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Author Topic: To Scott R
Teshi
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The answer to the initial question in this thread should be obvious. A very, very wide variety of stories, belief systems and other paraphenalia can be used to achieve:

"An enlightened mind; an enlarged soul. A greater sense of kinship with [a] God [or Godlike being or sensation; or oneness with the Earth, nature, mankind etc.], and a changed heart. A desire to serve the people around us."

When we read or hear stories that we imbue with emotional importance (and they can be almost any kind of story, although myths are by far the most powerful, because of the universality), we frequently take away greater understanding of the world. Charismatic characters (either within stories or in real life) can speak pearls of wisdom that may strike a chord with our experience, or appeal to us. The incredibly common power of coincidence can have that understanding applied or repeated in the same week. Suddenly, the world opens up to us a little-- who has not experienced that, atheist or theologian?

A natural side effect of opening even the smallest of doors is a greater sense of connection. For atheists, this might be with the world. For a religious person, this exact same sensation links them with God as well as with the world/fellow men.

Being more emotionally committed to humanity has another side effect: wanting to do things for people.

I was at a book fair once with a stack of books. A stranger gave me a book that he told me had changed his life. It was not a religious book, merely something that had struck him in a very personal way.

Had that book been more universal, had it changed my life the same way it evidently changed his, I would have experienced this kind of revelation. Imagine if it had been a religious text! Stranger approaches me (in a church, no less [Razz] ) and gives me a book that changes my life! A religious experience if there ever was one!

Religion is extremely powerful. Stories, charisma and everyday coincidence mix together in a deadly combination. We're human, we make connections. I think to the minds of many people, these connections are more rational than the chaos they truly are. They feel so good! They open doors! They make us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves-- the very thing most of us long for!

For the way most of our minds are wired, it's more of a challenge to say: it's a coincidence, he's just a guy, it's just a story. What I take from it, however good or useful or inspiring, isn't magic. Heck, I'm still waiting for that book to change my life. Perhaps it will, but it won't be magic. It'll just be a story that works for me, that I got in an interesting way.

Which, I'm afraid, is what it is for everyone.

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The Pixiest
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Really, Pixiest? "Just"? Do you think they really believed or agreed with that statement or is there the possibility that they gave up on you and you stopped having a real conversation? I suspect the latter.

Nah, the guy wasn't really listening to what I was saying, he was trying to get his talking points in.

And I don't think the guy was very bright. I mean, I hate to judge people by their oral hygiene but I was surprised he could enunciate as well as he could with so few teeth.

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Leonide
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quote:
[I]t won't be magic. It'll just be a story that works for me, that I got in an interesting way.

Which, I'm afraid, is what it is for everyone.

QFT.

Except, ya know, without the afraid. I kind of like that it's like that. [Smile]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Better advice:

Don't let people make you discuss faith in terms of science. Don't let them define your terms and push you into trying to define God as smaller than God is.

Faith isn't science and doesn't need to be.

the overlap notwithstanding, if a person elects to put god to a scientific test because they really think they can pull it off, they should not be surprised if the results come up short for god, and they should not be surprised when people tell them they don't have a rational explanation for believing in god. It's god we're talking about here. religion.

there is a reason why religions have responded to a modern era of skeptical empiricism by shying away from claims that are meaningfully testable.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do you have any reason to believe that he is using a different meaning from yours except a desire that he is?
Absolutely.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Better advice:

Don't let people make you discuss faith in terms of science. Don't let them define your terms and push you into trying to define God as smaller than God is.

Faith isn't science and doesn't need to be.

the overlap notwithstanding, if a person elects to put god to a scientific test because they really think they can pull it off, they should not be surprised if the results come up short for god, and they should not be surprised when people tell them they don't have a rational explanation for believing in god. It's god we're talking about here. religion.

there is a reason why religions have responded to a modern era of skeptical empiricism by shying away from claims that are meaningfully testable.

Sure. Because (in the big picture) we have gotten better at both science and religion.
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Paul Goldner
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"#1: I showed the framework-- experience, study, prior research, and critical thought. I did not show evidence. No one has complained, as far as I know, that the framework I specified is faulty as relates to rational processes. They DID complain that I'm reluctant to show evidence."

