A Rational Chrisitan of Intelligence (Rare)

Jean Chauvin
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A Rational Chrisitan of Intelligence (Rare)

Hello,

My name is Jean Chauvin and I am new on here. I saw this place when Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort gave some horrible arguments against two representatives on here.

I am a hardcore Christian trained in logic, philosophy and theology. I enjoy "sparing" if it is respectful and I do not wish to convert anybody to the truth since this is logically impossible.

Since I do not believe atheism (or agnosticism, free thinkingers, etc), then the burden or proof is on you to show me that it is. Since you cannot logically do this, you must find ways to switch the burden back to me so that you are not forced into absurdity.

So, you are stuck with picking on Christians not trained in logic and philosophy. This is sad and this is the state we are in right now. The Christian Church has dumbed down the Body of Christ so badly, they are using atheistic arguments to argue for Christian thinking. It's very bad.

I posted my arguments for God via the thread why do you believe your religion is true and not another (something like that). The question was poorly written since the term religion  cannot be defined anymore.

Anyway, I hope I am welcomed. I enjoy talking to all kinds of pagans and heretics. They can range from Mormons to Satanists such as the Osmonds and Michael W. Ford.

Thanks for having me.

Respectfully,

 

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

A Rational Christian of Intelligence (rare)with a valid and sound justification for my epistemology and a logical refutation for those with logical fallacies and false worldviews upon their normative of thinking in retrospect to objective normative(s). This is only understood via the imago dei in which we all are.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).


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Blake wrote:In one sense

Blake wrote:

In one sense we're making the same argument, but I'm a little critical of your presentation.  I'm not sure how many of these logic-denying nuts you've met, but they actually consider it a perfectly acceptable option- or the preferable one- that nothing coherent can be said about anything.  That everything is equally valid and invalid, so they believe what they believe.

It's problematic to present that as an option without outlining precisely why it *isn't* an option, because many people will simply select it when you present it for them.

It's just not coherent to refer to these things as possibilities, and not necessary to give the theists the benefit of granting them impossible options- even if only an accident of semantics.

This is the core of most theistic arguments. I believe this is why the word "worldview" inevitably crops up in any debate concerning God (or anything vaguely supernatural -- Paisley had a chubby for "worldview" when discussing his ESP bullshit). This is a strawman, of course. There is only one valid "worldview:" the one that most closely matches reality. Every other worldview is incorrect, to varying degrees of incorrectness. Some are almost-correct, and others are so far away from correct, they couldn't even get decent directions on how to get there.

As far as us presenting a valid argument for the non-existence of God: I thought Jean was just trying to preach to us. He certainly didn't seem serious in his willingness to debate. Presenting anything more than refutations of his idiotic assertions seemed to be pissing into the wind.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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thanks for feedback...

 Bob,

 

Thanks a lot for a very well thought out reply. I'm trying to keep up with the conversation using my trusty friend wikipedia, and I came across a concept called the munchaussen trilemma, which I think marks one of the many waypoints on this thread. So would you view Dennett and Popper as being just about on the money? What you say makes very good sense to me - I appreciate your input. 

 

Blake,

 

Thanks also for a good response. I haven't had the training to quite follow what you are saying regarding logic, but I intuitively understand the religion as a termite metaphor - give it an inch and it will take a mile. My suspicion is that this is true for any absolutist claims - they always become exclusionary to any other opinion. I can't phrase that in philosophical / logic / mathematical terms; what do you think?

 

I am interested in heuristics as they pertain to social psychology, cognitive science, aesthetics and leadership. Blake, earlier in the conversation with Jean Chauvin you said you would enjoy an exploratory discussion regarding the potential benefits of faith from an atheist perspective. I would love to discuss with you, perhaps in a new chat room. My current stance is sort of moulded somewhere between kierkegaard, nietzche and moral pragmatism, but I am very open to new opinions and input.  

 

One of the things I have found fascinating was watching the collective response of the 'rational responders' to Jean Chauvin. A lot of people in this forum very quickly resorted to exactly the same non-rational behavioural responses that religious people would likely employ against an atheist troll in a christian chat room! Does anyone else see the funny side of that?

 

Hayleysportster

 

The give away is in the name, Jean Chauvin - Calvin's real name in his native french - although I was thrown for a bit because his profile picture is of the Martin Luther character in a recent biopic of the same!! (As an aside, most christians make the mistake of lumping Calvin and Lutheran doctrine into one pot - but they are very different and have very different impacts on religious practice and subsequent social norms: Calvinism is the forefather of the pervading triumphalist christianity that most members of the forum are reacting to when they get emotional and start shit slinging with the likes of JC!! Of course, from an outside perspective it seems like an irrelevant distinction, but the doctrinal elements of a theistic or non-theistic faith system seem to me to impact the way the rubber hits the road so to speak).

 

Rebecca

 

I have no public assertion to make regarding the existence or non-existence of God. 

 

 


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I think

Optionsgeek wrote:

 Hayleysportster

 The give away is in the name, Jean Chauvin - Calvin's real name in his native french - although I was thrown for a bit because his profile picture is of the Martin Luther character in a recent biopic of the same!! (As an aside, most christians make the mistake of lumping Calvin and Lutheran doctrine into one pot - but they are very different and have very different impacts on religious practice and subsequent social norms: Calvinism is the forefather of the pervading triumphalist christianity that most members of the forum are reacting to when they get emotional and start shit slinging with the likes of JC!! Of course, from an outside perspective it seems like an irrelevant distinction, but the doctrinal elements of a theistic or non-theistic faith system seem to me to impact the way the rubber hits the road so to speak).

 

The original point to your question was whether or not that we had offered a defense for whether or not that a fact could be established without an "infinite reference point" or a god, for lack of a better term.

I was NOT reacting to his position of Calvinism, I was merely pointing out the absurdity of the position. There was a reason for this.

How do you arrive at the conclusion that the existence of a fact is so pertinent to whether or not God exists ? 2 +2 = 4 does it not ?  Would 2 + 2 not continue to equal 4 if God did not exist ? You mentioned that agnosticism was the only rational position to take. Well if that is true, then that would mean that an agnostic could not have TOO much of their reality affected by the existence of god if god is unknowable.

Thus, the reason for pointing out the absurdity of the theist position due to it's limitations and other reasons (reasons that I noticed that you chose to not answer) is to demonstrate that the belief of god or an "infinite reference point" has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the human race can establish a fact. Do you see what I mean ?

,

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Optionsgeek wrote:One of the

Optionsgeek wrote:

One of the things I have found fascinating was watching the collective response of the 'rational responders' to Jean Chauvin. A lot of people in this forum very quickly resorted to exactly the same non-rational behavioural responses that religious people would likely employ against an atheist troll in a christian chat room! Does anyone else see the funny side of that?

Funny, that a troll is treated like a troll no matter where they troll?  You can't rationalize with a troll, that is the whole point of trolling.  If you find that fascinating, you must be new to Internet forums.

Optionsgeek wrote:

My suspicion is that this is true for any absolutist claims - they always become exclusionary to any other opinion. I can't phrase that in philosophical / logic / mathematical terms; what do you think?

Itsatrap!  I'm getting my popcorn out.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Optionsgeek, I haven't

Optionsgeek, I haven't actually read Popper directly, but obviously read many references and comments about his ideas. My impression is that his 'falsifiability' rule is a good start, but doesn't quite capture some aspects of the way science is actually done. An unfalsifiable idea may still be quite useful, and may well provide a much more workable model in itself, or as a starting point for new ideas/hypotheses, than any alternatives.

I am pretty close to being classifiable as being a 'fan' of Dennett, he has really helped me come to grips with some subtle concepts, and I have many of his books.

His discussion of how to handle 'real' facts and ideas which cannot be 100% proved I found quite helpful, in 'Freedom Evolves'. That really is a great book if you want to try and get your head around many aspects of 'knowledge', free will and determinism, complexity, etc. It is not a simple book to read, but I think he makes some very tricky ideas about as comprehensible as possible.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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nigelTheBold wrote:Every

nigelTheBold wrote:

Every other worldview is incorrect, to varying degrees of incorrectness. Some are almost-correct, and others are so far away from correct, they couldn't even get decent directions on how to get there.

 

1 + 2 = 38  is not really less wrong than 1 + 2 = 300; they're both completely, 100%, wrong.  Empirically, things can be more or less accurate, or have more or less precision, but logically it really is that black and white.

While sometimes a world view may seem more or less reasonable to us depending on how much evidence is piled against it, a world view that is contingent on broken logic is just that- broken, totally and completely.  Doesn't matter if they accept 99.9% of science, but believe in a creator god that started the big bang, or if they think the Earth is 6,000 years old, flat, and that all prayers are answered by a personal deity who set everything into motion and is the arbiter of absolute morality- they both fail at logic.

 

nigelTheBold wrote:

Presenting anything more than refutations of his idiotic assertions seemed to be pissing into the wind.

 

Which is why I didn't do it.  Even bothering to refute his insane troll logic (with the attempt directed at him) seemed at least as problematic as spitting into the wind, even if prepared to duck.  Seems that anybody with two brain cells could probably figure out he's selling a bill of goods unless said person was already on his side to begin with.


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Blake wrote:nigelTheBold

Blake wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

Every other worldview is incorrect, to varying degrees of incorrectness. Some are almost-correct, and others are so far away from correct, they couldn't even get decent directions on how to get there.

 

1 + 2 = 38  is not really less wrong than 1 + 2 = 300; they're both completely, 100%, wrong.  Empirically, things can be more or less accurate, or have more or less precision, but logically it really is that black and white.

While sometimes a world view may seem more or less reasonable to us depending on how much evidence is piled against it, a world view that is contingent on broken logic is just that- broken, totally and completely.  Doesn't matter if they accept 99.9% of science, but believe in a creator god that started the big bang, or if they think the Earth is 6,000 years old, flat, and that all prayers are answered by a personal deity who set everything into motion and is the arbiter of absolute morality- they both fail at logic.

Then everyone fails at logic, and everyone *does* fail at logic.  But pointing that out seems to me just as useful as someone pointing out that we can't "know" some things even though we might know them.

In reality Nigel's degrees of correctness matter more to humans than the black and white version of correctness.  Unless you are just making a point about the technical use of logic, in which case I'm sure most would agree with you.

Your example is good...when it comes to human society, 1+1=2 could be considered an 'ideal' state.  38 is closer to ideal than 300, so it is preferable, if not ideal...and that ideal is not practical anyway.  

If everyone on the planet believed in science for 99.9% of reality but believed a creator God started it for that 0.1%, do you know what most of us would do?  Take up a new hobby.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Bob,Again, thanks for the

Bob,

Again, thanks for the input and book recommendation, I'll keep an eye out for it.

 

Mellestad,

haha, you busted me - I am a total newbie to forums, this is my first forum interaction Smiling I still find it funny when rationally minded people get mad - I was hoping for some spock like coolness Eye-wink

 

Hayley,

Ah sorry, I wasn't referring to you in particular regarding reactions to JC, just a general sense from the board. I guess most of you here are from the US? The oppressed minority always have every reason to be sensitive - being an atheist in the bible belt is probably about as fun as being a christian in north korea Smiling

Thank you for helping with the 2+2=4 example, i guess you are talking about axioms and self-evident truths. 

Yes, you are right - I am not interested in debating the existence or non-existence of God.  My interest is in social psychology, cognitive and neuroscience, aesthetics and leadership, and heuristics pertaining to these. I am a beginner with these discussions, but from my limited, non-formal exposure, I have enjoyed the ideas of kierkegaard, nietzsche, wittgenstein and some moral pragmatists. 

 

 


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Optionsgeek wrote: Yes, you

Optionsgeek wrote:

 

Yes, you are right - I am not interested in debating the existence or non-existence of God.  My interest is in social psychology, cognitive and neuroscience, aesthetics and leadership, and heuristics pertaining to these. I am a beginner with these discussions, but from my limited, non-formal exposure, I have enjoyed the ideas of kierkegaard, nietzsche, wittgenstein and some moral pragmatists. 

 

Welcome aboard then. I think you'll get quite alot out of here in the way of discussion. Most discussions do not quite seem to get as "heated" for want of a better term, as the ones with Jean. But he came in here with multiple topics, multiple postings and general mayhem, which I think is what resulted in some of the hostility that you may be seeing on this end.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Optionsgeek wrote:Thanks

Optionsgeek wrote:

Thanks also for a good response. I haven't had the training to quite follow what you are saying regarding logic, but I intuitively understand the religion as a termite metaphor - give it an inch and it will take a mile.

Oh, no, religions isn't the termite- dialetheism is the termite.  Dialetheism is the regection of logic- let that in your brain, and all else is lost.

Throw out logic, and you throw out falsification, which obliterates the possibility of knowledge of any kind.

By accepting dialetheism (that some contradictions might be true), which *seems* like an "open minded" thing to do, one consequently becomes as closed minded as is possible.

There are theists who accept logic- they just happen to be making mistakes in their reasoning, or sometimes are short on education.  Theism itself doesn't make people closed minded, although most closed minded people are theists.  Fideism does make people more closed minded regarding the matter upon which those people have faith (because no amount of reasoning will change that in a fideistic case), although not necessarily to the extreme of dialetheism, which necessarily makes people closed minded on all matters. 

There are, of course, also forms of compartmentalized dialetheism wherein it is compounded with fideism-- therein people have faith that a certain category of knowledge, or part of reality, permits contradictions while others do not.  For example, they may believe that "God" can make logical contradictions, but that everything else is logical.  This follows from ignorance of logic, because philosophical compartmentalization of logical explosion is not possible- from a contradiction, all things do follow, not just the things directly related to that subject matter.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
My suspicion is that this is true for any absolutist claims - they always become exclusionary to any other opinion. I can't phrase that in philosophical / logic / mathematical terms; what do you think?

You do have to close your mind to dialetheism in order to have as open mind as is possible- only somebody who is completely ignorant, as such, can have a 100% open mind.  As soon as either an understanding of logic, or of dialetheism gets in there, that's the end of complete naivete.  It's kind of like losing one's... mental virginity.

Where logic is an experience that will equip you with the tools to have an open mind about everything else, judging things and choosing to accept or reject them as they come (only always rejecting things that are contradictory- but not meaning that you can't change out one idea for another), dialetheism is more like a rotting disease that forbids further knowledge or coherence in any form by devouring everything, possible and impossible, like a gluttonous beast, and slamming the door shut forever. 

A mind that passively accepts all propositions as equally valid without the ability to judge or reject is closed- it's decided, it's done, it's no longer a mind.

I hope that makes sense.

 

You're not a mental virgin anymore. 

Either you have to reject the possibility of contradictions, closing your mind just a tiny bit and maintaining intelligence and sanity, or you have to accept the possibility, simultaneously commiting mental suicide and accepting any and all propositions as equally valid/invalid/chewy/pink/furry/pigfeather.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
Blake, earlier in the conversation with Jean Chauvin you said you would enjoy an exploratory discussion regarding the potential benefits of faith from an atheist perspective. I would love to discuss with you, perhaps in a new chat room. My current stance is sort of moulded somewhere between kierkegaard, nietzche and moral pragmatism, but I am very open to new opinions and input.

