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Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Some fireworks will likely rise from this: The Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the federal government over the National Day of Prayer, saying it violated separation of church and state (well duh), and the judge agreed with them. Good for her!

[Party]
 
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
 
My only concern is to wonder how long before it's claimed this ruling means that no one is allowed to pray.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
Hopefully given the Supreme Court's recent shift towards the right, it will eventually rule that the government, while not advocating any specific religion or religious belief, can recognize the value of religiousness in general.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
What ever are we going to do about Thanksgiving?
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
Hopefully given the Supreme Court's recent shift towards the right, it will eventually rule that the government, while not advocating any specific religion or religious belief, can recognize the value of religiousness in general.

Without commenting on the ruling, it's worth noting that advocating prayer is implicitly advocating a religious belief.
 
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
Hopefully given the Supreme Court's recent shift towards the right, it will eventually rule that the government, while not advocating any specific religion or religious belief, can recognize the value of religiousness in general.

So let's just forget about all those non-religious taxpayers?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
I wouldn't say it is advocating a specific religious belief. It doesn't say who to pray to, or how to pray, or that prayers will be answered, or that all people ought to pray... it just says that prayer in general is a thing to be celebrated with a day.

quote:
So let's just forget about all those non-religious taxpayers?
No, we won't forget them any more than we forget anti-military folks on Veteran's Day.
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
It says that people ought to engage in prayer. That's a pretty big difference.

And regardless of the target of the prayer, and the mechanics of how it is formed, the statement "one ought to pray" is inherently a religious belief.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Interesting that Judge Crabb was appointed by one of the most overtly religious presidents of recent history.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Hopefully given the Supreme Court's recent shift towards the right, it will eventually rule that the government, while not advocating any specific religion or religious belief, can recognize the value of religiousness in general.
I hope so too. I suspect we may have different estimates of the said value, though.
 
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
 
quote:
No, we won't forget them any more than we forget anti-military folks on Veteran's Day.
I'm not sure if the analogy holds there, in a number of ways. The military and the government are intrinsically linked. Religion and the government are explicitly separated. Therefore, anti-military folks should not expect the same sort of freedoms that areligious folks demand, as one is protesting a well-established, constitutionally mandated structure of government, and the other is protesting something that's well understood that the government should not be involved in.

quote:
I wouldn't say it is advocating a specific religious belief. It doesn't say who to pray to, or how to pray, or that prayers will be answered, or that all people ought to pray...
And yet, it's government support for religious prayer. It doesn't really matter if they aren't supporting one religion over another, for to the non-religious, support of religion in general is bad enough. I don't see why we religious groups can't all get together and declare a National Day of Prayer. Why does it have to come from the national government?
 
Posted by Strider (Member # 1807) on :
 
I know some people involved in the FFRF and was sent a congratulatory email about this yesterday. Below is the response I sent to them(we are all in a humanist group together):


quote:

Just wanted to offer some counter thoughts.

First off, let me make it clear that I fully support the decision, strongly disagree with the idea of a national prayer day, and think it's great that this has been accomplished.

But I also have some issues, and they mostly center around effectiveness and resources. So this ruling has come down, and this prayer day will cease to exist. And ideally that brings us all one step closer towards a truly secular society. But I question how much this act really helps us towards that goal. How many religious folks and organizations, who already have a less than favorable view of atheists (we're the least trusted minority in the country right? or is it least liked? or both?), will now have an even LESS favorable view of non-believers. Who see this is as yet another attack by us godless heathens on the values they hold so dear. Whether they are right or wrong to hold them is a different matter. If our goal is a world free from religious dogma in the public sphere and government, I don't think that putting people on the defensive and attacking them (whether that is what's happening or not is besides the point, that's how it is interpreted) is the most effective way to reach our goals.

It's not like we founded a religious society (regardless of what some christians will tell you), separation of church and state was written in from the beginning. The problem isn't a government or constitution that promotes religion, it's the continual influence of religious individuals generation after generation who wrongly infuse our government with religious principles. This will never go away until religion itself becomes less a part of the lives of individuals in our society, or at the very least, individuals grow up with a healthy respect for the principles set forth in the constitution (and more generally are aware of how their actions affect those around them). I know I tend to be in the minority on this, but I've always said the best way to create a society free from religious dogma is not to attack religions, but to promote education. To promote the study of science, and history, and philosophy (logic in particular), and even the study of religion (in a factual comparative sense). And so I think the time and resources spent battling things like this, and the many other legal battles fought by atheist organizations can be better spent. Separating Church and State is an attack on the values and beliefs of many religious people (in their minds), but just maybe, teaching them about the reasons for, and importance of, that separation, particularly while they are younger, can help them develop into adults with a respect for the idea. Maybe the resources of atheist organizations would be better spent in the education lobby above all else.

Or better yet, imagine if all the atheist organizations around the country banded together, and on the day of the national prayer day all volunteered in their local communities. Contact the press and make a big deal out of it. "On this day, when people of faith gather to pray, we have decided to go out and help our fellow man and those less fortunate". I think it makes a fantastic point.

Just some thoughts! I do think it's a great ruling, and I understand the importance and affects of legislating these issues, this is just some thoughts I've had in general when seeing similar court cases.

p.s. - I realize this was spearheaded by the FFRF, which right there in the title obviously has an agenda different from a humanist group lets say, but I think my broader points still are relevant!

I realize many religious folk will disagree with what I said above (many atheists do too!), but my main point is that we're always better off promoting education and rationality (something I can't imagine ANYONE would disagree with) wherever possible. I'm not interested in converting anyone to atheism, though if that's the end result, bonus!

[ April 17, 2010, 11:18 AM: Message edited by: Strider ]
 
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
No, we won't forget them any more than we forget anti-military folks on Veteran's Day.

Except that having a military has tangible benefits for the country. Having a religion does not. No benefits unique to religion, anyway.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
Here's the 2009 proclamation:

quote:
Throughout our Nation’s history, Americans have come together in moments of great challenge and uncertainty to humble themselves in prayer. In 1775, as the Continental Congress began the task of forging a new Nation, colonists were asked to observe a day of quiet humiliation and prayer. Almost a century later, as the flames of the Civil War burned from north to south, President Lincoln and the Congress once again asked the American people to pray as the fate of their Nation hung in the balance.

It is in that spirit of unity and reflection that we once again designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. Let us remember those who came before us, and let us each give thanks for the courage and compassion shown by so many in this country and around the world.

On this day of unity and prayer, let us also honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. We celebrate their commitment to uphold our highest ideals, and we recognize that it is because of them that we continue to live in a Nation where people of all faiths can worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience.

Let us also use this day to come together in a moment of peace and goodwill. Our world grows smaller by the day, and our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife; and to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. As we observe this day of prayer, we remember the one law that binds all great religions together: the Golden Rule, and its call to love one another; to understand one another; and to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 7, 2009, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

BARACK OBAMA

I would remove the one line stating who to pray to. Other than that, I think it is suggesting prayer in a way that is not specific to any religion or nonreligious belief system. It specifically recognizes the freedom to not worship in the proclamation.
 
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
It specifically recognizes the freedom to not worship in the proclamation.

So shouldn't it be the "National Choose to Worship or Not Worship Day"?
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
quote:
I realize many religious folk will disagree with what I said above (many atheists do too!), but my main point is that we're always better off promoting education and rationality (something I can't imagine ANYONE would disagree with) wherever possible. I'm not interested in converting anyone to atheism, though if that's the end result, bonus!
I think I agree with this to some extent, but the fact is that that different people naturally gravitate to different priorities. I think there are relatively few people who systematically say "okay, what is the best thing I can possibly do to improve the world" and then do it. If I were choosing how to spend my time by that guideline, dealing with persecution of atheism in America wouldn't register as a blip.
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
Tresopax, I'll just say I think you're underestimating the variety of religious belief, and leave it at that.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Strider, if you really want to go back to the beginning, religion was inextricably bound to civil government and was the reason most of the original settlers came to this continent. We were founded, in the most part, by and for religion.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Strider's point about tactics is not a bad one, but on the other hand how are we going to educate people if the force of government - I don't mean "men with guns", but the social sense of what is acceptable - is behind falsehoods? Removing religion from government is a holding action, but one that has to be fought if the main attack is to succeed.

Tres, if you don't understand why a proclamation including the line "I call upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love" violates separation of church and state, then I don't know what to tell you. The only analogy I can think of is a similar proclamation - made by President KoM, no doubt - "calling on Americans not to pray, nor indeed go to church, but to try solving some of their own dang problems for a change without relying on superstition".

I mean, KoM for President 2032, by all means; but as much as I like my version, I would clearly need to stack the Supreme Court to get it past constitutional review. Obama's is just the same.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I wouldn't say it is advocating a specific religious belief. It doesn't say who to pray to, or how to pray, or that prayers will be answered, or that all people ought to pray... it just says that prayer in general is a thing to be celebrated with a day.

quote:
So let's just forget about all those non-religious taxpayers?
No, we won't forget them any more than we forget anti-military folks on Veteran's Day.
QFT
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
No, we won't forget them any more than we forget anti-military folks on Veteran's Day.

Except that having a military has tangible benefits for the country. Having a religion does not. No benefits unique to religion, anyway.
That's not the point.

The point being "what about all those people who believe that the military is horrible and evil" is just a valid counter to Veteran's day as YOUR argument against the National Day of Prayer is... which is to say it is a poor argument all around.
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
The point about "tangible benefit" isn't a particularly good one. The point that the military is a central part of the government whereas religion is very specifically not part of the government at all is.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Javert:
My only concern is to wonder how long before it's claimed this ruling means that no one is allowed to pray.

Victiiimm cooompleeex.
 
Posted by Strider (Member # 1807) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
I realize many religious folk will disagree with what I said above (many atheists do too!), but my main point is that we're always better off promoting education and rationality (something I can't imagine ANYONE would disagree with) wherever possible. I'm not interested in converting anyone to atheism, though if that's the end result, bonus!
I think I agree with this to some extent, but the fact is that that different people naturally gravitate to different priorities. I think there are relatively few people who systematically say "okay, what is the best thing I can possibly do to improve the world" and then do it. If I were choosing how to spend my time by that guideline, dealing with persecution of atheism in America wouldn't register as a blip.
True, but my point is, groups like this do make these issues a priority. And my personal opinion is that their method of achieving their goals is not the most efficient way they can be going about things. Give me a Neil deGrasse Tyson over a Dawkins any day.

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Strider, if you really want to go back to the beginning, religion was inextricably bound to civil government and was the reason most of the original settlers came to this continent. We were founded, in the most part, by and for religion.

kmbboots, I would argue that we were founded by individuals of varying religiosity, who created a government under the principle of separation of church and state in large part to protect religious freedoms of individuals, which just as importantly, protects us all from state sponsored religion. It's an important distinction I think.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Strider, I am going back further than you are. [Wink] To when the idea that civil government should not enforce religious belief and practice was radical enough to get a person banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
 
Posted by aspectre (Member # 2222) on :
 
On the contrary, the founding charters explicitly mention freedom <b>from</b> religion as well as freedom <b>of</b> religion.
 
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
 
Isn't that the old joke? Colonists came to America to escape persecution so they could do some persecuting of their own?

I'm not sure how helpful references are to 1600s colonial America from the standpoint of separation of church and state. Colonial governments were heavily tied to religion, and religious persecution still went on, but on their terms, rather than those they'd sought to escape. Any study on the treatment of Catholics in early America makes that clear enough. When we started establishing some of the basic structures and traditions of our government, we made it pretty plain that government wasn't to get involved with religion. Originally, that came out of a fear that government would alter and control religion in harmful ways, but the multi-culturalism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has transformed that idea into something more relevant for the times. Now it means that the government doesn't play favorites. And I think that is a positive change in our national perception.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
On the contrary, the founding charters explicitly mention freedom <b>from</b> religion as well as freedom <b>of</b> religion.

See Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, Mary Dyer...

Edit to add: In fact, the charters of Jamestown and Plymouth colonies specifically refer to furthering Christianity.

[ April 16, 2010, 06:06 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
Ah, the old religion threads still move.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
[Big Grin]
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
On the contrary, the founding charters explicitly mention freedom <b>from</b> religion as well as freedom <b>of</b> religion.

Can you point me to the founding charters that mention freedom from religion?

The ONLY mention of seperation of church and state came from Thomas Jefferson in a personal letter he wrote. The letter wasn't even about what people claim it means. Jefferson was writing to a Baptist minister, assuring him the the government would never form a State Religion.


Here is the establishment clause in the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


Arguing a national day of prayer is pushing a religious belief is fine. It is not however establishing a state run religion, or preventing atheists from the "Free Exercise" of ignoring it.
 
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
 
Respecting an establishment of religion does not mean, and did not mean at the time, just establishing a state run religion. An establishment of religion can mean any religious ceremony or activity, and "respecting" it just means "that is in some relation to it" (think "in respect to"). That is, Congress is forbidden from making laws about religious behavior. A national day of prayer very much is one of those.

Now, the limits on that would likely have been considered much more narrowly back then. That isn't all that relevant.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Also unconstitutional?
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/tgproclamation.html

Of course, it refers to Congress making laws, not Presidents making proclamations.
 
Posted by Sean Monahan (Member # 9334) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
I mean, KoM for President 2032, by all means;

Hm. KoM, can you produce a valid birth certificate?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I expect the Governator will get that provision changed around 2020.
 
Posted by aeolusdallas (Member # 11455) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I wouldn't say it is advocating a specific religious belief. It doesn't say who to pray to, or how to pray, or that prayers will be answered, or that all people ought to pray... it just says that prayer in general is a thing to be celebrated with a day.

quote:
So let's just forget about all those non-religious taxpayers?
No, we won't forget them any more than we forget anti-military folks on Veteran's Day.
QFT
Not at all QFT The military is the governments job. Telling people to pray most certainly is not.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Strider, if you really want to go back to the beginning, religion was inextricably bound to civil government and was the reason most of the original settlers came to this continent. We were founded, in the most part, by and for religion.

That's a bunch of malarkey. The colonists came for lots of reasons, including religion, but the puritan element was by no means the majority at the time of the revolution. The idea that the political or philosophical, or even numerical heft of the American colonies lay in religious exiles is crap. Most people came to start new lives in a promising new place. The pilgrims are the narrative, not the reality. Aside from that, the key philosophical concepts upon which the nation was based were a-religious, and furthermore the reasons for the revolution were not religious, and the support for revolution was not among religious people, but among a powerful elite class. The framers were largely deist but not deeply religious men with strong moral and ethical convictions, they were not religious freedom fighters, and the country was not founded in order to allow the free practice of religion. Let's be very clear on that point. We were certainly *not* founded for, least of all "in the most part" for religion.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Orinoco, as I thought I made clear in my post to Strider and subsequent posts, I am not talking about the revolution. I am talking about much earlier when Englishmen first came to this continent. When the pilgrims and other settlers were reality. American history didn't start in 1776.
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
While I'm not necessarily denying that point, I think arguing about what happened prior to the writing of the constitution is pretty meaningless. The founders decided women couldn't vote and that black people were equal to 3/5 of white people (and also couldn't vote). There were lots of things wrong with the morals of the revolution, and with the time prior to that. We don't and shouldn't have any obligation to the viewpoints of the founders nor the people that came before, except insofar as interpreting what the constitution meant at the time it was written.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Knowing why we are the way we are, understanding the roots of the relationship between religion and civil authority is key to untangling that relationship. Denying that relationship is no more helpful or accurate or complete than the people who claim that Thomas Jefferson was Christian.
 
Posted by Christine (Member # 8594) on :
 
I think this is a tougher issue than it appeared at first glance. This is one of those gray areas and I'm not sure if the judge made the right decision or not. As Strider pointed out, this is likely to get religious people defensive, so we should ask ourselves whether or not it was a battle worth fighting, or if this victory will cost in the long run.

This particular battle doesn't feel all that victorious to me. I wasn't even that aware that there was a National Day of Prayer (I think I'd heard about it in a vague sort of way). On the one hand no, I don't think it's appropriate for the federal government to set aside a day for prayer, no matter how the proclamation is worded. If this is really about remembering military heroes, then call it that. Heck, we do -- Memorial Day. There is little doubt in my mind that this day has religious significance to the people who created it.

On the other hand, it's not like anyone was forcing anyone to pray. That they seemed to be suggesting or encouraging prayer may or may not be against the establishment clause of the constitution. It's one of those gray areas.
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
I think having a national day of prayer pretty clearly establishes religion. But I agree that this might not have been a battle worth fighting (I too didn't even know this day existed).
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
The only analogy I can think of is a similar proclamation - made by President KoM, no doubt - "calling on Americans not to pray, nor indeed go to church, but to try solving some of their own dang problems for a change without relying on superstition".
I'd have no complaints with a National Day of Reason to celebrate and call upon Americans to use reasoning to solve problems.

quote:
Respecting an establishment of religion does not mean, and did not mean at the time, just establishing a state run religion. An establishment of religion can mean any religious ceremony or activity, and "respecting" it just means "that is in some relation to it" (think "in respect to"). That is, Congress is forbidden from making laws about religious behavior.
I don't agree exactly with that interpretation. I agree advocating activities or ceremonies that relate to a specific religion would be an "establishment of religion", but I don't think advocating aspects of religiousness in general (prayers, funerals, marriages, spirituality, and other things that are widespread across most religions) qualifies. For instance, look at chaplains in the military. That's a case of the government specifically facilitating religiousness, in general, because the government sees a benefit to it.

I also agree that nobody should be forced or pressured to be religious by the government (no prohibiting free exercise of religion or athiesm). But I don't see this sort of thing as a violation of that. Is anyone feeling serious pressure to pray because of this?
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
quote:
I agree advocating activities or ceremonies that relate to a specific religion would be an "establishment of religion", but I don't think advocating aspects of religiousness in general (prayers, funerals, marriages, spirituality, and other things that are widespread across most religions) qualifies.
At what point does does something go from bring an aspect of a specific religion to being an aspect of religiousness in general? Does being "widespread across most religions" mean something is shared by a majority of religions, or a majority of religious people?

My point, which I probably didn't make very well earlier, is that the vast diversity of religious custom would make it practically impossible for the government to advocate "general religiousness" without necessarily promoting certain religions over others. Just because yours is one of the religions that happens to be promoted doesn't mean it will always be so.

Better, by far, to just keep the government out of it.
 
Posted by Strider (Member # 1807) on :
 
in this specific situation, besides non-believes, who most likely don't pray, are there any other religions out there who don't pray? Or who might be offended by a proclamation like this? Do buddhist's pray? Hindus? Does the wording exclude them when it asks for God's guidance and grace? Is "the year of our lord" a common way to denote the year in government statements? Doesn't this exclude every person who is not a follower of Jesus? I'm honestly asking, I don't really know.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
That's a case of the government specifically facilitating religiousness, in general, because the government sees a benefit to it.
But the First Amendment doesn't say "you won't establish religion unless there's a benefit to it."
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
For instance, look at chaplains in the military. That's a case of the government specifically facilitating religiousness, in general, because the government sees a benefit to it.

Chaplains are there to faciliate the service members right to free exercise of religion, which is the other half of the constitutional protection regarding religion. Whether the government sees a benefit to it is irrelevant.

I also think Strider hit the nail on the head in that people whose religious practices are in the majority tend to see them as "religion in general" and not realize that they are particular to a certain set of religions.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Chaplains are there to faciliate the service members right to free exercise of religion
Yeah, right. Chaplains are there because the American army, like most armies, dates from a time when the nation was a lot more monolithic, and having the regiments pray every Sunday was the Done Thing. They are government-sponsored religion and should be removed; the argument "We've got chaplains, so we can do religious thing X as well" gets things exactly backwards.
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
in this specific situation, besides non-believes, who most likely don't pray, are there any other religions out there who don't pray? Or who might be offended by a proclamation like this? Do buddhist's pray? Hindus? Does the wording exclude them when it asks for God's guidance and grace? Is "the year of our lord" a common way to denote the year in government statements? Doesn't this exclude every person who is not a follower of Jesus? I'm honestly asking, I don't really know.

I think it really depends on how we're defining prayer, which is part of the point, really. Even if we remove specific mention of God from the proclamation, as Tresopax suggests, I can think of quite a few religious people who would object to, for example, the idea that prayer requires humiliation, or even that it ought to include it. (I'm taking into account here that "humiliation" in this context does not mean "a shaming in front of witnesses".)
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
One could also imagine Christians who actually take Jesus seriously, and object to public prayers or exhortations thereto.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
I don't object to public prayer, in the sense of someone praying in public. I do object to the idea that you can genericize a prayer enough to not be religion-specific and still have anything worth calling prayer. Which is why I, as a Christian, am against prayer in public schools, at government events, etc. That and the fact that I support the disestablishment clause. But even if I didn't, I'd disagree with the idea that you can have an "all-religions" prayer.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Chaplains are there to faciliate the service members right to free exercise of religion
Yeah, right. Chaplains are there because the American army, like most armies, dates from a time when the nation was a lot more monolithic, and having the regiments pray every Sunday was the Done Thing. They are government-sponsored religion and should be removed; the argument "We've got chaplains, so we can do religious thing X as well" gets things exactly backwards.
False, as decided in Marsh v. Chambers, 1983.
quote:
On September 25, 1789, three days after Congress authorized the appointment of paid chaplains, final agreement was reached on the language of the Bill of Rights., Clearly the men who wrote the First Amendment Religion Clauses did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that Amendment, for the practice of opening sessions with prayer has continued without interruption ever since that early session of Congress.

Standing alone, historical patterns cannot justify contemporary violations of constitutional guarantees, but there is far more here than simply historical patterns. In this context, historical evidence sheds light not only on what the draftsmen intended the Establishment Clause to mean, but also on how they thought that Clause applied to the practice authorized by the First Congress - their actions reveal their intent. An Act "passed by the first Congress assembled under the Constitution, many of whose members had taken part in framing that instrument, . . . is contemporaneous and weighty evidence of its true meaning."

It can hardly be thought that in the same week Members of the First Congress voted to appoint and to pay a chaplain for each House and also voted to approve the draft of the First Amendment for submission to the states, they intended the Establishment Clause of the Amendment to forbid what they had just declared acceptable. In applying the First Amendment to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, it would be incongruous to interpret that Clause as imposing more stringent First Amendment limits on the states than the draftsmen imposed on the Federal Government.

This unique history leads us to accept the interpretation of the First Amendment draftsmen who saw no real threat to the Establishment Clause arising from a practice of prayer similar to that now challenged. We conclude that legislative prayer presents no more potential for establishment than the provision of school transportation, beneficial grants for higher education, or tax exemptions for religious organizations.


 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
False, as decided in Marsh v. Chambers, 1983.
That should probably read "False, as wrongly decided in Marsh v. Chambers..."
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Orinoco, as I thought I made clear in my post to Strider and subsequent posts, I am not talking about the revolution. I am talking about much earlier when Englishmen first came to this continent. When the pilgrims and other settlers were reality. American history didn't start in 1776.

You don't get to have your cake and eat it too. You were talking about what the country was founded for, and by. I say it wasn't religion. If you're talking about some other country, in the more distant past, which is not the one we live in, then why is that important?

Anyway, I still think you're wrong. Religion is the narrative for colonization, not the reality.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
False, as decided in Marsh v. Chambers, 1983.

Yeah, what Tom said. The court decision you cite should have taken the bull by the horns and declared that that early Congress was being inconsistent for bad reasons.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
My comments on the previous page should not be taken to apply to congressional chaplains, only military chaplains.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Yeah, but they are both bound by the same ruling, which is why I quoted it.

I don't think it was wrong, though.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
Consider this phrase: "Clearly the men who wrote the First Amendment Religion Clauses did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that Amendment..."

Note that the court should have ended that sentence with "...but they should have."
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
No, they shouldn't have. You don't get to write that, Tom, and I for one am glad.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
Why not?
That the Founding Fathers were not able to perceive that their own religious biases infected their rituals is not a reason to justify keeping those rituals around. The court is being intellectually dishonest when it suggests otherwise.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
I disagree.
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."

I think that a National day of prayer does not fall under respecting an establishment of religion because it favors no particular establishment. If anything it could easily be amended to be the national day of prayer, meditation, and reflection, to satisfy all those uppity 'you can't recognize that faith and good will exist in terms of recognizing a power higher than yourself' folks.

The separation of church and state amendment was established to keep the Government from being intrinsically tied to one or more specific religions, not to force the official policy of the United States to be 'there is no force, or God, or other power that cannot be officially observed through the scientific method'. I would go further and say that an officially atheist stance by the U.S. government would effectively respect the establishment of humanism, which is a particular establishment who's stance of exclusive non-religion makes it a religious group by excluding those who are religious as heretics of their dogma.

Also King of Men, Jesus didn't mean that praying publicly or advocating prayer was something one should not do, he was simply making an example of a man who was praying in the middle of the street to appear pious. He was saying, go pray in private where your piousness can be more genuine, because the motivation would be more pure. He in fact objected many times to people being ashamed of him or God, by keeping their faith a secret out of fear or shame. That was a particularly pundit like attempt to impart an opinion onto somebody with clever phrasing, while skipping the part where they come to the opinion logically. You must be tired today?
 
Posted by Lyrhawn (Member # 7039) on :
 
String -

There's an important distinction between atheist and secular.

Just as there is an important distinction between the government saying "today is a day when we should all pray" and "no comment."
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Modern definitions are not, by their very nature, the same definitions used when the Constitution was written. As long as we don;t advocate a specific religion and enshrine it as a an official religion, I say the intent has been met.
 
Posted by Christine (Member # 8594) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
In this context, historical evidence sheds light not only on what the draftsmen intended the Establishment Clause to mean, but also on how they thought that Clause applied to the practice authorized by the First Congress - their actions reveal their intent.

This calls to question whether the original intent trumps later wisdom. I believe that the original framers were largely trying to keep any particular Christian sect from gaining power...that was the fear they were trying to allay. I doubt anyone at the time gave serious thought to the rights of atheists or Buddhist or witches. Yet they wrote the establishment clause in a manner non-specific enough to allow this new understanding to fall neatly within its mandate.

When a person's religious system is such an overwhelming majority, it is easy to make God into a sort of truth and to make "religion" mean the various ways Christians choose to worship Him.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
At what point does does something go from bring an aspect of a specific religion to being an aspect of religiousness in general? Does being "widespread across most religions" mean something is shared by a majority of religions, or a majority of religious people?
I think that if several different major religions, independent of one another, come to accept the same concept or practice then it can probably be considered not specific to one religion. Judeo-christianity did not invent prayer; other religions prayed in their own ways in other parts of the world independently from the religions of the Middle East.

Spirituality and religiousness is a feature of humanity - it exists nearly universally across different cultures, and usually as a very important part of those cultures. I don't think we get much benefit from making the government act as if it doesn't exist for the sake of not offending some people. If we were talking about something that's going to put significant pressure on people to change their religious beliefs/practices then that would be different. But in this case, I have a very hard time believing anyone is going to care much about a National Day of Prayer other than people who already pray or who are open to praying - in the same way that I don't think declaring a National Chipotle Day would put any significant pressure on people who dislike burritos to go buy one.

Hmmm... I think my analogies are telling me I'm hungry...
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."

I think that a National day of prayer does not fall under respecting an establishment of religion because it favors no particular establishment

String, the clause you quote does not say: "Congress shall make n law respecting any particular establishment of religion." It says quite clearly that it shall make no laws of this kind, at all.

quote:
The separation of church and state amendment was established to keep the Government from being intrinsically tied to one or more specific religions, not to force the official policy of the United States to be 'there is no force, or God, or other power that cannot be officially observed through the scientific method'. I would go further and say that an officially atheist stance by the U.S. government would effectively respect the establishment of humanism, which is a particular establishment who's stance of exclusive non-religion makes it a religious group by excluding those who are religious as heretics of their dogma.

And this is a strawman argument. The establishment clause does not allow the government to take an "officially atheist stance," nor does it allow the government to place any burden of proof upon any religious beliefs. The establishment clause prevents the government from holding an official religious stance. What's more, it prevents the government from encouraging or discouraging any practice of religion, whatever. That does not an "officially atheist stance" make.

Approaching the issue from the position that the government not endorsing religion is the government by necessity *denying* religion is simply incorrect. The government is not, perforce, responsible for the support of any religious belief, and its non-involvement in religious matters does not constitute hostility towards religion.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
Judeo-christianity did not invent prayer; other religions prayed in their own ways in other parts of the world independently from the religions of the Middle East.
Have we ever sacrificed a goat in the Capitol to start a session of Congress? Because that would be awesome.
 
Posted by Teshi (Member # 5024) on :
 
I find it weird that there would be a National Day of Prayer. I mean, it's not like whatever day or days people worship on aren't already days of prayer, or that every day is a day or prayer, or that Christmas and Easter aren't days of prayer that are (inter)national holidays.

I'm not exactly sure what a day of prayer hopes to accomplish, except to remind people that religion exists. Perhaps when religion is more rare in the future we will need a "National Day of Religion" to remind people of this important part of human history, but at the moment, it seems somewhat superfluous in America, like a National Day of the Hamburger.
 
Posted by scholarette (Member # 11540) on :
 
Mmmm- if National Hamburger Day came with discounts on hamburgers, that would be awesome!
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
July 28th is both National Hamburger Day and National Chocolate Milk Day.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Have we ever sacrificed a goat in the Capitol to start a session of Congress?
I don't think there'd be anything unconstitutional about a National Day of Animal Sacrifice either - and I say that as someone who does not support animal sacrifice as a religious practice. Declaring such a day would not pressure me to sacrifice a goat or reject my religious beliefs in any significant way, nor would it establish any religion as the official US religion given many different religions have a history of sacrificing animals independent from one another.

PETA would probably get mad though....
 
Posted by Teshi (Member # 5024) on :
 
Well, there's also an Escargot Day and a Quiche Day. So really, it's just somebody has decided that certain days will have foods associated.

Also, there's a lot of confusion about which day is Hamburger Day on the internet. It's the 28th of SOMETHING.
 
Posted by Strider (Member # 1807) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:


quote:
The separation of church and state amendment was established to keep the Government from being intrinsically tied to one or more specific religions, not to force the official policy of the United States to be 'there is no force, or God, or other power that cannot be officially observed through the scientific method'. I would go further and say that an officially atheist stance by the U.S. government would effectively respect the establishment of humanism, which is a particular establishment who's stance of exclusive non-religion makes it a religious group by excluding those who are religious as heretics of their dogma.

And this is a strawman argument. The establishment clause does not allow the government to take an "officially atheist stance," nor does it allow the government to place any burden of proof upon any religious beliefs. The establishment clause prevents the government from holding an official religious stance. What's more, it prevents the government from encouraging or discouraging any practice of religion, whatever. That does not an "officially atheist stance" make.


It's also worth noting String, that atheism does not equal humanism. First, are you talking about the philosophy or the organization? And regardless of which, the vast majority of atheists are not humanists. Atheism is just a lack of belief in a deity, while humanism brings along with it a whole host of criteria that not all atheists agree with. And further, not all humanists are atheists. Humanism talks about leading a meaningful and ethical life without recourse to a deity, but in no way bars individuals from having religious beliefs, as long as they agree with the basic humanist principles.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
I don't think there'd be anything unconstitutional about a National Day of Animal Sacrifice either...
No, no. I mean sacrificing an animal as part of prayer. No need to separate the two practices, after all.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
Would they serve it in the congressional cafeteria afterwards?
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
I think they'd almost have to, depending on the daily religion.
 
Posted by Avatar300 (Member # 5108) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Would they serve it in the congressional cafeteria afterwards?

Are we allowed to eat the holy goats?
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
Isn't the whole point of an animal sacrifice that you DON'T eat it?
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
Again, it depends on the religion.
 
Posted by Avatar300 (Member # 5108) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Would they serve it in the congressional cafeteria afterwards?

Are we allowed to eat the holy goats?
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Anyway, I still think you're wrong. Religion is the narrative for colonization, not the reality.

Could you please explain what that means? Ar you saying that the historical record is not what it seems to be or that the people involved didn't really mean what they wrote or something else? Thanks.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
When's the last time you read a high school history textbook? Despite the pilgrims and other religious zealots being the minority in population, and certainly not a politically influential group by the time of the revolution, they get a hugely disproportionate level of coverage because they are oft considered "the first" and because 19th century fairy tales about them became popular consumption for American history students. It's all rubbish. We are still taught to believe that the American colonies were founded for freedom of religion, when they clearly were not, given that they were, relatively peacefully, ruled by England for nearly two centuries. It was the extremism of the colonists themselves that made them separatists, not persecution from the church of England. They exiled themselves to America, they were not forced to leave England.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Nothing in that contradicts what I wrote which was that, in the earlist European settlements in what is now the US, religion was very much a reason for their coming here and tightly bound to civil government. Which was reality.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
"We were founded, in the most part, by and for religion," is what you wrote.


That is, at best, only somewhat true. It depends rather heavily on the "we" having a very broad meaning- encompassing everything from tiny colonies four centuries ago, to the modern American political state. That's not useful for a lot of reasons, not least of which being that the "we" that founded the American nation did *not* do it for religion, even if the "we" that founded *some,* not even *most,* of the colonies did it for religion... which is also mostly not the case. And in addition, the colonies founded for religious purposes were not independent. Furthermore, it was not for the purpose of religious freedom that the US rebelled against the already nominal leadership of the crown. There were, in fact, not that many good reasons for revolution, and freedom of religion was not on anyone's short list.

As for religion being bound to civil government? When? In the colonies? Sure. In the nation formed under the articles and later the constitution? No, not so much. Superficially, yes, religion has been a part of civil government. But for the most part emphatically no, religion did not play a key role in civil government, even in the earliest days of the American nation.

The constitution divorces religion from civil government- how do you find that not to be true? I remind you that association is not causation, and the fact that members of the government are religious does not "tightly bind" religion to government. Nor does the fact of America being a largely religious country make its civil government religious in nature. It does not. As institutions, most especially, government and religion in the states are not mixed. Intercessions of the two are entirely superficial. We have no expressly religious political parties, do not allow religious legislation, have no national church, etc.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Again, history didn't start in 1776. If you want to understand it, you have to know what came before. You need to put it into some context.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
We just need to add a "National Day of Magic" where everyone is encouraged to cast beneficial magic spells for the betterment of America.

Christians would all be cool with that, right?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Again, history didn't start in 1776. If you want to understand it, you have to know what came before. You need to put it into some context.

I believe I *do* understand it. I believe it is not as you portray it... lets stop treating each other like idiots.

ETA: in fact I'm a bit put off that you said that. Most of my post had to do with pre-revolutionary America. Clearly I know it existed. I find the relevant points of history, particularly those driving the colonization of America, not to be centered on religion. But then, I don't believe that religion is generally much of a prime mover in any long term historical trend. It's an avatar for more basic sociological and economic trends. Perhaps that's where our view begins to differ.

[ April 19, 2010, 05:06 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
MightyCow, I would.

I am not sure how, given the historical record that you come to that conclusion. Civil government met out civil punishment for having - and propagating the "wrong" religious ideas. Even what many would call esoteric differences of opinion could get one into trouble. The whole "city on a hill", we must spread our brand of Christianity, stuff was very much present in the early documents - speeches, sermons, charters, diaries.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
But for the most part emphatically no, religion did not play a key role in civil government, even in the earliest days of the American nation.

I would love to see analysis of this that moves deeper that the atheist/theist/deist question. For example -- the difference between the calvinism of John Adams and the deistic humanism of Jefferson shows up in the difference between assumptions about equality in the Massachusettes constitution vs the Declaration of Independence. And the model of our three branches of government is the presbyterian form of church polity. What would the constitution have looked like if James Madison hadn't been presbyterian?

But we never look at that level of detail -- the influence of religion alwasys seems to get reduced to "God -- yes or no?"
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
MightyCow, I would.

I believe that we should assume, for the purpose of most religious discussions, that your views are not representative of a majority of self-identified Christians [Smile]

I attended a highschool youth group where they explicitly told us that any and all "magic" was of the devil. I would also poi t you to the anti-Harry Potter, anti-D&D, anti-Ouija board, etc. groups.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
At the Parliament of World Religions in 1993 the Wicca contribution to the Festival of Religions Art was way cool. And well-received.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
I disagree. I believe that the MAJORITY of Christians don't have an aissue wiht most of that. The extreme religious groups possibly do...some most definatly do...but hardly all or even a mojority of CHristan's do.


I was raised Catholic, and I had a couple of religion teachers who were nuts about that stuff. But they were hardly the majority even in RC CCD classes.

Most of the people teaching that were very aware of the difference between reality and fiction, and had no issue at all about what we chose to read, or if we played DnD.
 
Posted by DarkKnight (Member # 7536) on :
 
quote:
We just need to add a "National Day of Magic" where everyone is encouraged to cast beneficial magic spells for the betterment of America.
I believe there is a National Magic Day, October 31st, and a Magic Circle day too
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
National Magic Day is a celebration of stage magic in honor of Harry Houdini. It's not quite the same thing. [Smile]
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
We just need to add a "National Day of Magic" where everyone is encouraged to cast beneficial magic spells for the betterment of America.

Christians would all be cool with that, right?

It really doesn't matter if Christians are or aren't cool with it. What matters is: it wouldn't violate our freedom of religion in any way.

Magic, like prayer, is a concept shared across many religious groups and recognizing it would not imply an establishment of any national religion. And I would not feel significant pressure to reject my Christianity just because the government declared a National Day of Magic.

On a similar note, some Christians already are not cool with Halloween, which does include references to demons, ghosts, etc. But if they were to sue some government agency under the First Amendment for doing something to recognize Halloween, I'd hope the legal system would reject that lawsuit firmly.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
And I would not feel significant pressure to reject my Christianity just because the government declared a National Day of Magic.
Why not?
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
Do you feel significant pressure to reject atheism because of a Day of Prayer? I mean, I don't. What I DO feel is annoyed that my government is giving official support to something that amounts to a placebo effect at best.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
Do you feel significant pressure to reject atheism because of a Day of Prayer?
Absolutely. That I don't find it overwhelmingly oppressive does not mean that I am not aware that my government would prefer that I pray, and has officially endorsed that action.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
It really doesn't matter if Christians are or aren't cool with it. What matters is: it wouldn't violate our freedom of religion in any way.

My point wasn't that it mattered if Christians were cool with it, but that some people are saying, "What's the big deal with a national day of prayer? Nobody is making you pray."

Nobody would be making Christians practice magic if there were a nationally sanctioned Day of Magic, but you wouldn't hear the end of it about how the government was trying to corrupt the youth of the country or encourage anti-Christian sentiments from many Christian groups.

Just trying to offer the Christians some way to empathize, since many don't seem to get what the "big deal" is with this.

Of course Christians don't see what the problem is, any more than many white people don't see why minorities are bothred by a lot of things. They've never been in a minority group.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
How bothered are atheists by Thanksgiving?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
How bothered are atheists by Thanksgiving?

I only know a few people who consider Thanksgiving a religious holiday. To almost everyone I know, it's an excuse to get together with family and friends and eat a lot. Christmas is likewise so secularized that it is only a religious holiday if you make it one.

A Day of Prayer is only religious. There is no secular version of praying. If they wanted to change it to a National Day of Reflection, or Quiet Contemplation, that would be fine by me.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Read the proclamation for Thanksgiving. It was at least as religious as this one.

http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

If people can make what they want to of Thanksgiving, they could with this as well.

When are you going to start on these?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_observances_in_the_United_States_by_presidential_proclamation
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
There's quite a bit of difference between what Thanksgiving was ~150 years ago, and what a National Day of Prayer is now (or was very recently). The different contexts involve warrant different treatment. Gerald Ford's 1975 Thanksgiving proclamation did not include any mention of God, for example.

There are also secular rituals involved in Thanksgiving that anyone can engage in. The type of food prepared, for example, has zero religious basis, and serves as an avenue of inclusion for the non-religious. Praying does not feature anything analogous, that I'm aware of.

ETA: or at least, I feel confidant that there'd be a significant religious objection if the trappings of prayer were stripped of its religious meaning.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
kmbboots: Are you just arguing for the sake of arguing? If you can't see the difference between a National Day of Prayer and Mother's Day, there really isn't any point in my discussing this with you.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
I'm arguing because - and remember that I am possibly your most sympathetic religious audience - it feels kind of petty. It isn't organized school prayer (which I am against) where there is a stigma or pressure surrounding non-participation. It doesn't involve the use of public funds (which I am also against). No one is asking atheists to pay for this. It feels like you want to deny comfort to those who find comfort in prayer. And that just seems mean-spirited and smug.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
It feels like you want to deny comfort to those who find comfort in prayer.
I want the national government to stop treating the sane minority like a bunch of crazies that can be safely ignored; to stop assuming that superstition is the default mode and is ok; and to stop clearly displaying an opinion in an area where it is bound by the Constitution not to have an opinion. "Respecting an establishment" includes favouring generalised religion over no religion, and a national day of prayer clearly does that, as well as favouring praying religions over non-praying ones.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
I'm fine with a church-established "National Day of Prayer.". I just don't want a government sponsored one.

I don't begrudge people comfort in prayer, even if I think they would be much better off if they found it elsewhere.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
I don't begrudge people comfort in prayer
Tangential to the main discussion, but you should. "That which can be destroyed by truth, should be". Prayer does nothing; consequently any comfort derived from it is false, or at most is of the sort that can just as well be had from managing to internalise the phrase "Nothing to be done about this, I should work on something else".
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
I disagree. The placebo effect, "fake" as it may be, is real. In some cases powerfully real. And the fact is, a significant chunk of the population is simply not cut out for deriving comfort from intellectual pursuits in the way that I (and presumably you) do. I take comfort in the fact that I will die and not live forever. To a lot of people out there, that is hella counter-intuitive, and no amount of education is going to completely change that.

I do agree that it is dangerous to let people rely extensively on superstition, and given that, on one level, all of it is equally "not-real" it can be very hard to draw a line. But I think that if government stays out of religion, and if we make a concentrated effort to make sure everyone gets an excellent education, the "dangerous" level of superstition will dwindle.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 10495) on :
 
quote:
String, the clause you quote does not say: "Congress shall make n law respecting any particular establishment of religion."
Wording to that effect was explicitly considered and rejected.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Prayer does nothing tangible, but it does offer some people comfort. If they are unable to find that comfort elsewhere, and if the act of that prayer is otherwise neutral, I don't have a problem with it, any more than I go around telling children that Santa Clause is their parents.

I'm fine with the good parts of Organized Religion. It's the bad parts I object to. It would be great if we got the good parts without the baggage of unnecessary authority figures, supersition, inbuilt xenophobia, and so forth, but some people don't seem to be able to easily separate the two.

In some cases, such as the National Day of Prayer, this goes too far into the negative, so we should oppose it. In other areas, such as people personally praying to deal with emotional distress, the downside is pretty small compared to the personal benefit they receive, so I'd put it pretty far down the list of things I should care about.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
quote:
And I would not feel significant pressure to reject my Christianity just because the government declared a National Day of Magic.

Why not?
Because part of life in modern free society is learning how to be yourself while constantly being told by other people how you should be. I see advertisements everyday telling me how I should act, what I should buy, etc. I see people everyday who have expectations about how I should behave. I hear messages all the time from many directions telling me what I should believe, many of which come from sources whose opinion I care a lot more about than the government's. No person in our society can grow up without learning to maintain their own identity against a sea of expectations from the rest of the world. The pressure created by a government proclamation about a National Day of Magic is essentially like a tiny drop of water in that sea.

quote:
Nobody would be making Christians practice magic if there were a nationally sanctioned Day of Magic, but you wouldn't hear the end of it about how the government was trying to corrupt the youth of the country or encourage anti-Christian sentiments from many Christian groups.

Just trying to offer the Christians some way to empathize, since many don't seem to get what the "big deal" is with this.

But if Christians were to think such a day is a "big deal" they'd be wrong. Just like those who made a big deal about the evils of Harry Potter books were wrong.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
Prayer does nothing tangible, but it does offer some people comfort. If they are unable to find that comfort elsewhere, and if the act of that prayer is otherwise neutral, I don't have a problem with it, any more than I go around telling children that Santa Clause is their parents.
Of course you have a problem with it, or at least it certainly sounds like you do. At least KoM is copping to it.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
But if Christians were to think such a day is a "big deal" they'd be wrong. Just like those who made a big deal about the evils of Harry Potter books were wrong.

This. In fact, my reaction to this is very similar to my reaction to those Christians who get all het up about Harry Potter.

Also, I think that the ideas of what prayer is that have been expressed here, are very different from what I think prayer is.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Yet again I am relived that I will never have to live in a land run by KoM.
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
We just need to add a "National Day of Magic" where everyone is encouraged to cast beneficial magic spells for the betterment of America.

Christians would all be cool with that, right?

It really doesn't matter if Christians are or aren't cool with it. What matters is: it wouldn't violate our freedom of religion in any way.

Magic, like prayer, is a concept shared across many religious groups and recognizing it would not imply an establishment of any national religion. And I would not feel significant pressure to reject my Christianity just because the government declared a National Day of Magic.

On a similar note, some Christians already are not cool with Halloween, which does include references to demons, ghosts, etc. But if they were to sue some government agency under the First Amendment for doing something to recognize Halloween, I'd hope the legal system would reject that lawsuit firmly.

I think that you are getting to the crux of the issue. Endorsing a national holiday doesn't violate anybody's constitutional rights, and making a big deal out of it just distracts from the fact that many of our rights are being illegitimately taken from us in some way or another.

And Strider, I think actively fighting to remove National day of prayer is a move in the direction of an officially atheist stance, not towards no stance at all. Why not have a national day of prayer, and a national day of atheism too?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Because once you start down that road, you'll never stop. What about those religions that require an animal sacrifice for their rites? Are we to have national days of animal sacrifice, ritual drug use, and religious-ecstatic dancing?

ETA: Although, with that said, if there were any actual, realistic possibility of having a national day of atheism, your argument might nonetheless have some merit. Since that's not going to happen before my storm troopers invade the White House and pronounce the Revolution, I'm rather unimpressed. The theists get a national day of prayer, and the pro quo is vague net-forum rhetoric about the possible future implementation of a national day for atheists too? Gee, thanks.
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
When your storm troopers come, KoM, all I ask is one thing and one thing only. No wait two things. Make sure all their blasters are set to that stun effect that they use on Leia, because the aren't going to hit anybody any other way. Second, I want to ride on an AT AT. Bad.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
We have an official Wright Brothers Day. You could claim Religious Freedom Day (Jan 16) or maybe Bill of Rights Day (Dec 15). Character Counts has a whole week. Surely you can get something passed in Congress.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Kmb, I understand of course that your beliefs are explicitly and deliberately decoupled from reality and that you think this is as it should be. Nonetheless, it is with some incredulity I ask whether you are really asserting that a "National Atheism Day" could get passed by this or any other Congress. Are you really that privilege-blind? Or is this one of those things where it doesn't matter what can actually get passed, because we can all choose to believe that in fact it's already on the books?
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
Well you know KoM. That's because not that many people want it passed. It would be fine in my book if it did, but I'm obviously not going to go lobby for it. 80% of the country identifies itself as some kind of religious. It's not like your under represented. Your vocal minority is what got National day of Prayer off the books. I'd say pat yourself on the back. It's not like anyone just has a right to a have a day for their beliefs. If enough people want it it gets done. That's the way it should be. I guess you'll just have to start popularizing Atheism if you want to have a nationally recognized day. By the way, attacking a national day of prayer isn't going to serve your cause. [Smile]
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
I"m sorry, KoM. My last post wasn't intended to be taken seriously. I do think that you could possibly get something like National Reason Day or something like that passed. But I think that your aim here is less to have "a day" for atheists than it is to keep other people from having "a day" for prayer.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 10495) on :
 
quote:
If enough people want it it gets done. That's the way it should be.
That's the way it is, but no means is it the way it should be. Many pretty horrible things were popular at one time or another.
 
Posted by natural_mystic (Member # 11760) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Because once you start down that road, you'll never stop. What about those religions that require an animal sacrifice for their rites? Are we to have national days of animal sacrifice, ritual drug use, and religious-ecstatic dancing?

This is no more valid than when anti-gay marriage activists claim that the legalization of gay marriage will lead to the legalization of incest, bestiality etc.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
quote:
This is no more valid than when anti-gay marriage activists claim that the legalization of gay marriage will lead to the legalization of incest, bestiality etc.
They are both slippery slope arguments, but one is definitely more wrong than the other. There's a clear dividing line between same sex marriage and those other things, whereas there is no clear boundary to special beliefs or practices various groups of people might want to recognize with a National Day. One could even note that we already have so many such days that people largely ignore them; we've already gone down that path. (Unlike officially recognizing non-consensual sexual relationships with specific civil benefits, which is not at all demonstrably likely.)

That being said, the likely continued proliferation of silly days not a good reason not to have a National Atheism Day. The actual good reason for not doing so is that it would constitute government endorsement of rejecting all theistic religions, and that's an infringement on 1st amendment rights. Even I don't want that, even though I think our government should be a lot more strictly secular than it is now.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
It's not like anyone just has a right to a have a day for their beliefs. If enough people want it it gets done. That's the way it should be.
No actually, it isn't; the US Constitution was written explicitly to say what sort of things the majority was not allowed to legislate, and state support of religion is one of those things. Now I don't say that the Constitution is written in the stars and the mountains as the only way things can be done, but when a law is on the books I like to see it enforced, especially when it protects me.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I"m sorry, KoM. My last post wasn't intended to be taken seriously. I do think that you could possibly get something like National Reason Day or something like that passed. But I think that your aim here is less to have "a day" for atheists than it is to keep other people from having "a day" for prayer.

You can have 365 days for prayer, or 366 every fourth year. What you cannot have is explicit government support for it.
 
Posted by Darth_Mauve (Member # 4709) on :
 
Here is my argument against a "National Day of Prayer."

Already Christian groups argue that we are a Christian country based on the "Under God" line in the pledge of allegiance and the "In God we Trust" printed on our money.

What more ammunition will they have when they say, "Sure we are a Christian country. We even have one day set aside each year for Prayer. You atheists and non-believers aren't truly American."
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
It's not like anyone just has a right to a have a day for their beliefs. If enough people want it it gets done. That's the way it should be.
No actually, it isn't; the US Constitution was written explicitly to say what sort of things the majority was not allowed to legislate, and state support of religion is one of those things. Now I don't say that the Constitution is written in the stars and the mountains as the only way things can be done, but when a law is on the books I like to see it enforced, especially when it protects me.
You know what, having a national day of prayer or not in no way protects you from anything. I'm not saying that minorities don't need protection from a tyrannical majority, but that isn't what is happening here. In fact it is the opposite. As is sometimes the case when a vocal minority imposes it's will on a silent majority, be it a religious group or a secular one. I can understand why somebody would be hellbent on taking religion out of public life. They are scared of the power religion can hold over people, especially if it stands in the way of power they want.
 
Posted by Blayne Bradley (Member # 8565) on :
 
Yes it does, ever hear of the slippery slope?
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
::::yawn::::
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by String:
I'm not saying that minorities don't need protection from a tyrannical majority, but that isn't what is happening here. In fact it is the opposite. As is sometimes the case when a vocal minority imposes it's will on a silent majority, be it a religious group or a secular one.

Heh, yeah we've all heard this one before. It's part of the victim complex you've clearly established around your religious beliefs, that makes you think that not being allowed to exercise political power in the advancement of those beliefs is not just protecting a minority, but actually subjugating you to its will.

This breaks down in several ways. First of all, the 1st amendment protects religious observers as much as atheists. It also clearly wouldn't allow a national "god is dead" day. It says that congress is NOT INVOLVED in this debate, at all.

You seem to think the default position should be whatever the minority wants. Frankly that's why your kind is afraid of immigration, afraid of change, afraid of young people and new ideas- you think anything that isn't directly under your control, at the heart of an overwhelming majority, is a danger to you. The constitution was put there specifically to make sure that we *could* live at peace with each other despite our society changing over time. Why would you want to undermine such a great thing? Something that helps you, every day?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Frankly that's why your kind is afraid of immigration, afraid of change, afraid of young people and new ideas- you think anything that isn't directly under your control, at the heart of an overwhelming majority, is a danger to you.
What "kind" are we talking about here?

quote:
It says that congress is NOT INVOLVED in this debate, at all.
It says that congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion and it says congress can't force people to practice a given religion or any religion at all. It doesn't say congress is not involved in the debate; it doesn't say congress shall make no laws respecting religion whatsoever.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
I feel almost obligated to participate, but we don't have a National Day of Prayer. We do have God in the national anthem though. Half full, half empty, I guess.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
It doesn't say congress is not involved in the debate; it doesn't say congress shall make no laws respecting religion whatsoever.

It does, in fact, say that congress is not involved in the debate. You don't understand the issue. Laws made by congress can effect establishments of religion, but they are not to "regard" establishments of religion. A national day of prayer is a law endorsing religious practice directly. That's a no no. It's a simple issue, really, and religious people should be as concerned about it as atheists. Government sponsorship of religion is a bad thing for everyone, not just the losers.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
In what way is Obama's declaration considered law?

I suppose there can be an argument made about using federal funds to print up National Day of Prayer posters...
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by String:
They are scared of the power religion can hold over people, especially if it stands in the way of power they want.

I am afraid of the power religion can hold over people. Have you seen some of the religious leaders that people are allowing to hold this power?
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
Here's some information about Presidential proclamations. They apparently can mean just about anything-- serving as legal and binding declarations on law, or just ceremonial recognition of events or beliefs.

I'm not sure that the proclamation of a national day of prayer is tantamount to binding law; whether it is unconstitutional or not, I dunno either.

The establishment clause tends to mean different things to different people. Here's the clause, for reference:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

I'm not sure that invoking the establishment clause in this case is actually effective.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
Hmmm, the Wikipedia entry on the subject points at this law:
quote:
36 U.S.C. § 119 : US Code - Section 119: National Day of Prayer

The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating
the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the
people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and
meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/36/I/A/1/119

Edit to add: I think thats the law that the judge is ruling on based on
quote:
...Defendants identify no other instance in which
Congress has endorsed a particular religious practice in a statute.
The thanksgiving proclamations are distinct from § 119 in at least three important
ways....
Although the law does not always point in the same direction on matters related to the
establishment clause, my review of that law requires a conclusion that 36 U.S.C. § 119 is
unconstitutional...
The President too remains free to
discuss his own views on prayer. Van Orden, 545 U.S. at 723 (Stevens, J., dissenting). The
only issue decided in this case is that the federal government may not endorse prayer in a
statute as it has in § 119.

http://www.wiwd.uscourts.gov/assets/pdf/FFRF_v_Obama_Order.pdf
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Which raises the question of whether Congress has the power to bind proclamations of future Presidents in this manner. What happens when I am elected and refuse to do so? I wonder if anyone has raised a challenge on these grounds, perhaps to a similar law?
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
Thanks for the clarification, Mucus. That's helpful.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
King of Men: From the judicial ruling, it looks like that was done right at the start. Jefferson, Madison, and Andrew Jackson refused successfully.

quote:
Finally, even if I were to consider as relevant the actions of early Presidents, that
tradition does not point in one direction. Although George Washington may have supported
thanksgiving proclamations, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison did not. “President
Jefferson . . . steadfastly refused to issue Thanksgiving proclamations of any kind, in part
because he thought they violated the Religion Clauses.” Lee, 505 U.S. at 623 (Souter, J.,
concurring). Jefferson explained that “[e]very religious society has a right to determine for
itself the times for [prayers] and the objects proper for them according to their own
particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands where the
Constitution has deposited it . . . [C]ivil powers alone have been given to the [federal
government], and no authority to direct the religious exercises of [its] constituents.” 11
Writings of Thomas Jefferson 429

quote:
Madison objected to thanksgiving proclamations because they “seem to imply and
certainly nourish a national religion,” 3 The Papers of James Madison 560 (1962), quoted
in Davis, supra, at 90 (emphasis in original), and, more specifically, they tend “to narrow the
recommendation to the standard of the predominant sect.” Madison's Detached
Memoranda, quoted in Lee, 505 U.S. at 617 (Souter, J., concurring). Although Madison
“gave in to demands to proclaim days of thanksgiving” during the War of 1812, Davis,
supra, at 90, he later regretted it, McCreary, 545 U.S. at 879 n. 25, which simply shows how
difficult it can be as an elected official to resist popular opinion, even if it violates one’s own principles.