You didn't show the framework. You made a claim. Showing involves demonstrating. In order for you have to shown the framework you used, you would have had to explain the way youapplied the processes you claim are part of your framework.

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scifibum
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I once took part in an argument about prayer. One guy in particular was committed to the assertion "prayer is always irrational." He said that because (in his opinion) some of the premises you have to accept in order to pray in faith were irrational, the act of prayer itself was irrational. Always. No exceptions.

Others in that argument, including me, argued that prayer can be a rational act. My own take on it was rather simple:
1) Person A does X
2) Person A then feels good
3) Person A does X again
4) Person A then feels good again
5) Person A stops doing X
6) Person A doesn't have the good feeling anymore
7) Person A resumes X
8) Good feeling returns

Assumptions:
Person A likes the good feeling that comes after doing X.
There's no cost of X that for Person A outweighs the good feeling.

In this case, I argued, it was rational to go ahead and do X. It had a desirable result! It wasn't too expensive! If there was no good feeling, though, and absent some other benefit of doing X, it would be irrational. (Not necessarily bad, just irrational.)

Of course, Person A might not be able to come up with a true explanation for why X leads to a good feeling.

This thread I think helps me understand why "prayer is always illogical" guy was so frustrated. What he meant to say is that the rationale for prayer is not true, and that as long as Person A holds an untrue rationale in mind, there's a justification for calling his behavior irrational.

I believe that someone can believe in a religion for rational reasons, in the same way that I think doing activity X can be rational for Person A: because they like it, because it works for them, because they think it's true and haven't been convinced otherwise.

Of course, what Person A doesn't know is if he's found the only or best activity that leads to the outcome he wants. He hasn't tried everything, and importantly he can't prove why X leads to A without what swbarnes would call rigorous reality testing. He might have what he feels is a pretty darn good explanation in mind, but if there's nothing outside of Person A's mind that can demonstrate it to others, it's suspect from a scientific point of view.

I think the claim that Scott was making is that he didn't set aside rationality when he tested his beliefs about his religion. What other people are trying to point out is that to decide the rationale for the belief is true, you need to examine the assumptions and evidence, and devise (and perform) tests that might prove it false.

I respect Scott's right to say "good enough for me, and I'm reasonably sure that I didn't make any mistakes." Obviously it's not good enough to convince everybody else, and Scott knows it.

Going back to what Scott said:

quote:
Generally, though, I think that people come to religious faith the same way they come to scientific knowledge: they have experiences or come across accounts of other people's experiences and something ignites within them. Depending on their personality and environment, they may choose to learn more. What they learn affects their knowledge and attitude toward the system they're studying.

I'm not sure why the process is so sacrosanct to science; it's reasoning and logic, and it's available to all human endeavors. What I suspect makes people object to this line of thinking isn't the process, but the evidence.

If Scott meant to equate his process of believing in his religion and the process of deriving scientific knowledge - he made a mistake. I think several of us thought he was drawing this equivalency. It doesn't work; there are no accepted scientific theories where a scientist presents his conclusion and says "I came to this conclusion by the application of reason and weighing of evidence" and everybody else says "oh, OK." The scientific method MUST include making the evidence and reasoning explicit, and "rigorous reality testing."

But, after review, perhaps Scott meant something else. Perhaps he meant to equate how he came to believe in his religion with how he came to believe in gravity. He didn't necessarily need to use the scientific method to achieve belief in gravity. Most of us don't, we just accept things that make sense to us and that seem reasonable based on what we've observed. We might drop a ball to see whether it falls; we might pray with sincere intent and see what happens next.

But when this is a response to a criticism of the epistemology of religion, it's not of very much use. Just because most people don't actually use the scientific method when deciding what to believe doesn't answer for the differences between the scientific method and religious methods of knowing.

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katharina
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Do you have any reason to believe that he is using a different meaning from yours except a desire that he is?
Absolutely.
I mean one that doesn't start with the premise that he's wrong. If you start with the premise that he's wrong, then you can justify anything to yourself, including the laughable assumption that he speaks a different language.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I mean one that doesn't start with the premise that he's wrong.
I know. I absolutely have reason to believe he's using a different meaning.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Because (in the big picture) we have gotten better at both science and religion.

