A Rational Chrisitan of Intelligence (Rare)

Jean Chauvin
Theistard
Jean Chauvin's picture
Posts: 1211
Joined: 2010-11-19
User is offlineOffline
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).


nigelTheBold
atheist
nigelTheBold's picture
Posts: 1868
Joined: 2008-01-25
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote:your

Optionsgeek wrote:

your narrative as defined here is exactly the same as mine!

I think the mundane rituals of existence are far more common than we like to think. It's easy to forget that most fundamentalists enjoy the same things we do: a good BBQ with friends during the summer, a nice fire and cup of hot cocoa with family in the winter. These are the sinews of life, the fibers that hold it together and give it shape. 

I think most folks just enjoy life, whether they believe in God or not.

Quote:

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. 

It seemed that's the direction you were going. You weren't too muddled; I suspect I was merely addressing the concept a bit more obliquely. Bob and Harley have definitely covered the idea more directly.

I guess I was just expressing the idea that rituals can be found in any aspect of life.

Quote:

'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? 

"Mysticism" refers to an ineffable magic. For me, there is nothing more ineffable, and yet universal, than groups of people who enjoy each other's company. This can be family, friends, or even the feeling of belonging you get in forums like this. And while I don't believe in the supernatural, I do believe there are things that are intensely personal that are as close to magic as we'll ever get.

Quote:

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

Art is quite important to me. My mom is an artist (as well as a retired science teacher who was a field biologist for a time). I grew up with people creating art. I don't have much talent that way, but I do appreciate it.

Some churches are art. It is impossible not to be awed by Sagrada Familia. The rituals, though, I find hard to consider as art. The idea of art is reflective -- it's a mirror to society, descriptive in nature. Religion attempts to impose itself on society. It is prescriptive. As I see it, that makes it propaganda rather than art.

Quote:
 

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.

I'm always interested in other people's perspective. I don't have as much time as I once did, so it might be a couple of days between posts, but I would enjoy a dialog. You appear to be sincere, open, and intelligent. I suspect it would be a fun and engaging discussion.

Quote:

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. 

That is an intriguing proposition. Can you expand on this idea? I think I see where you are going, but I'm not positive.

"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


ex-minister
atheistHigh Level ModeratorSilver Member
ex-minister's picture
Posts: 1708
Joined: 2010-01-29
User is offlineOffline
Simply Brilliant

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

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?

 

Thank you Atheistextremist !!!

I so identified with this and it resolves an issue for me. In my youth, I was totally god-soaked, totally committed to being everything God wanted me to be. I gave it my all. Then about 20+ years ago I finally accepted that no amount of effort was going to make me believe it 100%, I couldn't not live with an unresolved faith, honesty was the best policy, there was too much that just didn't make sense, but I was without a doubt a Christian and wore it proudly at times. Leaving the ministry, I went through the years of shame and have now let that go. But still some residual is around and feel I must divest myself of even that. But what you wrote about struck me right between the eyes. In a very real way I am still a christian. I will never lose that and that is just apart of who I am and who I will always be.

 

Really enjoying the dialog with OptionsGeek.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote:Atheist

Optionsgeek wrote:

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?

 

My rhetoric may seem melodramatic, but I am not very excitable.  No less dramatic are my lectures on the superiority of olive oil for cooking.

That said, I am not aware of any point of disagreement I have with Bob (although I often split hairs with him on his particular word use, he hasn't contradicted my clarifications as far as I am aware), so if you in fact do agree completely with him now, then we are probably in agreement as well, and you have misunderstood me.

Relativism and absolutism come in two forms- that of reality, and that of morality.  Reality has a true nature that exists regardless of our ability to fully measure it.  Morality, however, has a large degree of subjectivity to it, and while there are objective axioms/philosophies of morality (like empathy) which could be argued to have more exclusive domain, reality isn't prescriptive of the need to take any of them.  Christians habitually equivocate the two- the nature of reality being one of absolute god-dictated morality- and that is probably where you are confused.  Regardless of the nature of reality, that does not imply any form of prescriptive action we must take on its behalf (which is probably the key point at which the fundamentalist and I part company, apart from the logical fallacies the fundamentalist makes).  Given an understanding of the nature of reality, one is, however, consequentially equipped to make moral judgments based on one's chosen axioms/philosophy on the matter of morality itself.


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Nigel - AWESOME!!

This conversation is giving me goose bumps. I have hardly slept for 5 nights and I am LOVING this. 

You wrote something that just about blew my head off, like a bullet right between the eyes:

"The idea of art is reflective -- it's a mirror to society, descriptive in nature. Religion attempts to impose itself on society. It is prescriptive. As I see it, that makes it propaganda rather than art."

WOW!

That is a bombshell. I see it now so clearly: You guys all see religion in general, or christianity in particular, as being something that either at a societal level or on an individual level is PRESCRIPTIVE. We all need to kill this prescriptive religion!! I will join you in your fight!!

I always saw Christianity - to paraphrase your words describing art - as reflective, a mirror to society (and to us as individuals) and descriptive in nature! I believe that I am firmly orthodox with this view (we can discuss further if you would like to know why), although I will admit that a very very large number of sincere christians (even and sometimes especially pastors) can struggle with this - I see it every day of my life, and I make every effort to correct, as gently as possible, those who are laboring under this extremely heavy psychological, and if I may use the word, spiritual, burden, of a prescriptive faith, that not only affects them, but can also impact negatively those around them. 

 

I am so tired, and wired, that for the benefit of my sanity, and my health, I'm going to cut short my use of the socratic method, and come in with some bold hypotheses regarding the origins, importance, and philosophy of art / beauty / aesthetics:

1/ The joys and sorrows of life (kicking ball with your dog, game night with your friends, the relationships you have with your friends and loved ones, the death of all those you love, and the constant small deaths we face in life), have very limited meaning in the world of consistently applied logic and empiricism. Neuroscience tells us in increasing detail, exactly what chemicals are squirting to make you feel these emotions; natural selection and social / evolutionary psychology explain why these emotions developed; biology, chemistry and physics can break down the human body into smaller and smaller units, and through that lense we see just how small a percentage of reality that we are able to gauge with our infintessimally limited perceptions. Thus, following rational thinking to its logical conclusion, we can strip these events of any real significance. I think JC tried to allude to this earlier, but he'd already tied himself up in knots with his logic banter!! 

2/ The way we find meaning in life is in the realm beyond rational. It comes in ascribing a transcendentant meaning to relationships that rationality cannot give. You do this, very poignantly, here:

nigel wrote:

 

"Mysticism" refers to an ineffable magic. For me, there is nothing more ineffable, and yet universal, than groups of people who enjoy each other's company. This can be family, friends, or even the feeling of belonging you get in forums like this. And while I don't believe in the supernatural, I do believe there are things that are intensely personal that are as close to magic as we'll ever get. 

