evolution are generally considered cranks or true believers.

Yes, you, say, but you have faith in science! Science might not work tomorrow! And it makes mistakes! And it's a practice by people who are flawed! That's faith.

Not really. Each one of these objections is a legitimate philosophical skepticism, and each of them has well-developed responses (too long to detail here), that are philosophical positions. And once you raise them, you are firmly in modern philosophy if you can let go of the notion that your first principles are metaphysical presumptions, not universal truths. That's the dividing line between theology and contemporary philosophy.

My advice to you is, if you're working hard to prove that scientific fact is just opinion, and that the scientific methods are some collective religion no different than religious mythology, then you get Robert Audi's Epistemology and begin a genuine study of epistemology. While most philosophers seem to disagree on most things, one thing they tend to agree on is that there are degrees of belief that culminate in certain knowledge. But the notion that all belief is faith is simply a naive philosophical position, and one that has been rejected repeatedly by some of the brightest thinkers over the last 500 years and produced the modern secular society replete with antibiotics, cars that drive themselves, supercomputers that can answer trivia questions better than people, tools for redesigning genes, rockets that land themselves, planes that fly themselves, ad nauseum. Simply put, humans continue to accrue reliable knowledge. And that's a fact.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 18:09

We can't prove what is real but we can get a very high level of confidence the same way we get to know there is a reality, through inter-subjectivity, it is to say confronting our perceptions with that of others and agreeing on what is perceived in common.

Is there a stone in the middle of my backyard? Maybe I am just dreaming the stone, but I can ask my neighbours. If they can see it, touch it, and confirm my own perception of it, we can agree on the idea that there is something independent of each of our minds we can call reality, and this stone is part of it. At the very least, since we all agree on the existence of the stone's reality, we can organise our lives around it.

Of course, there are a couple of assumptions here:

  1. I am not dreaming my neighbours altogether. This idea is called solipsism and is a well known dead end of philosophical inquiry, because once one trusts nothing they can see, one can't inquire anymore. What is more, people who advocate for solipsism usually live their lives as if the people around them are real, not putting their money where their mouth is for obvious survival reasons.
  2. We are not collectively making a mistake. Maybe the whole neighborhood is wrong and the stone is a turtle after all, or maybe I induced a collective hallucination by suggesting the stone is there in the first place. This case happens very often, as what was once consensus appears to be wrong as research progresses. This problem has no solution but the reasoned openness to contrary evidence and to challenges to the consensus.

Inter-subjectivity has been a cornerstone of the scientific method, as in order to get some traction a researcher needs to get their results validated by their peers. Experiments are accepted if they can be reproduced even by sceptics, in the same way my stone was accepted after all the neighborhood got a chance to touch it.

In the end, most of what we know is based on inductive reasoning and therefore subject to revision after the discovery of a "black swan". It requires some degree of trust, but since it appears to work so far it looks like a safe bet.

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    This answer begs the question. You are appealing to the evidence of your senses when it is the evidence of your senses that is being questioned. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 5:10
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    @DavidGudeman you missed the point. I try to explain how by confronting one's perception with other's one can at the very least find common ground (inter subjectivity) about what is real or not. I even start by talking of "high level of confidence" instead of proof, provide a critique of this approach and go at length to admit that this is not perfect but the best we can come up with. So accusing me of not questioning the empirical evidence is frankly dishonest.
    – armand
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 5:49
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    in order to compare your perceptions with someone else's, you need to communicate with that other person. Communication requires perception. You have to assume that your perception of the communication is reliable in order to use it in the argument, but that very assumption is in question. That's why this argument is assuming the consequent. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 5:58
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    @DavidGudeman this point is adressed in my answer. I don't take sensory input as granted at any point. Please read before commenting. Anyway, is there anything else you have to propose considering any knowledge about the world (I'm not talking about math or logic, but things like "is there a car down the street?", "do I have a dime in my pocket?", as is made obvious from the example taken in my answer)we can get comes from the senses?
    – armand
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 6:19
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    I don't know how many other ways there are to say this. You say, "Is there a stone in the middle of my backyard? Maybe I am just dreaming the stone, but I can ask my neighbours". Your evidence that you have neighbors is no more certain than the stone. If you doubt the stone, you should doubt the neighbors. If you can rely on your conversation with the neighbors, then you have no need of them because your perception of the stone is just as reliable as your perception of the neighbors. Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 7:30

We can't prove that anything is real, but it seems like there's a rather clear distinction between any religious beliefs and rational non-religious beliefs. I'll avoid the word "faith" and instead I'll leave others to argue about the semantics of that.