 

On a forum, it's called a new "thread".  Sure, we could do that, but we'd need to determine what the debate was about first.  E.g. what the stances are, and who is on which side.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
One of the things I have found fascinating was watching the collective response of the 'rational responders' to Jean Chauvin. A lot of people in this forum very quickly resorted to exactly the same non-rational behavioural responses that religious people would likely employ against an atheist troll in a christian chat room! Does anyone else see the funny side of that?

Like others have said, people react a certain way when others confront them with rudeness and hostility.  That one group is making more rational arguments than the other doesn't necessarily mitigate the emotional factor.

mellestad wrote:

Then everyone fails at logic, and everyone *does* fail at logic.


I'm not talking about making a mistake on a math problem in high school infecting the entirety of a person's world view- only if that person's world view was predicated on the mistake would that be the case.

Empiricists who say "It seems like this is the case, so I'll assume it for the time being without undue certainty" have made no real logical assertions, and so could not have failed at logic.

Rationalists who follow pragmatic probabalistic empiricism, and take care only to assert the falsehood of existential statements with demonstrated logical contradictions, likewise, don't fail at logic unless one of those demonstrations was faulty (in which case, once they correct the error, they again don't fail at logic).

With regards to world view, most of the people here don't fail at logic by virtue of being non-participants in rationalism.  A non-answer is not a wrong answer, it's just a little lazy.

Among atheists, generally only those "agnostics" who assert that such things are unknowable (rather than just unknown by them) are taking a risk at failing at logic by making such an assertion (and generally do).

Fideists, deists, and theists in general, typically fail at logic for having made an logically contradictory assertion that predicates their world views.


mellestad wrote:

In reality Nigel's degrees of correctness matter more to humans than the black and white version of correctness.  Unless you are just making a point about the technical use of logic, in which case I'm sure most would agree with you.


Yes, I was mostly just splitting hairs.

Logically, things are either consistent or not.
Empirically, there are degrees of probability- only the seemingly most probable answer isn't always the right one (it just usually is), and the impossible answer must still necessarily be wrong.


mellestad wrote:

If everyone on the planet believed in science for 99.9% of reality but believed a creator God started it for that 0.1%, do you know what most of us would do?  Take up a new hobby.


This is probably true.


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BobSpence1

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harleysportster, FYI, I did a Google search, and it seems that the "infinite reference point" thing is straight from a famous quote of Jean-Paul Sartre. I still don't think it makes any sense, I think Sartre was pretty wacko, but maybe JC is a fan.
 

Hehe

Could be. I googled it as well and came back with : No finite meaning has meaning without an infinite reference point --Sartre.

Sartre seems to be one of the people accredited with the beginnings of post-modernism (a term which seems so broad thaat I have never really understood exactly what post-modernism entails) and he does have some very odd aphorisms. I wouldn't have thought of Jean as a fan, but truth is definitely stranger than fiction at times.

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Blake,Thanks again for your

Blake,


Thanks again for your thoughtful answers. I'm not really looking for a debate, I just enjoy the conversation for its own sake and to hear other people's ideas. I have no agenda to advance, my only interest is good conversation in an open environment where I can refine some of my ideas and learn stuff. I have negative interest in engaging in online pissing contests with people I have never met. 

So my question is: what, if any, benefits do you see to both individuals and societies from faith systems? Do you see any relative merit in theistic vs non-theistic faith systems? Do you believe that there is an inevitability to faith systems in human individuals and society? As I said, I am interested in heuristics as it pertains to social psychology and cognitive and neuroscience, as well as aesthetics and leadership. 

Totally understand if this is too off topic for rational responders - let me know...

Peace,


 


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Optionsgeek wrote:what, if

Optionsgeek wrote:
what, if any, benefits do you see to both individuals and societies from faith systems?

 

In the absence of education, faith can instill some terror which can guide people's actions in a superstitious manner- this works to a point, but potentially culminates with counterproductive blowback when people realize the justifications that were given to them were false.

For example, teach your child not to play in the street because the boogey man will eat him or her if he or she steps in the street, and the child will avoid the street with horror until accidentally stepping into it and realizing the threat was false, henceforth playing in the street with disregard, oblivious to the legitimate reasons for not doing so.

 

Here we have a short term benefit that produces the desired behavior patterns, but coupled with a risk of more serious consequences.  There is no net benefit here *unless* for some reason legitimate education is genuinely impossible. 

Compounding the issue, the pattern instilled through faith based fear is very difficult to change if the need arrises (by changing social structures, new environments, etc.), and makes it more difficult to transition to legitimate education at a later point.

 

Are there benefits to cauterizing a wound?  Yes, when proper medical treatment is not available at all.

When considering potential benefits, you need to take into account the situation.  Today we have free access to information, and children have free education; like no time in history, we are now able to properly educate our successors.  Faith amounts to a scar on society; a holdover from when that treatment wasn't available.

 

Beyond that, there are no benefits to "faith systems" that are not endemic to other memes.

Group membership can be helpful for individual identity whether it's Red-socks fandom, twilight fandom, or any other.  Likewise, any severe and polarizing group membership can be divisive to society (nationalism, Football riots, and in particular religion).

Social ethics come with education, and personal ethics come with socialization and innate empathy.  There's no need to impose faith onto these matters either.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
Do you see any relative merit in theistic vs non-theistic faith systems?

 

Any faith system is inherently problematic for the reasons I mentioned.  With regards to relative merit, though, those come in a few forms.

Logic: Some faith descriptions are incidentally more compatible with reason than others, and those tend to be the non-theistic ones- some few traditions in them even being logically coherent.  This doesn't necessarily do anything in itself, though I personally appreciate logically coherent world views- it's an odd faith system that is actually 'apparently' possible, and those are exclusively non-theistic.  This does provide for better philosophers, which could be said to be a merit, but doesn't seem to make a whit of difference for the bulk of the population.

Compatibility with superficially empirical reality:  Being internally consistent doesn't necessarily mean that the empirical world views advocated by the adherents are more realistic; e.g. the world could be on the back of a turtle (unlikely, but "possible&quotEye-wink.  On the other hand, some faiths have very illogical premises, and yet the adherents accept a (either accidentally, or by way of gradual change in the beliefs) reality which better resembles the probable one in a superficial manner.  This varies more between how modernized the adherents are, or how liberalized the faith is, and may have little correlation with whether the faith is theistic or non-theistic.

Proselytizing:  Theistic faiths are overwhelmingly viral and often violently contagious.  Over all, non-theistic faiths win hands down- rather than hunting people down for their god(s), they take people who come to them.

 

The best way to say where a "faith" has more merit is simply where is it more predicated on education of reality, and less on fideism- where it is less "faithy".

 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
Do you believe that there is an inevitability to faith systems in human individuals and society?

 

Inevitability implies an absolute.  Education can preempt faith systems, and while the statistical chances of that lasting wane as society becomes longer lived, there is no guarantee society won't simply end at some point from any particular perspective.

Overwhelmingly probable?  Yes.  Education is a constant battle- let up even for a moment, and ignorance will breed up some new religion.


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Optionsgeek

Optionsgeek wrote:

Blake,


Thanks again for your thoughtful answers. I'm not really looking for a debate, I just enjoy the conversation for its own sake and to hear other people's ideas. I have no agenda to advance, my only interest is good conversation in an open environment where I can refine some of my ideas and learn stuff. I have negative interest in engaging in online pissing contests with people I have never met. 

So my question is: what, if any, benefits do you see to both individuals and societies from faith systems? Do you see any relative merit in theistic vs non-theistic faith systems? Do you believe that there is an inevitability to faith systems in human individuals and society? As I said, I am interested in heuristics as it pertains to social psychology and cognitive and neuroscience, as well as aesthetics and leadership. 

Totally understand if this is too off topic for rational responders - let me know...

Peace,


 

Jean,

 

There is no god, and bingo was his name-o.

So, my claim is "there is no god".  Try to prove this is wrong.   

 

100%


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Blake

 Thanks again for your thoughtful response, you are very interesting to read...

 

You told JC how to quote from other people's posts, but I can't remember - can you help?

 


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100%

 Sorry, I am not Jean. I signed off with my initial without thinking. For our purposes here, I am Optionsgeek.


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Hey Blake, I worked out how

Hey Blake, 

I worked out how to quote! Thanks for your patience and thanks again for your detailed and thoughtful responses. 

Blake wrote:

In the absence of education, faith can instill some terror which can guide people's actions in a superstitious manner- this works to a point, but potentially culminates with counterproductive blowback when people realize the justifications that were given to them were false.

For example, teach your child not to play in the street because the boogey man will eat him or her if he or she steps in the street, and the child will avoid the street with horror until accidentally stepping into it and realizing the threat was false, henceforth playing in the street with disregard, oblivious to the legitimate reasons for not doing so.

 

You have interesting preconceptions about faith systems. Are all faith systems based on fear? What are your thoughts on political faith systems? How do they differ in structure, if at all, from theistic faith systems? 

What are you opinions on axioms and self-evident truths? With regards to logic and also to ethics?

I would love to know more about what you mean when you said:

blake wrote:

 

Social ethics come with education, and personal ethics come with socialization and innate empathy.  There's no need to impose faith onto these matters either.

 

What exactly does ethical education look like? Are heuristics useful here? What, if any, ethical axioms are needed to construct a system of ethics? What are the advantages of one set of moral axioms over another?

 

 


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Quick question

Optionsgeek,

Just one quick question (this is not an attempt to try and debate, but a way to better understand your position) Do you feel that facts can be established with or without the "infinite reference point" ? Do you feel that there has to be an absolute at the bottom of everything or can truth exist without the "infinite reference point" ? Infinite reference point just being a lack of a better term over what was described above.

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Harley,I am wary of the

Harley,

I am wary of the concept of an absolute fact or truth, and I am yet to be fully convinced of its:

1/ possibility

2/ necessity

In particular, I am impressed by the munchaussen trilema. Wiki has a good entry on this...

However, despite my caution regarding absolute truth, I am interested in the function of axioms in creating workable, practical and probabilistic if not absolute truths. 

Following on from this, I am interested in heuristics as it pertains to social psychology, cognitive and neuroscience, aesthetics and leadership. I have enjoyed the ideas of kierkegaard, nietzche, wittgenstein and some moral pragmatists. 

 


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Optionsgeek wrote:You have

Optionsgeek wrote:

You have interesting preconceptions about faith systems. Are all faith systems based on fear? What are your thoughts on political faith systems? How do they differ in structure, if at all, from theistic faith systems?

Economic politics aren't much different.  If X policies are enacted, social-economic doom!  If Y policies are enacted, social-economic paradise!  Etc.  However, politics are more amicable to overwhelming evidence than religious faith (sometimes not by much, though).

I believe in evidence based politics, so I don't subscribe to faith based political systems.  Which, in essence, means that you actually *try* things and figure out if they work on representative populations using scientific methodology before blindly enacting them for an entire nation/world and then assuming they work (which is nearly impossible to determine without a control group).

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
What are you opinions on axioms and self-evident truths? With regards to logic and also to ethics?

Those are not faith based if they are actually self evident, but there are not any self evident ethical truths; just facts to take into consideration.  I have previously explained logic.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
What exactly does [social] ethical education look like? Are heuristics useful here?

 

Yes, basic social ethics are a matter of social contract, which is an emergent framework that is followed out of mutual pragmatism.  "You don't smash my head in with a rock while I sleep, and I won't smash your head in with a rock while you sleep"; the social contract is based on negotiation power- trading the ability to harm somebody for immunity from harm from others.  Those without power are not included in social ethics (children, slaves, and in the past, women-- you have to give something to get something, and if a group is not in the position to threaten the other, they have nothing to grant).

More or less, it means granting other members of society autonomy so long as they aren't harming another societal member, and not causing other members of society harm.  Bare social ethics are ultimately very cold and  cruel, with regards to the disregard with which they treat those who are not part of the social contract.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
What, if any, ethical axioms are needed to construct a system of ethics?

 

A complete system of ethics takes into account the degree of empathy a person is subject to- like intelligence, or other personal qualities, empathy is subjective and derived from the individual's biology and past experience.  There are those entirely without empathy, or who enjoy causing others pain.

Personal behavior is largely arbitrary, unless one values consistency.  If one is prone to value consistency, and wishes to avoid hypocrisy in forming a consistent ethic, one needs to identify more objective metrics of empathy (such as the ability to experience pain), and then apply ethical consideration accordingly.

 

That is to say, if one will judge another member of society negatively for certain actions, such as keeping child sex slaves, one must consider the objective metrics of pain involved, and the trade off.  This person is keeping individuals who are *not* part of the social contract, and causing them pain in order to experience personal pleasure (sexual gratification).

Now, lets say the same person who seeks to judge the child-sex slaver negatively, his or herself, raises pigs to eat, the same objective metrics must be considered.  This would-be judge is keeping individuals who are also *not* part of the social contract, and causing them pain in order to experience personal pleasure (taste gratification).  This person must then either refrain from negatively judging the child-sex slaver, and accept the person as a moral equal, or henceforth refrain from his or her ethically identical practice.

That is, if you wish freedom from ethics to be a monster, you must grant the same to your peers, and be content to live in a society of monsters-- all practicing a certain degree of monstrous activities for their own pleasures (whether that be sadistic pleasure, sexual pleasure, tactile pleasure, culinary pleasure, olfactory pleasure, aesthetic pleasure, or auditory pleasure). 

As an ethic metric, any standard is the setting of an exchange rate- a point at which a minimum acceptable amount of pleasure is yielded from a certain amount of pain caused to another- thereby permitting negatively judgment of anything that falls short of that rate, while accepting anything that surpasses it.

The broader socialization and compassion are, the higher that standard is, and with more advanced ethics, epicurean adaptation can even be taken into account with regards to comparative potentials (all fully emergent).

Some societies place taboos on certain forms of pleasure, but this- like any arbitrary ethic- is irrational and in draconian contrast to the fundamental ethics of social contract, with the exception of certain Eugenic or even adaptive memetic goals with correlations to qualities that are of note to social contract.

 

 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
What are the advantages of one set of moral axioms over another?

 

 

Advantages of morality?  legitimate morality, as derived from empathy and realistic parameters (rather than social contract ethics, which are emergent based on self interest), is that quality we choose to possess which exceeds mere selfish benefit. 

By its very nature, it can not benefit you to be moral beyond the satisfaction of the desire to not be a monster if you so possess that drive.

 

Comparing objective moral axioms and reality to arbitrary moral axioms is like comparing logic to illogic- one is legitimate, and the other is a crude approximation which ultimately amounts of misconception and delusion, and is effectively the active negation of morality to the extent that it differs from those results derived from objective axioms.


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Cheers

Blake, 

Thanks again for a very thoughtful answer.

I respect your opinions and your obvious intelligence. However, I erred earlier when I tried to paper over our different views on logic in an effort to facilitate the discussion of social systems. I think the kicker and the impasse will be over foundationalism. We disagree on something at the highest level - you are a foundationalist who regards logic and mathematics as containing axioms that need to be accepted as absolute truths, and I am an anti-foundationalist, placing the pragmatic (what works) over knowledge (what's true). I didn't know this until today, so thank you for providing me with stimulating conversation and helping me refine my ideas.

I am doubtful that foundationalism is a helpful philosophical bed-rock for human individuals or societies. I understand your problem with dialetheism, though I think you introduced a bifurcation fallacy into your reasoning when you juxtaposed it with an acceptance of logic as the only alternative. My specific concern is how foundationalism plays out in practicality. My concern is that atheist foundationalists are similar to theistic foundationailists in that both lead to dogmatic stances, the compounding of cognitive biases and an increase in antagonistic interaction between members of of a system. 