A few years later, Andrew Jackson followed Jefferson’s example and refused to issue
thanksgiving prayer proclamations.



[ April 23, 2010, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: Mucus ]
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
It's a simple issue, really, and religious people should be as concerned about it as atheists. Government sponsorship of religion is a bad thing for everyone, not just the losers.
What is the downside to the government endorsing/celebrating religion in general, given that the government doesn't favor any specific religion and that the government doesn't force or pressure anyone to practice religion or believe in a religion? Why would that, given those limitations, be a bad thing for everyone?
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
The downside?

Well, it gives atheists and agnostics a turn on the martyr pole.

[Big Grin]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
It's a simple issue, really, and religious people should be as concerned about it as atheists. Government sponsorship of religion is a bad thing for everyone, not just the losers.
What is the downside to the government endorsing/celebrating religion in general, given that the government doesn't favor any specific religion and that the government doesn't force or pressure anyone to practice religion or believe in a religion? Why would that, given those limitations, be a bad thing for everyone?
Firstly, because religion in general is a bad thing. Secondly, because bad or not, the Constitution gives atheists protection from this sort of thing.

You are suffering from a really classic case of privilege blindness; you simply do not see the advantages that you have because you are nuts. If someone were to argue against affirmative action on the grounds that women and minorities should compete on a level playing field, you would be the first to point out that in fact it's not level in the default state, and that white men tend to think their natural advantages are a law of nature which everyone gets. Now you are the one with the privilege, and boom, suddenly "there's no harm in it."
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
I don't see how a National Day of Prayer gives believers privilege over non-believers.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Yes. That's what I said. "None so blind", eh?
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
[EDIT]Removing the snark...

I think this would be a productive discussion if you could enumerate how you think a National Day of Prayer, as practiced currently, gives privileges to believers to the exclusion of non-believers.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
[Edit] Removed response to snark.

The privilege is that the national government, with all its power, recognises 'having faith' as the default state, the one on which no comment is needed, and then provides infrastructure to support that state. It is a very powerful affirmation of craziness. It says that those who do not pray are outsiders, not full citizens.

Further edit: This article explains it from the POV of a mainstream Christian.

[ April 23, 2010, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: King of Men ]
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
:points up to the edit:
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
*Points up to response-edit*
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
[Edit] Removed response to snark.

The privilege is that the national government, with all its power, recognises 'having faith' as the default state, the one on which no comment is needed, and then provides infrastructure to support that state. It is a very powerful affirmation of craziness. It says that those who do not pray are outsiders, not full citizens.

"Infrastructure" to me means a tangible thing that enables or facilitates an action or activity. Under that definition, I don't see how National Day of Prayer enables or facilitates prayer; any more than Dental Hygiene day facilitates tooth brushing.

Mucus made a good point-- the law clearly seems to flaunt the establishment clause (at least from one POV), in that it requires the president to make a declaration about a religious activity.

You might take a lesson from him-- he's a lot more convincing than your apparent persecution complex.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Mucus explains why it violates the law. I'm trying to explain why the law is a good thing. It was inserted into the constitution precisely because of the 'persecution complex' of various theists and deists; they were worried that a state church, even if it didn't explicitly persecute them, would make them outsiders in the nation they were creating. I don't usually use "the Founders thought" as an argument, but in this case I agree with them. If that's paranoia, hand me the tinfoil.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
I'm trying to explain why the law is a good thing.
I think Mucus did a good job of explaining that, too.

And without insulting anyone, or coming off like Mary Martyr.

But hey, he CANADIAN. They've got that super-power.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
I think Mucus did a good job of explaining that, too.
And did he convince you?

Incidentally, it appears that you may not have seen my second edit, with the link?
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
(Technically, the judge explained why law was violated and/or why it is a good thing. I just pointed out what she wrote. (And technically much of what she wrote was quoted too)

I just happen to agree)
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
I've always said that if you have to coerce people into holding your belief system, or if it's much easier to get them young and bring them up in it, the "Truth" of it must be pretty thin.
 
Posted by scholarette (Member # 11540) on :
 
It always irks me when this happens, but I agree with KofM. Proclaiming a day of prayer seems to overstep the govt's boundaries. In general, I do want a secular government and the day of prayer is not secular. However, I think that if a national tragedy were to occur and the president said people should prayer or whatever to seek solace, I would not object. I guess the difference between including prayer and religion in a speech versus a presidential statement. Also, I would love to see a modern president refuse to do the thanksgiving proclamation.
 
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
 
Agreed entirely, scholarette.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
did he convince you?
He convinced me that there's a POV that can make a reasonable argument that the National Day of Prayer, as endorsed by the government, is unconstitutional.

But I've always kind of been opposed to prayer in secular places.

I don't believe you've shown how the National Day of Prayer privileges people above others; did you want to pursue that conversation?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
The government says "This day should be devoted to this religious activity", and you don't see how that is privilege for the theists who practice that activity, over those who don't? Seriously?
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
Speaking only for myself, the National Day of Prayer alone isn't really a big deal. I don't really like it though, and I wish governments weren't spending time on it. Perhaps you might feel similarly about a National Stop Being So Superstitious Day. Or perhaps not.

That said, I DO think that the Day of Prayer privileges a theistic viewpoint over others, in a small way.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
The government says "This day should be devoted to this religious activity", and you don't see how that is privilege for the theists who practice that activity, over those who don't? Seriously?

Probably not in the same way that you do; which is why I asked. I see, theoretically, that there may be a point about a declaration excluding otherwise law-abiding members of a society from...something.

But I don't think social integration or acceptance is necessarily guaranteed by the Constitution. RIGHTS are; acceptance isn't. I keep coming back to this: in what tangible ways are non-participants harmed by the National Day of Prayer as practiced modernly?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
ScottR: In the same way you would be harmed if Islam were declared the National Religion.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
It's worth noting again that the legal ruling, while focusing on the legality of the law, does have a list (pages 57 to 59) of events where non-Christians were excluded from National Day of Prayer events.

At issue appears to be a very unclear line of separation between the National Day of Prayer Task Force (which is supposed to be private) and politicians that endorse it.

Some parts of interest since the surrounding parts are long

quote:
In Plano, Texas, a multicultural group and a group of Christians held “dueling
prayer services” on the National Day of Prayer after fighting over the right to
hold their events at the city council building and threatening to file a lawsuit.
Theodore Kim, “After threat of suit, city steps aside in prayer,” Dallas
Morning News, May 2, 2008, at 16B;

quote:
In Richmond, Virginia, a Jewish organization criticized a National Day of
Prayer event attended by various state officials at the state capitol because the
event’s sponsor excluded non-Christians. Robin Farmer, “Diverse gathering
marks day of prayer: Christian-oriented event leaves some feeling excluded,”
Richmond Times Dispatch, May 2, 2008, at B1;

quote:
In Victorville, California, local residents complained that "Hindus, Buddhists,
Muslims and Sikhs are being excluded” from the National Day of Prayer event
at the town hall. The organizer responded, “this entire nation was founded on
Christian faith. The reason we are a great county is because we're Christian.
In the Muslim countries, you can get shot if you're Christian." Brooke
Edwards, “Faiths clash over Day of Prayer,” Daily Press, April 27, 2008;

quote:
In Salt Lake City, Utah, Mormons were excluded from National Day of Prayer
of events because they are not “in accordance with the evangelical principles
[of] the task force,” including a belief in the “Holy Trinity” and that the Bible
is the “only written word of God.” Travis Reed, Associated Press, May 4,
2004;

quote:
These incidents suggest that James Madison’s prediction seems to have come true: in many instances, the
National Day of Prayer has “narrow[ed] the recommendation [to pray] to the standard of
the predominant sect.”
It is true that much of the controversy has been generated by events of private
organizations such as the National Day of Prayer Task Force. However, government
officials, including former Presidents, have sometimes aligned themselves so closely with
those exclusionary groups that it becomes difficult to tell the difference between the
government’s message and that of the private group.
...
If the National Day of Prayer was not a public observance, members of minority religious groups
or secular groups would have less reason to be concerned about being excluded from events celebrating the day.

Of particular interest, note that in the last paragraph, thats a reference to James Madison's argument about refusing Thanksgiving Proclamations that I quoted on the previous page.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
ScottR: In the same way you would be harmed if Islam were declared the National Religion.

Can you justify this statement? Smells like hyperbole from here...
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
Mucus:

Again, inclusion in American society is not a constitutional guarantee.

The only ones that worry me of the above are the ones where an event was sponsored by local government. Not just where local/state government officials attended, mind you, but where public monies were used to push an agenda of religious intolerance.

I am not worried a bit by Evangelicals excluding Mormons in Utah. It kind of makes me laugh, honestly.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Can you justify this statement? Smells like hyperbole from here...

I'm simply trying to demonstrate for you what it might feel like from a Christian perspective, compared to how a National Day of Prayer feels to an atheist.

I don't want the government explicitly supporting a religion other than my own, and I suspect that you don't either.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Mucus:

Again, inclusion in American society is not a constitutional guarantee.

Pardon, but that's exactly what both we and the judge are telling you: When it comes to religion, it is. The government is not permitted to declare any religion official, and that includes religion in general.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Again, inclusion in American society is not a constitutional guarantee.

Or to elaborate, this was one of the more confusing parts of the ruling. But, while inclusion might not be a constitutional guarantee, the government might still be bound to not endorse things that might prove divisive. There is a slight difference.

IANAL, but the way I read it, it seems that part of the reason why that list of incidents was brought up is that it appears on pages 54 through 57, that a Judge Breyer ruled two different ways when considering whether it was constitutional to display the Ten Commandments in two different cases, one at a Texas state capitol (constitutional), Kentucky court houses (not constitutional). Breyer was the swing vote.

It seemed to me that Breyer based this on the fact that the former had been undivisive for decades and that the latter has proved divisive much sooner.

quote:
(“Justice Breyer claimed to rely on
abstract ‘legal judgment’ rather than the Court's traditional tests, but he essentially applied
the traditional endorsement test.”). He considered the purpose of the display and the effect
it had, concluding that “the monument conveys a predominantly secular message.”
...
The only new factor that Justice Breyer incorporated into his analysis was that the
display did not have a “divisive” history before the lawsuit was filed. Id. at 704. To the
extent this is a relevant factor in this case, it does not seem to favor defendants.


 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Yes. That's what I said. "None so blind", eh?

As you show every time you post on this topic.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Yes. That's what I said. "None so blind", eh?

As you show every time you post on this topic.
No kidding. It's sad that he has to keep pointing it out over and over.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Can you justify this statement? Smells like hyperbole from here...

I'm simply trying to demonstrate for you what it might feel like from a Christian perspective, compared to how a National Day of Prayer feels to an atheist.

Okay. So you feel irrationally paranoid.

I'm not sure what other conclusion I'm supposed to come to given that statement, MC.

quote:

I don't want the government explicitly supporting a religion other than my own, and I suspect that you don't either.

I don't want the government explicitly supporting any religion, especially my own. I inherently distrust Mormon politicians in a way that I do not mistrust, say, Catholic ones.

Mucus:

quote:
the government might still be bound to not endorse things that might prove divisive.
I'm not convinced. The...um...jury is still out on that one.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
ScottR: In the same way you would be harmed if Islam were declared the National Religion.

Hardly.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Yes. That's what I said. "None so blind", eh?

As you show every time you post on this topic.
No kidding. It's sad that he has to keep pointing it out over and over.
Like a neurotic Lab chasing the same tattered tennis ball 24 hours a day. No one else sees value in the ball, but the Lab keeps going after it over and over, dropping at people's feet.

It's fairly well know that the Framers didn't want a State religion. That's what the anti-establishment law prevents. They had a justified fear of persecution, and wanted to enshrine the idea of religion being a personal choice not to be chosen FOR people, but by people, for themselves, as they saw fit.

I've yet to see anything that ever remotely suggests that they wanted all forms of religion barred from public discourse.

You are free to not participate in prayer, or religion. But that doesn't mean that people in public life have to give up THEIR beliefs. It doesn't mean that having a day of prayer that is intended to be non-denominational infringes on your right to not pray.


But by all means keep fetching the ball. I'm sure someone will throw it for you again.
 
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
 
quote:
It's fairly well know that the Framers didn't want a State religion. That's what the anti-establishment law prevents.
If you read a bit of the discourse surrounding the passing of the Constitution, you'll see it was put in place to prevent a good deal more than that. And, just as with free speech, our understanding of what the Constitution means in a modern context is continuously evolving, separate from the exact intents at the time of its passage.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
the government might still be bound to not endorse things that might prove divisive.
I'm not convinced. The...um...jury is still out on that one.
It seems clear to me. Let's reword it, in that section the logic is.

If (purely religious) {unconsitutional}
else {
// if as in the ten commandment cases, people
// obstensibly claim a secular function
Breyer might apply the "divisiveness" test to see if the event/object at hand is religious or not
}

If you acknowledge (and I could be wrong) that the National Prayer Day has no secular purpose, then we actually hit the first clause, not the Breyer logic.

quote:
Because I have concluded that the National Day of Prayer does not serve a secular purpose, Justice Breyer’s concurrence does not suggest a different result in this
case.

I was just bringing that part up to discuss what tangible harms might come up, not because I think it is directly relevant to the main logic of the ruling.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
Mucus:

I was speaking generally: in general, the government is not obligated to enforce social integration or acceptance of minority cultures' viewpoints.

They are obligated, however, to uphold citizens' rights.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
fugu, I have read a bit of it, although perhaps not as much as lawyers do. [Big Grin]


I know our definition of rights evolves, as it has to for a modern world. However, that is what I am disagreeing with....some people's modern interpretation, which they claim is what was the original intent....and that that intent is clear as day.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
Hardly.

Well, I guess I got told.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
[Roll Eyes]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Wow, you're being really constructive in this thread, Kwea. Speaking of always doing the same old things.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
quote:
quote:
It's a simple issue, really, and religious people should be as concerned about it as atheists. Government sponsorship of religion is a bad thing for everyone, not just the losers.

What is the downside to the government endorsing/celebrating religion in general, given that the government doesn't favor any specific religion and that the government doesn't force or pressure anyone to practice religion or believe in a religion? Why would that, given those limitations, be a bad thing for everyone?

Firstly, because religion in general is a bad thing. Secondly, because bad or not, the Constitution gives atheists protection from this sort of thing.
Well, the first point isn't convincing because I believe religion is good.

And the second point is circular. You can't say the Constitution should be interpreted to give us a specific right because it does give us that right. America could always amend the Constitution to change that, if there's no good reason for it other than that it's been interpreted that way in the past.

And the government would still not be allowed to establish a specific national religion - so you can't compare it to making Islam the state religion. The National Magic Day is a better comparison, and I don't really see a real danger in that, even if I lived in a country where the majority of people believe in and tried to practice magic.
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
quote:
You can't say the Constitution should be interpreted to give us a specific right because it does give us that right. America could always amend the Constitution to change that, if there's no good reason for it other than that it's been interpreted that way in the past.
If America amends the constitution, then America amends the constitution. Until then, the constitution says that the government shall pass no law that establishes religion. I think it is perfectly sensible to argue that that be interpreted to mean what it actually says.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
I don't really see a real danger in that, even if I lived in a country where the majority of people believe in and tried to practice magic.
Do you belong to a faith that believes the practice of magic is harmful?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
Not really. But if you'd prefer something that's harmful, the National Animal Sacrifice Day is just as applicable, and I do think that's harmful. If the majority felt animal sacrifice is a thing that needs to be celebrated with an official day, I don't see how that in any way poses a threat to my religious freedom - presuming it is celebrating animal sacrifice as a religious practice across all religions and not just advocating one.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Wow, you're being really constructive in this thread, Kwea. Speaking of always doing the same old things.

As constructive as you making the same false, ignorant, intolerant statements bashing other people's beliefs? It hasn't stopped you, or even slowed you down.

You've done more to drive people away from this site and make it a harsh, nasty place than any 4 trolls, KoM, but here we are, aren't we? You are here, and most of what made Hatrack great left rather than deal with you and people like you.

Obviously being constructive is not really a concern for you.

Hatrack is still a GOOD place to come, but that is despite you rather than because of you. [Dont Know]

[ April 25, 2010, 01:25 PM: Message edited by: Kwea ]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
As constructive as you making the same false, ignorant, intolerant statements bashing other people's beliefs? It hasn't stopped you, or even slowed you down.
I do believe that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me. [Smile]

quote:
Obviously being constructive is not really a concern for you.
Being popular or tactful is not; but that is not the same thing. I understand that you do not like my style of argument; however, I do give actual arguments, not mere name-calling and repetitive accusations of, um, repetitiveness. As for ignorance, you have attempted to enlighten me and I have disagreed with your assertions; if I make the same arguments which you feel are false to fact, it is not because I am ignorant but because I found your version unconvincing.

You also have rather a curious understanding of 'tolerance'; if argument on a discussion forum is intolerant, then I'll just have to wear that shoe. But until you actually see my storm troopers making random theists scrub the streets, you have seen no intolerance. Tolerance does not mean agreement, it does not even mean respect; it means agreeing to live in the same society without violence.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
To you, perhaps. I don;t agree with a lot of people, KoM, but I am tolerant of the fact that their views are different than mine...yet I do not reference violence in my definition of tolerance.

I don't expect to turn you into a theist. LOL I wouldn't even try to. It's not even a possibility for you because of your beginning assumptions. I understand that. Hell, I can even see where you are coming from sometimes. I have a checkered past with regards to religion myself. My beliefs about it have changed over the years, that's for sure.

But you are so rigid in your beliefs, so intolerant of others beliefs and values, that you constantly belittle and insult them, and their beliefs on a regular basis. And you actually expect people to accept that, because you claim to have some sort of special understanding of the world that other people don't.

You are the flip side of the religious extremists your hate, and you can't see that. You have your own beliefs, but not everyone agrees whit you....yet you seem to feel it is ok to dismiss their thoughts, feelings and beliefs and mock them, simply because they differ from your own beliefs.

Hell, even when I agree with you I am usually left with a bad taste in my mouth. I imagine if we met IRL we'd probably get along, believe it or not, because I have a lot of friends who don't see eye to eye with me on a lot of issues. I LIKE argument.


So I like good arguments, and I am hardly an ultra religious person, yet even I find your "discussion style" counter-productive.


Even if you don't like me (which is fine), the fact that I still dislike agreeing with you even when our views are similar should tell you how effective your arguments are in fact. (not very)

I am sorry I blew up at your in the post above, but after literally years of listening to your rants are religion, and religious people, it was just too much to take right now. I won't edit it, because I don't believe in deleting unless completely necessary, but I am sorry.

Other than in discussions on this topic, you usually seem like a decent guy. I am sorry I didn't treat you like one.
 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
however, I do give actual arguments, not mere name-calling and repetitive accusations of, um, repetitiveness
Calling the religious crazy IS name calling, and is not an argument.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Yeah, what Scott said (same as me, but as always more concise) LOL
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
To call people who literally cannot tell right from wrong 'crazy' is accurate use of language: That's what insanity means. If their feelings are hurt, that can't be helped, any more than I can help hurting people's feelings if I correct their physics. Further, it is necessary to counteract the prevailing assumption that religion is the default and natural state of mankind. Accurate language can help, in somewhat the same vein that early feminists found it useful to coin words like 'herstory' and 'chairperson'.

quote:
But you are so rigid in your beliefs, so intolerant of others beliefs and values, that you constantly belittle and insult them, and their beliefs on a regular basis.
Well, there you go again with the mislabeled intolerance. Again, insult and lack of respect do not result from not tolerating someone, but from not accepting them. As for rigidity of belief, you perhaps intend that as criticism; but the purpose of an open mind, like an open mouth, is to close it upon something solid. Alas, most people chew nothing but mud.

quote:
yet I do not reference violence in my definition of tolerance.
Then you are mistaken.

quote:
Even if you don't like me (which is fine), the fact that I still dislike agreeing with you even when our views are similar should tell you how effective your arguments are in fact. (not very)
This assumes that you are typical, which may not be so. But even if you were, I'm not the only atheist out there; it's valuable to have a wide spectrum - a marketplace, to coin a phrase - of argumentative styles, so as to have a key to fit every lock, as it were. It is not as though Tom has converted you, either; so it does not seem to be the style which is the barrier, but rather your own obtuseness.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
If their feelings are hurt, that can't be helped...
Well, yes it can, actually. It is done all the time. Furthermore you know it can be helped, as you've seen it done in this community, sometimes inspired by one of your more dramatic cases of soapbox-hopping.

It can be helped, or at least attempt to be helped. You just don't care to do so. I still don't understand why you aren't willing to simply admit it instead of pretending it's impossible, when the truth is you're not really convincing anyone.

quote:
...it's valuable to have a wide spectrum - a marketplace, to coin a phrase - of argumentative styles, so as to have a key to fit every lock, as it were.
This is as close as I think you've come to stating what has been clear for awhile: you're not actually attempting to persuade people when you insult them (sorry, 'don't accept them'), but instead are working towards some other goal. That's a step forward, I suppose. Maybe in a few years if you're asked the question again, you'll actually answer it honestly?

quote:
To call people who literally cannot tell right from wrong 'crazy' is accurate use of language: That's what insanity means.
In what is almost certain to be wasted time: how do you know they cannot tell right from wrong? I'm not talking about all religious people everywhere as a group. I'm asking how you can point to one religious person and say, "You're crazy, and you're wrong, and that unprovable thing you believe in doesn't actually exist."? Because you do that too, of course.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
That you for proving me right on every point. I didn't expect it to happen all in one post, but I probably should have.

All I did was allow you to prove your own ignorance and prejudice. That you for making it so easy.

Life isn't physics. The fact that you seem to think it is makes me pity you, and even more so your family. Thank God (irony intended) I don't have to live in "your world". I am glad that your version of "right and wrong" isn't mine. I'm a better person for it.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
The irony in the last two posts is so thick you can cut it with a Bible.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Now when you say that, MightyCow...you were having fun, right? Because as you said elsewhere, righteous indignation is fun.

That said, where exactly is the irony in my post? If it's so thick, you ought to be able to point to an example right away, correct?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Life isn't physics.
As a matter of fact, life is physics. And to head you off at the pass, it is nonetheless full of mystery, passion, and interest. That you need, apparently, to invent spirits and ghosts in your own image if life is to have meaning for you makes me - I choose my words with a non-unpleasant sense of irony - pity you.

quote:
All I did was allow you to prove your own ignorance and prejudice.
If I am ignorant, you have done nothing to alleviate the condition; remind me again which one of us has the ethical system enjoining him to love his enemies? You mistake disagreement for ignorance. And I make no pre-judgements; I judge your inability to tell right and wrong apart only after you have demonstrated the fact. If you dislike the judgement, that is your privilege; but to say it was made before we spoke is a plain falsehood.

quote:
This is as close as I think you've come to stating what has been clear for awhile: you're not actually attempting to persuade people when you insult them (sorry, 'don't accept them'), but instead are working towards some other goal.
I do not think that is what I said. My intention was to state that I argue for the benefit of those not reachable by sweet respectfulness; that angle is well covered by other atheists here. It may be that I stated this badly, but I do not see how you extracted a confession of a sinister "other goal".

quote:
In what is almost certain to be wasted time: how do you know they cannot tell right from wrong?
I ask what their evidence was for a certain assertion, and they respond that it's not about evidence, it's about faith. Here is evil, staring you in the face and grinning. I state this, not in an attempt to be funny or ironic, but as simple truth.

To be fair about it, not every theist is of this stripe; Lisa, Armoth, and BlackBlade, for example, all accept the primacy of evidence even though their conclusions are shaded by emotion, indoctrination, and wishful thinking. And to extend the fairness further, I do not know into which camp Kwea falls; it is not clear that he, personally, is nuts. But most theists, I find, can give no coherent account of the evidence for their belief, and furthermore become angry at the suggestion that they should. The former may be excused as mere ignorance; I am myself ignorant of the detailed evidence for many things I believe. But in the latter, madness lies.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
I do not think that is what I said. My intention was to state that I argue for the benefit of those not reachable by sweet respectfulness; that angle is well covered by other atheists here.
Well, 'sweet respectfulness' is one way I suppose to describe what you're not doing. That said, who do you think you have reached by your, I don't know, bitter disrespectfulness approach? The angle you're covering isn't covered by other atheists because it doesn't work. But maybe that windmill did you wrong somehow...

quote:
I ask what their evidence was for a certain assertion, and they respond that it's not about evidence, it's about faith. Here is evil, staring you in the face and grinning. I state this, not in an attempt to be funny or ironic, but as simple truth.
So, because someone does not have a good reason for believing something, that particular belief must be wrong? That doesn't follow, and it's hardly evil. What a silly word to use for someone rejecting faith as a basis for reaching decisions!

It appears the answer to my question is, "I don't." Killing people is no less wrong if I believe it's wrong because people ought only be beaten nearly to death. All you know is that their process is wrong, but you don't stop there, do you? You say, "Nobody can possibly have reached a correct answer through an incorrect process. I know it, and they're stupid and evil for thinking otherwise."

quote:
...furthermore become angry at the suggestion that they should.
You can tell yourself this as often as you like, shout it to the world, in fact, but that won't make it one iota more true than it is now. And it's not true now. If you think most people get angry at you for suggesting they give a 'coherent account etc. etc.', well, you're just not paying attention. Or you're assuming you can read their minds and understand them better than they understand themselves, which would be an interesting claim for you to make, having such a keen understanding of madness that is.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
So, because someone does not have a good reason for believing something, that particular belief must be wrong? That doesn't follow, and it's hardly evil. What a silly word to use for someone rejecting faith as a basis for reaching decisions!

It appears the answer to my question is, "I don't." Killing people is no less wrong if I believe it's wrong because people ought only be beaten nearly to death. All you know is that their process is wrong, but you don't stop there, do you? You say, "Nobody can possibly have reached a correct answer through an incorrect process. I know it, and they're stupid and evil for thinking otherwise."

I can form no link between what you are posting and what I posted; it follows that at least one of us is completely mis-reading the other. In case I'm the one being mis-read, let me try to restate my thesis in different terms: To reach a wrong conclusion from evidence is not evil, but only misguided. But to reject evidence as a means for reaching conclusions is evil. It is, if you like, an epistemological form of evil; it is the rejection of all that make humanity more than an ape. To reject evidence and reason is to reduce yourself to the level of a child or animal, or to willingly take drugs that will damage your brain. To borrow from within the Christian faith, it is a sin akin to suicide: The horror that a Christian might feel at seeing someone throw away the gift of life, I experience when someone tells me that it's "not about evidence".

You also appear to object to my using the word 'evil' and simultaneously denigrating faith as a route to truth. Why is that? Do you think that only theists can believe there is evil in the world?

quote:
You can tell yourself this as often as you like, shout it to the world, in fact, but that won't make it one iota more true than it is now.
If you wish to directly contradict my experience, that's up to you; there is no possible response to the man who is willing to merely call you a liar. What I have said is based on my experience with Christians; perhaps you have interacted with a different set, and so formed a different conclusion.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
It was decided before we spoke, based on your actions, statements, and declared intent.

BTW, I guess you should write every dictionary and tell them they are wrong, too. Or will you simply claim they are ignorant because they disagree with you. I don't see any mention of violence here.....or in 4 other definitions. The fact that violence is even an option speaks volumes about you, IMO.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
tol·er·ance [tol-er-uhns]
–noun
1.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.


quote:
—Synonyms
1, 2. patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness. Tolerance, toleration agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve. Tolerance suggests a liberal spirit toward the views and actions of others: tolerance toward religious minorities. Toleration implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord: toleration of graft.


 
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
 
quote:
If you wish to directly contradict my experience, that's up to you; there is no possible response to the man who is willing to merely call you a liar.
It's equally difficult to respond to someone who calls you crazy.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
True; as noted, the art of curing insanity is in its infancy. But cheer up, you may yet be saved; I don't recall whether you are numbered among the nuts, or among the merely misguided. Is your belief based on evidence, or do you take it on faith, as a conscious 'choice to believe'?

quote:
A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
Quite so: I draw your attention to 'permissive'. To permit someone to take an action presupposes that one has the power not to do so; if I have no power of preventing you, then my permission is irrelevant. Ultimately, such power rests in violence. What you do not see in these definitions is mention of an approving attitude; my mere disapproval is no intolerance as long as I cannot or will not enforce it.
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:


You seem to think the default position should be whatever the minority wants. Frankly that's why your kind is afraid of immigration, afraid of change, afraid of young people and new ideas- you think anything that isn't directly under your control, at the heart of an overwhelming majority, is a danger to you. The constitution was put there specifically to make sure that we *could* live at peace with each other despite our society changing over time. Why would you want to undermine such a great thing? Something that helps you, every day?

No, my default position is not whatever the minority wants. Being a Christian puts me in a HUGE majority. But this debate aside, I'd really like to point out how bigoted your opinion of me is. I am not afraid of immigration, I favor amnesty, and a relaxed system that helps immigrants come to this country and become citizens, I believe the US is for everybody not just those that are born here. I'm not afraid of change. Change is neither a good or bad thing, it's neutral. Please, afraid of change. What's next are you going to tell me I'm against motherhood? And young people? Man, I'm 27 last I checked, that isn't old. Am I afraid of totally incompetent zombies that believe everything they here on the daily show (or Glenn beck for that matter)? Yes. Am I afraid of a demographic that goes out and literally votes for whoever MTV's vote or die campaign tells them to? A little bit. But what I'm really afraid of, Orincoro is people is who are bigot's and don't even know it. I bet you consider your self an open minded liberal thinker, you don't harbor ill will towards people who think differently than you, and you would never assume think that just because someone is white, black, gay, or straight, that you could generalize their opinion or state of mind as inferior to yours. Yet you DO NOT HESITATE to address a statement to me headed by the words YOUR KIND. What does that even mean? who are my kind? IF you want to put me in box, Ono, here are some parameters for you. I'm a libertarian but not a Radian Randroid, I'm a Christian who doesn't belong to any particular denomination. I like to think of myself as constitutionalist. I land just right of center on the bell curve. I'm against abortion and the death penalty, I voted for John Carey and John McCain, respectively. So, their you go, now you can figure out who my kind is, if you really want to bother.

Edited for typos and the such due to typing at the speed of rant.

[ April 25, 2010, 10:24 PM: Message edited by: String ]
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
The downside?

Well, it gives atheists and agnostics a turn on the martyr pole.

[Big Grin]

[Taunt] That's pretty boss.
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Tolerance does not mean agreement, it does not even mean respect; it means agreeing to live in the same society without violence.

I agree with this. At the risk seeming to pucker up, That some wisdom being dropped right there.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
To call people who literally cannot tell right from wrong 'crazy' is accurate use of language: That's what insanity means.
"Crazy" and "Insanity" are not the right terms for that. "Human" is the word you are looking for.
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
tol·er·ance [tol-er-uhns]
–noun
1.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.


quote:
—Synonyms
1, 2. patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness. Tolerance, toleration agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve. Tolerance suggests a liberal spirit toward the views and actions of others: tolerance toward religious minorities. Toleration implies the allowance or sufferance of conduct with which one is not in accord: toleration of graft.


Lol I guess my definition of tolerance was wrong. I kind of equated to the feeling of tolerating something, even if it bugs crap out of you.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
In case I'm the one being mis-read, let me try to restate my thesis in different terms: To reach a wrong conclusion from evidence is not evil, but only misguided. But to reject evidence as a means for reaching conclusions is evil. It is, if you like, an epistemological form of evil; it is the rejection of all that make humanity more than an ape. To reject evidence and reason is to reduce yourself to the level of a child or animal, or to willingly take drugs that will damage your brain. To borrow from within the Christian faith, it is a sin akin to suicide: The horror that a Christian might feel at seeing someone throw away the gift of life, I experience when someone tells me that it's "not about evidence".

I think this is central to where you and Kate Boots keep talking past each other. She asserts that faith is not about propositional truth claims, and therefore not a matter for evidence. You persist in interpreting her as saying that it is about chosing to believe propositional truth claims without evidence.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I realise of course that the minds of such people are necessarily like Escher drawings, as they hide from themselves exactly what it is they believe, or don't believe, or whatever. Nonetheless, if you ask kmb "Does God exist" (with appropriate qualifiers on the meaning of 'God') she will say yes, and if you ask her what her evidence is, she will say that she chooses to believe. That's a belief without evidence, I don't care how you dress it up.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
To call people who literally cannot tell right from wrong 'crazy' is accurate use of language: That's what insanity means.
"Crazy" and "Insanity" are not the right terms for that. "Human" is the word you are looking for.
Well, redifining terms to prove that your beliefs are "right" is a very convenient way to prevent cognative dissonance.

Believing that shoes are made by Elves isn't silly, I like to call it "smart." Damn, that was fun!
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
KoM,

quote:
To reach a wrong conclusion from evidence is not evil, but only misguided.
I agree, but here's the first stumbling block: you have no way of knowing the ultimate conclusion is wrong, that is, that there is a God. I mean, you just don't. There are gobs and gobs of evidence against various specific ideas of God, but none whatsoever against the notion that God exists. That's why I took care to talk about specific individuals, and please note that I'm not saying that's sufficient reason to believe in God.

quote:
But to reject evidence as a means for reaching conclusions is evil.
I don't know that I'd say it was evil, though I can see where you're coming from. I would certainly say it's pretty dumb, though. But I'm quite certain we would disagree very much on just how many people actually reject evidence as a means for reaching conclusions.

quote:
To borrow from within the Christian faith, it is a sin akin to suicide: The horror that a Christian might feel at seeing someone throw away the gift of life, I experience when someone tells me that it's "not about evidence".
For example, I would be astounded to discover that even a small fraction of people who say that mean 'not about evidence' the way you mean it. If you would broaden your discussion past, "Nuh-uh, that's not evidence," you might actually get somewhere aside from yelling at theists about how stupid and crazy they are.

quote:
You also appear to object to my using the word 'evil' and simultaneously denigrating faith as a route to truth. Why is that? Do you think that only theists can believe there is evil in the world?
No, I don't, it's just a bit unusual to hear someone so vehemently rejecting imprecise thoughts and terms as you do throw a word like 'evil' out there. What is evil to you? Do you know it when you see it? etc.

quote:
If you wish to directly contradict my experience, that's up to you; there is no possible response to the man who is willing to merely call you a liar. What I have said is based on my experience with Christians; perhaps you have interacted with a different set, and so formed a different conclusion.
And what I have said is based on my observations of your interactions with Christians over the years on this board. I can't and don't speak to your motives and methods outside of Hatrack. How could I? But I can speculate as to both here, which is what I did. Or do you think there is someone who your approach has reached? Could you point them out? Point to a meaningful discussion in which the thoughts you intended to provoke were actually provoked on the other side?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
quote:
quote:

To call people who literally cannot tell right from wrong 'crazy' is accurate use of language: That's what insanity means.

"Crazy" and "Insanity" are not the right terms for that. "Human" is the word you are looking for.
Well, redifining terms to prove that your beliefs are "right" is a very convenient way to prevent cognative dissonance.

Believing that shoes are made by Elves isn't silly, I like to call it "smart." Damn, that was fun!

I think you misunderstood what I intended to say. What I was saying is: Making mistakes about what is right and wrong is not a sign of insanity. All human beings make mistakes like that.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
That's not really what King of Men was saying either, Tresopax.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
What was he saying then? As I understood it, he was defending calling the religious crazy based on the fact that they fail to tell right from wrong, in his opinion.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
True; as noted, the art of curing insanity is in its infancy. But cheer up, you may yet be saved; I don't recall whether you are numbered among the nuts, or among the merely misguided. Is your belief based on evidence, or do you take it on faith, as a conscious 'choice to believe'?

quote:
A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
Quite so: I draw your attention to 'permissive'. To permit someone to take an action presupposes that one has the power not to do so; if I have no power of preventing you, then my permission is irrelevant. Ultimately, such power rests in violence. What you do not see in these definitions is mention of an approving attitude; my mere disapproval is no intolerance as long as I cannot or will not enforce it.
Yes, it is. And it's not your disapproval that bothers me, and other people who disagree with you. It's the ridged intolerance for other people's views, and that disdain you show for their right to disagree with you.

My beliefs are that there are many things we don't know, or will ever know, about our world. I don't believe that science has all of the answers, or ever will. I DO believe that science is one of our greatest tools for understanding our world, and have a high respect for it. But it doesn't solve all of our problems, particularly social ones.

I also believe that a lot of people have experiences that are hard to quantify, and they turn to religion to explain them. Sometimes it is a good thing, sometimes it is a bad thing. But I think that has to do with the type of religion they choose, and how they choose to practice it, not with any flaw in religion as a whole.

I also don't see a problem between science and religion. They don't have to be in opposition. If there is a God, as I believe, that doesn't mean that science is less valid. As a matter of fact it actually makes me MORE amazed at our lives, and the world we live in.

I think that things we can't see or quantify still exist. Our world is filtered through our bodies, so or course the physical impacts us in relationship to those things, but I don't believe they are the sole cause of them.

Love exists beyond chemical reactions, as does happiness and a myriad of other emotions. We can't see them, or touch them but we feel them and know they exist. We can understand the chemical reactions, a little bit, that allow us to feel them, but I don't think n our relationships can be summed up simply by saying "Chemical x causes reaction M.".

There are far more things we DON'T know than we do, IMO. Science will help us learn about our world, and maybe other worlds as well. It will shed light on who we are, and who we can be, and raise our horizons to new heights.


But religion will feed our spirits, and help us remain human even amongst the stars. It will provide social stability, and help us educate the next generations on both their rights and their responsibilities as human beings.


None of that really matters to this discussion, though. [Big Grin]


I have no issue with atheists, really. I have no issue with Muslims, or Mormons, of Roman Catholics. They all believe different things than I do, that's for sure. But if they find comfort in their beliefs, and it works for them, good for them.

What I DO dislike are extremists. I can't stand it when someone thinks they have the right or obligation to force me to believe what they do. I think that your world view, which includes your view on religion, is specific to you, and what your needs are, and that even within a religion you will never find two people who honestly believe exactly the same thing.

Sort of like a gathering of scientists. [Big Grin] They all believe in science, and data collecting, but they usually can't seem to agree easily on what the data means. [Wink]
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
But religion will feed our spirits, and help us remain human even amongst the stars. It will provide social stability, and help us educate the next generations on both their rights and their responsibilities as human beings.
Will it?
 
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
But religion will feed our spirits, and help us remain human even amongst the stars. It will provide social stability, and help us educate the next generations on both their rights and their responsibilities as human beings.
Will it?
And even if it will, is it the only thing that can do so? Or even the best thing that can do so?

And are you using the term 'spirit' figuratively or literally?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
What was he saying then? As I understood it, he was defending calling the religious crazy based on the fact that they fail to tell right from wrong, in his opinion.
What he was saying seemed pretty clear to me. Crazy wasn't making a mistake, crazy was willfully and persistently believing in an outcome that eschews evidence. In fact I agree with that, though I'm sure I disagree a great deal on just what 'evidence' is.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I don't think we disagree even on the meaning of evidence; rather we disagree on the weight to be attached to personal spiritual experience. I agree that this is evidence, but that's a weak standard; it is not powerful or compelling evidence.

As for craziness, I'm merely applying the legal standard: A suspect is considered not guilty by reason of insanity if it can be shown that, at the time he committed the crime, he was in such a state as to be unable to tell right from wrong.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Yes, it will. And it will continue to do so, IMO, and in the opinion of a lot of people.

Javert, I am happy with it in my own life, and in the lives of people i know. If you want to experiment with your own children and raise them otherwise, of course you are free to do so.


That's being tolerant, and accepting that my answers may not fit everyone else.
And I am not saying that religion is necessary for everyone, or that people who are raised without it are defective, or flawed. I just believe that it is MUCH harder to instill those types of values into a child without the backing of a community that a good religion provides.


And yes, I DO believe in instilling values into children. That doesn't mean that you don't teach them to think for themselves, but until they get a little bit of experience themselves, religion can provide some useful guidance.

It's funny....if you listen to intolerant religious people they sound like everything is carved in stone, and that they think they have all the answers. But if you talk to people who educate themselves in their own religion, usually things are not so clear cut. Some things are, of course, but as you learn about the history of the religion, and how the beliefs and tenants were shaped, things become more fluid, at least somewhat.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
But if you talk to people who educate themselves in their own religion, usually things are not so clear cut.
Well, yes. I have in fact hazarded some guesses on why this is. [Wink]
 
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
 
tenets!
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
KoM, it may not be compelling evidence FOR YOU, but when dealing with issues that are not necessarily tangible, like religion, emotions, and our purpose in the world it may be the only possible evidence we can find.

I see evidence for God every time I look at nature, or hear music. I don't claim to know who God really is, or what mechanisms he uses to move the world, but my personal experiences tell me that there is one. I choose to believe, while allowing that other people's experiences may be different than mine.

None of that makes me less rigorous when conducting clinical trials for a new drug, or when doing a treatment for a patient who is dying. It doesn't make me crazy, imprecise, or unprofessional in my duties. It doesn't mean I discard physical evidence about my patients conditions. I don't think Faith healing should replace medical treatments, although they do help some people some of the time. (The placebo effect is a real, measurable effect, you know, which shows us we don't know half as much as we sometimes think me know about human anatomy and medicine).

The split you see between reason and religion is a false dichotomy. It doesn't have to exist, and it really doesn't outside of your mind and the mind of the people who think as you do.

Of course, I am not a literalist or creationist, so I have the luxury of believing in both. [Big Grin]
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
But if you talk to people who educate themselves in their own religion, usually things are not so clear cut.
Well, yes. I have in fact hazarded some guesses on why this is. [Wink]
lol...yup. And I read them, and ever agreed with some of your points, without becoming insulted. Mostly. [Wink]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
KoM, it may not be compelling evidence FOR YOU, but when dealing with issues that are not necessarily tangible, like religion, emotions, and our purpose in the world it may be the only possible evidence we can find.
You are evaluating this evidence wrongly. It is not as strong as you believe it to be. It is not a question of "what evidence can we find for this position". By that standard I could claim leprechauns on my garden on the basis of a Hatrack post, and when someone pointed out that this wasn't very compelling, I'd say "Not for you, but it's the only evidence we have." That would be silly, and so is your assertion.

quote:
I see evidence for God every time I look at nature, or hear music. I don't claim to know who God really is, or what mechanisms he uses to move the world, but my personal experiences tell me that there is one. I choose to believe,
And there it is, the crazy, hidden just under the surface. You cannot 'choose' to believe. Either you have evidence or you don't. If you must make a conscious choice to interpret the evidence in accordance with what you want to believe, then you have departed the way of sanity and gone into the outer dark where the ape-men howl and beat hollow logs with the thigh-bones of their enemies. Repent, and come into the light.

quote:
The split you see between reason and religion is a false dichotomy.
I do not see a split, any more than there is a split between science and phlogiston theory. I see a hypothesis which the evidence does not support, and I see people who nonetheless insist on asserting it.

quote:
None of that makes me less rigorous when conducting clinical trials for a new drug, or when doing a treatment for a patient who is dying.
The assertion that you are able to compartmentalise your craziness does not invalidate the diagnosis of crazy.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Where is the rigorous, logical chain of reason that leads from, "Look, a flowering plant" to "there exists a supernatural, anthropomorphic being who plays an active, but invisible role in the world, and who possesses a list of attributes, which we can somehow figure out by looking at sunsets and enjoying a good laugh."

I would love to see someone actually try to establish the logic of that, without including at least one step of hand-waving.

I think you'll find, if you look hard and with intellectual honesty, that it isn't logical or scientific n the slightest.

If you can prove me wrong, I will be quite impressed.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
quote:
The assertion that you are able to compartmentalise your craziness does not invalidate the diagnosis of crazy.
Well, compartmentalization of crazy certainly limits the relevance of the diagnosis. Even if we grant the "crazy" part.

I actually think that respect for others' religious beliefs - in practice - boils down to treating the person as if their fundamental wrongness about religion - an inescapable conclusion for those of a different or no religion - doesn't really matter. It's kind of about respecting the compartmentalization.

That's why people get mad at you, KoM, because you insist that it does matter, and in fact talk about it at nearly every opportunity. And I sympathize, because I think that commitment to rationality is a good thing, and you can't be nice to each contradictory belief without relaxing that commitment. Heck, Dawkins wrote a whole book about the exaggerated respect we offer this compartmentalization, and I think he was on to something.

But I do recognize that compartmentalization generally works. Despite being "crazy" in your view, even the most committed irrational religious people generally hold down jobs and function in society, which is only possible because they generally act not-crazy.

This, I think, is why Tresopax encouraged you to think of it as being human. Humanity tends to permit general functionality - general sanity - without total freedom from error.

The sense of gross malfunction implied by the word "crazy" just doesn't fit. The diagnosis is socially irrelevant in most contexts. When you get down to policy debate or philosophical arguments, you probably can't avoid confronting fundamental disagreements, but most of your engagements don't really require it. (Or, to be more generous to you, the conventions of the community you're engaging in really discourage the direct confrontation, to the extent that your flouting of the conventions is probably counter productive, since it tends to generate more resentment and anger than thoughtful discussion.)
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Well, compartmentalization of crazy certainly limits the relevance of the diagnosis. Even if we grant the "crazy" part.
This is reasonable; that is why I said evil rather than socially sub-optimal. I am making a moral point, not a legal one.
 
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
 
KOM, can you explain the ethical framework you are working with. What is the basis for your claim that rejecting evidence as the means for making a conclusion is evil. Please explain your reasoning because it isn't self evident.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
[QB] KoM, it may not be compelling evidence FOR YOU, but when dealing with issues that are not necessarily tangible, like religion, emotions, and our purpose in the world it may be the only possible evidence we can find.

If the only possible evidence regarding a proposition is lousy, the wise, reasonable thing to do is to not draw any conclusions about that proposition.

Not to hold the conclusion you really, really wish to be true, and then defend it as being reasoanble. People will believe manifestly wrong things, even when the evidence is solidly agasint them. How much more likely is it that someone is believing a manifestly wrong thing when 1) they really, really like their wrong idea and 2) there's no acceptable evidence supporting it?

quote:
I see evidence for God every time I look at nature, or hear music.
You can't be serious. You are claiming that if evolution had not equipped your brain to like music, that you would be thinking "since my species is not capable of a deep emotional feeling associated with certain combinations of tones and rhythms, there must not be a God"?

And nature? Really?

Spend a weekend researching all the differnt strategies of parasites. Some are pretty gruesome. Concentrate on the kinds that prey on human children, and then tell us what that research reveals about your God. No fair looking only at the pretty stuff.

quote:
I don't claim to know who God really is, or what mechanisms he uses to move the world, but my personal experiences tell me that there is one.
And other people's personal expereince tell them that they should torture and burn heretics. Why should anyone treat your personal expereicnes as more correct than theirs? Doesn't history more than demonstrate that people can come to horribly inaccurate conclusions, yielding senselessly awful consequences based on personal experiences?

Or to put it another way, listening to religious authorities, and giving in to one's natural xenophobia might be the the only possible "evidence" about intangible things like, whether a Protestant's soul is better off going to hell, or being tortured into repentance. So, is it better to obey what those sources tell an inquisitor to do, or would everyone be better off if the inquisitor concluded that since he didn't have any real evidence about people's souls, that he'd better be prudent?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I proceed from a point which a Christian might recognise: That life is a good thing, a gift as the theist might say, and that we are therefore obliged to make the most of it. It follows that we have a duty to think as deeply as we can, to explore as much truth as we are capable of, and to learn whatever we can learn; in short, to be the finest thinking apes imaginable given the constraint of having only a few pounds of highly-connected matter to do it with. To cloud one's mind, to accept less than the sharpest edge the brain can be honed to, is a breach of this duty. (As an aside, I'm also against the use of drugs that damage or temporarily dull the brain, to include alcohol. Which is not to say that I want a prohibition written into law, merely that I disapprove.) Faith, understood as deliberately disregarding evidence, is such a clouding of the mind; it abandons the search for truth in favour of a search for comforting platitudes, emotional popcorn. Perhaps 'sin' would be a better word than 'evil'.
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
quote:
Spend a weekend researching all the differnt strategies of parasites. Some are pretty gruesome. Concentrate on the kinds that prey on human children, and then tell us what that research reveals about your God. No fair looking only at the pretty stuff.
Not to mention heritable genetic disorders. Like fatal familial insomnia!
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Gift from whom? Duty to whom?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
When I said 'gift, as a theist might say', I was trying to communicate by using a theistic analogy, not saying that I would myself use this term.

Duty to oneself.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
What term would you use to express that concept?

Explain "duty to oneself", please. Who are you that such a duty is owed? What have you given yourself that you haven't already received?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I might say that life is a wonder and a joy, full of passion, incident, and interest; I might say that we are all absurdly lucky to be here; I might say that in the description "Life is a mere dance of atoms", I object to the adjective. Or I could stop messing about and point out that the concept needs no justification, since my interlocutors agree with it already.

quote:
Who are you that such a duty is owed?
Who is your god, that anything is owed it? At some point you must judge; there is no exterior source of duty, even in a theistic universe. If the god of Abraham were tomorrow to appears in the clouds and shout that your duty is to be a submissive housewife, you might obey to avoid hellfire, but in your heart of hearts you would judge, and find the duty real or imposed; you cannot take the word of a mere god for such a thing. Thus, to answer your question, I am the one who judges what duties are owed; and so are you, however you might protest otherwise.

quote:
What have you given yourself that you haven't already received?
I do not understand the question.
 
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
 
quote:
That life is a good thing, a gift as the theist might say, and that we are therefore obliged to make the most of it. It follows that we have a duty to think as deeply as we can, to explore as much truth as we are capable of, and to learn whatever we can learn; in short, to be the finest thinking apes imaginable given the constraint of having only a few pounds of highly-connected matter to do it with.
There is a gaping whole in your logic which must be addressed. There is no clear reason why a belief that life is good natural implies that the pursuit of truth is moral imperative. Your conclusion doesn't follow from your assumption. There is far more to life than rational intellectual exploration of the Universe. At least there is far more than that to my life.


As best I can tell, your underlying assumption is that the rational exploration of the Universe is the ultimate "morality". That assumption is not only not self evident, its not a definition of morality I've seen used in any major branch of ethics. What you've done is to define morality in such a way that it is the opposite of religion.

As Jonathan Haidt put it

quote:
If we want to stage a fair fight between religious and secular moralities, we can't eliminate one by definition before the match begins.

 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Well, who said anything about a fair fight? In a clash of morals, there's no fair fight between good and evil; good wins. Naturally the evil side is going to complain that this is unfair; I feel no obligation to pay attention to their wiles. If you want to see a fair fight, go watch a soccer game. In morality as in mathematics, there is a correct answer, to which all others are infinitely inferior; there's no fairness about this, and no need for it.

quote:
There is no clear reason why a belief that life is good implies that the pursuit of truth is a moral imperative.
Not the pursuit of truth, but the pursuit of perfection as a human, which includes holding true beliefs.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
"gaping whole"

That's the most nihilistic typo I've ever seen!
 
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
 
Fair fight is Jonathan Haidt's terminology not mine. If you sincerely want to determine whether secular ethics or religious ethics are superior, you can't start off with defining good to be secular and evil to be religious. When you do that, you are no different than those who define good to be "things that lead you to believe in God" and then conclude that atheist/secular/scientific think is evil.
 
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
There is no clear reason why a belief that life is good implies that the pursuit of truth is a moral imperative.
Not the pursuit of truth, but the pursuit of perfection as a human, which includes holding true beliefs.
You are still begging the question. What constitutes perfection? You can't answer that question without an assumption about what is good.

How do we determine what constitutes a "true belief"? Isn't that the crux of the argument and you just wiped it out as though it didn't even exist? You start from the assumption that material truth is the only truth. If that assumption is wrong, then you are violating your own stated ultimate moral good by insisting that exploring spiritual questions is evil.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
If you sincerely want to determine whether secular ethics or religious ethics are superior, you can't start off with defining good to be secular and evil to be religious.
I didn't. I defined perfection to include true beliefs; I observed that one cannot form such beliefs without evidence; I therefore discarded faith, to be understood as the rejection of evidence. This does not of itself reject religion. Lisa, to take but one example, is religious without faith (in the narrow sense I'm using it here.) Kmb isn't. That religion is not supported by evidence is a further fact about the universe, not derivable from my first principles; if I had my current ethics but no information about the origin of the universe, I would be obliged to test the various religious hypotheses floating about.

On further thought, though, your phrase "determine [which ethics] is superior" seems a bit at cross-purposes with my post. I'm not comparing systems of ethics, I'm explaining mine, and how certain actions are sins within that framework.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
How do we determine what constitutes a "true belief"? Isn't that the crux of the argument and you just wiped it out as though it didn't even exist? You start from the assumption that material truth is the only truth. If that assumption is wrong, then you are violating your own stated ultimate moral good by insisting that exploring spiritual questions is evil.
I have no objection to exploring spiritual questions. What I object to is 'choosing to believe' particular answers, taking them on faith. I have now explained this several times. Since you show no sign of understanding what I'm saying, perhaps you should take a moment to go back and re-read.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
What information about the origin of the universe do you have that releases you from whatever "obligation" to test various religious hypothese that you would have if you didn't possess that information? And how would you test the hypotheses of my religion?
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
How do we determine what constitutes a "true belief"?

Reality testing.

What did you have in mind? Judging beliefs by the sincerity of believers, or how strongly believers like their beliefs?

quote:
You start from the assumption that material truth is the only truth.
No, it's the only kind of claim that we can possibly verify or falsify. How can anyone know truth without a reliable way of detecting false?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
What information about the origin of the universe do you have that releases you from whatever "obligation" to test various religious hypotheses that you would have if you didn't possess that information?

Since there is clear evidence that the Universe is more than 6000 years old, the world cannot be as described in Genesis; this rules out a whole class of religions right there. However, my phrase 'origin of the universe' was intended as shorthand. Other religions assert facts, such as the efficacy of intercessory prayer, which are refuted by knowledge that has nothing to do with the origin of the universe. Wherever a religion has made some prediction and there is no evidence in its favour, I can use that knowledge to discard that religion. If the test had not been done, or if I were ignorant of the lack of evidence, then I'd have to check it myself.