I can see how one would determine that we are better at science...there are more accurate predictions that we can make, more things that we can claim to do which reliably work. I think that's a fair measure.

By what measure can you determine that we are "better" at religion? I think lots of people would argue that we as a country would be "better" at religion if we lived under a fundamentalist theocracy.

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katharina
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I mean one that doesn't start with the premise that he's wrong.
I know. I absolutely have reason to believe he's using a different meaning.
Then your meaning is wrong.
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TomDavidson
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I don't know if you can ever argue that someone's definition of a given word -- or, more narrowly, what they mean by the specific use of a given word in a given situation -- is wrong, depending on your definition of "wrong." But I will certainly agree that what Scott means by "process" and what I mean by "process" differ hugely. Since that's been my claim from the beginning, I'm actually grateful for the assist. [Smile]
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katharina
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Your distinctions are all false because you start with the assumption that ANY process that led ScottR to his conclusion must be illegitimate. That's where you are wrong.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:


By what measure can you determine that we are "better" at religion? I think lots of people would argue that we as a country would be "better" at religion if we lived under a fundamentalist theocracy.

Well, for the most part, we don't expect it to be science.

This is, of course, a very big generalization. There are ebbs and flows in our getting better.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Your distinctions are all false because you start with the assumption that ANY process that led ScottR to his conclusion must be illegitimate.
I know what's what you think, I'm afraid. As I've said, though, that's not the case.

Unlike ScottR, I am perfectly willing to discuss with you the details of why I think what I think, and the process I used to decide. But I have to admit that I was interested to see whether you'd take my word for it or not. [Wink]

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katharina
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I didn't realize that you held dear such sacred and personal experiences with Scott. I don't think he knows about them.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:


By what measure can you determine that we are "better" at religion? I think lots of people would argue that we as a country would be "better" at religion if we lived under a fundamentalist theocracy.

Well, for the most part, we don't expect it to be science.

This is, of course, a very big generalization. There are ebbs and flows in our getting better.

I think you're missing the point there. If you say 'we' (meaning theists, presumably) have gotten better at religion (and actually I agree that 'we' meaning humans have done so; the percentage of atheists is likely at its all-time high) then you must have some standard of what is good, and some measurement against that standard. It needn't be scientific, but if you don't feel you have such a measurement then your statement is just noise. So, what is your standard?
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scifibum
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Isn't it clear that kmbboots thinks that pointed contradictions between science and religion are bad? If a religion is projecting itself into the same spheres of knowledge in which science asserts dominion, THUR DOIN IT RONG.

(I present cheeks for smack in case I got kmbboots wrong here. Whichever you prefer.)

e.g. young earth creationism: not good at religion. Belief in a meaning for life that transcends mortal existence: better!

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Raymond Arnold
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I spent a decade of my life in frequent argument with a good friend of mine, who insisted that he had rational reasons for an absolute, unshakable belief in God. For 9 years he danced and dodged around the actual reasons why. Whenever I started to press the issue of what his actual logical reasoning was, he'd revert back to an argument based on emotion or metaphor, or complain that I was forcing him to "play the game by my rules."

Finally I said "I have no problem with you believing in God. I don't even have a problem with you telling other people they should believe in God. What I take issue with is when you make the claim that you have rational, logical reasons for doing so, without explaining what those reasons are."

Finally, he spelled out his reasoning. And as it turned out, his rational reasoning was in fact, completely flimsy, and he withdrew his statement from "this is why you should believe" to "this is why I believe, it's good enough for me."

So it is with Scott. He's entitled to his views. He's entitled to have reasons for those views that might not fit the scientific method. And he's entitled to try and get other people to share his experience, because he feels it has made his life better.

But when he makes the claim that his beliefs have survived rational scrutiny, he must either explain what that process was, or accept that he will not be taken seriously.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Isn't it clear that kmbboots thinks that pointed contradictions between science and religion are bad? If a religion is projecting itself into the same spheres of knowledge in which science asserts dominion, THUR DOIN IT RONG.