 

A couple of guys in this thread, can't remember who, said something defending their emotional and biased responses to JC. In doing so, they make a leap out of the empirical and scientific world, and into the world of assumed meaning. Blake's use of the world evil is very interesting from a linguistic perspective. What does he mean by that? following the infinite regress line, he will get to a stage where he leaps from logic, into a self evident truth. Why is it bad if my engaging in 'immoral behaviour' leads to societal collapse? What is the benefit of a long life? Why? Why? Why? Why should society survive? Why? why? why? Why is human life important? Why? Why? why? etc etc etc - you always end up with, 'It just is, ok?' (Maybe some of you who are parents have experienced this with your kids!). I postulate that Atheistextremist assertion:

atheistextremist wrote:

In a very real way you have embellished your world's meaning.

applies to us all. 

3/ This realm beyond rational is dealt with by art / aesthetics and for all practical purposes, this realm of art / aesthetics is where we derive any meaning and sense of purpose that goes beyond the simian. Of course, Samuel johnson gave an interesting alternative when he said that "He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man." We could just ignore / repress / drink through these aesthetic instincts and venture into the world without any concept of empathy, love for the other, meaning, purpose etc, but I don't believe that anyone in this thread wants to do that. I think even Bob, who wrote:

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.

 

 

 

is at a very deep level aware of the urge to create meaning in the beyond rational. He knows only too well, that rationality can not 'justify his existence', give any transcendant or meaningful significance to 'hope' or validate the concept of 'contribution to the future.' Under the microscope, these statements are meaningless, but, yet, humans have this consistent and irrepressible urge to defy this abyss.

So, I postulate that we are here on this forum, having this conversation, enjoying the dialogue because we have ALL at some level bought in to the beyond rational world of the aesthetic.  

Let me know what you think Nigel. If we can agree on the above, then if you were interested, I can go further into the christian aesthetic, and maybe give you an insight into why I love it so much.

I can't say enough how much I am enjoying this, your input has been invaluable.

Peace

 

 

 

 

 


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Blake

I would love to hear you lecture on olive oil, I know what you mean - I couldn't live without it Smiling

Thanks for your patience during this dialogue, your accuracy with the application of logic has been instructive.

Peace

 

 


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
You may have covered this in

You may have covered this in your internal dialog before responding to Nigel, but my question at this point is: How can you be so moved by the aesthetic of Christianity when it is so prescriptive and so laden with super-naturalism and objective commandments?  As other has mentioned, it is one thing to buy into the whole system if you are ignorant but in your case you are clearly not ignorant, so how do you justify your (I assume) public participation in a system that seems to run contrary to so much of what you've written here?  Essentially, you've spent thousands of words elaborating on why you disagree with absolutist claims but you label yourself as a member of a faith that exists on a bedrock of absolutist dogma...so why call yourself a Christian?  How do you justify that?  If I'm understanding you correctly I'd be more likely to label you as a 'cultural Christian' to avoid misunderstandings.  Is that inappropriate, or are you able to justify actual faith or belief in the core dogma of Christianity and the concept of a 'personal' creator deity?

 

On the original complaint about the treatment of JC...I don't even know if I ever spoke to JC, but in general, there comes a point where a conversation is not useful and it is more interesting to 'flame' than it is to attempt honest debate against a dishonest opponent.  Blake covered this too, but I'm not sure how much you were listening to him at the time.  I'm not saying that is the case for everyone who posts here, but personally I know I sometimes make a conscious decision to flip the switch from 'debate' to 'insult' when I think a discussion has no chance of becoming productive...even Bob knows that sometimes you might as well call someone a fuckwit and walk away, and he is about as close to a 'Spock' as you'll find.

 

As a side note, I'm glad this conversation turned into something useful.  I was skeptical that you were an honest poster and I'm happy to be wrong.

 

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


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
I found the morality

I found the morality arguments to be the most interesting.  At this point I've already gone round the circle with Blake once or twice about it, but it still interests me.

I'm a little more than half convinced Blake is just more intelligent than me and I can't follow his overall argument well enough to engage him about this.  I *think* I understand his argument for empathy and pain as the base for a moral system, but I'm still not sure how you take that and translate it into a practical reality without making choices that are essentially arbitrary and the real applications are not any more coherent than alternatives.

For example, the argument that this morality leads to vegetarianism or veganism I appreciate, but the logic for stopping there and not going all the way to cave dwelling primitivism or suicide seems to be an excuse rather than a logical result.

 

I'm not sure what the alternative is.  I used to think it was social contract and I've even argued for that against Blake specifically, however that debate showed me the idea of social contract is not logically coherent as a basis for morality. (Edit: Morality that does not lead to something horrific anyway)

 

My current, as-of-last-night thinking about this is a coherent system of morality isn't really possible, at least not one that is functional at a societal level.  Functional morality seems to involve the inclusions of a general societal morality that is not, as a whole, rational...what you wind up with is a system where social contract, personal comfort and empathy all rotate when necessary.  Or maybe that is the only message I see, that all moral systems eventually face the limit what personal comfort an individual is willing to give up and that limit is just as solid as the limits defined by empathy.  Further, trying to breach that limit and rely on something less arbitrary or complex tends to result in systems that are unworkable.

*shrug*

*Edit: And I would add, the cultural morality that all moral systems must fall under seems to come, eventually, from force of arms which is just social contract and now we're back in the circle again.*

Edit again: So my overall point would be 'comfort' is as valid as empathy when it comes to morality.

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


Nikolaj
Superfan
Nikolaj's picture
Posts: 503
Joined: 2008-04-27
User is offlineOffline
I'm back!!!

Yes, I'm back.

Gentlemen, this is one of the most stimulating and fascinating conversations I have followed in a long time. I just had to reply and say to Optionsgeek: "Welcome!"

 

I've been away from these forums for more than a year, but have been reading some of my old posts lately, as I have considered blogging and vlogging in the new year, and realized that I must have written a book's worth of thoughts on this forum over the years, that I might be able to distill into some essays and vlog scripts.

 

And seeing as only reading all my old posts might be a tad narcissistic, I figured I ought to see what's going on at the forum lately.

 

It is, as always, 90% small-talk, internet geekery and flame-wars between stubborn, antagonistic theists, and exhausted, yet mostly patient, atheists, deists and pantheists, as it has always been (and, by all means, should be), but then there are gems like this thread, which may have started out like all the others, but has turned into a marvellous display of sensible philosophical contemplation among wise people.

Hussah for the internetz!

 

Optionsgeek, thankyou for coming here and making this little corner of the world a more worthwhile place.

 

To the conversation, I half feel like reposting some of the old stuff I've written over the years, for the new audience here, but maybe I should just link to some of the old threads, to revive those that still has more to say.

 

I'll consider that. Meanwhile, carry on good sirs. I salute you all!

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5861
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Hey, options, just want to

Hey, options, just want to let you know I will probably have time to put up some more comments in a bit, but I got some work I really have to get done first.

But I do plan to get back as soon as I can.

And Nikolaj, great to see you back!

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


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote:I would

Optionsgeek wrote:

I would love to hear you lecture on olive oil, I know what you mean - I couldn't live without it Smiling

 

Olive oil seems to be the ideal oil to choose *if* one is seeking an optimally healthy cooking oil.