Now, lest anyone point out that I haven't personally tested the religious beliefs of the animist shamans of Congo and that there's also little said about it in the literature, I do feel it's legitimate after a while to say "this falls into a class of assertions which it has never been fruitful to test", and discard it without further checking, until such time as its proponents come up with a convincing reason to take another look.

quote:
And how would you test the hypotheses of my religion?
Well, there you go: You don't have any. Your religion makes no predictions or assertions about the universe, it just preaches a sort of wishy-washy general niceness. Tea and biscuits do not a cosmology make.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
You are evaluating this evidence wrongly. It is not as strong as you believe it to be. It is not a question of "what evidence can we find for this position". By that standard I could claim leprechauns on my garden on the basis of a Hatrack post, and when someone pointed out that this wasn't very compelling, I'd say "Not for you, but it's the only evidence we have." That would be silly, and so is your assertion.
How is it you are in a position to evaluate someone else's experience and judge whether it is weighty evidence or not? I'm not talking about specific cases which can be reasonably evaluated, I'm talking about the sweeping generalizations you routinely engage in on this topic. Kwea or Scott or myself are not just evaluating the evidence incorrectly, all religious people are.

Your comparison to a Hatrack post serving as evidence for leprechauns is also pretty cheesy, for a variety of reasons you're already familiar with. One of them being that if someone claimed to have seen leprechauns in their garden in a Hatrack post, you would have a much higher reasonable standard of believing they were simply lying for laughs than you would if they claimed to have prayed and through prayer communicated with God, for example.

quote:
And there it is, the crazy, hidden just under the surface. You cannot 'choose' to believe. Either you have evidence or you don't. If you must make a conscious choice to interpret the evidence in accordance with what you want to believe, then you have departed the way of sanity and gone into the outer dark where the ape-men howl and beat hollow logs with the thigh-bones of their enemies. Repent, and come into the light.
This supposes, wrongly, that a given piece of evidence can reasonably only point towards one conclusion. That it cannot possibly point to more than one thing at a time.

quote:
I do not see a split, any more than there is a split between science and phlogiston theory. I see a hypothesis which the evidence does not support, and I see people who nonetheless insist on asserting it.
'The evidence', by any fair standard you could possibly be using, neither supports nor does not support the existence of God, KoM. It simply doesn't. If you were agnostic as opposed to a militant atheist, though, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

quote:
What I object to is 'choosing to believe' particular answers, taking them on faith. I have now explained this several times.
Perhaps the problem lies in that while you have explained what you object to, you appear to see that practice literally everywhere in all religious people as the fundamental foundation of their religious beliefs.
 
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
How do we determine what constitutes a "true belief"?

Reality testing.

What did you have in mind? Judging beliefs by the sincerity of believers, or how strongly believers like their beliefs?

quote:
You start from the assumption that material truth is the only truth.
No, it's the only kind of claim that we can possibly verify or falsify. How can anyone know truth without a reliable way of detecting false?

You are still begging the question. You can't detect hydrogen with x-ray photo electron spectroscopy. That isn't evidence that hydrogen doesn't exit or isn't important or interesting. Its evidence that x-ray photo electron spectroscopy isn't an adequate tool to answer all questions of interest.

I postulate that there are truths which can not be discovered by the scientific method. You are arguing that this postulate is false (or even evil) because it can't be explored scientifically. That's circular reasoning. The fact that your tool doesn't allow you to measure something, is not evidence its non-existence or its morality. Its evidence of inadequacy of the tool.

If you accept KOM's premise that pursuit of truth is a moral imperative, you can't eliminate an area of intense human interest on the basis that your tool can't measure it.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by String:
No, my default position is not whatever the minority wants. Being a Christian puts me in a HUGE majority.

It's too bad you didn't get from the context that that was a typo on my part. Read "majority," not "minority," and see if you can respond again in that light.

From your response though, I'm guessing I was right.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
But religion will feed our spirits, and help us remain human even amongst the stars. It will provide social stability, and help us educate the next generations on both their rights and their responsibilities as human beings.
Will it?
Give it another 5 millenia. You never know... [Wink]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Your comparison to a Hatrack post serving as evidence for leprechauns is also pretty cheesy, for a variety of reasons you're already familiar with. One of them being that if someone claimed to have seen leprechauns in their garden in a Hatrack post, you would have a much higher reasonable standard of believing they were simply lying for laughs than you would if they claimed to have prayed and through prayer communicated with God, for example.
Wait, what? Why would I think so?

quote:
How is it you are in a position to evaluate someone else's experience and judge whether it is weighty evidence or not? I'm not talking about specific cases which can be reasonably evaluated, I'm talking about the sweeping generalizations you routinely engage in on this topic. Kwea or Scott or myself are not just evaluating the evidence incorrectly, all religious people are.
When different people have very similar experiences but interpret them

a) differently and
b) in accordance with the myth that happens to be prevalent in their own neighborhood,

then the reasonable conclusion is that their experiences just don't arise in the manner they claim. Thus, when your spiritual experience, or rather your interpretation of it, is directly contradicted by someone else's interpretation of his spiritual experience, then I conclude that the experiences are real, but what they're taken as evidence for is essentially random. In randomness is no information; there's no there there, to coin a phrase.

quote:
'The evidence', by any fair standard you could possibly be using, neither supports nor does not support the existence of God, KoM. It simply doesn't. If you were agnostic as opposed to a militant atheist, though, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
Yes, yes. There's a standard answer to this which you know perfectly well, so I don't know why you're even bothering to bring this up.

quote:
This supposes, wrongly, that a given piece of evidence can reasonably only point towards one conclusion. That it cannot possibly point to more than one thing at a time.
The gestalt of all the evidence available to you gives you a unique maximum-likelihood hypothesis, which you are obliged to take as your current best guess. What you want to believe does not come into it, unless you are a monkey.

quote:
I postulate that there are truths which can not be discovered by the scientific method. You are arguing that this postulate is false (or even evil) because it can't be explored scientifically.
You are mistaking 'using evidence and reason' for 'the scientific method'; the two are not the same. The scientific method is a much narrower category. One more time, and now if you don't get it I'm going to give up on you: Spiritual experiences are evidence, about which we can reason. To simply assert "I believe X", however, is not evidence, and is not a means to truth. If it were, then everyone who asserts their belief would agree on what they took on faith; since they contradict each other, they cannot possibly all be correct, and therefore do not have reliable knowledge. Nowhere have I required lab experiments to replicate spiritual results; all I desire is that people not jump to the conclusion they wanted, especially when - odd coincidence - that conclusion happens to be the socially acceptable one in their neighbourhood.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Science is a perfectly good tool to examine religion. People who want to substantiat religious beliefs as more than simply personal choice frequently make this claim, but I don't think it actually holds any weight, upon examination.

What Truths do you propose are untestable scientifically, and by what means do people otherwise come to posess these Truths?
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
[qb]
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
How do we determine what constitutes a "true belief"?

Reality testing.

What did you have in mind? Judging beliefs by the sincerity of believers, or how strongly believers like their beliefs?

quote:
You start from the assumption that material truth is the only truth.
No, it's the only kind of claim that we can possibly verify or falsify. How can anyone know truth without a reliable way of detecting false?

You are still begging the question. You can't detect hydrogen with x-ray photo electron spectroscopy. That isn't evidence that hydrogen doesn't exit or isn't important or interesting.
X-ray photo electron spectroscopy can't detect fairies either. Does this mean that since x-ray photo electron spectroscopy can't detect everything, it's sound for me to conclude based on x-ray photo electron spectroscopy data that fairies exist?

If you are trying to say that x-ray photo electron spectroscopy:science :: science:other kinds of thinking, that still doesn't fly, becuase hydrogen is detectable with other scientific instruments whose accuracy is borne out by reality testing. That way of thinking which claims that Mohamamd was the last and best prophet if God has not yielded as many accurate and falsifiable claims as scientific instruments do, nor has any other religous belief system.

quote:
I postulate that there are truths which can not be discovered by the scientific method.
Again, how can you determine if you've found a truth without a robust method of distinguishing truths from falsehoods?

Mohamamd can't be the last prophet if Jospeh Smith is a prophet too.

quote:
You are arguing that this postulate is false because it can't be explored scientifically.
No, I'm arguing those postautles are 99.99999999999% likely to be wrong, and that as it's better to be neutral than to believe a false thing, those posulates shouldn't be held. And my conclusion isn't a postulate, it's an evidence-based conclusion based on the evidence of human history and psychology.

quote:
The fact that your tool doesn't allow you to measure something, is not evidence its non-existence or its morality. Its evidence of inadequacy of the tool.
Okay, so how adequately does your religion answer the question of "Who was God's last prophet?

I would say that an "adequate" answer here has to be accurate. So how do you determine the accuracy of your answer? How would you know if your answer were flat out wrong?

If my soulmeter (which is just whatever I feel about you and your beliefs) tells me that you are a heretic, and it would be better for you to be tortured into repentance than to live in falseness, and to be condemend to eternal damnation in hell after you die, how would you measure the accuracy of my soulmeter?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
KoM,

quote:
Wait, what? Why would I think so?
Before I answer that, let me ask another question, please: would you actually believe something other than, "It's a joke for laughs," if someone on Hatrack created a post which said, "I just came inside from seeing a leprechaun in my garden," and that person is otherwise, so far as you can tell, quite sane and non-delusional and had been behaving in similar fashion for as long as you had known them?

Would your first most likely explanation for the post be something other than, "Heh, this is a joke!"

quote:
When different people have very similar experiences but interpret them...
How are you in a position to evaluate whether their experiences were very similar or not? Unless I'm mistaken, physics just as an example does not train one in finding and gauging the extent of insanity or delusion, and even folks actually trained and educated in doing so will tell you it's far from a sure thing without extensive investigation.

quote:
...in accordance with the myth that happens to be prevalent in their own neighborhood...
This I agree with. While of course I don't go as far as you do into thinking they're stupid and insane, I am - absent any other information and all other things being equal - likely to be at least a little less convinced that someone who was brought up steeped in a particular religion has reached that religious conclusion completely independantly and fairly than someone who, for example, converts. But my word on this - as a convert - well, there's a huge potential for bias there, so take it for what it's worth.

quote:
Thus, when your spiritual experience, or rather your interpretation of it, is directly contradicted by someone else's interpretation of his spiritual experience...
I have often wondered if human beings experience spirituality in many common ways at all, or if this is just a facet of the limits of human language.

quote:
Yes, yes. There's a standard answer to this which you know perfectly well, so I don't know why you're even bothering to bring this up.

I'm bringing it up because you usually go a great deal further than the thoroughly reasonable style you're taking today. But I guess I shouldn't have done that, my mistake.

quote:
The gestalt of all the evidence available to you gives you a unique maximum-likelihood hypothesis, which you are obliged to take as your current best guess. What you want to believe does not come into it, unless you are a monkey.
I disagree that the gestalt of all the evidence available gives only one current best-guess. For example, I honestly don't know which I would want to believe more at any given time: that God exists, or that there is no God, or that if there is a God, I ought not spend any time believing in God. I know myself pretty well, and if there are times when I have wanted to believe in God, I knew even while wanting to believe that that there had been and would be again times I would not want to believe in God, or would rather simply not care.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Before I answer that, let me ask another question, please: would you actually believe something other than, "It's a joke for laughs," if someone on Hatrack created a post which said, "I just came inside from seeing a leprechaun in my garden," and that person is otherwise, so far as you can tell, quite sane and non-delusional and had been behaving in similar fashion for as long as you had known them?

Would your first most likely explanation for the post be something other than, "Heh, this is a joke!"

Well no, and I did not say so. Rather my assertion is that, if someone came into Hatrack and said, "I just decided to believe in a God, since it's not really about evidence", my first reaction would be to dismiss it as a joke, if one in rather bad taste. It took me quite some time before I could believe that kmb really intended to say this; I thought we had to be mis-communicating very badly.

In other words, you've got my symmetry backwards: I do not say that leprechauns are as likely as gods, but that gods are as likely as leprechauns. [Smile]

quote:
How are you in a position to evaluate whether their experiences were very similar or not?
I merely take them at their word: They describe them in very similar terms. Only the conclusions differ.

quote:
I disagree that the gestalt of all the evidence available gives only one current best-guess.
Well, I will concede the possibility that two hypotheses could be roughly equally well supported, perhaps each having a 30-40% probability. In this case you would be justified in hedging your bets. I suggest, however, that the hypotheses 'God' and 'no God' are not in this state.

I don't quite see the relevance of your uncertainty on what you most want to believe; could you clarify?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Leprechauns is an arbitrary example, and the only reason it seems like a joke when someone making the same claim about seeing an aparition of the Holy Virgin must be considered to be a non-joke is the cultural context.

They're equally unlikely, but we're expected to respect a subset of unsubstantiated and highly unlikely claims which would otherwise be rejected, simply because they fall within the local cultural expectations.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
In other words, you've got my symmetry backwards: I do not say that leprechauns are as likely as gods, but that gods are as likely as leprechauns.
I didn't ask the question to make a statement about your symmetry, but just to gauge whether it was a real question or simply one to make a rhetorical point.

quote:
I merely take them at their word: They describe them in very similar terms. Only the conclusions differ.
My favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs. My sister's favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs. Although we both make the same claim, we of course mean radically different things. She prefers her spaghetti and meatballs with only enough sauce to thinly coat the past; I prefer enough sauce to make the pasta swim sometimes. She prefers her meatballs small, bite-sized; I prefer my meatballs 2-3' in diameter, large enough to require spade-work on the plate to get bite-sized pieces. She prefers no pepper at all that I've ever seen her add; I prefer gobs of fresh-cracked black pepper. She prefers what I consider to be crappy store-bought grated cheese in a plastic can sprinkled on her spaghetti; I prefer mine straight up or very rarely with a very small amount of good, freshly grated cheese.

While my sister and I mean the same thing when we say, "My favorite food is spaghetti and meatballs," we also mean something very different. If human language cannot be relied upon to accurately express the whole picture on something as basic as favorite foods, why on Earth are you so ready to accept that when people use the similar language to describe their spiritual experiences, they're referring to the same spiritual experiences? Perspective changes things. My sister can describe music in professionally educated terms; I cannot. She would be better equipped to explain why she likes a given piece of music than I would, even if I liked it much more or less than she did. By the standards you're using, though, if we both said, "I like this song," you would presume we liked it to a similar extent for similar reasons.

quote:
Well, I will concede the possibility that two hypotheses could be roughly equally well supported, perhaps each having a 30-40% probability. In this case you would be justified in hedging your bets. I suggest, however, that the hypotheses 'God' and 'no God' are not in this state.
How are you in a position to speak so authoritatively on where those two hypotheses fit for someone else? You've already granted the possibility of meanginful personal evidence, but you dispute how weighty it ought to be. Where is the cutoff? How do you decide where the point is where personal evidence ceases to matter?

quote:
I don't quite see the relevance of your uncertainty on what you most want to believe; could you clarify?
The relevance is that, for me, 'wanting to believe in God' is not a thing which actually motivates me to believe in God. I suggest that this kind of thinking might be less common than you think, but even if it's not, it's not why I believe.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
If human language cannot be relied upon to accurately express the whole picture on something as basic as favorite foods, why on Earth are you so ready to accept that when people use the similar language to describe their spiritual experiences, they're referring to the same spiritual experiences?
But human language is reliable for describing the differences in food preference; you just did so yourself. The equivalent of your 'spaghetti and meatballs' construction is 'spiritual experience'; but that's not a description, it's a label. Although the Twitter version doesn't allow one to compare two spiritual experiences, it does not follow that it cannot be done at all.

In addition to this, your objection applies just as much to drawing any conclusion whatsoever from a spiritual experience. Suppose you have an ecstatic vision of the Virgin Mary; you ponder the matter and take it as evidence for Catholicism. Well, how do you know that other people's 'Virgin Mary' is anything like yours? If you cannot rely on language for communications about spiritual experience, then you cannot say anything about how similar your religion is to anyone else's; it would then be each man for himself, to invent a new religion wholly from scratch. If you were really going to assert this, then for consistency you'd have to abandon everyone else's visions and experiences as being evidence supporting your religion.

quote:
How are you in a position to speak so authoritatively on where those two hypotheses fit for someone else? You've already granted the possibility of meanginful personal evidence, but you dispute how weighty it ought to be. Where is the cutoff? How do you decide where the point is where personal evidence ceases to matter?
At the point where others have the same experience but draw a different conclusion. If mystics all agreed, that would be one thing; but all they can agree on is "We can see glorious visions and receive messages". Very well, I do not dispute that part, only the significance they attach to the messages; they all cancel out, leaving nothing but random noise. Notice that the cancellation means that the actual weight doesn't really matter; 1000-1000 is the same as 1-1, to wit, zero.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
It is only reliable for description with exhaustive explanation even for very simple things. Unless you're claiming to have done so in all, most, or even a sizable minority of the conversations you've had with religious people (or read their works, etc.), then i think my point still stands. My point was not that it could not be done, though I do think it cannot be done perfectly or even very well in many cases, but that you have not done so.

quote:
Well, how do you know that other people's 'Virgin Mary' is anything like yours? If you cannot rely on language for communications about spiritual experience, then you cannot say anything about how similar your religion is to anyone else's; it would then be each man for himself, to invent a new religion wholly from scratch. If you were really going to assert this, then for consistency you'd have to abandon everyone else's visions and experiences as being evidence supporting your religion.
You're omitting a step in the process: seeking out the same source that led to the ecstatic vision in the first place, and learning what you can from there. I can see how that step would be unpersuasive at best if you discount its utility to begin with, thogh.

Anyway, speaking strictly for myself, I do abandon everyone else's visions and experiences as evidence for my own religion. Actually, I don't abandon that-I never held to such an idea in the first place.

quote:
At the point where others have the same experience but draw a different conclusion.
Now we're back to them having the same experience and then drawing a different conclusion. It seems possible to me at least that they had different experiences, reached different conclusions, but used similar language to describe both.
 
Posted by String (Member # 6435) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by String:
No, my default position is not whatever the minority wants. Being a Christian puts me in a HUGE majority.

It's too bad you didn't get from the context that that was a typo on my part. Read "majority," not "minority," and see if you can respond again in that light.

From your response though, I'm guessing I was right.

Really? is your only rebuff to my statement that I failed to correct a mistake that you made? Your statement was still bigoted, and patently false. next time you attack someone personally, try to know who they are first.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
I defined perfection to include true beliefs; I observed that one cannot form such beliefs without evidence; I therefore discarded faith, to be understood as the rejection of evidence.
I think it would be possible to do an experiment to see if you can form such beliefs without evidence (as you are defining evidence):

First we come up with a broad variety of questions on different topics. Then we give these questions to people and ask them to answer them, using one of two methods. One set (Group A) of people can only answer the questions using their own evidence and their own reasoning; they can't look up answers in books or ask people. The other set (Group B) of people can only answer the questions by finding people or books that they feel are trustworthy and trusting those sources; they aren't allowed to find any other evidence themselves and aren't supposed to use their own reasoning to solve the problems. Then we compare the two groups to see which gets more correct answers....

My bet is that Group B ends up with quite a few true beliefs by the end... and possibly more than Group A does.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
But, to make it a fair analogy, we need to make sure that Group B is exposed to a number of equally credible-seeming experts who're all saying contradictory things.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Better yet, let's ask two groups to determine the validity of various urban legends and pseudoscientific claims.

Group A uses double blind testing and peer reviews their results. Group B uses Yahoo! Answers and accepts the majority view.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
That wasn't an analogy. It was an attempt to test KoM's claim that one cannot form true beliefs without evidence.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
I believe his point is that it's impossible to know whether or not a belief is true without evidence.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Prayer does nothing tangible, but it does offer some people comfort. If they are unable to find that comfort elsewhere, and if the act of that prayer is otherwise neutral, I don't have a problem with it, any more than I go around telling children that Santa Clause is their parents.
Of course you have a problem with it, or at least it certainly sounds like you do. At least KoM is copping to it.
I thought about this for a while, to make sure you weren't correct, and it turns out that you're not.

Here's why:

The closest analogy I can come up with is that I view religious belief acts as a drug. I don't have a problem with people taking pain medication to manage their pain, just like I don't have a problem with people using their faith to help them overcome struggles in their lives.

If someone becomes addicted to painkillers, I feel bad for them, and I worry about the negative implications it might have on their life and relationships, but ultimately it's not my problem.

Now if someone decides to drive while under the influence, I have a big problem. If someone is a school bus driver and uses on the job, I have a really big problem with that.

Follow that analogy to its conclusion with religious beliefs, and you've got a fairly accurate analog to my view on religious faith.
 
Posted by katharina (Member # 827) on :
 
Except you treat all religious activity as if it were of the "driving under the influence" kind.

If you really believed your analogy, we could see your lassaiz faire instead of you having to tell us about it.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
First we come up with a broad variety of questions on different topics. Then we give these questions to people and ask them to answer them, using one of two methods. One set (Group A) of people can only answer the questions using their own evidence and their own reasoning; they can't look up answers in books or ask people. The other set (Group B) of people can only answer the questions by finding people or books that they feel are trustworthy and trusting those sources;

Okay, sure. We take 4 third graders, and explain the Monty Hall problem to them. We tell one student to simulate the Monty hall problem with 3 cards 100 times. We tell the other students to ask the people he thinks are good sources. One asks his 5th grade brother and his dad. Another asks his 3rd grade math teacher. The other asks his neighbor, whom he knows is a math professor at university.

Are the second and third and fourth students equally likely to get the right answer? Or is the likelihood of getting the right answer proportional to the authority being familiar with the facts of the math?

Is the first student likely to get the wrong answer if she simulates the problem correctly and accepts what the evidence tell her?

We are back to the evidence; the closer you are to it, the more likely you are to be accurate. And some authorities are closer to the evidence than others. Math professors aren't just making things up to sound superior; they really do know a lot more math than your dad.
 
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Except you treat all religious activity as if it were of the "driving under the influence" kind.

Really? I could be wrong, but I don't see anyone on this board calling for every religious person to be locked up.

I'll criticize people I think drink too much, and I'll also criticize people who drink and then drive. But I'd only call for one to suffer legal penalties. The same goes for religious belief.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Really? I could be wrong, but I don't see anyone on this board calling for every religious person to be locked up.
Well no, the logistics would be quite impractical. It's already much too expensive to lock up the 3% of the population we've got behind bars in this year 2010. Even the destructive-labour camp is unlikely to be a practical solution when one attempts to apply it to something like four-fifths of the population.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Except you treat all religious activity as if it were of the "driving under the influence" kind.

If you really believed your analogy, we could see your lassaiz faire instead of you having to tell us about it.

You perceive me treating all religious activity that way, because you drive under the influence but you don't think it hurts anyone, so you want to be left alone.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
So we're over the stalking nonsense, then?

quote:
You perceive me treating all religious activity that way, because you drive under the influence but you don't think it hurts anyone, so you want to be left alone.
If your posts on religious topics and people are any indicator, you do treat all religious activity that way - it's just that the good religious activity is in spite of and not because, and it's really quite lucky nobody was hurt. They're just DUIs that don't happen to hurt anyone this time. Like I said though, at least KoM cops to it.

quote:
Now if someone decides to drive while under the influence, I have a big problem. If someone is a school bus driver and uses on the job, I have a really big problem with that.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but to you isn't driving under the influence in this comparison 'using religion as the basis for any action that affects any other human being anywhere'?
 
Posted by katharina (Member # 827) on :
 
Looks like it. Apparently MC only approves of religion if the person in question neither believes nor follows it.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
As with religious belief, you've both elected to ignore all evidence and simply choose to believe what you wish were true.
 
Posted by katharina (Member # 827) on :
 
Apparently your belief in your own omniscient discernment and psychic powers over the Internet is boundless. Talk about deluded.

I suppose your wisdom and rationality is something you'll have to lay claim to later rather than demonstrate.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
As with religious belief, you've both elected to ignore all evidence and simply choose to believe what you wish were true.
Yes, that's certainly a fair characterization of religious belief.

Dude. King of Men, in this thread, has said that being religious does not necessarily mean ignoring all evidence. You're more radically atheist than King of Men. I never thought that would happen!

Anyway, as for ignoring all evidence, I can't remember ever hearing of a time when you regarded religious belief that, at best, led to anything that couldn't be accomplished better than some other way. The good things religion does are better done by other, not-crazy/stupid methods the bad things are hallmarks of religion.

The funny thing about this conversation is, I don't even have a problem with someone holding that belief. Perfectly civil and (for me, at least) interesting conversation with KoM just now along some of those lines. My problem is that you won't cop to it.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Ad hominems (edit: and strawman) always win. Good show. I have been bested.

[ April 27, 2010, 10:41 PM: Message edited by: MightyCow ]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
To be fair, I do think that Lisa and the others are, in fact, allowing their emotions to influence their evaluation of the evidence. However, there is a difference - to use religious terminology - between being a sinner who acknowledges the right path, and being a Satan-worshipper, deliberately breaking the commandments not through failure of character but through plain rebellion.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
Ad hominems always win. Good show. I have been bested.
The irony is so thick, you could cut it with a The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Who exactly are you caricaturing, MightyCow? Yourself? That's a serious question, because I'm beginning to think this is deliberate. If it is, and I've missed the joke, it wouldn't be the first time, stuff whooshes over my head all the time.

ETA: I realize substantive responses to direct criticism aren't your thing, MightyCow, but exactly where was the strawman?
-------------

quote:
To be fair, I do think that Lisa and the others are, in fact, allowing their emotions to influence their evaluation of the evidence. However, there is a difference - to use religious terminology - between being a sinner who acknowledges the right path, and being a Satan-worshipper, deliberately breaking the commandments not through failure of character but through plain rebellion.
Granted. My point is, though, that you do (unless I'm mistaken) acknowledge that some, at least, of the things religious people use as the basis of their beliefs are evidence-just not that it should be considered compelling, definitely not more compelling than other evidence.

That said, I do wonder how you know any given religious person well enough to gauge if at all, much less to what extent, her emotions influence her evaluation of her religious experiences.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Okay, sure. We take 4 third graders, and explain the Monty Hall problem to them. We tell one student to simulate the Monty hall problem with 3 cards 100 times. We tell the other students to ask the people he thinks are good sources. One asks his 5th grade brother and his dad. Another asks his 3rd grade math teacher. The other asks his neighbor, whom he knows is a math professor at university.

Are the second and third and fourth students equally likely to get the right answer? Or is the likelihood of getting the right answer proportional to the authority being familiar with the facts of the math?

Is the first student likely to get the wrong answer if she simulates the problem correctly and accepts what the evidence tell her?

We are back to the evidence; the closer you are to it, the more likely you are to be accurate. And some authorities are closer to the evidence than others. Math professors aren't just making things up to sound superior; they really do know a lot more math than your dad.

The key question is: Is the first student more likely to get the correct answer than the second, third and fourth students are? My guess is that the first third grader won't be able to figure out how to simulate the problem correctly on their own, or do the math correctly to analyze their results on their own, without help from some authority - meaning the students who ask others will likely do better answering the question. And clearly, those who find authorities who have greater knowledge of math will be more likely to give the correct answer to the student.

If all that is true then the experiment would show that, when it comes to third graders trying to solve the Monty Hall problem, faith in an authority trumps trying to examine evidence themselves, as long as you find a knowledgable enough authority. But if the authority knows nothing about math, then examining evidence yourself is better.
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
Tres,

I don't get this objection. Surely KoM is working on a picture according to which expert testimony counts as "evidence."
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
If he accepts that a rational person can consider expert testimony to be evidence, then he can begin to understand the logic of a person with faith.

The question then becomes: How do we determine what counts as an expert authority and what doesn't?
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
quote:
The question then becomes: How do we determine what counts as an expert authority and what doesn't?
Fact-checking prospective authorities to see if they do a good job tracking the truth?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
I'd agree with that. But what happens when you don't know enough or lack the ability to fact check well? For instance, the third grader doesn't know enough math to go out and verify if the math professor knows his stuff, or if math professors in general do.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
Some factors may include how much original research they do, the quality of their reviews, peer or otherwise, the logic of their reasoning, and their presentation of evidence and sources.
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
quote:
I'd agree with that. But what happens when you don't know enough or lack the ability to fact check well?
The ideal would be to stay undecided about the matter in question until one attains the knowledge or ability to fact check. Kids can't always do this, but in practice adults pretty much always can.
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
I should add that, as in the math professor case, fact-checking authorities whose domain you don't understand can be done by asking authorities you already believe are reliable (since you've fact-checked them in areas you do understand). So the third-grader could ask his dad, "Who knows more math, you or the professor?"

Assuming the kid doesn't know his dad to be a moron or pathological liar.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
The ideal would be to stay undecided about the matter in question until one attains the knowledge or ability to fact check. Kids can't always do this, but in practice adults pretty much always can.

I'm not convinced of this. Even setting aside the time commitment (and related opportunity cost) of studying to the required level of competency in every discipline you want to fact check, people's brains work differently and not all adults have the capability to become competent in every area. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that few if any do. In theory your statement is true, in practice not so much.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Granted. My point is, though, that you do (unless I'm mistaken) acknowledge that some, at least, of the things religious people use as the basis of their beliefs are evidence-just not that it should be considered compelling, definitely not more compelling than other evidence.
Right.

quote:
That said, I do wonder how you know any given religious person well enough to gauge if at all, much less to what extent, her emotions influence her evaluation of her religious experiences.
When someone reaches a conclusion which her stated evidence just doesn't support, I must conclude that there is some additional thing which convinced her, which she has not given; humans being what they are, emotion is the most obvious candidate.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
The key question is: Is the first student more likely to get the correct answer than the second, third and fourth students are? My guess is that the first third grader won't be able to figure out how to simulate the problem correctly on their own, or do the math correctly to analyze their results on their own, without help from some authority - meaning the students who ask others will likely do better answering the question.

This doesn't help you. If you are alledging that people who know the facts and how to analyze them are better at getting correct answers than people who don't, that supports my argument, not yours.

quote:
And clearly, those who find authorities who have greater knowledge of math will be more likely to give the correct answer to the student.
It was always clear to me. It wasn't clear to you, since you have often said that people should go with their "personal judgment", even when the expert opinion completely disagrees. Why bother finding good authorities when you are going to go with what your "personal judgment" says, and not what the authorities tell you?

quote:
If all that is true then the experiment would show that, when it comes to third graders trying to solve the Monty Hall problem, faith in an authority trumps trying to examine evidence themselves, as long as you find a knowledgable enough authority.
To sensible people who use words to communicate, and not to confuse issues like you do, it is not faith to conclude that the sun will rise to morrow, nor is it faith to trust an authority who knows the relevent evidence. It is perverse for you to use the term "faith" to refer to the above things, it is dishonest for you to keep using it in that way when you have been told not to over and over again not to, and it is just stupid for you to be dishonest so transparently.

Basically, you are asserting that it is impossible for anyone to collect evidence, but that it's good to trust authorities. How do you think authorities become good ones? God tells them what to believe? They make things up and proclaim things with such authority that what they say magically becomes true? Maybe that's how you operate, but that's not how real experts become experts. Experts are the people who know the evidence.

Basically, by saying "Forget evidence, trust authorities", what you are saying is that you should find an "authority" who is saying what you want to hear, tell yourself they are a good authority, and then you should believe them.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
I'm not convinced of this. Even setting aside the time commitment (and related opportunity cost) of studying to the required level of competency in every discipline you want to fact check, people's brains work differently and not all adults have the capability to become competent in every area. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that few if any do. In theory your statement is true, in practice not so much.
I agree with dkw on this. In addition to what was mentioned in the quote, there's also just some subjects that are difficult to fact-check in a cut-and-dry way.

I do agree, though, that sometimes in order to verify one authority we can check with other authorities we've previously verified.

quote:
This doesn't help you. If you are alledging that people who know the facts and how to analyze them are better at getting correct answers than people who don't, that supports my argument, not yours.
It helps me if it's the truth, regardless of whether it supports my argument or not.

quote:
Basically, by saying "Forget evidence, trust authorities", what you are saying is that you should find an "authority" who is saying what you want to hear, tell yourself they are a good authority, and then you should believe them.
I'm not saying any of that. I don't agree with any of those four things.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
When someone reaches a conclusion which her stated evidence just doesn't support, I must conclude that there is some additional thing which convinced her, which she has not given; humans being what they are, emotion is the most obvious candidate.
This is perfectly sensible, but it runs again into the problem of human language as a means of communication. I mean, it's all we've got, but it's far from perfect. Incredibly flawed, in fact-people have gotten killed over the flaws. So when a given person's stated evidence doesn't support their stated conclusions, there are three possibilities that I can think of: that they're simply being deceitful, that there is a separate piece of evidence that has been omitted from the statement, or that the stated evidence was not understood. Or I suppose there is a fourth possibility, that the stated conclusion is supported by the stated evidence, and the one hearing it is simply mistaken in thinking it doesn't, but that's fine, we generally think everyone else is wrong anyway.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
This doesn't help you. If you are alledging that people who know the facts and how to analyze them are better at getting correct answers than people who don't, that supports my argument, not yours.
It helps me if it's the truth, regardless of whether it supports my argument or not.
This is exactly what was alleged about you before, and you denied. But a tiger can't change his stripes.

If arguments are presented that demolish your claims, and you accept those arguments, you should stop believing those claims.

So if you accept that looking to evidence-based sources to base one's decisions on is more likely to lead to truth, then you should stop believing that evidence is worthless, and that people shouldn't bother with it.

quote:
quote:
Basically, by saying "Forget evidence, trust authorities", what you are saying is that you should find an "authority" who is saying what you want to hear, tell yourself they are a good authority, and then you should believe them.


I'm not saying any of that. I don't agree with any of those four things.
They are direct consequences of your previous arguments; that people shouldn't bother trying to collect evidence, because it's too hard; that it's just as much a "faith" call to accept overwhelmingly well-supported claims as it is to believe somethign with absolutely no evidentiary support at all; that a person should ignore reason and evidence if their "personal judgment" disagrees with what reason and evidence tell them.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
Why do you consistently make up positions and assign them to me (or others)? I have not said to "forget evidence" or that "evidence is worthless" or that "people shouldn't bother trying to collect evidence", so for the record, any interpretation of anything I've written along those lines is not accurate. I agree with the importance and value of evidence.

[ April 28, 2010, 03:22 PM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
You are doing a remarkably good impression of a man who has "evidence doesn't matter" as his basic position until someone calls him on it, and then he acts all indignant and says "I never said that!" At an absolute minimum, then, I think it's fair to say that you're doing a really terrible job of communicating your real thoughts on the issue; which is indeed what one would expect of someone who insists on his own meanings for words.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
To return to Rakeesh's point above, that I can't be certain spiritual experiences described in the same terms are really saying the same thing: I cannot reconcile this with the way such experiences are described. There are limits to the number of interpretations one can put on such phrases as "a sense of peace", "I saw a light/an angel/a figure", "a voice told me". These things are not so much more complex than the spaghetti-and-meatballs example; a paragraph suffices to get the essential points across. If we cannot judge similarity on these grounds, then we cannot use language to discuss such matters at all; and if this is so, then spiritual experience can never be convincing even to the one experiencing it, because he cannot match it against the doctrine of any religion. If we take this stance, then "A woman appeared to me, gentle and sorrowful of countenance, and told me she was Mary; and said I should be healed" followed by an unexpected and complete remission of cancer could not be taken as evidence in favour of Catholicism even by the one who saw the woman, because what does 'Mary' and 'sorrowful of countenance' mean? This is a nihilist position which annihilates itself.

As for your assertion that you do indeed disregard others' experience as evidence for your faith, I think I must simply beg to differ. If you belong to any religious community whatsoever, you must at least recognise some sort of common beliefs with the others of that community, and with its founders; how can you do so, if you cannot relate your visions to what they say? (It would be helpful here if you could remind me what denomination you belong to; I could then be a bit more specific, and the argument would be easier to follow.)
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
I think that again, we are running into conflicting uses of "evidence". For example, I have a great deal of evidence and I imagine that Tresopax does, too. I do not have proof. Without proof, it is a matter of faith.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
No; we've had that discussion before. It is not a question of the meanings of 'evidence' vs 'proof'; we've spent at least two threads establishing this.

ETA: By that standard, it is a matter of faith and not evidence that the sun will rise tomorrow; this is not sensible use of language, and I believe we've agreed on that in the past.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
How are written records of an oral tradition not evidence, then? Or personal testimony? Or personal experience.

Granted all of that evidence is subject to interpretation, is not generally transferable or replicable, is not proof, but it is something. What do you want to call it?

Edit: You don't think it is a sensible use of language - and I see that point - but it is critical to this discussion, I think.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I say again: It is evidence; but because so much of it conflicts, it is not compelling, in fact not even very interesting. The bar is too low. Every religious tradition down to the Aztecs and the pagan Norse have transcripts of oral traditions; these you discard on the grounds that they don't agree with your pre-selected bottom line (namely Christianity), while accepting the similar evidence for your chosen faith. This is not weighing the evidence, it's looking for excuses to believe. An honest appraisal gives all such evidence equal weight, and finding that they contradict each other, discards them all - at least on questions of cosmology. The Old Testament and the Norse sagas both contain elements of history which archeology can test, and to that extent I accept them as primary sources.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Not compelling evidence to you - and that is okay. But you don't get to set the bar and say that it is no evidence at all. And I have said that, when it comes down to it, we make choices.

As a matter of fact, I don't "discard" Aztec or Norse (or pagan or Druid) oral tradition. I find some elements of Truth in many places. I consider Atra-Hasis as well as Noah and believe they lend credibility to each other. Zoroastrianism has a great deal in common with Christianity.

I have yet to see compelling evidence that it is all nonsense.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
I cannot reconcile this with the way such experiences are described. There are limits to the number of interpretations one can put on such phrases as "a sense of peace", "I saw a light/an angel/a figure", "a voice told me". These things are not so much more complex than the spaghetti-and-meatballs example; a paragraph suffices to get the essential points across.
Hm. Irreconcilable differences here, I think, because I don't think there are limits to the number of interpretations one could put on 'a sense of peace'. Or at least the limits would be the extent to which humans define 'peace' differently, and having a 'sense of' something differently, etc. I don't know, but I suspect, that the differences are actually quite a lot greater than you think, and I support that thought with the spaghetti and meatballs example.

If pinning down exactly what two people mean by saying they have the same favorite food requires a whole paragraph (or more) of explanation, how imprecise is a three word phrase going to be when describing a deeply personal emotional or spiritual experience going to be? Using more words does not necessarily help, either, for obvious reasons.

quote:
If we cannot judge similarity on these grounds, then we cannot use language to discuss such matters at all.
That doesn't follow. Imprecision is not an insurmountable barrier to communication, anymore than kids using a ruler in class is an insurmountable barrier to measuring how long one foot is without using sophisticated electronic measuring equipment.

quote:
"A woman appeared to me, gentle and sorrowful of countenance, and told me she was Mary; and said I should be healed" followed by an unexpected and complete remission of cancer could not be taken as evidence in favour of Catholicism even by the one who saw the woman, because what does 'Mary' and 'sorrowful of countenance' mean? This is a nihilist position which annihilates itself.
Well, no, not really. My stance is simply this: how can you know about someone else's stance? I don't agree that that person is unable to know their own experience, just because you and I cannot ever perfectly and sometimes not even adequately understand it.

quote:
If you belong to any religious community whatsoever, you must at least recognise some sort of common beliefs with the others of that community, and with its founders; how can you do so, if you cannot relate your visions to what they say? (It would be helpful here if you could remind me what denomination you belong to; I could then be a bit more specific, and the argument would be easier to follow.)
Mormon, to answer your second question. To answer your first, the weight of the testimony of others is only used, by me, as a way to gain different questions to ask. While I am moved by the testimony of others, it doesn't add or subtract from my faith, and it had zero to do with my conversion. I was a walk-in.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Not compelling evidence to you - and that is okay. But you don't get to set the bar and say that it is no evidence at all.

He's not setting the bar based on personal preference. He's setting it based on empircal testing; do the claims supported only by such evidence stand up to reality testing?

If the Bible is "evidence" that a global flood happened, how well does that claim stand up to reality testing? The English burned Joan of Arc as a witch. They had their "evidence", do you think that reality testing validated their claim based on that "evidence"?

quote:
And I have said that, when it comes down to it, we make choices.
Yes, the parents of Kara Neumann made a choice. Based on their "evidence". I have no idea why you want to wave the process that led to that choice around as a wonderful thing that everyone should support and praise.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:

Granted all of that evidence is subject to interpretation, is not generally transferable or replicable, is not proof, but it is something. What do you want to call it?

I don't see why KoM goes on and on in these long discussions. All he's saying is that your interpretation of all of those things is flawed. I agree, but I would never spend 7 pages explaining why to you. I've sat at too many pub tables having that discussion to care about the total lack of outcome. I just assume between 60% and 80% of the population is mildly loopy, and another smaller portion have full blown bat****itis.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
"I was a walk-in."

Wow... that surprises me somehow. Can't say why.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
As far as I'm concerned, Kara Neumann's parents had no compelling evidence for their decision and plenty of compelling evidence against. Sure, some people are fools; that doesn't mean that all decisions must be made with empirical testing.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
KoM,

Had to cut that post short unexpectedly.

quote:

As for your assertion that you do indeed disregard others' experience as evidence for your faith, I think I must simply beg to differ. If you belong to any religious community whatsoever, you must at least recognise some sort of common beliefs with the others of that community, and with its founders; how can you do so, if you cannot relate your visions to what they say?

When I said I was a walk-in, I mean that one evening, I had an experience that led me to decide to attend church that Sunday. Now, to set that decision in context, I didn't grow up attending church, nor did my mother, father, sister (which makes my entire immediate family), nor did my grandparents or even my cousins. In fact, to my knowledge, they still don't, years later (I can't speak for sure about all of them). So I think I can safely discount the notion, if you were to consider it, that I chose to attend church because of the experience of others weighing on me. Church simply wasn't something my family did, or even all but a few of my friends and coworkers, except for the biggest holidays, funerals, and weddings.

Once there, out of a showing of at most fifty or sixty people, I of course stood out, and was approached by missionaries. They told me many things, but the most important thing boiled down to, "Read this, and ask a question." One of them actually used that term, ask a question, instead of pray about it which I recall thinking was not what I expected.

I did, and from there it was basically off to the races. Since then, of course I have had many experiences with the testimony of others; they get shared a good deal, after all. But I've only ever viewed those testimonies as evidence of their faith, never mine. Perhaps it's my sharply secular background with only vague religious undertones in a few places, but while the experience of religion has been communal as well as individual for me, the evidence and the reason for it has always been personal.

I've got my answers to the questions I've asked, and until I ask a question that suggests I'm doing things wrong (and, for the record, I continue to ask some of the same questions, just to be sure), well, that will continue to be the reason I am religious.

------------

Orincoro, if you can't say why, can you say what you might have expected? Just curious.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
...that doesn't mean that all decisions must be made with empirical testing.
I do think that all decisions that can be made with empirical testing ought to be. I feel pretty strongly about that, in fact. However, I don't extend that belief into thinking that where no empirical testing can be done, the thing to do is decide nothing, even if the only other available decision-making processes are flawed.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
[QB] As far as I'm concerned, Kara Neumann's parents had no compelling evidence for their decision and plenty of compelling evidence against.

So KOM is wrong when he dismisses "evidence" that he find uncompelling, but it's okay for you to judge people because you don't find their evidence compelling? You are sure that you have evidence to support your beliefs, and you are sure that Tres has evidence to support his beliefs, but because the Neumanns came to a conclusion you disagree with, you feel safe in concluding that they had no good evidence?

Do you really not see the rank hypocricy here?
 
Posted by just_me (Member # 3302) on :
 
Is empirical testing enough to 100% conclude that there isn't a god?

Because a proper application of decision analysis then allows someone to:
1) look at the empirical evidence to estimate that there is a one in a billion chance there is a god

2) look at the question "what is the chance of going to "hell" if there is a god and I don't believe it in" and quantify that their personal degree of belief is that the chance is 1 in 100.

3) decide that to them hell is less preferable to ceasing to exist by a factor of a trillion

4) apply a standard decision tree to determine that they should believe in god.

Thus using very weak evidence and yet arriving at the decision to believe
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
A person rigorously following that logic should also feel compelled to believe in any god that also presides over a creation that includes some form of hell. Presumably, some of those gods are jealous about that kind of wanton faith.

It looks like this someone is screwed no matter what.

ETA: See also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
A person rigorously following that logic should also feel compelled to believe in any god that also presides over a creation that includes some form of hell. Presumably, some of those gods are jealous about that kind of wanton faith.

It looks like this someone is screwed no matter what.

On the other hand, what if the only action for which one is condemned to hell is believing in God solely to hedge one's bets against hell?
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
Man, who KNOWS how many possible gods have that commandment!?

Totally screwed.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Is empirical testing enough to 100% conclude that there isn't a god?

Because a proper application of decision analysis then allows someone to:
1) look at the empirical evidence to estimate that there is a one in a billion chance there is a god

Oh, come now. First, nobody here has said they believe 100% there is no god; six-nines is quite good enough, however. Second, Pascal's Wager is truly weak, because it considers only the hypotheses "no-god" and "hellfire-god". There is also the Atheist God who condemns you to hellfire for believing this sort of sophistry, who is, on the evidence, exactly as likely as the plain hellfire-god; thus there is no way to hedge your bets. You can only follow the evidence where it leads.
 
Posted by just_me (Member # 3302) on :
 
I'm familiar with Pascal's Wager.

My point is simply that saying "there's no way a reasonable person can believe that" is making a false statement.

I'm not saying whether or not anyone should believe, and I don't really care. I don't have a problem with people choosing to believe or not, as I see no inherent harm in either stance. The harm comes when someone takes *either* position to an extreme and hurts others because of that belief.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Not compelling evidence to you - and that is okay. But you don't get to set the bar and say that it is no evidence at all.

...I find some elements of Truth in many places.

...I have yet to see compelling evidence that it is all nonsense.

Forgive me for saying so, but this just sounds like you are picking and choosing what seems nice to you and giving any backing for that your seal of approval, while deciding that anything you disagree with has insufficient evidence.

That's nothing more than creating artificial justification for your otherwise unsupported beliefs.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
My point is simply that saying "there's no way a reasonable person can believe that" is making a false statement.
And you support this by using Pascal's Wager, which you apparently agree is an extremely weak argument... so what was your point?
 
Posted by just_me (Member # 3302) on :
 
My previous response was to Juxtapose.

To KoM: I didn't say Pascal's wager was strong or there weren't other options. All I'm saying is that there is a set of assigned probabilities that can lead a reasonable person to reasonable determine that believing is a good idea.

But the bigger point is still this: who cares what an individual believes? If I believe the sky is purple why does that matter to you or anyone else? Does it affect you in any way at all?

Or are you taking the classic XKCD "someone is wring on the internet" and extending it to the real world?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
To KoM: I didn't say Pascal's wager was strong or there weren't other options. All I'm saying is that there is a set of assigned probabilities that can lead a reasonable person to reasonable determine that believing is a good idea.
I don't see how Pascal's Wager can compel belief. If you rationally determine that the chances of there being a god are, say, one in a billion, then that is in some sense the very definition of not believing in a god; this is what non-belief means. You might decide, on the grounds that hellfire is very bad, to go through the rituals and observances of some faith or other, because there are gods that allow you to be saved by works and not faith; but your estimate of the probability is your belief or non-belief, and cannot be changed by your estimate of the consequences of being wrong.

In addition to that, you have not addressed the point that the Wager is exactly matched by the Atheist God, who compels 'non-belief' even if your estimate of the probability that some god exists is 99.9%.
 
Posted by Juxtapose (Member # 8837) on :
 
just_me,
I understand, and am largely sympathetic to your larger points.

I would contend, though, that a person who subscribes to a religion based on the reasoning you posted either, while possibly reasonable, has neither reasoned very well, or likely for very long.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
kmbboots: Actually, that is one of the prime examples of cognitive dissonance that I was referring to earlier, that I found in my own faith.

Why are MY beliefs the right ones, when other people who have equally logical (and often times that logic is very thin in both cases) but completely different beliefs are wrong?

I had ideas about how God should be, if He were to exist, and on each point some of my religious friends agreed with me, but many did not.

I used to conclude that they must simply be incorrect, because my view made the most sense to me. But I later came to the conclusion that we were all simply deciding to "believe" whatever made the most sense to us, and disregarding the rest, not because it was any more or less true, but because we didn't like it.

Nothing else in life works that way, so why should religion? I can't decide that I really enjoy bacon, so it must be healthy to eat it in mass quantities, and that I'm tired today, so gravity ought to be a little less.

Eventually, upon careful consideration of my beliefs, I came to the conclusion that my various mental manipulations of belief and which evidence was the most compelling were simply attempts to avoid cognitive dissonance, and that the only way to find the truth was to confront these problems, rather than trying to find ways to out-think the faulty logic of my own beliefs.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by just_me:
Is empirical testing enough to 100% conclude that there isn't a god?

No. And most sensible atheists make no such claim. It's a strawman used against atheists by people who don't understand what atheism is. And please, don't bother us with the agnostic/atheist false binary either- it's quite meaningless in practice as most atheists do not actually believe that there is an empirical test possible that proves there is no god. This is not because we believe that there *could* be a god, but rather that god is a construct specifically designed to elude empirical testing, which is why it survives as a religious belief. Inasmuch as we cannot prove god does not exist, it is not an "open question," any more than the idea of a Flying Spaghetti Monster controlling the universe cannot be proven, but is nonetheless anything but an "open question." The fact that a negative cannot be proven, mind you, is not evidence of anything- just consider that literally any scenario imaginable, and many that have not been imagined, cannot be disproved... but we don't believe in any of them. Prima facie evidence of the existence of god, ie, religion, is not positive proof of anything.

I think a central problem in this ongoing public dialogue is that theists and religious people are by and large very poor logicians. I'm not such a great one myself, but it isn't hard to see daylight from the shade.
 
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
 
quote:
I did, and from there it was basically off to the races. Since then, of course I have had many experiences with the testimony of others; they get shared a good deal, after all. But I've only ever viewed those testimonies as evidence of their faith, never mine. Perhaps it's my sharply secular background with only vague religious undertones in a few places, but while the experience of religion has been communal as well as individual for me, the evidence and the reason for it has always been personal.
I’m glad to hear you say that, Rakeesh. I often find myself in a similar situation, and sometimes feel like I’m missing something. Well heck, maybe I am, but I guess I’m all right with that if it’s the price I pay for my upbringing. I liked my upbringing. Not at the time of course … [Wink] I’ve been a member about 6 years (including a 2 year mission) and I still find myself speaking a different language from the rest of the parishioners much of the time. Growing up the son of a physicist in a non-theist household, my speech is much less couched in the spiritual even when speaking of spiritual topics, and my ability to consider someone else’s testimony as part of my own is … limited.

Hobbes [Smile]
 
Posted by Hobbes (Member # 433) on :
 
quote:
please, don't bother us with the agnostic/atheist false binary either- it's quite meaningless in practice as most atheists do not actually believe that there is an empirical test possible that proves there is no god. This is not because we believe that there *could* be a god, but rather that god is a construct specifically designed to elude empirical testing, which is why it survives as a religious belief. Inasmuch as we cannot prove god does not exist, it is not an "open question," any more than the idea of a Flying Spaghetti Monster controlling the universe cannot be proven, but is nonetheless anything but an "open question." The fact that a negative cannot be proven, mind you, is not evidence of anything- just consider that literally any scenario imaginable, and many that have not been imagined, cannot be disproved... but we don't believe in any of them.
When describing myself prior to conversion, or my family currently I always use the term 'atheist', in particular after I discovered a lot of people don't know what 'agnostic' means. I agree that a hard-liner definition of atheist is a difficult one to fit, and not something that would be very rational. I normally use the term in conversation when referring to those who might agree that God as an entity cannot be disproved, but felt every confidence that none of the deities from the major religions were feasible. Then agnostic would be (for me) someone that was on the fence about, say, a Christian God. It's not terribly useful when everyone uses different definitions of the same word, but those two are hard to pin down to common usage and that's what makes the most sense to me.

I'm not sure I agree that a negative can't be proved. I'm not sure how you're using the term here, but I can think of a lot of circumstances in which a negative is proved. I agree that most traditional views of God cannot be proved to be false due to the lack of large amounts of physical evidence that they require for existence, but I think that's a major point of a lot of the theists here.

Hobbes [Smile]
 
Posted by just_me (Member # 3302) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by just_me:
Is empirical testing enough to 100% conclude that there isn't a god?

No. And most sensible atheists make no such claim. It's a strawman used against atheists by people who don't understand what atheism is. And please, don't bother us with the agnostic/atheist false binary either- it's quite meaningless in practice as most atheists do not actually believe that there is an empirical test possible that proves there is no god. This is not because we believe that there *could* be a god, but rather that god is a construct specifically designed to elude empirical testing, which is why it survives as a religious belief. Inasmuch as we cannot prove god does not exist, it is not an "open question," any more than the idea of a Flying Spaghetti Monster controlling the universe cannot be proven, but is nonetheless anything but an "open question." The fact that a negative cannot be proven, mind you, is not evidence of anything- just consider that literally any scenario imaginable, and many that have not been imagined, cannot be disproved... but we don't believe in any of them. Prima facie evidence of the existence of god, ie, religion, is not positive proof of anything.

I think a central problem in this ongoing public dialogue is that theists and religious people are by and large very poor logicians. I'm not such a great one myself, but it isn't hard to see daylight from the shade.

umm, the line you quoted takes a different meaning out of context than in the context of my post.

The only point behind the question, and I'm sure I'm not making it well, is that if there is any probability at all that there is a god then there is a chance that a reasonable person will assign such weights to all the possible outcomes and combinations of there behind different kinds of gods that they might decide to believe.

The only argument I'm making is against the pure black and white argument that some here seem to be making. Every time I read a statement that anyone who believes in god is _____ (crazy, stupid, evil - take your pick) I groan because to me this demonstrates a fanatical belief without any desire to try and see the grey areas that exist.

I'm not arguing that anyone should believe. I honestly don't know what I believe. Except that right now if there is a god I'm none too happy with it.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
I say again: It is evidence; but because so much of it conflicts, it is not compelling, in fact not even very interesting. The bar is too low.
The impression I had from numerous previous threads was that you did not consider oral tradition, personal testimony, personal experience, or other authorities to be true evidence. (This was our disagreement over "evidence" wasn't it?)

If it IS evidence, then I don't think you can argue that religious people believe what they believe in spite of the evidence. Instead, the issue is where to set the bar - what evidence should be considered compelling and what should be discarded? That's a very different sort of issue than saying religion doesn't care about evidence.

quote:
An honest appraisal gives all such evidence equal weight, and finding that they contradict each other, discards them all - at least on questions of cosmology.
Why discard any evidence? Why not attempt to assign it all an appropriate weight based on how convincing the evidence seems to be? For instance, if you had four scientific studies that gave different results to a particular question, I'd think the solution would be to give more weight to the study with the best methodology and the largest sample size or to the ones where results seem to fit more closely with everything else we know about science. I wouldn't discard all four studies equally because they disagree.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Just me-

No, I understood you perfectly. I disagree that such a binary is by necessity born of fanaticism. You only get to call it fanatical when you ignore the logical underpinnings and chalk it up to a lack of insight or empathy. That isn't what we're talking about. I'm empathetic, just not credulous.

I find all people who believe in God in any religious sense to be delusional, or else just foolish, or possibly simply misguided. Deism on its own is not crazy, just wrong in my opinion.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
[QB] As far as I'm concerned, Kara Neumann's parents had no compelling evidence for their decision and plenty of compelling evidence against.

So KOM is wrong when he dismisses "evidence" that he find uncompelling, but it's okay for you to judge people because you don't find their evidence compelling? You are sure that you have evidence to support your beliefs, and you are sure that Tres has evidence to support his beliefs, but because the Neumanns came to a conclusion you disagree with, you feel safe in concluding that they had no good evidence?

Do you really not see the rank hypocricy here?