Says you. Lots of other religious people explicitly believe the opposite...if science makes a claim that religion disagrees with, science must be in the wrong.

Why is it that you know more about true religion then they do? Why is your opinion better than theirs?

If kmmboots had said only that she thought it as to religion's benefit that it had retreated from making claims about the physical universe, that woud have been one thing. But to state it as if it's a given is something else. Its not a given to a lot of people, and it's not obvious why their opinion about what religion is and should be is inferior to anyone else's.

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Samprimary
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Yeah, anyone can say "I believe, it's good enough for me." But when you make the claim that you have rational, logical reasons why you believe, you're willingly stepping into a ring where you are making falsifiable, testable claims. And there's no shortage of people who try, but in the end they just prove they really don't have as good an understanding of logic as they thought they did.
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Isn't it clear that kmbboots thinks that pointed contradictions between science and religion are bad? If a religion is projecting itself into the same spheres of knowledge in which science asserts dominion, THUR DOIN IT RONG.

Says you. Lots of other religious people explicitly believe the opposite...if science makes a claim that religion disagrees with, science must be in the wrong.

Why is it that you know more about true religion then they do? Why is your opinion better than theirs?

Says me? I was trying to restate what I think kmbboots meant. And I made it explicit in the part of my post that you didn't quote that some religions don't live up to the standard of "don't attempt to contradict and overrule science."

But yes, I do think to some extent that religions that take care not to set themselves in opposition to science are better than ones that do. They are less certain to be wrong, after all. I myself am not religious, if that helps you understand what I'm saying. I'm not saying MY religion wins because it harmonizes with science. I'm saying from an agnostic point of view that anti-scientific religions seem wronger.

As to what makes my opinion better than theirs, I have no idea what you are getting at. Isn't your opinion better than other opinions? If not, why don't you hold those other opinions? Of course my opinion seems better to me than opinions that I don't hold.

(In general, not that you've earned this from just this one post, but I'm talking about a general pattern here: you are too hostile. You should try to talk to people like you don't think they are stupid.)

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TomDavidson
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I remember a time when swbarnes was not always this hostile. He's kind of JohnBindered over the years.
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Strider
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quote:
I once took part in an argument about prayer. One guy in particular was committed to the assertion "prayer is always irrational." He said that because (in his opinion) some of the premises you have to accept in order to pray in faith were irrational, the act of prayer itself was irrational. Always. No exceptions.
I read an article by Ramachandran recently where he said that when he found out that prayer works(in the sense that it makes you feel better) even when you KNOW that it's a placebo, that he started praying again.

I'm not about to start praying, but i thought that was interesting.

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Scott R
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If a child grows up believing in the power of prayer and receives evidence that points to the efficacy of prayer in her life, and gets consistent positive results when she prays, it is NOT irrational for her to continue to pray.

It would be irrational for her to stop praying.

If a normal, healthy, emotionally and mentally stable boy grows up hearing what he believes is the voice of God, which comforts him when he suffers tragedy, which helps guide him into making wise decisions and chastises him when makes foolish ones, and continues to receive consistent and clear good advice from this voice, it would be irrational for him to reject the voice.

Now, they may be wrong about why they feel good; it may be coincidence that good things happen to the girl when she prays, and the boy may be delusional.

But irrational they ain't.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
If a child grows up believing in the power of prayer and receives evidence that points to the efficacy of prayer in her life, and gets consistent positive results when she prays, it is NOT irrational for her to continue to pray.

It would be irrational for her to stop praying.

It would be just as irrational for you to not by my 100% effective wild-elephant repellant. It works, I've got years and years of proof, not one elephant has ever tried to run me over.

Animal behavioralists would put pigeons or the like in cages, with a button they'd push to get food. But the button would only work randomly. So what would happen is the animals would associate whatever it had just done before the button worked with getting food, so the aniamls would spin around or bob their heads, or whatever before pushing the button.

This behavior, of course didn't actually make the food come any faster. Do you really wish to argue that it was rational anyway?