The *if* is important- science and reason can give us prescriptions for action only by drawing realistic conclusions from the prescriptions we already hold (e.g. *should* be healthy).  If somebody doesn't want to use a healthy cooking oil- for example, if taste is more important than health for that person and they happen not to like the taste of olive oil- then that person would not reach such a prescription because said person didn't have such a prescriptive premise to draw from.  Reason can not express a genesis of prescription, which is essential to the difference between descriptive and prescriptive systems.  A descriptive system can say "if ... then" while a prescriptive system simply says "should"- that is where it seems to become dangerous; a "should" without an "if" denies people choice and personal meaning to feed into the equation, and can result in seemingly very extremist actions.

 

nigelTheBold wrote:

The idea of art is reflective -- it's a mirror to society, descriptive in nature. Religion attempts to impose itself on society. It is prescriptive. As I see it, that makes it propaganda rather than art.

I liked that one too; it's a great way of putting it.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

That is a bombshell. I see it now so clearly: You guys all see religion in general, or christianity in particular, as being something that either at a societal level or on an individual level is PRESCRIPTIVE. We all need to kill this prescriptive religion!! I will join you in your fight!!

 

Precisely.  Whereas logic and science are never prescriptive, religions (and political ideologies) usually are prescriptive.  Reason can only be conditionally prescriptive- given a preexisting prescription.  That make adherence to science and reason all about making your own moral choices instead of following authority blindly.

 

Given the goal is society - reasoning -> social contract

Given the goal is empathy *without* arbitrary superficial bias - reasoning -> likely vegetarianism (empathy for other, "non-cute" animals)

Given the goal is to eat as much chocolate as humanly possible - reasoning -> possibly something else entirely

 

 

All of those, in order to be effective, must have reasoning predicated on reality, and a prescriptive premise that comes from personal choice to be social, empathetic, chocoholic, etc.  It is a human choice, regarding what meaning and purpose will be in life, but the logic that follows is the same for everybody.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
Why is it bad if my engaging in 'immoral behaviour' leads to societal collapse? What is the benefit of a long life? Why? Why? Why? Why should society survive? Why? why? why? Why is human life important? Why? Why? why?

 

That's the beauty of it, logic doesn't make us do these things.  We have a choice.  Logic and reason provide a framework for engaging in the moral actions of our choosing, but doesn't force us to do anything.

You can use logic to follow the premise that we should be empathetic to certain conclusions, or you can use logic to follow the premise that we should try to eat as much chocolate as possible.  Some premises are outright *bizarre*, but logic doesn't tell us what kind of person to be- social person, moral person, obsessive chocoholic, etc.  That's about *choice*.

 

Logic makes consistent morality possible following from the purpose we give our lives, it gives us a conclusion of rational actions from a premise - and when we use faulty logic, the conclusion will generally be false relative to what one's purpose is.  That is, bad logic contravenes deliberate purpose. 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
Blake's use of the world evil is very interesting from a linguistic perspective. What does he mean by that? following the infinite regress line, he will get to a stage where he leaps from logic, into a self evident truth.

 

Not so.  If you'll note, I only described the meme of dialetheism as evil.  See what I just went into above.  I described the sabotage of logic itself as evil- because logic is necessary for any chosen axiom of purpose or goodness (which is a personal choice and varies between individuals) to be carried out effectively.

We can choose empathy, and then based on incorrect knowledge, pluck a fish from the water with the intention of saving it from drowning.  Logic doesn't tell us to choose empathy, but science and reason would tell us that if we do choose empathy as purpose, we should *not* do that to a fish even if we should do it to a human, because of the biological differences.  If you have your facts wrong, you can mean well, but you will inadvertently do wrong in accordance with your own axioms.

Dialetheism gets the facts wrong in the most essential way- and in so doing it sabotages purpose and morality at the most fundamental level- regardless of *which* purpose or morality one seeks.

For every person, purpose is subjectively a "good", so something that ubiquidously interferes with that (such as illogic) is a necessary "evil".  In this case, "evil" doesn't have much meaning, but it's an important aesthetic to understand the gravity of what the dialetheists' meme is and does.  The "evil" as I mentioned several times, still isn't a prescription for any action; it's just a description.

 

 

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

I always saw Christianity - to paraphrase your words describing art - as reflective, a mirror to society (and to us as individuals) and descriptive in nature!

I suspect you might be confused here.

 

Descriptive tells us what reality is.  There is one genuine reality we all live in, despite our frequent inability to fully measure it.  As I have explained above, getting the nature of reality wrong sabotages attempts at morality.

Science is descriptive.  If Christianity is also descriptive, either it must be compatible with science, or it must be in opposition to it (incompatibility).  Science, being the most probable description of reality, would amount to the more moral descriptive choice if they are in conflict (choosing something more likely to facilitate legitimate moral action than something less likely to do so).  In short, if Christianity contradicts science and you pit them against each other, science wins hands-down making the choice of Christianity a less moral one.

If they are said to NOT be in conflict, though, in order to retain compatibility with science, you could call Christianity *metaphorically* descriptive of humanity's (or even just some humans') psychological needs and tendencies (much along the lines of Freud's explanations of religion)- though you would have to take all of the mythology as simply reflection of human psyche; not necessarily believing in "Jesus" as a real being, but as a meme, along with "YHWH" and the others.  It does require that you do *refine* the contents of the Bible along the lines of the work of Thomas Jefferson (removing the fallacious, and keeping the more legitimate psychology and social memes)  This would be a form of atheistic Christianity-- see stuff like this:  http://www.atheists-for-jesus.com/

In that sense, you can simultaneously be an atheist and a Christian- accepting science and reason and referring to Christianity as containing some axioms descriptive of the human psyche.

Is that where you are at the moment?

 

Initially I acknowledged the value of existing memetic infrastructure, though I will say without that infrastructure it makes more sense to apply Occam's razor to all of this- why do you need "Jesus" when you can cut right to the heart of where he was supposedly drawing this from?


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
mellestad wrote:I found the

mellestad wrote:


I found the morality arguments to be the most interesting.  At this point I've already gone round the circle with Blake once or twice about it, but it still interests me.


It's possible that Optionsgeek might find those arguments interesting too.

Optionsgeek, if you have time, you might want to read through some of one of those discussions.  One starts here in this thread:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/21269?page=1


mellestad wrote:

For example, the argument that this morality leads to vegetarianism or veganism I appreciate, but the logic for stopping there and not going all the way to cave dwelling primitivism or suicide seems to be an excuse rather than a logical result.


Suicide doesn't make any more sense than becoming a lion hunter (exhibiting a preference for one animal over another and 'taking sides' arbitrarily)- we are animals too.  The extent would to be to seek the maximum possible morality.  Suicide would just be angsty, and not an accomplishment in that pursuit.

You are right that when taken in isolation, the results are easy to understand as extreme- a single person, if striving for the ultimate ends of empathy, would revert to the more ultimate behavior of hermit in the woods avoiding anything the production of which might have harmed animals to the absolute possible extent.