With respect to our current conversation, I harbor suspicions that that your current stance on theism is dogmatic and might leave you closed to any of its potential benefits. Forgive me if I have misread you, I am open to correction. As I said before, I am not interested in discussing the existence or non-existence of God, but the benefits of religious faith, vs the absence of it or vs the replacement or subjugation of it by an non-theistic / economic / political faith system. 

RE: your ethical system: my sense is that it is impractical.  

Regarding the advantages of an evidence based ethical system, what about situations where testing is not possible? I didn't really get your reference to Eugenics - is there anything that this inductive system of ethics has to say about Eugenics? Or does it need to be tested? I might have missed something here. Can you expand? The comment below also gave me pause for thought:

blake wrote:
 

More or less, it means granting other members of society autonomy so long as they aren't harming another societal member, and not causing other members of society harm.  Bare social ethics are ultimately very cold and  cruel, with regards to the disregard with which they treat those who are not part of the social contract. 

 

Why should we care about bare social ethics being cold and cruel? If we do care, do you agree that there is a flaw in the system? If we agree that this system is flawed, how can we realistically harness self interest in a practical, scalable (a deductive, rules based system that doesn't require testing) way that is more likely to result in empathic, non-antagonistic behavior towards strangers? what about heuristics as a solution? What heuristics would you accept? why? What would be an effective heuristic, and why?

 

 

 

 

 


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Optionsgeek wrote:Bob,Again,

Optionsgeek wrote:

Bob,

Again, thanks for the input and book recommendation, I'll keep an eye out for it.

 

Mellestad,

haha, you busted me - I am a total newbie to forums, this is my first forum interaction Smiling I still find it funny when rationally minded people get mad - I was hoping for some spock like coolness Eye-wink

 

If you can stick with it I am sure you will find some new insights in Dennett.

Are you being serious about your comment that you find it funny to see rational people getting angry?

Without emotions, we would all be zombie robots.

It is passionately held positions, in my case a search for Truth, insofar as we can achieve such insight, which drives me in this context, and would be irrational to expect me, and others like me, to not get angry, or at least express strongly felt objections, when we see someone playing fast and loose with reason and logic.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Hey

Bob,

Yes, I'd like to read Dennett - I live in a non-english speaking country with a criminal postal service that rarely delivers + taxes book imports, but I should get to an english speaking country soon...

RE: the spock comment - human emotions and cognitive bias go hand in hand, and I do find irony in seeing them go hand in hand on here. However, I think that irrationality and bias are part of the fabric of life, and I am more interested in practical ways of using them and focusing them positively, than I am on calling them out and sneering at them. Hence the thrust of my posts, I have a distaste for dogma in all forms. I guess I should have expected to see some of it here - you guys are probably mostly from the US, a country where non-christians have every right to feel like a besieged minority and respond accordingly. However, I think that with regard to opinions and actions, a good rule of thumb is to focus on pragmatics rather than that slippery concept of truth, and on probabilities as opposed to absolutes...

I'd be interested to hear what you think of the munchhaussen trilemma and the foundationalist / anti-foundationalist schools. I'm wondering where you'd sit on that. Wiki covers these topics in sufficient detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Optionsgeek wrote:We

Optionsgeek wrote:
We disagree on something at the highest level - you are a foundationalist who regards logic and mathematics as containing axioms that need to be accepted as absolute truths, and I am an anti-foundationalist, placing the pragmatic (what works) over knowledge (what's true). I didn't know this until today, so thank you for providing me with stimulating conversation and helping me refine my ideas.

You're a little ambiguous here, but I hope you understand that logic is not a choice in discourse and reality- Logic is the rule for discourse, and if you attempt to abscond from it, you are not participating.

However, if you are making the argument that permitting the masses to understand reality would be less conducive to certain ends, that is a different matter.  There are arguments that most people are not capable of understanding logic, and as per Nietzsche, though the reality is that god does not exist, this could prove socially problematic if people revert to nihilism as a consequence.

You may prefer to advocate a fiction for pragmatic reasons, but if you want to discuss that matter, we should look instead to the ends you want to achieve, and determine if the fiction you wish to advocate really does achieve those ends better than advocating reality.


For my part, you are right that I will probably advocate for reality regardless of the consequences to that- because I believe that truth is a virtue in its own right- but you should know that advocating a fiction can only achieve arbitrary ends.  I know atheists who advocate a particular theistic religion because they believe in those religious "ethics"- but ultimately those "ethics" are fully arbitrary in themselves, and the preference for them is not rational, but conditioned.  Any rational preference can be argued more effectively from the standpoint of reality.


Optionsgeek wrote:
I am doubtful that foundationalism is a helpful philosophical bed-rock for human individuals or societies.



If you choose an arbitrary foundation to meet arbitrary ends, how will you advocate your arbitrary 'foundation' over the hundreds, thousands, millions, billions of other arbitrary foundations?  There is nothing to say one arbitrary "ethic" is better than the other, and only one foundation that does stand apart from the rest- actual reality.

Much in the way that science stands apart from all religions, a logical foundation stands apart from all other arbitrary foundations conceived to meet arbitrary utilitarian ends.


But lets say that, against all odds, your particular flavour of arbitrary foundation manages to become the norm, and the world over everybody subscribes to it fideistically.  What then?  Do you really believe this will last?  What of those who dare to think and question this arbitrary foundation?  What of those who expose its critical logical flaws?  What of those who instead prefer reality?  What of those with other preferences, who will jump at the chance to again advance their own arbitrary foundations when yours is struck a critical blow?


God is dead.  Replace it with another, armor that deity with your most impenetrable metaphors and most confusing metaphysical rhetoric.  Maybe your new god will stand up to scrutiny for a few years, but some day somebody is going to be smarter than you.  Some day somebody is going to see through your deception.  And as happened in the modernist revolution, so will your god die like all gods before it.


Your arbitrary foundations are a band-aide, a temporary solution, even if ever they are strong enough to become king of the hill in the first place and monopolize philosophy for even one age.



Optionsgeek wrote:
I understand your problem with dialetheism, though I think you introduced a bifurcation fallacy into your reasoning when you juxtaposed it with an acceptance of logic as the only alternative.


I did not.  That is a legitimate either-or situation.  One of the only ones you'll ever find in philosophy.  I suggest that you study logic.


Optionsgeek wrote:
My specific concern is how foundationalism plays out in practicality.


As I have stated before, just because one case is actual reality, that doesn't mean there is anything to prevent you from being deceptive and presenting another reality to the unwashed masses.  If you want to think, however, you can't deny reality- you can just lie about it in public after the fact.


Optionsgeek wrote:
My concern is that atheist foundationalists are similar to theistic foundationailists in that both lead to dogmatic stances, the compounding of cognitive biases and an increase in antagonistic interaction between members of of a system.



Did you read that you wrote here?  You made quite a few unsustainable claims, and one that is outright false and even insulting.


First, I need to reiterate that the result of a system has no bearing on its truth value.  See my prior arguments about implementing any non-valid system.  You don't have a better alternative.  Truth in itself is potentially very powerful and sustainable compared to arbitrary systems based in fiction for certain utilitarian purposes.


Second: compounding of cognitive biases?  This one is a bit insulting, and not only entirely unfounded, but outright false- particularly when the contrary has been well demonstrated.  A worldview based on reason is the foundation for eliminating cognitive bias (scientific method).  You could not be more wrong than what you just said.

Not all atheists follow the scientific method, or strive to eliminate cognitive bias, but a world view founded in logic and objective reality necessarily has precisely that outcome when followed to its fullest because if the realities of cognitive bias are ignored, so is the foundation of the philosophy.


Optionsgeek wrote:
an increase in antagonistic interaction between members of of a system.


Really?  Compared to what, exactly?

Atheists are not less socially harmonious, and are usually more so.  You have no basis for this argument, because you have NOTHING to compare it to.  This amounts to something of a red herring unless you have something up your sleeve to solve the problem of social antagonism once and for all.

That is, unless you have some arbitrary philosophical foundation that you can prove would result perfect social harmony, whatever you might propose is going to be more of the same.  You might as well have said:

"Atheism and theism are the same because they both cause people to breathe air, because throughout history all atheists and theists have been air breathers- this is a real problem because we might run out of air."

People breathe- that's what they do.  People also fight- it's human nature.  That atheism is correlated with greater social harmony is remarkable in itself.


Further, and just to drive home how profoundly out of place this comment was, you have no way of demonstrating that a fully rational philosophical foundation doesn't result in this supposed utopia.  I will note that, unlike religion which is arbitrary rather than based on reality, a realistically founded philosophy actually has the potential (even if unlikely) to become perpetually ubiquitous (something no arbitrary basis could ever do, for reasons I have mentioned).


And finally... "Dogmatic stances".  If you mean "certainty" in one's stances, this is only problematic if one has incorrect world views that are causing social problems (as is the case in most religions), or a problem for another who is trying to change the world views of the dogmatic individual.  As those world views founded on logic and reason are factually correct, this only serves to defend against change to a less correct (and generally more problematic) world view.  You can not compare the effect of theistic dogmatism to "dogmatic reason".  One is problematic and eventually medieval (no matter how new a religion is, it ultimately becomes old), and one is protective from the influences of the former.



Optionsgeek wrote:
With respect to our current conversation, I harbor suspicions that that your current stance on theism is dogmatic and might leave you closed to any of its potential benefits.


Of course theism is factually false, but I'm aware of both its pragmatic benefits and drawbacks.  Most of those benefits are contextualized in an *already* theistic population, thereby taking advantage of existing memetic infrastructure- I did not include those in my list because I assume we are discussing a hypothetical blank slate.

Also, wherein a "benefit" is also provided through other means (secular or non-theistic religions), I did not include it simply because it is not a benefit of theism itself, but an element of one kind of pragmatic philosophy.


Optionsgeek wrote:
RE: your ethical system: my sense is that it is impractical.


Practicality is relative to goals.  It is difficult for me to list benefits that you will accept, because I don't know what your goals are in this respect.  If your goals are to get the entire population to face mecca several times a day and pray, then my system would naturally be impractical to those goals.  To social order, however, it is practical, and to legitimate ethics, it is the *only* practical system.


Optionsgeek wrote:
Regarding the advantages of an evidence based ethical system, what about situations where testing is not possible?


So, we test the pig, and determine: Pigs feel pain.  We test the plant, and we determine: Plants don't feel pain.


We need to decide what to eat for lunch- this is clear.  The pig feels pain, and the plant does not- if we wish to be moral, we will eat the plant.


We discover a new source of energy in the form of small coherent singularity and neutrino based matter, this matter moves around and reacts in such a way that gives us the impression that these might actually be living things- and they could even be intelligent based on their structure, size, and the minimum limits of information theory.  Or they might just be wiggling around randomly.  We're not sure, because they're hard to detect and observe, but we have a device that can collapse them and yield massive amounts of useful energy.

We test uranium and, of course, determine that uranium is not a living system, and doesn't feel pain.  But these new things- we really aren't sure.  For all we know they could even be as self-aware as we are.


We need to decide how to power a new reactor, and there are distinct advantages to using this new kind of singularity matter to do so.


Is this the kind of situation you are talking about?


In the kinds of situations where information is not available, we have to make our best guess.  A guess is the worst thing that can be done, but it's the only thing we can do when we lack the information.

Arbitrary systems, however, essentially start out with a guess- the modus operandi of religion is an ancient guess (the worst possible means to a solution), and even uses that guess in favor of evidence once the evidence is to be had.  Only in the *best* cases will practitioners of religion allow that ancient guess to fall by the wayside in favor of evidence.  The approach is precisely the opposite of the moral one.


A rational ethics system is the best fit to reality, and the only legitimate form of morality because of it.  Where we don't have the information, one guess is probably about as good as another, but just because we might not always have all of the information doesn't mean we should give up and rely on an arbitrary guess-based framework all of the time.


Optionsgeek wrote:
I didn't really get your reference to Eugenics - is there anything that this inductive system of ethics has to say about Eugenics? Or does it need to be tested?



That was just a caveat.  Eugenics would need to be tested to determine that it is a legitimate way to improve society (rather than going with a guess), but most importantly with regards to current measures used to improve a more distant future is that they probably shouldn't be harmful to the present (that's a very different discussion).



Optionsgeek wrote:
Why should we care about bare social ethics being cold and cruel?


If we are possessed of empathy, then we will care.  There is no "should", though.  Reality is not prescriptive.  Only contingent on the desire to be moral "should" we care about this.  Most people do care, and that is important.

Optionsgeek wrote:
If we do care, do you agree that there is a flaw in the system?


No, the system of social contract ethics is perfectly functional to its ends- society- and derives only from self-interest.


Optionsgeek wrote:
If we agree that this system is flawed, how can we realistically harness self interest in a practical, scalable (a deductive, rules based system that doesn't require testing) way that is more likely to result in empathic, non-antagonistic behavior towards strangers?



The system is not flawed with regards to its purpose, it is simply not desirable by itself from a moral standpoint.

The only way to make people more empathetic is to change people by applying policies of memetic and genetic pruning, and encouraging those features which produce empathy.  This is essentially a form of genetic or memetic eugenics.  The only way to put something like this into practice without violating the social contract is to exclude these "undesirable" people from the social contract- that is, to make a society of "empathetic people".

There are a number of problems with this, but most notably that it's very difficult to measure actual empathy (there are plenty of psychopaths who fit in quite easily by faking it)- it could very quickly turn into a witch hunt.

However, one neither needs to make people more empathetic in order for society to be moral (it wouldn't hurt, it's just not necessary), nor does empathy always yield morality (thanks to delusion, rationalization, and illegitimate morality founded on arbitrary philosophies).  That is to say, for a moral society, one must only make people behave more morally (the motivations of the social components is irrelevant to the motivation of the social system as a whole).

In order to satisfy the moral concern, a system of moral law must be compounded upon the social contract- whereby a moral standard is set.  This defines society by those who behave morally, and ejects those who do not from the social contract.

If the goal of the society is ultimately to be more moral (a society of morally behaving people), then those standards must be both objectively valid (such that they are legitimately moral, otherwise it's not a moral society, it's an arbitrary one), and consistent (so as not to violate the social contract).

That is to say, if the evidence bears out that dogs and cows should have equal consideration due to the factors in play, then the rules in place can not prefer dogs to cows, because that would be an exercised socially and morally unjustified prejudice against people who prefer cows to dogs (a violation of social contract), unless the society were to expel everybody who preferred cows to dogs by defining itself as a society which preferred dogs to cows (though without moral basis for this, it would be an arbitrary act, and one incompatible with rational philosophy).


Optionsgeek wrote:
what about heuristics as a solution? What heuristics would you accept? why? What would be an effective heuristic, and why?


Heuristics are used for all thought.  I would accept heuristics that are realistic, accurate, and useful to legitimate ends.  Because those are the best ones.  An effective heuristic is that which is as close to reality as possible without being impractically inefficient to model...because that's the definition of an effective heuristic.

This is a very strange series of questions.
What are you talking about?  As opposed to what?

Do you understand what heuristics are?  Maybe you're using the word very differently.

Outside of a hypothetical omniscience (which is essentially impossible), every thought process is using heuristics.  It's as though you are suggesting that I type by pressing keys with my fingers... instead of?