Im sorry, but if this is what you call "rational", I'm afraid that knowledgeable people call it "logical fallacy". This is why no one takes you at your word when you say that you have reason and logic behind you, because you just demonstrated that you don't recognize logical fallacies when they bite you on the face.

quote:
If a normal, healthy, emotionally and mentally stable boy grows up hearing what he believes is the voice of God, which comforts him when he suffers tragedy, which helps guide him into making wise decisions and chastises him when makes foolish ones, and continues to receive consistent and clear good advice from this voice, it would be irrational for him to reject the voice.
Why don't these emotionally healthy people ever hear the voice of God telling them how to synthesize the next blockbuster malaria drug drug? Why do they only hear things that they already knew?
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Leonide
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Is it really still Irrational, though? What about pseudo-rational? Or semi-rational? Or RationalLite?
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Paul Goldner
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Scott's claim was that his belief that the Mormon church is true is based on reason. If his reasoned approach to how it is true is reflected in the above statements, than his claim is false.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
quote:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
If a religion is projecting itself into the same spheres of knowledge in which science asserts dominion, THUR DOIN IT RONG.

Says you. Lots of other religious people explicitly believe the opposite...if science makes a claim that religion disagrees with, science must be in the wrong. Why is it that you know more about true religion then they do? Why is your opinion better than theirs?
And I made it explicit in the part of my post that you didn't quote that some religions don't live up to the standard of "don't attempt to contradict and overrule science."
Lots of religious people don't think that they have to "live up" to that standard at all. They think it's a condition to be despised. That's my whole point. Don't you think it's stupid to tell religious people that they are doing religion wrong by failing to meet your standard of what religion is, when they don't share that standard?

quote:
But yes, I do think to some extent that religions that take care not to set themselves in opposition to science are better than ones that do. They are less certain to be wrong, after all.
Less certain to be wrong? How can people who believe unerring scriptures be more likely to be wrong? Ah yes, but anyone who believes in their scriptures differently from the way you think they should is doing things wrong, right?

quote:
I myself am not religious, if that helps you understand what I'm saying. I'm not saying MY religion wins because it harmonizes with science. I'm saying from an agnostic point of view that anti-scientific religions seem wronger.
Perhaps as an agnostic, you are a poor judge of what proper religious belief is, and should be. I consider myself a bad judge too, which is why I refrain from saying that religious people are doing their religions wrong. I think its more sensible to say that religious belief is whatever self-described religious people are doing (and that includes contradicting the heck out of what they say they should be doing), then I don't have to worry about whether people who keep faithfully to their 2000 year old sacred innerrant texts are doing things more rightly than people who interpret those texts to suit 21st century morality, for example.

quote:
Isn't your opinion better than other opinions?
Only when my opinions consist of claims that are backed up by reason and evidence. If you are looking for me to say "My opinion on which Star Trek movie was the best is better than your opinion", well, I don't think that. Because I lack an objective way to determine which framework for judging such a thing is better than any other, I can't conclude that your framework for judging is worse than mine, so I am in no place to judge if you are judging movies rightly or wrongly.

quote:
You should try to talk to people like you don't think they are stupid.
Prove me wrong, and I will be suitable chastened. You want to convince me that you understand what correct religious belief is better than millions and millions of believers, go right on and try. But I'm not going to take your bare assertion, or anyone else's, even though you think your opinion is the best in the world.

If you can't, then I'll stick to my stance that it was a stupid claim for you to have made.

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scifibum
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LOL, swbarnes.

quote:
Don't you think it's stupid to tell religious people that they are doing religion wrong by failing to meet your standard of what religion is, when they don't share that standard?
Again, "doing it wrong" was my attempted restatement of kmbboots's meaning, as a religious believer, that shying away from empirically testable claims was a way of getting better at religion.

I don't claim to be able to speak for any religion about the right way to practice their religion, silly person. That you think I was doing this supports my belief that you think you're talking to stupid people.

quote:
Perhaps as an agnostic, you are a poor judge of what proper religious belief is, and should be. I consider myself a bad judge too, which is why I refrain from saying that religious people are doing their religions wrong.
I'm in a position to have an opinion about which religions are most likely to be wrong about their claims. You haven't been shy about your opinion that most/all religious beliefs are mistaken, so you're doing it too. Again, this is different from attempting to specify the correct expression of a particular religion, which I generally don't do either (perhaps aside from noting gross hypocrisies from time to time...not often).

quote:
Prove me wrong, and I will be suitable chastened.
You've said this before, as if being right is full justification for being rude. Whatever. I don't want you to be chastened. I'd love it if you tried to give people slightly more benefit of the doubt going forward, whatever state of mind might lead to that is fine with me.