You might, if you were actually paying attention, note that I wrote that it was okay for KoM to find evidence uncompelling. And, yes, that is how it works. People come to crappy conclusions - and letting your child die for no reason is a crappy conclusion - and you figure they got something wrong.

MightyCow, that is a reasonable response and a common one. My response is to try to understand where people are diverging and why and to make a judgement based on what I know and my experience has been and use my judgement to figure out whether they are wrong or right and how I can learn from that.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Kmbboots: I tried that method for a while, until I realized that where people diverge is almost exclusively based on their culture, and so is likely simply a result of upbringing and appeal to authority and has little if anything to do with a greater spiritual Truth.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
That's fine, Ori. I find anyone with that attitude smug, pompous, and ignorant, and rarely are they worth spending any time worrying about. Their opinions rarely matter.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding religion or spiritualism, of course, but it is way beyond that to assume you have the insight or intelligence to judge every person who disagrees with you is delusional or foolish.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Kwea, I wouldn't go that far. I think that the religious beliefs of some people are stupid, wrong, and easily disprovable.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
The only point behind the question, and I'm sure I'm not making it well, is that if there is any probability at all that there is a god then there is a chance that a reasonable person will assign such weights to all the possible outcomes and combinations of there behind different kinds of gods that they might decide to believe.
No. See my post above, which explains why you are mistaken.

quote:
Why discard any evidence? Why not attempt to assign it all an appropriate weight based on how convincing the evidence seems to be?
I was using 'discard' as shorthand for "assign the evidence a weight so low that the hypothesis should be disregarded". I don't know why you theists are all so binary about this; usually it's atheists who get accused of that. (Projection?) There is such a thing as evidence which does not convince. The testimony of a suspect to the effect that he was nowhere near the scene of the crime, he has an evil twin brother whose prints were found on the bloody knife, his sainted mother will attest to his character, he remembers nothing of the night in question, and besides all that he ain't never done nuffin', is evidence, and is entered as such in the record of the court. The jury is quite at liberty not to find it convincing, and we may then say in ordinary English that they discarded it.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
As far as I'm concerned, Kara Neumann's parents had no compelling evidence for their decision and plenty of compelling evidence against.

So KOM is wrong when he dismisses "evidence" that he find uncompelling, but it's okay for you to judge people because you don't find their evidence compelling? You are sure that you have evidence to support your beliefs, and you are sure that Tres has evidence to support his beliefs, but because the Neumanns came to a conclusion you disagree with, you feel safe in concluding that they had no good evidence?

Do you really not see the rank hypocricy here?

You might, if you were actually paying attention, note that I wrote that it was okay for KoM to find evidence uncompelling. And, yes, that is how it works. People come to crappy conclusions - and letting your child die for no reason is a crappy conclusion - and you figure they got something wrong.
They didn't think it was for "no reason". They did what they did because their judgment told them it was the right thing to do. Their experiences and their faith told them that they were doing God's will. How is following God's will a "crappy conclusion"? Or are you God, that you know what is and isn't God's will?
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
They were, as best as I can tell, wrong. All judgements aren't equal even if one isn't using empirical methods. Why would you think they are?
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
quote:
They were, as best as I can tell, wrong.
As best you can tell HOW? What tells you that they are wrong, other than that they just seem wrong to you?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
I was using 'discard' as shorthand for "assign the evidence a weight so low that the hypothesis should be disregarded". I don't know why you theists are all so binary about this; usually it's atheists who get accused of that. (Projection?) There is such a thing as evidence which does not convince. The testimony of a suspect to the effect that he was nowhere near the scene of the crime, he has an evil twin brother whose prints were found on the bloody knife, his sainted mother will attest to his character, he remembers nothing of the night in question, and besides all that he ain't never done nuffin', is evidence, and is entered as such in the record of the court. The jury is quite at liberty not to find it convincing, and we may then say in ordinary English that they discarded it.
That's a fair way to describe it. But if this is what's going on, I don't think its fair to say the religious are making beliefs without concern for evidence. It's more along the lines of: they sharply disagree with you on what sorts of evidence should be discarded and what should be kept.

I think there's an important practical difference between those two things: If the problem is that they don't care about evidence, the solution is simply convincing them to care about evidence. In theory, that could be done quickly, like a conversion to reason. But if the problem is that they misjudge which evidence should be discarded, then the solution is not as simple. That'd be a problem with their judgement, which is something that is learned slowly over time. No single logical argument is going to teach a person how to correctly separate evidence that should be convincing from evidence that shouldn't be convincing.

So if the latter is true, atheists are not advancing their cause much by trying to convince people with a simple knock-down logical argument. Rather, they should be advocating long-term education that will help people improve their ability to judge convincing evidence from unconvincing evidence.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Swbarnes2, For starters, there is compelling (empirical even) evidence that medical care is useful for treating medical diseases and that, often, people will die without it when they could otherwise be helped. I don't know what evidence they have for believing God wanted them to refuse medical care but I have never seen any that was at all compelling.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
Glass houses and stones, I'm sure that many of them probably feel the same way about the Immaculate Conception or transubstantiation.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Sure. And if they show me why either of those things are harmful or wrong or not true, I will listen to them. Heck, if they can even fully explain what those things mean I would be pleasantly surprised. FYI, the first is not a doctrine I particularly care about - and if I did care, would quite possibly disagree with anyway.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Swbarnes2, For starters, there is compelling (empirical even) evidence that medical care is useful for treating medical diseases and that, often, people will die without it when they could otherwise be helped.

Of course. And one can also make a lot of money by robbing widows and orphans, and eat well off of pigs. There's empirical proof. Does this mean that everyone believes that God allows everyone to do all those things? Kara got diabetes, how can a believer argue that that was contrary to God's plan? The Neumann's judgement and honest belief was that prayer and prayer alone were the right tools to be used.

For the umteenth time, they believed that whatever happened was God's plan. Can you prove that they were wrong to believe this? Can you disprove their beliefs? You said that you could, I'd love to see it.

quote:
I don't know what evidence they have for believing God wanted them to refuse medical care but I have never seen any that was at all compelling.
Right. You don't know the evidence, but it can't be good, because you disagree with the conclusion. Creationists say the same thing, you know, for much the same reason.

Really, you are quite the narcissist today. You and you alone can tell the difference between correct and incorrect beliefs. Evidence can't be worth anything if you don't know about it. Oh, you are willing to conceed that people who believe differently from you have glimmers of the "Truth", namely those points where they agree with what you already believe.

Or, you could, you know, stop defending irrationality. Then you don't have to figure out how to weasel out of defending irrationality that you disapprove of.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
The "why" seems fairly similar especially in the latter case. We determine that withholding medical care is wrong because we can use medical technology to determine the effects on their health, but their counter-point would probably be that they feel that medical care would damage their "soul", something we cannot detect or measure.

In the case of transubstantiation, we determine that the bread and wine do not in fact become flesh or wine, but the counter-point would be that only the essence of Christ was present rather than the physical being (or whatever).

I'm not sure why one would trust the technology in the former case, but not the latter. Unless we're talking about the consequence of people dying, in which case, are we just saying that we can trust religious claims without scientific evidence only if they don't have consequences?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
You and you alone can tell the difference between correct and incorrect beliefs. Evidence can't be worth anything if you don't know about it.
You are doing it again.... kmbboots did not say this. The point, I believe, was that nobody can perfectly tell the difference between correct and incorrect beliefs, and that kmbboots gets to judge for herself the correct way to weigh the evidence in a way that may be very different from the way the Neumanns saw it. Everyone must judge for themselves what they believe to be the difference between correct and incorrect, based on the evidence they have available to them.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Swbarnes2, I don't know the evidence in the Neumann case. I don't know what argument they made for medical treatment damaging Kara's soul. So I am indeed guessing. My guess is based on my experience that I have never seen a good argument for why medical treatment would damage a soul. If you have, share it with me and I'll see if it is convincing. Is there Scripture? Tradition? What?

I think that all religions have only glimmers of Truth. I have found one that I think has more glimmer than others. That is why I choose it.

You know you could try not to read my posts in the most hostile way possible.

Mucus, transubstantion is complicated. If you want a discussion on that I am happy to oblige but maybe not in this thread?

If there are no consequences, I don't really have a stake in what people claim. There usually are some consequences, though, in which case I try to argue for good ones.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Rakeesh, not ignoring you, just having some RL issues that prevent me writing a proper response to your post. I'm travelling to Ithaca tomorrow to give a talk, so I may not get back to you until the weekend.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Well, it took longer than I would have expected for the discussion to turn to religion as expressed by crazy fanatics.

ETA: Np, KoM.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
Actually, the point was more supposed to be that from an outside perspective, there is nothing more inherently wacky about a belief that medical care (or photographs) are harmful to the soul, as opposed to these more mainstream (in the West) doctrines of transubstantiation and immaculate conception.

Aside from the fact that the former actually has pragmatic consequences, I'd be hard pressed to explain to an alien why the former two are supposed to be more weird than the latter two.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
I don't grant your premise, Mucus, that there is nothing more inherently wacky that is. From an outside perspective denying medical care is obviously more wacky because it has consequences, going on the theory that it takes less craziness to believe, say, the Moon is made of green cheese than to believe and practice something that kills you and your loved ones, slowly and painfully.

The craziness can be measured by the lengths to which the crazy person will go. Believing in transubstantiation does not, as folks have said, actually cost an individual something. It certainly doesn't lead to that person's son or daughter dying in agony of a burst appendix.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
All that is addressed by "aside from."

Edit to add: It seems to me that you're answering yes to "are we just saying that we can trust religious claims without scientific evidence only if they don't have consequences?"
 
Posted by steven (Member # 8099) on :
 
That's true, Rakeesh. However, if going by obvious, repeatable consequences leads one to health, safety, and other good things, then why is it wrong to turn it around and ask mainstream religions to show obvious, repeatable good consequences of believing their particular beliefs, versus simply keeping an open mind on the existence of God?

Are Mormons happier/healthier/richer than Episcopalians/Hindus/Muslims/Taoists, given similar backgrounds and opportunities? I don't think so. [Smile] You know what I mean, Vern?
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Mucus, what do you find particularly wacky about Immaculate Conception? I could explain the difference to an alien. Assuming of course that the Neumann's were not in possession of some evidence or argument that is new to me.

We have no evidence that the Moon is made of cheese and a lot of evidence that it isn't.
 
Posted by BlackBlade (Member # 8376) on :
 
quote:
You know you could try not to read my posts in the most hostile way possible.
This is precisely why I find myself unwilling to converse with swbarnes2 on the topic of religion.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
quote:
You know what I mean, Vern?
Well, if anyone doubted your earnestness, this should take care of it.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Eh...I can understand why he is angry even if the flailing is frustrating.
 
Posted by steven (Member # 8099) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
You know what I mean, Vern?
Well, if anyone doubted your earnestness, this should take care of it.
Who cares if I'm earnest? Religion doesn't mean squat to me. That doesn't mean I can't discuss it intelligently, calmly, respectfully, and with some humor. What's wrong with humor? I love calling people Vern IRL. I find it highly entertaining. Other people seem to as well. That doesn't mean that my points don't deserve thought, I think. But whatever. I can't think of a more random moment to jump on the steven-hating train, but it's your call, I guess.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
That's a fair way to describe it. But if this is what's going on, I don't think its fair to say the religious are making beliefs without concern for evidence. It's more along the lines of: they sharply disagree with you on what sorts of evidence should be discarded and what should be kept.
Indeed; but that's not all that's going on. Kmb has explicitly stated that, and I quote, "it's not about evidence", "I choose to believe", and "I get to choose". If this is not ignoring evidence then I don't know what is.

quote:
The craziness can be measured by the lengths to which the crazy person will go. Believing in transubstantiation does not, as folks have said, actually cost an individual something. It certainly doesn't lead to that person's son or daughter dying in agony of a burst appendix.
There's such a thing as an externality. Every time someone affirms something without giving evidence, the public thought-space is polluted a little bit more with the idea that this sort of thing is ok.

There's also another effect, namely familiarity bias. There exist intelligent Moslems who don't believe in evolution, not so much because they've been exposed to brainwashing creationist propaganda, but because they've only ever heard vague talk of "this wacky, far-out theory that we're descended from monkeys". Framing matters. A theory presented as wacky and far-out needs more evidence just to make you look at the matter than one you encounter as held by serious people. Conversely, belief in the likes of transubstantiation gives familiarity support to such things as faith healing; the whole class of religious ideas is, even in a secular society, available as a category that needs to be given serious thought. This is the purpose of such constructions as Russell's teapot, the IPU (blessed be Her hooves), and the FSM: They are examples of ideas which everyone dismisses as wacky even though they have as much evidence in their favour as transubstantiation. (To wit, someone told you about them.) Ideas have consequences, even when they're not experimentally testable.

Now, the Mormonism and testimonials of others. (Not as busy as I thought I would be.) I observe that you say "attend Church" as though there were only one option; this suggests to me - although perhaps it's only a quirk of language - that you were, so to speak, a "Mormon atheist". When you had a spiritual experience, you interpreted it in terms of Mormonism. This means that you are taking others' experiences into account as evidence; for if you hadn't, you would not have compared atheism with Mormonism, you would have compared atheism with "A new religion I'm making up now". You cannot simultaneously take something as evidence for an established doctrine built on others' experience, and say that you ignore the experience of others!

To make this clearer, consider this: The Mormon faith is founded, ultimately, on the testimony of Joseph Smith and his associates that the angel Moroni appeared to him, gave him some golden plates, and that he translated them with the aid of magical stones, the Urim and Thummim. If you do not believe that this account is true, I must say I find it hard to understand why you call yourself a Mormon. But that's a spiritual experience which you didn't have yourself. It follows, then, that your entire interpretational framework is founded on precisely the thing which you say you discard! That is, to put it mildly, a bit inconsistent.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Swbarnes2, I don't know the evidence in the Neumann case.

But you are sure that it's lousy. That's a great example of how open you are to finding "Truth" in other people's religion.

quote:
I don't know what argument they made for medical treatment damaging Kara's soul. So I am indeed guessing. My guess is based on my experience that I have never seen a good argument for why medical treatment would damage a soul. If you have, share it with me and I'll see if it is convincing. Is there Scripture? Tradition? What?
Didn't you just argue that people are lousy at describing deeply important visions of faith? If they wrote a book about the profound prayer experiences that led them to their conclusions about medical care, would that make them less likely to be wrong? It's a religious belief. Why not assume that the expereinces leading them to their beliefs are exactly as profound and deep and meaningful and personally convincing as yours are to you.

Or, to put it another way, do you really expect them to be able to convince you of the truthfulness of their irrational beliefs any more than you can convince, say, KOM, of the truthfulness of yours?

quote:
I think that all religions have only glimmers of Truth. I have found one that I think has more glimmer than others. That is why I choose it.
Glimmers. Right. The "glimmers" where they overlap with your previous beliefs.

quote:
You know you could try not to read my posts in the most hostile way possible.
You say "choosing to believe is awesome", and I say "The Neumann's choice to believe was awesome?", that's not a hostile reading. That's applying your argument to a specific case which leads to consequences you don't like. But if you accept a line of reasoning, you have to accept all its consequences too. Not whine about how mean it is for people to point out that the argument you choose to make leads to awful things.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Mucus, what do you find particularly wacky about Immaculate Conception? I could explain the difference to an alien.

Well, in the case of surgery affecting the soul, the reasoning isn't that hard to explain. The soul exists and rests in the body. Surgery opens the body and might damage it. Thats only really two or three leaps.

Yes, not doing the surgery may lead to death of the physical body, but usually the claim is not that the person won't die, but that it is better to leave the mortal body than to damage an immortal soul. So the scientific evidence of physical death doesn't really contradict that.

On the other hand, the Immaculate Conception requires that we believe that there was a dude called Jesus Christ. That this dude was conceived by a god, oh, and god exists. But Jesus couldn't have been given birth to by a sinful woman. Why was she sinful, well, you need original sin...which needs Adam and Eve. Anyways, God cleared Mary of that during her birth. But this isn't in the original story, you need the Pope to proclaim it centuries later. And yes, he's allowed to do that.

Thats seven or more leaps with leaps resting on other leaps. And thats not explaining why so many of these other variants of Christianity don't share that belief. Thats a lot more leaping and hard to explain dogma to share with an alien.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
I realize that, Mucus. The thing is, the craziness cannot be measured 'aside from' its consequences. The consequences are an integral part of determining how crazy something is.

As to how much a religious claim ought to be trusted...by an agnostic or an atheist or someone not of that religion? Well, obviously not at all without some sort of evidence! That's a given.
------

quote:
That's true, Rakeesh. However, if going by obvious, repeatable consequences leads one to health, safety, and other good things, then why is it wrong to turn it around and ask mainstream religions to show obvious, repeatable good consequences of believing their particular beliefs, versus simply keeping an open mind on the existence of God?
quote:
Are Mormons happier/healthier/richer than Episcopalians/Hindus/Muslims/Taoists, given similar backgrounds and opportunities? I don't think so. [Smile] You know what I mean, Vern?
What's with the Vern? And anyway, I'd be very interested if you could lead me to a study that even comes close to answering that question. Happiness being a notoriously difficult thing to measure, of course.

quote:
That doesn't mean I can't discuss it intelligently, calmly, respectfully, and with some humor.
OK, so if religion not meaning anything to you isn't what's stopping you from doing those things...what is?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Wow, a Mormin atheist? No, I'm afraid that doesn't follow. I had basically zero experience with Mormonism, and only trace experiences with any church in fact, before that time.

quote:
But that's a spiritual experience which you didn't have yourself. It follows, then, that your entire interpretational framework is founded on precisely the thing which you say you discard! That is, to put it mildly, a bit inconsistent.
I'm afraid you've misunderstood me. When I said my own evidence for my own faith was strictly personal, I did not mean that it was only that I had prayed and just heard back 'Mormonism' and went along with it while treating as neutral other aspects of the faith. I meant that the thing that got me to ask the question about Mormonism was personal. It didn't have an external source, or if it did it was so subtle that I don't recognize it, and therefore you hardly would either.

In fact I'm having a hard time understanding how you came to these conclusions based on what I said-I'll have to review my posts and see if I was clear.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Swbarnes2, you are correct. Because all the other arguments for faith healing and denial of medical care have sucked and, from what I understand, the Neumann's didn't have anything other than that, I assumed that their arguments were the same sucky arguments. I thought that a reasonable assumption until I was given more information, but I didn't know. Again, do you have more information?

I am not trying to convince KoM of my beliefs. Nor you for that matter.

No. Sometime "glimmers" I see elsewhere lead me to new beliefs and to discard old ones. Or to a new understanding of beliefs. Why would you assume otherwise? Do you have evidence?

Again no. I have written that choosing good things are good and that choosing crappy things is crappy. What do you think my "line of reasoning" is? How have my arguments led to awful things?

I apologize if my suggestion that the conversation would go better if you read what I wrote in a more objective way seemed like whining to you or if you thought I considered you "mean". I don't think you are mean.
 
Posted by steven (Member # 8099) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
OK, so if religion not meaning anything to you isn't what's stopping you from doing those things...what is?

I was just joking with the Vern thing. You need to lighten up. It's not helping your case to get all touchy and worked up. Or, to put it another way, anger doesn't work . That essay is about politics, but I think it applies to religion.


As far as studying health/happiness, I think The Rabbit actually mentioned some studies in this thread a page or two back. There are definitely studies of relative wealth of different religions. However, my question was mainly rhetorical. The fact that you didn't see that, or won't respond to it, doesn't help your case.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
OK, I'll try to calm down.

ETA: I'm calmly stating that I only started participating in this thread recently, and not having gone back and reviewed a half-dozen pages of posts is not necessarily an indictment against me.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
You know what I mean, Vern?
Well, if anyone doubted your Earnestness, this should take care of it.
That was a joke, sorry. See now-capitalized Earnest.

(There was no snark or insult intended whatsoever.)

[ April 29, 2010, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
[QB] Swbarnes2, you are correct. Because all the other arguments for faith healing and denial of medical care have sucked and, from what I understand, the Neumann's didn't have anything other than that, I assumed that their arguments were the same sucky arguments. I thought that a reasonable assumption until I was given more information, but I didn't know. Again, do you have more information?

Of course not. You yourself just argued that people are lousy at sharing the information from religous experiences, remember? Differing definitions of meatballs ring a bell? Just assume that it was their personal judgment that their powerful religious experiences confirmed their beliefs about medicine, and God's will. That they are just as confident in their ability to detect "Truth" as you are.

You alledged that reason and evidence were absolutely the wrong tools for analyzing the accuracy of religious belief. So what exactly did you have in mind? You are going to just compare all beliefs to yours, and if they disagree, they are wrong? If they lead to consequences that you don't like, they must be wrong? The Neumanns say "We know we did the right thing, God told us in our prayers", and you will reply "No, you did the wrong thing, God told me so in my prayer"?

Do you see the problem here? Whatever dodge you use to avoid having your beliefs criticized for their irrationality is just as applicable to the Neumanns. "Their beliefs are wrong becuae I don't like the outcome" is not a sensible response. The only way out is to stop defending irrationality

quote:
I am not trying to convince KoM of my beliefs. Nor you for that matter.
Because you can't convince him. Neither could the Neumanns convince you. Do you see the problem here? Once you throw away reason and evidnece, you've got no leg to stand on when criticizing the Neumanns. They believe they did the right thing. Their justifications are the same as yours.

quote:
Again no. I have written that choosing good things are good and that choosing crappy things is crappy.
And since when is following the will of God crappy for believers? How long did your church think that burning heretics was good, and not crappy? Why should anyone believe your definition of "good" over their own (which in many cases, is supported by strong religious feelings)?

The Neumanns chose what they thought was good. Like you, they thought that they should not apply reason and evidence to their religious beliefs. They believed, and they followed their personal judgement.

quote:
What do you think my "line of reasoning" is? How have my arguments led to awful things?
The Neumanns. They "choose to believe" that God wanted their daughter to get no medical treatment. They choose the "good" thing of doing God's will.

From their point of view, your condemning them is like condeming a parent getting a vaccine for their child, because sticking one's child with a needle is "crappy". The parent honestly believes that the outcome overall is "good", though you can't see that just by looking at the crying child. Of course, the parent has reason and evidence supporting their determination of "good", but since you said that reason and evidence aren't always the right tools, you can't be surprised when the Neumanns make their determination that following God's will is good without regard to what reason and evidence say the consequences will be. It was, after all, your idea.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
The thing is, the craziness cannot be measured 'aside from' its consequences.

Can't it?

Thinking that you're Napoleon seems to me to be less crazy than thinking you're the secret love-child of Lady Gaga and Reagan, who also happens to be Napoleon, even if both have the same consequence of sending you to the asylum.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Swbarnes2, I think you may be confusing me with Rakeesh. He was the meatball, guy. Again, and not to whine, but I don't think you are reading carefully so much as seeing what you expect a religious person to write.

Where did I allege that? Reason and evidence are great tools and useful even for religion - just not the only tools.

Even if I could convince KoM, I wouldn't be interested in convincing him. Why do you think I would convince him if I could? Where is your evidence for that?

You are lumping a whole bunch of things together that needn't be lumped together. Believing that somethings are beyond empirical testing does not mean that we have to throw out testing entirely. Because one has taken a leap of faith doesn't mean that reason is entirely abandoned.

The Neumann's justifications may be many things - as you pointed out, I don't know what they were - but as I would not justify such a thing, why would you say they are the same as mine? I have no justification for denying medical treatment.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Thinking that you're Napoleon seems to me to be less crazy than thinking you're the secret love-child of Lady Gaga and Reagan, who also happens to be Napoleon, even if both have the same consequence of sending you to the asylum.
You are inching your way towards a definition of craziness which relies on the Kolmogorov complexity of a concept, or perhaps on the Shannon information required to describe it. An excellent idea.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
The Neumann's justifications may be many things - as you pointed out, I don't know what they were - but as I would not justify such a thing, why would you say they are the same as mine? I have no justification for denying medical treatment.

For the hundreth time. They "choose to believe". They chose what they believed was "good stuff"; following God's will. This is exactly the thinking you advocated and praised. Not the outcome, but the process. Sure, they had absolutely no reason and evidence that their beliefs were right, but you yourself have argued that evidence and reason aren't needed to answer many questions, so the lack of evidence and reason isn't a problem. They had what Tres would call "strong evidence" (meaning, strong subjective feelings that were convincing to THEM), leading them to make a personal judgement call to choose to believe what they believed.

What do you think they should have done? Given up their own judgement as the final arbiter of decisions and beliefs, in favor of evidence and reason alone? Are you prepared to do that when it comes to your deeply-held religious beliefs?
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Why do you insist on extremes of one or the other? Sure. Give up your judgment for better judgment. Again, because they chose something crappy doesn't mean that everyone must.

Here. Try this as an example. You have two people. One is a 10 year old who has heard one song ever. Sung by an out of tune Barney. And the kid is kind of dim. The other person is a widely renowned music critic who has spent a long lifetime listening to and studying music.

Now. Some element of subjective choice comes into deciding what we like about music. If I follow your logic, because some element of personal taste and choice, some element that is neither empirical nor transferable enters into the equation, the opinions of the kid and of the music critic are equally useful and valid.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Mucus,

quote:


Thinking that you're Napoleon seems to me to be less crazy than thinking you're the secret love-child of Lady Gaga and Reagan, who also happens to be Napoleon, even if both have the same consequence of sending you to the asylum.

I really don't know how to approach this. Both seem equally crazy to me, which is natural, because I'm the outsider (aside from the fact that Napoleon is dead, of course). Craziness cannot be judged entirely aside from its consequences because those consequences help serve as a measure of the 'commitment' (regretable word in this case) to the craziness in the face of sanity. In other words, I imagine it's easier to believe in something - both to claim belief and actually believe - when there are no real consequences.

Just like we measure how hard a worker is by how hard they work, we can measure how crazy someone is - horribly imprecise language here, I know - by how committed they are to being sane.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding religion or spiritualism, of course, but it is way beyond that to assume you have the insight or intelligence to judge every person who disagrees with you is delusional or foolish.

Mmm... I think you're misguided. And I'm brave enough, and smart enough, to embrace reality. You're missing something- and say what you want about me, because I am arrogant, but it doesn't make me wrong.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Where is the bravery in facing reality if facing reality offers the tangible benefits some folks are suggesting?

I mean, y'all atheists and agnostics can't have it both ways, y'know. [Smile] If it's truly beneficial to be atheist/agnostic over theist of some sort, that calls into question the bravery of 'facing reality', doesn't it?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Not facing reality offers a great deal of false comfort. One must be brave, at some stage, to set that lure aside.

As the Bible adequately puts it:

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

It's a rather compelling argument against religion- something the bible is actually full of, oddly enough.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
If one recognizes the comfort is false, and that if set aside the benefits will outweigh the deluded costs, again, I don't really see that as bravery so much as plain pragmatism.

The right thing to do, if that's your perspective, but not particularly brave as I see it. But bravery is a slippery concept. I don't see myself as brave if I agree to undergo, say, a potentially dangerous surgery knowing I will most likely die if I don't.

And as for your last sentence, c'mon man, are pithy zingers really necessary? It was a serious question. Or should I point out that many books, and the bigger and wider-ranging they are the more likely this is, are full of what is brought to the reading as much as what's on the page.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
... a definition of craziness which relies on the Kolmogorov complexity of a concept ...

In short, yes.

quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
(aside from the fact that Napoleon is dead, of course)

Hold on.
You don't have a problem with the idea that a person could be the secret love-child of Ronald Reagan and Lady Gaga?
 
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
 
Well, let's see. When she was about 15, he was still pretty compos mentis . . .
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Mucus,

quote:
You don't have a problem with the idea that a person could be the secret love-child of Ronald Reagan and Lady Gaga?
I'm not sure if you're joking or not. If you were serious: while I certainly think it's incredibly unlikely, I also think it's much more likely than being Napoleon.

Joking: Well, I've always felt I had a sibling somewhere...
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Regan and Lady Gaga having a child together is indeed somewhat more likely than most religious beliefs.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
You being familiar with both the likelihood of Ronald Regan and Lady Gaga's having ever had sex and the likelihood of most religious beliefs are in a unique position to comment, of course?
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding religion or spiritualism, of course, but it is way beyond that to assume you have the insight or intelligence to judge every person who disagrees with you is delusional or foolish.

Mmm... I think you're misguided. And I'm brave enough, and smart enough, to embrace reality. You're missing something- and say what you want about me, because I am arrogant, but it doesn't make me wrong.
The more important thing is that it doesn't make you right, either. If you understood that, perhaps you'd be less so.

I embrace reality too, but I understand that life and living is so complex we may never know all of it. I am not saying we shouldn't try, or that we haven't figured out a lot of it, but there will always be mysteries and wonders for which we have no explanation.

And I think God for that every day....no pun intended.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
You being familiar with both the likelihood of Ronald Regan and Lady Gaga's having ever had sex and the likelihood of most religious beliefs are in a unique position to comment, of course?

Indeed, it isn't terribly difficult to figure out, if one is willing to use ones reason and common sense. I'm not in a unique position to comment, I'm simply willing to go to the mental effort to base my beliefs on more than guess work and happy feelings.

Lady Gaga is currently 24, and if we assume that she may have been able to birth a child as early as 12 years of age, then at the most a child of hers could be 12 years old. So we can automatically rule out anyone older than that who claims to be her love child.

Further, Regan died in 2004, so any child younger than 6 is not their "love child", unless you include the possibility of sperm donation, but then I wouldn't use the term "love child" for that situation, so I think we can rule those out.

Do you operate under the assumption that it is impossible for people to discern accurately the relative likelihood of different options?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
...but there will always be mysteries and wonders for which we have no explanation.

The key, which you are ignoring, is "NO explanation." If we don't currently have an explanation for something, then simply inserting a place-holder called "God" doesn't get you any closer to an explanation, especially if you actually recognize that you don't actually know the answer.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
If one recognizes the comfort is false, and that if set aside the benefits will outweigh the deluded costs, again, I don't really see that as bravery so much as plain pragmatism.

Whatever makes your bread rise. I have heard it said more than once that not believing in God was scary. I don't find it scary, so perhaps your right. Perhaps it only scares some people, and only those people are cowards. fine with me.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
I'm not sure if you're joking or not. If you were serious: while I certainly think it's incredibly unlikely, I also think it's much more likely than being Napoleon.

I was being serious, although the example was obviously meant to be humorous.

So going back to this:
quote:
Thinking that you're Napoleon seems to me to be less crazy than thinking you're the secret love-child of Lady Gaga and Reagan, who also happens to be Napoleon, even if both have the same consequence of sending you to the asylum.
While we can both accept that being a love-child of the two is less unlikely than being Napoleon, both are non-zero probabilities. However, how would you compare a) the likelihood of a person in an asylum being Napoleon
vs.
b) the likelihood of a person in an asylum being the love-child of the two, who also happens to be Napoleon?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
The more important thing is that it doesn't make you right, either. If you understood that, perhaps you'd be less so.

Hah. I have no interest in being right in the way that you clearly desperately need to be. Note, I have made no claims about the veracity of any religious belief here, and I don't need to. Why atheists waste their time arguing with religious people on their own terms is beyond me. The terms were set up by religious people to help them brainwash their children. And no, I don't care how "ignorant" or "intolerant" I sound. I don't find tolerance of monstrous acts to be a virtue.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Indeed; but that's not all that's going on. Kmb has explicitly stated that, and I quote, "it's not about evidence", "I choose to believe", and "I get to choose". If this is not ignoring evidence then I don't know what is.
I can't speak for Kmb's beliefs, but I don't agree with the religious viewpoint that religion isn't about evidence. It may not be about having rock solid proof, but I do think that if authoritative sources count as a sort of evidence then religion very much is about evidence.

That does raise an interesting question about choosing beliefs though, and it doesn't just apply to religion. Often in life we face a situation where we can believe one of two things and where each option has some evidence in its favor. In those situations there is some sense that we have a "choice" in what to believe. But, if we are trying to be rational, is there really a choice? If we judge evidence to be slightly more in favor of option A over option B, could we label that judgement call a "choice", or is it simply what rationality demands given the evidence? If Simon Cowell chooses a certain person on American Idol as the best singer in his opinion, was that really a choice, or was it simply decided by the evidence presented to Cowell? I'm not sure how exactly to answer that.
 
Posted by BlackBlade (Member # 8376) on :
 
steven:
quote:
Who cares if I'm earnest? Religion doesn't mean squat to me. That doesn't mean I can't discuss it intelligently, calmly, respectfully, and with some humor.
You don't have to necessarily care about religion for religion's sake to discuss it respectfully, but you do have to care that those you are discussing it may hold it very close to their hearts and have respect for those people's feelings and intelligence.

But I would submit that being able to recognize the virtues, not just the shortfalls in religion gives you much better footing in discussing it.

Usually when you combine humor with a topic that "doesn't mean squat" to you, there's no good way to not feel offended.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
...but there will always be mysteries and wonders for which we have no explanation.

The key, which you are ignoring, is "NO explanation." If we don't currently have an explanation for something, then simply inserting a place-holder called "God" doesn't get you any closer to an explanation, especially if you actually recognize that you don't actually know the answer.
What YOU are ignoring is that somethings aren't ever going to be answered, and all of our knowledge helps us understand the world we are in, but doesn't answer most of the types of questions I am talking about.


Sometimes the trip to try and answer those questions is more important than finding a rote answer. Not everything can be quantified exactly, and I am glad. Personal relationships, our place in the world, our purpose....how it all began, what we should be doing in life and how we should do it....


You find your purpose as you can. I'll raise my children in a religion I believe in to teach them the values I believe. Then I will teach them math, science, and history to show them HOW God did it, and how to think for themselves while still believing.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 10495) on :
 
quote:
Sometimes the trip to try and answer those questions is more important than finding a rote answer.
Indeed. This is why it's important to not state an answer when we don't actually know it. "I don't know" is where we start that journey and any other answer suggests the journey has already been completed. The more I don't knows we leave properly in place the more wonderful journeys we have before us to take.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
And religion is my hypothesis. I am actually more of a spiritual person than a religious one, probably because the experiences I have had have been very personal in nature.

I don't know HOW works just as well, BTW. As I stated, I am not a creationist, or a flat earther. [Big Grin]

I think science is one of the best tools we have to understand the world around us. I believe that religion is a great way of teaching morals and values, and of helping others.

Science is not a counter-indication of religion, IMO. I don't believe that it is the best tool for everything.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
First off, I don't believe that there are that many things we'll never know. We know more each day, I don't see why that should stop.

Secondly, I don't mind some of the "life is fun, be nice to people" parts of religion, although you can certainly get all that stuff without invoking some higher power or another.

What I think is silly is saying, "I don't know something, so I'll just consult my local myth, and then feel better about not knowing, because I can fool myself into thinking that I kind of know, as long as I don't examine that belief in the slightest."
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
Note, I have made no claims about the veracity of any religious belief here, and I don't need to. Why atheists waste their time arguing with religious people on their own terms is beyond me. The terms were set up by religious people to help them brainwash their children.
Is it possible you really are unaware of how badly you're contradicting yourself?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
The more important thing is that it doesn't make you right, either. If you understood that, perhaps you'd be less so.

Hah. I have no interest in being right in the way that you clearly desperately need to be. Note, I have made no claims about the veracity of any religious belief here, and I don't need to. Why atheists waste their time arguing with religious people on their own terms is beyond me. The terms were set up by religious people to help them brainwash their children. And no, I don't care how "ignorant" or "intolerant" I sound. I don't find tolerance of monstrous acts to be a virtue.
You appear to be channeling a lazier version of me. Monstrous acts, agreed, but surely then there is virtue in attempting to stop such acts? Even if it's only posts on an Internet forum, there might be some good in it, and certainly it costs very little. Indeed, you're posting anyway; for the effort you've expended saying you don't care, you might have helped someone.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
[qb] ...but there will always be mysteries and wonders for which we have no explanation.

The key, which you are ignoring, is "NO explanation." If we don't currently have an explanation for something, then simply inserting a place-holder called "God" doesn't get you any closer to an explanation, especially if you actually recognize that you don't actually know the answer.

What YOU are ignoring is that somethings aren't ever going to be answered, and all of our knowledge helps us understand the world we are in, but doesn't answer most of the types of questions I am talking about.
Then maybe you will have to live with thsoe questions being unanswered, rather than feeling all superior about having nonsense answers to them.

So what if your religion can give answers to questions like "What color is 3?" and "What will the weather be like in Topeka on New Years Day, 3000"? The answers to these kinds of questions will necessarily be stupid, because the questions are nonsense, or they make sense, but the answers are made up, there being no way to find the real answer.

Edit; Oh hell, I hit the wrong button, I didn't mean to post this. It can stand, or be deleted, as the moderator wishes.

[ April 30, 2010, 04:01 PM: Message edited by: swbarnes2 ]
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
Note, I have made no claims about the veracity of any religious belief here, and I don't need to. Why atheists waste their time arguing with religious people on their own terms is beyond me. The terms were set up by religious people to help them brainwash their children.
Is it possible you really are unaware of how badly you're contradicting yourself?
1. I make no statement about the veracity religious *beliefs.*

2. I find the *terms* with which those beliefs are are discussed and taught to be constructed in order to retard and discourage honest intellectual inquiry.

You can brainwash someone to believe something that is true, but for which no evidence has been presented. I need not make statements about the truth of any religious belief to recognize intellectual dishonesty. I do hold opinions about your religious beliefs and how realistic and credible they are, but that doesn't have anything to do with me talking about how you discuss them, or defend them, or how they are taught, or were taught to you. Even if you turned out to be right, I would still recognize how weak your actual reasons are for believing what you do. The weakness of those reasons is not a strong disproof of your beliefs, just a testament to your weakness as a thinking person, or to the damage that has been done to you. But don't feel too bad- there aren't many parents or communities that don't force their children, in a thousand unspoken and a hundred spoken ways, to adhere to the beliefs of the community- and that so effectively that the child knows no difference between what they have been taught to believe, and what they have come to believe through the benefit of personal experience and sober reflection.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Even if it's only posts on an Internet forum, there might be some good in it, and certainly it costs very little. Indeed, you're posting anyway; for the effort you've expended saying you don't care, you might have helped someone.

I'm not at all convinced I have the tools necessary to be helpful to people who have been victimized by religion. Here I'm just sharing my opinion to voice some support for what I feel is right- that's a lot more political than practical. On a daily basis, I have no confidence in my ability to change people's minds, and I am not sure that attempting to do so would not strengthen any particular person's resistance to reason. As for posting here- I know very well the feelings of the interested parties, so I post often only to add my voice to a particular chorus. I don't care strongly about changing anyone's mind here, really- I feel at best I'm probably just an unpleasant reminder to them of how foolish they sound most of the time, on this subject.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

Saying that these terms were put in place to help parents brainwash their children is, by almost anyone's standards, going to be viewed as 'making a statement' on the veracity of those beliefs. People are brainwashed into bad, awful things, not true, honorable things. That's one statement. The time wasting remark is certainly indicative, but wouldn't be enough without the brainwashing remark.

quote:
2. I find the *terms* with which those beliefs are are discussed and taught to be constructed in order to retard and discourage honest intellectual inquiry.
And I wouldn't have criticized you if you had said that. I was being critical of your claim that you 'weren't making any statements'.

quote:
Even if you turned out to be right, I would still recognize how weak your actual reasons are for believing what you do.
If you lack the self-awareness to understand when you are and aren't making a statement about something, I wonder how you can lay claim to understand my reasons for believing in the religion I do-particularly when I have only very incompletely ever shared them with this community.

Y'know, I really did think that when you saw your own words quoted back at you, bolded the way they were, that you would recognize the pretty staggering contradiction there, and we could sort of dial back the sneering disdain that's starting to take place, but it seems I was mistaken.

-------------

quote:
Indeed, you're posting anyway; for the effort you've expended saying you don't care, you might have helped someone.
And you appear to be channeling a version of me here, saying that. Or several people. Anyway, I (of course) agree with you: if something awful is going on, one has a duty to try and stop it, and one's duty to make the attempt in the most likely effective way increases in proportion to the event's awfulness.

Looking back at this thread, I realize I didn't respond much if at all to your last post to me. I'll fix that at a time when it's not 1:00am on a Saturday morning. Sorry for missing it.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
First off, I don't believe that there are that many things we'll never know. We know more each day, I don't see why that should stop.

Secondly, I don't mind some of the "life is fun, be nice to people" parts of religion, although you can certainly get all that stuff without invoking some higher power or another.

What I think is silly is saying, "I don't know something, so I'll just consult my local myth, and then feel better about not knowing, because I can fool myself into thinking that I kind of know, as long as I don't examine that belief in the slightest."

For every thing we find out we realize 3 things we don't understand. I don't think that we will ever be able to know everything.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Orincoro,

Saying that these terms were put in place to help parents brainwash their children is, by almost anyone's standards, going to be viewed as 'making a statement' on the veracity of those beliefs. People are brainwashed into bad, awful things, not true, honorable things. That's one statement. The time wasting remark is certainly indicative, but wouldn't be enough without the brainwashing remark.

Riiiight. Forgot you were the arbiter of the meaning of all words. Pardon me master.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
Riiiight. Forgot you were the arbiter of the meaning of all words. Pardon me master.
So when you used the term 'brainwash', you didn't mean to convey your belief that brainwashing children into religious belief is awful and a forcing into false belief?

Because if you did, that's the ballgame. If you did, you most certainly were making a statement about the 'veracity of any religious beliefs'. If you didn't, then quite simply you chose your words very poorly.

I also note that in your sarcastic response, you don't actually deny my criticism.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Kwea: I don't think anyone will ever know the total mass of every person in China, but it is still a knowable thing. There isn't any mystery or supernatural element involved, simply because we don't know.

What sort of unanswered questions would you suggest require a supernatural answer, and how can we figure out which religion has the right one?
 
Posted by The Reader (Member # 3636) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
First off, I don't believe that there are that many things we'll never know. We know more each day, I don't see why that should stop.

Secondly, I don't mind some of the "life is fun, be nice to people" parts of religion, although you can certainly get all that stuff without invoking some higher power or another.

What I think is silly is saying, "I don't know something, so I'll just consult my local myth, and then feel better about not knowing, because I can fool myself into thinking that I kind of know, as long as I don't examine that belief in the slightest."

For every thing we find out we realize 3 things we don't understand. I don't think that we will ever be able to know everything.
Really, for every new thing we learn? I don't think this is true. There must be some subjects where we know just about everything. Besides, that doesn't mean we are incapable of knowing. It's a matter of scientific advancement.

Edit: Or what MightyCow said.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:

I also note that in your sarcastic response, you don't actually deny my criticism.

I've already denied it. You didn't like my denial, so you ignored it, and now apparently it doesn't exist. This is an issue with you- it's as if anything you disagree with is so beyond the pail that it doesn't even exist to you.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
For every thing we find out we realize 3 things we don't understand. I don't think that we will ever be able to know everything.
So much the better, if true. It means our children will never run out of things to learn. In any case, what has that got to do with the truth of religion?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
I've already denied it. You didn't like my denial, so you ignored it, and now apparently it doesn't exist. This is an issue with you- it's as if anything you disagree with is so beyond the pail that it doesn't even exist to you.
My criticism was that you had very poor self-awareness about your own post, in that you claimed not to to be doubting the veracity of religious beliefs, and that you didn't need to, while in fact making pretty clear statements about both. In fact you went ahead and did so while still claiming you didn't need to! Your response to this was to state that I was not the master of the English language.

I didn't like your denial, because it frankly wasn't a real denial-you simply said it was. That's not at all the same thing as saying it didn't exist. I acknowledge you denied it. I dispute whether you really denied it, that is, responded to the criticism. But maybe I don't need to say your reasoning was crappy?

------

KoM,

quote:
There's such a thing as an externality. Every time someone affirms something without giving evidence, the public thought-space is polluted a little bit more with the idea that this sort of thing is ok.
I'm not sure I grant this premise. I mean, it sounds good as a system of belief, but hardly empirical. How do you measure the 'public thought-space'? Anyway, my personal stance on people affirming claims without giving evidence is neutrality, absent any considerations of that person's integrity, and the likelihood of the particular claim. I don't really think some nebulous concept of the public thought space ought trump what seems to me to be a pretty reasonable outlook.

quote:
Conversely, belief in the likes of transubstantiation gives familiarity support to such things as faith healing; the whole class of religious ideas is, even in a secular society, available as a category that needs to be given serious thought. This is the purpose of such constructions as Russell's teapot, the IPU (blessed be Her hooves), and the FSM: They are examples of ideas which everyone dismisses as wacky even though they have as much evidence in their favour as transubstantiation. (To wit, someone told you about them.) Ideas have consequences, even when they're not experimentally testable.

Well, my problem here is that you're examining religion only from a 'what problems does it cause' angle. When taken to extremes, religion can be quite dangerous and detrimental to society. Framing the entire discussion in those terms, though, doesn't seem very reasonable to me, because put simply the 'faith-healers' is not an accurate representation of the way in which people live their faiths.

Furthermore, I can't speak for anyone else, but the reason I believe in the religion I do is not, in fact, 'somebody told me to'. Or at least not ultimately. I was almost completely unfamiliar with the tenets of Mormonism until actually attending church that morning, and no other human being told me to attend. And when I did, while other human beings were telling me things, I didn't believe them because I was told. I asked myself. I'm really not a very credulous person, particularly when it comes to other human beings telling me to believe things.

quote:
I observe that you say "attend Church" as though there were only one option; this suggests to me - although perhaps it's only a quirk of language - that you were, so to speak, a "Mormon atheist". When you had a spiritual experience, you interpreted it in terms of Mormonism.
Nope. As I said above, I was almost completely unaware of Mormonism in any substantial way. Perhaps one of my friends, and not a very close one at that, none of my close friends, none of my family, and no coworkers that I knew of at the time were Mormon. My only exposure to any actual Mormons had been in high school where I viewed it more as an oddity - I distinctly recall thinking they were quite nice people who believed in some really strange, nutty stuff, in fact - and Orson Scott Card, who I didn't even know was a Mormon until well after I began reading his work.

There were ideas in his fiction that resonated with me, but I was as likely to disagree as agree with him, particularly about things like social politics. I didn't interpret my spiritual experience in Mormon terms. Prior to that experience, I didn't have any Mormon terms, though of course now I see things differently.

quote:
You cannot simultaneously take something as evidence for an established doctrine built on others' experience, and say that you ignore the experience of others!
But I can take something to be evidence for an established doctrine without saying that I use the experience of others as evidence for believing in that doctrine. It doesn't have to be circular, and certainly wasn't in my case. I ignore the experience of others as evidence in support of my own personal faith. I don't think you've really made your case here, because it seems to me you're setting up some false dichotomies. It's not a matter of either you only use internal evidence as support for your faith and thus have an entirely new religion, or you buy into other people's experiences meaning your faith is not entirely internal. A third possibility is that my faith is internal the way I mean it: between myself and God, and the evidence for it comes from that relationship, and not any other human being.

quote:
But that's a spiritual experience which you didn't have yourself. It follows, then, that your entire interpretational framework is founded on precisely the thing which you say you discard! That is, to put it mildly, a bit inconsistent.
Have I addressed this objection above? Lemme know if not.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
My criticism was that you had very poor self-awareness about your own post, in that you claimed not to to be doubting the veracity of religious beliefs,

Ah, I see. No, I did not claim not to be doubting anything. I claimed to have made no statements about their veracity up to that point. I made it entirely clear I didn't believe in them myself.

Once again, you believe you know *everything* about what other people are saying, and you don't. I don't even know what we're talking about anymore. Perhaps you should just drop it for once.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
I asked myself.
What does this mean?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

quote:
Ah, I see. No, I did not claim not to be doubting anything. I claimed to have made no statements about their veracity up to that point. I made it entirely clear I didn't believe in them myself.
That's one way of looking at it, I suppose. Not one that is supported by your posts, though.

quote:
Note, I have made no claims about the veracity of any religious belief here, and I don't need to. Why atheists waste their time arguing with religious people on their own terms is beyond me. The terms were set up by religious people to help them brainwash their children.
That's two big old contradictions right there. And as for not having made statements about the 'veracity of religious belief'...

quote:
It's part of the victim complex you've clearly established around your religious beliefs...

&

I just assume between 60% and 80% of the population is mildly loopy, and another smaller portion have full blown bat****itis.

...but rather that god is a construct specifically designed to elude empirical testing...

&

I find all people who believe in God in any religious sense to be delusional, or else just foolish, or possibly simply misguided. Deism on its own is not crazy, just wrong in my opinion.

This is not the sort of language used when someone 'doesn't want to make a claim about the veracity of religious belief'. Someone brainwashed into something doesn't really believe it, it's a trick, they've basically been compelled to believe it. True belief cannot be a product of brainwashing.

quote:
Once again, you believe you know *everything* about what other people are saying, and you don't. I don't even know what we're talking about anymore. Perhaps you should just drop it for once.
I don't know everything about what other people are saying. I can recognize, however, when someone quite plainly contradicts themselves and then doesn't respond to criticism about it. I can see that sunlight from the shade quite fine, thanks. As for dropping it, well, neither of us are good droppers of things, Orincoro. I was at least attempting ineffectively to do so, but you decided to dig in.

------

Tom,

I'm getting hung up a bit on framing my experience in my previous outlook, I think. In retrospect I can say I prayed about it, but at the time I was thoroughly agnostic. I had a pretty serious personal problem that I'm not going to go into detail here about, and was thinking very deeply about it. My framework for this thinking wasn't religious, it never had been. I didn't have that framework, beyond knowing it existed for others. That knowledge about other people was never particularly important to me at that time, either. It was simply something that some people did, some badly, some well, most rather half-assed.

Anyway, while thinking about this problem, out of nowhere (I thought at first), I 'got some advice' for lack of a better word. This advice was so unexpected and so contrary to my usual approach to dealing with this sort of problem, and also so effective as it turned out, that I asked myself the question, "Where did that come from?" and got an answer. In my present outlook, while I was asking myself, I was answered by the Holy Ghost.

------------

quote:
I’m glad to hear you say that, Rakeesh. I often find myself in a similar situation, and sometimes feel like I’m missing something. Well heck, maybe I am, but I guess I’m all right with that if it’s the price I pay for my upbringing. I liked my upbringing. Not at the time of course … [Wink] I’ve been a member about 6 years (including a 2 year mission) and I still find myself speaking a different language from the rest of the parishioners much of the time. Growing up the son of a physicist in a non-theist household, my speech is much less couched in the spiritual even when speaking of spiritual topics, and my ability to consider someone else’s testimony as part of my own is … limited.
I just realized I hadn't responded to that-while obviously many of our particulars differ, Hobbes's description resonates with me.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
" Someone brainwashed into something doesn't really believe it, it's a trick, they've basically been compelled to believe it. True belief cannot be a product of brainwashing."

Wait, why not? Someone cannot be brainwashed into believing the Earth goes around the sun without being presented plausible evidence for that belief? Or would you not call that a true belief, as in, a belief in something that is true, because the person who believes it does so without good reason?

And why doesn't the person "really" believe it? Do you say that because you know something I don't about brainwashing victims? Are you really as psychic as you constantly present yourself? No, I think you would like to believe that brainwashing victims don't "really" believe in things because if they could, then that might mean you could make someone believe anything, and that might mean you're wrong, and true belief can be a product of brainwashing.

Now, personally I agree, a belief with any sort of depth and robustness to it is probably not the product of brainwashing, and brainwashing mostly produces nothing but a shallow surface reasoning. But nevertheless I don't think that stops millions of religious followers from being unable to tell the difference. I was talking about children. The parents, who knows. They live their whole lives in a church, gain a lifetime of experiences with friends and neighbors, and maybe they have a real belief in the stuff they teach their kids. Their kids though? They're the victims of lies and distortions and nonsense. It's a bunch of lies and distortions and nonsense perpetrated onto the nth generation of victims, but it's still that. Now, maybe technically that isn't "brainwashing," maybe it's just indoctrination. I don't care. My parents did not indoctrinate me in a religious belief system, and I thank them silently every day. Now, excuse me for having negative views of religious indoctrination, but I do. I find it despicable. Now, please, read my mind and tell me what I really think, since you were so insistent that I claim my opinion. I am not afraid to share it, and not embarrassed by it.
 
Posted by Samprimary (Member # 8561) on :
 
Going off the technical and oft-misused definition of brainwashing, when you're brainwashed to believe something, you really, really actually do believe it, to every extent that 'belief' is defined.

Going off the pop-psy interpretation of brainwashing, that's belief too. It's not fake-belief any more than a child who has grown up fully indoctrinated into a cult is not experiencing 'real belief' just because it was in all ways coerced.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
Wait, why not? Someone cannot be brainwashed into believing the Earth goes around the sun without being presented plausible evidence for that belief? Or would you not call that a true belief, as in, a belief in something that is true, because the person who believes it does so without good reason?
You wouldn't call a brainwashed belief that the Earth orbits the sun to be a good belief, would you? You would claim that belief to be fundamentally and hopelessly flawed, however much the actual thing it believes in happens to be true.

And that's going entirely off a very technical definition of 'brainwash', not at all the way it's commonly used. When someone talks about brainwashing, they almost invariably mean believing in something foolish and/or wicked and evil, that if only they could be taught true beliefs, they might be saved from. If you don't want to be thought to be making statements about the veracity of belief, you shouldn't use terms like brainwash.

I don't think you actually do want to not make statements about it, though, but I'm not claiming to read your mind-just your language.

quote:
And why doesn't the person "really" believe it? Do you say that because you know something I don't about brainwashing victims? Are you really as psychic as you constantly present yourself? No, I think you would like to believe that brainwashing victims don't "really" believe in things because if they could, then that might mean you could make someone believe anything, and that might mean you're wrong, and true belief can be a product of brainwashing.
Heh, is this supposed to be another 'not making a statements'? I can see it pleases you to suggest that there is some deep-seated, desperate discomfort with religion that religious people such as myself cower from, shying like a vampire from sunlight. That's fine. I don't have a problem with thinking that, as long as you cop to it. It's when you start saying you're not making statements that I chime in.

And by all means, please continue to suggest you know the inner workings of my mind, that I think I'm psychic, while complaining about my supposedly doing that to you. Definitely not another contradiction.

quote:
Now, excuse me for having negative views of religious indoctrination, but I do. I find it despicable. Now, please, read my mind and tell me what I really think, since you were so insistent that I claim my opinion. I am not afraid to share it, and not embarrassed by it.
Here's the thing: these opinions rang through loud and clear from your posts in this very thread, to say nothing of your other posts on religious topics on Hatrack. Not really caring whether you think I'm a deluded nutjob or not, having long embraced that I too think plenty of people are deluded nutjobs, I'm fine with that belief.

But I don't go around crowing about 'not making statements' about it. If you're not embarrassed about it, and you're going to post in language that makes your feelings quite clear, don't expect to be able to claim you're not making statements about it when you plainly are. At least not without being called on it.

---------

quote:
Going off the technical and oft-misused definition of brainwashing, when you're brainwashed to believe something, you really, really actually do believe it, to every extent that 'belief' is defined.

Going off the pop-psy interpretation of brainwashing, that's belief too. It's not fake-belief any more than a child who has grown up fully indoctrinated into a cult is not experiencing 'real belief' just because it was in all ways coerced.

Going off the definition of 'belief' being bandied about here, there are two kinds of belief: the kind one has to be brainwashed or indoctrinated into, and the other kind, the kind arrived at by strictly logical, empirical thinking. One kind of belief is obviously to be praised, the other shunned and criticized. One kind of belief relies upon getting at them while they're helpless kids, and the other upon a good solid education and then leaving someone alone to come to the proper conclusions.