Of course, primitivism isn't necessitated (one could imagine a society that takes as much care not to harm animals as Orthodox Jews to do be kosher), but only would seem to be the result when considering the modern social option, without consideration for interactions or game theory, as a false dichotomy.

However, when taken as a system in consideration of the memetic environment and the potential propagation of memes for ultimately exponential effect, and the application of game theory, it becomes much more complicated.  No man is an island, entire of itself.

You need to take a view of society like an elaborate batch of chemicals, and the actions of individuals like catalysts.  If you're trying to distill more moral actions, you don't stow the catalysts away in the cabinet across the room.

While we would need to use scientific methodology to determine the ideal moral behavior, it may not be quite as bizarre as PETA's tactics, and may be as simple as being a sane and social person who advocates for a better tomorrow while practicing as much as practical in the context of that society what he or she advocates.

Regardless, we can understand that the end result is not primitivism based on the potential for technology and infrastructure to support a population of humans doing even less harm than we would do in a primitive state, and we can be reasonably assured that primitivism is *not* a means to that eventual end.
 
I hope that helps clarify.


mellestad wrote:

Or maybe that is the only message I see, that all moral systems eventually face the limit what personal comfort an individual is willing to give up and that limit is just as solid as the limits defined by empathy.  Further, trying to breach that limit and rely on something less arbitrary or complex tends to result in systems that are unworkable.


Personal comfort would be the ultimate default- that is, strict hedonism which results from no imposing moral axioms.  We could call that pure amorality (not necessarily immorality- simply a lack of morality) in which the individual practices what is beneficial to his or herself granting consideration for all relevant instincts as well as- given intelligence- the social contract.

What would account for significant and deliberate morality is that which is to some degree a little bit uncomfortable.  That measure is the one by which the person defines his or her existential self as being moral, and the standard to which one must live up in order for it to be a genuine qualification.

In general, the degree to which somebody is willing to sacrifice personal comfort will define the limits of a moral system, but that doesn't so much make the moral system arbitrary as it makes the quantitative morality of an individual variable-- it is a more direct translation of *how* moral a given person is.  

We could, perhaps, say a certain person is 50% moral, because he or she exceeds his or her personal comfort levels 50% the way towards the moral ideal.  If an individual finds it acceptable to admit, "Yeah, that sounds right.  I'm no saint- I'm a 50% moral kinda guy.  It's better than that dude over there though- he's only 47%." then there would seem to be no conflict there.

So, *if* it were determined that PETA was a moral ideal (yeah, very unlikely, but for the sake of argument), then a person who works and uses the bare minimum needed to live while donating the rest of his or her money to PETA and adhering as much as possible to the prescribed lifestyle would be 100% moral (achieving the ideal as much as humanly possible).  Depending on the exact qualities of the resultant metric, somebody who doesn't donate at all but who follows the lifestyle and somebody who donates heavily and doesn't follow the lifestyle might actually come out even. 

 

It's interesting to ponder a meat eater who might even pay other people to be vegan for him or her, and as such have the moral high ground in almost any comparison; "Oh, you're vegan?  Well, I eat meat, but I pay 1,000 Chinese peasants not to eat any meat at all, so the reduction in net suffering for that compensates for the meat I eat by two or three times."



Anyway, the point I am making is that it's not arbitrary.  While it's difficult to qualify precise ideals due to experimental limitations of sociology, we can make our best estimates, and the degree to which people pursue morality is a personal measure of 'goodness' in a sense, which relates to one's existential self-image.

We can ask "How moral of a person are you/do you see yourself as/do you want to be?" and conclude "Then you should behave in a manner consistent with these metrics"- though we can not prescribe a level of morality that an individual must follow "or else", unless we leverage the social contract, defining society as a group of individuals with X degree or higher of morality.


mellestad wrote:
*Edit: And I would add, the cultural morality that all moral systems must fall under seems to come, eventually, from force of arms which is just social contract and now we're back in the circle again.*


Yes, it is like saying that "this is a society of Muslims.  If you are not Muslim, you are not part of this social contract." Which basically means you're fair game.  However, I would note that such a morality is arbitrary (rather than derived more objectively from more fundamental and morally inherent axioms such as empathy), as well as illegitimate (because it is based on illogical premises which defeat the very purpose of morality itself- genuine reality based efficacy).

mellestad wrote:
Edit again: So my overall point would be 'comfort' is as valid as empathy when it comes to morality.


I think my overall point is that it isn't Eye-wink  Comfort is the degree to which one is amoral; only exceeding that default is a deliberate moral action- a.k.a. a measure of morality.


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
It is late and I'm tired,

It is late and I'm tired, but I think that cleared things up some.

 

So *If*:

Your arbitrary basis for morality is empathy

You accept pain and a objective measure of 'worthiness' of empathy

You are able to define a coherent method to quantify and apply that measurement

You arbitrarily decide human happiness/lack of pain is worth more than what comes from other forms of life on Earth (If you don't you not only have to give up meat, you have ultimately design a society where animals don't kill other animals for food, provide medical care for wild animals and be forced to kill yourself unless you lived in a utopia where you could avoid any harm from farming, etc, otherwise it would be like accepting human murder as a cost for feeding yourself, and you couldn't justify that unless you were quantifiably worth more than the 'other')

You decide a level of acceptable effort that does not destroy yourself or your society even if that results in a net increase is suffering (like accepting current harm for a possible, more perfect future)

You can convince yourself to care in the first place

 

Then...sure.  I appreciate how the system lets you, theoretically, assign objective levels of morality to an act or person, that is a neat idea.

Having said that, I'm not sure how you would ever make the system widely practical without a level of control over the human population that isn't possible.  You'd have to hyper-charge empathy to make it stick, and I'm not sure what that society would look like.  I doubt you can culturally induce that level of empathy in an omnivorous species with a history of predation, and I doubt you can culturally induce the level of empathy to override that among the general population.  Maybe I'm wrong about the latter.

 

The other thing relies on people who are...I don't even know.  More satisfied with logic than simply living?  I think part of the problem with things like this in general is the idea that people will ever care.  Your personality type is a tiny minority...rare enough that it might be genetic to some degree...I don't buy most people caring enough to base their lives on an ideal that does not give them any satisfaction.  Religion does it by promising an afterlife, what does your system have to offer anyone?  Decreased comfort in this life for...a sense of satisfaction that your life is somewhat more morally coherent that it might have been otherwise?  

Like I said in the other thread, the thought of living my life in genuine commitment to that type of morality sounds terribly tedious....you obviously 'get something' out of living a life like that, enough to make you commit to it, but I don't think I would.  I'm almost certain I wouldn't.  Which comes back to comfort and why I think it is as valid as empathy.  It might not be as coldly logical, but people aren't ruled by logic and I seriously doubt we ever will be.

Is it something we could nurture?  Maybe?  What do you think?

 

Even you say that our sense of empathy is what helps determine right and wrong, well, so does our sense of comfort in defining moral calculations.  Why choose to abandon comfort but retain empathy?  Why not just go for an arbitrary basis of, "least harm" or something and use pure logic?  That could be at least as consistent and valid as your system.