The questions lie in what those heuristics are founded upon, how often and in what manner they are refined, etc.

We're talking about fundamental matters of philosophy here; practical matters of execution of thought don't seem to be relevant.


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Optionsgeek wrote: Bob, RE:

Optionsgeek wrote:

Bob,

RE: the spock comment - human emotions and cognitive bias go hand in hand, and I do find irony in seeing them go hand in hand on here. However, I think that irrationality and bias are part of the fabric of life, and I am more interested in practical ways of using them and focusing them positively, than I am on calling them out and sneering at them. Hence the thrust of my posts, I have a distaste for dogma in all forms. I guess I should have expected to see some of it here - you guys are probably mostly from the US, a country where non-christians have every right to feel like a besieged minority and respond accordingly. However, I think that with regard to opinions and actions, a good rule of thumb is to focus on pragmatics rather than that slippery concept of truth, and on probabilities as opposed to absolutes...

I'd be interested to hear what you think of the munchhaussen trilemma and the foundationalist / anti-foundationalist schools. I'm wondering where you'd sit on that. Wiki covers these topics in sufficient detail.

The starting point of 'knowledge' is a set of initial 'working assumptions' and personal observations.

There are a whole set of things I accept as 'true' with a high degree of confidence from direct personal observation.

Such as "there is a glowing ball in the sky which gives off light and heat and appears to move across the sky every day."

Then there are other ideas which I get indirectly via other people's testimony, such as claims of the actual reality behind my personal observations.

I ascribe various degrees of plausibility and likelihood of 'truth' to these claims based on how consistent they seem to be with other claims and personal observations, and my current assessment of the reliability of the source of each claim. If a particular claim actually provides a simplifying framework for making much more sense of another set of ideas, such as the theories of planetary motion explaining the apparent motions of the various heavenly objects, then I assign a much higher degree of confidence in that, and may completely discard others.

I fully recognise that my estimates of how much confidence to assign to some new data is often highly subjective, but there is no other option than to make a stab at it for every new 'fact' presented. As long as all such estimates are open to adjustment as new data is presented, that is not a 'show-stopper'. There really should be two attributes associated with each idea, our estimate of likelihood, and a 'note ' as to how much of a pure guess was involved in that estimate.

If a particular person seems to make claims which are wildly inconsistent with all the stuff I currently accept as highly likely to be true, without providing good backing, I will progressively downgrade my confidence in them as source of useful ideas, and vice versa if they provide consistent ideas which make sense in themselves and help knit existing concepts together into a consistent synthesis. That last is why I value Dennett, not just that I have confidence in the 'data' he presents, but in the usefulness of the insights he presents when I apply them myself.

Formally, the likelihood of any given idea can be calculated precisely as a combination of the likelihood of all the claims and observations which it is dependent on via Bayes' Theorem, although in practice we use much more informal heuristics.

As I come across more claims, make more personal observations, I adjust my confidence in all related claims by the same process. This will lead to increasing confidence in some claims, and decreasing confidence in others. This includes allowance for adjusting my necessary primary assumptions.

My confidence in any given idea is based on my confidence in all the related ideas. There will inevitably be some circularity in some chains of support, but as long as there is at least one path for each idea that starts from some primary observation or assumption, and the whole fits together well, that is all I need, and indeed all we can hope for.

As I take into consideration more observations and indirect information, the more cross-correlations I can make, so I can refine my confidence levels in each individual idea. It is only if each idea is purely dependent on one, and only one, other idea that the worries about circularity and infinite regress would be serious objections. Even if there is an apparent infinite regress , that is not necessarily a problem, as long as at each step back along the regress, there is some increase in confidence. We then can simply terminate the regress once we reach a proposition that we have sufficient confidence in. Of course we are never going to encounter a non-circular infinite regress in practice, since we will always have only a finite set of propositions to deal with.

it is the complex mesh of justificationthat is the basis of a person's current set of accepted concepts. The more we learn, the more the mesh of mutually consistent and supportive ideas and concepts grows, the better are we able to assess new ideas and claims.

To sum up, the starting point is a set of necessary initial working assumptions, including what is the best way to handle new data, and a set of personal direct observations. We then assess new data in the context of what we already accept as sufficiently plausible to retain, and adjust the confidence level for all related ideas. The 'reasoning' behind those other ideas you mention is crude and simplistic and out-dated.

To slightly paraphrase a famous person, I have no need for those ideas.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Optionsgeek
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Bob

Super response, and I could not agree more. 

So I think we are agreed on how we can best try to make sense of our environment.  

You didn't answer my question regarding the munchhaussen trilemma, and foundationalism vs anti-foundationalism - would love to know what you think. In my recent wiki surfing I see that Dennett and Popper are both quite proximal to anti-foundationalist thought. 

How would you feel about changing the last two sentences of your last paragraph into:

"The 'reasoning' behind those other ideas THAT I PERCEIVE you as mentioning is POSSIBLY / PROBABLY crude and simplistic and out-dated.

I have POSSIBLY / PROBABLY no need for those ideas, BUT I AM OPEN TO NEW DATA POINTS"?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Optionsgeek wrote:Super

Optionsgeek wrote:

Super response, and I could not agree more. 

So I think we are agreed on how we can best try to make sense of our environment.  

You didn't answer my question regarding the munchhaussen trilemma, and foundationalism vs anti-foundationalism - would love to know what you think. In my recent wiki surfing I see that Dennett and Popper are both quite proximal to anti-foundationalist thought. 

How would you feel about changing the last two sentences of your last paragraph into:

"The 'reasoning' behind those other ideas THAT I PERCEIVE you as mentioning is POSSIBLY / PROBABLY crude and simplistic and out-dated.

 

I have POSSIBLY / PROBABLY no need for those ideas, BUT I AM OPEN TO NEW DATA POINTS"? 

I did respond to your mention of the 'trilemma' and 'foundationalism', as much as I thought they deserved.

I find it personally much more profitable use of my time to lay out my take on how we gain 'knowledge' than picking apart some old misconceived philosophical crap.

For the 'trilemma", the simple circular response shouldn't be in there - it is a non-starter.

I showed my opinion of why the 'infinite regress' option doesn't apply.

So the third option is the closest to my response, and effectively the only realistic option. We just have to do our best to find the most basic, workable starting assumptions.

As for Foundationalism, pro or anti, I said that style of thinking seemed to me to be crude and simplistic, just as with the 'trilemma', envisaging the justification for any currently accepted ideas as a linear sequence of arguments, rather than the web of mutually correlated and supportive ideas which is contemporary Science.

That 'support' is not a simplistic A supports B which supports C etc, but rather that if A and B both provide a level of support for C, which then provides some clarification for A, B and/or D, we can have increased confidence in the whole A, B, C , D system. 

Mutually supportive ideas are not necessarily simply circular. The solution to a particular problem in one area of study may well find application in another discipline, and be refined in that area, as a result of application to a different task. Then that refinement can be employed back in the original area to further enhance its explanatory power there.

Application of logic and reason to study of the real world is where real fresh insights come from, since the complexity and subtlety of reality is vastly greater than we can encompass in our finite minds, as has been demonstrated in the case of the very counter-intuitive ideas of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity.

Quote:

"The 'reasoning' behind those other ideas THAT I PERCEIVE you as mentioning is POSSIBLY / PROBABLY crude and simplistic and out-dated.

I have POSSIBLY / PROBABLY no need for those ideas, BUT I AM OPEN TO NEW DATA POINTS"?

"THAT I PERCEIVE" is an unnecessary and pointless qualification.

I see (or "perceive", if you like) those ideas as "crude and simplistic and out-dated", in comparison to what I base my current thoughts on.

I find nothing in those ideas which offers me a more useful framework than what I currently employ.

They do not offer me any new DATA at all. I have long ago absorbed what ever seemed useful to me from such thinking.

Of course I am open to new data AND new forms of analysis.

If you still see something of value in those arguments, then I see you as either very new to thinking about thinking, or bogged down in the some of the more fruitless spheres of Philosophy.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Blake

Thanks again for a thoughtful response. 

blake wrote:

You're a little ambiguous here, but I hope you understand that logic is not a choice in discourse and reality- Logic is the rule for discourse, and if you attempt to abscond from it, you are not participating.

What I am trying to say is that there are possible limits to the power of logic to describe 'truth'. If I have been illogical, please let me know and I will try and clarify. I really hope that our discussion doesn't collapse on a technicality: ie if i don't adhere to your rules for discourse then I am not participating. I saw this nausea inducing site: http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/ - I hope that you don't do the same to me here!!

blake wrote:

However, if you are making the argument that permitting the masses to understand reality would be less conducive to certain ends, that is a different matter.  There are arguments that most people are not capable of understanding logic, and as per Nietzsche, though the reality is that god does not exist, this could prove socially problematic if people revert to nihilism as a consequence.

You may prefer to advocate a fiction for pragmatic reasons, but if you want to discuss that matter, we should look instead to the ends you want to achieve, and determine if the fiction you wish to advocate really does achieve those ends better than advocating reality.

For my part, you are right that I will probably advocate for reality regardless of the consequences to that- because I believe that truth is a virtue in its own right- but you should know that advocating a fiction can only achieve arbitrary ends.  I know atheists who advocate a particular theistic religion because they believe in those religious "ethics"- but ultimately those "ethics" are fully arbitrary in themselves, and the preference for them is not rational, but conditioned.  Any rational preference can be argued more effectively from the standpoint of reality.

I am not making that argument quite yet. At the moment, I am trying to voice skepticism as to our ability to 'understand reality' in any way that leads to provable absolutist claims on truth. 

blake wrote:

If you choose an arbitrary foundation to meet arbitrary ends, how will you advocate your arbitrary 'foundation' over the hundreds, thousands, millions, billions of other arbitrary foundations?  There is nothing to say one arbitrary "ethic" is better than the other, and only one foundation that does stand apart from the rest- actual reality.

Much in the way that science stands apart from all religions, a logical foundation stands apart from all other arbitrary foundations conceived to meet arbitrary utilitarian ends.

But lets say that, against all odds, your particular flavour of arbitrary foundation manages to become the norm, and the world over everybody subscribes to it fideistically.  What then?  Do you really believe this will last?  What of those who dare to think and question this arbitrary foundation?  What of those who expose its critical logical flaws?  What of those who instead prefer reality?  What of those with other preferences, who will jump at the chance to again advance their own arbitrary foundations when yours is struck a critical blow?

God is dead.  Replace it with another, armor that deity with your most impenetrable metaphors and most confusing metaphysical rhetoric.  Maybe your new god will stand up to scrutiny for a few years, but some day somebody is going to be smarter than you.  Some day somebody is going to see through your deception.  And as happened in the modernist revolution, so will your god die like all gods before it.

Your arbitrary foundations are a band-aide, a temporary solution, even if ever they are strong enough to become king of the hill in the first place and monopolize philosophy for even one age.

I am not offering any arbitrary foundations here, rather I am suggesting that ALL foundations are FUNDAMENTALLY arbitrary: even logical axioms fail the regression test - at some stage you just have to accept them as either: 

a/ useful (which is my thought)

b/ absolute, immutable (which is your thought - correct me if I am wrong).

blake wrote:
optionsgeek wrote:

I understand your problem with dialetheism, though I think you introduced a bifurcation fallacy into your reasoning when you juxtaposed it with an acceptance of logic as the only alternative.

I did not.  That is a legitimate either-or situation.  One of the only ones you'll ever find in philosophy.  I suggest that you study logic.

This could be key, if you can show me the proof of this that circumvents the munchhaussen trilemma, I am all yours... At the moment, I still can't understand why logic can't be seen as just useful rather than representing an absolute, immutable truth.

blake wrote:

As I have stated before, just because one case is actual reality, that doesn't mean there is anything to prevent you from being deceptive and presenting another reality to the unwashed masses.  If you want to think, however, you can't deny reality- you can just lie about it in public after the fact.

So, "just because one case is actual reality" - I have my doubts about such a claim; "being deceptive" - only makes sense if your "actual reality" is what you say it is;  "unwashed masses" - are you serious?

blake wrote:

First, I need to reiterate that the result of a system has no bearing on its truth value.  See my prior arguments about implementing any non-valid system.  You don't have a better alternative.  Truth in itself is potentially very powerful and sustainable compared to arbitrary systems based in fiction for certain utilitarian purposes.

Again with the 'Truth' word - I am very wary... especially when it is capitalised. 

blake wrote:

Second: compounding of cognitive biases?  This one is a bit insulting, and not only entirely unfounded, but outright false- particularly when the contrary has been well demonstrated.  A worldview based on reason is the foundation for eliminating cognitive bias (scientific method).  You could not be more wrong than what you just said.

Although I should have been more careful to quote my sources - and perhaps I should have used the term fallacious reasoning instead of cognitive bias - I think the shit slinging match with JC was evidence enough... There were a lot of poorly thought through and fallacious attacks on JC (even on myself although to a lesser degree). The hypothesis that I am suggesting is that absolutist thinking increases the likelihood of this response. 

blake wrote:

Not all atheists follow the scientific method, or strive to eliminate cognitive bias, but a world view founded in logic and objective reality necessarily has precisely that outcome when followed to its fullest because if the realities of cognitive bias are ignored, so is the foundation of the philosophy.

Do you think a world view founded in logic and objective reality (whatever that means) REALLY has that outcome? Do you think your understanding of logic has helped you overcome emotional and biased responses to new data points?

blake wrote:
optionsgeek wrote:

an increase in antagonistic interaction between members of of a system.

 

 

 

Really?  Compared to what, exactly?

Atheists are not less socially harmonious, and are usually more so.  You have no basis for this argument, because you have NOTHING to compare it to.  This amounts to something of a red herring unless you have something up your sleeve to solve the problem of social antagonism once and for all.

I didn't say that atheists are less socially harmonious. I said (and admittedly, this is a hypothesis only):

optionsgeek wrote:

My concern is that atheist foundationalists are similar to theistic foundationailists in that both lead to dogmatic stances, the compounding of cognitive biases and an increase in antagonistic interaction between members of of a system.

  For a bit more clarification, I was thinking about the interaction of theist and atheist fundamentalists within the same system, not in discrete systems. If you need any clarification of the meaning of the above, please let me know and I will be happy to oblige, but hopefully you are beginning to understand my use of the term foundationalism. If not, go to wikipedia:  

a/ munchhaussen trilemma

 

b/ foundationalist

 

c/ anti-foundationalist

 

blake wrote:

That atheism is correlated with greater social harmony is remarkable in itself.

 

Really? That is very interesting, please direct me to the relevant evidence. 

 

blake wrote:

Further, and just to drive home how profoundly out of place this comment was, you have no way of demonstrating that a fully rational philosophical foundation doesn't result in this supposed utopia.  I will note that, unlike religion which is arbitrary rather than based on reality, a realistically founded philosophy actually has the potential (even if unlikely) to become perpetually ubiquitous (something no arbitrary basis could ever do, for reasons I have mentioned).

  Based on the misunderstanding outlined above. 

blake wrote:

And finally... "Dogmatic stances".  If you mean "certainty" in one's stances, this is only problematic if one has incorrect world views that are causing social problems (as is the case in most religions), or a problem for another who is trying to change the world views of the dogmatic individual.  As those world views founded on logic and reason are factually correct, this only serves to defend against change to a less correct (and generally more problematic) world view.  You can not compare the effect of theistic dogmatism to "dogmatic reason".  One is problematic and eventually medieval (no matter how new a religion is, it ultimately becomes old), and one is protective from the influences of the former.