That's what I mean when I talk about really believing something. In the one case, it's really believed in like crazy people believe in things. In the other, it's really believed in because that's the way things really are. Two quite different kinds of belief.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
I'm surprised you are able to recognize them as different in quality, and yet not recognize the poor reasoning associated with your own belief system.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Well, at least now you're choosing your words more carefully. 'Associated with'. That's a start. Though the fact that a) you don't know what I recognize or don't recognize about my own belief system, and b) you don't necessarily have a good grip on what my belief system is makes me wonder: how exactly are you qualified to judge here? On what basis, that is, do you have grounds to be surprised, really? I'm not surprised when a subject I know next to nothing about turns out in a given way.

Or is questioning before presuming something only religious people aren't allowed to do?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
I made a safe presumption, I think. That you haven't been willing to share your reasoning here indicates to me that you don't have a lot of confidence in it being relatable to others. Sound reasoning is by its nature relatable.

Not being a religious person, I don't have faith in things I can't observe for myself, or for which the reasoning is not at least apparently valid. That includes having faith about your reasoning. When presented with next to nothing, I can safely assume I'm right- suffice it to say that of all the reasoning I have ever heard, or read, none of it has been strong. None. And I am not naive about the subject- I have read and discussed widely.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

quote:
I made a safe presumption, I think. That you haven't been willing to share your reasoning here indicates to me that you don't have a lot of confidence in it being relatable to others. Sound reasoning is by its nature relatable.
When don't you think you've made a safe presumption is my question? Basically your answer to my question of how are you qualified to make such judgments is, "You haven't shared your reasons yet." When the truth is, I am sharing my reasons, right now, in this thread, I am just not going into complete details.

Your suggestion that this indicates anything other than my not wanting to share deeply personal details frankly doesn't pass the laugh test. Are you married? Do you have a girlfriend? Then tell me all about the most intimate details of your last fight with her, so your love and intimacy can be judged. Go into explicit detail about your feelings about the opposite sex, so that your sexuality may be judged. If you don't, that indicates you aren't confident in your sexuality. Etc. etc.

quote:
That includes having faith about your reasoning. When presented with next to nothing, I can safely assume I'm right- suffice it to say that of all the reasoning I have ever heard, or read, none of it has been strong. None. And I am not naive about the subject- I have read and discussed widely.
Well, if your self-awareness about your own naivete is as good as your self-awareness about when you are and aren't making a statement about something, frankly I question whether you're really a good judge of that.

ETA: It's of interest to me that your answer to my last question in my previous post was obviously 'yes'.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Rakeesh: With your girlfriend analogy, I think it's safe to say that you view your religious beliefs in terms of feeling and emotion, much more than reason and evidence.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
I didn't use that comparison to say it's the same as science vs. religion. I used it to highlight the ridiculousness of the argument, "You haven't shared the reasons, so they must be bad," argument. It's a profoundly stupid argument to make, and it's especially funny considering it's coming from someone who claims to speak from strictly logical, rational, empirical grounds.

If you look at the question/demand, "Share the most important, intimate details of your life with me so I can evaluate them," is, "If you don't, they must be bad reasons," really the most reasonable assumption to arrive at? Really?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
I think my point still stands. Why would it be so personal to share religious beliefs if they weren't so emotional? It isn't especially personal to share one's understanding of the Pythagorean Therom, or locations one has lived.

Religious beliefs are tied intimately with emotion and personal values and identity. It can make one feel exposed and vulnerable to share them, which is precisely the same reason it can be so difficult for people to look at them objectively, or honestly consider changing them based on someone else's view of facts or evidence.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Yes, Rakeesh. Really. Really Really.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
I think my point still stands. Why would it be so personal to share religious beliefs if they weren't so emotional? It isn't especially personal to share one's understanding of the Pythagorean Therom, or locations one has lived.

Religious beliefs are tied intimately with emotion and personal values and identity. It can make one feel exposed and vulnerable to share them, which is precisely the same reason it can be so difficult for people to look at them objectively, or honestly consider changing them based on someone else's view of facts or evidence.

Can be. Not must be. I freely grant that these kinds of experiences are tied up in emotions and subjective experience, thus ought to be suspect. I suspect them myself, even when I am the one experiencing them.

But Orincoro was not saying, "You might be wrong about this," and, "Because you won't share with me, perhaps your reasoning is not sound." He has said, repeatedly in this thread and other religious discussions, that if they aren't shared, well then, they aren't good. That they aren't shared because there is some secret awareness that they're poor reasons.

And MightyCow...you didn't answer my question, either. Is, "If you won't share them, they must be bad," really the most reasonable assumption to make when faced with an unshared religious view? Particularly when the one asking for something to be shared is, to put it mildly, a hostile listener?

No. It's not. The most reasonable assumption when faced with that situation is not to make an assumption at all. I'm struggling to remember where in the scientific method there's a step for, "In the absence of evidence, reach a conclusion." There's a word for what you've got before you've got evidence.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
Is, "If you won't share them, they must be bad," really the most reasonable assumption to make when faced with an unshared religious view?
I think, frankly, that it is. The only people I know who believe in a "pearls before swine" philosophy are, perhaps understandably, the people who believe in the book it's from.

quote:
There's a word for what you've got before you've got evidence.
Specifically, you're on the stand, claiming to have evidence -- and when asked to produce that evidence, you're pleading the Fifth. Is it really wrong to conclude that your evidence is self-incriminating?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
I think, frankly, that it is. The only people I know who believe in a "pearls before swine" philosophy are, perhaps understandably, the people who believe in the book it's from.
Those aren't the only people you know who believe in that sort of thing, Tom. I can say that with a pretty good level of confidence because I very much doubt everyone you know shares the most intimate and important details of their lives with you.

quote:
Specifically, you're on the stand, claiming to have evidence -- and when asked to produce that evidence, you're pleading the Fifth. Is it really wrong to conclude that your evidence is self-incriminating?
Is that a serious question? Because I could've sworn that pleading the Fifth, if we're going to stick to legal comparisons, was not in and of itself either an admission or evidence of guilt. Second, I'm not on the stand - that assumes an amount of 'right' that you would quite rightly object to if coming from a religious person towards you.

And finally, I have not said I won't share all details, and I have shared some. I note without surprise, however, that those have been all but completely ignored in favor of latching onto the absurd argument that if I won't share, it must be self-incriminating.

Coming from folks who claim to believe in rationality and science over, y'know, crazy witchdoctor superstition and emotion, well, it's pretty funny.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Rakeesh: I won't speak for Orincoro, but from my perspective, when a religious person doesn't want to share something about their beliefs, I assume that it probably isn't something that I would find convincing, either because it's so personal to them that it isn't something I can really examine for truth value, or because it's all tied up in feelings and emotions, which are fine, but certainly don't prove anything.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
I don't think it should prove anything. Remember, I'm the person who doesn't think other people's faith should be evidence for mine. But I certainly don't think it should disprove anything, either. If a scientific, empirical approach is truly the watchword, that is.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
I don't think it should prove anything. Remember, I'm the person who doesn't think other people's faith should be evidence for mine. But I certainly don't think it should disprove anything, either. If a scientific, empirical approach is truly the watchword, that is.

The fact that a thing cannot be disproved does not speak strongly of its truth value.

I have some stones to sell you, by the way.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
The fact that a thing cannot be disproved does not speak strongly of its truth value.
First of all, that's not quite what's happening here. What's happening here is that you are completely ignoring the details I have shared, latching onto the things I have not, and now you get to conveniently claim, "If you don't answer all of my questions, well, it's reasonable to presume your reasons are bad." But it's not, it's one of the things it is reasonable to presume.

The fact that something cannot be disproven speaks strongly only that it cannot be disproven. No more, no less. If you would stop going further than that into making the kinds of ridiculous psychic claims that you so huffily object to, this conversation would've been over a dozen posts ago.

And please, Orincoro, continue to avoid addressing specific questions and criticisms while sticking to pithy one-liners. It really highlights your commitment to objectivity and rationality!
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
What's happening here is that you are completely ignoring the details I have shared...
Because you have not provided the details that would enable us to, for ourselves, ascertain the quality of your evidence. You have said, "Oh, yeah, I went into a lab-like building somewhere and ran some tests -- and let me tell you, I definitely achieved cold fusion."

That's why people are dismissing your "evidence;" because we started out thinking that, yes, you had wrongly concluded that you have evidence for the existence of God. And all you've done is confirm that, yes, you believe you have evidence for the existence of God.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Tom,

quote:
Because you have not provided the details that would enable us to, for ourselves, ascertain the quality of your evidence.
Even if I did, it would still be meaningless or at least not quality evidence, to you. It would be to me if I heard it from someone else-other people's experience not being a motivator to me personally, remember?

quote:

That's why people are dismissing your "evidence;" because we started out thinking that, yes, you had wrongly concluded that you have evidence for the existence of God. And all you've done is confirm that, yes, you believe you have evidence for the existence of God.

[b]Exactly.[/i] "...because we started out thinking that..." That's what I've been saying from the beginning. Finally, at least someone is acknowledging it! As for only having confirmed that I believe I've got evidence, well, sure, I was never interested in using my experience as evidence for you. All I say to others is what worked for me: ask the question.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
You might have more luck getting a good understanding of a person's evidence for religion if you don't go into the conversation assuming that the person is wrong and if you don't approach it as a trial.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Why should we begin assuming that the evidence is right? If you start out wanting to believe something, and accept personal experiences as evidence for whatever they would like you to believe, then alien abductions, big foot, ghosts, psychic power, astral travel, and every religion are all equally real.

By most standards of truth, you don't get to just make claims and have them automatically accepted.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
Even if I did, it would still be meaningless or at least not quality evidence, to you.
I believe this is likely to be the case, and that's actually the reason I think people refuse to share their experiences -- not because it's too "special" to share, but because when exposed to the light of day it appears roundly unconvincing.

quote:
All I say to others is what worked for me: ask the question.
I have asked the question.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
I think that the big problem with trying to share "evidence" in a situation like this beyond the usual scepticism* is the necessary deficiencies of language when it comes to not only subjective experiences but in trying to describe that which is infinite. Language can only approximate various tiny bits of God and that shortcoming of language tends to be exploited by those who feel that all experience should be, if not quantifiable, than at least concrete.

* Orinoco is not going to believe that my parents didn't brainwash me despite the fact that I am more religious than my parents, my siblings and I have a variety of religious beliefs or none at all, and I choose a different religion than I experienced as a child.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:


The fact that something cannot be disproven speaks strongly only that it cannot be disproven. No more, no less. If you would stop going further than that into making the kinds of ridiculous psychic claims that you so huffily object to, this conversation would've been over a dozen posts ago.

Chill out please. I said it doesn't speak strongly of its truth value, and it doesn't. End of story. I got the sense you were thinking it might, or at least implying that it might. I want you to understand why I think it doesn't. That's all.

Now, as to you answering "every single question." I don't recall asking you anything of substance on the subject, but I do recall you vehemently denying anyone's right to ask you questions. I hope you understand why that doesn't come off as you might like it to. I think it speaks volumes about the quality of your thinking, that you are on the side of the debate where one must be careful *not* to ask certain questions. You may ask me anything you like. I may not have adequate answers at all times to all questions, but I don't resent them being asked.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
You might have more luck getting a good understanding of a person's evidence for religion if you don't go into the conversation assuming that the person is wrong and if you don't approach it as a trial.

Yeah, and we might get different results if we went into trials assuming the person on trial was indeed guilty. That's what you're talking about. You're talking about something like a jury going into a case being told to not assume a person is innocent. We build in such assumptions to stop the jury from being overly credulous of the prosecution's arguments.

The scientific method directs us towards attempting to disprove postulates, not to prove them. Logic also directs us towards attempting to nullify arguments, not to enhance them. The advancement of reason is found in the act of oppositional thinking, not in "open-mindedness." True open mindedness is the ability to accept when one's own beliefs are shown to be inadequately reasoned or stated.

A sensible approach to such claims as religious people make is skepticism, not credulity. That is, in my view, how people are converted to religions, because they are overly credulous of others, and they lack the self-assurance or confidence in themselves and their thinking to skeptically examine what others have to say about them, and the world around them.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
MightyCow,

quote:
Why should we begin assuming that the evidence is right?
Honestly, if this kind of thing continues to be said, it's going to be hard to think that you're not being deliberately obtuse.

I am not suggesting the evidence should be assumed to be right. There are three basic assumptions that can be made in the face of not having the evidence described to you. One, that it's likely true, with all the shades of meaning for 'likely'. That's not a reasonable assumption to make, because if it's not told to you, you can't evaluate it. The second is to remain neutral, to make no presumptions because you have no evidence for or against. The third possible assumption is to assume that it's probably not true. This is just as unreasonable as the first assumption, and for the same reason.

quote:
By most standards of truth, you don't get to just make claims and have them automatically accepted.
By most standards of logical thinking that I've ever heard of, and I'm a layman, you don't get to automatically reject them, either.

-------------
Tom,

quote:
I believe this is likely to be the case, and that's actually the reason I think people refuse to share their experiences -- not because it's too "special" to share, but because when exposed to the light of day it appears roundly unconvincing.
I shouldn't be surprised that you're assuming a great degree of importance that you simply don't possess. If you think I'm not sharing because I'm worried it appears unconvincing to you, well, there's really nothing I can do about that. I demand you inform me in explicit detail about the last disagreement you had with your wife, or the last time you were angry with your child. If you won't share it, well, that's just because you're probably just worried I'll think you were wrong or something.

quote:
I have asked the question.
Good for you. Shall I do as you do, and insist that you didn't really ask the question? How do I know you've asked the question, just because you say so? Or are claims like this only to be viewed with automatic skepticism when they come from religious people?

---------

Orincoro,

quote:
Chill out please. I said it doesn't speak strongly of its truth value, and it doesn't. End of story. I got the sense you were thinking it might, or at least implying that it might. I want you to understand why I think it doesn't. That's all.
I'm certainly no less chilled out than you are, Orincoro. Your assumption of the cool, rational stance would be much more convincing if it didn't come coupled with sneering disdain every third or fourth post. Put another way, I really don't know why you're clinging to your high horse.

Anyway, you go further than thinking 'it doesn't speak strongly of its truth value' in this thread at least. Multiple times. And if you think I believe that it does speak strongly of its truth value, you haven't been listening.

quote:
I don't recall asking you anything of substance on the subject, but I do recall you vehemently denying anyone's right to ask you questions.
Where, please. I realize it'd be a change of pace to substantiate your claims, but humor me.

quote:
You may ask me anything you like. I may not have adequate answers at all times to all questions, but I don't resent them being asked.
Yes, a lack of resentment is surely one of the hallmarks of your posting style. But, OK, anything you like. In an effort to get to know the sort of person you are better, I would like to know in total detail about the biggest, nastiest dispute you've ever had with a loved one. And after your description, I'll be asking lots of probing questions which you must also be equally candid about. And you should know that if you don't, I reserve the right to assume you're secretly ashamed of your behavior and convinced, somewhere, that you were completely in the wrong.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
The reason I am frustrated when people claim their experiences as "proof" of God is that they are entirely unconvincing, unless one suspends all disbelief (something that religious people are themselves generally unwilling to do for other religions).

If I told you that I had a fantastic time watching Get Smart, that it's indescribable with language, but that because of that experience I am convinced that Get Smart holds supernatural Truths, would you believe that Get Smart is actually a supernatural movie, with say, the power to heal and that it makes the universe stable?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:

* Orinoco is not going to believe that my parents didn't brainwash me despite the fact that I am more religious than my parents, my siblings and I have a variety of religious beliefs or none at all, and I choose a different religion than I experienced as a child.

I believe you. Brainwash was far too strong a term, obviously. I think your parents didn't prepare you adequately to deal with the influence of others, or perhaps there is some aspect of your essential nature which causes you to be influenced negatively by other people in this way. Or maybe you *were* brainwashed by someone. That I don't know for certain, though I wouldn't assume it.

We are all, by the way, victims of that phenomenon in varying degree and quality. Emotionally my parents did a rather poor job of preparing me for life, or else there was some essential aspect of me that remained unshaped for too long in my life. Judging from what I know and have experienced both of them and of the many other people I have known, I think it's a bit of both- I think that's more than often the case. We are all unwhole- I am happy to be one who accepts that fact.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Nope. As I said above, I was almost completely unaware of Mormonism in any substantial way. Perhaps one of my friends, and not a very close one at that, none of my close friends, none of my family, and no coworkers that I knew of at the time were Mormon. My only exposure to any actual Mormons had been in high school where I viewed it more as an oddity - I distinctly recall thinking they were quite nice people who believed in some really strange, nutty stuff, in fact - and Orson Scott Card, who I didn't even know was a Mormon until well after I began reading his work.
Ok, I sit corrected on this point.

quote:
But I can take something to be evidence for an established doctrine without saying that I use the experience of others as evidence for believing in that doctrine. It doesn't have to be circular, and certainly wasn't in my case. I ignore the experience of others as evidence in support of my own personal faith.
Ok. This is in some sense consistent. But if that's so, then you are resting the entire structure of Mormon doctrine, or at least whatever parts of it you personally believe, on one man's experience, merely because that man happens to be yourself. Consider just how much Shannon information is contained in the Book of Mormon's account of pre-Columbine America, absolutely none of which is supported by archeology. You can do Bayes: What is the probability that these huge civilisations should have existed, and left utterly no trace in the record? What is the prior probability of an angel appearing to a random grifter and giving him gold plates which, mysteriously, disappear a few years later? Surely this is an enormous amount of implausibility to rest on one experience, or even a series of experiences. On the other hand, what is the probability of someone saying to themselves "Is X true?" and finding an inner conviction that it is indeed so? This happens all the time, as you must well know, without any apparent regard for the actual truth value of X. Your faith is an upside-down pyramid; you rest a mountain of stone on its tip!

If you are really saying that you only take your own experience as evidence for Mormon doctrine, then I have to say, you're doing it wrong. This is not evidence, it's wishful thinking and special pleading.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Rakeesh: if you were less obtuse, you would have realived that I was responding to the post directly above mine.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Where, please. I realize it'd be a change of pace to substantiate your claims, but humor me.
The girlfriend analogy. I was thinking of this particular point:

You said:
quote:
Do you have a girlfriend? Then tell me all about the most intimate details of your last fight with her, so your love and intimacy can be judged.
Read for sarcasm, I'm assuming.


That reads to me like a vehement defense of your right not to answer questions you consider personal. Now to me your right to answer questions that are too personal comes with the limitation that you are essentially unable to participate in a conversation on this topic if it centers around logic and reason. Reason and logic are not too personal. They are philosophical questions, and if you can't find a way to answer them without feeling you have exposed yourself to ridicule, and you are unwilling to engage, then you I think you have forfeited the debate.


quote:
Yes, a lack of resentment is surely one of the hallmarks of your posting style. But, OK, anything you like.
I have composed myself, and am calm. You don't seem to be. Perhaps you should take a break before answering.

Now to answer the point:

quote:
In an effort to get to know the sort of person you are better, I would like to know in total detail about the biggest, nastiest dispute you've ever had with a loved one. And after your description, I'll be asking lots of probing questions which you must also be equally candid about. And you should know that if you don't, I reserve the right to assume you're secretly ashamed of your behavior and convinced, somewhere, that you were completely in the wrong.
In that particular case I *do* feel uncomfortable talking about the subject, and I think the reason for that was that I *was* at least partly to blame for what happened.

In particular it had to do with my Mother constantly lying to me about small things over a period of many years, which eventually led up to a rather painful argument in which I stated that I had lost faith in her as an honest person. I recognized in that situation the profound effect her behavior had had on me throughout my life.

But why would I go into a description of that situation with the necessary assumption that I was right? Why would I tell you the story and then defend myself against all possible attacks on my point of view? The fact is that I was never self-assured enough or strong enough to confront her with her lies before the situation became untenable. And I was also too credulous of her, and emotionally dependent on her, for far too long to recognize how dishonest she could actually be. I didn't understand for a long time how her lying made me a victim of her social pathologies, and so I didn't protect myself from that, or try to stop it. Mostly I was a victim of it, but at a certain point I also failed to be responsible to myself, and to her. And in the end, I also hurt her out of defense of myself, and my ego. So that's conflict- it's still there. And on top of that, maybe I was wrong in the way I judged her in the first place. Maybe my personality and personal nature led me to judge her way too harshly- and maybe the was I saw her act was not really as abhorrent or even as abnormal or unhealthy as I grew to think it was. Maybe I criticized her for a fault I saw in myself, and had projected onto her, in order to blame her. Or 10 other possibilities. Why *would* my mind be made up if it tweaked me so much to discuss it?

So if I were to invite you to share that story with me, and I felt that very deep sense of anxiety and guilt that accompanies discussing such inner conflicts, I would hopefully recognize that this meant I was in some degree of doubt about my reasoning, and my actions. I still am, by the way, which is why I *won't* be offended intellectually if you offer an alternative viewpoint. Emotionally, it might be difficult. It's an incompletely healed wound.

So that, Rakeesh, is why your touchiness on this tells me you are sitting on an inner conflict. Because from my experience, that area that is too sensitive to probe too deeply is wounded, and you protect that for a reason.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
I, BTW, don't have any problem answering very personal questions about my faith as far as language will allow. I have my doubts on the efficacy of that conversation, but I don't mind having it. Ask away.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
MightyCow,

quote:
Rakeesh: if you were less obtuse, you would have realived that I was responding to the post directly above mine.
Yes, well, first of all it's a big discussion, and it also tied into a disagreement we were having. Second, you have said things that indicate you do assume that I think a lack of evidence should serve as proof.

quote:
The reason I am frustrated when people claim their experiences as "proof" of God is that they are entirely unconvincing, unless one suspends all disbelief (something that religious people are themselves generally unwilling to do for other religions).
I am only troubled by this in proportion to the insistence of the person claiming the experience as proof that I ought to take it as such also.

quote:


If I told you that I had a fantastic time watching Get Smart, that it's indescribable with language, but that because of that experience I am convinced that Get Smart holds supernatural Truths, would you believe that Get Smart is actually a supernatural movie, with say, the power to heal and that it makes the universe stable?

Nope. I wouldn't believe that about God, either, were you to say it. And I don't expect you to believe me just because I say it.

-----

KoM,

quote:
But if that's so, then you are resting the entire structure of Mormon doctrine, or at least whatever parts of it you personally believe, on one man's experience, merely because that man happens to be yourself.
That's essentially true, yes, though I would of course dispute the 'merely'.

quote:
Consider just how much Shannon information is contained in the Book of Mormon's account of pre-Columbine America, absolutely none of which is supported by archeology. You can do Bayes: What is the probability that these huge civilisations should have existed, and left utterly no trace in the record? What is the prior probability of an angel appearing to a random grifter and giving him gold plates which, mysteriously, disappear a few years later? Surely this is an enormous amount of implausibility to rest on one experience, or even a series of experiences.
I freely admit it's incredibly unlikely. I don't even know how much of that I believe actually happened. In all seriousness, if it weren't for the Mormon allowance for inaccurate translation, I might not have been able to convert. Some of the improbabilities would have been sufficiently high if I were compelled to either believe they happened or not be a Mormon.

quote:
On the other hand, what is the probability of someone saying to themselves "Is X true?" and finding an inner conviction that it is indeed so? This happens all the time, as you must well know, without any apparent regard for the actual truth value of X.
The probably of 'someone' doing this is something well above zero, of course. The probability that I did this, out of almost nowhere? That I just willed myself to be a Mormon, absent any sort of social or familial conditioning? Absent, in fact, almost any experience of Mormonism at all up to that point? Well, the probability of that taken entirely alone seems to me to be pretty low. Certainly quite a bit higher than the probability I am secretly crazy.

quote:
If you are really saying that you only take your own experience as evidence for Mormon doctrine, then I have to say, you're doing it wrong. This is not evidence, it's wishful thinking and special pleading.
My own experience includes questions asked, so I don't know how I am doing it wrong.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

quote:

That reads to me like a vehement defense of your right not to answer questions you consider personal. Now to me your right to answer questions that are too personal comes with the limitation that you are essentially unable to participate in a conversation on this topic if it centers around logic and reason. Reason and logic are not too personal. They are philosophical questions, and if you can't find a way to answer them without feeling you have exposed yourself to ridicule, and you are unwilling to engage, then you I think you have forfeited the debate.

It wasn't vehement, I just picked an exaggerated example to highlight my point. I don't actually want to know about the biggest fight you ever had, and even if I did, I would not presume to insist you share everything. But even if I did, and you refused to share everything, I wouldn't presume what you didn't share was kept hidden out of secret shame.

quote:
I have composed myself, and am calm. You don't seem to be. Perhaps you should take a break before answering.
Why is it in these discussions with you, your own self-evaluations are the only ones that are valid?

quote:

So if I were to invite you to share that story with me, and I felt that very deep sense of anxiety and guilt that accompanies discussing such inner conflicts, I would hopefully recognize that this meant I was in some degree of doubt about my reasoning, and my actions. I still am, by the way, which is why I *won't* be offended intellectually if you offer an alternative viewpoint. Emotionally, it might be difficult. It's an incompletely healed wound.

Well, perhaps this is at the heart of our disagreement. I am not offended when you express doubt at my faith. In fact, I expect people - not just you, but everyone - to have doubts about my faith. Actually that's about the only expectation I have for how other people view my faith. I am not offended, intellectually or emotionally, if another viewpoint is offered. I am intellectually offended when an alternative viewpoint is presumed to be true in the absence of an explanation.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
... Well, the probability of that taken entirely alone seems to me to be pretty low.

On the other hand, Mormonism is still a flavour of Christianity in a largely Christian society. It isn't like you converted to Hinduism or Buddhism. IIRC, almost half of the US population has changed religions at one point or another, and the most common is from one flavour of Christianity to another.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
" I am intellectually offended when an alternative viewpoint is presumed to be true in the absence of an explanation."

It is unreasonable for you to be offended when others presume they are correct because you are unwilling to answer for yourself. It is unreasonable to require that every presumption of truth requires a complete explanation unbidden. Ask for a complete explanation, and you can expect it from a reasonable person. You have gotten *very* complete explanations, from many of these people, at many different times. Again, you just didn't agree with them. Why does that offend you?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
[QUOTE] IIRC, almost half of the US population has changed religions at one point or another, and the most common is from one flavor of Christianity to another.

For how many people does that mean a spiritual change and religious conversion, and for how many people a change in address and attendance at a new church? With all the denominations floating around, I think a lot of people probably convert without even realizing it.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
It was this Pew forum poll. As a poll, I would assume that they would only keep track of conversions that people "counted", so change of address within what people thought was the same flavour wouldn't show up.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Mucus,

quote:
On the other hand, Mormonism is still a flavour of Christianity in a largely Christian society. It isn't like you converted to Hinduism or Buddhism. IIRC, almost half of the US population has changed religions at one point or another, and the most common is from one flavour of Christianity to another.
While this is certainly true overall, I don't believe it applies to me. I was not even slightly Christian prior to my conversion. In fact, prior to my conversion I would roughly estimate I spent as much time being agnostic as I ever did theist, and even when I was a theist - I can recall this feeling distinctly, even today - my leanings were largely centered around 'I hope'. The holidays my family and friends did celebrate in common with Christians, we celebrated entirely in a secular way. Christmas was the time to decorate - with lights, tinsel, candy canes, and big bulbs, not crosses or nativities - and embrace the spirit of giving to one another and being kind to one another. Easter was a holiday where a really good breakfast could be expected, along with some candy. Even on Thanksgiving, when I think back I can recall...maybe two?...out of, say, the twenty-five thanksgivings I can remember that included prayer, and even those were for the benefit of those only slightly less secular than we were.

-------

quote:

It is unreasonable for you to be offended when others presume they are correct because you are unwilling to answer for yourself. It is unreasonable to require that every presumption of truth requires a complete explanation unbidden. Ask for a complete explanation, and you can expect it from a reasonable person. You have gotten *very* complete explanations, from many of these people, at many different times. Again, you just didn't agree with them. Why does that offend you?

You're begging the question. I don't, in fact, believe it's unreasonable to be offended by an assumption in the absence of evidence. And that's what this is. The only fact you have is that I will not go into complete detail with you. That's all. Anything else is just speculation, and quite frankly just as likely to involve your own personal feelings and preconceived notions as any religious leanings you might choose to characterize as false. I also don't grant that a refusal to go into complete detail means one is being unreasonable, either, but I'm perfectly accepting that that's a difference of opinion.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
That is indeed a difference of opinion. In my opinion your unwillingness to explain yourself is an admission of weakness. In my opinion your ad hom whining about my preconceptions is further admission of weakness. Finally, in my opinion refusing to go engage in a discussion frankly and expecting that one should *still be taken seriously*, is downright laughable.

Ultimately you leave no choice but for anyone reading what you have to say to dismiss you, and I think that's exactly what you want. I think that's how your religion works- anybody who isn't so witless as to fall for your obfuscations is a bully for saying so. Well, I don't cry alligator tears for you- but I welcome you to continue playing and losing the defensive game till the end of time.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
... In fact, prior to my conversion I would roughly estimate I spent as much time being agnostic as I ever did theist

What kind of theist?

quote:
Even on Thanksgiving, when I think back I can recall...maybe two?...out of, say, the twenty-five thanksgivings I can remember that included prayer ...
What kind of prayer?
(Two more than me [Wink] )
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Who cares about the trappings anyway? I have an aunt and uncle who are both ministers- so we have prayers at every event. Doesn't make me religious in the slightest. Makes me someone who has to sit through prayers- I think the converse can be just as true.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Actually, that makes you someone who cares more about peace in the family than truth.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Or who doesn't care enough about his family to bother himself with them more than is necessary. My enlightenment only goes so far- there's a reason I haven't seen any of them in two years.
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Who cares about the trappings anyway?

If you're asking me, I'm trying to determine how likely it is, given a person that has converted in the United States, how likely it is that they converted to Christianity.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
To Christianity from something else, or just generally became Christian?

I'd guess more than to any other religion, but I'd bet agnosticism/atheism wold give that a run for its money. I think most religious numbers get distorted because you can be a member of a church and also be an atheist, but you get counted as a member under most conditions- I haven't seen the surveys used by the national polls, but I'd bet they slant so that only those clearly and emphatically identifying as atheist are counted that way, while name-only Christians get counted as Christian.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

quote:
That is indeed a difference of opinion. In my opinion your unwillingness to explain yourself is an admission of weakness. In my opinion your ad hom whining about my preconceptions is further admission of weakness. Finally, in my opinion refusing to go engage in a discussion frankly and expecting that one should *still be taken seriously*, is downright laughable.
*shrug* Good for you. You're quite entitled to have that opinion, and if I were you there's a strong chance I would feel the same way. But it would be a result purely of my own opinion, not something indicated in and of itself, as you suggest, by the other party not sharing. As for whining, where was the ad hominem attack that wasn't entirely supported by things you had actually said? Feel free to reference those, if you would; otherwise, well, you're just full of crap.

As for being taken seriously...well, I don't take being taken seriously nearly as seriously as you do. For all your snide remarks to Kwea about desperately needing to be right, it seems to me you very much need to be seen being right and sure about it too. Put another way, it would be difficult for me to be less concerned whether you take me seriously: on these topics, you've long been approaching malanthrop-esque levels of hackery, perhaps due to whatever issues you have with the brainwashing your parents attempted to inflict on you. I wasn't even having this discussion with you, in fact, and I would be more than happy to go back to not having it with you. KoM thinks I'm a nut-bar, and I'm perfectly happy to discuss it with him, even incompletely, in an effort to make myself better understood and to understand better.

That's not why you're here, if your posts are any indicator.

quote:

Ultimately you leave no choice but for anyone reading what you have to say to dismiss you, and I think that's exactly what you want. I think that's how your religion works- anybody who isn't so witless as to fall for your obfuscations is a bully for saying so. Well, I don't cry alligator tears for you- but I welcome you to continue playing and losing the defensive game till the end of time.

Finally! Some honesty. Next time, get that out there in front of the conversation instead of the end of it, and we could just skip the whole mess where you insinuate your reasons aren't grounded on your contempt and disdain towards religious people. I don't know why it was so difficult for you to just say that straight out, because it's been quite clear to I imagine just about everyone you thought that way. Now the reason for the presumptions you make is clear: they're a product of something you thought before being told, "I'm not going to discuss everything." Not after.

-----

Mucus,

quote:
What kind of theist?
The really, really hazy kind. There was a God somewhere, or perhaps some sort of unifying force like in Hinduism. Christianity in all its stripes was basically a superstition to me, and to my family.

quote:
What kind of prayer?
Hmmm...non-denominational Christian prayer, I think. Or rather what was thought to be non-denominational. I don't remember clearly enough.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
As for whining, where was the ad hominem attack that wasn't entirely supported by things you had actually said? Feel free to reference those, if you would; otherwise, well, you're just full of crap.

Right. Anything you say is opinion, and beyond reproach for that reason, but I have to prove my opinions? I have to provide a reference to an ad hom that *wasn't entirely* supported by what I said? And why exactly do I have to do that? Dude, ad hom whining is not *not* whining as long as "it is entirely supported by what I actually said," whatever that is supposed to mean. I don't know how anything I say provides support for such an attack. There is no supporting or not supporting an appeal to emotion... it just *is*. So forgive me, I think you've lost the thread.


quote:
you've long been approaching malanthrop-esque levels of hackery, perhaps due to whatever issues you have with the brainwashing your parents attempted to inflict on you.
My turn to call bullshit. Show me where I do this, exactly. And keep in mind, *you* have drawn the comparison, and it is up to you to back it up. Show me where I'm even approaching, even skirting a line close to that kind of crap. Do I start threads on the topic? Do I even frequent most religious threads? Not really to the former- and I never start threads on it.

Oh but wait... this is going to be one of your opinion things right? Where you don't have to prove it? Prove it, mind you, a correlation in the broadest of terms would be pretty weak, not to mention insulting as hell.

quote:
reasons aren't grounded on your contempt and disdain towards religious people.
Wow, you are such a weasel. My contempt is for your beliefs, first. That is the grounding. My contempt for you, and by that I mean religious people generally, is for their weakness, following from adherence to said belief. You have insinuated otherwise, and you are wrong. It comes with many exceptions and is not an absolute by any means.

Eta: Just so you know- this has little to do with my parents, who are not particularly religious, nor my religious family members, who are all members of very liberal sects who do no proselytizing and do not even openly discuss faith or even religion- that even goes for the two of them who are ordained ministers. No, my experience specifically, as I have discussed in the past, though not often, is with the contemptible members of the Catholic church who ran my high school, and for whom I was never inspired to have a shred of respect, excepting two religion teachers specifically who were decent and honest human beings, and were paradoxically put in the position of teaching religion at a school where they were by far the most religiously unorthodox. Of course at the time religion was not my beef- oppressive reactionary social conservatism and closed-mindedness were more my beef. And even then, in the vocabulary of a 17 year old, being a stogy annoying bunch of old coots was more along the lines of my problems with the clergy. My rather deep contempt for organized religion per se didn't really foment until I was in college, and then it was born mostly out of the love of literature and criticism, and not out of my misgivings for any specific church. Until that point, I had never really said a word to anybody on the subject, nor cared to. My voice came out of knowing more about the world, not hating what I already knew. And it came, again, mostly from a will to communicate with other people, and a sense that religion stopped that happening. A sense that with the religious people I knew, a sort of linguistic barrier had been constructed before I got there, to stop a flow of ideas from getting through between us. As much as you woud love to frame my beliefs as entirely reactionary, because that fits your image of me, I'm afraid it just isn't so.

[ May 03, 2010, 05:43 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
The victory that must be proclaimed by the winner does not have the true win-nature.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
It's not about you KoM, it's about me... *I* think you're wrong. It's *my* opinion.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
I demand you inform me in explicit detail about the last disagreement you had with your wife, or the last time you were angry with your child.
Would you really like to know? I have no problem with sharing this information, actually. As you may have noted, I'm not particularly worried about my privacy. Those things I don't share are usually confidences shared; while I wouldn't mind someone knowing, I know the other party or parties involved would, so I refrain out of respect for them. I'm certainly willing to accept the possibility that your God is an introvert.

quote:
Good for you. Shall I do as you do, and insist that you didn't really ask the question? How do I know you've asked the question, just because you say so? Or are claims like this only to be viewed with automatic skepticism when they come from religious people?
Well, if the thread's still around from 2002, you might be able to find my lengthy discussion of that very process. If not, though, it's worth noting that I'm not claiming that you're lying about having had an experience that you believe was divine in nature; I'm claiming that you've misinterpreted that experience. A closer analogy is to assert that I must have somehow asked the question in the wrong way.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
Thanks, Orincoro, for that last paragraph.

I was going to disagree with you, or at least present counter-examples, to the idea that religion presents a linguistic barrier, but then I realized that my selection bias is probably much higher than yours right now. I’m spending a lot of my time hanging out with theologians who are active in the communicative ethics movement, reviving the Ciceronian rhetorical tradition and exploring the role of the public religious voice in a pluralistic democratic society. So the issue of overcoming barriers to communication is huge around here. I should probably get out of my ivory tower more.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

quote:
Right. Anything you say is opinion, and beyond reproach for that reason, but I have to prove my opinions? I have to provide a reference to an ad hom that *wasn't entirely* supported by what I said?
OK, it's become crystal clear you're just not listening. 'Beyond reproach' is not something I have insisted upon. Where have I demanded that my opinion be held above reproach? Nowhere. If you're going to say I have done so, you ought to be able to show me where.

quote:
I don't know how anything I say provides support for such an attack. There is no supporting or not supporting an appeal to emotion... it just *is*. So forgive me, I think you've lost the thread.
I haven't attacked you any more than you've attacked me...just assumed, absent a detailed explanation, whatever I presume to assume. I'm using your approach, it's just that because it's me doing it, I reach different conclusions, so it's suddenly objectionable. That's a problem with your approach, the assumption absent evidence approach.

quote:
My turn to call bullshit. Show me where I do this, exactly. And keep in mind, *you* have drawn the comparison, and it is up to you to back it up. Show me where I'm even approaching, even skirting a line close to that kind of crap. Do I start threads on the topic? Do I even frequent most religious threads? Not really to the former- and I never start threads on it.
Well, first, you've been 'calling bullshit' from the get-go. Second, what, now it's unreasonable to presume before knowing what one's motives are? Wow!

quote:
Wow, you are such a weasel. My contempt is for your beliefs, first. That is the grounding. My contempt for you, and by that I mean religious people generally, is for their weakness, following from adherence to said belief. You have insinuated otherwise, and you are wrong. It comes with many exceptions and is not an absolute by any means.
I have not seen those exceptions. Therefore, having not seen them, I will presume that you're lying and that they don't exist. Incidentally, liking someone in spite of their religion doesn't actually count.

quote:
As much as you woud love to frame my beliefs as entirely reactionary, because that fits your image of me, I'm afraid it just isn't so.
And, again, you're not listening. I'm beginning to think that I was right initially: you are incapable of listening on this subject. I don't think your beliefs are entirely reactionary. When I said 'perhaps due to the way your parents brainwashed you', I was parodying your approach to the thinking of others.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
The more important thing is that it doesn't make you right, either. If you understood that, perhaps you'd be less so.

Hah. I have no interest in being right in the way that you clearly desperately need to be.
Bullshit. You are so desperate to be right, not just on this topic but on most that you post here, that your posts reek of it. I don't need to be right, or to have other people tell me I am. I actually prefer when people don't agree with me a lot of the time, because it helps me see the other side of issues I might not have seen on my own.

What I value is honest discourse, with respect for others. Oddly enough, that is something usually lacking when you chime in, regardless of topic.

You don't make statements, you make bombastic declarations, then get self righteous when people disagree. You complain when other people are dismissive of you, as you are so often are of other people. When you fail to convince people of your points, which happens more often that not, you then claim that courtesy and respect are not for those people who disagree with you, because they OBVIOUSLY don't deserve it.
[Smile]

Good to see you are still following form.


It might just Be the forum....internet forums are devoid of tone, at least compared to IRL conversations. I don't think you are a bad person, nor do I particularly want to convert you. [Big Grin]


But most "discussions" with you usually aren't even worth following. You really do come off as a dismissive elitist, and not one who is open to opposing opinions. That wasn't always the case, which makes me sad. I use to actually like your posts, sometimes.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Glad to see he's not the only one following form. ;P
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
"Well, first, you've been 'calling bullshit' from the get-go. Second, what, now it's unreasonable to presume before knowing what one's motives are? Wow!"

Seriously? You didn't make a presumption that I was being a hack, you were making a judgment and a comparison with Mal. How is that a presumption? That's a comparison, right? That's saying: "you're acting like this," not "you're doing this for x reason," you didn't say that... or rather you did but that was not what I was calling bullshit on. Regardless, you don't have to provide proofs for your opinions of me, just proofs of such very bold comparisons as that. I mean, Mal? Come on, that's practically Godwin.

"I have not seen those exceptions. Therefore, having not seen them, I will presume that you're lying and that they don't exist. Incidentally, liking someone in spite of their religion doesn't actually count."

Sure it does. I like you despite your being a prick. I still like you, so I don't see how that doesn't count. It's not like I don't actually like you. I do. That's a feeling, and so I don't have to prove it. You don't have to believe it, because I can't prove it, but it's still the case. Same goes for my personal exceptions to the feeling of religious people being weak. I don't think they all are. I think most of them are. But that's a feeling, again, and not something I'm compelled to prove.


Kwea:
"That wasn't always the case, which makes me sad. I use to actually like your posts, sometimes. "

I hear what you're saying but I think you're at least partially conflating me with a general feeling here. As you said, it might just *be* the forum. I used to post more, and I used to post in more topics. Have you considered that the forum has changed enough to discourage people from being more multi-faceted. Rhetorical question, I know you have thought of that and I think you probably think that's what has happened here. But I also suggest that your view of me has been shaded with your view of things generally, certainly my participation has changed because of that.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

quote:
Regardless, you don't have to provide proofs for your opinions of me, just proofs of such very bold comparisons as that. I mean, Mal? Come on, that's practically Godwin.
I have, many times, by quoting you directly. Either you ignore them, or you wait until like fifteen posts later to acknowledge what was already pretty clear in the first place (that is, the contempt/disdain for religious people in proportion to how important religion is in their lives). Yes, you'll claim you don't actually think that, but as you have indicated, we don't have to take each other at our words, do we? We get to make presumptions about others absent any evidence from that person.

quote:

Sure it does. I like you despite your being a prick. I still like you, so I don't see how that doesn't count. It's not like I don't actually like you. I do. That's a feeling, and so I don't have to prove it. You don't have to believe it, because I can't prove it, but it's still the case. Same goes for my personal exceptions to the feeling of religious people being weak. I don't think they all are. I think most of them are. But that's a feeling, again, and not something I'm compelled to prove.

Well, that's rich. Your feelings aren't something that you're compelled to prove. Only religious feelings. But, here, if it does count: how do you react when a religious person says, "Love the sinner, hate the sin!"
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
The scientific method directs us towards attempting to disprove postulates, not to prove them. Logic also directs us towards attempting to nullify arguments, not to enhance them. The advancement of reason is found in the act of oppositional thinking, not in "open-mindedness." True open mindedness is the ability to accept when one's own beliefs are shown to be inadequately reasoned or stated.

A sensible approach to such claims as religious people make is skepticism, not credulity.

I am skeptical of your claim that skepticism is a more sensible approach than credulity. Do you have any non-anecdotal evidence that a skeptical approach to others produces more truthful beliefs than credulity? I believe that using a moderate degree of trust as a default leads one to have both more accurate beliefs and a happier life.
 
Posted by Mucous (Member # 12331) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I am skeptical of your claim that skepticism is a more sensible approach than credulity.

Maybe it would be more sensible and happier for you to be more credulous about the claim [Wink]
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Ori, perhaps that is true, or at least partially. I know that I occasionally get jumped on pretty hard by people I don't really know, and who don't know me. But that has been happening since my first day here, when I posted my first post. I posted a complete argument on a topic, in complete sentences, and was accused of being an alt for a well known troll, because "No one just jumps in like that".

I known I still like posting here, but I hesitate posting some info about me these days. Part of it is because of the world we live in, but most of it is how acrimonious some posters like to be. The payoff just isn't worth the risk some of the times.

I just don't care for discussions where everyone who doesn't agree with you (general you, not you specifically) is an idiot, or insane, or a prick, or a commie.....you get the picture.


It seems a lot of people there days, not just here at Hatrack, are all about the extremes. It's their way or you are a moron, even when their arguments are weak. I don't necessarily like belittling people who disagree with me because that address things other than their arguments. It's no different than Bush/Cheney claiming anyone who disagreed or objected to the war in Iraq was un-American....it simply wasn't true.

In my experience, very few things are black and white, wrong/right choices. Particularly with topics like religion. I went though a period of atheism when I was younger, but it never rang true to me. Just because I can't touch something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and some of my personal experiences led me to change my views.

And I don't want to discuss those events, because they are personal and private, and involve other people as well. I didn't hear a voice, or see a vision. I am not losing my sanity, and I am not delusional. Despite what KoM might say. [Big Grin]

Nothing that happened to me couldn't be explained away by someone who didn't experience them first hand. I know what observer bias is as well, so please don't lecture me on it. [Big Grin] But I now am more of an agnostic these days. I made a practical choice to switch to an Episcopal faith rather than remain RC because I like the rituals I grew up with, and believe that the form of worship doesn't particularly matter. But I believe, and my personal experiences bear this faith out, that there is a God, even if we don't know his exact form.

I also believe that while we hear about a lot of bad things people do in the name of religion, there is an untold wealth of positive stories every day we don't hear of normally. If a church inspires people to help other people and make our world a better place, far be it for me to discourage them.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
I am skeptical of your claim that skepticism is a more sensible approach than credulity.
I couldn't disagree more with this. To me, skepticism - strange as it might sound to y'all religious people are shades of crazy folks;) - is definitely one of the single most helpful personality traits a human being can have, as far as getting along well in the world.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
Speaking of skepticism, is "Mucous" Mucus with a new account, or somebody trying to sneak into the conversation pretending to be Mucus? Or just a coincidentally similar name?
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
On topic, I think it's helpful to distinguish skepticism (also hermenuetics of suspicion, positivism and empiricism) as method and as world view. They're great as the first, not so great as the second.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Speaking for myself, I mean it as a method-be skeptical of things at first, evaluate them, reducing skepticism depending on the evaluation. I'm not really familiar with it as a world view.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:

I also believe that while we hear about a lot of bad things people do in the name of religion, there is an untold wealth of positive stories every day we don't hear of normally. If a church inspires people to help other people and make our world a better place, far be it for me to discourage them.

I agree with this. Some argue that religion has killed more people than all the wars combined. I would be interested in knowing how many lives were saved by religion, or how many people changed their lives and helped others after turning to religion.

Religion has its merits and faults, just like any belief system, whether that be a belief in science, God, aliens, or whatever else people believe in.

Religious people don't force you to believe in God, it would be nice if a little respect could be shown and to try and force them to convert to atheism.

Ori, my questions are: Why do you really care what anyone else believes? What do you get out of it? What do you gain?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
As others have pointed out, nobody is skeptical that religious people have had strong, emotionally powerful, possibly difficult-to-explain experiences, which they believe are spiritual in nature.

We don't think religious people are all liars, we simply think that they are very likely mistaken about the source they attribute to some events in their life.

That is certainly not unreasonable, especially considering that they are often somewhat unsure themselves, and frequently don't have an "answer" until one is provided by a religious tradition.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:

Religious people don't force you to believe in God, it would be nice if a little respect could be shown and to try and force them to convert to atheism.

Of course, we certainly have done and some still do - even by force and violence. It isn't exactly our best trait, though, and one I am sorry to see atheists emulate.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Which atheists are "forcing" anyone to change? Let's be realistic, it isn't as though we're holding a witch trial here.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
That is certainly not unreasonable, especially considering that they are often somewhat unsure themselves, and frequently don't have an "answer" until one is provided by a religious tradition.
If this was all that had been happening in this thread, the discussions would have gone quite differently.

----------

quote:
Religious people don't force you to believe in God, it would be nice if a little respect could be shown and to try and force them to convert to atheism.
This is a bit...incomplete. 'Religious people' don't do anything monolithically. It's just too big a group. However, some religious people have and do most certainly try and force non-believers to believe. Very fortunately for us, that sort of effort is generally very much frowned upon, and we have plenty of good laws in place to protect people from that in the United States...but it does still happen.

It happens when parents compel their children to attend church. I'm not just talking about childhood when a parent has an obligation to sometimes compel their child to do things, but on up into adolescence where they start becoming 'people' in terms of how much we ought to respect their choices. It happens in public schools when a teacher or administrator leads a prayer in class. There's whiffs of it in attempts to get 'Intelligent Design' taught as science in science class. There's more than a scent of it in 'National Prayer Day', and I say that as a religious person. There's a heaping helping of it when religious people attempt to ensure religious ideas will be the underpinnings of our secular laws, such as homosexual marriage.

And as for the past, well, it wasn't very long ago at all when religious people compelled belief or statements of belief all the time. Even here in the United States. Don't believe me? Ask a middle-aged Native American who grew up on a reservation.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
I'll admit forcing was too strong of a word.

MC, Religion does not have all of the answers. I don't know of any religion that claims to have all of the answers. I don't think scientists have all of the answers either.

I've experienced certain things in my life that have lead me to believe in the existence of God. I truly believe that one of these experiences saved my life. I don't mind sharing it if people will treat it with respect, but judging from some of the posts I have seen in this thread, I'm frankly unsure if it is a good idea.

I am genuinely interested in what the scientific folk think of my experience however, and if there is a scientific explanation, I would really like to know what you think. I give you my word that I will treat your thoughts on my experience with respect as well.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
I couldn't disagree more with this. To me, skepticism - strange as it might sound to y'all religious people are shades of crazy folks;) - is definitely one of the single most helpful personality traits a human being can have, as far as getting along well in the world.
And strange as it might sound, I actually agree with that too but simultaneously think that trustingness (for lack of a better term) is also on that list of most helpful personality traits.

The key is each one has to be used to keep the other in an appropriate check. When you trust someone you can either do so with eyes open or eyes closed. Eyes-closed trust is when someone tells you something and it doesn't quite make sense, but you willingly ignore the part that doesn't quite make sense - this is the easier way. Eyes-open trust is when you accept what someone tells you but keep asking questions. Similarly, there's two ways to be skepitcal. One option is to simply assume things are wrong unless they are proven. The other option is to assume things could be wrong unless they are proven. With both sets, I think the former option is motivated by a sort of fear of uncertainty; in one case never questioning one's beliefs so as to avoid feeling uncertain, and in the other case never believing questionable things so as to avoid feeling uncertain.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
But, here, if it does count: how do you react when a religious person says, "Love the sinner, hate the sin!"

I think too often that attitude carves the humanity out of the person being discussed. Like, love gay people, but hate their essential nature. But often those "sins" are not things I consider to be weaknesses. I abhor weakness, as I suspect most people do, because I can easily recognize it in myself, and am troubled by it. I don't think there are many people, if any, who are so different. At the same time, I think it's fair to distinguish between those weaknesses that are inherent, and those that are not. Inherent weakness is not to be hated- that kind of "sin," is nothing bad to me, it's life. I think Calvinists and puritans and other such absolutists end up shooting themselves in the foot, because any shortcoming in the road to perfection is the fault of the person who has no choice but to be whom they are. But there are forms of moral weakness that go beyond the pale too, that I think do involved choices, and do reflect something about our intentions to the world around us. Those have to be reacted to, or at least I feel an urge to react some of the time.

But to answer your question, no, I don't hate your belief in a religion. You might say I hate your religion, but that is because I consider organized religion (wow I typed "crime" there the first time...) to be a superhuman sociological monster that is beyond the control of individuals, and would take a paradigm changing effect to stop. It may be an amplified effect of our weakness as human beings as we attempt to organize the world logically, over thousands of years, but that does not confer upon it the benefit of the doubt as an endgame- just clarifies where it comes from, and that it doesn't ultimately come from ill-will, which I don't think it does. I certainly don't *like* your belief in religion, but contempt was too strong a word for it, on further reflection. I don't think I see religion as a sort of "sin" in the way you might put it, but in a sort of acceptance of victimhood- allowing oneself to be victimized by history in a truly blatant fashion. Granted that is an aspect of the human condition, just a very extreme manifestation that is quixotically termed a virtue.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Geraine: I bet science has a fine explanatin for your experience. I'm not sure that you are going to feel that it is compelling.

When people say that science doesn't have all the answers, they often imply (or outright say) that religion has many of these answers. Sadly, these "answers" are not real answers most of the time, simply place holders that allow us to temporarily ignore the question with a feel-good non-answer.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
Do you have any non-anecdotal evidence that a skeptical approach to others produces more truthful beliefs than credulity? I believe that using a moderate degree of trust as a default leads one to have both more accurate beliefs and a happier life.

Oh God... I'm breathing deep. I'm fighting as serious attack of the giggles here.

In answer to your "question" Tres... yes I do have non-anecdotal evidence that a skeptical approach to others produces more truthful beliefs. I did a study. Take my word for it. You will have truthful results if you believe what I am saying to you, and you will have a happier life.

Thank you, by the way, you are always good for a laugh, now that I know how utterly full of delightful crap you are.
Kwea

"I also believe that while we hear about a lot of bad things people do in the name of religion, there is an untold wealth of positive stories every day we don't hear of normally. If a church inspires people to help other people and make our world a better place, far be it for me to discourage them. "

Honor by association is not real honor. I have heard, but cannot quote offhand, analysis of this assertion from such people as Douglas Adams and Christopher Dawkins, and Carl Sagaan- I found their reasoning to be quite convincing. In real terms, I am not at all convinced that religious institutions do not have a net negative effect on society in terms of economics, the arts, charitable work, and intellectual advancement. Pre-modern history in comparison with modern history, while an incomplete test of the difference between secular and religious domination, indicate to me that I am right to be cynical about the idea, at the very least.

You should at least be more conscious of the association fallacy you have presented. To reduce it to the level of absurdity, I can ask what right I have to be offended that a person steals my wallet, or even kills me, if that person uses the money, or my death, to "do good" unto his fellow man. In less absurd terms, the Catholic church has done much and continues to do some things far worse (in my estimation anyway) than theft and simple murder in the name of good acts. So I think at the very least you are exactly the person that ought to question it.

For all that we have our political and moral debates on this forum, nobody thinks that they have no *right* or place to question the government, and all that it does in the name of its mission. Why would you feel differently about a religion?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Speaking for myself, I mean it as a method-be skeptical of things at first, evaluate them, reducing skepticism depending on the evaluation. I'm not really familiar with it as a world view.

You are, just not in those exact terms. Skepticism, and to some degree negativism is the approach to a worldview which holds basically that the good (you could substitute humanity or consciousness) is an aberration of nature which cannot be relied upon. That's how I see it anyway.

Positivism as a worldview is essentially that the good is a state endowed with existence by those that perceive and judge it, and so evolves in response to the needs of the same. You can extend that much further to state, for example, that the evolution of humanity into a cyborg or cybernet race would be to the good, because the good would evolve to match the needs of humanity. But on the other hand that if we did evolve into cyborgs and encountered other life upon which we inflicted deep harm, our evolution would be to the bad, because we would have acted against the good in relation to all life. Positivism increases its scope as the universe increases in size. Negativism I think holds that basically no matter what we do ultimately, the universe sorts everything into an ultimate score in the negative column, meaning what is to the good is not ultimately possible to achieve.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
In answer to your "question" Tres... yes I do have non-anecdotal evidence that a skeptical approach to others produces more truthful beliefs. I did a study. Take my word for it. You will have truthful results if you believe what I am saying to you, and you will have a happier life.
If I trust what you are saying then I must be skeptical and ask: What was the study - what method did you (or would you) go about using to test it? What were the results?