 

Of course, as in the other thread, agreeing with you but not following the system robs me of all moral authority, since I'm acknowledging a moral system while choosing to live outside of it...which, I suppose, is about as close to evil as you can get.

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

And my wife is telling me it is bedtime and she's right.  I re-read the above and I'm probably just rambling anyway.

I'd love it if some of the other brains would chime in on this.

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


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
mellestad wrote:Your

mellestad wrote:

Your arbitrary basis for morality is empathy

 

Well, in that, I don't think that's exactly arbitrary- it may come down to semantics, but empathy pretty much owns "morality" when we exclude the fictional bases (e.g. deities).  It seems to be pretty much all that's left to grasp onto.

 

Now, we could regress empathy to its "evolutionary purposes" (going back one more step), which would come down to not bashing in your children's skulls with rocks (benefit to progeny), and stabilizing the social contract.  That, however, only qualifies empathy to your direct descendants and obedience to the social contract as moral-- which as we're previously explored, allows some pretty unanimously agreeably abominable things to go on in society beyond the scope of one's own progeny.  So, that would be O.K. to go with...

Or:

mellestad wrote:
You accept pain and a objective measure of 'worthiness' of empathy

Capacity to experience pain as a measure of worthiness for empathy? (your phrasing was a bit strange)

I feel like regressing to "evolutionary purpose" really doesn't do us very much better than the pure social contract, and wouldn't reasonably qualify morality based on the nature of the meme (at least, it seems like a usage panel would probably not prefer it), so this (the other extreme) is the only other non-arbitrary option- anything in-between would be very arbitrary.

 

mellestad wrote:
You are able to define a coherent method to quantify and apply that measurement

This is practically difficult, but it is not necessary to do this with perfect precision in order to make an estimate.  Does a snail or a minnow have more moral value?  I don't know.  I can ball park it with the best, most objective analysis I can give, and that's the best that can be done.  Using our best judgment, based on the most likely reality, is the most moral course in this regard, rather than giving up due to imperfection, because it's more likely to result in more moral action than giving up would (which would only at best randomly result in correct moral action).

So, yeah; though that would be a "Work in progress" as neuroscience advances, it doesn't mean a working estimate should be discarded in the mean-time; quite the contrary.

 

mellestad wrote:
You arbitrarily decide human happiness/lack of pain is worth more than what comes from other forms of life on Earth (If you don't you not only have to give up meat, you have ultimately design a society where animals don't kill other animals for food, provide medical care for wild animals and be forced to kill yourself unless you lived in a utopia where you could avoid any harm from farming, etc, otherwise it would be like accepting human murder as a cost for feeding yourself, and you couldn't justify that unless you were quantifiably worth more than the 'other')

 

I don't think that's exactly arbitrary.  An adult is generally capable of experiencing more pain than a child, for example- not just physical, but deeper emotional pain, due to more development (whereas the kid is going to be pretty much over whatever 'end of the world' emotional meltdown just happened in something like five minutes and not remember it an hour later).  We do have to guess a bit to determine the value of other living things based on the metric you mentioned before, but that doesn't make it useless, as I've explained.

Even if we were to consider all things equal, I understand the argument you are trying to make, but this is not logically necessary; such a moral system does not prescribe "the ends always justify the means"- that would be an arbitrary ruling (nor does the system say the ends don't justify the means).  Engaging in a non-moral action for the sake of preventing more non-moral actions requires an arbitrary assesment (independent of any logical deduction) that the non-moral means are justified by the ends.  This is the "lion hunter" scenario I mentioned (killing the lion to save the gazelle), and just doesn't follow.  A non-interventionist approach is perfectly consistent.  Going out of one's way to destroy all life on Earth to prevent this 'cycle of pain and suffering' would also be consistent- neither would be required or prescribed.

I'll help you out in that I think what you're looking for here is a question of "what ends justify what means?" (which you almost touch upon in the next point)- and that's one that varies personally within *any* moral framework.  The question doesn't nullify a moral framework, but it does make the... tenacity, a bit variable.

You could say, "Well, it's moral to save somebody from drowning, but it's a little immoral to maybe give somebody a bruise.  So, since the ends don't justify the means *ever*, I'm not willing to give that kid a bruise in saving her from drowning.  Sorry kid."  You could say that, yes.  You could also go with the other extreme and become a mad scientist bent on world destruction to prevent anybody from ever drowning ever again.  Or you could be a sane person, and go with something arbitrarily in the middle, then be consistent about it (instead of letting that slide into the realm of convenient oscillation when you feel like you can't be bothered).  It's much like the determination "O.K., I'm a 50% moral kind of guy" with its respective consistency-- the important operator in both cases being consistency.

Personally, I do scoff at (a minority of) other vegans who say the ends of Bio-reacted beef that would save countless animals from being killed do not justify the means of taking a cell from a cow, who probably won't even feel the prick of the needle.

The "do the ends justify the means" question is no more definitively and prescriptively solved here than it has been elsewhere, but that doesn't change the basis of the moral framework or make the framework itself more arbitrary or unworkable (it contains vast swaths of workability between the extremes).  It's just another variable with which people treat the framework.  Assuming a sanity that *already exists* in most people, this doesn't need to add any new assumptions or behaviors, it just replaces the arbitrary and often illegitimate morality most people use as a foundation.

 

mellestad wrote:
You decide a level of acceptable effort that does not destroy yourself or your society even if that results in a net increase is suffering (like accepting current harm for a possible, more perfect future)

This almost touches on "do the ends justify the means", but I think I covered it pretty well above.

You can think of it like a two dimensional graph, with degree of morality, and extent to which the ends justify the means, plotting out any given person within the moral framework.

 

mellestad wrote:
You can convince yourself to care in the first place

 

There's nothing prescriptive about reality that says you have to be moral instead of amoral.  Like you mentioned, there's no heaven or hell- it's a legitimately un-coerced choice, providing there isn't any social pressure.  You can imagine it to be something closer to "free-will" than any religion ever devised (as a manner of speaking- though of course "free-will" is an incoherent concept).

 

 

Quote:
Religion does it by promising an afterlife, what does your system have to offer anyone?  Decreased comfort in this life for...a sense of satisfaction that your life is somewhat more morally coherent that it might have been otherwise?

 

Pretty much, but don't under-estimate self actualization.  People like to think of themselves as moral people; show them what that more rationally is, and one might induce some very uncomfortable cognitive dissonance that may ultimately be easier to resolve by switching to tofu rather than rationalizing some exotic justification or accepting an amoral foundation for one's life.  Ultimately, most people don't feel a need to be saints; they just need to one-up the Joneses.

 

Quote:
Which comes back to comfort and why I think it is as valid as empathy.

As valid as empathy in what regard?  As a basis for morality?  No.  Comfort is amorality, pretty much however you slice it- base hedonism based on comfort is pretty much the definition of amorality.

However, you can say that amorality is as valid as morality- there's nothing prescriptive about the universe that says you must be moral, or that you can't be amoral or even outright evil if you damn well please.

 

Quote:
Is it something we could nurture?  Maybe?  What do you think?