I use "belief" quite extensively below, but note that here this is simply/roughly what one considers to be an objective truth about reality. In other contexts this might refer to what one holds to be true without evidence, be synonymous with faith, etc.

I would say rational evidence-based beliefs require the following things: (what I called these things are a bit arbitrary, and other people may call them other things or break the down differently, but the gist tends to be the same)

Reliability (external consistency)

Whenever possible, one should opt for beliefs that are proven to be reliable using other methods. That is to say: they are consistent with other beliefs you hold about reality.

If I see something, I can ask someone else if they see it to, do experiments to check if what I see is accurate and/or compare this with my own body of knowledge, and humanity's body of knowledge, to see if and how this aligns with reality as I/we understand it. Now this information may all be processed by our senses, which is inherently subjective, but every additional bit of information we get that supports a belief (above competing beliefs) makes us more confident that the belief is correct (and any information that better supports a different belief should make us less confident in our belief).

All religious claims may not be unreliable, but some religious claims definitely conflict with humanity's body of scientific knowledge, and science does meet all of the standards listed here, and is therefore a trustable source of truth and a good reason to reject any religious claims conflicting with it. Some religious people who hold such beliefs do take issue with what I said here, and may claim that science is on their side (despite the scientific claims they make being at odds with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community), but very, very few of them have studied science in enough detail to reasonably have much confidence in claiming that.

Consistency and testability (internal consistency)

Beliefs should be consistent, and testable wherever possible.

Let's consider gravity. For the claim of gravity to be consistent and testable, we should expect that whenever we drop an object (as long as it's denser than air), it would fall down to Earth. If we're in a zero-gravity environment such as space or a parabolic flight, we would expect the object to just remain suspended where we drop it. All of those things are true, which is part of why we consider gravity to be a fact.

If you were to claim that reality exists, this would certainly be consistent (since all our experiences align with reality being real), but it may not be testable.

Again this may or may not be a problem for any given religious claim. If you were to say that "God answers prayers (by effecting changes in the world)", this would certainly appear to be a claim that should be able to meet a standard of consistency and testability: if one were to pray, one would expect God to consistently effect change. One can quite easily construct a scientific study where some people pray and some people don't pray and then check whether prayer proves to work to some statistically significant degree. One can also apply prayer to changes in the world that would be difficult to explain through other means. But it has not proven to meet such a standard, and many religious people would say things like "you need to have enough faith", "God shall not be tested" or "what you ask for needs to align with God's will" (which may or may not be reasonable, but does mean you can't claim that such religious claims are essentially the same as non-religious claims).


If another person follows the same method that you did to arrive at your beliefs, would they come to the same conclusion?

Note: the "method" here may refer to either the specific (e.g. "apply these substances to this fossil sample and look at it under a microscope") or the general (e.g. "follow the scientific method").

This may not be entirely universal, but essentially everyone following the same method, given the same data, should reach the same conclusion. It's not a coincidence that the overwhelming scientific community agree on most scientific facts.

As far as religion is concerned, there are large groups of religious people who believe contradictory things (even within the same religion) despite having roughly the same method of coming to a belief (or validating a belief they were born into or were convinced of due to the emotional appeal). Many atheists have followed the same methods that the religious used to come to their beliefs, but didn't end up with the same beliefs.

You can (and many do) say that any of the above people didn't follow your method for long enough or didn't have enough faith or something, but that would likely make the method too vague to meet any reasonable standard of reproducibility. This makes religion untrustable as a source of truth.

Little to no unnecessary complexity

We can believe that we're living in a simulation, that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists, that there's a tiny teapot floating in space, etc.

But it would provide a simpler explanation of reality to assume those things are false. If one doesn't try to limit complexity, and one applies that same belief system to all beliefs consistently, one would end up believing a whole lot of (possibly contradictory) things that you'll probably say isn't reasonable to believe.