Again the words, 'fact', 'world view', 'certainty' - i have concerns about all of these. I was not comparing the effects of theistic dogmatism and 'dogmatic reason', I am interested in the interplay of foundationalist world views, and am concerned that they may result in dogmatic and antagonistic stances.

To be honest I'm not really bothered about prescriptive solutions to societies ills, maybe that is a common ground that we share, but I do like to debunk people's prescriptions, and I am always wary of absolutist claims on truth and absolutist prescriptions on how to improve society. I am a debunker by nature, and a contrarian. I am generally conservative in my approach to social change. I have concerns about a combative approach to faith, indeed against anything, except combativeness itself Smiling

I think in light of our current disagreement on foundationalism, our conversation about systems is not likely to be fruitful. If you can convert me to a foundationalist view in the next post (I was looking for the proof that circumvented the munchhaussen trilemma for logical axioms) then we can continue. Otherwise I think our conversation will have run its course.

Whatever the outcome, thank you again for taking your time to discuss this with me, you have helped me clarify and refine some of the thoughts that I have been having for some time now.

Peace,

Optionsgeek


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Bob,

Ahhhh, sorry, I misread your reply, I thought that you were referring to religion when you said crude and simplistic, rather than the munchaussen trilemma! 

Again, agree with you across the board, but not really sure why you find the MT to be crude and simplistic. It seems to me to be a useful hypothesis as to why it is good to hold 'truths' as hypotheses and not as absolutes. But hey, I am a beginner to thinking about thinking, so what do I know Eye-wink

Quick question: what do you see as the difference between fruitful and non-fruitful philosophy? 

Other than that Bob, I think I am finished here: you seem open to reasonable dialogue, thats all I really care about. Have a good weekend. 


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Optionsgeek wrote:Ahhhh,

Optionsgeek wrote:

Ahhhh, sorry, I misread your reply, I thought that you were referring to religion when you said crude and simplistic, rather than the munchaussen trilemma! 

Again, agree with you across the board, but not really sure why you find the MT to be crude and simplistic. It seems to me to be a useful hypothesis as to why it is good to hold 'truths' as hypotheses and not as absolutes. But hey, I am a beginner to thinking about thinking, so what do I know Eye-wink

Quick question: what do you see as the difference between fruitful and non-fruitful philosophy? 

Other than that Bob, I think I am finished here: you seem open to reasonable dialogue, thats all I really care about. Have a good weekend. 

I don't hold any ideas about the attainability of  knowledge about actual state of reality as Absolutes.

Without the primary Laws of Logic, ie, that there are identifiable 'entities', and that that part of 'reality' that is part of A cannot overlap with what is not part of A.

It seems to me that without such assumptions, we cannot even logically argue for any alternatives.

If you cannot quite see the problems I referred to in the Trilemma, that is where I see YOU have a problem in your mode of thinking.

I realize that the thinking behind the Trilemma has been the dominant mode in Metaphysics and Philosophy for a long time, and that can make it hard for someone, who may have been immersed in either of those subjects for a long time, to break out.

Part of the history of my intellectual development has been progressive abandonment of any element of uncritical respect for the statements and beliefs of even really prominent and famous figures in any field. Initially with my school teachers, later with famous philosophers and 'thinkers', and even scientists and free-thinkers/atheists. This has been based on hearing or reading some assertions by them that I could not for the life of me make sense of, or agree with, in the context. I eventually realized that the most parsimonious assumption was that they are all human, and subject to petty prejudices, biases, and blind spots.

It has enhanced my sensitivity to my own errors, as far as I can honestly determine.

Ever since I heard the traditional definition of 'knowledge' as "justified true belief", my regard for that 'discipline' plummeted dramatically. I regard 'knowledge' as a slippery concept, to be avoided as far as possible in serious discussion like this. All we have are beliefs and assumptions, held with varying degrees of personal confidence and general acceptance. 

You seem to claim some sort of general scepticism of that nature, but you haven't gone far enough in many cases, while occasionally going overboard, IMHO.

I currently have negligible respect for Plato, and only marginally more for Socrates, as examples of where I stand.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Optionsgeek wrote:What I am

Optionsgeek wrote:

What I am trying to say is that there are possible limits to the power of logic to describe 'truth'.

 

Well, not really; just practical ones.  The thing is, we aren't usually practically capable of taking all of the middle steps and understanding all of the implications between the foundations of logic and any given fact.

The best we can usually do is say "that certainly violates logic, and thus is false" and "I can't see where that violates logic, so it might be true".  The ideal, of course, is "these are the logically exhaustive options, and all but this one violate logic, so this one is true"-- it's just practically very difficult to map out all 'options'.  In some rare cases, though, it's possible (such as comparing logic and illogic/dialetheism).

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
I saw this nausea inducing site: http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/ - I hope that you don't do the same to me here!!

Not the same, no, he makes several logical fallacies in the latter steps.  His first step, however, is legitimate.  In so far as you disagree with it, you seem to be objectionable to thinking.

 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
I am not making that argument quite yet. At the moment, I am trying to voice skepticism as to our ability to 'understand reality' in any way that leads to provable absolutist claims on truth.

 

Alright, well, that's pretty silly.  I'll let you talk to Bob about that one, because that's not really something I'm willing to spend my time discussing (Bob is more patient than I).

 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
I am not offering any arbitrary foundations here, rather I am suggesting that ALL foundations are FUNDAMENTALLY arbitrary: even logical axioms fail the regression test - at some stage you just have to accept them as either: 

a/ useful (which is my thought)

b/ absolute, immutable (which is your thought - correct me if I am wrong).

 

Well, that's where you are wrong.  Not all foundations are arbitrary.  Logical axioms are inherently true for reasons I have presented.  I advise you to re-read my presentation of dialetheism and consider my words very carefully.  If you do not accept them, you are incapable of having a conversation on the matter because you don't accept the reasoning you are using.

Logic doesn't necessitate a deity as some people like to claim, but it does necessitate itself.  You are walking a very dangerous line, and at profound risk of tipping into the void of incoherence.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
This could be key, if you can show me the proof of this that circumvents the munchhaussen trilemma, I am all yours... At the moment, I still can't understand why logic can't be seen as just useful rather than representing an absolute, immutable truth.

If logic is not true, it is not useful.  Your concepts of utility are incoherent, or contingent themselves on the truth of logic.

The Münchhausen Trilemma is an absurdity, logical axioms are inherent to reality- as we are evidently in reality (we could not be evidently elsewhere, because the evidence would be incoherent), they hold true for us.  The solution is not necessarily temporal regression, circular, or axiomatic, but interdependent.  You may imagine a universe of illogic, where everything is true and false- even assuming that, within that universe is contained the universe of logic, and from there must stem our coherent perception, granting the inherent validity of logic to everything we could experience.

You can think about it as much as you want, but if you don't accept logic, even for the sake of argument, this conversation is not only over, but outright impossible.  If that's the case, then I'm sorry I wasted my time.

As Bob has already expressed, absurdities like these are not fit for lengthy consideration by anybody of intelligence.  I share his opinions on the subject, as does every intelligent person I've ever met- while that doesn't prove anything in itself, it does convey to me the empirical probability of you being unable to ever escape this intellectual black hole if you can't do so now.

If you change your mind and decide you are willing to accept logic for the sake of argument, and preferably also for the sake of your intellect, then I'm happy to continue when you respond to my prior arguments.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
"unwashed masses" - are you serious?

 

It's a term associated with the kind of philosophy you seemed to be advancing.  Instead, it seems you are advancing only dialetheism, and have no legitimate thought or philosophy at all.  I will not run pointless circles with you.  Either you will accept logic, at least for the sake of conversation, or this is not a conversation at all and I am done here.

I have argued with dialetheists, there is no point to it.  Your "utility" is meaningless and hypocritical, and your ideas themselves are necessarily anathema to all open minded rational discourse.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

Again with the 'Truth' word - I am very wary... especially when it is capitalised.

 

At the beginning of a sentence, yes.  You're almost funny.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

Although I should have been more careful to quote my sources - and perhaps I should have used the term fallacious reasoning instead of cognitive bias - I think the shit slinging match with JC was evidence enough... There were a lot of poorly thought through and fallacious attacks on JC (even on myself although to a lesser degree). The hypothesis that I am suggesting is that absolutist thinking increases the likelihood of this response.


 

Your hypothesis is grounded in poor observation and interpretation- in addition to outright hypocrisy for your attempt to make an assertion. 

For one, most atheists here are not rationalists, so your sample is skewed into a group that you are not commenting on.  Note also, that the majority of the responses indicated are just internet flames- the ad hominem are not intended to be rational arguments, but insults, and as such are not fallacious.  Much of the actual argument goes unsaid.  What you are noting is more animosity in response to a troll than argument.  If you peruse any actual arguments on this site, you will find the contrary is true (and sometimes two discussions going on simultaneously- one logical, and the other a flame war).

 

Finally, and I say again- as compared to what exactly?  Compared to brainless dialetheists who are incapable of thinking or commenting on anything?  Hey, maybe.  Feel free to consider the utility of that- it has none.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

Really? That is very interesting, please direct me to the relevant evidence.

If you are interested, see statistics on national religiosity for correlations (similar correlations are found with education and standard of living- like I said, they are correlations, this may or may not imply causation).

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

Again the words, 'fact', 'world view', 'certainty' - i have concerns about all of these. I was not comparing the effects of theistic dogmatism and 'dogmatic reason', I am interested in the interplay of foundationalist world views, and am concerned that they may result in dogmatic and antagonistic stances.


A rationally foundationalist world view is the only coherent one. 

Your argument amounts to: "Oh no! Thinking might result in people discovering answers, and then being prejudicial to those who are *wrong*!  Better just not to ever think, and to leave our brains to become useless mush!"

I would rather people continue to kill each other in violent warfare, while at the same time continuing to think and to be people, than turn into perfectly peaceful but mindless dialetheist p-zombies (non-people).  You could achieve the same ends as the latter (destroying humanity) by just killing everybody instead of turning them into p-zombies; it's all the same.

I consider your philosophy to be poisonous to open mindedness, thought, and the core aspect of existential humanity itself- your effectively dialetheist world-views are the closest thing to true evil that could possibly exist, because it undermines the only legitimate intentional good (re legitimate morality) human kind can aspire to. 

It may sound melodramatic, but in so far as you choose to be possessed of these memes, rather than the simple amorality of a nihilist, you are effectively advocating immorality, and are a vector of evil. (That is not to imply a prescription for the affliction, although that would be worth discussion)


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Bob,

Really good input. 

I have just read through this whole thread again, and I really have enjoyed the conversation and learnt a lot.

interesting thoughts on me having taken skepticism too far in some places and not far enough in others. So, hopefully giving you a bit of personal info will explain a bit:

My interest in this site / thread is two fold:

1/ Practical: My background is varied - I studied counter-insurgency conflict at university, and developed an interest in conflict resolution. The next decade I worked as a volatility trader. After that I set up a community development charity that works through churches to address social problems like the rehabilitation and social reintegration of convicts and ex-convicts, addicts etc etc. So, I am really interested in social psychology, individual cognitive and neuroscience, aesthetics and leadership. I am interested in faith systems as a type of heuristic that helps society and individuals function more effectively.

2/ Personal: I was an avowed and fairly aggressive atheist up till my early 20's, when I felt compelled to start going to church. It was never a question of belief - my understanding was always that christianity is an aesthetic, and the 'belief' element was more like an existentialist's leap into nothing, the Nietzschean, 'I carry the blessings of my yes into all abysses', as if my belief in the non-existence of God melted into irrelevance. In contrast with many it seems, I have had mostly very positive experiences of church in a variety of churches from across the spectrum, and I can not with any honesty say there is any contrast in intelligence levels between people inside and outside of church. I have however had difficulty with the increasingly triumphalist (read foundationalist) christianity in the country that I work in, and indeed around the globe and I really came to this forum to sharpen my thinking and clarify what I think is important. 

I think the way you guys process information is awesome. However, I am concerned with the prospect of Logic Dogma to replace theism. I would not accuse all of you of that, certainly not you Bob, and indeed many of the commenters in response to JC were very coherent and I'm sure would reject such a proposal too. However, there are a lot of dogmatic thinkers here, and to them I would say the following:

I think logic and empirical methods are absolutely essential to intelligent operations in society, but I am concerned when they are used exclusively to generate prescriptive methods of social and individual improvement. I am very interested in the concept of reflexivity regarding cause and effect and particularly how it pertains to the rights of the individual, and the protection of such from the state, in a world without axiomatic meaning. Science can now explain the transcendental, beauty, soul, mind, love, sanctity etc, but with one eye on reflexivity, what does the constant subordination of the abstract and non-scientific to the concrete and scientific do to society and to individuals? And how do individuals and societies find meaning in a morally atheist world?

Thanks again for your input.


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OptionsGeek, in my honest

OptionsGeek, in my honest and long-considered judgment/opinion, religion is a total fail as an explanation of origins.

It is worse than a 'fail' as basis for morality.

Its main functionality as I see it, and this is not inconsistent with your comments, is as a coping mechanism for people under chronic stress of various kinds, especially third-world poverty.

That requires that an educated person adopting it as a useful working world-view be a hypocrite, who cares little for the truth values of a story, as long as it makes them and others 'feel good'. It would only be, at best, marginally legitimate, if there were no alternative, more clear-eyed, honest world-views which also helped people cope. And I think the examples of many societies in Western Europe demonstrate that. However, I will concede that the philosophies of such countries are not directly applicable to impoverished societies.

Unfortunately I see a potential side-effect of the comfort provided by religion in poor societies to work against serious efforts to improve the situation. Especially those religions that put women in an inferior social position, since their is much evidence that empowering women is an important step toward getting a society out of the vicious cycle of excessive birth-rates to help support the individual parents leading to a downward spiral as increasing population leads to fewer available resources per person. If women are given more say in whether or not to acquiesce to sex, there is evidence that that spiral can be broken. There are also possibilities where women can be more clear-eyed in organizing things like small businesses to help break the cycle of poverty.

If you are "trying to voice skepticism as to our ability to 'understand reality' in any way that leads to provable absolutist claims on truth", I am 100% with you.

"Provable absolutist claims on truth" are a total chimera, and I am pretty sure no-one here would disagree.

That aside, there are statements that can amount to 100% claims of truth, such as the first part of the previous sentence, which could be re-phrased as:

"Our finite and fallible minds can never establish 100% provable propositions about facts of existence."

"Meaning" is personal and subjective concept, and plenty of atheists have found what satisfies their 'search for meaning".

Not exactly sure what you mean by a "morally atheist world", that seems to me to be not a function of "meaning".

And I regard Theistic morality as an oxymoron - Theism provides a set of arbitrary rules, which is not what I consider morality. The rules are typically actually encoded taboos and customs from more primitive tribal societies.

In Christianity, the Garden of Eden story is morally reprehensible, in justifying eternal punishment for a person and their descendents for the non-crime of disobedience. The Nazi leaders would love to have been let off their crimes because they were just "following orders".

The Crucifixion is also reprehensible in its concept of "vicarious atonement", that a meaningless sacrifice ( by a being who was expected to be resurrected and claim a place beside God in heaven) can in someway make-up in any way for crimes against a third party. I understand the actual origins of the idea, as a version of the primitive idea of blood-sacrifice to appease an angry God.