Logic?  I hope so.

 

 

mellestad wrote:
Even you say that our sense of empathy is what helps determine right and wrong, well, so does our sense of comfort in defining moral calculations.

 

I think that's pretty well understood to be due to cognitive biases, and alters empirical observations about reality too- is comfort as valid as science?

Comfort is amorality- it's just a default.  That is, of course, not to imply anything prescriptive about it.

 

mellestad wrote:
Why not just go for an arbitrary basis of, "least harm" or something and use pure logic?

 

Please elaborate.

 

mellestad wrote:
Of course, as in the other thread, agreeing with you but not following the system robs me of all moral authority, since I'm acknowledging a moral system while choosing to live outside of it...which, I suppose, is about as close to evil as you can get.

I see lack of a morality as amoral, not necessarily immoral.  It's a decided absence of morality.  Evil would seem to need to be a force of anti-morality; of negating morality were it stands (not where it is lacking)- I would note that dialetheism is pure dagnasty evil, but it's hard to qualify anything else.  Going about life based on comfort and hedonistic whim instead- that's a lack of morality, rather than a negation of it. 

Evil by this moral metric would be functionally almost impossible to *do*, because it would require you to deliberately cause harm to others and yourself without having anything to gain from it (save perhaps the satisfaction of knowing you are pure dagnasty evil?)- we're talking evil for evil's sake.  The only evil I've seen has been memetic evil that derives from bad logic and unreality found in dialetheism.


Eloise
Theist
Eloise's picture
Posts: 1804
Joined: 2007-05-26
User is offlineOffline
mellestad wrote:It is late

mellestad wrote:

It is late and I'm tired, but I think that cleared things up some.

 

So *If*:

Your arbitrary basis for morality is empathy

You accept pain and a objective measure of 'worthiness' of empathy

You are able to define a coherent method to quantify and apply that measurement

You arbitrarily decide human happiness/lack of pain is worth more than what comes from other forms of life on Earth (If you don't you not only have to give up meat, you have ultimately design a society where animals don't kill other animals for food, provide medical care for wild animals and be forced to kill yourself unless you lived in a utopia where you could avoid any harm from farming, etc, otherwise it would be like accepting human murder as a cost for feeding yourself, and you couldn't justify that unless you were quantifiably worth more than the 'other')

You decide a level of acceptable effort that does not destroy yourself or your society even if that results in a net increase is suffering (like accepting current harm for a possible, more perfect future)

You can convince yourself to care in the first place

Just my two cents, I think the "If" can stem directly from the conviction of personal identity. If "I am" distinct and inviolate, then it is that "you are", and likewise.

...from such a position empathy is not so much arbitrary as it is deductively apparent; a personal identity lays claim to experience within it's scope of understood "self" and in its interaction with the universe this is its basis for comprehending what is else.  In other, less precise, words - to our minds, being itself is a function of the experiences we lay claim to as an identity. These are the boundaries, the limits that within, in our most primal sense, we establish any other being can claim ownership as self. This is empathy. This is our personal identity ascertaining a basis from our own experience which we then project on the universe as a language decoding our interaction with it. 

I don't fundamentally believe that personal identity isn't arbitrary, for the record, (and some familiar with my beliefs will already know this) however, being as it is a primal aspect of the nature under which we presently operate, it is the most universal basis for moral systems I can imagine.

It also, to my mind, explains why individual moral systems start and end, and are weighted one way or another, at different points to each other.

In my observation it seems generally true that the size of a persons moral 'shoulds' is directly proportionate, and functionally relative, to the span of their sense of personal ownership. I have tended to find that a person with lots of their sense of self invested in their material environment place moral emphasis on respect for those things, ie they frown on theft more harshly than others, while those who invest more of their identity in, vice versa, more inwardly directed values will tend to place moral emphasis on aspects of a similar nature, honesty, for example. 

This seems to fit well with my belief that the universal basis of morality is the sense of self, and empathy, according to the more explicit details of that sense, deductively follows.

Additionally, I would suggest that it fits well with the evolution of societal morality as well. the common ground for morality, socially, is the agreed limits of self, ownership and identity. For each popular societal moral there, I imagine, can be found a statistically significant number of individuals whose identity is personally felt inviolate to an equal degree. Where there are so many less members of the social network investing identity in a certain sense of being, for example as you mention, Blake's determined sense of integrity, in which his identity resides, that leads him toward veganism as a moral choice, is somewhat unique, and thus society as a whole doesn't similarly embrace the idea.

Theist badge qualifier : Gnostic/Philosophical Panentheist

www.mathematicianspictures.com


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Thank you Nikolai for your

Thank you Nikolai for your kind comments! I am interested in using the socratic method to call into question various hypotheses, and my root assumption is that I know nothing. I am here for mutual enlightenment, and good company!

Mellestad and Eloise, thank you also for your contributions.

I´m going to have infrequent access to the computer over the Christmas holidays, but I am here for the long haul. I would be very happy for this dialogue to continue until the day I pop my clogs - a long way off hopefully Eye-wink – it is a delight to be in such intelligent, open and humble company. Before I retreat to my in-laws, I'll just have one quick post to respond to blake, mellestad and eloise:

Blake, thank you for your very coherent line of reasoning on morality. What you said here:

blake wrote:

That's the beauty of it, logic doesn't make us do these things.  We have a choice.  Logic and reason provide a framework for engaging in the moral actions of our choosing, but doesn't force us to do anything.

You can use logic to follow the premise that we should be empathetic to certain conclusions, or you can use logic to follow the premise that we should try to eat as much chocolate as possible.  Some premises are outright *bizarre*, but logic doesn't tell us what kind of person to be- social person, moral person, obsessive chocoholic, etc.  That's about *choice*.

was brilliant. I also have no difficulties with the idea of 'empathy' being the founding axiom of a functioning and logical system of law. I will let you, Mellestad and Eloise thrash that one out in more detail as you please - though it is not something that really interests me. I am very comfortable with the idea that prescriptive morality is arbitrary, and almost always unpleasant for everyone, both non-subscribers AND subscribers, whether the primary axioms are theist or non-theist.

I think to answer the questions that you and Mellestad posed about 'christian atheism / cultural christian', and also your doubts about christianity as 'descriptive' as opposed to 'prescriptive', we need to go back 2 steps, to two of my previous assertions:

1st step back:

"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:

 

i/ 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) ***EDIT and I don't think I can tell you what the first premise of the aesthetic is until we have agreed on the 2nd step back outlined below.***

ii/ We are both skewed in our interpretation of the such doctrines due to different experiences and different forms of analysis ***EDIT and your interpretation of the first premise is not mine, and not doctrinally orthodox according to my understanding of biblical hermeneutics.***"

2nd step back: I proposed the following to Nigel:

"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."

I would be very pleased if you re-read my last post through this lense rather than through the lense of what might make an appropriate ethical system. Sorry for the confusion.

Peace, Love and Happy holidays to you all!

Options

 


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Quick question for Blake

Blake wrote:

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,   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.  

"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).