[ May 04, 2010, 01:44 PM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
Orincoro,

quote:
Honor by association is not real honor.
But dishonor by association is real dishonor, seems to be the theme of a lot of anti-religious thinking I see. *shrug* That's a message that resonates in a lot of your thoughts to religious people, even if you don't come right out and say so. Just saying.

quote:
But often those "sins" are not things I consider to be weaknesses.
That's irrelevant. If a religious person can't hate the sin but love the sinner, particularly in cases where the sin is part of their 'essential nature'...why is it exactly you are capable of abhorring (another common word used in place of this is 'hate', you know) religious people's religion, but not the religious people themselves, particularly when for many of them it is a huge part of their identity?

quote:
I abhor weakness, as I suspect most people do...
I don't. I don't think it's wise to abhor something that is fundamental to being human, that is, having weaknesses. I think one can have a philosophy built around eliminating weaknesses without abhorring them.

quote:
...I think it's fair to distinguish between those weaknesses that are inherent...
Religion not falling into the category of inherent weaknesses in your opinion, I take it? Can't something become inherent? Suppose I agree that religion isn't an inherent trait of many human beings. Couldn't it be an inherent trait of many human beings after being trained in it for decades, as you think they are? And then aren't you left with abhorring an inherent weakness? You are the one who has said that someone can be brainwashed into true belief, after all.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
I think you will agree with me that there are certain things in the universe that cannot exactly be explained by religion or science YET.

In my faith, (I am LDS too)we do not believe that we have the answers to all of the mysteries to the universe, and that there are some things that have not been revealed to us yet. That does not mean that there is not an answer to the question, just that we have not received the information yet.

Which brings me to HOW we receive this information. I think science is part of humanities learning process. I believe God exists but does not just feed information continually to us. If we were given all of the knowledge how would we progress? Science is one of the ways that we can learn more about the universe, and even learn part of the creation process.

MC, I'll share my experience with you.

While I was serving a two year mission in the southern part of Brasil, I lived in a small village named Lisboa.

There was three main neighborhoods in Lisboa, two of them together and one about two miles down a long dirt road. Keep in mind that there were farms and ranch land, so the dirt road was bordered by nothing but cows, horses, chickens, and bison.

One night my companion and I had an appointment with a family in this neighborhood. The neighborhood was considered the favela (ghetto) and was a poor part of the village.

When we started walking down the road, I got this feeling that we should just turn around. The feeling was in my gut, like when you go down a steep hill in your car or ride a rollercoaster. I ignored it but it kept getting worse and worse, and I just felt like we had to turn around; that something bad would happen if we didn't.

I decided to ask my companion how he felt, so I did. He looked at me and said "I have a really strong feeling that we should turn around." I felt a shiver down my spine, but we turned around and went home.

The next day we saw the family and apologized for not coming over. They said that it was good that we hadn't. There was a shooting on the street in front of their house, and a man had been sent to the hospital with a bullet wound.

I don't know what could have happened if we continued on to their house. Maybe nothing would have happened. On the other hand, maybe we would have been shot by a stray bullet.

Its really the only time I've felt that kind of strong feeling, and I truly believe that it was guidance from a higher power.

Again, I am genuinely interested in your thoughts on my experience, and will treat them with respect. It happened ten years ago, but I still remember it vividly.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
I don't believe that "God" is a sufficient or interesting answer to the how and what questions of the universe. God does not reside in "the gaps". If we find out all there is to know about the universe, it won't make any difference.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Orincoro,
quote:
Honor by association is not real honor.
But dishonor by association is real dishonor, seems to be the theme of a lot of anti-religious thinking I see. *shrug* That's a message that resonates in a lot of your thoughts to religious people, even if you don't come right out and say so. Just saying.

Seriously dude? I was presenting the fallacy in reverse in order to demonstrate that it was flawed, not in order to actually demonstrate the opposite argument. The opposite argument fails for the same reasons. How stupid do you think I actually am?

And stop this whining about my tone, please. I'm talking about a logical argument. Whatever it is you have to say about my tone, save it, I'm not interested. It's also incredibly lame of you to pounce on my rebuttal of a logical fallacy, by presenting the fallacy in reverse in order to illustrate it weaknesses by claiming that makes me a perpetrator of the same fallacy. It doesn't, and you need to get that straight through your head. It's too bad the best you can do at this point is bitch and complain about my intentions, and my tone and my attitude. Screw you, your attitude sucks every bit as much.

quote:
quote: But often those "sins" are not things I consider to be weaknesses.

That's irrelevant.

Heh... Rakeesh it is clearly relevant to me. Please stop confusing my arguments from my answers to your questions. This was an answer to a question about what i have to say about "hate the sin, love the sinner." I can't exactly prove my feelings on it to be true. I am not trying. Notice all the "I consider," and "I feel," and "to my thinkings?" Those are all indicators that I have no framework in place for an argument. Everything I say about myself is relevant, to me. Stop being an ass.

quote:
And then aren't you left with abhorring an inherent weakness?
No.

At the end of that long string of weak assumptions, no. But when did you become such a Calvinist?

A lot of your objections hinge on your attitude towards me, and not what I'm saying. I'm aware that this is what you are saying to me, but be aware that it is something that I think is fair to say of you at this point.

[ May 04, 2010, 02:39 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
MC, Religion does not have all of the answers. I don't know of any religion that claims to have all of the answers. I don't think scientists have all of the answers either.

The point being made is that religion has no answer. It is not enough to demonstrate that science can't answer some question or other; this doesn't show the religion can. It's true that religion will often attempt an answer, where scientists have the honesty to say they don't know; but since you have no means of checking correctness, this is no better than guesswork. To say "We have a guess" is not a satisfactory answer; to say "We are certain of this" when in fact you're only guessing is just a lie.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
I freely admit it's incredibly unlikely. I don't even know how much of that I believe actually happened. In all seriousness, if it weren't for the Mormon allowance for inaccurate translation, I might not have been able to convert. Some of the improbabilities would have been sufficiently high if I were compelled to either believe they happened or not be a Mormon.
Ok, so you're saying that you converted because some of the doctrine might be wrong? And really, if the mistranslations can be so large as to hide away the pre-Columbine civilisations, then come now, how can you trust the rest? A translation that can invent something of that size out of 'mistakes' is no better than plain fantasy.

quote:
The probably of 'someone' doing this is something well above zero, of course. The probability that I did this, out of almost nowhere? That I just willed myself to be a Mormon, absent any sort of social or familial conditioning? Absent, in fact, almost any experience of Mormonism at all up to that point? Well, the probability of that taken entirely alone seems to me to be pretty low.
Why would you think so? By your account, the decision wasn't "become a Mormon" but "check out the Mormon church". I don't see this as a particularly low probability, people do that all the time - not just with the Mormons. Rather the question is, having made such a decision, what is the probability that a positive answer will float up out of your subconscious? And I ask that you please try not to treat yourself as special. The correct reference class is "all people who have decided to pray for guidance on a given church". We know that some considerable percentage of them get 'positive' guidance; very many converts tell a story like this. We further know that they can't all be right. So, what is the probability that you'll get a positive answer, even if there is no god to give you one?
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Speaking for myself, I mean it as a method-be skeptical of things at first, evaluate them, reducing skepticism depending on the evaluation. I'm not really familiar with it as a world view.

You are, just not in those exact terms. Skepticism, and to some degree negativism is the approach to a worldview which holds basically that the good (you could substitute humanity or consciousness) is an aberration of nature which cannot be relied upon. That's how I see it anyway.

Positivism as a worldview is essentially that the good is a state endowed with existence by those that perceive and judge it, and so evolves in response to the needs of the same. You can extend that much further to state, for example, that the evolution of humanity into a cyborg or cybernet race would be to the good, because the good would evolve to match the needs of humanity. But on the other hand that if we did evolve into cyborgs and encountered other life upon which we inflicted deep harm, our evolution would be to the bad, because we would have acted against the good in relation to all life. Positivism increases its scope as the universe increases in size. Negativism I think holds that basically no matter what we do ultimately, the universe sorts everything into an ultimate score in the negative column, meaning what is to the good is not ultimately possible to achieve.

Ah, no. I was talking about empistomology, not morality. Positivism holds that the only things which are real are those which can be perceived by the senses and empirically verified. There is no "negativism" as it's counterpart. Alternatives would be things like idealism and realism.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I abhor weakness, as I suspect most people do, because I can easily recognize it in myself, and am troubled by it. I don't think there are many people, if any, who are so different.

I think this is true, if you confine your definition of "most people" to young adult males. Particularly those who have philosophical sympathies leaning toward Friedrich Nietzsche. I don't beleive it holds true for humanity in general.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
To say "We have a guess" is not a satisfactory answer; to say "We are certain of this" when in fact you're only guessing is just a lie.
There are options in between those two possible answers, though.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I must say that a compromise between "unsatisfactory" and "lie" does not strike me as very promising, thanks kindly.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
MC, Religion does not have all of the answers. I don't know of any religion that claims to have all of the answers. I don't think scientists have all of the answers either.

The point being made is that religion has no answer. It is not enough to demonstrate that science can't answer some question or other; this doesn't show the religion can. It's true that religion will often attempt an answer, where scientists have the honesty to say they don't know; but since you have no means of checking correctness, this is no better than guesswork. To say "We have a guess" is not a satisfactory answer; to say "We are certain of this" when in fact you're only guessing is just a lie.
KoM, I understand where you are coming from. My point is that until we can map the entire universe and beyond, and come to a perfect understanding of our universe, how do we know that there is not a being out there that is not more advanced than us? That has a greater understanding of physics, biology, and chemistry?

I don't believe that humans are alone in the universe. With the size of the universe, if life here happened by accident there would still be millions of other planets out there with life in them, whether it be in this or other galaxies. We do not know how large our universe is, we only know what we observe. It could go on forever for all we know. If it does go on forever, then it would be possible that life exists elsewhere, and possibly more advanced than we are.

Your argument about guessing is just as valid for science as it is about religion. Can science provide a definitive answer on the actual size of the universe? Can science provide definitive answers on whether there is life on other planets? Can science provide a definitive answer on how advanced these civilizations could be?

Perhaps you could provide me some examples of some things religion have "no answer" to. I'll do my best to answer them as best I can based on my religious beliefs, and if I don't have an answer, I'll simply tell you that I don't.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I abhor weakness, as I suspect most people do, because I can easily recognize it in myself, and am troubled by it. I don't think there are many people, if any, who are so different.

I think this is true, if you confine your definition of "most people" to young adult males. Particularly those who have philosophical sympathies leaning toward Friedrich Nietzsche. I don't beleive it holds true for humanity in general.
You don't know much about me, or what my philosophical sympathies are. But clearly you show something of your own by tarring me with that particular brush. Hint: just because someone talks about weakness doesn't make them Nietzsche. Now will you dispense with the name calling?

And one point in the context of a much larger conversation is not what anyone would call *a lot*. Perhaps you should reign in your speculations.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
My point is that even if (when?) we map the entire universe and beyond and come to a perfect understanding of the universe - it doesn't make any difference.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
quote:
To say "We have a guess" is not a satisfactory answer; to say "We are certain of this" when in fact you're only guessing is just a lie.
I must say that a compromise between "unsatisfactory" and "lie" does not strike me as very promising, thanks kindly.
How do you feel about meteorology then? Weather forecasts neither claim to be certain of tomorrow's weather, nor claim to be just guesses.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I abhor weakness, as I suspect most people do, because I can easily recognize it in myself, and am troubled by it. I don't think there are many people, if any, who are so different.

I think this is true, if you confine your definition of "most people" to young adult males. Particularly those who have philosophical sympathies leaning toward Friedrich Nietzsche. I don't beleive it holds true for humanity in general.
You don't know much about me, or what my philosophical sympathies are. But clearly you show something of your own by tarring me with that particular brush. Hint: just because someone talks about weakness doesn't make them Nietzsche. Now will you dispense with the name calling?

And one point in the context of a much larger conversation is not what anyone would call *a lot*. Perhaps you should reign in your speculations.

I'm not quite catching where I made any claim about you in particular or your philosophical sympathies. Perhaps you could point it out to me?

And while you're at it, why are you refering to anyone calling anything "a lot"? I don't see that term in any of my posts.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
How do you feel about meteorology then? Weather forecasts neither claim to be certain of tomorrow's weather, nor claim to be just guesses.
And they have a verifiable success rate, which is what they give as their probability. Where are the verifiable successes of religion?


quote:
Your argument about guessing is just as valid for science as it is about religion. Can science provide a definitive answer on the actual size of the universe?
Yes.

quote:
Can science provide definitive answers on whether there is life on other planets?
Yes, although it has not yet done so.

quote:
Can science provide a definitive answer on how advanced these civilizations could be?
Yes; there is an upper bound on the available information in the universe.

quote:
Perhaps you could provide me some examples of some things religion have "no answer" to.
All your above questions, and in addition the following: What is a good life? What is our purpose? How should we act?

Please note, though, that you seem to have misunderstood me. I don't want just "an answer". Any idiot can claim to have an answer, and many do. I want an answer with testable evidence. If you are just going to assert that X is the good life, with no other evidence than an appeal to the authority of Joseph Smith, that's no answer at all; it is mere guesswork, and the guesswork of an ignorant colonial roustabout at that.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Ori, I never said you had no reason to doubt, or question, religion. Organized religion in particular.

I don't believe, since I didn't say that, that the fallacy you mention is what I stated at all. I DO believe that religion has had a positive effect on society, but that doesn't mean I condone what the RC church did with priests who were known pedophiles. But a lot of works were saved by the church over the years, and they sponsored some of the greatest pieces of music and greatest architecture we have ever known.

Just because churches are created by man, and therefore fallible and imperfect, doesn't mean that they get it all wrong all of the time, or that there isn't a God.

I can know that hormones cause emotions, yet that doesn't dismiss the love I feel from my wife, nor does it explain all that love means to me. Science isn't the answer for every question, and even when it is possible to provide an answer we sometimes find that knowing HOW something works only answers part of the problem.

To me, at least, prayer works. I don't mean that I can pray from something and it pops into existence, or that everything I pray from happens, but I feel it is a net positive in my life. I believe in God both because of some of the proof I have experiences AND because I accept that some things are unknowable, at least at this point of our evolutionary progress.

Yet I question things every day, and don't believe that God feels I am doing wrong by doing so.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
My point is that even if (when?) we map the entire universe and beyond and come to a perfect understanding of the universe - it doesn't make any difference.

So if (when?) we map the entire universe and come across a being that is far more advanced than us, and tells us that using the knowledge He/She has, he was able to form Earth and create life, it wouldn't make a difference?

I don't think God is a magician. I think he has a perfect knowledge of the laws of the universe, and uses them to accomplish His will.

Let me ask you this from a scientific standpoint. Would it one day be possible to terraform a planet? Create life in a lab? Use the knowledge we have of the human genome to essentially heal blindness or regrow a limb?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
I'm not quite catching where I made any claim about you in particular or your philosophical sympathies. Perhaps you could point it out to me?

And while you're at it, why are you refering to anyone calling anything "a lot"? I don't see that term in any of my posts.

A lot was not in quotations, I was emphasizing it with *these* little guys.

You made an insinuation about my philosophical sympathies. I responded to that insinuation. If you actually didn't intend to make such an insinuation, then... wow you suck at this.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
No, I made an insinuation about you generalizing your internal experience to humanity in general. I suggested one sub-group of humanity that your generalization likely does apply to at a higher than average rate. That does not imply that everyone who has that particular experience fits is that particular subgroup.

Also, I am aware of the difference between astricks and quotation marks. "a lot" is in quotes in my post because I was *quoting* your post. I still don't understand why you used the term.

Nor why you think saying someone's philosophical sympathies lean Nietzschian would be name calling.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Let me ask you this from a scientific standpoint. Would it one day be possible to terraform a planet? Create life in a lab? Use the knowledge we have of the human genome to essentially heal blindness or regrow a limb?
Yes. But you are not making the distinction between "X is possible" and "X is true". It's possible Obama is wearing white underwear today; should I therefore believe it? It's possible that someone is being assaulted in the deserted corridors of the lower levels of the physics building; ought I to call the campus police? This distinction is so elementary that I find it hard to believe you're arguing honestly. "It is possible" is such a weak standard that you would not apply it to any other belief of yours whatsoever. Yet in the case of religion, that's the defense you offer? "Well, it could be true?" Come now. This is not evidence, this is not even argument, this is a kindergartener trying desperately to make Santa give him presents. Here we are all adults; can we not keep this conversation at a higher level than so?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
Ori, I never said you had no reason to doubt, or question, religion. Organized religion in particular.

I don't believe, since I didn't say that, that the fallacy you mention is what I stated at all.

Questioning or not questioning religion is not important to an association fallacy- you just made a point: x does good things, therefore x is of positive value. Basically if x is the church, and y is good, and part of x is y, the fallacy is to assume that all of x is y, or vice versa.

Now whether or not you question religion follows from the same problem- many people are cowed by the idea that churches do good work. They certainly do, but that does not establish them as inherently good. Therefore, my objection to you being unwilling to question what good they do, since that good is in many ways married to the bad- eg: the Catholic church spending enormous amounts of wealth on itself, while also helping some poor people, or educating children while attempting to suppress historical documents and literature, etc.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
No, I made an insinuation about you generalizing your internal experience to humanity in general. I suggested one sub-group of humanity that your generalization likely does apply to at a higher than average rate. That does not imply that everyone who has that particular experience fits is that particular subgroup.

No, you were talking about me. You were condescending, and now you're being coy. Rather than simply disagree, you had to put me in my place, and adopt this "who me?" approach. You know damned well why I find the comparison offensive, and you intended it. I don't have to read minds to see that.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Let me ask you this from a scientific standpoint. Would it one day be possible to terraform a planet? Create life in a lab? Use the knowledge we have of the human genome to essentially heal blindness or regrow a limb?
Yes. But you are not making the distinction between "X is possible" and "X is true". It's possible Obama is wearing white underwear today; should I therefore believe it? It's possible that someone is being assaulted in the deserted corridors of the lower levels of the physics building; ought I to call the campus police? This distinction is so elementary that I find it hard to believe you're arguing honestly. "It is possible" is such a weak standard that you would not apply it to any other belief of yours whatsoever. Yet in the case of religion, that's the defense you offer? "Well, it could be true?" Come now. This is not evidence, this is not even argument, this is a kindergartener trying desperately to make Santa give him presents. Here we are all adults; can we not keep this conversation at a higher level than so?
I don't know why but I feel like I can hear your accent here, especially in the "come now" part... weird!
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
No, I made an insinuation about you generalizing your internal experience to humanity in general. I suggested one sub-group of humanity that your generalization likely does apply to at a higher than average rate. That does not imply that everyone who has that particular experience fits is that particular subgroup.

No, you were talking about me. You were condescending, and now you're being coy. Rather than simply disagree, you had to put me in my place, and adopt this "who me?" approach. You know damned well why I find the comparison offensive, and you intended it. I don't have to read minds to see that.
No, I was not and I am not. You are making an incorrect assumption about my intention and my motives. I am sorry that my post was not more clear, and it was possible for you to interpret it in that way.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
How do you feel about meteorology then? Weather forecasts neither claim to be certain of tomorrow's weather, nor claim to be just guesses.
And they have a verifiable success rate, which is what they give as their probability. Where are the verifiable successes of religion?


quote:
Your argument about guessing is just as valid for science as it is about religion. Can science provide a definitive answer on the actual size of the universe?
Yes.
Which is?
quote:

quote:
Can science provide definitive answers on whether there is life on other planets?
Yes, although it has not yet done so.
So in otherwords, they are guessing that there is, but have not yet been able to.
quote:

quote:
Can science provide a definitive answer on how advanced these civilizations could be?
Yes; there is an upper bound on the available information in the universe.
So again, no.

quote:
Perhaps you could provide me some examples of some things religion have "no answer" to.
All your above questions, and in addition the following: What is a good life? What is our purpose? How should we act?

Please note, though, that you seem to have misunderstood me. I don't want just "an answer". Any idiot can claim to have an answer, and many do. I want an answer with testable evidence. If you are just going to assert that X is the good life, with no other evidence than an appeal to the authority of Joseph Smith, that's no answer at all; it is mere guesswork, and the guesswork of an ignorant colonial roustabout at that.
[/QUOTE]

Right. Let me ask you the same question. What is a good life from a scientific perspective? What is our purpose? How should we act?

From a scientific perspective, the first would be answered by how much we procreate, the second would BE to procreate to ensure our species continues, and the last would be to do anything to survive.

From MY religious perspective, having children and watching them grow and learn is a good life. Our purpose would be to be able to return to God, and how we should act should be in accordance to the other two questions.

I realize this isn't what you are asking, and the only thing I can say is that religion can't answer the questions. It is a personal decision you have to come to by yourself.

God may not be able to be proven scientifically, but can the same not be said for "feelings?" Love, joy, happiness, forgiveness, friendship, and beauty--are essentially impossible to prove; however, that makes them no less real. I cannot look at a friendship under a microscope or place it on scales to measure its value in my life.

Again, I will pose the same question I did to kmboots. With the informationw we receive about the universe, and if it is discovered that there are more advanced beings than humans, would this not help the supreme being argument? If we find one other sentient race that is more advanced than humans, then it would be safe to say there were others that were even MORE advanced, perhaps even to the point of having a perfect knowledge of science to the point that creating a planet, terraforming it, and placing life here is possible.

If humans were to one day advance to this point and we created a planet and placed life there, what would our creations think about us?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Granted.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Right. Let me ask you the same question. What is a good life from a scientific perspective? What is our purpose? How should we act?

From a scientific perspective, the first would be answered by how much we procreate, the second would BE to procreate to ensure our species continues, and the last would be to do anything to survive.

No! Wrong! Science does not say any of those things. Science, in fact, does not answer any of those questions. My point all along has been that neither does religion; and so, saying "science cannot answer all questions" is not a boost to religion, it is just noise.

quote:
From MY religious perspective, having children and watching them grow and learn is a good life. Our purpose would be to be able to return to God, and how we should act should be in accordance to the other two questions.
Guesswork. Not answers.

quote:
God may not be able to be proven scientifically, but can the same not be said for "feelings?" Love, joy, happiness, forgiveness, friendship, and beauty--are essentially impossible to prove; however, that makes them no less real. I cannot look at a friendship under a microscope or place it on scales to measure its value in my life.
You are quite mistaken, all these things can be studied scientifically. Really, you ought not to make such blithe pronunciamentos about things you clearly know nothing about.

quote:
If we find one other sentient race that is more advanced than humans, then it would be safe to say there were others that were even MORE advanced, perhaps even to the point of having a perfect knowledge of science to the point that creating a planet, terraforming it, and placing life here is possible.
Yes, yes, and so what? You are completely ignoring my post where I responded to this question.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Didn't see this due to bad quoting.

quote:
Which is?
13.7 billion lightyears.

quote:
So in otherwords, they are guessing that there is, but have not yet been able to.
No. Your question was, "Can science do this", and the answer is, yes it can. It hasn't been done yet, but it is quite possible; the method being, send someone in a rocket and check. This has nothing to do with guesswork. You are confusing "Can produce an answer" with "Has an answer right now". A very bad habit, common in theists.

quote:
So again, no.
Perhaps you don't understand what "upper bound" means? You keep trying to discuss science without, apparently, any knowledge of it. Tell me, what sort of education do you have? I ask not to put you down, but because I've been assuming a college-level education, which would give us some shared vocabulary I've been using. If I'm trying to explain to someone with a high-school or, absent gods help us, lib'ral arts education, then I'll start from a much lower base of assumed knowledge. But you should please stop making the assumption that you know anything about what science is, does, or can do, when you demonstrate in your every post that you don't.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
My point is that even if (when?) we map the entire universe and beyond and come to a perfect understanding of the universe - it doesn't make any difference.

So if (when?) we map the entire universe and come across a being that is far more advanced than us, and tells us that using the knowledge He/She has, he was able to form Earth and create life, it wouldn't make a difference?
It wouldn't be God. Though God may have worked through that being.
quote:


I don't think God is a magician. I think he has a perfect knowledge of the laws of the universe, and uses them to accomplish His will.

Let me ask you this from a scientific standpoint. Would it one day be possible to terraform a planet? Create life in a lab? Use the knowledge we have of the human genome to essentially heal blindness or regrow a limb?

Sure. It won't make us gods. Or more divine than we already are.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Didn't see this due to bad quoting.

quote:
Which is?
13.7 billion lightyears.

quote:
So in otherwords, they are guessing that there is, but have not yet been able to.
No. Your question was, "Can science do this", and the answer is, yes it can. It hasn't been done yet, but it is quite possible; the method being, send someone in a rocket and check. This has nothing to do with guesswork. You are confusing "Can produce an answer" with "Has an answer right now". A very bad habit, common in theists.

quote:
So again, no.
Perhaps you don't understand what "upper bound" means? You keep trying to discuss science without, apparently, any knowledge of it. Tell me, what sort of education do you have? I ask not to put you down, but because I've been assuming a college-level education, which would give us some shared vocabulary I've been using. If I'm trying to explain to someone with a high-school or, absent gods help us, lib'ral arts education, then I'll start from a much lower base of assumed knowledge. But you should please stop making the assumption that you know anything about what science is, does, or can do, when you demonstrate in your every post that you don't.

No offense taken. To be completely honest with you I majored in English with a minor in Portuguese. This in itself is interesting since I work for a payroll company. The two required science courses I took were taught by someone that thought it would be better to push an agenda than actually teach science, so we ended up watching nothing but films on climate change.

I see you stated the 13.7 billion light year number. Every scientific article I have read states that while the light has traveled 13.7 billion lightyears, the actual distance the light has traveled is much greater (something like 78 billion lightyears) since the universe is still expanding. That is neither here nor there, just wanted to point that out. I am interested what the general consensus is on what comes after the "edge" of the universe if one were able to travel that far.

I think we are talking about two different versions of God KoM. You are referring to God as something finite, something we can measure. And here is where we differ. I don't believe in a finite being, I believe in an infinite being. Whether that being came into existence naturally or not, I do not know. It comes down to how you view God. Empirical, stable, demonstrable protocols, (again, I am ignorant in these things) are used to measure something that is finite.

When I look at it through this point of view then I completely agree with you. God could not exist as a finite being.

I'll end this with referring to my first question. What comes after we reach the end of the universe? Do we hit an invisble wall? If there is something beyond the edge of the universe, how can we measure it? If space is infinite, does this mean that it does not exist, since we can no longer measure it?

I appreciate the discussion KoM, even though you are more than likely annoyed by my ignorance. I apologize for this, but I do want to say thank you for the knowledge you bring and the civil tone of the discussion. and I do learn from you often.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
I see you stated the 13.7 billion light year number. Every scientific article I have read states that while the light has traveled 13.7 billion lightyears, the actual distance the light has traveled is much greater (something like 78 billion lightyears) since the universe is still expanding.
No. The light is redshifted; this is not the same as having traveled.

quote:
That is neither here nor there, just wanted to point that out. I am interested what the general consensus is on what comes after the "edge" of the universe if one were able to travel that far.
What's north of the north pole? You can't get there from here any more than you can go faster than lightspeed by accelerating steadily.

quote:
If space is infinite, does this mean that it does not exist, since we can no longer measure it?
If it never interacts with us, not even to the extent of exchanging photons, then yes, I don't see how you can say that it exists.

quote:
I think we are talking about two different versions of God KoM. You are referring to God as something finite, something we can measure. And here is where we differ. I don't believe in a finite being, I believe in an infinite being. Whether that being came into existence naturally or not, I do not know. It comes down to how you view God. Empirical, stable, demonstrable protocols, (again, I am ignorant in these things) are used to measure something that is finite.
You apparently believed in a finite, measurable being three hours ago, when you posted your stuff about finding an advanced civilisation. When you shift the goalposts like this it's impossible to have a useful conversation. It appears to me that you've given up on evidence again and are now saying it's about having faith. If so, please see this thread, two pages back. If not, please stop waffling about finite versus infinite.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Thanks for sharing. I want to start by saying that while I disagree with your conclusion, that this was a supernatural experience, I don't want you to feel that I'm calling you a liar or insulting your beliefs.

I am simply pointing out some options that you might not have thought of, that can provide equally convincing or more convincing interpretations of these events.

quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:

One night my companion and I had an appointment with a family in this neighborhood. The neighborhood was considered the favela (ghetto) and was a poor part of the village.

When we started walking down the road, I got this feeling that we should just turn around. The feeling was in my gut, like when you go down a steep hill in your car or ride a rollercoaster. I ignored it but it kept getting worse and worse, and I just felt like we had to turn around; that something bad would happen if we didn't.

I decided to ask my companion how he felt, so I did. He looked at me and said "I have a really strong feeling that we should turn around." I felt a shiver down my spine, but we turned around and went home.

I think you might be very interested in the book "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell. http://www.wikisummaries.org/Blink:_The_Power_of_Thinking_Without_Thinking

He explains that the human mind is fantastically good at making accurate, subconscious decisions with very minimal details, and we often call these choices feelings or intuition or hunches.

I would suggest that just such a thing happened to you and your companion. You knew you were going into a potentially dangerous area of town. Maybe you noticed that people were behaving strangely. Maybe there weren't any people on the road, when there usually were, who knows what you noticed, but it gave you an uneasy feeling.

No supernatural information is required to explain this, and further, there is no logical reason to conclude that God gave you a message. There is just as much evidence (i.e. none) that an invisible fairy whispered this warning to you and your friend, or that a ghost walked across your grave, or that you midichlorians resonated with the Dark Side of the force that was about to predominate the area.

quote:

The next day we saw the family and apologized for not coming over. They said that it was good that we hadn't. There was a shooting on the street in front of their house, and a man had been sent to the hospital with a bullet wound.

I don't know what could have happened if we continued on to their house. Maybe nothing would have happened. On the other hand, maybe we would have been shot by a stray bullet.

Or maybe you would have scared off the shooter and saved the man from being sent to the hospital. Or maybe your witnessing would have convinced the shooter to join your church and save poor children from their bad situations.

Things that might have happened are not evidence for your conclusion - you are telling yourself a story, and you like the way it sounds, so you are sticking with it, but there isn't any reason to believe that story over any other story.

quote:

Again, I am genuinely interested in your thoughts on my experience, and will treat them with respect. It happened ten years ago, but I still remember it vividly.

This is what is known as selection bias. We remember the things that confirm what we want to believe, and forget things that contradict our beliefs. We find things that we are looking for to be very interesting, so we're more likely to notice and remember them, so we end up with very inaccurate "evidence", because we discount things that could disprove our conclusion.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
And they have a verifiable success rate, which is what they give as their probability. Where are the verifiable successes of religion?
You are moving the goalposts now - your argument before did not entail the question of verifiable success rates. It was that religion either can offer only a guess, or can lie about being able to prove what it knows, neither of which is a helpful thing. But weather forecasting, like religion, is an example of one of many areas in which an assertion can reasonably be made that is neither proven nor a complete guess; it is made on partial evidence. Thus, it is definitely possible for a field of knowledge to be unable to prove the answer to certain questions yet be able to give answers to those questions that are more reliable than simply random guesses.

(Also, the probability given by your local news weather forecast is not really a verifiable success rate. It doesn't measure the chance that a given forecast will be accurate or successful. It is the likelihood that a given location within an area will get precipitation according to the atmospheric conditions predicted by a given computer model. And often weather forecasters use their judgement to pick and choose between, or combine, numbers from different computer models.)

[ May 05, 2010, 10:11 AM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
KoM: Regarding what you said about the north pole and space...You are of the opinion the Universe is shaped like a hyperplane/hyperspehere/hyperboloid? If it is shaped like a doughnut, what does it loop around? What would lie at the core of a looped three-dimensional cosmos? Is a higher spatial dimension beyond the limits of observation possible?

Another question.. If the Universe is expanding, is there a limit? If the universe is nothing but a loop or plane, how can it expand? If it is expanding, what is it expanding in?

I do not think my thoughts on finite vs. infinite beings are conflicting. While I believe God is an infinite being, I also believe that we are infinite beings, having existed in some form or another for eternity. While our physical bodies are finite, our spiritual bodies are not. Spiritual bodies still having mass, however a different type of mass than we are currently. I guess it could be argued that the mass in our physical bodies are as old as the universe itself when it comes down to it. Since mass is eternal, but takes on different shapes, the mass we are made up of has existed since the beginning of the universe, just in different forms.
 
Posted by DarkKnight (Member # 7536) on :
 
Geraine, I'm not really following this thread but as a suggestion you might want to read Stephan Hawkings A Brief History of Time.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 10495) on :
 
quote:
This is what is known as selection bias.
<nit>Confirmation bias, actually.</nit>
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Good catch. My brain got boggled [Smile]

Geraine: What does it mean that we have spiritual mass that is different from regular mass? No offense, but if you just make up terms like "spiritual mass" and then say that they mean what you are trying to prove, you don't really prove anything.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
MC,

Take light for example. An article I read once explains as follows:

http://www2.corepower.com:8080/~relfaq/light_mass.html

quote:

Does light have mass?" this can be taken to mean different things if the light is moving freely or trapped in a container. The definition of the invariant mass of an object is m = sqrt{E2/c4 - p2/c2}. By this definition a beam of light, is massless like the photons it is composed of. However, if light is trapped in a box with perfect mirrors so the photons are continually reflected back and forth in the box, then the total momentum is zero in the boxes frame of reference but the energy is not. Therefore the light adds a small contribution to the mass of the box. This could be measured - in principle at least - either by an increase in inertia when the box is slowly accelerated or by an increase in its gravitational pull. You might say that the light in the box has mass but it would be more correct to say that the light contributes to the total mass of the box of light. You should not use this to justify the statement that light has mass in general.

I look at the soul, or spirit as like this.
 
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
 
The mass due to motion of light particles (among other things) is entirely measurable. What's more, the mass has exactly the same effect on other objects as the "rest mass" does. There's no problem measuring that effect.

If there were "spiritual mass", it would be a horse of a different color, not really the same as the other things we call mass at all. That is, just metaphorically "mass". We've done really precise mass measurements of lots of things, so we'd have noticed it if that weren't the case.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
KoM: Regarding what you said about the north pole and space...You are of the opinion the Universe is shaped like a hyperplane/hyperspehere/hyperboloid? If it is shaped like a doughnut, what does it loop around? What would lie at the core of a looped three-dimensional cosmos? Is a higher spatial dimension beyond the limits of observation possible?

Not a cosmologist, but I recognize a fundamental misconception when I see one.

There is nothing to "loop around." I mean that no even in the sense of there *being* nothingness. There is no nothingness around which to loop. The idea of a doughut shaped universe is that from all points the universe has no observable end, and while it is helpful in conceiving of a higher dimensional curve to picture a doughnut hanging in space, that is not what is going on. It's rather like asking about what's "behind" a circle drawn on a two dimensional plane. There is no behind.

Keep in mind that even if the universe is curved in a high dimension than the ones we observe, that does not mean that we would be able to observe that other dimension in the same way at all. For one you can't see it from a distance, because from any point in the universe the effect is exactly the same. Second there is no "getting outside" of it, because traveling any distance inside of it puts us at a point somewhere else inside, and as I've said, the effect is the same everywhere.

quote:
If it is expanding, what is it expanding in?
The distance between any two observable points is expanding. Imagine you have a giant bowl of spaghetti, and you're just sitting in it minding your own business, and slowly you start to realize that the noodles all seem to be growing fractionally bigger and less close to each other, from your perspective and the edge of the bowl seems to be further and further away in all directions. Now, remember you have no way of knowing if the bowl is getting bigger, or if you or getting smaller. To ask at that point whether the bowl is going to fill up some larger container is an interesting one... but what if the room the bowl is in is also getting bigger, or what if nothing is getting bigger, and you're just getting smaller? Have you ever been sitting on a train, in a station, and been suddenly disoriented when a train parked next to it moved, causing you to believe you were moving? Similar sort of problem here. Perceived movement based on a change in some key point of reference doesn't equal movement, per se. Just because the universe is expanding does not mean it is "getting bigger." It is not larger in relation to any object, and so the expansion of the universe could as easily be seen as a uniform decrease in size of everything in it. In the analogy, you either changed size or did not change size relative to everything around you. But in the real universe, you would also be part of the phenomenon. You would not be able to observe the difference, which would only express itself, in any way you could observe, in tiny and difficult to observe behaviors of high speed particles.

The size of the universe is endlessly more complex than the analogy, but consider at least that you are mentally powerless to defeat the bias of your own 3d perspective.

[ May 05, 2010, 06:53 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
I look at the soul, or spirit as like this.

Congratulations. I look at women like objects. [Razz]

quote:
Geraine: What does it mean that we have spiritual mass that is different from regular mass? No offense, but if you just make up terms like "spiritual mass" and then say that they mean what you are trying to prove, you don't really prove anything.
You do if science works like Star Trek the Next Generation- the analogy makes it possible!
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
You are moving the goalposts now - your argument before did not entail the question of verifiable success rates. It was that religion either can offer only a guess, or can lie about being able to prove what it knows, neither of which is a helpful thing.
I move no posts, I merely clarify what my phrase meant. It is precisely the quality of having no verifiable success rate that makes religious answers mere guesswork; the two are equivalent. To qualify such guesses by adding a probability - whether that probability is said to be 10% or 100% - does not help the underlying problem; it merely compounds it by giving a false veneer of certainty.

quote:
Regarding what you said about the north pole and space...You are of the opinion the Universe is shaped like a hyperplane/hyperspehere/hyperboloid?
No, I'm of the opinion that your question is meaningless. You might as well ask - I put this in a religious framework for ease of communication - how much time passed before Creation. Since time begins at creation, there is no before; you are effectively asking "What would I see if I went back to before God said 'Let there be light'?".

quote:
If the Universe is expanding, is there a limit? If the universe is nothing but a loop or plane, how can it expand? If it is expanding, what is it expanding in?
You are trying to discuss mathematical problems in English. This does not work.

quote:
Spiritual bodies still having mass, however a different type of mass than we are currently. I guess it could be argued that the mass in our physical bodies are as old as the universe itself when it comes down to it. Since mass is eternal, but takes on different shapes, the mass we are made up of has existed since the beginning of the universe, just in different forms.
Yes, yes. What does this have to do with faith versus evidence? Try to stick to the point. Do you have any evidence for your 'spiritual mass'? If not, how dare you come here and assert that it exists?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Co-opting scientific terms to describe religious ideas just muddies the water. It is an artificial way to lend respectability to supernatural make-believe, but it doesn't actually tell us anything.

If I assert that leprechauns have fifth-dimensional pots of gold, they're no more real, just more confusingly imaginary.
 
Posted by Anthonie (Member # 884) on :
 
Not sure if this was already posted. If so, sorry for double post.

KoM, you may already be familiar with this case involving another judge in Britian who recently issued a ruling relating to religious objections. It seems pertinent with the discussion here.

From the article:
quote:
Tossing out the appeal of a relationship counselor who was fired for refusing to counsel gay couples, a top British judge has ruled that Christian beliefs have no standing under secular law because they lack evidence and cannot be proven.
and

quote:
“In the eye of everyone save the believer religious faith is necessarily subjective being incommunicable by any kind of proof or evidence. It may of course be true; but the ascertainment of such truth lies beyond the means by which laws are made in a reasonable society,” he said.

“Therefore it lies only in the heart of the believer, who is alone bound by it. No one else is or can be so bound, unless by his own free choice he accepts its claims.

“The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary,” he continued.


 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
KoM and Orinoco, in your most recent posts, you are expressing just a glimmer of what it is like to try to talk about God. Just as we use imperfect and sometimes contradictory analogies to try to imagine the universe, so we do with God. Certain analogies are useful up to a point but unhelpful and wrong when we fail to remember that they are not the reality.

You understand this obstacle to communication, yet too often evangelical atheists use this to try to "disprove" God. Please bear this in mind. Thanks.

Also, I agree with Anthonie's judge.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Kmbboots: The flaw with that claim, is that religious people claim to know all sorts of specific facts about God, and claim to know them with a high level of certainty.

How can one know about a God in such specific detail, but at the same time be unable to articulate that information?

I assert that if a thing is beyond description, it is also beyond knowing, except as a vague experience.

And again, including this special pleading means we can justify anything. Leprechauns are real, but it's reall difficult to convince people, because their inherent nature is beyond words.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
We know specific facts about the universe, too, yet can't entirely describe it.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
No, I'm of the opinion that your question is meaningless. You might as well ask - I put this in a religious framework for ease of communication - how much time passed before Creation. Since time begins at creation, there is no before; you are effectively asking "What would I see if I went back to before God said 'Let there be light'?".
KoM: What would you see if you went back to before the big bang happened?

Time begins at creation? Really? When you were "created", your perception of time began. Time passed before you were here, and will pass after you are gone. Time is a man made measurement. Seconds, hours, years, and so on were created by man in order to measure events in the universe.

I am a believer in the Big Bang. I really am. Do I believe that it happened by chance? Absolutely not. If all things that exist must have a cause, can a naturalistic cause for the origin of the universe be confirmed observationally? If all beliefs are based upon observational evidence, the universe had to have a naturalistic cause.

Is this true? Since the laws of physics say that we will never be able escape the bounds of our universe how are we to even attempt to look for the cause of the universe?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
We know specific facts about the universe, too, yet can't entirely describe it.

We use analogies to describe aspects of the universe in an attempt to clarify complex or unintuitive concepts to people who are unfamiliar with the concepts. You seem
to be saying that many things about God are indescribable, because that's just how God is.

But if something is indescribable, it is also unknowable, because you can't describe it to yourself.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
We can describe by analogy some aspects of God, but cannot describe God completely. God is infinite.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
KoM: What would you see if you went back to before the big bang happened?
How many furious green ideas can sleep in a demented cement screwdriver?

Your question is meaningless.

quote:
Time begins at creation? Really? When you were "created", your perception of time began. Time passed before you were here, and will pass after you are gone. Time is a man made measurement. Seconds, hours, years, and so on were created by man in order to measure events in the universe.
So if there were no men, then things would not happen one after the other? Come now.

Time may be finite or infinite. Our best evidence at the moment indicates it is finite. In a universe with finite time, time has a definite beginning, and there is no 'before' the beginning of time. There is no answer to the question "what happened a year before the beginning?" because you can't go there. There is no 'there' to go to. What's north of the north pole? What's east of moon, west of sun? There's no such animal.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
We can describe by analogy some aspects of God, but cannot describe God completely. God is infinite.

Works just as well for leprechauns.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
But if something is indescribable, it is also unknowable, because you can't describe it to yourself.
This doesn't follow. You can experience something indescribable and still know about it.

Haven't you ever been asked what something tastes like by someone who has never tasted that particular food before, and despite remembering what it tastes like you can't think of any way to describe it that perfectly communicates what it tastes like?

quote:
Works just as well for leprechauns.
Sure, but what is that supposed to prove? If you truly witnessed a leprechaun, then by all means believe in leprechauns, even if you can't describe it...
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
We can describe by analogy some aspects of God, but cannot describe God completely. God is infinite.

Works just as well for leprechauns.
So? I am not claiming that indescribability is evidence of existence; I am stating that neither is it evidence of non-existence and that the obstacles of language should be taken into account rather than used to score points.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
KoM: What would you see if you went back to before the big bang happened?
How many furious green ideas can sleep in a demented cement screwdriver?

Your question is meaningless.

quote:
Time begins at creation? Really? When you were "created", your perception of time began. Time passed before you were here, and will pass after you are gone. Time is a man made measurement. Seconds, hours, years, and so on were created by man in order to measure events in the universe.
So if there were no men, then things would not happen one after the other? Come now.

Time may be finite or infinite. Our best evidence at the moment indicates it is finite. In a universe with finite time, time has a definite beginning, and there is no 'before' the beginning of time. There is no answer to the question "what happened a year before the beginning?" because you can't go there. There is no 'there' to go to. What's north of the north pole? What's east of moon, west of sun? There's no such animal.

Kom, I love how you ask me a question from a religious standpoint, but as soon as I insert "Big bang" in the place of "creation" you say the question is meaningless.

Likewise, you just confirm what I typed in the second response. Time is a man made measurement. If the Big Bang happened, what caused it? Science says that everything that happens has a cause, I want to know what the cause of the big bang was.

What you have just stated by saying time may or may not be infinite indicates to me that you are not being scientifically honest. Either it is infinite or it is not. If time is finite, it can be experimented upon and tested. If it is infinite, then it is untestable, and by your standards does not exist.

Can you explain why the Universe is the size that it is. Apparently it is a huge accident. The universe could not have been much smaller than it is for nuclear fusion to have happened in the first 3 minutes after the big bang, and if the universe were even one grain of sand greater in mass at the beginning, the universe would have collapsed before life could have started. The size of our universe is the exact size needed to sustain life.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Kom, I love how you ask me a question from a religious standpoint, but as soon as I insert "Big bang" in the place of "creation" you say the question is meaningless.
You misunderstood my intent. The question is equally meaningless whether expressed with creation or Big Bang; by using creation I was attempting to demonstrate the meaninglessness in language familiar to you, not put down religion.

quote:
Likewise, you just confirm what I typed in the second response. Time is a man made measurement. If the Big Bang happened, what caused it? Science says that everything that happens has a cause, I want to know what the cause of the big bang was.
In fact science does not say that. Common sense informs us that either there is a beginning to all things, or there isn't. The best evidence indicates a beginning. If there is a beginning, then that is an uncaused event.

quote:
What you have just stated by saying time may or may not be infinite indicates to me that you are not being scientifically honest. Either it is infinite or it is not. If time is finite, it can be experimented upon and tested. If it is infinite, then it is untestable, and by your standards does not exist.
You fall into the trap laid by the devil that-does-not-follow, aided in this case by the devil use-the-word-without-understanding. "Infinite time" means only that, if you invent a time machine and go backwards, you will never hit a boundary beyond which you cannot go. "Finite time" means the opposite: There does exist such a boundary. (That said, there do exist formulations of modern physics in which time, indeed, is discarded as a variable.) In other words, the question is whether the universe has a beginning or not; testability doesn't come into it. You are apparently confusing these usages with your understanding of 'finite' humans and 'infinite' gods, with which they have nothing to do.

quote:
Can you explain why the Universe is the size that it is. Apparently it is a huge accident. The universe could not have been much smaller than it is for nuclear fusion to have happened in the first 3 minutes after the big bang, and if the universe were even one grain of sand greater in mass at the beginning, the universe would have collapsed before life could have started. The size of our universe is the exact size needed to sustain life.
...said the puddle of the depression in which it sat. You have been mis-informed about the degree of fine-tuning required to produce life, especially the one-grain-of-sand bit. In any case, what of it? Religion doesn't answer this question any more than science does; and religion can't answer it, while science is checking out several promising avenues of research into the question.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
KoM, I don't think Geraine is going to be familiar with the puddle analogy.

Geraine, imagine a puddle lying in a depression in the road that suddenly and inexplicably becomes self-aware and capable of abstract thought. The chances of this happening being astronomically unlikely, but suppose it does happen.

Now, the puddle examines the environment around it and determines a few things. 1, the world it in inhabits appears to have an upper ceiling, and a floor. It appears to have a specific shape. Remarkably, uncannily, the world in which the puddle exists is shaped *exactly* the way the puddle is shaped. "Egads" says the puddle: "this world is one of utter perfection! It is the perfect size and the perfect shape to fit ME!" Based on the available information, and unaware of the nature of the world outside its own peculiar puddlyness, the puddle marvels at the great fortune it had to be granted a universe that so perfectly conforms to its needs. And as the puddle shrinks in the sun, it grasps at this illusion of belonging, of rightness that it cannot abandon- that it appears against reason to abandon.

One of the peculiar quirks of a universe that can support intelligent life is that it can support intelligent life. That means anything capable of observing the universe at the level that we can, or beyond the level that we can, is that it will be at least minimally suited to the existence of those who can observe it. Minimally, the universe has produced one such civilization, and quite possibly it has produced more.

So unfortunately we run up against the ultimate tautology, the thing that proves itself: we think, therefore we are. If the universe hadn't produced us, we would not be able to observe it, and we would not be able to remark upon any universe incapable of making us. While it is surely an awesome and wondrous thing that this has happened, from our perspective anyway, our frame of reference is as the puddle- we know only what we are capable of knowing.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
aka anthropic principle.

Geraine, King of Men is a physicist, so you might want to be cautious about your assertions.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Kom, I love how you ask me a question from a religious standpoint, but as soon as I insert "Big bang" in the place of "creation" you say the question is meaningless.
You misunderstood my intent. The question is equally meaningless whether expressed with creation or Big Bang; by using creation I was attempting to demonstrate the meaninglessness in language familiar to you, not put down religion.

quote:
Likewise, you just confirm what I typed in the second response. Time is a man made measurement. If the Big Bang happened, what caused it? Science says that everything that happens has a cause, I want to know what the cause of the big bang was.
In fact science does not say that. Common sense informs us that either there is a beginning to all things, or there isn't. The best evidence indicates a beginning. If there is a beginning, then that is an uncaused event.

quote:
What you have just stated by saying time may or may not be infinite indicates to me that you are not being scientifically honest. Either it is infinite or it is not. If time is finite, it can be experimented upon and tested. If it is infinite, then it is untestable, and by your standards does not exist.
You fall into the trap laid by the devil that-does-not-follow, aided in this case by the devil use-the-word-without-understanding. "Infinite time" means only that, if you invent a time machine and go backwards, you will never hit a boundary beyond which you cannot go. "Finite time" means the opposite: There does exist such a boundary. (That said, there do exist formulations of modern physics in which time, indeed, is discarded as a variable.) In other words, the question is whether the universe has a beginning or not; testability doesn't come into it. You are apparently confusing these usages with your understanding of 'finite' humans and 'infinite' gods, with which they have nothing to do.

quote:
Can you explain why the Universe is the size that it is. Apparently it is a huge accident. The universe could not have been much smaller than it is for nuclear fusion to have happened in the first 3 minutes after the big bang, and if the universe were even one grain of sand greater in mass at the beginning, the universe would have collapsed before life could have started. The size of our universe is the exact size needed to sustain life.
...said the puddle of the depression in which it sat. You have been mis-informed about the degree of fine-tuning required to produce life, especially the one-grain-of-sand bit. In any case, what of it? Religion doesn't answer this question any more than science does; and religion can't answer it, while science is checking out several promising avenues of research into the question.

First, I appreciate the continued discussion.

Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?

From what I understand (I'm not the scientist though) if the universe was smaller, nuclear fusion would have not have been able to take place during the first three minutes of the existance of the universe. If this did not take place the universe would have consisted entirely of helium, rendering the formation of rocky planets impossible.

The universe contains 10 (to the 80) baryons. An addition of just 10 (to the 21 power) baryons (at 1.67×10 (to the −27 power) kg/baryon equals 1.7 mg of matter. If we were to add this now it would not make a difference, but if added at the beginning of the universe, it would have created a deviation in which life could not exist. The universe would consist of black holes, unable to support life.

What do you think of the cosmological constant?

I would argue that while religion does not answer the question regarding the size of the universe in a scientific sense, the sheer impossibility of the universe turning out how it did lends credit to the religious argument that the universe was created by design.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Kmbboots: do you think of things for which you have no name? How is that done?

If language cannot describe something, in what terms can one know about it?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
"The universe contains 10 (to the 80) baryons. An addition of just 10 (to the 21 power) baryons (at 1.67×10 (to the −27 power) kg/baryon equals 1.7 mg of matter. If we were to add this now it would not make a difference, but if added at the beginning of the universe, it would have created a deviation in which life could not exist. The universe would consist of black holes, unable to support life. "

Ignoring whether this is the case or not, because it's debatable, you are ignoring the fact that this just didn't happen. Things are the way they are. Things could be different, but they're not. If they were different, you wouldn't be talking about this right now. You would not exist. You realize that if any one in an absolutely enormous number of chance events had occurred differently at any point in history, you would not be here. Yet you are here. If you were not here, someone else would probably be here, and would probably spend time thinking about exactly the same thing. Or all of humanity would be dead. Or we would never have existed. Yet you are here. Such is life- unexpected things happen. In such a large universe, such unexpected things do happen, and they may happen a lot.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
I would argue that while religion does not answer the question regarding the size of the universe in a scientific sense, the sheer impossibility of the universe turning out how it did lends credit to the religious argument that the universe was created by design.

This is a stupid argument, and you know it.

If I play several dozen games of hearts, doesn't the sheer impossibility of the hands that we all draw, the cards, and the order in which we draw them turnign out the way they did, lend credit to the religious argument that the deck was ordered by design?

Why not?

Sure, after only one hand, the odds of each player receiving exactly the cards they did, in the order they did, are only "astronomical", but play enough rounds, and the probability has to drop to "sheerly impossible". What happens at that point? Do the cards self-immolate in a small pillar of fire on the table? Does one of the players reveal themselves to be God? Does the universe end before this can happen? I play a fair amount of Mah-jong with my Chinese grandmother-in-law, at what point should I be worried about our cumulative games becoming dangerously improbable, to the point of imperiling the universe?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.

quote:
From what I understand (I'm not the scientist though) if the universe was smaller, nuclear fusion would have not have been able to take place during the first three minutes of the existance of the universe. If this did not take place the universe would have consisted entirely of helium, rendering the formation of rocky planets impossible.
Hydrogen, not helium; but in any case, wrong. An expanding universe must inevitably pass through a temperature at which nuclear fusion occurs. Whether this is from the first to the third minute or from the second to the fourth is not very relevant.

quote:
The universe contains 10 (to the 80) baryons. An addition of just 10 (to the 21 power) baryons (at 1.67×10 (to the −27 power) kg/baryon equals 1.7 mg of matter. If we were to add this now it would not make a difference, but if added at the beginning of the universe, it would have created a deviation in which life could not exist. The universe would consist of black holes, unable to support life.
Sez you.

You made both these assertions before, and I told you that you were mistaken. When you simply re-iterate them, what are you adding to the discussion? At an absolute minimum, you should say where you are getting these interesting factoids.

quote:
I would argue that while religion does not answer the question regarding the size of the universe in a scientific sense, the sheer impossibility of the universe turning out how it did lends credit to the religious argument that the universe was created by design.
You, yourself, exist because a particular sperm and egg united. The probability of this, clearly, is one in several million. Your father has a similar probability of existing, and so on. Shall I conclude that you were therefore designed?
 
Posted by Sean Monahan (Member # 9334) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?

What is the cause of the radioactive decay of an atom?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Sean Monahan:
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?

What is the cause of the radioactive decay of an atom?
Several million attempts at quantum-tunnelling through the barrier, each with a tiny chance of success.
 
Posted by The Rabbit (Member # 671) on :
 
quote:
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.
Not necessarily. The Universe hasn't always existed, it has a beginning and a finite age. Depending of course on the particular religion, God has no beginning. God has always existed. Now I will admit that this has problems of its own but it is certainly not irrational to object to something starting without cause but have no objection to something existing with no beginning (and therefore no requirement for a cause).
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
Regarding the Big Bang, If something does not have a cause, how can it exist? Is there anything in this universe that exists without cause? Or is this a unique characteristic of the universe itself?
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.

quote:
From what I understand (I'm not the scientist though) if the universe was smaller, nuclear fusion would have not have been able to take place during the first three minutes of the existance of the universe. If this did not take place the universe would have consisted entirely of helium, rendering the formation of rocky planets impossible.
Hydrogen, not helium; but in any case, wrong. An expanding universe must inevitably pass through a temperature at which nuclear fusion occurs. Whether this is from the first to the third minute or from the second to the fourth is not very relevant.

quote:
The universe contains 10 (to the 80) baryons. An addition of just 10 (to the 21 power) baryons (at 1.67×10 (to the −27 power) kg/baryon equals 1.7 mg of matter. If we were to add this now it would not make a difference, but if added at the beginning of the universe, it would have created a deviation in which life could not exist. The universe would consist of black holes, unable to support life.
Sez you.