In attempts to justify why, in a world governed by some ultimately benevolent deity or principle, bad things happen to good people, people invented such ideas as original sin, and Karma.

Such ideas have lead in some parts of the world to the shunning and expulsion from society of people born with significant defects, since it implies, in the context of their belief systems, such persons must have some taint of evil, or have done evil things in a past life, to 'deserve' such a fate.

Morality in my book describes the attitudes to others we derive from our natural feelings of empathy and our desire for companionship. These are almost certainly evolved traits based on the advantages for survival of a social species of 'wired-in' urges toward mutual help and cooperation.

The 'Trilemma' is barely a Dilemma, as a simple circular argument is such a clear fallacy, and should not one of the options.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Optionsgeek wrote:I think

Optionsgeek wrote:

I think logic and empirical methods are absolutely essential to intelligent operations in society,

 

They are not only essential to intelligent operations in society, they are essential to determining the most probable reality, which is the only reality upon which a legitimate morality may be based. 

That is, if you didn't understand before, a morality based on on something unreal is not a morality- it is a WRONG morality- and following it is not moral, but arbitrary and very likely harmful.  Our best attempt at reality is the best attempt at morality, which is the only legitimate moral path to follow- second best doesn't cut it.

I'll explore this a bit for you.

Actual Reality: Person B likes cookies, he doesn't like to be raped, and he really doesn't like to be killed.

Arbitrary Guess: Person B doesn't like cookies, he likes to be raped, and he really doesn't like to be killed.

 

So, we have three options:

1. Person A gives person B cookies.

2. Person A rapes person B.

3. Person A kills person B.

 

So, lets base the moral actions of person A on the Arbitrary Guess.  What does person A do, in pursuit of morality?

Answer:  #2

Now, lets base the moral actions of person A on the Actual Reality.  What does person A do, in pursuit of morality?

Answer: #1

 

Now, the Arbitrary Guess may be the second best out of those, but does that make it moral?

Answer: NO.

Second best doesn't cut it.

 

Legitimate morality depends on a genuine understanding of reality, and accepting anything less than the most probable morality is not a moral action (it's accepting a greater probability of committing moral wrongs- which is morally wrong).

 

Is any of this making sense to you?

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
but I am concerned when they are used exclusively to generate prescriptive methods of social and individual improvement.

Alright, first off, that's completely faulty.  Logic and science are NOT prescriptive!  You really need to learn the difference there- what you said is profoundly ignorant.

 

Let me repeat that in case you missed it:  Logic and science are not prescriptive!  They are never prescriptive!

 

Logic and science are descriptive- they help us learn about actual reality.  We compound this knowledge of actual reality with INSTINCTS like empathy to determine what courses of action we would like to follow if we wish to follow ideologies such as morality (which is a choice, not a prescriptive "should" ) .

Logic and science inform morality, but do not generate them.  Empathy and other objective moral theories generate them, and they use knowledge- correct or incorrect- to inform themselves in doing so.  In the former case, it generates legitimate morality, and in the latter illegitimate morality.

 

But oh no!  It would be so terrible if we only used the most probable actual reality instead of relying on arbitrary guesses to inform moral actions, because then we would make fewer mistakes like the well intentioned but morally wrong action of "saving fish from drowning by pulling it out of the water".  It would just be so terrible if we didn't cause inadvertent moral calamities all of the time!  Is this what you really believe?

Why?  Why do you hate science and logic so much?  What has soured you against them so much to make you behave so irrationally?  Why do you hate knowledge?  Why do you hate the possibility of allowing humanity to accomplish legitimate morality?

You're advocating a world view that advises people to disregard the differences between the breathing of humans and fish because you hate the idea of knowledge, and the result of that will be misguided and wrong moral action.  Your advocacy is for the negation of any deliberate legitimate morality, the negation of any deliberate good.  Your advocacy is for evil.

 

Why are you choosing to be evil?  That is something I'd like to know.

Have you fallen into a philosophical black hole, on the wrong side of nihilism?

 

 

Like Bob said, if you don't have anything better, there's no harm in an arbitrary guess, but when- like today- we have logic and the scientific method to determine what is false (discounting false things) and most probable respectively, choosing the arbitrary over the probable is not morality. 

I'm not sure if Bob would agree with me that deliberately choosing the arbitrary or false over the probable to inform these decisions is the closest thing we have to true evil, but I get the impression that he wouldn't look terribly fondly on it either.

 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
Science can now explain the transcendental, beauty, soul, mind, love, sanctity etc, but with one eye on reflexivity, what does the constant subordination of the abstract and non-scientific to the concrete and scientific do to society and to individuals?

 

It informs us of reality and improves our ability to make realistic moral judgments, and as such facilitates legitimate morality if we should *choose* to pursue it.  It allows the dismissal of arbitrary taboos which are prejudicial and harmful to people, and their replacement with greater understanding and empathy.

 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
And how do individuals and societies find meaning in a morally atheist world?

 

As Bob has already explained, religions aren't moral- they were arbitrarily determined.

Now that we understand that, we can begin to construct legitimate morals informed by reality.

One finds meaning in a world without a deity in the same way one finds meaning anywhere- by deciding for oneself one's life's purpose and pursuing that.


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blake

blake wrote:

Why are you choosing to be evil?  That is something I'd like to know.

 

Thank you for proving my point. As I suspected it would, our conversation has reached the end of it's useful life, thanks for your time. 


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Bob,

Thanks again for a coherent and polite response.

bob wrote:

OptionsGeek, in my honest and long-considered judgment/opinion, religion is a total fail as an explanation of origins.

 I agree in as much that I don't believe that it is the primary function of religion to explain origins, though really I have no opinion on the existence / non-existence of God in a logical or empirical sense.   
Quote:

It is worse than a 'fail' as basis for morality.

 I believe that the social contract as defined by blake is a good basis for morality. I speak more about this below.

Quote:

 

Its main functionality as I see it, and this is not inconsistent with your comments, is as a coping mechanism for people under chronic stress of various kinds, especially third-world poverty.

That is one way of viewing it, and I agree that it is a valid viewpoint, but I would increase your scope and suggest that it can act as a aesthetic that can provide meaning, if they so choose, to people across the socio/economic/geographic/stress spectrum.

Quote:

 

That requires that an educated person adopting it as a useful working world-view be a hypocrite, who cares little for the truth values of a story, as long as it makes them and others 'feel good'. It would only be, at best, marginally legitimate, if there were no alternative, more clear-eyed, honest world-views which also helped people cope. And I think the examples of many societies in Western Europe demonstrate that. However, I will concede that the philosophies of such countries are not directly applicable to impoverished societies.

I understand what you are saying, and it is a totally coherent line of reasoning against anyone who believes that the purpose of the bible is to explain origins in a dogmatic way. On truth / hypocrisy - well, I probably wouldn't make a very good preacher - but I enjoy listening to people who do!  [EDIT - I agree that it is not psychologically healthy to preach something you have doubts in, and I don't believe that every christian is equipped for preaching. Blake for example gave frequent examples of how a fundamentalist who finds probabilistic truth difficult to process, can make great and unconscious uses of rhetorical devices to motivate, animate and persuade. Indeed I see such a process as almost inevitable in human affairs - we love to be sold certainties, its part of the natural response of a sentient being to the angst and terror of uncertainty, meaninglessness and death. 

However, as soon as you become conscious of your fallacies, that confidence and stridence in communication becomes problematic. That might put you out of the running for being a group leader, (unless you are a psychopath who is able to deal with you own hypocrisy), but can make you very useful as sort of like the internal affairs division of what ever system of belief you adhere to, checking excesses and brazen stupidity.

So for an existentialist and anti-foundationalist christian like myself, while I harbor these doubts, the key is that for me the language and ritual of church provides a narrative in which to frame my work, relationships, ups, downs. We all have one (a narrative), I wonder what yours is? How do you process the events of your life, your emotions, the up and downs, work, relationships etc? Effectively how do you deal with a universe with no implicit meaning?/EDIT]

Quote:

Unfortunately I see a potential side-effect of the comfort provided by religion in poor societies to work against serious efforts to improve the situation. Especially those religions that put women in an inferior social position, since their is much evidence that empowering women is an important step toward getting a society out of the vicious cycle of excessive birth-rates to help support the individual parents leading to a downward spiral as increasing population leads to fewer available resources per person. If women are given more say in whether or not to acquiesce to sex, there is evidence that that spiral can be broken. There are also possibilities where women can be more clear-eyed in organizing things like small businesses to help break the cycle of poverty.

I could not agree more. See below about moral axioms...

 

Quote:

 

If you are "trying to voice skepticism as to our ability to 'understand reality' in any way that leads to provable absolutist claims on truth", I am 100% with you.

"Provable absolutist claims on truth" are a total chimera, and I am pretty sure no-one here would disagree.

That aside, there are statements that can amount to 100% claims of truth, such as the first part of the previous sentence, which could be re-phrased as:

"Our finite and fallible minds can never establish 100% provable propositions about facts of existence."

Your reasoning here is why I can have this conversation with you, and why I have been unable to pursue a dialogue with Blake. I appreciate your coherence, and I am enjoying this conversation greatly.

Quote:

 

"Meaning" is personal and subjective concept, and plenty of atheists have found what satisfies their 'search for meaning".

Completely agree with you again here. I think this is very important. When a Christian tells you about his faith, he is sharing his pleasure in an aesthetic, and is inviting you to share it with him. Like me saying to you, 'Hey Bob, there is this awesome band / orchestra / artist / film / play etc etc come and see it'. Of course, if I like Forrest Gump and I tell you to see it, there is no obligation on your part to do so, and even if you do, you might think it is rubbish, and that is absolutely fine. 

 

 

 

Quote:

Not exactly sure what you mean by a "morally atheist world", that seems to me to be not a function of "meaning".

Yes, apologies here, that phrase was incoherent. Better put would have been, "a world where 'God is dead'." I am interested in what heuristics are effective models for directing society (assuming that such things exist, and can have such an effect - maybe they don't) in the face of a logically meaningless world. I am interested in exploring faith, ritual and moral axioms as means of improving the quality of life for individuals and society as a whole.

Do you, I wonder, have any thoughts on:

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Of course, like all axioms it suffers from the self-evidence paradox, but to what extent do you think this is useful? Of course we are now in the realm of speculation, and of course correlation doesn't imply causation, but why did fascism and communism never really take hold in the US or Anglo-saxon world? I wonder to what extent the protestant christian focus on the individual has had with regard to the development of american, anglo-saxon and some north-european cultures? I am interested in a possible link between totalitarianism and the weakness of the axioms that protect individuals in the societies where these ideologies have taken hold. 

A possible concern, again, totally hypothetical, is that I can't see what prevents the subordination of the individual to the state in a world without a moral axiom like this. And if a moral axiom like this is needed to provide a bed-rock protecting the individual, what is the benefit of invoking deity? Maybe the invocation of deity is an effective aesthetic, and gives a weight and a permanence to the axiom that it would otherwise lack. Contrast the above with:

 

"These Truths are self-evident, that all men are created equal, that have certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 

I don't know about you, maybe you have been trained to resist the G word, but God is a great heuristic / aesthetic (don't know if i'm on safe ground here interchanging those two words, but hopefully you know what I'm driving at!) IMHO for providing something with a sense of weight and permanence.

 

Quote:

 

And I regard Theistic morality as an oxymoron - Theism provides a set of arbitrary rules, which is not what I consider morality. The rules are typically actually encoded taboos and customs from more primitive tribal societies.

I'll stick with christianity as I know that best. My understanding is that the summation of Christian law, 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' is a heuristic that elegantly maps the social contract. Incidentally it is virtually identical to the core moral axioms of most of the worlds major faiths, and as I'm sure you are aware, is known as the Golden Rule. 

Quote:

 

In Christianity, the Garden of Eden story is morally reprehensible, in justifying eternal punishment for a person and their descendents for the non-crime of disobedience. The Nazi leaders would love to have been let off their crimes because they were just "following orders".

The Crucifixion is also reprehensible in its concept of "vicarious atonement", that a meaningless sacrifice ( by a being who was expected to be resurrected and claim a place beside God in heaven) can in someway make-up in any way for crimes against a third party. I understand the actual origins of the idea, as a version of the primitive idea of blood-sacrifice to appease an angry God.

In attempts to justify why, in a world governed by some ultimately benevolent deity or principle, bad things happen to good people, people invented such ideas as original sin, and Karma.

 

Such ideas have lead in some parts of the world to the shunning and expulsion from society of people born with significant defects, since it implies, in the context of their belief systems, such persons must have some taint of evil, or have done evil things in a past life, to 'deserve' such a fate.

 

I am loathe to discuss Christian doctrine here, for a couple of reasons:

1/ Primarily because I am positing faith as an aesthetic you find meaning in or not, and discussing doctrinal details without embracing the Christian aesthetic, is nonsensical as I'm sure you will agree. 

2/ Secondarily, is that even within the Christian umbrella, there are many different interpretations and emphases placed on different elements of doctrine so it really opens up a totally new conversation on doctrinal aesthetics. I fully sympathise with your distaste for the aesthetic of some doctrinal positions held by some christians, and some elements of other belief systems. However, some of these aesthetics can be appreciated if experienced or viewed in a different light, but I understand and accept that from where you are looking now, that is unlikely.

Quote:

 

Morality in my book describes the attitudes to others we derive from our natural feelings of empathy and our desire for companionship. These are almost certainly evolved traits based on the advantages for survival of a social species of 'wired-in' urges toward mutual help and cooperation.

completely agree. 

 

Quote:

 

The 'Trilemma' is barely a Dilemma, as a simple circular argument is such a clear fallacy, and should not one of the options.

 

Thanks for helping with that, you are a great communicator and I am learning a lot from this conversation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Optionsgeek
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EDIT FROM PREVIOUS

 Just to clarify on the truth / hypocrisy dilemma i dealt with too shortly above:

[EDIT - I agree that it is not psychologically healthy to preach something that you have doubts in, and I don't believe that every christian is equipped for preaching. Blake for example gave frequent examples of how a fundamentalist who finds probabilistic truth difficult to process, can make great and unconscious uses of rhetorical devices to motivate, animate and persuade. Indeed I see such a process as almost inevitable in human affairs - we love to be sold certainties, its part of the natural response of a sentient being to the angst and terror of uncertainty, meaninglessness and death. f

However, as soon as you become conscious of your fallacies, that confidence and stridence in communication becomes problematic. I think wittgenstein said something to the effect that the more you know, the harder it is to be honest. That might put you out of the running for being a group leader, (unless you are a psychopath who is able to deal with you own hypocrisy), but can make you very useful as sort of like the internal affairs division of what ever system of belief you adhere to, checking excesses and brazen stupidity.

So for an existentialist and anti-foundationalist christian like myself, while I harbor these doubts, the key is that for me the language and ritual of church provides a narrative in which to frame my work, relationships, ups, downs. We all have one (a narrative), I wonder what yours is? How do you process the events of your life, your emotions, the up and downs, work, relationships etc? Effectively, how do you deal with a universe with no implicit meaning?/EDIT]


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Thomas Jefferson

Optionsgeek wrote:

Thanks again for a coherent and polite response.

