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Author Topic: Federal judge shows fearless good sense
kmbboots
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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.

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King of Men
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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.
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kmbboots
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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.

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Rakeesh
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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.
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swbarnes2
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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.
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Orincoro
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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.
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Orincoro
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"I was a walk-in."

Wow... that surprises me somehow. Can't say why.

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kmbboots
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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.
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Rakeesh
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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.

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Rakeesh
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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.
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swbarnes2
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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?

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just_me
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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

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Juxtapose
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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

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swbarnes2
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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?
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Juxtapose
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Man, who KNOWS how many possible gods have that commandment!?

Totally screwed.

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King of Men
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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.
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just_me
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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.

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MightyCow
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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.

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King of Men
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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?
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just_me
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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?

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King of Men
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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%.

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Juxtapose
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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.

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MightyCow
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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.

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Orincoro
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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.

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Hobbes
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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.
Iím glad to hear you say that, Rakeesh. I often find myself in a similar situation, and sometimes feel like Iím missing something. Well heck, maybe I am, but I guess Iím all right with that if itís the price I pay for my upbringing. I liked my upbringing. Not at the time of course Ö [Wink] Iíve 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 elseís testimony as part of my own is Ö limited.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Hobbes
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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]

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just_me
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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.

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Tresopax
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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.
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Orincoro
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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.

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kmbboots
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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.

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MightyCow
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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.
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Kwea
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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.

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kmbboots
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Kwea, I wouldn't go that far. I think that the religious beliefs of some people are stupid, wrong, and easily disprovable.
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King of Men
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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.
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swbarnes2
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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?
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kmbboots
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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?
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Raymond Arnold
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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?
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Tresopax
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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.

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kmbboots
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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.
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Mucus
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Glass houses and stones, I'm sure that many of them probably feel the same way about the Immaculate Conception or transubstantiation.
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kmbboots
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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.
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swbarnes2
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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.

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Mucus
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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?

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Tresopax
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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.
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kmbboots
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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.

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King of Men
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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.
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Rakeesh
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Well, it took longer than I would have expected for the discussion to turn to religion as expressed by crazy fanatics.

ETA: Np, KoM.

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Mucus
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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.

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Rakeesh
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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.

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Mucus
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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?"

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