You made both these assertions before, and I told you that you were mistaken. When you simply re-iterate them, what are you adding to the discussion? At an absolute minimum, you should say where you are getting these interesting factoids.

quote:
I would argue that while religion does not answer the question regarding the size of the universe in a scientific sense, the sheer impossibility of the universe turning out how it did lends credit to the religious argument that the universe was created by design.
You, yourself, exist because a particular sperm and egg united. The probability of this, clearly, is one in several million. Your father has a similar probability of existing, and so on. Shall I conclude that you were therefore designed?

But I do object to an uncaused God. The religion I belong to teaches that God was once a being very much like us, but that has progressed to the point he is now. Likewise we will one day be able to become like him.

Can man truly comprehend something without end? Something without beginning?

And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.

But please answer the question I asked in my previous post.

What do you think of the cosmological constant?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Your existence is orders of magnitude less likely than the universe if you take into consideration that the universe much first have existed as a condition of your existence.

Besides, where do you get your numbers for the likelihood of the universe coming into existence?

For all we know, in whatever conditions existed before the universe (if such a thing can even be contemplated - what existed before existence) universes might just pop into existence all the time. Maybe that's just what universes DO, and it would be incredibly unlikely that a universe ready for life would NOT exist.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
religion I belong to teaches that God was once a being very much like us, but that has progressed to the point he is now.
Who created Him, then, and where did He live before He made the universe?
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.

Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up anwers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.

It's not honest to compare two numerical values to each other when you have absolutely no idea what those values are! It's also not very bright to do so transparently.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.
This can't be true. Any possible universe with you in it must also have life in it, but some possible universes with life in it would not have you. Therefore, even if we can't calculate what those odds are, the odds of a universe having life must be greter than the odds of a universe having you in it.

quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up anwers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
This also isn't true - if theists simply made up their answers based on nothing but their own wishes, theists would have a much easier time coming up with answers, and it wouldn't require so much work to live in accordance with those answers.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
And thank you for demonstrating how some athesists lump all theists together and aim for the low hanging fruit.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
[QB]
quote:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them. My birth seems like a sure thing compared to the odds of the universe just snapping into reality.
This can't be true. Any possible universe with you in it must also have life in it, but some possible universes with life in it would not have you. Therefore, even if we can't calculate what those odds are, the odds of a universe having life must be greter than the odds of a universe having you in it.
You misunderstand the argument. Geraine claimed that the odds of Geraine being in the universe were a "sure thing" compared to the universe existing. That's like saying that while the odds of getting a bridge hand with no voids is quite likely, the odds of playing bridge are tiny in comparison. The odds of the former are pretty easily calculable. But if you know absolutely nothing about the odds of me and my 3 friends starting a bridge game, you can't possibly compare the two. At least, not honestly, if you have an intellectual integrity at least as developed as a third-grader.

quote:
quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up anwers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
This also isn't true - if theists simply made up their answers based on nothing but their own wishes, theists would have a much easier time coming up with answers,
Geraine doesn't seem to have a hard time coming up with claims about "spirtual mass", does s/he? Where are those answers coming from, if not religion?

And really, compared to KOM and Geraine, which of the two do you think has spent more time looking at the hard data about the nature and origin of the universe? I think that KOM has put a lot more reading and research into the answers he's claimed that Geraine has put into his.

It's certainly easier to not read papers than it is to read them.

quote:
and it wouldn't require so much work to live in accordance with those answers.
Yeah, it's soooo much work to make things up about "spirtual mass". And to outright declare that something is "sheerly impossible" without lifting a finger to calculate anything.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
What you consider 'low hanging', I consider 'salvageable'. The likes of you and Tresopax, alas, have long since rotted. In any case, what is your objection to going for the easiest minds to save? Is it that you want to be convinced you are wrong, and are miffed when we do not engage your formless void? If so, congratulations, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. But I suspect you cannot say any such thing out loud.

quote:
And KoM, while the odds of me existing may be 1 in millions, the odds of life existing at all in the universe are much, much great, to the point that you cannot compare them.
How do you know?

quote:
What do you think of the cosmological constant?
I don't understand the question.

quote:
But I do object to an uncaused God.
Very well, this is at least consistent. Moving then from the philosophical to the practical, what is your evidence in favour of your caused god? The uncaused Universe (or at any rate, the Universe with an apparent beginning beyond which it is very difficult to say anything about causes) has some evidence in its favour; it is not made up from the autumn sunshine. Where is yours?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
And really, comparing KOM and Geraine, which of the two do you think has spent more time looking at the hard data about the nature and origin of the universe? I think that KOM has put a lot more reading and research into the answers he's claimed than Geraine has put into his.
I do not wish to make unfounded arguments from authority, even by proxy, so let me note in the interest of honesty that cosmology is not my field; particle physics is. (Although they do overlap to some extent, of course.) My knowledge of cosmology is that of an interested layman with eclectic reading habits.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
And thank you for demonstrating how some athesists lump all theists together and aim for the low hanging fruit.

I don't understand why this is off limits.
If really stupid arguments are being presented, and aren't out of the mainstream at all, why is it unfair to engage them?

This is like saying that any Catholic discussion of reforming the priesthood can't even touch on hierarchical secrecy, because that's just shooting fish in a barrel.

A worldview based on reason and evidence has a built-in gatekeeper to weed out arguements that are illegitimate; reason and evidence. So shooting down wildly irrational strawmen doesn't touch a reason and evidence-based worldview, because such arguements can't possibly be a part of such a worldview.

Religion has no such gatekeepers, unless you are going to go the egotistical route, and claim that you and yours are the gatekeepers to valid religious arguments. The low hanging fruit are still on your tree. And they aren't illegitimate arguments for the theistic worldview just becuase you don't share them, or because they yield consequences that you find abhorant.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
But it's boring.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
Maybe just change this:

quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how theists make up answers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
To this:

quote:
Thank you for demonstrating perfectly how some theists make up answers to questions based on nothing but their own wishes.
...after all, some theists may be careful not to make things up themselves, and just believe what trusted authorities have taught them. Others have invested a lot of study and prayer to determine what is true, and believe that their conclusions tend to oppose many of their own selfish wishes.

The charge of laziness plus wish fulfillment isn't universally applicable, IMO. You can (I do) believe they are wrong without categorically dismissing theists with this charge.

Geraine: you are definitely failing to understand the anthropic principle, though. What the anthropic principle tells us is that conditions friendly to our existence have absolutely no bearing on the likelihood of the possible reasons for those conditions. I had a hard time with it myself. It's true, though. The argument you are making goes nowhere.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Well, kmb, any discussion between the two of us eventually comes down to you saying that it's not about evidence, and me saying that it damn well is. It would bore me to tears except for being so frustrating that it frustrates me to tears instead. If you dislike discussion of evidence, that's your problem - indeed, that apparently is your problem - and none of mine, or anyone else's.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
...after all, some theists may be careful not to make things up themselves, and just believe what trusted authorities have taught them.

I consider adults responsible for the goodness of their chosen authorities. If you know that your authority has no evidence, than it's not any better to trust him or her than to trust your own evidence-free personal judgement.

So I absolve Kara Neuman, and childre like her, from my generalization. Her parents have spared her from the trial of evaluating her authorities.

quote:
Others have invested a lot of study and prayer to determine what is true,
That's not going to work. You can't detect truth without a robust method for distinguishing false. Prayer doesn't do that. The long history of people praying, and still coming to greviously wrong conclusions demonstrates that pretty well.

And there's also the non-existant history of people praying to come up with, say, chemical structures of molecules that truly treat malaria.

quote:
and believe that their conclusions tend to oppose many of their own selfish wishes.
Sometimes. But I think most people who pray on things end up doing what they were going to do anyway, they are just more sure of it being right. Remember, they are only consulting their own heads. But yeah, I'm sure that somewhere, there was an inquisitor torturer whose prayer told him that he should not play hooky that day, but do his sacred duty of saving souls by ripping out fingernails.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
But it's boring.

Yes, dealing with other people's irrationalities can be tiresome.

But maybe if, say, the Neuman's religious circle had been explicit to themselves and to each other about how unsubstantiated their faith was, and what the certain consequences of their choices were going to be, someone would have decided that it was unacceptable, and acted in time. Someone might have said "there's no good evidence either way about whether God wants Kara to live or die. That means we should do what we want, there being no detectable moral downside to saving her".
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Sometimes. But I think most people who pray on things end up doing what they were going to do anyway, they are just more sure of it being right. Remember, they are only consulting their own heads. But yeah, I'm sure that somewhere, there was an inquisitor torturer whose prayer told him that he should not play hooky that day, but do his sacred duty of saving souls by ripping out fingernails.
As a matter of interest, this was explicit church doctrine at one point. The Inquisitors recognised the possibility of error on their part; they reasoned, very naturally, that if they were inflicting pain on the basis of a false doctrine, they would inevitably go to Hell... and having gone so far towards rationality, made the about-face: Therefore, the Inquisitor is not merely doing an unpleasant but necessary task, he is putting his very soul at risk in the service of what he believes right and for the salvation of his victims! Heroism in the tightening of every screw!
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
What's sad is that actually makes sense.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
swb- on the prayer thing, I think I've read more than once that one theory about prayer is that it is essentially a process by which people try to rectify their desires with their actions... so maybe people don't always do *exactly* what they were going to do before praying, they certainly do what they *wanted* to do before praying. It takes a very small amount of critical self-reflection and sometimes a very little bit of therapy to realize that the things you do, even the things you don't plan to do, have a great deal to do with what you *want* to do.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
What's sad is that actually makes sense.

Indeed, as a general rule the better sort of Catholic is not too dreadful at drawing logical inferences from a set of given premises. Treating theology purely as a game of logic, like mathematics with axioms not intended to describe the real world but just for fun, the Catholic tradition is probably the best available. It's just such a pity that the axioms they reason from are so completely out of whack, not to mention having a Shannon information requirement that you don't get from most mathematical systems.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
That's not going to work. You can't detect truth without a robust method for distinguishing false. Prayer doesn't do that. The long history of people praying, and still coming to greviously wrong conclusions demonstrates that pretty well.
There is also a long history of people attempting to use reason and evidence, but still coming to greviously wrong conclusions.

Again, I have asked several times if there is any particular non-anecdotal empirical evidence that using solely reason and self-examined evidence of the scientific sort will result in more accurate beliefs than trusting authorities...
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Tres: The kind of evidence you are looking fore would have to be reasoned, rather than appealed to authority, so the fact that you realize that it would require substantiation to be credible proves the point.

Edit: Alternately, I can claim that an authority says that such evidence exists, so I "prove" that it does either way [Smile]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Er... you are posting this on a computer connected to the Internets, no? Let's see you come up with that infrastructure by reference to authority.
 
Posted by PSI Teleport (Member # 5545) on :
 
quote:
To the best of our evidence, the universe as a whole exists without cause. I note that if you object to this, you must likewise object to an uncaused god.
It's been two days since this comment was posted, but as it wasn't argued in a manner satisfactory to me I decided to give my opinion on the matter.

It's entirely consistent to believe in both a caused universe and an uncaused god when you believe in a god that created time flow and causality.
 
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
 
PSI: the inconsistency is in insisting the universe necessitates God to cause it (edit: or, in milder form, in rejecting as illogical those who say there is no cause for the universe).
 
Posted by PSI Teleport (Member # 5545) on :
 
Ah, okay. I agree with your edit more than the original statement.

edit: Although I was the one that used the term consistent. KoM's quote seems to have a different meaning than your clarification.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:

It's entirely consistent to believe in both a caused universe and an uncaused god when you believe in a god that created time flow and causality.

Point was it was inconsistent to reject an uncaused universe and to remedy that by adding an uncaused God. The important inconsistency is the rejection of the uncaused universe on the grounds that it is illogical, but not rejecting the idea of a god on the same grounds.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
That's not going to work. You can't detect truth without a robust method for distinguishing false. Prayer doesn't do that. The long history of people praying, and still coming to greviously wrong conclusions demonstrates that pretty well.
There is also a long history of people attempting to use reason and evidence, but still coming to greviously wrong conclusions.
Yes, but it happens a whole lot less often.

I'll ask you the same question that you keep refusing to answer; if your loved one were extremely ill, and one person, a doctor, proposed to treat them using the best recommendations reason and evidence gave, and the other person, an authority on faith healing, proposed to use only the prayer that their personal judgment told them was required, which would you prefer were used?

quote:
Again, I have asked several times if there is any particular non-anecdotal empirical evidence that using solely reason and self-examined evidence of the scientific sort will result in more accurate beliefs than trusting authorities...
You can't be this stupid. The success of modern medicine, based on evidence and reason, over what came before, which was in large part nothing but religious and magic superstition, is not merely anecdotal.

In my example above, the first doctor is a medical authority, and the second guy is a religious authority. Are you going to argue that it won't make a practical difference which authority is listened to in this instance? That any "authority" is as good as another? Would you honestly be alright in flipping a coin to determine how your bleeding and dying family member was to be treated? Or would you trust the authority who possessed the medical evidence and reasoning?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Er... you are posting this on a computer connected to the Internets, no? Let's see you come up with that infrastructure by reference to authority.
I'd think the infratructure of the Internet could only be created with numerous appeals to authority. For instance, the people who constructed my computer and the components within it most likely were not scientists who have examined the evidence proving all the physics upon which computers rely. Instead, they were likely just workers who were told or were trained by other authorities to know how to build a computer. They trust the directions given to them by those authorities.

Similarly, if you came up with a complete set of directions and blueprints for a computer network, simply trusting those directions would be enough to create it. You wouldn't have to go out and research whether or not it would work yourself. So yes, I think it would be possible to build a large computer network simply by trusting authorities, if you find the right authorities to trust.

quote:
I'll ask you the same question that you keep refusing to answer; if your loved one were extremely ill, and one person, a doctor, proposed to treat them using the best recommendations reason and evidence gave, and the other person, an authority on faith healing, proposed to use only the prayer that their personal judgment told them was required, which would you prefer were used?
I'd trust the authority of the doctor; I believe in medicine and not faith healing.

quote:
In my example above, the first doctor is a medical authority, and the second guy is a religious authority. Are you going to argue that it won't make a practical difference which authority is listened to in this instance? That any "authority" is as good as another? Would you honestly be alright in flipping a coin to determine how your bleeding and dying family member was to be treated? Or would you trust the authority who possessed the medical evidence and reasoning?
It makes a difference which authority is trusted! But the key is... I'm better off trusting one authority than refusing to trust any authority at all. If I refuse the doctor's advice because he can't present empirical evidence to me on the spot that proves his medical advice will work, then I suspect my loved one is more likely to die than if I trust whatever my doctor says.

[ May 09, 2010, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]
 
Posted by PSI Teleport (Member # 5545) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:

It's entirely consistent to believe in both a caused universe and an uncaused god when you believe in a god that created time flow and causality.

Point was it was inconsistent to reject an uncaused universe and to remedy that by adding an uncaused God. The important inconsistency is the rejection of the uncaused universe on the grounds that it is illogical, but not rejecting the idea of a god on the same grounds.
Right, I understand that. I don't necessarily agree. In the material world, effects have causes. But it isn't productive to try and limit God to the same rules. As I said before, it's not difficult to imagine a god that exists outside of time, outside of cause-effect relationships, and who, in fact, is the source of those things.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
If you can have an uncaused god, you can just as well have an uncaused universe. To say "the god obeys different rules" changes nothing; so might the universe. The whole need not follow the same law that the parts do; we have observed cause and effect only in a tiny bit of the universe, and have never experimented with those rules on the whole thing.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
quote:
As I said before, it's not difficult to imagine a god that exists outside of time, outside of cause-effect relationships, and who, in fact, is the source of those things.
Not difficult to propose the possibility as you've done here. It would be extremely difficult to imagine how an entity could exist in any meaningful way "outside" of cause and effect. It's not really an answer to anything, but a (sometimes handy) excuse for the lack of answers.
 
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
 
PSI: I think you think we understand a lot more about cause and effect than we think we do. Furthermore, having a metaphysical being made out of handwavium is no more logical than having a universe started out of handwavium. Thinking there is a difference is the inconsistency.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
But it isn't productive to try and limit God to the same rules. As I said before, it's not difficult to imagine a god that exists outside of time, outside of cause-effect relationships, and who, in fact, is the source of those things.

It isn't productive, certainly, if one needs to believe in God, and needs one's own reason to be bent to fit that conclusion.

But we're talking about the most basic logical inconsistency there could be- if you cannot accept the universe as uncaused, then you cannot accept God as uncaused. If you do, well, then, you aren't following logical reasoning, you are changing the terms to give you the conclusion you need. There's a reason why the Flying Spaghetti Monster works just as well in place of god, and that's because god fits anywhere god is needed. Thus the inconsistency.

I'm wondering how you disagree that it is inconsistent to apply two different rule sets to the universe and to god, especially when you believe that one caused the other. That necessitates them coming under the same rule set. If you believe there is no rule set for god, then I do wonder how you define what a god is. With no set of rules and strictures, there might as well be no god, and just a total lack of rules governing random events. In that scenario, a universe caused by god and an uncaused universe would have the same features- if there are no rules for god, there is no god- because then god is not an organized concept, just a cause with no cause of its own. See where I'm going with this?
 
Posted by Paul Goldner (Member # 1910) on :
 
quote:
The Universe hasn't always existed, it has a beginning and a finite age
A finite age, yes. "Beginning," and "Always," are problematic.
 
Posted by MattP (Member # 10495) on :
 
quote:
The Universe hasn't always existed, it has a beginning
Well yes, but in a way that nothing else we have ever experienced has a beginning. The beginning of the universe represents the beginning of the existence of matter and energy. That cannot be adequately analogized to the beginning of anything else in the univserse.

When we say a car begins to exist, for instance, all we're really saying is that we've munged together a bunch of existing matter into the shape of a car. The car didn't appear ex nihilo. Nothing has actually begun to exist in the way that we understand the universe to have begun to exist.

Because of this the beginning of the universe is a completely novel event. Our time/space-constrained brains may want to apply intuitive concepts of causation, "before", "outside", etc., but these concepts don't apply to that realm. The event horizon of the big bang is completely opaque and we know absolutely nothing about creation beyond what we've been able to extrapolate back to the Planck epoch, give or take 10^-44 seconds. No amount of philosophizing can tell us more.
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
quote:
A finite age, yes. "Beginning," and "Always," are problematic.
Exactly. It would be false to say that there was ever a point in time when the universe didn't exist. Nor is there any possible universe in general relativity like ours but with more time tacked on before the Big Bang. (This last bit is true because cosmological spacetimes are inextendable.)
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Now, I'm not skilled at general relativity, but it seems to me that "there is no universe like ours but with more time before the Big Bang" and "cosmological spacetimes are inextendable" are basically the same statement, but one is more technical. To say that one is due to the other, then, is not to add any information; it merely expresses the tautology, A equals A. Unless you are prepared to show the proof (as a side note, since GR is effectively mathematics, there can indeed be a 'proof' and not merely 'evidence'), the technical language is just an appeal to authority.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
So yes, I think it would be possible to build a large computer network simply by trusting authorities, if you find the right authorities to trust.

For the umpeenth time, how do you decide which authorities to trust if not by their knowledge of the evidence?

quote:
quote:
I'll ask you the same question that you keep refusing to answer; if your loved one were extremely ill, and one person, a doctor, proposed to treat them using the best recommendations reason and evidence gave, and the other person, an authority on faith healing, proposed to use only the prayer that their personal judgment told them was required, which would you prefer were used?
I'd trust the authority of the doctor; I believe in medicine and not faith healing.
How did you decide that? Did you flip a coin?

quote:
quote:
In my example above, the first doctor is a medical authority, and the second guy is a religious authority. Are you going to argue that it won't make a practical difference which authority is listened to in this instance? That any "authority" is as good as another? Would you honestly be alright in flipping a coin to determine how your bleeding and dying family member was to be treated? Or would you trust the authority who possessed the medical evidence and reasoning?
It makes a difference which authority is trusted! But the key is... I'm better off trusting one authority than refusing to trust any authority at all.
Really? Let's say that your spouse is bleeding very badly. You personally have witnessed mice and rats or chickens die from blood loss.

You are seriosuly arguing that it would be better for you to watch your spouse bleed to death while your religious authority does nothing but pray, than for you to apply your knowledge about bleeding to death, in order to stanch the wound?

Remember the Monty hall problem? I must conclude from your arguments that you think yourself personally incapable of collecting or understanding evidence from a simple 3 card simulation of the problem carried out with a friend, but I assure you, this simulation is well within the powers of most third-graders. So you are seriously arguing that a 3rd grader who carries out an accurate simulation of the problem is more likely to get it wrong than a 3rd grade who asks his chosen authority, his 5th grade brother? Or, to put it another way, if you think that the math professor is a better authority than the 5th grader, why do you conclude this? Did you flip a coin there too?

Maybe that is what this all comes down to for you. Maybe you have no confidence in your ability to understand the world around you, or you are too lazy to try, so you live in a permenant state of CYA by insisting that all your conclusions are drawn by authorities. That way, you aren't responsible for anything. You tried your best by asking someone else to tell you what to do. And if that someone else was obviously incapable of giving your good guidance, well, what should we expect, that you should try to figure out a few things for yourself?

quote:
If I refuse the doctor's advice because he can't present empirical evidence to me on the spot that proves his medical advice will work, then I suspect my loved one is more likely to die than if I trust whatever my doctor says.
Well, the faith healer can't produce evidence "on the spot" either. So what is your reason for dismissing the faith healer again? You flipped a coin once upon a time?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
For the umpeenth time, how do you decide which authorities to trust if not by their knowledge of the evidence?
Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record, the degree to which other trusted authorities say I should trust them, and my beliefs about how they learned what they claim to know. For instance, I trust doctors because they've healed me in the past, because most people I trust say doctors are effective, and because they learned their discipline through what I believe to be an effective medical education.

I actually have no idea how much firsthand knowledge of evidence my doctors have had about some of the things they deal with, since they were doctors and not research scientists.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
The chances of you presenting to an experienced diagnostician with a condition they have not seen before is very slight. People tend to forget that doctors spend years working 80 hour weeks seeing every imaginable condition and administering every imaginable treatment. Most of the practice of medicine is not very theoretical.
 
Posted by Foust (Member # 3043) on :
 
quote:
I actually have no idea how much firsthand knowledge of evidence my doctors have had about some of the things they deal with, since they were doctors and not research scientists.
This implied equivalency between scientific authority and theological authority is useless and sneaky.

If you believe a mistaken scientific authority, your plane falls out of the sky, or your test tube explodes, or your disease kills you.

If you believe a mistaken theological authority... what? Nothing happens.

Actually, that isn't even the main gulf. With a scientific authority, or even an authority from the social sciences, you are entirely welcome to walk through their work yourself, and in principle, should be able to verify every single last detail yourself.

With a theological authority, all you've got is their word.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
The chances of you presenting to an experienced diagnostician with a condition they have not seen before is very slight. People tend to forget that doctors spend years working 80 hour weeks seeing every imaginable condition and administering every imaginable treatment. Most of the practice of medicine is not very theoretical.
Yes, I agree with that, regarding their personal experience. What I meant was I don't really know to what degree my doctors have looked closely at the controlled experimental data that often underlies medical advice.

quote:
If you believe a mistaken scientific authority, your plane falls out of the sky, or your test tube explodes, or your disease kills you.

If you believe a mistaken theological authority... what? Nothing happens.

Swbarnes2 gave the example earlier of the family whose child died because they trusted a theological authority. On the flip side, a doctor may prescribe X for my common cold, and then if the common cold goes away in four days I have no idea if X actually made it go away faster or if that was just the natural course of the cold I had.

quote:
With a scientific authority, or even an authority from the social sciences, you are entirely welcome to walk through their work yourself, and in principle, should be able to verify every single last detail yourself.

With a theological authority, all you've got is their word.

That's part of what makes a scientific authority scientific - although practically speaking, it would be nearly impossible for me to verify most scientific claims myself, without investing the time to train as a scientist myself and without investing significantly in equipment and experimentation.

But you are falsly breaking authority down into just two types here. Types of authority can range from a book being cited as a source for a paper, to an expert on taxes, to an elder member of your family who has had lots of experience in life, to a website, or even to internal mental functions (like memory) that you must trust. Some of these are rather easily double checked, some are difficult to double check, and some can't be checked at all. If you want to know what happened to your grandfather during his service in World War II, for instance, all you've got is his word. On the other hand, if you want to know why theological scholars believe the Bible should be interpretted a certain way, they can usually walk you through the passages that have led them to that conclusion, if you are willing to take the time.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record
Ding, we're finished here. The track record is the experimental test. You don't rely on faith any more than I do.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
If your religion has a very good track record of providing effective answers to problems in your life, would you consider that an experimental test?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
KoM how many years have you been talking to him? It's like trying to catch the greased up deaf guy... he just wriggles away in the end, you'll never catch him.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
For the umpeenth time, how do you decide which authorities to trust if not by their knowledge of the evidence?
Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record, the degree to which other trusted authorities say I should trust them, and my beliefs about how they learned what they claim to know.
You can't be this stupid. When asked "How do you pick which authorities to trust?", you can't possibly think "I listen to my other trusted authorites" is a sensible answer. That doesn't answer the question of how you decide what to believe.

So you say you look at track record. Do you have any idea why doctors have a better track record at healing people than shamans? Do you have even a hint of a notion of why that might be? KOM and myself, and lots of other people can easily give perfectly sensible answers to why we think doctors are better at saving lives than shamens...even children can answer this question pretty easily. Can you?

Let me guess...an authority you already trusted told you that, and you couldn't be bother to think about why the world was that way.

quote:
For instance, I trust doctors because they've healed me in the past, because most people I trust say doctors are effective, and because they learned their discipline through what I believe to be an effective medical education.
What do you believe that medical education consists of, if not learning the what the evidence and reason says about how the body functions, and what treatments work at making it better?

quote:
I actually have no idea how much firsthand knowledge of evidence my doctors have had about some of the things they deal with, since they were doctors and not research scientists.
You seem to think that no one but people in lab coats can know evidence. I don't see how an adult can go through life believing this. You would have to be the most incurious and helpless person alive for you to not have first-hand knowledge of some subject.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
If your religion has a very good track record of providing effective answers to problems in your life, would you consider that an experimental test?

A nuclear bomb is an effective method of demolishing a building. Doesn't mean it's a good method.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
If your religion has a very good track record of providing effective answers to problems in your life, would you consider that an experimental test?

Indeed, I do consider that an experimental test; since religion in fact has no answers, I discard it.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:


quote:
What do you think of the cosmological constant?
I don't understand the question.


I was asking if you believe the cosmological constant exists.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
I must say the question still looks rather ill-formed to me. Suppose I reformulate it: "Taking General Relativity as the description of spacetime, does the best fit to the observed universe require a nonzero expansionary term?" In that case, yes, as I understand it. To ask whether a number 'exists' or not is to enter deep water. You might as well ask whether the number 3 exists.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Indeed, I do consider that an experimental test; since religion in fact has no answers, I discard it.
Religion definitely has answers. For instance, if the question is "Should I cheat on my wife?", the answer from a given religion might be "Definitely not." Whether those answers are correct or not is up for debate.

Given you consider a good track record to be experimental evidence, if a person follows the answers given to them by a certain religious authority and those answers consistently lead to successful results in their life, then would you agree they are not crazy for placing a degree of trust in that authority?
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
I see how the way I worded it was ill-formed. I only asked the question because while Einstein came up with the theory but later rejected it due to lack of data. It has since appeared to be true after observing a supernova (1A?).


To bring a little humor into the thread:

http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Poof,_There_It_Is_Theory
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Religion definitely has answers. For instance, if the question is "Should I cheat on my wife?", the answer from a given religion might be "Definitely not." Whether those answers are correct or not is up for debate.
An answer which may or may not be correct is no better than flipping a coin; it is not answer at all but merely a refusal to say "I'm not sure".

quote:
Given you consider a good track record to be experimental evidence, if a person follows the answers given to them by a certain religious authority and those answers consistently lead to successful results in their life, then would you agree they are not crazy for placing a degree of trust in that authority?
Not without evidence that they do better than those who follow a different authority, or none. To do otherwise is to commit the fallacy post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
Indeed, I do consider that an experimental test; since religion in fact has no answers, I discard it.
Religion definitely has answers. For instance, if the question is "Should I cheat on my wife?", the answer from a given religion might be "Definitely not." Whether those answers are correct or not is up for debate.

Clearly by "has no answers," he meant, "has no useful answers of its own."
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
An answer which may or may not be correct is no better than flipping a coin; it is not answer at all but merely a refusal to say "I'm not sure".
My doctor's advice on how to best treat my cold may or may not be correct - but it is definitely better than flipping a coin. That's, in part, because he has a track record of being successful, which you've said counts as evidence in his favor. If a religious authority has a similar track record of success, then following that authority's advice is also better than flipping a coin.

quote:
Not without evidence that they do better than those who follow a different authority, or none. To do otherwise is to commit the fallacy post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
Do you believe that in order for me to trust the advice of my doctor, I must first have evidence that he will give better medical advice than any other doctor?
 
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
 
Insertion of religious randomness
 
Posted by Javert (Member # 3076) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
My doctor's advice on how to best treat my cold may or may not be correct - but it is definitely better than flipping a coin. That's, in part, because he has a track record of being successful, which you've said counts as evidence in his favor.

How is success determined? Are the getting similar kinds of advice from both sources? Can't the success of one be determined objectively while the other only subjectively?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
An answer which may or may not be correct is no better than flipping a coin; it is not answer at all but merely a refusal to say "I'm not sure".
My doctor's advice on how to best treat my cold may or may not be correct - but it is definitely better than flipping a coin. That's, in part, because he has a track record of being successful, which you've said counts as evidence in his favor. If a religious authority has a similar track record of success, then following that authority's advice is also better than flipping a coin.
I already agreed to this, while denying that religion has any such track record.

quote:
quote:
Not without evidence that they do better than those who follow a different authority, or none. To do otherwise is to commit the fallacy post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
Do you believe that in order for me to trust the advice of my doctor, I must first have evidence that he will give better medical advice than any other doctor? [/qb]
Well, as a practical matter you do exactly that every time you see a specialist; but the analogy is false. Doctor:priest::medical tradition:religion. So, you should have evidence that the doctor is working in a school that gives better results than other schools - and behold, indeed you have such evidence - not that he is the best practitioner of that school. Although, to be sure, that doesn't do any harm and rich people often do seek out doctors of high reputation, who charge accordingly.

[ May 11, 2010, 12:35 PM: Message edited by: King of Men ]
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
An answer which may or may not be correct is no better than flipping a coin; it is not answer at all but merely a refusal to say "I'm not sure".
My doctor's advice on how to best treat my cold may or may not be correct - but it is definitely better than flipping a coin. That's, in part, because he has a track record of being successful, which you've said counts as evidence in his favor.
Again, do you have even an inkling of why the doctor has a better track record than the faith healer? And no, "because they have better authorities" and "because I just believe they do" are not answers.

quote:
If a religious authority has a similar track record of success, then following that authority's advice is also better than flipping a coin.
So if a Muslim marriage counselor gives you excellent marraige advice, that makes her an authority in the divinity of Jesus?

If an LDS marraige counselor and a Muslim marriage counselor both give you the same marriage advice, whom do you believe is the beter authority on the question of who was the last and best prophet of God, and how do you decide that?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
You may be able to establish that a religious authority has a track recordof giving good social advice, but you can establish no such track record for supernatural advice.

My doctor is good at making me healthy, but I don't use that as a reason to take her advice on the nature of Hell.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
How is success determined? Are the getting similar kinds of advice from both sources? Can't the success of one be determined objectively while the other only subjectively?
It depends on the question. If the advice is "If you want X, you should do Y", then I'd say a success is indicated if you do Y and X occurs. If you have a pitching coach that says to perform certain drills to become a better pitcher, and if you perform those drills and afterwards are better able to pitch, that suggests (but doesn't prove) the advice was successful. If a religious authority says don't cheat on your spouse if you want a happy marriage, and if you don't cheat and later find yourself in a happy marriage, that suggests (but doesn't prove) the advice was successful. If the question is about something more subjective, or more objective, then determining its success will be more or less subjective accordingly.

quote:
I already agreed to this, while denying that religion has any such track record.
But I think if you ask religious people if their religious authorities have a good track record when it comes to giving helpful advice, most will confirm it does. And I don't think the opinion of a person on the internet is going to trump the evidence that they, themselves, have seen in regards to the track record of their trust authorities.

quote:
If an LDS marraige counselor and a Muslim marriage counselor both give you the same marriage advice, whom do you believe is the beter authority on the question of who was the last and best prophet of God, and how do you decide that?
I'll go with the same thing I said on page 12 of this thread: "Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record, the degree to which other trusted authorities say I should trust them, and my beliefs about how they learned what they claim to know." But the point you bring up is... what if the thing they are asking me to trust them about is something different from the subject they've proven they know about in the past. In that case, I'd have to figure out to what degree the two are linked. If they got their marriage advice from the person they consider the last and best prophet of God, then the two are slightly linked. I think its safe to say that good marriage advice by itself is not very strong evidence of one knowing the last and best prophet of God. I'd think for most people, reaching conclusions about the last and best prophet of God entails many different sorts of evidence and many different authorities which together point towards a given conclusion.

Edit: Expanding on that last point, heaven/hell and various other religious topics are subjects where it is essentially impossible to test a person's or thing's expertise. That means we have a choice between either trusting nobody about it, or trying to piece together what/who to trust based on what clues we do have available. Hence, even though it would make no sense to say "This priest gives good marriage advice, so she must be right about God!", it does make sense to try and use many pieces of evidence like that together to put together a picture of what seems most likely to be true. The alternative, trusting nothing at all, is no better than flipping a coin on that topic - or maybe more like saying "My vision is very blurry, so I'll see better if I just shut my eyes completely."

[ May 11, 2010, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
You are suggesting that we have a blurry view of supernatural things, but the only "evidence" is the word of the people who you are trusting based on the percevied quality of their "blurry" evidence. It's completely circular.

If you and I both try to look at X-rays, I don't see them any more clearly with my eyes open than you do with your eyes shut.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I'd think for most people, reaching conclusions about the last and best prophet of God entails many different sorts of evidence and many different authorities which together point towards a given conclusion.

Wonderful. How do you decide which authorities should be listened to, and which ones not?

Who is a trustworthy authority in the divinity of Jesus, and how did you decide that? And what do they posess that you lack, that they are so much more likely to know the truth than you?

quote:
Edit: Expanding on that last point, heaven/hell and various other religious topics are subjects where it is essentially impossible to test a person's or thing's expertise. That means we have a choice between either trusting nobody about it, or trying to piece together what/who to trust based on what clues we do have available.
Again, what distinguishes a person you should trust on the matter of Jesus's divinity from someone whom you should not trust? If this is a question of any import to you, you should have an answer you can articulate.

What would an authority know that you don't know?

And why is "I could draw my own conclusion based on the evidence" not even an option?

quote:
Hence, even though it would make no sense to say "This priest gives good marriage advice, so she must be right about God!",
But it does make sense to say "I believe in this authority, and not that one, therefore, Jesus was just a human prophet"?

quote:
The alternative, trusting nothing at all, is no better than flipping a coin on that topic - or maybe more like saying "My vision is very blurry, so I'll see better if I just shut my eyes completely."
Is trusting the conclusions of reason and evidence really "nothing at all" to you? Really, what do you think is so magically special about how other people draw conclusions that it's hopeless for you to even try?

But what if the problem isn't just with your eyes? What if everyone is having the same problem? Why is relying on someone else whose eyes are just as blurry smarter than shutting your eyes, and relying on more accurate information than your eyes can give you?
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
What "authorities possess that non-authorities do not possess is usually considerable study. Authorities know how to, for example read the texts in the original languages and understand the context in which they were written. They have been exposed the accumulated wisdom that generations of other people who have spent time studying have gathered.

"I could draw my own conclusion based on the evidence", is a perfectly valid option. Knowing how to interpret the evidence is not automatic and "authorities" - not just one, generations of them - are pretty helpful here.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
[QB] What "authorities possess that non-authorities do not possess is usually considerable study.

Holocaust deniers have churned out a lot of books, and I'm sure there are enough that one can spend a great deal of time "studying" them. You can't think that all that study makes one good authoritiy about the Jewish experience in WWII.

Just studying doesn't matter. You have to be studying something real.

quote:
Authorities know how to, for example read the texts in the original languages and understand the context in which they were written.
That can allow you to be able to accurately understand what the writers thought, but it doesn't help you if the writers were flat out wrong about the facts of the world. You can't get an accurate understanding of how the world was created by reading the Bible, no matter how flawless your undertanding of ancient Hebrew is.

And so what if scores of Muslims scholars thought that Mohammad was the last and best prophet of God? Your being able to read them accurately doesn't speak to the claim's truthfulness.

quote:
They have been exposed the accumulated wisdom that generations of other people who have spent time studying have gathered.
Again, there's a limit to how much real medicine you can practive based on Galen, no matter how many commentaries you read. If you want to treat cancer, you are better off ignoring Galen, and looking at cancer cells.

quote:
"I could draw my own conclusion based on the evidence", is a perfectly valid option. Knowing how to interpret the evidence is not automatic and "authorities" - not just one, generations of them - are pretty helpful here.
It wasn't in Tres's argument. He seems to be desparate to find an authority to tell him what to believe. Rhetorically, he has to. He can't cede that direct examination is superior to hearsay, because he doesn't like the conclusions that direct examination of the facts, and only the facts, leads to. So he has to find someone who believes what he does, and label them an authority, and cling to that.

My point is that true "authorities" are only such to the extent that they know the underlying evidence relevent to their area of expertice as is demonstrated by their claims in that field being falsifiable and not being falsified. You can do this in medicine. You just can't do this in theology. A theologian might know what all the different religious claims are, but the important ones are completely evidence-free, and always will be. Which makes absolutely no one a true and reliable authority on the truthfulness of most religious beliefs.

Tres will never find a true "authority" on the divinity of Jesus. His Muslim marriage counselor has exactly the same evidence available to her as the Pope has, and as Tres has.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
"Just studying doesn't matter. You have to be studying something real."

I beg to differ. In the example you gave, holocaust denial literature would be incredibly informative if looked at in certain ways. And I tend to think that people who draw such wildly inaccurate conclusions tend to reveal their biases fairly readily. So, you don't exactly get a reasoned look at the issue, accounting for all the details- you get something that should, I would think, look and feel horrendously tortured and malformed. I mean, look at Mein Kampf as an example of something like that. That book is bad... and not just in that it bespeaks horrifying things, but that it is just horrifying, unspeakably badly written, badly organized, janglingly off-kilter. I could never get through a paragraph of the thing the few times I've made the attempt without grimacing at the awfulness. Unsubtle intentions seem to breed fairly unsubtle clues, imo.

So yeah, Denial literature gives you no knowledge of the Jewish experience per se, but then neither does a chemistry textbook. There is other information there- other things to learn or to learn from. I think more fairly you should only go so far as to say that studying something in general isn't enough, one must know *how* to study.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Yes, but the point being made was that no amount of study of denialist literature would teach you anything about what happened at Buchenwald in 1943-45. It might teach you other things, but about its ostensible subject matter you would still be ignorant. But in the case of denialist literature, at least there is a there there; Buchenwald does in fact exist and there is is a fact of the matter as to what happened there in 1943-45. (Notice that denialists agree on both these points.) On most theological questions there is no fact of the matter, and the rest can usually be answered with a straightforward 'no'.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Well, I suppose the denial literature would be pretty useful if for instance it read something like: "There was most certainly not a camp here, and it most certainly did not hold 25,000 prisoners brought here by rail, and it most certainly was not in operation from 1943-5 and it most certainly was not a death camp, no way, no how."
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Actually I still don't think so, because it couldn't very well give evidence for its assertions or contradictions. But even at that, I must say I rather doubt you'll find any denialist literature quite so blatant.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Actually I still don't think so, because it couldn't very well give evidence for its assertions or contradictions. But even at that, I must say I rather doubt you'll find any denialist literature quite so blatant.

I've read a little bit of a few, just for the experience (and because I couldn't believe anyone was trying to deny it to be honest) and some of it is pretty much that. Saying Nope, nope nope, and covering their eyes.


Not a good example, perhaps. [Smile]
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
It wasn't in Tres's argument. He seems to be desparate to find an authority to tell him what to believe. Rhetorically, he has to. He can't cede that direct examination is superior to hearsay, because he doesn't like the conclusions that direct examination of the facts, and only the facts, leads to. So he has to find someone who believes what he does, and label them an authority, and cling to that.
You are making untrue assumptions about why I care about the position I hold on this. I am not on a quest to justify Christianity to you here. My concern is epistimological. I am a strong believer in reason, evidence, and skepticism - but I've followed skepticism to what seems to me to be its inescapable end. That end is this: If you question everything you can possibly question (Descartes-style) and accept only what you, yourself, can directly conclude from the facts you are certain of without trusting anything else, you end up concluding that you really can conclude almost nothing at all. You end up with so little reliable knowledge that you are unable to live reasonably, or to even approach important questions like what you should do in life or why you should do it.

quote:
My point is that true "authorities" are only such to the extent that they know the underlying evidence relevent to their area of expertice as is demonstrated by their claims in that field being falsifiable and not being falsified. You can do this in medicine. You just can't do this in theology.
You can't do this with most authorities. I can't falsify my grandfather's claims about his experiences in World War II, but he was in fact there so he is the authority on his experiences there.

Science is somewhat unique in that respect. But the downside of that is that science can only answer limited sorts of questions... only questions about testable topics.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
All topics are testable; unfortunately, theists tend to deny this. Would you like me to repost the story of Elijah doing the scientific experiment?
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
Tres, the point is not that you can't falsify your grandfather's specific claims because of circumstances. There are many falsifiable claims which remain unfalsifiable for this reason. The point is that you *could* falsify his claims if, say, he had a friend or two with him, and they told a different story, or if you tested his claims against experimentation or examination of the areas he talks about. That this is impractical is not important. It is not *impossible* to falsify those kinds of claims. It is impossible to falsify religious claims- there is no test, not just an impractical test method.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
All topics are testable

How would you test this?
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
quote:
The point is that you *could* falsify his claims if, say, he had a friend or two with him, and they told a different story, or if you tested his claims against experimentation or examination of the areas he talks about.
Falsifiable is usually a stricter standard than that. It only applies to general laws or truth claims, not individual events. A theory that states "Given such and such conditions, x will always happen" is falsified if an instance of x not happening under the stated conditions is observed. A claim about a currently existing object or phenomenon could also be falisfied, assuming it makes predictions about things that can be observed.

Stories about the past often don't make predictions subject to current observations. Tres's grandfather's two friends with conflicting accounts could cast considerable doubt on the truthfulness of his story, but that doesn't make it falsifiable.

That's part of the big debate over whether history can be considered a science.
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Now, I'm not skilled at general relativity, but it seems to me that "there is no universe like ours but with more time before the Big Bang" and "cosmological spacetimes are inextendable" are basically the same statement, but one is more technical. To say that one is due to the other, then, is not to add any information; it merely expresses the tautology, A equals A. Unless you are prepared to show the proof (as a side note, since GR is effectively mathematics, there can indeed be a 'proof' and not merely 'evidence'), the technical language is just an appeal to authority.

Well, it might be extendable in the future direction, or to cover some other missing piece (like how Schwarzschild space is extendable to cover the part inside the horizon). So being inextendable is a stronger condition than just not having "extra time before the Big Bang."
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
All topics are testable

How would you test this?
By trying to find a topic which was not testable. I note that when a theist refuses to admit that his hypothesis has been falsified, that is not a refutation of its falsifiability. As a side note, I should perhaps have inserted the adjective 'interesting' before 'topics' in my sentence.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Except that what you consider interesting may differ from what others believe interesting is.


Science is a tool, and a great one. But I am glad my life isn't ruled by it.

I can't quantify my feelings for my family, and I am not willing to "test" those feelings about them in any way, not by choice, yet they are real, and influence my every day decisions. You may be able to help explain HOW we feel feeling, or what chemical reactions happen when we feel these things, but it doesn't all boil down to those chemicals.

Thank God.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Actually, it does boil down to those chemicals.

Ironically, your unwillngness to accept this is aslo simply chemicals (and electricity, and brain wiring, if you want to be specific).
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
I can't quantify my feelings for my family, and I am not willing to "test" those feelings about them in any way, not by choice, yet they are real, and influence my every day decisions.

You confuse "I refuse to do X", and in fact "I refuse even to think about X", with "It is impossible to do X". These concepts are not the same.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
Nope. I am far more aware of the research in this area than you are, I would imagine. It's far more complex than you seem to think it is, and there is far more that we DON'T know than we do.


Human beings are complex beings, and are far more than the sum of their parts.
 
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
 
quote:
Human beings are complex beings, and are far more than the sum of their parts.
Just a quibble: when someone says "X is far more than the sum of its parts," they do not normally mean "X has a value that is supplemented by some supernatural force."

They mean that X, a final product with a certain amount of utility, has a utility higher than that possessed by each individual component of X, taken separately.

A watch, for example, is more than the sum of its parts; the glass, the gears, the band: all have some value, but nothing compared to the final product. You cannot tell time, for example, with a watchband. Nor can you easily balance a gear on your wrist.

People are more than the sum of their parts. That does not mean, however, that their feelings and conscious minds are somehow floating around in the aether, keeping their parts company; rather, their parts have been assembled (either by design or by random chance) in such a way that it makes feelings and minds possible, in much the same way that a watch has been assembled to make its functions possible.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Kwea:
Nope. I am far more aware of the research in this area than you are, I would imagine. It's far more complex than you seem to think it is, and there is far more that we DON'T know than we do.

This is not relevant to the question of whether something is knowable. I remind you of Lord Kelvin, saying something rather similar:

quote:
The influence of animal or vegetable life on matter is infinitely beyond the range of any scientific inquiry hitherto entered on. Its power of directing the motions of moving particles, in the demonstrated daily miracle of our human free-will, and in the growth of generation after generation of plants from a single seed, are infinitely different from any possible result of the fortuitous concurrence of atoms... Modern biologists were coming once more to the acceptance of something and that was a vital principle."
And now we have a pretty good explanation of how nerves move muscles, and indeed that explanation is old enough that Lord Kelvin's words lay well within living memory when it was first proposed. "Infitely beyond"? Pff. About 50 years beyond, at most. Now you are not likely to be as famous as Kelvin, but are you really sure you wish to make such a statement? You might find yourself being similarly laughed at a mere century from now.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
I don't know how aware of the research you are, but if you can point me to the research that tells us about the non-physical aspect of thought and emotion that requires some supernatural explanation, I'll eat my hat.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
It wasn't in Tres's argument. He seems to be desparate to find an authority to tell him what to believe. Rhetorically, he has to. He can't cede that direct examination is superior to hearsay, because he doesn't like the conclusions that direct examination of the facts, and only the facts, leads to. So he has to find someone who believes what he does, and label them an authority, and cling to that.
You are making untrue assumptions about why I care about the position I hold on this. I am not on a quest to justify Christianity to you here.
You are on a quest to denigrate the use of reason and evidence, in favor of trusting whatever authority you can pick who agrees with your personal judgment. Your religion is just the most important reason you have to pick this argument.

quote:
My concern is epistimological. I am a strong believer in reason, evidence, and skepticism - but I've followed skepticism to what seems to me to be its inescapable end. That end is this: If you question everything you can possibly question (Descartes-style) and accept only what you, yourself, can directly conclude from the facts you are certain of without trusting anything else,
You don't have to do that, and you know that. Accepting only authorities who possess the evidence is nearly as good as having the evidence yourself. It's not about authorities. It's about having the evidence, one way or another.

So, how did you decide which authority to trust on the question of Jesus's divinity again?

quote:
quote:
My point is that true "authorities" are only such to the extent that they know the underlying evidence relevent to their area of expertice as is demonstrated by their claims in that field being falsifiable and not being falsified. You can do this in medicine. You just can't do this in theology.
You can't do this with most authorities. I can't falsify my grandfather's claims about his experiences in World War II,
You have to be kidding. If I had medical records showing that your grandfather were in a TB treatment center from 1938-1947, that would falsify his claims. If he claimed to be using weaponry that wasn't invented until 1970, that would falsify his claims.

How useful is a claim that can't be reality tested anyway? If your grandfather said that he knew where a multi-million dollar treasure was buried, but that you would never find it on your own, and he wouldn't reveal it until you and yur family were dead broke, what would you do differently? Would you really drive yourself to the poor house based on your grandfather's unevidenced "authority"? I don't think so.

Or, forget your grandfather. I know where a multi-million dollar treasure is hidden. I don't intend to demonstrate that it exists, of course, but you have to accept me as the best authority you have on its existance.

So, send me an advance of $1000 as a show that you do trust my authority, and I'll use the money to arrange your travel to the treasure site. I'm your authority, so it's better that you trust me than draw conclusions yourself, isn't it?

Or are you going to run to your Mommy, and use her as an authority, so you can justify disregarding my obvious authority in the matter?

quote:
Science is somewhat unique in that respect. But the downside of that is that science can only answer limited sorts of questions... only questions about testable topics.
People bet money, and their lives on the accuracy of what the authority of science tells them. And it's as good bet as we fallible humans can make. What are you willing to risk on the strength of my unfalsifiable authority?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Or, forget your grandfather. I know where a multi-million dollar treasure is hidden. I don't intend to demonstrate that it exists, of course, but you have to accept me as the best authority you have on its existance.

So, send me an advance of $1000 as a show that you do trust my authority, and I'll use the money to arrange your travel to the treasure site. I'm your authority, so it's better that you trust me than draw conclusions yourself, isn't it?

This is a good example. You may be telling the truth or you may not be. If you are telling the truth, I stand to lose millions of dollars if I don't trust you. If you aren't, I stand to lose $1,000. So, it's up to me to figure out whether to trust you or not - which, again, I use a variety of factors to figure out, including your track record, my understanding of how you learned what you claim to know, and what other authorities have said about you. Sometimes these decisions can be obvious, and sometimes they can be extremely tricky, relying on countless inconclusive pieces of evidence that only begin to suggest an answer when all of them are put together.

In this case, everything seems to point to the conclusion that you are making this claim up for the sake of this argument, so I'm not going to trust you.

But, on the other hand, if all signs pointed to you telling the truth and you actually did know where a multi-million dollar treasure is hidden, I'd lose out big time if I failed to trust you simply because you could not provide evidence of your treasure that I could witness myself. This demonstrates the way in which it is possible for failing to trust a knowledgable authority to be extremely costly.

quote:
People bet money, and their lives on the accuracy of what the authority of science tells them. And it's as good bet as we fallible humans can make. What are you willing to risk on the strength of my unfalsifiable authority?
I bet my life every day on unfalsifiable authorities. For instance, I'm driving around a car at fairly high speeds on the authority of my mechanic who said it was safe to drive after he repaired it - despite the fact I know very little about how he was trained, his track record, or how carefully he has examined any sort of evidence, other than the fact that he works as a mechanic.

quote:
You are on a quest to denigrate the use of reason and evidence, in favor of trusting whatever authority you can pick who agrees with your personal judgment. Your religion is just the most important reason you have to pick this argument.
Not at all. I am as much into reason and evidence as KoM is. If I weren't, I wouldn't bother wondering about authorities and to what degree we rely on them.

But I'm not going to lie to myself - my everyday beliefs and choices don't stem solely from an infallible bedrock of evidence and reason. In order to make evidence and reason useful and live life, I must trust authorities.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
I am as much into reason and evidence as KoM is.
No you aren't, but you like to think you are. It is an unfortunate side effect of the enormous victories of reason over superstition that these days, even superstitious people like to put on the trappings of science; it gives them status, if only in their own minds. If it doesn't actually work for them, because they've only copied the superficial aspects - such as making statements like "I care about evidence", oh well. The surface is what matters, for most humans.
 
Posted by Xaposert (Member # 1612) on :
 
And you have falsifiable scientific evidence of this claim about these internal motivations? [Wink]
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Indeed I do: I derive it from a theory of human psychology, which is eminently testable. You keep confusing the specific with the general; it is legitimate to reason from the testable general to the the difficult-to-test specific, as dkw also tried to tell you.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
In this case, everything seems to point to the conclusion that you are making this claim up for the sake of this argument, so I'm not going to trust you.

So you would have had no good reason not to trust my sock puppet, if the sock puppet made exactly the same offer, and had exactly the same kind of evidence as your grandfather did about his WWII experiences (which you already claimed were unfalsifiable, but you trust anyway)

quote:
This demonstrates the way in which it is possible for failing to trust a knowledgable authority to be extremely costly.
How do you intend to figure out whether or not I'm a knowledgeable authority? If you believe that your grandfather played poker with a guy names Mickey from Chicago during the war, and he's an authority on that, then I'm just as good an authority when I say I learned about the treasure from someone I met at a party in Vegas.

How do you know that your authority on the divinity of Jesus is knowledgeable?

quote:
I bet my life every day on unfalsifiable authorities. For instance, I'm driving around a car at fairly high speeds on the authority of my mechanic who said it was safe to drive after he repaired it - despite the fact I know very little about how he was trained, his track record, or how carefully he has examined any sort of evidence, other than the fact that he works as a mechanic.
That's because you are lazy, not because the information is unknowable.

quote:
quote:
You are on a quest to denigrate the use of reason and evidence, in favor of trusting whatever authority you can pick who agrees with your personal judgment. Your religion is just the most important reason you have to pick this argument.
Not at all. I am as much into reason and evidence as KoM is.
KOM doesn't argue that people should ignore the conclusions of reason and evidence if their "personal judgment" tell them to. You do.

quote:
But I'm not going to lie to myself - my everyday beliefs and choices don't stem solely from an infallible bedrock of evidence and reason. In order to make evidence and reason useful and live life, I must trust authorities.
Okay, but for the millionth time, how do you pick those authorities?

My answer is that I pick mine based on how well they know the reason and evidence. And if they suggest a conclusion that goes against what my "personal judgement" says, I know that the smart thing to do is to ignore my personal judgement (which is probably ignorant, if not biased) and go with what the authority says reason and evidence shows. This is exactly what you claimed was immoral once on a previous thread.

And if people say they are authorities on subjects, but can't present their evidence, (like about what God wants, or whether Jesus is divine), I conclude they are lying or deluded, and I ignore them, because they aren't authorities at all. If the only "evidence" is my "personal judgment" which consists of a lot of things, including prejudices and biases and wishful thinking, it's too suspect to trust. Innocent people have died because some people trusted their own "personal judgment" when the evidence was non-existant.

But this can't be your way, because you trust all kinds of authorities on all kinds of topics where there is no reason or evidence, (and you can't explain why you trust them in the first place, you can't even figure out why docotrs are better at fixing people than shamans) and you have repeatedly said that trusting one's prejudices and biases and wishful thinking (which are all major componants of "personal judgment") is the right thing to do.