Blake what are some good rebuttals to theists that make such statements as "God is outside of logic" or people that try to tell me "You can't use logic to describe God" or those theists that wish to maintain, as you noted above, that everyone else is bound by logic but god is not ?  I generally try to point out some of their contradictions, to which alot of them wish to maintain that their god can contradict himself and continue to be unchangeable cause he's god. Yet, I know their have been better rebuttals than my current ones.
 

 

“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


Nikolaj
Superfan
Nikolaj's picture
Posts: 503
Joined: 2008-04-27
User is offlineOffline
harleysportster wrote:

harleysportster wrote:
...alot of them wish to maintain that their god can contradict himself and continue to be unchangeable cause he's god.

This is very straight forward Special Pleading, so you can start by pointing that out to them.

Of course this probably won't make much difference, but it's something.

You could try reading up on the "Special Pleading" Falacy, to getter sense of what they are doing wrong, so that you can better rebut them.

 

Also, you can show them how fallacious special pleading is, by taking up a contrary position to theirs, for argument's sake.

 

Like you could say: "if God is unchangeable cause he's God, then how will you object to a Hindu who says Krishna is unchangeable cause he's Brahman? What the Hindu is doing is called Special Pleading, and that's why you, rightfully, reject his claim, but you are doing the same, and that's why I, rightfully, reject your claim. If your God can be outside of Logic, just on your say-so, why can't Brahman be Krishna be Kali be Vishnu, just on some Hindu's say-so? How is your argument special from his?

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote:Blake,

Optionsgeek wrote:
Blake, thank you for your very coherent line of reasoning on morality. What you said here: [...] was brilliant. I also have no difficulties with the idea of 'empathy' being the founding axiom of a functioning and logical system of law. I will let you, Mellestad and Eloise thrash that one out in more detail as you please - though it is not something that really interests me.


Why is that?  Where I mentioned Occam's razor, I was speaking directly to the "Christian" aesthetic you described; a rational conversion into just this.

What is the golden rule you expound if not an inherent expression of empathy?  I'm talking about reducing these things to their most powerful and essential common denominators.

Where do you find this impractical?


Optionsgeek wrote:
I am very comfortable with the idea that prescriptive morality is arbitrary, and almost always unpleasant for everyone, both non-subscribers AND subscribers, whether the primary axioms are theist or non-theist.


Alright, well, here's the issue with that: Most forms of prescriptive morality may be unpleasant for everybody involved, but we have to compare it to the alternative.  We have to ask ourselves if the ends justify the means.  Without socially prescriptive morality, all we have is a raw social contract- a devise that permits child-slave brothels, and other arguably abominable institutions.

Without socially prescriptive morality, we can not impose on any other person to do or not do anything unless it directly harms ourselves personally- we can't defend the weak and helpless in any manner.

Yes, this is socially harmonious, but it's also nightmarish.  Each person left alone to keep his six year old sex slaves in his basement, regularly raping them to death and replenishing stock from the local slave market where adult sex slaves churn out product. 

It's a prospect that may call for an end to war and the intervention we impose on each other- which is a profound cause of conflict- but it's also a prospect unacceptable to most people.

Only if you can accept the potential results can you eschew socially prescriptive morality entirely.  I can respect the rejection of socially prescriptive morality- it has its virtues- but I don't necessarily agree with it due to the natural implications.


Optionsgeek wrote:

i/ 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) ***EDIT and I don't think I can tell you what the first premise of the aesthetic is until we have agreed on the 2nd step back outlined below.***


This is fallacious and insulting, as other posters have already explained.  If you present the premises coherently, any practitioner of logic can examine the reasoning regardless of whether he or she likes the premises.  I have no interest in arguing about whether or not the Bible supports the Golden rule- if you state this as your premise, and are clear in your intentions, we can go from there.

I don't see the purpose of this second step as anything more than a red herring.  I have acknowledged the memetic infrastructure; that is very much beside the point.  The point is what you are trying to do- are you building a descriptive or prescriptive system?  If it's merely descriptive, what is the point of it when we already have more objective and accurate descriptive systems?  Is it personally prescriptive but not socially prescriptive?  You need to be more clear about what you're trying to do, because your responses to me have muddled what you seemed to be implying prior.



Optionsgeek wrote:

ii/ We are both skewed in our interpretation of the such doctrines due to different experiences and different forms of analysis ***EDIT and your interpretation of the first premise is not mine, and not doctrinally orthodox according to my understanding of biblical hermeneutics.***


You may be, though I am quite aware of the broad array of interpretations.  Where have I misinterpreted your 'first premise'?


Optionsgeek wrote:

I was interested in the possibility that the christian heuristic was potentially effective at orientating society towards the golden rule.


Optionsgeek wrote:

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.


I find it very unlikely that I understand the zeitgiest of orthodox, conservative, evangelical, funamentalist, liberal, or transcendentalist Christianity any less intimately than you do.

I thoroughly understand the premise you have been referencing, and I have no interest in refuting your claim that this is the premise of your flavour of Christian culture, so unless you have a new premise you've come up with but have not yet shared, the issue I have is that you have not been very consistent regarding the purposes of the memes you are advancing in your responses.


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
harleysportster wrote: Blake

harleysportster wrote:
Blake what are some good rebuttals to theists that make such statements as "God is outside of logic" or people that try to tell me "You can't use logic to describe God" or those theists that wish to maintain, as you noted above, that everyone else is bound by logic but god is not ?  I generally try to point out some of their contradictions, to which alot of them wish to maintain that their god can contradict himself and continue to be unchangeable cause he's god. Yet, I know their have been better rebuttals than my current ones.

 

Nikolaj's is a start:

 

Nikolaj wrote:
Like you could say: "if God is unchangeable cause he's God, then how will you object to a Hindu who says Krishna is unchangeable cause he's Brahman? What the Hindu is doing is called Special Pleading, and that's why you, rightfully, reject his claim, but you are doing the same, and that's why I, rightfully, reject your claim. If your God can be outside of Logic, just on your say-so, why can't Brahman be Krishna be Kali be Vishnu, just on some Hindu's say-so? How is your argument special from his?

 

Generally, however, this will not get you very far, because the theist will claim that all of these religions are ultimately referencing the same god, so when the Hindu says this, he or she is correct, although he or she may have some other details about this deity a bit wrong- e.g. certain ultimate qualities, purity and the need for forgiveness, etc.

The argument isn't useless, because it can make progress.  Like a chizzel on a mountain, you can eventually wear the theism down to a more generic one, rather than a more specific one, which is less morally prescriptive.  E.g. you may be able to get an otherwise homophobic conservative Christian to become a more accepting theist, leaning more towards deism.  Like I said, though, it's a chizzel vs. a mountain.

 

 

 

Or, because logic is the ultimate means of falsification, you can simply thank the theist for proving that their god does not exist- for to be "outside" logic is to be outside reality/existence-- to not exist.  Then just call him or her an atheist until he or she says that "god does exist", to which you respond "Oh, so God is logical?"- to which if he or she responds "No, God is beyond logic" you can agree "Yes, I agree, god is beyond reality and existence, that's what makes us atheists- we don't believe god is part of logical reality".  Continue until he or she asserts that reality itself is not logical/ that logic is not valid in part of reality.