An atheist may say that a god is unnecessary complexity, especially given our understanding of the fallibility of religious texts and our extensive understanding of the natural world up to the Big Bang (and supposing that an entire supernatural realm exists just to be able to explain the Big Bang, and only the Big Bang, is also unnecessary complexity).

  • Agree. Short answer: we will never have all the answers. But the list gets longer every day. Put the scissors down.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 12:26

Right now, I perceive myself as typing at my computer. But as you imply, I can't prove that to the satisfaction of a radical skeptic. Similarly, in your example of a person with schizophrenia who's hallucinating, that person will believe that whatever they're hallucinating is real. So perhaps I could be in just that situation right now, without realising it, and this computer is merely a figment of my imagination? And so, don't I simply have faith in the existence of the computer?

For the sake of argument, let's accept that this demonstrates (in a sense) that "all views are based on faith". It doesn't thereby follow that all views are based on faith to the same extent or in the same way.

See, the definite commonality that both the schizophrenic person and I share is that we both perceive evidence for our claims. The schizophrenic sees whatever they're hallucinating. I see the computer. Naturally, this evidence could be flawed for me, but it is nonetheless exactly the kind of evidence you'd expect if I was sat in front of a computer.

Now, let's bring in religion. A religious person has three options:

  1. They can experience a situation in life that they can't explain without recourse to the supernatural - perhaps a direct encounter with a deity, or just an unexplained miracle
  2. They can come up with some logical argument (e.g. the Ontological Argument) or argue on the basis of various texts (e.g. a holy book) or historical data as to why their religion is correct
  3. They can simply assert, by fiat, that their god or whatever is real

In the case of 1 and 2, the believer is in the same position as myself at this computer and the schizophrenic, at least on this issue. They are taking things they have some understanding or evidence for, and arguing it. An atheist can examine those claims and agree or disagree. Maybe they share evidence but interpret it differently? Maybe one convinces the other? Or maybe one of them has their evidence wrong and has hallucinated something?

However, in case 3, the religious person isn't basing their claim on anything at all. If this is what is meant by religious faith, then it is clearly a different sort of faith to the type of faith that someone has in the evidence of a computer in front of their eyes. And if this isn't what is meant by religious faith, but instead something more like cases 1 or 2, then the debate should stick to arguing over the specific evidence and arguments brought to the table.


First of all, your main claim, that everyone believes things on faith is true in a much more mundane way. Most of what people believe about the world is based on faith. Some people believe fat is healthy to eat, others think it is not. Most of the people who have strong opinions on this have nothing to go on but their faith in the authors of various books and articles, or faith in the FDA or health organizations. Both sides would claim there is evidence on their side, but none of the evidence is irrefutable, and the evidence comes from the same sources, so again you fall back on faith in the people presenting the evidence, and telling you how to evaluate the evidence.

Most of what we think we know works this way in dietary health, history, politics, psychology, ethics, and many other areas. There are relatively few fields like medicine or engineering where the practitioners can actually demonstrate the correctness of their theories by successes that are public and valuable (a mind reader might have successes that are public, but his successes are so trivial that it is more plausible that he has found some way to fake it).

So this conceit that some atheists express--that they only believe what can be proven--is obviously and trivially false. It is not possible to function in a social setting without faith. Without faith you would never believe anything and never know how to act.

The additional difficulty that you allude to, that materialist atheists trust their senses to tell them how the world really is, is a deeper and more subtle philosophical problem. Most of the ones you encounter turn out to be naïve materialists. This is not intended as an insult; "naïve realism" is a term used in philosophy to describe a sort of realism about the physical world that is not based on any sort of analysis; you just believe what you see. The problems with this view are so serious that almost no one who is philosophically sophisticated believes it these days.

There is a more sophisticated form of materialism called indirect realism that philosophically sophisticated atheists appeal to, but even this view has serious problems.

Now given that all forms of materialism have serious problems, is it correct to say that believing in materialism is a form of faith? Only if you are using the usual atheist straw-man idea of what faith is. Yes, if you think that faith is believing something that you have no evidence for, then materialism is a matter of faith because there can't possibly be evidence for a metaphysical view of matter.