 Do you, I wonder, have any thoughts on:

 

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Of course, like all axioms it suffers from the self-evidence paradox, but to what extent do you think this is useful? Of course we are now in the realm of speculation, and of course correlation doesn't imply causation, but why did fascism and communism never really take hold in the US or Anglo-saxon world? I wonder to what extent the protestant christian focus on the individual has had with regard to the development of american, anglo-saxon and some north-european cultures? I am interested in a possible link between totalitarianism and the weakness of the axioms that protect individuals in the societies where these ideologies have taken hold. 

A possible concern, again, totally hypothetical, is that I can't see what prevents the subordination of the individual to the state in a world without a moral axiom like this. And if a moral axiom like this is needed to provide a bed-rock protecting the individual, what is the benefit of invoking deity? Maybe the invocation of deity is an effective aesthetic, and gives a weight and a permanence to the axiom that it would otherwise lack. Contrast the above with:

 

Are you saying that you believe that without some sort of axiom similiar to Jefferson, that society would inevitably head towards totalitarianism ?Hmm, I'll touch on Jefferson and some other points the best that I can. Part of what I am typing here comes out of Dan Barker's work and part of it comes out of Christopher Hitchens work. I'll paraphrase alot of it, to get to the actual points.

I don't actually see a correlation between atheism/godless world and totalitarianism. For one thing, Atheist is simply the lack of a belief in god. Beyond that, there is not much else that you can ascribe to it. You can be an Atheist and a socialist, an Atheist and a communist, an Atheist and a Democrat, an Atheist and a Republican. Beyond llack of belief in god, there is nothing else required in Atheism.

For instance, you will often hear Theists say things like "Why are there no Atheist charities and hospitals?". Well, in all actuality there are. University hospitals, here in the United States, are entirely secular. The Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, was founded by two non-believing brothers. The University Hospital in London also has a similiar background story.One of the co-founders of the Freedom for Religion, Dr. Edward Gordon, spent much of his time in the Phillipines, donating large amounts of work to helping people. 

Atheist charity is often not as flaunted as religious charity. For one thing, there is the religious bigotry (How many Theists would willingly go to a First Atheist Hospital ?) Most religious hopsitals receive public money and they charge high rates so their is very little "charity" offered. They get the credit and the taxpayers foot the bill. 

Point that I am making with all of the above, the absence of belief in God does not mean that charity would disappear. 

Let's move on to Thomas Jefferson shall we ? 

Let's take this very famous Jefferson quote : 

If we did a good act merely from the love of god and a belief that it is pleasing to him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist ? Their morality must have some other foundation other than the love of God. --Thomas Jefferson

The natural rights, often spoken of by the Founding Fathers, almost never touches upon quotes from the Bible or Christianity. In fact, nowhere in Scripture or the Bible is unalienable rights or truths of all men being equal ever mentioned. There is no democracy or voting in the New or Old Testament. God never asks the people for their opinion or their feedback. God never recognizes the basic rights of his creations in the Bible. All that God is ever concerned with is what is pleasing to him and how we should constantly praise him. When Jefferson touched upon CREATOR concept, he was referring to nature. As a Deist, he was not referring to the Christian God.He saw god as impersonal. If a natural right exists, it is not something that is granted to you via a god, it is something that is simply owned by existence. (Think of the comic George Carlin joke about not having rights) If something like a right is granted by god, then it can be taken away at any given time via the dictates of god. An unalienable right by Jefferson's standards is not something that can be taken away or withheld.

Have you heard the famous quote by George Orwell that mentions all dictatorships are theocratic in nature ? Let me grab a couple of notes and I'll get back to you with some more info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Optionsgeek

Optionsgeek wrote:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Yes, apologies here, that phrase was incoherent. Better put would have been, "a world where 'God is dead'." I am interested in what heuristics are effective models for directing society (assuming that such things exist, and can have such an effect - maybe they don't) in the face of a logically meaningless world. I am interested in exploring faith, ritual and moral axioms as means of improving the quality of life for individuals and society as a whole.

A possible concern, again, totally hypothetical, is that I can't see what prevents the subordination of the individual to the state in a world without a moral axiom like this. And if a moral axiom like this is needed to provide a bed-rock protecting the individual, what is the benefit of invoking deity? Maybe the invocation of deity is an effective aesthetic, and gives a weight and a permanence to the axiom that it would otherwise lack. Contrast the above with: 

Hello again. Ok, so as to not make the posts too long, I wish to continue where we left off on the above post. Orwell's mention of all totalitarian regimes to be theocratic in nature. (Again, I am drawing off of Hitchen's work and paraphrasing to make a point). Granted, at first glance, it would appear that figures in history like Hitler and Stalin might make one pause on Orwell's statements. But when you really examine them alot closer, an odd pattern emerges. First of all, we can dismiss Hitler's Nazi Germany as an Atheist government. Hitler was a dogmatic theist that refers to god and creator, numerous times in his speeches. Hitler made every soldier that swore loyalty onto him, swear before God and The Furher. For instance, take this particular quote from a 1926 Christmas celebration. Hitler said : Christ was the greatest early fighter in his battle against his world enemy, which was the Jews. Hitler twisted the theories of Darwin to further push for his ideas of superior race. Hitler's dogmas were surrounded by a mix of bunk science, mysticism and religiosity.

Stalin, may have been a non believer true enough. But Communism was not an Atheist movement. Also remember the fact that Stalin later villified every purpose for which original Communism had once stood. But look at the messianic attitude of the people with Stalin. People asked Stalin to bless the crops and heal sickness even. Was this a by-product of a Atheist power or simply a group of people swapping religious fervor from one institution (the churches) to another ? Stalin did not push to outlaw private worship. Stalin wished to have total control. Which seems to point to the fact that dogmatic systems with absolutes are the problem. That would not mean that an Atheist world would automatically produce dictatorships.

Optionsgeek wrote:

I'll stick with christianity as I know that best. My understanding is that the summation of Christian law, 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' is a heuristic that elegantly maps the social contract. Incidentally it is virtually identical to the core moral axioms of most of the worlds major faiths, and as I'm sure you are aware, is known as the Golden Rule. 

Well you do realize that the phrase : The Golden Rule does not appear in the Bible right ? Neither is the famous wording of "Do unto others". The Golden Rule is not a concept exclusive to Christianity or Jesus. Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism have versions of it. When you really think about it. The phrase Golden Rule does not give any good guidance. There are many people out there that do not want anything DONE to them at all. It does not say to be kind or peaceful. Only to do. A good example of why the Golden Rule does not work is here : You have a wife that hates giving back rubs and a husband that loves them, how would the golden rule apply here ?

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Quote:I agree in as much

Quote:

I agree in as much that I don't believe that it is the primary function of religion to explain origins, though really I have no opinion on the existence / non-existence of God in a logical or empirical sense.  

I am pretty sure that, if not the primary function, it is an integral part of most, if not all, religions, an essential aspect of the narrative to justify the 'moral' precepts and to provide the 'meaning' and a the illusion of a 'purpose'.

The phrase

Quote:

a aesthetic that can provide meaning, if they so choose

confirms to me the purely subjective nature of the 'meaning' so provided. To me, that kind of 'meaning' would be meaningless...

I would just leave it as 'an aesthetic', a life path that fits your particular psyche best.

Quote:

So for an existentialist and anti-foundationalist christian like myself, while I harbor these doubts, the key is that for me the language and ritual of church provides a narrative in which to frame my work, relationships, ups, downs. We all have one (a narrative), I wonder what yours is? How do you process the events of your life, your emotions, the up and downs, work, relationships etc? Effectively how do you deal with a universe with no implicit meaning?

The first part of that I fully understand, but I personally do not feel the need of a 'narrative' as such. I think more of things like my personal 'guiding principles', and gain much of my personal satisfaction in life through interactions with others, helping each other where possible, in both practical matters, and in helping them to understand things, and listening to them to both help me understand their perspectives, and for the occasional more general insight into the 'human condition' and other things that I can gather from them in turn.

Rather than a narrative, I follow the current growing scientific understanding of 'Life, the Universe, and Everything' to help put my existence in both the broader context of 'reality', and to help me understand the emotional highs and lows, and how best to address them. As well as gain some real understanding of why other people do things that make no sense to me, which are often quite different to what we would intuitively assume. Intuition is very often wrong, even, maybe especially, about what is really going on in our own minds.

I believe that the nature of reality, the narrative of existence itself, is far more accurately summed up in the expression "shit happens", than anything in any religion. By not trying to find a deeper reason or 'purpose' in the events of life, I find it easier to accept them as part of the inevitable chaos of life, and move on. Of course, if I detect that I could have prevented or minimized some unfortunate event, I will try to learn from that, but I see or feel no need to assume some deeper purpose or meaning in it.

I have never really felt that need for 'meaning', just an urge to gain understanding of what is. If I consciously want to justify my existence, I would hope that I can make some contribution to the future beyond my time of existence, in offering to others my insights where it seems that may help them make sense of it all, and doing whatever else I can to leave that positive contribution to the lives of those who come after me, however small.

Quote:

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Of course, like all axioms it suffers from the self-evidence paradox, but to what extent do you think this is useful? Of course we are now in the realm of speculation, and of course correlation doesn't imply causation, but why did fascism and communism never really take hold in the US or Anglo-saxon world? I wonder to what extent the protestant christian focus on the individual has had with regard to the development of american, anglo-saxon and some north-european cultures? I am interested in a possible link between totalitarianism and the weakness of the axioms that protect individuals in the societies where these ideologies have taken hold.

Rhetoric.

Not Truths. Not Self-evident, except to people who already accept a certain perspective.

No paradox, axioms are only assumptions "for the purpose of argument", or starting assumptions. I really see nothing deserving the label 'axiom' there.

It is useful insofar as it reinforces a narrative accepted my most people that ideally helps them approach life in a hopeful, positive manner.

Actually, after listening to recent podcast, I am inclined to think that the explicit "pursuit of happiness" is ultimately futile. Rather we should be trying to identify what actions and life-patterns actually result in a satisfying, fulfilled experience, by observing how things have worked out for ourselves and others in the past, and using that to guide our decisions. The point is that as a catch-phrase, it is too easily interpreted as pursuing that course of action, making that decision, which appeals to us at that moment as most likely to increase our 'happiness'. Our minds are too prone to give excessive weight to the short term, weighting our judgment toward more immediate rewards. The ultimate extreme expression of this is the modern consumer society. So blame Abe for that.

I think Fascism is more likely to take hold in societies under severe stress. The US has had fascist tendencies, such as McCarthyism, which some are advocating again, as a response to perceived threats, especially internal, both from 'socialism' and terrorism. It leverages off the 'meme' of the need for a strong leader, or 'guiding hand', in times of trouble. I think that meme is reinforced by monotheistic religions, which stress the importance of obedience to a powerful authority figure...

Communism seems to require an authoritarian dictator who has decided that it is the 'best' path for him and his country, so I think the relative success of democracy seems to have kept that at bay in the West.

The 'G-word' has long been recognised by those in power as giving very useful leverage over a religious population, for good or ill.

I always felt the alternative version of the 'Golden Rule' - " Do not do to others what you would not wish done to you" is superior, and is far more consistent with the fact that we often have many differences about what we would wish 'done to us'. It is more consistent with the prime secular moral guideline - "First, do no harm".

I always smile a little at people who claim religion as a source of morality, and decry atheists lack of an 'objective' basis of morality, when they bring up the Golden Rule, which has our personal desires and wishes as the standard of how we should act toward others, ie it is the most purely subjective basis for morality possible. Which is, to me, one of its strengths...

The massive amount of effort put into 'interpreting' scriptures which, on the face of it, seem less than ideal, just supports my contention that morality does not come from such sources, but rather our native empathy as social creatures.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Optionsgeek wrote:So for an

Optionsgeek wrote:

So for an existentialist and anti-foundationalist christian like myself, while I harbor these doubts, the key is that for me the language and ritual of church provides a narrative in which to frame my work, relationships, ups, downs. We all have one (a narrative), I wonder what yours is? How do you process the events of your life, your emotions, the up and downs, work, relationships etc? Effectively, how do you deal with a universe with no implicit meaning?

 

It is a fallacy to assume there is no implicit meaning. Existence is meaning. It is not much meaning, but it is meaning. The only thing without meaning is that which does not exist. From there, you can construct a robust morality, and a fair attempt at a structure for processing existence.

My narrative is simple: my life is defined by those I love, and my interactions with them; and by the things I love to do. I try to make their existence more pleasant, more rewarding, than it would be without my own existence. In return, they do the same for me.

For me, this is a far better situation than attempting to follow an arbitrary framework built upon a fictional mythos. My rituals are simple, and without ambiguity (something that is inherent in all religions): the preparation of meals, the cleaning of the house, weekly game night with friends, playing ball with my dogs. These are all rituals that are rewarding in themselves, and contain far more mysticism than an excellent orator explaining fictional mysteries.

For work, I am extremely fortunate. I discovered a skill when I was young, a skill that was almost useless at the time, but has become extremely valuable. I have been able to parlay that into a job that pays fairly well, gives me a chance to travel, and is quite a bit of fun. Also, I am able to make people's lives better, more comfortable.

I have my friends to help me through the rough times, and to celebrate the good times.

This is my world.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Optionsgeek, further

Optionsgeek, further thoughts on the 'Trilemma'.

Option 2 is not a vaild description of how any real world knowledge is justified.

Each piece is 'justified', more accurately described as derived, or supported by, more than one piece of previously establshed knowledge, otherwise it would not really be accurate to call it a separate piece of knowledge, rather a  deductive elaboration of the implications of the central 'fact' of that element of knowledge.

New 'knowledge' is based on combining two or more separate pieces of established knowledge. This is cruclal, since when such independent data can be integrated into a consistent conclusion, it increases our confidence in those prior pieces of knowledge. So it is not a simplistic one-way progression.

So throw (2) out.

As I already pointed out, (3) is the closest to describing how we gain such 'knowledge' as we have.

So the Trilemma is really not a valid or useful proposition, it makes a negative contribution to our collective understanding by distracting people with a set of misconceptions. Forget about it, and start learning something useful.

Even being noncommittal about the possibility or otherwise of God is a cop-out, not perceiving or acknowledging that the God hypothesis is not worth taking as a serious proposition. Once you allow for a 'supernatural' explanation, there is no way to know in any meaningful way the nature of the 'cause', so the honest position is that we can either provisionally accept (note: NOT 'believe') the best current actual explanation (ie empirically based), or say we have insufficient evidence to form any plausible hypothesis, summed up in the phrase, "I don't know".

It is because most people seem to find living with such an undefined position about some aspect of experience they care about, that we have the endless proliferation of supernatural narratives to cover up those gaps in our knowledge.

I actually enjoy the dynamics of the active search for an ever closer approximation to the Truth, with scientists proposing theories, others finding holes in those theories, proposing their own alternatives.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Hey harley

Good response, thanks for taking the time to do some research! I agree with your conclusion: 

Quote:

Stalin wished to have total control. Which seems to point to the fact that dogmatic systems with absolutes are the problem. That would not mean that an Atheist world would automatically produce dictatorships.

I think your comments were effective challenges to my hypothesis that the christian aesthetic might be an effective means of orientating society towards the golden rule. Thank you for taking the time to think about your response. 