Edit: if you'd like, I'll grant that "THUR DOIN IT RONG" was an imprecise way to state what I thought kmbboots meant. It was actually meant to be kind of funny, which I suppose might explain why you misinterpreted it, since you're consistently humorless. At any rate, I'm not interested in further defending my word choice, now that I've explained it. I'll stand by my opinion that religions that make provably false claims are more likely to be wrong (i.e. making false claims).

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kmbboots
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I thought it was funny, scifibum. And a not-wrong approxmation of what I meant as far as it went.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
If a child grows up believing in the power of prayer and receives evidence that points to the efficacy of prayer in her life, and gets consistent positive results when she prays, it is NOT irrational for her to continue to pray.

It would be irrational for her to stop praying.

If a normal, healthy, emotionally and mentally stable boy grows up hearing what he believes is the voice of God, which comforts him when he suffers tragedy, which helps guide him into making wise decisions and chastises him when makes foolish ones, and continues to receive consistent and clear good advice from this voice, it would be irrational for him to reject the voice.

Specious reasoning is irrational.
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Scott R
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How is this behavior irrational?
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Samprimary
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Imagine a Scientologist saying thus:

"I grow up believing in the power of thetan cleanses and I receive evidence that points to the efficacy of thetan cleansings in my life. I get positive results and am praised when I get thetan cleansings.

"It is not irrational for me to continue to sign up for thetan cleansings."

replace the specifics with anything. Yog-Sothoth chanting sessions. Master Cleanses. The ritual consumption of peyote for spirit journeys. Specious reasoning. I fully believe that this rock I am carrying wards off tigers. I have evidence of it. In all the years I have carried this rock, I have never once been attacked by tigers. I fully believe that this rabbit's foot I am carrying gives me good luck. I have evidence of it. Since I have carried it I have noticed some lucky things happening to me! Why is none of this logical. Why, if I try to explain the "evidence that points to the efficacy of prayer/auditing/blood sacrifice" do people never feel like I have come to this belief rationally when I try to explain the details of this rational process, and why do they REFUSE to accept my proposition that it is rational when I opt not to provide my supposed evidence?

Think about this.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I thought it was funny, scifibum. And a not-wrong approxmation of what I meant as far as it went.

I'm glad. [Smile]
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Raymond Arnold
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I actually do think there's a significant difference between "This rock wards away tigers, and I've never run into a tiger" and "When I pray, I feel good." Praying (or otherwise participating in a religious lifestyle) DOES improve some people's lives, whether that's the placebo effect or not. It produces a measurable outcome that disappears when you stop doing it. Whereas the Anti-Tiger rock doesn't produce anything. The only question is whether any one of a million different other things could also have improved their lives.

I don't think it's wrong for people to stick with what's been working for them, or for encouraging others to try it out. There's so many different ways to think positively and improve your life that it's silly to try and test them all out scientifically.

However, when you're making claims about truth (as oppose to "this makes me happy, it might make you happy too").

I'm actually not sure what Scott's original statement was. I'm also not quite positive on the definition of rational. I think it could be considered rational NOT to bother testing out every other possible way of thinking when all you want is to improve you own quality of life. However, whatever the precise definition of rational is, it is DEFINITELY not scientific. (Not sure if Scott made that particular claim though)

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Samprimary
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quote:
Whereas the Anti-Tiger rock doesn't produce anything.
Not necessarily true. A tiger-repelling rock/lucky charm/etc can produce comfort, reduce stress, even reduce blood pressure! They can accomplish lots of things, just like a sugar pill can create good effects.

Believing in the tiger-repellant qualities of the rock, or the luck-producing capacity of the rabbit's foot, etc, is where the irrationality comes into it. If you think you have a logical proof that they are effective at what you claim they can do, you are being irrational. If you carry them under these pretenses, you are being irrational.