However, that isn't how religious people use the word faith. Faith is just an old word for trust. It means you trust someone. When Christians talk about believing by faith, it means they trust the writers of scripture and they trust all of the copyists and translators who have passed the scripture down to them, and they trust their religious leaders to tell them the truth, and most of all, they trust God. It isn't that they have no evidence; it's that they recognize that the evidence is not conclusive, but they have chosen to trust, in exactly the same way that a knowledgeable person might know that the evidence on fat is not conclusive but choses to trust the FDA anyway.

So, materialists are not really believing materialism by faith the way that Christians believe in God by faith. They aren't relying on the testimony of someone who claims to have received revelation. No one claims to have special revelation in the materialist camp, so they don't even have the evidence of testimony. Materialism is a pure assumption, an axiom, without any grounding.

  • This level of complete relativism is nothing short of delusional. "We can be certain of nothing, therefore we are just as justified in believing any unsupported self contradictory fairy tale, in spite of any contradiction, than in believing consensual, reproducible experience from trusted sources amendable at any time. "Shooting myself in the foot might as well hurt me or heal my mycosis, because after all I only heard of people getting injured this way, so anything is possible". Common sense need not apply. Everything is on the same level, everything is relative, nothing has any value.
    – armand
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 0:47
  • You also seem to have huuuuge chip on your shoulder that would be better left off of answers and at best limited to comments. This site's answers are for philosophy, not rants.
    – armand
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 0:56
  • @armand, I was answering a question about relativism, not expressing my own philosophy. I said nothing remotely like the straw men you accused me of. As to who has a chip on his shoulder: I'm not the one going around downvoting comments I don't like, attributing straw man arguments to others, or making ad hominem attacks. You are. Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 10:29
  • Thank you for describing faith as step 1 (why else would anyone get out of bed in the morning) and trust as step 2 (why believe that we can coexist with anyone). I see the leap of Religion as the psychological tendency to ascribe trustworthiness to someone / something unseen. It's a very strong feeling, and very human, but not certain at all. I can feel completely sure of something, betting everything on it, and be dead wrong.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 12:38

We know reality exists but can we prove what is real?

Proofs come down to whatever evidence we find convincing. The standard of proof depends on the judge. Each of us even accept different standards of proof depending on the context, the different sciences, the judiciary, the police, the secret services, the mafia, and everyday life all will have different standard, with possibly dramatic consequences.

Suppose you're sitting in your garden looking at the tree that there is right in the middle of it. What kind of proof would you find sufficient to convince you that there is a tree in the middle of your garden? Presumably, a casual look will suffice, and no neighbour or town bureaucrat is going to convince you there's no tree there if you see one.

To exist is just to "stand out" (Latin existere, exsistere, to come forth, be manifest : ex-, ex- + sistere, to stand). Three millennia of metaphysics and bad philosophy had produced confusing gobbledegook on the subject but we still judge that there is something, that something exists, that it is real, if there is compelling evidence that there is. Compelling evidence comes down to data from perception and logical inference from assumptions.

no one wholly bases their life on facts and truths, because, at some point, facts and truths have a level of faith and belief behind them.

Facts are understood to be information about the real world. As such, there is no absolute fact. Something may be a fact for someone but not for somebody else. Thus, any consensus as to what exists must start by an agreement on what are the facts. Facts also require interpretation. What we know are perception data, and we only know them on the moment. Thus, we can only agree on what we believe the facts are and give up on any claim to any knowledge of them.

Yes, we know that there is some level of reality because we are having this discussion but we don't really know what is real.

We know reality exists well before any conversation. Thought is enough of itself. As Descartes put it, I think, therefore I am. Conversation is only the icing on the cake.

What I tend to find unreasonable is when people view others’ views as stupid or misinformed, since, as I said, all views are based on faith.

The first sense of "Faith" is "belief in God or some religious doctrine", so we better leave the word where it belongs. Belief is good enough for the purpose.

There is no doubt that there are very unreasonable beliefs and others that are very reasonable. It is easy to convince oneself of that if we remember that 99% of human beings agree on 99% of the furniture of the material world. Disagreement about the God person has tended to obscure this fact of life. Atheists and believers of all faith would for the most part agree that sea water has salt in it and that there are dogs and cats.