It's a typical theist ploy, to try and drag down reasonable people into the mud with you, by insisting that everyone is being just as irrational as you are. That trusting the process that makes life-saving vaccines is just as irrational as beliving that the right words spoken by the right man over a cup of wine make it the blood of a divine being. That believing that a time-tested airplane will fly is just as irrational as beliving that some people will be damned to eternal damnation, because they wrongly believe the good works will get them out of that penalty.

Well, these things aren't the same. Some beliefs can stand up to rigorous real world testing, and pass, and some can't, and sorry, but that does make the first kind better than the latter, because it makes the first kind far less likely to be wrong. You really want to argue that beliefs that are almost certainly wrong are better than beliefs that are almost certainly right? Be my guest, but make that argument plainly, rather than trying very hard to pretend that there is no difference there.
 
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
I don't know how aware of the research you are, but if you can point me to the research that tells us about the non-physical aspect of thought and emotion that requires some supernatural explanation, I'll eat my hat.

Never said it required supernatural. Just that it doesn't exclude it, and that I doubt we ever will be able to know all of what motivates us.

That's why psychology is a soft science. It isn't likely to ever be a precise as molecular biology.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
It doesn't exclude Brain Leprechauns either. So what?

What, besides the physical stuff of the brain, do you assume is causing your emotional responses?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Okay, but for the millionth time, how do you pick those authorities?
I will give the same quote I've given twice to this question is thread but this time I'll bold it so it is clearer: "Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record, the degree to which other trusted authorities say I should trust them, and my beliefs about how they learned what they claim to know." Other factors like my beliefs about their motives or the degree to which what they are saying conflicts with what I already believe also come into play - so it is a bit complicated. My beliefs about to what degree they know the evidence is definitely a factor, but it is not the only factor.

We can see if this method works, if you want... For instance, I have very little evidence of who you are or what access to multi-million dollar treausres you have, but was I correctly able to figure out that you were not telling the truth about having a multi-million dollar treasure you were going to give me?

quote:
But this can't be your way, because you trust all kinds of authorities on all kinds of topics where there is no reason or evidence, (and you can't explain why you trust them in the first place, you can't even figure out why docotrs are better at fixing people than shamans) and you have repeatedly said that trusting one's prejudices and biases and wishful thinking (which are all major componants of "personal judgment") is the right thing to do.
I have never said that trusting prejudices, biases, or wishful thinking is the right thing to do. Those things are just problematic side effects of trying to use good judgment. I think it makes sense to use evidence to check against those things when possible, but that it isn't always possible to check against them completely.

quote:
Some beliefs can stand up to rigorous real world testing, and pass, and some can't, and sorry, but that does make the first kind better than the latter, because it makes the first kind far less likely to be wrong. You really want to argue that beliefs that are almost certainly wrong are better than beliefs that are almost certainly right?
No, I don't. You are mixing "more likely to be wrong" with "almost certainly wrong". I'm okay with believing something that has a chance of being wrong, as long as it seems to me to be more likely right than wrong, if the other options are believing nothing at all or flipping a coin.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
I have never said that trusting prejudices, biases, or wishful thinking is the right thing to do.
Splendid, then you should stop doing so.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
Okay, but for the millionth time, how do you pick those authorities?
I will give the same quote I've given twice to this question is thread but this time I'll bold it so it is clearer: "Usually I decide which authorities to trust based on their track record, the degree to which other trusted authorities say I should trust them, and my beliefs about how they learned what they claim to know."
Why you think bolding the part where your answer is obviously circular eludes me.

If the question is "how do you pick your authorities", "I listened to the authorities I already picked" is obvioulsy a stupid answer.

But okay, so what is the "track record" with regard to your authority on the divinity of Jesus, for example?

Do you have even the slightest notion why medical doctors have a better "track record" that shamens when it comes to making people well?

quote:
Other factors like my beliefs about their motives or the degree to which what they are saying conflicts with what I already believe also come into play - so it is a bit complicated.
(emphasis mine)

Bingo. You already believe, for completely separate reasons, that there has to be something more to your mind than just your physical brain. So when the authorities who know how the brain's physical functions tell you that you are wrong, your soul beliefs "come into play", and you reject the authorities.

quote:
quote:
But this can't be your way, because you trust all kinds of authorities on all kinds of topics where there is no reason or evidence, (and you can't explain why you trust them in the first place, you can't even figure out why docotrs are better at fixing people than shamans) and you have repeatedly said that trusting one's prejudices and biases and wishful thinking (which are all major componants of "personal judgment") is the right thing to do.
I have never said that trusting prejudices, biases, or wishful thinking is the right thing to do.
It is a necessary consequence of your "personal judgment over reason and evidence" argument. It's a fantasy of yours to think otherwise.

Do you really think that every single time in history that a white man got a job over a more qualified woman or minority, that the decision was based solely on conscious malice, and not on someone having a "personal judgement" that the white guy was just 'better suited' for the job?

You actually argued that if reason and evidence said one thing, and one's pesonal judgement said something else, that it was immoral to not use one's personal judgment as the final arbiter of beliefs and decisions. And what are some prime reasons that a person's personal judgment might disagree with the observed facts? Bias, prejudice, and wishful thinking.


quote:
Those things are just problematic side effects of trying to use good judgment. I think it makes sense to use evidence to check against those things when possible, but that it isn't always possible to check against them completely.
No, they are problematic side effects of being fallible humans prone to making mistakes. The best defense against making mistakes is to reality test with evidence, but if you are going to ignore those results every time your "personal judgement" diagrees, then you will be wrong a lot.

quote:
quote:
Some beliefs can stand up to rigorous real world testing, and pass, and some can't, and sorry, but that does make the first kind better than the latter, because it makes the first kind far less likely to be wrong. You really want to argue that beliefs that are almost certainly wrong are better than beliefs that are almost certainly right?
No, I don't. You are mixing "more likely to be wrong" with "almost certainly wrong". I'm okay with believing something that has a chance of being wrong, as long as it seems to me to be more likely right than wrong, if the other options are believing nothing at all or flipping a coin.
I'm sorry, but your belief that Baby Jesus is waiting for you in Heaven does not fall into the category of "more likely to be right than wrong". The Neumann's belief that God wanted them to deny their child medical care doesn't fall into that category either. Neither does the belief that martyrs get 72 virgins in Heaven. You are deluding yourself if you think otherwise. Did you forget that it's stupid and dishonest to claim to be able to compare two probabilities when you have absolutely no idea what they both are?

But honestly, what's so scary about saying "If there is a God, I have no idea what s/he is like, or wants"? What's so paralyzingly terrifying about saying "If there is life after death, I have no idea what it's like, or how my actions in life affect what happens there"? Why is it better to cherry pick authorities who pretend that they know these things, or to wish really hard and believe one's own wishes, than to admit those simple conclusions? Its like saying that you can't go on living unless you know if the Cubs will ever win a world series. So rather than chalk it up as something that you can't learn right now, and maybe won't ever learn, you consult a magic 8-ball, and it tells you that they will, and then you go around telling everyone how much better off and happier you are that you know the answer, based on your great authority.

Let's say that someone has a religious belief that your herasy is so vile and dangerous that it would be better for you to be tortured into repenting of it (even if that torture has a chance of accidently killing you) than it is for you to continue living.

Of course, this person, like you, believes that their beliefs are more likely to be true than not. So when they put you and your spouse on the rack, and show you the thumbscrews, are you glad that they believe something (based on the best of authorities, all of whom have great track records, and are supported by more good authorities)? Or would you rather have had them come to the conclusion that their authorities on the state of your soul didn't know anything at all, and that since they had no evidence about the existance, let alone state of your soul, that they'd better not draw any conclusions at all about it?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Prediction: Tres will respond by pointing out that his non-testable beliefs don't have real-world consequences, and therefore they are ok. In other words, he has a double standard: He only applies his "prior belief" stuff when it doesn't have any chance of actually affecting his comfortable modern life.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
But okay, so what is the "track record" with regard to your authority on the divinity of Jesus, for example?
Well, my authority on that is Jesus' teachings - and if you repeatedly say a miracle is going to occur, and then it does occur, I consider that a pretty impressive track record. But that just kicks the can farther down the road... Then I assume you'd want to know what's the "track record" on the authority telling me that Jesus actually did predict miracles and actually did teach what I believe he taught. Those authorities are mainly the Bible and the Church, and both of those have an inconsistent track record. However, I haven't really seen an authority on the events of the life of Jesus with a better track record, and many other authorities I trust suggest it is worthwhile trusting the Bible and Church. Those factors together lead me to place some degree of trust in both. (However, I typically assume the Bible and Church may be flawed and mistaken when I'm given strong reason to believe they are mistaken on a given thing.)

quote:
Bingo. You already believe, for completely separate reasons, that there has to be something more to your mind than just your physical brain. So when the authorities who know how the brain's physical functions tell you that you are wrong, your soul beliefs "come into play", and you reject the authorities.
Yes, that's essentially right - although you oversimplify. There are many factors, so just coming into conflict with one belief of mine is not going to make me reject an authority by itself. I certainly don't expect authorities to be infallible, nor do I expect my prior beliefs to be always correct.

quote:
It is a necessary consequence of your "personal judgment over reason and evidence" argument.
Saying "X is good" is not equivalent to saying "Y is good because X is good and Y is a inevitable given X." Free speech is a good right to have, but that doesn't mean hateful speech is good, even though allowing free speech will make hateful speech inevitable.

Using your judgement is good, but that doesn't mean prejudices and biases are good, even though some prejudice and some bias is inevitable when people are asked to use their judgement.

quote:
But honestly, what's so scary about saying "If there is a God, I have no idea what s/he is like, or wants"? What's so paralyzingly terrifying about saying "If there is life after death, I have no idea what it's like, or how my actions in life affect what happens there"? Why is it better to cherry pick authorities who pretend that they know these things, or to wish really hard and believe one's own wishes, than to admit those simple conclusions?
Why do you and KoM spend countless pages of countless threads advocating a viewpoint when you could just as easily say "I have no idea whether religious people are right or not"?

I think its because you DO have an idea of whether religious people are right or not, even though you really can't prove it completely or convince them, and you consider the question important enough to life that its worth discussing and changing minds. And I think religious people feel the same way.

quote:
Let's say that someone has a religious belief that your herasy is so vile and dangerous that it would be better for you to be tortured into repenting of it (even if that torture has a chance of accidently killing you) than it is for you to continue living.

Of course, this person, like you, believes that their beliefs are more likely to be true than not. So when they put you and your spouse on the rack, and show you the thumbscrews, are you glad that they believe something (based on the best of authorities, all of whom have great track records, and are supported by more good authorities)? Or would you rather have had them come to the conclusion that their authorities on the state of your soul didn't know anything at all, and that since they had no evidence about the existance, let alone state of your soul, that they'd better not draw any conclusions at all about it?

I'd be glad they believed something, but I'd be unhappy that they believed the wrong thing.

People will sometimes believe the wrong things. They do it even when they think they are basing their beliefs on solid evidence. Being wishy-washy and believing nothing untestable is not the solution to this. The solution is to always try your best to examine your beliefs and use everything available, both evidence and authorities, to come up with the best beliefs possible. And the solution is to not become so attached to beliefs that you cannot accept that they might be flawed.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
However, I haven't really seen an authority on the events of the life of Jesus with a better track record, and many other authorities I trust suggest it is worthwhile trusting the Bible and Church
Oh dear, dear sweet Tres. It does not work this way. We do not trust an unreliable source because there are no reliable sources. Reliability is not relative in that way- while we can weight our trust of different sources, the lack of good sources does not make the bad sources better.

As for the second part- it *also* doesn't work that way. You don't get to establish the reliability of anything by saying that other people, with no established reliability on the matter, but whom you "trust," say it is reliable.

I trust my Mom not to steal my socks from the dryer, but she cannot establish the reliability of historical sources. If she told me the Bible was an historically accurate document, that would not make the Bible anything other than what it is. Even if she was a theologian, the fact that I simply trust her would not really be enough- I would have to find *her* reliable. Since theologians who actually believe the Bible cannot prove themselves to be reliable sources, because they believe in magic, among other things, they are not reliable.


5 years I've been posting here, and you still shock me with the way your brain works. You really do.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
you still shock me with the way your brain works
What brain? Tres's thinking is not done by any mundanely material object, as we all know; his brain is merely a device to cool the blood.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
Imagine there are two boxes that seem identical to you, and you are asked to choose one. One contains a million dollars. The other contains nothing. A random person is there who you know nothing at all about, but that random person says he has seen what's in the boxes and you should pick box #2. Your mom is also there and says she knows that guy and he wouldn't lie. Unfortunately, per the rules of the game, your mom is not allowed to tell you anything more.

Do you pick box #2 like the guy suggests? Or do you flip a coin and choose totally at random?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
The two options are the same; you're picking at random either way.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
Then there, perhaps, is the heart of our disagreement. I would say only the second option is random - and that any person that flips a coin in such a situation is not really being rational.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
But okay, so what is the "track record" with regard to your authority on the divinity of Jesus, for example?
Well, my authority on that is Jesus' teachings - and if you repeatedly say a miracle is going to occur, and then it does occur, I consider that a pretty impressive track record.
So there's a book where a character says a miracle will happen, and then the book says it happened, and that's proof that the character was real and divine?

You have to be kidding.

And really, you honestly think that not a single other religious text has the exact same scenario?

quote:
Then I assume you'd want to know what's the "track record" on the authority telling me that Jesus actually did predict miracles and actually did teach what I believe he taught.
You could answer the exact question I asked, rather than substituting one that you made up.

But no, I don't need you to demonstrate that your text says what it says. I can read it myself. Some evidence that what the text says actually happened would be nice.

Do you understand the difference between the two?

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Those authorities are mainly the Bible and the Church, and both of those have an inconsistent track record.
What "track record" are you looking at? And how did you determine that accuracy of it? I just want to know your method. Are you comparing every event that happened in the Bible, and looking for hard evidence that it happened? And you looking at all the times the Church made theological claims, and then backtracked?

Those might be the kind of things I'd look at, but I really have no idea what you are talking about.

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However, I haven't really seen an authority on the events of the life of Jesus with a better track record,
Again, I don't understand how you determined this, or what you think it means, and how you got from there to where you are. You read your one Bible text, and decided that since the texts were sometimes in agreement, that Jesus must be divine?

The Silmarillion is the best authority I have for the life of Turin Turumbar. What then should I conclude about his existence?

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and many other authorities I trust suggest it is worthwhile trusting the Bible and Church.
This is getting ridiculous. You can't possibly be this obtuse. Why do you trust those authorities? Are those "authorities" really authorities on Jesus? You already admitted that your Muslim marriage counselor was no authority on Jesus, so who are you claiming is, and why?

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Those factors together lead me to place some degree of trust in both. (However, I typically assume the Bible and Church may be flawed and mistaken when I'm given strong reason to believe they are mistaken on a given thing.)
But whom do you trust to tell you that the church is wrong? Science? I doubt it. Your own personal feelings? Seems a lot more likely.

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Bingo. You already believe, for completely separate reasons, that there has to be something more to your mind than just your physical brain. So when the authorities who know how the brain's physical functions tell you that you are wrong, your soul beliefs "come into play", and you reject the authorities.
Yes, that's essentially right - although you oversimplify.
That you for confirming that you are just as biased and hypocritical and I've been alleging all along.

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There are many factors, so just coming into conflict with one belief of mine is not going to make me reject an authority by itself.
Of course not. It has to be something that you believe very strongly. We all understand. Your belief in your soul is very important to you, and you aren't going to let a little thing like evidence about what is factually true get in the way of believing that what you wish were true is.

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It is a necessary consequence of your "personal judgment over reason and evidence" argument.
Saying "X is good" is not equivalent to saying "Y is good because X is good and Y is a inevitable given X."
I agree, but I have never made that argument. Your "personal judgment reigns supreme" method of decision making is necessarily going to give prejudice and wishful thinking enormous play. It's just part of being human. My "believe only what passes rigorous reality testing" minimizes prejudice and wishful thinking.

If you are really okay with the trade-off, then just say so. If your right to indulge in your wishful thinking is so important to you that you are willing to defend everyone else's right to do it, knowing how much harm that behavior can, and historically has caused, then just openly say so.

Or, if you want to say that you reserve the right to believe and act however your "personal judgment" dictates, but other people can't do that if their "personal judgment" disagrees with yours (and this pretty much is what you did when you said that schools shouldn't teach that your religious beliefs were false, but they should teach that beliefs you disagreed with were), then you should just say so plainly.

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But honestly, what's so scary about saying "If there is a God, I have no idea what s/he is like, or wants"? What's so paralyzing terrifying about saying "If there is life after death, I have no idea what it's like, or how my actions in life affect what happens there"? Why is it better to cherry pick authorities who pretend that they know these things, or to wish really hard and believe one's own wishes, than to admit those simple conclusions?
Why do you and KoM spend countless pages of countless threads advocating a viewpoint when you could just as easily say "I have no idea whether religious people are right or not"?
I have an acquaintance who died a year ago in hospice, and her end was not made any easier by the fact that people like you decided, in the wisdom of their "personal judgment", that the relationship between her and her longtime partner was sinful and evil. They of course, had no evidence that this was the case, but they had their trusted authorities, just like you, and even had the "track record" of the Bible backing them up. Does this reasoning sound familiar? Maybe if some of the human time and energy wasted on trying to placate a God that no one can even demonstrate exists had been directed towards medical research, my acquaintance might have made it to her 40th birthday.

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Let's say that someone has a religious belief that your heresy is so vile and dangerous that it would be better for you to be tortured into repenting of it (even if that torture has a chance of accidently killing you) than it is for you to continue living.

Of course, this person, like you, believes that their beliefs are more likely to be true than not. So when they put you and your spouse on the rack, and show you the thumbscrews, are you glad that they believe something (based on the best of authorities, all of whom have great track records, and are supported by more good authorities)? Or would you rather have had them come to the conclusion that their authorities on the state of your soul didn't know anything at all, and that since they had no evidence about the existence, let alone state of your soul, that they'd better not draw any conclusions at all about it?

I'd be glad they believed something, but I'd be unhappy that they believed the wrong thing.
Really? You'd rather see your spouse scream on the rack that admit that skepticism isn't such a bad thing?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
You are oversimplifing, if you want the box analogy to hold any resemblance to your real-life choices.

You need to add several other trustable people telling you that the box your mom doesn't support has the money.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Actually, you need quite a few extra boxes, each with their own set of supporters; also, the assertion was made that one box contains the million dollars, but in real life this is not given - there is a vocal faction who say they've never seen any million dollars, and neither has anyone else, so why spend a lot of brainpower and crowbar work on this when you could go out and make some money with your own hands, and be a useful engine in the process?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
The two box example is not an argument by analogy. It is a counterexample - which is why I made it intentionally simple. If you agree with me that it is rational to choose Box #2 rather than pick randomly, then it refutes Orinoco's suggestion that you should never trust a less trustworthy source just because (A) other people you do trust say it is trustworthy and (B) when no more trustworthy source of information is available. Both (A) and (B) occur in the two box example, and no other information is available to make the stranger trustworthy, yet I think it is still rational to trust him and choose Box #2.
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
In your extreme example, of course it makes sense to pick box number 2. But your example is so simplified as to be completely irrelevant. Orincoro's point wasn't that you should never trust authorities ever. Merely that if you rely on trustworthy people TO THE EXCLUSION OF ACTUAL ANALYSIS OF EVIDENCE, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
[QB] The two box example is not an argument by analogy. It is a counterexample - which is why I made it intentionally simple.

You didn't make it simple, you made it bad.

In your analogy, it was a given that your authority has looked in the box. But that's not true in religion. And in real life, there are costs associated with picking some boxes over others.

So make your "authority" someone who can't demonstrate that he's seen the contents of the box, and is in fact selling it to your for $1000, and you've got pretty much what happens when religious charletans con their fellow believers out of their money.

In fact, once I befriend your Mom so she'll vouch for me, it's the same scenario that I presented yesterday, that you were sure you should reject.

But really, if you are willing to see your spouse be tortured rather than admit that skepticism is safer than believing totally unfounded things, you shoudln't have any problem handing over your money.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Merely that if you rely on trustworthy people TO THE EXCLUSION OF ACTUAL ANALYSIS OF EVIDENCE, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.
That wasn't what we were talking about though... I agree completely that we shouldn't exclude actual analysis of evidence. But we were discussing the trustworthiness of the Biblical account of Jesus. The question was whether I should trust the Bible given there wasn't other evidence available or some more trustworthy authority contradicting it. Orinoco said "We do not trust an unreliable source because there are no reliable sources."

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In your analogy, it was a given that your authority has looked in the box. But that's not true in religion. And in real life, there are costs associated with picking some boxes over others.

So make your "authority" someone who can't demonstrate that he's seen the contents of the box, and is in fact selling it to your for $1000, and you've got pretty much what happens when religious charletans con their fellow believers out of their money.

In my box example, all we know is that the random persons SAYS he looked in the box, and that the mother says to trust him. We don't know whether he actually looked in the box for sure.

In that example, given there's no other information available at all, would you pick at random rather than listen to the person's potentially unreliable advice?

quote:
But really, if you are willing to see your spouse be tortured rather than admit that skepticism is safer than believing totally unfounded things, you shoudln't have any problem handing over your money.
You did not mention in the example you gave that my spouse would avoid getting tortured if I was willing to admit that. I'd probably admit whatever they wanted me to admit to avoid my spouse being tortured.
 
Posted by scifibum (Member # 7625) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
In your extreme example, of course it makes sense to pick box number 2. But your example is so simplified as to be completely irrelevant. Orincoro's point wasn't that you should never trust authorities ever. Merely that if you rely on trustworthy people TO THE EXCLUSION OF ACTUAL ANALYSIS OF EVIDENCE, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure.

Or, at least, criticism on the Internet. [Wink]
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
quote:
In that example, given there's no other information available at all, would you pick at random rather than listen to the person's potentially unreliable advice?
Of course, but in your example there is a) no downside to picking a box, b) no distinguishing features between the boxes, i.e. you don't have the capability of using rationality as opposed to trusting authorities, c) you are forced to pick at least one of the boxes. The second point is probably the biggest flaw with the analogy.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
[QUOTE]In your analogy, it was a given that your authority has looked in the box. But that's not true in religion. And in real life, there are costs associated with picking some boxes over others.

So make your "authority" someone who can't demonstrate that he's seen the contents of the box, and is in fact selling it to your for $1000, and you've got pretty much what happens when religious charletans con their fellow believers out of their money.

In my box example, all we know is that the random persons SAYS he looked in the box, and that the mother says to trust him. We don't know whether he actually looked in the box for sure. In that example, given there's no other information available at all, would you pick at random rather than listen to the person's potentially unreliable advice?
It's still a bad analogy. If my scales, which are accurate enough to distinguish boxes form many other items, can't distinguish the difference between a clearly empty box, and the box that supposedly has a million dollars in it, and if the evidence suggests that it is impossible for anyone to have looked in the box, and I was being asked to pay for the privilage of owning this box, whose contents wouldn't be opened until after I'd spent a million dolalrs, then no, I wouldn't. I'd be better off with the free empty box then paying any amount of money on what the evidence shows is almost certainly another empty box.

quote:
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But really, if you are willing to see your spouse be tortured rather than admit that skepticism is safer than believing totally unfounded things, you shoudln't have any problem handing over your money.
You did not mention in the example you gave that my spouse would avoid getting tortured if I was willing to admit that. I'd probably admit whatever they wanted me to admit to avoid my spouse being tortured.
I can't believe I have to hold your hand through the simplest of intellectual exercises.

In your city, where everyone's personal judgment reigns supreme, everyone has strong beliefs and authorities with good track records supported by other good authorities, that the other believers are vile heretics whose souls are in dire danger every day they live without repenting. So everyone believes that this danger is so deep that there is literally no measure too extreme that could be undertaken to help the poor blind deluded heretics. Or maybe they have a little doubt, but they feel they are more likely to be right than not. So when they put your spouse on the rack, they honestly believe they are helping her.

In my city, people believe what the evidence shows them. They see no evidence for a God, and certainly no evidence about what such a being wants, if it exists. They see no evidence for a soul, and certainly none that your spouse's is in some kind of immortal danger. They conclude that torturing you wouldn't yield any detectable good effect to you, so they have no reason to do it.

Which city would you be safer in? Mine or yours? Which city would you really rather live in; the one where people act based on whatever wild beliefs their "personal judgment" supports, or the one where people are expected to act with an eye to demonstratable real world consequences, no matter how strongly their personal judgment tells them to do otherwise?
 
Posted by theamazeeaz (Member # 6970) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
In that example, given there's no other information available at all, would you pick at random rather than listen to the person's potentially unreliable advice?
Of course, but in your example there is a) no downside to picking a box, b) no distinguishing features between the boxes, i.e. you don't have the capability of using rationality as opposed to trusting authorities, c) you are forced to pick at least one of the boxes. The second point is probably the biggest flaw with the analogy.
But Raymond, there is a DOWNSIDE to not picking mom's box. She's going to be disappointed you didn't listen to her, and you are going to have hear all about it in the car on the way home.
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
quote:
Which city would you be safer in? Mine or yours?
It is worth noting that this is not answering Tres' question. The point we're SUPPOSED to be talking about right now is evidence, in the real world, that evidence is superior to authority figures. (oddly enough, the simple fact that evidence in favor of evidence is preferable to an authority figure telling us that evidence is better is rather telling).

Instead we've been talking about hypotheticals. Tres did bring up the box thing which was a very flawed analogy, but it was also a simple one to illustrate a particular point, that authority is not meaningless. Whereas your hypothetical requires a large number of assumptions, none of which are obvious. All things being equal, people DO tend to go with what their authority figure says because it's better than guessing blindly.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Damn! I was going to try to get post number 666 in this thread. [Frown]
 
Posted by Raymond Arnold (Member # 11712) on :
 
Yeah, I wanted to comment on that but couldn't think of anything clever to say.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Of course, but in your example there is a) no downside to picking a box, b) no distinguishing features between the boxes, i.e. you don't have the capability of using rationality as opposed to trusting authorities, c) you are forced to pick at least one of the boxes. The second point is probably the biggest flaw with the analogy.
quote:
It's still a bad analogy.
Again... it is a counterexample, not an argument by analogy. It's not supposed to be similar to religion. It's supposed to show that the assertion Orinoco was making does not hold true in that case.

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Which city would you be safer in? Mine or yours?
I don't think "your" city could exist. Human beings need to trust authorities on a daily basis simply to survive in a society - it's part of life. Even simple things require trust, like the first time you stand next to a road and trust the random person driving down the street won't run you over, even though you have no idea who that person is or have any evidence about them.

We could create a city where everyone attempts to use evidence and only evidence as the standard on which beliefs should be based, and where basing beliefs on authority is considered wrong and irrational. I suspect this would lead to the inability of one generation to transfer wisdom to the next generation, and would end up resulting in a much more dangerous city. And there'd still be extremists, who would have convinced themselves their extreme views are proven by the evidence, even when they aren't.
 
Posted by Destineer (Member # 821) on :
 
Tres's counterexample to Orincoro looks good to me. As KoM has pointed out previously in this thread, weak evidence is still evidence.
 
Posted by theamazeeaz (Member # 6970) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
Damn! I was going to try to get post number 666 in this thread. [Frown]

I didn't notice. Sweet that it was mine!
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
The two box example is not an argument by analogy. It is a counterexample - which is why I made it intentionally simple. If you agree with me that it is rational to choose Box #2 rather than pick randomly, then it refutes Orinoco's suggestion...

'fraid not. Trusting your mother not to lie to you about people she knows, and trusting that her religious beliefs are right are not the same thing. Full stop. For starters, you can establish a level of reliability with your family about real world stuff- would she lie? Would she never lie to me? Religious beliefs are not about lying necessarily, they are about being mistaken, and having mistaken beliefs. What comes from that is not a lie- it's the perpetuation of an error.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Maybe the guy your mom trusts is a con man, or a sociopath, and the "money" box he recommends has a deadly snake inside.

Making bets on only the authority of someone you "trust" because someone else tells you that they trust the person, for apperantly no good reason, isn't necessarily better than chance - it may be far worse.

Here's a concrete example:
I trust my cousin. The other day she emailed me a virus, which she received from someone she trusted. If I had opened the attachment based on that trust, rather than looked for evidence of it's safety, I would have spent hours fixing my computer.

Unvarifiable authority figures are just as likely to be wrong as you are. You're only moving the random guess up one level, so you don't have to take responsibility for it. You can use the authority as a scapegoat if you guessed wrong.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
That's a fairly good analogy for religion. It's a viral meme that doesn't want to be killed, and loves to find new ways of spreading itself among people.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
Which city would you be safer in? Mine or yours?
I don't think "your" city could exist. Human beings need to trust authorities on a daily basis simply to survive in a society - it's part of life.
How often do I have to repeat myself? In my city, people do trust some authorities, in proportion to how well the authority knows the reason and evidence. In your city, you trust authorities based on how much your Mom likes them, and how closely what they tell you matches with what you already believe. So you trust your set of inquisitors torturing the other guy, because you already believe that their beliefs are correct, and everyone in your community likes him.

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Even simple things require trust, like the first time you stand next to a road and trust the random person driving down the street won't run you over, even though you have no idea who that person is or have any evidence about them.
No, because the person teaching you how to cross the street safely has all the reason and evidence they need to know that their method works

Again, can you really not explain the doctor has a better track record than the shaman when it comes to healing people's bodies?

I think you can't, because then you'll have to admit that there is a concrete difference between good authorities and bad ones, and you will have to admit that you rely on authorities who don't meet the criteria of good ones.

But I'm going to keep asking anyway. I think your glaring silence on the simplest of question is edifying.

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We could create a city where everyone attempts to use evidence and only evidence as the standard on which beliefs should be based, and where basing beliefs on authority is considered wrong and irrational. I suspect this would lead to the inability of one generation to transfer wisdom to the next generation,
No, it wouldn't because people would believe the authorities whose claims survived reality testing, knowing that those claims are grounded in evidence and reason

quote:
And there'd still be extremists, who would have convinced themselves their extreme views are proven by the evidence, even when they aren't.
For goodness sake; I never said that my city would be perfect. Its populated by fallible humans. That's why reality testing is so important! My city reality test everything it can. Your city doesn't because they just trust "authorities".
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
That's a fairly good analogy for religion. It's a viral meme that doesn't want to be killed, and loves to find new ways of spreading itself among people.

I find t fascinating to compare the survival mechanisms of various religions. Some of them are amazingly clever.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:

quote:
Even simple things require trust, like the first time you stand next to a road and trust the random person driving down the street won't run you over, even though you have no idea who that person is or have any evidence about them.
No, because the person teaching you how to cross the street safely has all the reason and evidence they need to know that their method works


Because no one gets hit by cars?
 
Posted by Samprimary (Member # 8561) on :
 
in honor of this thread, every other day is now no prayer day
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
No, because some methods of crossing the street show testable, repeatable evidence for being far safer than others.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Maybe the guy your mom trusts is a con man, or a sociopath, and the "money" box he recommends has a deadly snake inside.

Making bets on only the authority of someone you "trust" because someone else tells you that they trust the person, for apperantly no good reason, isn't necessarily better than chance - it may be far worse.

Here's a concrete example:
I trust my cousin. The other day she emailed me a virus, which she received from someone she trusted. If I had opened the attachment based on that trust, rather than looked for evidence of it's safety, I would have spent hours fixing my computer.

Unvarifiable authority figures are just as likely to be wrong as you are. You're only moving the random guess up one level, so you don't have to take responsibility for it. You can use the authority as a scapegoat if you guessed wrong.

All of these are possibilities - that's the risk you take when you place trust in someone or something. But sometimes the greatest risk is taking no risk, and I think that is the case when it comes to trusting things. I think on balance, refusing to trust anyone on the grounds that they aren't necessarily telling the truth is going to result in you having fewer accurate beliefs than trusting people who seem to you to be truthful, even if you will be at risk of accepting a false belief.

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In my city, people do trust some authorities, in proportion to how well the authority knows the reason and evidence.
How do people in your city know how well a given authority knows the reason and evidence?

I mean, there are religious authorities who say they can talk to God at will. That's about as well as one could possibly know the evidence of God. The only trouble is, its not always easy to figure out whether they really know the evidence that well or whether they just say they do.

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Again, can you really not explain the doctor has a better track record than the shaman when it comes to healing people's bodies?
The doctor has a better track record because I've gone to doctors many times and was healed, whereas I've never gone to a shaman. If I went to a shaman and he consistently healed me, then I might change my mind. But since I haven't, I must conclude the doctor has a good track record because the things he's been taught are mostly true, whereas I can't assume anything about the shaman.

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My city reality test everything it can. Your city doesn't because they just trust "authorities".
I never said people should only trust authorities. I explicitly said that people should check beliefs against the evidence whenever possible.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
I mean, there are religious authorities who say they can talk to God at will. That's about as well as one could possibly know the evidence of God.

I mean, there are authorities on the contents of this $1000 box who say they know there's a million dollars in it. That's about as well as one could possibly know the evidence of what's in the box.

Your torturer also claims he can talk to God at will. So shouldn't you trust him instead of trusting no one? He's sincerely trying to help you, after all.

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The only trouble is, its not always easy to figure out whether they really know the evidence that well or whether they just say they do.
Great. So our Muslim religious authority claims that God told him that Jesus was only a prophet, and not divine.

How do you determine if he really knows the evidence or just says so?

How do you convince your torturer that your religious beliefs are correct?

Don't weasel out by saying it's "hard to do", just say how it's done.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
I claim that my Brain Leprechaun saved you from a deadly cobra last week, so you owe him $500, and he'll let you just pay me off.

Better to trust me than nobody, right? Put your money where your mouth is.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
I still fail to understand why you think that if one doesn't use evidence and "reason" exclusively, that one can't use them at all.
 
Posted by Orincoro (Member # 8854) on :
 
This thread now makes me want to do that move from Star Trek Wrath of Khan where I turn the phaser on myself because I can't withstand the earwig any longer.
 
Posted by swbarnes2 (Member # 10225) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I still fail to understand why you think that if one doesn't use evidence and "reason" exclusively, that one can't use them at all.

I'm not saying "can't". I'm saying "won't". I'm sure that you and Tres are exemplary in using reason and evidence in situations where reason and evidence tell you what you want to hear. And I bet you use it in sitautions where you would quickly face dire consequences for not using it. But will you accept the conclusions of reason and evidence when they fly in the face of your chosen religious beliefs? Or will you "choose to believe" whatever the hell you want to?

I'm arguing that once someone argues "I won't use reason and evidnece in situation X", that people will start deciding that every situation where reason and evidence tell them something they don't want to think is true is true, (and the consequences for being wrong are small, at least for them personally) they'll classify that sitaution as another example of X.

For instance, the scientific evidence is clear that there's nothing psychologically unhealthy about being gay. This disagrees with many people's religious beliefs. When presented with the evidence, how many of those people do you think will conclude their religious beliefs were wrong, and how many will conclude that this must be one of those times where science just can't address the question? And will this attitude be confined to this one question, or will people who glom onto it once apply it over and over again?

The virtue of reality testing with reason and evidence is that they show you when you are wrong. If you allow yourself the escape clause of deeming reality-testing unsuitable whenever its conclusions don't agree with what you previously "chose to believe", how will you catch your mistakes?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Tres is saying that in situations where you don't know something, and someone else claims to, it is often better just to accept their authority.

Now stop for just a moment, and think about what kind of person is going to seek out lazy or impressionable people and try to convince them of things?

People with good motivations don't make a practice of fooling and manipulating others. It's the power mongers, the con artists, the sociopaths who seek out people who want to be told what to believe.

Would ponzi schemes, cults, and institutionalized prejudice (among many other ills) be nearly as common if more people valued evidence and demanded a higher standard to believe people, rather than simply accepted the word of authority figures who tell them things they wish were true?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:

For instance, the scientific evidence is clear that there's nothing psychologically unhealthy about being gay.

Heh, wow, really? That's a pretty bold statement to make about a very large topic. And just to be clear, I would be just as immediately skeptical if you had said, "Scientific evidence is clear there is nothing psychologically unhealthy about birth control," even though I most certainly don't think there is anything psychologically unhealthy in doing so.

I would be very interested to hear what scientific studies you could possibly be referencing that are sufficiently broad in scope to answer the question you claim it has answered.

ETA: To be even more clear, I don't believe there is anything psychologically unhealthy about being gay, any more than there are things psychologically unhealthy about being heterosexual. But your claim that scientific evidence is 'clear' on such a subject...well, it's statements like that that make me think perhaps there isn't as much daylight between you and Tresopax as you'd like to think.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
If you allow yourself the escape clause of deeming reality-testing unsuitable whenever its conclusions don't agree with what you previously "chose to believe", how will you catch your mistakes?
I am not arguing you should overrule reality-testing simply simply because you "choose to believe". I am saying that there are many cases where reality-testing is either impossible or cannot give conclusive results (like regarding the truth of my Grandpa's old war stories). In those many cases, I am saying it is wise to consider the input of trusted authorities on the issue too, along with the other evidence.

quote:
Now stop for just a moment, and think about what kind of person is going to seek out lazy or impressionable people and try to convince them of things?
Teachers. Experts of many sorts. Journalists do this as a profession. I think it is pretty common if you've learned something that you consider important to want to convince other people of it, even people who may not have the time or ability to do the research you did to learn that thing.

quote:
Would ponzi schemes, cults, and institutionalized prejudice (among many other ills) be nearly as common if more people valued evidence and demanded a higher standard to believe people, rather than simply accepted the word of authority figures who tell them things they wish were true?
Yes, the risk of lies are the danger that comes with trusting authorities. But the flip side, if you are too afraid to trust an authority, is the danger of missing out on important information. Which danger is worse? As kmbboots suggested, I don't think you have to make that choice - you can use both authorities and evidence together to minimize the downsides of using each alone.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I still fail to understand why you think that if one doesn't use evidence and "reason" exclusively, that one can't use them at all.

I'm not saying "can't". I'm saying "won't". I'm sure that you and Tres are exemplary in using reason and evidence in situations where reason and evidence tell you what you want to hear. And I bet you use it in sitautions where you would quickly face dire consequences for not using it. But will you accept the conclusions of reason and evidence when they fly in the face of your chosen religious beliefs? Or will you "choose to believe" whatever the hell you want to?


Show me where my religious beliefs fly in the face of reason and evidence.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Every time you say "Choose to believe", a lab rat dies, messing up someone's experimental results.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Tres: Lets go back to my brain leprechaun, who saved you from a cobra the other day. Clearly you didn't die from a cbra bite. In fact, I'm certain that you never evensaw the cobra approaching you - that's how good Roger (the leprechaun) is.

So you can't reality test this assertion, and the available evidence seems to support my claim (no cobra, you're not dead), why aren't you believing my claim and sending me $500?

The downside to not believing is that Roger will put you down further on the list, so much higher danger of cobra attack. Deadly cobra attack.

By all your stated criteria, you should be believing me, rather than believing nothing. Where's my $500, or why is this case outside your normal rules?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Kmbboots: Religious beliefs frequently claim that prayer produces real world, physical changes. All credible evidence shows that prayer produces no results, yet most religious people continue to pray for things to happen, or ask others to pray for things to happen on their behalf.
 
Posted by katharina (Member # 827) on :
 
quote:
All credible evidence shows that prayer produces no results,
To you, because if results did occur, you would no longer consider it credible.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
MightyCow, I think that you misunderstand my religious beliefs regarding prayer. Not surprising or your fault, they are complicated and difficult to articulate.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Tres: Lets go back to my brain leprechaun, who saved you from a cobra the other day. Clearly you didn't die from a cbra bite. In fact, I'm certain that you never evensaw the cobra approaching you - that's how good Roger (the leprechaun) is.

So you can't reality test this assertion, and the available evidence seems to support my claim (no cobra, you're not dead), why aren't you believing my claim and sending me $500?

Because you aren't an established authority for me, because your claim contradicts numerous other beliefs I have about the world, and because as best I can tell you seem to be making that story up for the sake of this argument.

My criteria is definitely not "If someone tells you something, believe it regardless of how much it conficts with everything else you know or believe."
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Katharina: You mean if faulty methodology produced "results" then yes, I would disregard them. Show me some testing that shows prayer works under good scientific procedures, and I'll consider it credible.

Scientific testing, unlike religious belief, isn't "right" when it gives us the answer we want to hear. It's "right" when it controls for chance and bias, is conducted accurately, etc.


Kmbboots: I am aware that you hold beliefs that are completely non representative of 99.999% of other religious people, so I generally comment on the majority, rather than your specific case, which I'm sure would take a lifetime of study to adequately understand. Just assume that all coments are in regard to mainstreem religius beliefs, generally Christianity, and probably do not adequately address your personal offshoot.

At the same time, you should not argue under the impression that arguments from your beliefs hold much water with most Christians.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Tres: what makes my claim less compelling than someone else's claim that the Bible is the authority on God?

As others have pointed out, it seems to be that you accept baseless claims if they say what you want to hear, and ignore baseless claims if you prefer a world in which they are not true.

You want the box to contain a million dollars, so unverified guesses are liekly valid. You don't want to send me $500, so my leprechan claim doesn't pass muster.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
MightyCow, I am really not all that unique. Look at Loyola's concepts of prayer and meditation for example.
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
This thread now makes me want to do that move from Star Trek Wrath of Khan where I turn the phaser on myself because I can't withstand the earwig any longer.

Ah, but in Star Trek you wouldn't even be having this conversations, because humans are just descendants of an ancient alien race, and cousins to Klingons and Romulans!

Bonus points if you can name the TNG episode in which that was presented.
 
Posted by rivka (Member # 4859) on :
 
The concept of the Preservers was presented long before TNG.

(And the episode I believe you are alluding to is "The Chase".)
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
Tres: what makes my claim less compelling than someone else's claim that the Bible is the authority on God?
It depends a lot on the details of who they are, the context within which they are making the claim, how they explain knowing that claim, etc. Also, the Bible seems to be consistent with other already-justified beliefs of mine in ways that your claim is not.

quote:
As others have pointed out, it seems to be that you accept baseless claims if they say what you want to hear, and ignore baseless claims if you prefer a world in which they are not true.
Why? Why would I care whether Brain Leprechauns exist? If you told me the Leprechauns would give me gold coins, I'd want them to exist, but I'd be no more convinced that you were telling me the truth. Swbarnes claimed he would give me a million dollars earlier in this thread. I defintely would WANT him to be telling the truth about that - yet I rejected his claim as not true in my judgement. So there's not really any connection there between what I want to hear and the authorities I've advocated accepting.

In fact, this entire argument I'm giving is something I'd prefer not to be true. I would very much have liked to be able to construct a perfect belief system out of infallible assumptions, Descartes-style. I like the idea of Foundationalism. I'd prefer that I would never have to justify anything I believe on something as flimsy as "He told me so". Nevertheless, evidence and reason do not point in the direction I want them to. Reason dictates that reason and evidence alone can't provide me with many answers at all, at least not the answers to the questions I need to know to get through everyday life. So I was forced to take a position I'd perfer I didn't have to.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
How does believing any one particular religious book over the other options allow you to get through everyday life?

What forces you to accept that a different religion from yours isn't the correct one, or that none at all are?

edit: You mentioned that the Bible was consistent with other already-justified beliefs you hold, which makes you more likely to believe the unprovable parts.

If I make a long laundry list of things that you and I both believe in common, does that make me more trustworthy, regarding the Brain Leprechauns?
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
How does believing any one particular religious book over the other options allow you to get through everyday life?
I wasn't referring to religion in that case - I was referring to the fact that I have to trust authorities and assumptions to get through everyday life. For instance, if my doctor says a pill will heal me and not kill me, I have to trust him if I am unable to go back and do the research myself at that particular moment in my life. Or even far simply things, like trusting google maps when it says I need to follow a given set of directions to get to the place I want to go.

quote:
What forces you to accept that a different religion from yours isn't the correct one, or that none at all are?
I believe its likely that many world religions are in some part correct, and that mine is probably not completely correct. I accept mine because it seems close to being correct, given everything I've seen and know and trust from authorities. No single thing forces me to - its a combination of many things that leads me to that conclusion.

quote:
If I make a long laundry list of things that you and I both believe in common, does that make me more trustworthy, regarding the Brain Leprechauns?
Yes, particularly if they are things that most people don't know and if they are things that are in some way connected with knowledge of Brain Leprechauns. (Like a math textbook shares many things in common with my beliefs, but that doesn't suggest it is an authority on literature.) However, again, that is only one factor - how you got that knowledge, what other authorities say about you, other experiences I've had with you, your motivations, etc. also would effect the degree to which you seem trustworthy.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
I don't think I can go anywhere with this. If we establish that you'll eventually believe in Brain Leprechauns, just because I am "trustworthy", then you'd be nuts.

If we establish that you'll never actually believe in Brain Leprechauns, regardless of my credentials, the your reasons for trusting authorities are illogical and inconsistent.
 
Posted by TheHumanTarget (Member # 7129) on :
 
I've decided to end my three year Hatrack hiatus in order to publicly endorse my belief in Brain Leprechauns.

That is all.

Please continue.
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
MightyCow, you can't, while making an untrustable claim be considered to be trustworthy.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Kmbboots: what is inherently untrustworthy about Brain Leprechauns? Only that you don't believe in them without what you consider "sufficient" evidence. They have the same base level of trust as a claim that God or Allah or angels or souls have.

Should all religious claims be treated as untrustworthy in the same way?
 
Posted by kmbboots (Member # 8576) on :
 
Reasonable people (unless you have an unusual definition of reasonable) have believed in God or Allah (is there a difference?) angels and souls since (roughly) the beginning of history. There is a certain "weight" to that.

What do you have? Except the evidence that you are pretty much making the poor creature up for the sake of argument.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
...what is inherently untrustworthy about Brain Leprechauns?
Well, there's the whole having been made up before our eyes, just now, and the certain knowledge that it was done so as a rhetorical point alone.

That doesn't mean one should trust others about religion, but really, you're being silly here. Brain leprechauns are untrustworthy because we are certain you're lying about them.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
If we establish that you'll never actually believe in Brain Leprechauns, regardless of my credentials, the your reasons for trusting authorities are illogical and inconsistent.
I didn't say that if you have enough credentials you can convince me of anything. I said authorities are only one piece of the puzzle - but other beliefs, evidence, reason, etc. also all come into play. Your explanation of Brain Leprechauns contradicts many things I already believe and know about the world (which is precisely why you'd consider me nutty if I believed you). So not only would you need to be an authority, but I'd also need to be convinced those other beliefs are mistaken. There's also some additional weight against your claim from the fact that you are the only authority that says this, and virtually everyone else I'd trust in the world would say that you are crazy.
 
Posted by TheHumanTarget (Member # 7129) on :
 
I can't wade through 14 pages of posts, so excuse me if I'm restating something.

Anyone can claim that their faith and belief in something substantiates its existence, be it God, Allah, or Brain Leprechauns.

Using a beliefs tenacity through history as a basis for the perceived value of a belief doesn't hold up either. Seemingly reasonable people throughout history have believed in many things that eventually turned out to be untrue.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Reasonable people (unless you have an unusual definition of reasonable) have believed in God or Allah (is there a difference?) angels and souls since (roughly) the beginning of history. There is a certain "weight" to that.

And reasonable (your word) people have believed in leprechauns, hobbits, nisser, and other little people since (roughly) the beginning of history. Why does that have no weight?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Kmbboots and Rakeesh: I am a Holy Prohet of the Brain Leprechaun, only now revealing to you the Good News of his protection and devotion to His Believers.

You see, I can deliver this Revelation in the religious terms of your choice, find True Believers (one showed up already!), and meld it seemelessly into what you already know and hold dear.

Just as many people once believed in Zeus, but were later Enlightened with the words of Jesus, so I now reveal a New Truth to you.

For the Brain Leprechaun said in the Inscription on the Holy Pot of Gold, "Those who most need the Truth will be the most resistant, just as the strongest muscles are those which first endure the most strain."
 
Posted by TheHumanTarget (Member # 7129) on :
 
Hmm...come to think of it, I don't really believe in Brain Leprechauns...they sound made up.

Now the Flying Spaghetti Monster...there's a deity with class (not to mention tasty noodles).
 
Posted by Paul Goldner (Member # 1910) on :
 
"Reasonable people (unless you have an unusual definition of reasonable) have believed in God or Allah (is there a difference?) angels and souls since (roughly) the beginning of history. There is a certain "weight" to that."

Not if you evaluate evidence rationally, there isn't. The fact that people believe things is not evidence for the reality of the belief.
 
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
 
No, but the knowledge that someone made one up is evidence against it.
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
Kmbboots and Rakeesh: I am a Holy Prohet of the Brain Leprechaun, only now revealing to you the Good News of his protection and devotion to His Believers.
No, you're not. You're comically lying for the purpose of a debate. I know you are. You know you are. Everyone knows you are. I know it about as well as any human can know something about another human. But feel free to keep flogging with noodly appendages in an effort to prove a defunct point.
 
Posted by Paul Goldner (Member # 1910) on :
 
I agree. There's a reason I said nothing about brain leprechauns.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Rakeesh: your argument is used by Muslims to show how wrong Christianity is. If it works for you, it works for them too.

In addition, I, you, and everyone here knows that you just made up that point on the spot, for the sole purpose of trying to disprove my point... Which by your logic invalidates your own argument.
 
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
The concept of the Preservers was presented long before TNG.

(And the episode I believe you are alluding to is "The Chase".)

I remember them in the ST cartoon. Were they presented before that?
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
And really Rakeesh, you know that I'm lying? By what standard could you possibly know that?

In fact, you know that I'm lying with equal or less certainty (I claim to have solid proof) than I know that I'm telling you he truth.

In otherwords your argument is meaningless. I know that you're lying about me lying, because you're an agent of the Evil Nixies. Now we are back to square one.

You'll have to do better than that.
 
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
 
quote:
And really Rakeesh, you know that I'm lying? By what standard could you possibly know that?
Come on. [Roll Eyes]
 
Posted by Geraine (Member # 9913) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
The concept of the Preservers was presented long before TNG.

(And the episode I believe you are alluding to is "The Chase".)

I remember them in the ST cartoon. Were they presented before that?
From the Star Trek Wiki:

quote:

The Preservers were a race known for transplanting civilizations in danger of extinction. This included several Native American tribes.

In 2268, the USS Enterprise visited the planet Amerind and discovered a civilization of American Indians living there. The Preservers had evidently transplanted a nearly extinct group of these Indians to Amerind. They may have transplanted various flora and fauna as well, for Amerind was richly populated by Earth-native forms. The inhabitants referred to the Preservers as the "Wise Ones." Because asteroid impacts threatened Amerind on a semi-regular basis, the Preservers constructed a deflector in the form of an obelisk and left instructions with the tribal medicine man.

Glyphs incised into the obelisk represented tones in a musical language. Among other things, they explained how to open the device. Once inside, a memory beam instructed visitors on the finer points of operating the deflector.

Leonard McCoy and Spock theorized that the Preservers were responsible for the spread of the many humanoids that populate the galaxy (TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome"). But about a century later, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and archaeologist Richard Galen learned that the Preservers were only part of the reason. (TNG: "The Chase")

Ronald D. Moore has stated that he'd considered, but intentionally did not specify, that the ancient humanoids seen in TNG: "The Chase" were in fact the Preservers. He noted, "but this could be them and be internally consistent." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)

http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/Preservers
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
And really Rakeesh, you know that I'm lying? By what standard could you possibly know that?
Come on. [Roll Eyes]
Yes,that's exactly how I react when someone tells me that a glass of wine is the literal blood of a man who died over 2000 years ago.

This is really getting frustrating. Does religion demand a total lack of introspection, to go along with believing the illogical ghost stories of one book while denouncing all the rest?
 
Posted by mr_porteiro_head (Member # 4644) on :
 
You believe that they're being disingenuous?
 
Posted by FoolishTook (Member # 5358) on :
 
quote:
Yes,that's exactly how I react when someone tells me that a glass of wine is the literal blood of a man who died over 2000 years ago.
Literal? Where have you heard that? I've never heard it in all my life, having taken communion thousands of time.

Even the original Last Supper was figurative.
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
For example, the Catholic Encyclopedia:

quote:
The Church's Magna Charta, however, are the words of Institution, "This is my body — this is my blood", whose literal meaning she has uninterruptedly adhered to from the earliest times. The Real Presence is evinced, positively, by showing the necessity of the literal sense of these words, and negatively, by refuting the figurative interpretations.

 
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
 
To be fair, the Catholic Church's position is not that any detectable properties of the bread and wine are transformed, just that their inherent nature -- their "Substance", to use the language of transubstantiation -- is transformed into the literal body and blood of christ. That is, a part of his body that is present happens to taste like bread, and a part of his blood that is present happens to taste like wine.

FoolishTook: if that has never been mentioned to you, a good comparative study of religious theology is probably in order, if you'd like to have a basic understanding of the religious beliefs of others. That's one of the most important beliefs of the Catholic church.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
You believe that they're being disingenuous?

I believe that they're making a preposterous claim, which is completely imaginary, and which no logical person would believe.

As KoM pointed out, people have believed in Leprechauns for thousands of years. If we're going on time of belief, that makes them more believable than the Book of Mormon.

Besides, your or anyone's belief that I'm being disingenuous has no effect on the truth value of my statements.
 
Posted by Tresopax (Member # 1063) on :
 
quote:
And really Rakeesh, you know that I'm lying? By what standard could you possibly know that?
Well, I don't know you are lying, but I have the ability to make a judgement call based on the incomplete evidence I have on what you are saying. My judgement is that you are not telling the truth about Brain Leprechauns.

So let's test it out: Are you telling the truth or aren't you? You must know. If you are telling the truth, then I guess I'm wrong. But if you aren't telling the truth, then would you admit that somehow I have an ability to figure that sort of thing out?
 
Posted by King of Men (Member # 6684) on :
 
Yes, ok, to be fair, the Catholics are using 'literal' in the sense of 'not literal', demonstrating the usual theist commitment to truth and accuracy; but nonetheless, they do use the word.
 
Posted by MightyCow (Member # 9253) on :
 
Tres: Of course I'm tellin the truth. A cobra didn't kill you, did it?

So, I've confirmed my statement. Do you believe it yet?
 
Posted by Rakeesh (Member # 2001) on :
 
quote:
Rakeesh: your argument is used by Muslims to show how wrong Christianity is. If it works for you, it works for them too.
Oh, it is? Muslims say of Christians, "They're lying, they're intentionally lying, and they're just lying to prove a point." I'd be fascinated to see some evidence of that that doesn't effectively amount to a few Muslims somewhere have said it.

quote:
You'll have to do better than that.
No, I really don't. You seem to think that I believe my knowing you're lying is somehow evidence in support of believing the claims of others. I don't. All I'm saying is that the situations are a bit different. When someone takes as evidence for God the religious claim of another human being, they usually are pretty reasonably convinced that the other human being actually believes what they are saying. I know you don't believe what you're saying-at least, the specific claim of it.

I know that with much greater certainty than I know that, say, rivka is sincere when she discusses her own faith. Now, are you seriously going to suggest I'm wrong about that? Is that really the best you've got? Please, again, note that I'm not suggesting absolute iron-clad certainty.

quote:
This is really getting frustrating. Does religion demand a total lack of introspection, to go along with believing the illogical ghost stories of one book while denouncing all the rest?
Yup. Speaking for myself and all other religious people, I just turn off the ole noggin and let the warm, comfy sheeplike sensation tuck me in at night!

quote:
I believe that they're making a preposterous claim, which is completely imaginary, and which no logical person would believe.