I have plenty of superstitions. plenty. I am also religious! Arguably 'being religious' can be fit in under the former as following an established religion is technically adhering to a very large, organized superstition. I am not under any circumstances going to claim that my assorted superstitions any of them were come to as the product of 'logical faculties.'

Most importantly, I am not going to make the mistake of pretending that I can assert that these beliefs are logical. And if I presented anything even remotely approximating the contents of post #2 of this thread, I would not confuse it as a defense of any such statement. In plenty of ways pertaining to religion, we are not rational creatures. I could be an adherent to any religion, from christianity to zoroastrianism to scientology to wicca to the New Zealand Jedi Order and I would be able to replicate very cynical-sounding effects emulating 'success' from these tests. Scientologists fresh from their auditing sessions, for instance, are usually always going to be convinced that their auditing sessions have made them healthier, because it's been reinforced by their religion that that's what they're supposed to be as a result of these sessions. They will be convinced that its because they've been purged of the influence of thetans.

It ain't because there's such a thing as a thetan.

It's because of what the process has been seeded and mentally reinforced to them as. What they have been conditioned to think it is supposed to do.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
A tiger-repelling rock/lucky charm/etc can produce comfort, reduce stress, even reduce blood pressure! They can accomplish lots of things, just like a sugar pill can create good effects.
In that case, it's not just a tiger-repellant, it's a Comfort-Inducing-Rock. And it does it's job just fine. The only thing to consider the opportunity costs (in the case of the rock it's carrying a rock around. In the case of scientology you pay money and lose a few hours of your life).

I don't think it's fair to say the placebo effect is meaningless. The placebo effect is measurable. (We had a thread about it, or more accurately it's evil twin, the nocebo effect, not too long ago). People who believe they are going to get better can physically improve from illnesses (and be just plain happier) in ways that have no obvious explanation other than "it just works," and I see no reason to deny them that unless you are prepared to replace their Placebo-that-has-a-cost-you-consider-unacceptable with something else with a lesser cost.

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Samprimary
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quote:
In that case, it's not just a tiger-repellant, it's a Comfort-Inducing-Rock.
Perhaps this is a consequence only of accidentally poor wording. Something that does not actually do what it purports to do now is not only what it purports to do but is also a provider of comfort?

No, that's absurd, the same way a sugar pill doesn't magically get upgraded to a real drug simply because it provides the placebo effect in trials.

quote:
I don't think it's fair to say the placebo effect is meaningless.
Then, by all means, show me where I've said this.
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Not necessarily true. A tiger-repelling rock/lucky charm/etc can produce comfort, reduce stress, even reduce blood pressure! They can accomplish lots of things, just like a sugar pill can create good effects.
This seemed like a pretty blatant comparison between the various bad-logic examples you were giving and the placebo effect. If you are taking a pill and the pill is making you better, it doesn't matter in the slightest whether that pill is made of sugar or not - it is perfectly reasonable (I am not quite certain enough of the definition of "rational" to use it here but I think it works fine) of you to keep taking it.

If you genuinely plagued by a fear of tigers that is deabilitating and someone gives you a rock that makes you feel better, I think that's also rational. It's NOT rational to start carrying around a tiger-repellant rock simply because someone told you to despite no evidence of tigers ever, and no correlation between the number of tigers you run into when carrying the rock and not carrying, nor a correlation between your overall happiness that didn't develop specifically because you carried the rock around for a long time until it felt weird to stop.

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Samprimary
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quote:
If you genuinely plagued by a fear of tigers that is deabilitating and someone gives you a rock that makes you feel better, I think that's also rational.
... I'm astounded I would see the day where this sort of statement was sincerely given.

Do you honestly feel that if you are cripplingly afraid of tigers, but you honestly believe that a rock wards away these tigers and this makes you feel better about tigers, that this is rational to use the rock in this way?

really?

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Scott R
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If there is evidence that satisfies your reasoning, yes. If tiger attacks are frequent in your geographical area, and if you have seen tigers avoid you when you wear the rock, etc.