Although I like your comment about the challenge to the Golden rule, (sounds like a valid objection to me and I like bobs point regarding its inversion), for the rest of it you were off base. As I mentioned in my last post to Bob, I am very dubious about the utility of the discussion of christian doctrine with people who don't ascribe to the aesthetic, for the 2 reasons i outlined earlier, but worth repeating:

1/ it is illogical because you don't accept the first premise of the aesthetic (sort of like trying to discuss the merits of forrest gump when you hate movies by robert zemekis)

2/ We are both skewed in our interpretation of the such doctrines due to different experiences and different forms of analysis. A good example of this is your assertion that the Golden rule doesn't appear in the bible, when in fact it does - very explicitly - in many verses. The two most often quoted are here:

Matthew 7 v12 "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

And here: 

Luke 6 v31 "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."

I will labour the point, because it helps demonstrate the dangers of absolutist assertions, so please also go to: Matthew 22:40, Romans 13:8/10, etc etc. If the aesthetic ever interests you, I would be happy to share with you how I view Christianity, how I interpret the bible, and my understanding of hermeneutics, but until you are interested and open, it is a pointless exercise.

I want to stress that I am not levelling any particular accusation of bias at you, rather I think that these cognitive biases are an inevitable part of the human condition. We are all subject to them, no matter what aesthetic we might enjoy. Understanding this helps us behave in a civilized way towards each other. My hope here is to have a non-antagonistic dialogue between people who enjoy different aesthetics. I think we are slowly starting to do that here. 

 

Thanks for your time Harley. 


 

 

 

 

 

 


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bob,

awesome post.

Quote:

I would just leave it as 'an aesthetic', a life path that fits your particular psyche best.

That sounds good to me!

Quote:

The first part of that I fully understand, but I personally do not feel the need of a 'narrative' as such. I think more of things like my personal 'guiding principles', and gain much of my personal satisfaction in life through interactions with others, helping each other where possible, in both practical matters, and in helping them to understand things, and listening to them to both help me understand their perspectives, and for the occasional more general insight into the 'human condition' and other things that I can gather from them in turn.

Yes, the narrative word was unnecessary and unhelpful here. Upon further reflection, I don't and never did really get a narrative from the christian aesthetic, in that same way I don't get a narrative from a director, writer or musician I like: I embrace this aesthetic because I love it! 

Quote:

I have never really felt that need for 'meaning', just an urge to gain understanding of what is. If I consciously want to justify my existence, I would hope that I can make some contribution to the future beyond my time of existence, in offering to others my insights where it seems that may help them make sense of it all, and doing whatever else I can to leave that positive contribution to the lives of those who come after me, however small.

Bob, you are my hero. I've been telling anyone that will listen, that HAL 9000 pretty much encapsulated the meaning of life (as much as there is one) with the genius line:

"I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."

I totally accept your criicisms of my hypothesis revolving around deity rhetoric and protection of human rights. It seems unworkable. 

Quote:

Actually, after listening to a recent podcast, I am inclined to think that the explicit "pursuit of happiness" is ultimately futile. Rather we should be trying to identify what actions and life-patterns actually result in a satisfying, fulfilled experience, by observing how things have worked out for ourselves and others in the past, and using that to guide our decisions. The point is that as a catch-phrase, it is too easily interpreted as pursuing that course of action, making that decision, which appeals to us at that moment as most likely to increase our 'happiness'. Our minds are too prone to give excessive weight to the short term, weighting our judgment toward more immediate rewards. The ultimate extreme expression of this is the modern consumer society. So blame Abe for that. 

I couldn't agree more with this. I'm very interested in the negative impact of short-termism in all spheres. I believe that part of maturity and growing up, is developing the ability to see further and further down the potential outcomes tree, and moderating your behaviour accordingly. My understanding of Sin is informed by this concept. I wonder if there is such a thing as maturity at a societal level? I wonder how that works? What makes a society 'mature'? My hunch is that it includes a deep seated suspiscion of dogmatic philosophies, and an inherent understanding of probabilistic thinking rather than mechanistic thinking.

Quote:

The 'G-word' has long been recognised by those in power as giving very useful leverage over a religious population, for good or ill.

Absolutely.

Quote:

I always smile a little at people who claim religion as a source of morality, and decry atheists lack of an 'objective' basis of morality, when they bring up the Golden Rule, which has our personal desires and wishes as the standard of how we should act toward others, ie it is the most purely subjective basis for morality possible. Which is, to me, one of its strengths...

Agreed totally. No doubt you have seen a lot of that in the US.

Quote:

The massive amount of effort put into 'interpreting' scriptures which, on the face of it, seem less than ideal, just supports my contention that morality does not come from such sources, but rather our native empathy as social creatures. 

Absolutely agreed. The interpretation of scripture, or biblical hermeneutics, is an art form in the same way that playing a musical instrument, writing prose or poetry, dancing, etc are. Drawing moral dogma from this is very sad, and is a corruption of the aesthetic I enjoy (although I try not to engage in the heretic calling game, apart from ironically, thats just adding more dogmatic bullshit to the mix!)

Again bob, I am really enjoying this conversation.

Would you be interested in opening the scope of the discussion to encompass tribe, the function of dogma, leadership and rhetoric in social psychology, and the pro's and cons of tribal behaviour patterns? Totally understood if not, but this conversation has prompted me in the direction of an anti-dogma stance, and I'd like to explore dogma outside of the theistic/atheistic dialectic...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Optionsgeek wrote:blake

Optionsgeek wrote:

blake wrote:

Why are you choosing to be evil?  That is something I'd like to know.

 

Thank you for proving my point. As I suspected it would, our conversation has reached the end of it's useful life, thanks for your time. 

 

You didn't have a point to prove, since I've already demonstrated your argument inherently bunk, but with regards to the point you *think* that I proved for you, I have stated at several points that even this Aesthetic that I am drawing from for your benefit "evil", is not prescriptive.  You have repeatedly ignored this explanation (I have made it at least twice).

The conversation was never really useful to me (although I will admit it was interesting to read your thoughts on heuristics, though they are fallacious, and you have set me thinking about useful aesthetics to use in rhetoric with Christians), but insofar as you are choosing to ignore what I have been saying, evidently my arguments aren't able to open your mind.

Bob is saying the same things I am for the most part (I am not aware of anywhere Bob and I disagree on these matters), though of course he is more patient all the same, so I hope you'll be able to learn more from him.

With regards to meaning and solutions to state control, reason holds both.  If you're ever interested in learning why, it's up to you to pursue it.


Optionsgeek
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Nigel

Thanks for joining the conversation - I enjoyed reading your intelligent and thoughtful interactions with JC, and thank you for your post above.

Quote:

It is a fallacy to assume there is no implicit meaning. Existence is meaning. It is not much meaning, but it is meaning. The only thing without meaning is that which does not exist. From there, you can construct a robust morality, and a fair attempt at a structure for processing existence.

Thanks for helping me here, guilty of said fallacy as charged!! 

Quote:

My narrative is simple: my life is defined by those I love, and my interactions with them; and by the things I love to do. I try to make their existence more pleasant, more rewarding, than it would be without my own existence. In return, they do the same for me.

For me, this is a far better situation than attempting to follow an arbitrary framework built upon a fictional mythos. My rituals are simple, and without ambiguity (something that is inherent in all religions): the preparation of meals, the cleaning of the house, weekly game night with friends, playing ball with my dogs. These are all rituals that are rewarding in themselves, and contain far more mysticism than an excellent orator explaining fictional mysteries.

your narrative as defined here is exactly the same as mine! I agree that this is much better than attempting to follow an arbitrary framework built on a fictional mythos. I'm sorry if early I wasn't clear about how, to me, christianity is an aesthetic to be enjoyed, rather than a system of ethics. I was throwing around a lot of ideas at the same time, and probably got a bit muddled in the process. I was interested in the possibility that the christian heuristic was potentially effective at orientating society towards the golden rule. I think bob and harley highlighted some serious weaknesses in that hypothesis. 

'These are all rituals that are rewarding in themselves, and contain far more mysticism than an excellent orator explaining fictional mysteries.' What does the term mysticism mean for you exactly? I'm not really sure what you are saying about your rituals being without ambiguity? 

Just out of interest - how important is art to you? If you saw church as art, would you view it differently? 

You may or may not be interested to see how I view christian doctrine, in the same way that you may or may not be interested to see how I view Philip Roth as a great author, Roman Polanski as a great director, Strauss as a great composer, or Larkin as a great poet. If you were interested in seeing another perspective of christian doctrine, then I would be happy to explain how I view it. I would enjoy the dialogue, but don't want to impose. 

That is great about your work. You are fortunate. Indeed we all are really, being alive is amazing.

I wonder if we need to do some enquiries on art and the aesthetic in general? And preferably beyond the very limiting and provocative theist/atheist dialectic. I am no expert but I'm wondering if an agreed philosophy of art / beauty actually lies at the crux of discussions on this site. Let me know.

 

 

 

 

 


Atheistextremist
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Hi Options

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

So for an existentialist and anti-foundationalist christian like myself, while I harbor these doubts, the key is that for me the language and ritual of church provides a narrative in which to frame my work, relationships, ups, downs. We all have one (a narrative), I wonder what yours is? How do you process the events of your life, your emotions, the up and downs, work, relationships etc? Effectively, how do you deal with a universe with no implicit meaning?/EDIT]

 

Is this really true? In what way does the language and ritual of the church provide a narrative that could not be seen as a human narrative - a narrative defined by language and culture rather than the wooliness of religious doctrine?

I can't help feeling as I read many of these posts that it is human interaction with what sense data and induction tells us is real about our environment that precedes religion and that religion, rather than framing something new, attempts to explain something that was already there. Religion is a reaction to what we are.

Do we truly need a religious narrative of sacrifice for sin - apparently in the absence of actual forgiveness - and a fairly limp set of rules - to give our lives a broader meaning? Is this to be the enforced map of a personal odessey?

I wonder at you saying that we can't discuss these god things openly if we do not accept god first - that rejection of the god concept and all attached to it represents a bias that acts as a wall to comprehension of what must be a spiritual journey. As a former christian I am forced to reject this. The christianity inside me - the mental places it is understood - were not backfilled by my brain expanding around them.

In a very real way I am still a christian. I understand what a christian feels like from the inside out. This is a simple fact. The particular sense of christian self is not something that disappears when the ideas are rejected. You cannot lose what it is that you are. Do you recall what it felt like to be an atheist?

It's already been said that atheism is a disbelief in deities without proof. I don't think it is more than this. All other human characteristics seem equal. My extended family are all evangelical christians and we are all of us very similar in nature and character. They interpret reality differently but their journey is the same journey. I think there is a raw self honesty to atheism that they lack. An ownership of self.

As Bob said earlier, and I'm paraphrasing, the search for meaning in reality is powerful of itself. I don't think reality is enhanced by an overlay of religious doctrine - these beliefs tend to muddy the waters rather than increase our understanding of what can proved to be. Appealing to the subjectiveness of all perception is a dangerous game. As Bob pointed out, I think most of us understand human perception is subjective but I tend to agree with a point Blake made in another thread - that there is a true reality that is not altered by our inability to entirely see it. 

Further, I question this idea you present that the universe without god has no meaning. It means what it means to us as humans. I think it has no broad human meaning other than the meaning we give it but this is the position you find yourself, too, regardless of your decision to embrace religion. God by necessity, is the product of your imagination.

In a very real way you have embellished your world's meaning. The universe means to you what you want it to mean. But given what you say, your love for friends and family and your sense of obvious pleasure in being alive is no different from that of any open minded atheist. It seems for you that religion frames what is important for you - it does not replace those things in any small way. I think we would all agree life is a beautiful adventure.

Options, if we are the eventual result of self assembling RNA molecules, why is the meaning the less? Why would a non believer's limbic system serve up a different feeling upon surveillance of the night sky than that of a believer? I've long had this idea we are all clones of a single system - slight variations on an identical being all living the same life. 

As I read through the second stage of this thread I suspected you of argument by question. I'm still not certain that instinct was out of place - I wonder where it is you might want to manouvre the meaning of meaning and why. In any case, it's been an interesting discussion from everyone.

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


Optionsgeek
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Guys

Atheist extremist, EXCELLENT post, and Bob, also, thank you for demonstrating the clumsiness of the munchhaussen trilemma. I think that what Blake was upset about was that my invocation of the former would lead inexorably towards relativism, that was not my intention. I accept that relativism is not the only alternative to absolutism, and I think it is linguistic trickery and rhetoric to suggest otherwise, which I think puts me squarely in the camp of bob, but I'm not sure blake would agree. Blake, calmly now, what do you think?

I accept that my non-response to the God question here is a cop-out. That non-response was a device I used to try and flush out other inquiries, particularly the nature of art, the subjective, semiotics, language, leadership, tribe, social systems, complex systems and chaos etc, to see if we can have a conversation of the benefits of the God hypothesis to individuals and society, without the lesser intellects on this site resorting to a run of abuse. I am particularly pleased that you, bob, and nigel have commented here (and Ubuntu's input would be appreciated), as I felt that you all stood out for the coherence and calmness with which you responded to JC.

So, to clarify, I belief that given what we currently know about human nature, and the nature of the universe, that rationalist thinking has killed God. I have never been a dogmatic thinker, and have always approached faith as working hypothesis, so the answer to your question, 'do I remember what it was like to be an atheist' is: Yes, very much so. The practice of my faith has never been predicated on the certainty of the existence of God. For me, church has been the place where I can process existential questions and anxieties, while enjoying the company of people who place a high value on loving others and are processing some of the same existential questions and anxieties that I have. 

atheistextremist wrote:

 

Do we truly need a religious narrative of sacrifice for sin - apparently in the absence of actual forgiveness - and a fairly limp set of rules - to give our lives a broader meaning? Is this to be the enforced map of a personal odessey?

No, and no. Your understanding of doctrine and its purpose is different from mine. And I don't desire to enforce a map of personal odyssey on anyone.

Quote:
 

As I read through the second stage of this thread I suspected you of argument by question. I'm still not certain that instinct was out of place - I wonder where it is you might want to manouvre the meaning of meaning and why. In any case, it's been an interesting discussion from everyone.

Well, I do think that the rejection of the absolute should lead, by necessity, to unending questioning for the inquisitive mind. I, like you guys, prefer to explore reality from the bottom up rather than accept it as imposed. 

Thanks for your input.

 

 

 


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Optionsgeek wrote:Guys I'm

Optionsgeek wrote:

Guys I'm new on this site. I'm a free thinker and enjoy a good discussion and loved the debate you guys have been having with Jean Chauvin.

From an impartial view, he is simply asking atheists to give a strong, logically coherent argument, showing that God does not exist. It would have been amazing if you could have answered him, but it seems none of you were able to. 

I realise I'm late to this, but I don't think it has been mentioned that Jean Chauvin's line of argument (evident in a number of threads he started while here) essentially went from nakedly asserting presupposition to ascertaining a slippery slope of relativism to motivate, loosely, any and every charge he could think to level against non-belief. I'm not sure his position was intended to seem quite as impartial as you've reckoned.

It has probably been mentioned that given the sheer number of permutations of 'god' and 'gods' that have been described since human time began, not providing a "strong, logically coherent argument, showing that God does not exist" on such ambiguous demand is hardly a failure on the part of the respondent, and I would agree with that. It falls to the believer to detail more clearly what it is they believe in - if not, the respondent, I think, is given grounds to call butter fairies into evidence against the claim; easily as meaningful, no?

 

 

 

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Eloise

 Sounds good to me!