What we disagree about is mostly unreasonable. If it was reasonable, we could all agree on it. The notion of Big Bang is very recent in the history of ideas, broadly less than one century. Yet, it took only a few decades of hard work to flesh out the idea and present a very reasonable belief for it, belief which most scientists seem to take to be just that, pending more empirical evidence. The main religions go back from more than one thousand up to several thousand years. Yet, it is apparent that religious beliefs are unreasonable in the fact that there are very many different religions and that they all have incompatible beliefs.

All beliefs are beliefs but not all beliefs are reasonable.

We have to embrace doubt and uncertainty. We shouldn't be afraid of it. That's what research science is. — Brian Cox, physicist and TV presenter (2018)

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    "If it was reasonable, we could all agree on it." Non-sequitur. Not only is truth not decided by vote, it would mean nothing at all is reasonable, not even the Big Bang you speak of. On the other hand, while religion in itself has plenty of variation, it is one of the few human universals across cultures, which would by your own standards make it reasonable in itself (and virtually all religions conceive of spirits, making belief in spirits reasonable by your standards also). Your epistemology isn't very robust.
    – Mutoh
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 21:17
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    @Mutoh "Not only is truth not decided by vote" - you seem to be confusing truth with what's reasonable to believe is true. And there's a missing part here: essentially everyone following the same method should agree (it's not a surprise that the overwhelming scientific community agree on most scientific facts). "while religion in itself has plenty of variation, it is one of the few human universals across cultures, which would by your own standards make it reasonable in itself" - oh dear no. Widespread contradicting religious beliefs makes religion unreliable/untrustable as a source of truth
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 8:21
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    @Mutoh "Not only is truth not decided by vote" Please, read again, I didn't say that if everybody agree, then it is true. "it is one of the few human universals across cultures" Religion is widespread but it is obviously not a universal that humans believe in some god. Believers don't believe in the same god and they don't have any rational method for deciding who is right. This is enough to dismiss religious belief as irrational. "virtually all religions conceive of spirits" This is also obviously false. Commented Jul 1, 2022 at 9:59

We know reality exists but can we prove what is real?

Well, Websoflife, you certainly kicked the hornet’s nest with this one. Here is my two cents’ worth. I focus on the second paragraph.

Acting solely on facts and truth is impossible. Such an assertion requires perfect knowledge about everything in the world at every moment. There is no person with this scope of awareness about the world, and there has never been such a person.

This limitation on knowledge, however, does not mean that decisions can be completely unhinged from reality. There is a wide spectrum between perfect knowledge and perfect faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11.1.

In practice, people make decisions as best they can, based on what they do know personally, how things generally tend to work, what inferences can be reasonably drawn from such information, and so forth.

But how do we know any of this is real? Maybe we don’t, but my own reaction is, So What? At this moment in history there are observations which are centuries and millennia old, and they are as useful today as they were on the date of their discovery. If this is all a hallucination, it is a long and reliable hallucination, and we can safely continue to act as though the universe of our perceptions were real.

  • I love Hebrews 11.1 thanks for bringing that in. Life can certainly feel that way at times, and it is a valid human experience. But other forms of certainty can usually be more effective. Check your bank statement often! Other people believe in it!
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 12:32

We know reality exists but can we prove what is real?


If anybody says something is real, that real thing (name and form) disappears when we analyze them. So nobody can prove what is real. It can be experienced; but can never be proved. The reason is, the enquirer himself / herself is the reality. In other words, there is no reality other than himself / herself.

At some point, facts and truths have a level of faith and belief behind them.

The truth is that man can go beyond that limit where faith and belief have no place. There truth and reality culminate and become one.

I have no real problem with people having their own beliefs; I find having atheist or agnostic views reasonable.

This is not reasonable. If reasonable, there cannot be two opposing views in one person.

  • Thank you for an argument from Nonduality. To me, this is the only final answer anyone will get. But few will ever have this kind of experience.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 12:43
  • There is the lovely quote of George Bush: "I have opinions, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them." Being conflicted is a human experience too.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 14:04

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