It's interesting that I chose a moderate example, and one that is a commonly held belief among a majority of religious people in America, and Samprimary chose an extreme belief that is held by a minority of people.

Do you feel that the examples are similar?

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Samprimary
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quote:
If there is evidence that satisfies your reasoning, yes. If tiger attacks are frequent in your geographical area, and if you have seen tigers avoid you when you wear the rock, etc.
And here we come to the word 'evidence.' This is (at least the biggest point) where you've tripped up and imagined a logical argument where none exists. "Evidence that satisfies my reasoning" is insufficient if I am being irrational about what I am going to mentally assume to be evidence. Specious reasoning is irrational. And if I am wearing the rock and saying "It keeps tigers away from me, I know this for a fact and I came to this conclusion using logical faculties" then why on earth would anyone be crazy enough to believe me if I said "Well, I don't feel like going into why."

I am .. amazed, really! We've reached the point where I can actually say that I have discussed the tiger-repelling rock with people, wherein people attempt to defend the act of carrying a rock as protection against tigers as rational as long as it makes you feel safer..

it profoundly reinforces the statement that 'if you think you have logical proof for god, you probably don't have as good an understanding about logic as you think you do.'

quote:
It's interesting that I chose a moderate example, and one that is a commonly held belief among a majority of religious people in America, and Samprimary chose an extreme belief that is held by a minority of people.
ad populum, as well as any suggestions of the viability of communal reinforcement of other fallacies, are as much a fallacy as specious reasoning is, Scott. Carrying a rabbit's foot because I think it will give me a better shot at Keno games is equally as irrational regardless as to whether tens of millions of other people do it too as it would be if I were the only one on earth to do it.
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Scott R
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Despite evidence to the contrary?

You're allowing your assumptions to undermine your reason.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Despite evidence to the contrary?

You're allowing your assumptions to undermine your reason.

You keep saying evidence.

What evidence to the contrary are you talking about.

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Scott R
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If a man carries a rabbit's foot with him to play Keno, and notes a marked increase in how often he wins vs. the amount of times he wins when he doesn't carry the rabbits foot, and the results are consistent, then he is justified in calling the rabbit's foot lucky, or at least he's justified in thinking that carrying it seems to produce more wins.

He may be wrong, and this all may be coincidence; but his conclusion is rational.

So now let's ask-- can a rational conclusion be reached and still be wrong?

I hope you'll answer this question, Samprimary. You've ignored the other ones I've posed.

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Samprimary
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quote:
I hope you'll answer this question, Samprimary. You've ignored the other ones I've posed.
Before we continue with this, I'm going to point at this response from you, one I assume to be borne of frustration, and I am going to guide you patiently up to the post you made that said "How is this behavior irrational?"

Now, this seems to be a question from you. The post immediately following it, in response, is a response to your question and most certainly not "ignoring" your question.

See that?

Now, tell me whether or not you accept that this is me not ignoring your questions, or if you are going to stand by that last line of yours being a fair appraisal of me.

I'd just like to get that out of the way before I decide in what capacity I should continue to you.

I would dislike discovering that I would only be able to continue relating to you in a way specifically designed to accommodate that you are a person that not only cannot accurately assess whether or not I am ignoring all your questions, but perhaps is at risk of being the kind of person who assumes that answering questions with other questions or challenges to the logic inherent in those questions constitutes "ignoring" these questions.

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fugu13
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Scott R: of course, most people who note marked increases in luck when carrying rabbit's feet are deceiving themselves through sampling bias, and more exacting testing consistently reveals that.
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Scott R
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You're right, Samprimary. You did answer that question.

Would you like to answer the others? I'm especially interested in your reasoning for using an extreme example, as opposed to a moderate one.

This conversation may not be useful for you. Your tone indicates an aggressiveness that isn't usually compatible with civil discourse.

***

fugu: I did say "the results are consistent," implying that further experiences supported the initial observation.

However, let me answer your concern: yes. If on further observation, the man LOST more than he won while still carrying the rabbit's foot, and there was nothing else changed, then of course it would be unreasonable for him to claim that the rabbit's foot was still lucky.

Maybe he should switch to socks...or stop playing Keno altogether.

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