When somebody has then advocated against logic in general, more simply, you can explain the Principle_of_contradiction and the Principle_of_explosion, explaining that the stance that is being taken is a form of dialetheism, which is not a legitimate form of reasoning because it is incoherent (it makes it impossible to say anything coherent about anything at all, as Bob mentioned).  You can then present a form of dialetheists' dilemma that helps illustrate that fact, if you like.

I'll quote myself here, from a couple pages back:

Blake wrote:

Pascal's wager may be a steaming pile of bullshit, but a wager of dialetheism isn't.  Thanks to logical explosion, it's the only probability wager with an absolute answer.

 

Logic is true    ||  Logic is not true

Logic is true  ---  Logic is false

Illogic is false ---  Logic is true

                      ---  Illogic is true

                      ---  Illogic is false

                      ---  0 = 1

                      ---  monkey + square = apple

                     

Note that in either situation, logic is still true (though the latter is, additionally, completely incoherent).  You can't go wrong with the proposition "Logic is true".

 

 

I'm also rather partial to Avicenna's stance on the matter:

Quote:
Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.

 

 

Though, obviously we would have difficulty doing that.

 

You can explain to him or her, however, that he or she is being hypocritical and even blasphemous for attempting to use logic to discuss or do anything- because by recognizing the validity of logic in every day life he or she is denying god.

So, as Aristotle put it:

Aristotle wrote:

Why does he not just get up first thing and walk into a well or, if he finds one, over a cliff? In fact, he seems rather careful about cliffs and wells

Explain to the person that he or she is a f*cking hypocrite, and blasphemer.

 

If he or she disagrees, and says that logic is true in some parts of reality, but can be violated in another, you can use one of the many logical proofs that demonstrate that from a contradiction *anywhere* anything can be proven.

You could prove, for example "You are evil and it is morally necessary for punch you in the face".

Here's how:

 

God has X quality, and God does not have X quality;

God has X quality;

As such, at least one of these must be true: God has X quality, or you are evil and it is morally necessary for me to punch you in the face;

If God does not have X quality, then you must be evil and it must be morally necessary for me to punch you in the face;

You'll notice from the premise that God also does not have X quality;

Therefore, you are evil and it is morally necessary for me to punch you in the face;

 

 

If he or she then argues that you can't reference the qualities of god (divine) in logic with non-divine elements (never the twain may meet or be compared to each other), explain to him or her that (beyond being special pleading) such a division would make this "god" completely irrelevant, because neither could one prove that non-divine actions have any moral relevance, or that non-divine beings such as ourselves can have any relationship to this deity, be it sin, grace, or immortality.  All that does is compartmentalize this "god" where it can have absolutely no effect on mundane reality *at all*, which makes the question of this "god" completely irrelevant (no souls, no heaven, no hell, no divine morality, and in particular absolutely no Jesus).  That necessitates that we be atheists, because from our perspective it has no effect on reality- it is not part of our compartmentalized reality, and for us does not exist.

 

There are probably only a few thousand people in the world intelligent and educated enough to argue beyond that point, and of those, only a hand-full will be delusional enough to, but...

If he or she does argue that "god" can open windows in that division, and then seal them up again to prevent us from using logic on it, you can point out that any windows of affecting reality create a ripple of causality (an infection of illogic) which can be referenced to -again- prove that said person is evil and it is logically necessary to hit him/her in the face.  If the person then asserts that his or her god can stop those ripples of causality, you can respond that stoping the ripples of causality stops and undoes the effect on reality (e.g. create the world, and then uncreate it to prevent that cause from rippling on), so doing so is the same as doing nothing at all.

 

There is more you can say, but that should get you started.

At a certain point, though, you'll have to accept that this person is an effectively brain-dead p-zombie, having destroyed what semblance of a mind he or she ever may have had by rejecting logic.


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3718
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Welcome to the forum,

Welcome to the forum, Optionsgeek.

Optionsgeek wrote:

2/ The way we find meaning in life is in the realm beyond rational. It comes in ascribing a transcendentant meaning to relationships that rationality cannot give. You do this, very poignantly, here:

...

A couple of guys in this thread, can't remember who, said something defending their emotional and biased responses to JC. In doing so, they make a leap out of the empirical and scientific world, and into the world of assumed meaning. Blake's use of the world evil is very interesting from a linguistic perspective. What does he mean by that? following the infinite regress line, he will get to a stage where he leaps from logic, into a self evident truth. Why is it bad if my engaging in 'immoral behaviour' leads to societal collapse? What is the benefit of a long life? Why? Why? Why? Why should society survive? Why? why? why? Why is human life important? Why? Why? why? etc etc etc - you always end up with, 'It just is, ok?' (Maybe some of you who are parents have experienced this with your kids!). I postulate that Atheistextremist assertion:

Imo, reason can explain why we do what we do. It is only natural for us to attach meaning to the meaningless and purpose to the purposeless; it is instinctual. Beyond this fact, I am not quite sure what we're trying to figure out. Is the question: since there is no logical justification for any purpose beyond my own arbitrary desires, then why choose any purpose at all? Well, in asking that, we've already hinted at the answer. There is no purpose beyond my own, so ergo, that is the purpose I choose! I eat ice cream because I like ice cream; analogously, I have the purpose, the morals, the meaning, etc. that I have simply because I like them. Thousands of years of philosophers in armchairs have turned a very simple answer into a labyrinth. "My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose." - Ayn Rand

Inevitably, I think this is the only logical way to approach ethics. Assertions about the good of society, the value of human life, etc. are well intentioned but completely arbitrary because, ultimately, the only intellectually honest way of answering "why" is "because that is what I want." That is all of morality; that's all it ever was.

So, I don't really like the words you used here, "the way we find meaning in life is in the realm beyond rational." The meaning can just come from us, and that's not irrational. We like to attach objective and/or transcendent meaning as well, but that's unnecessary, and, of course, there isn't some "realm" of substance where we can find "meaning." When people claim to have objective meaning or morals, all they're doing is asserting some supernatural "thing" and projecting their own values onto it.   

We feel very strongly about some things, and it's comforting to think that our feelings are not just our feelings, that they're "objective feelings."

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Thanks Blake and Nikolaj

Thanks you guys for taking the time to point those fallacies and contradictions out. I feel better prepared for the next theist that tries to keep redefining god to whatever he wishes it to be at the moment.

“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


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5861
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Options, once you start

Options, once you start regarding something as an 'aesthetic', you are into an almost, if not entirely, personal subjective mode, so you have no warrant to tell anyone else how they should regard the same subject.

I, and others here, regard 'christian doctrine' as something that most followers most certainly do not regard it that way in most circumstances, even though there is usually a major element of 'aesthetic' appeal in the way they are drawn to, and often 'locked into', the doctrine.

The doctrine seems to have far more edicts and injunctions than a mere 'aesthetic'.

The internal perspective of a follower or believer of any doctrine is usually quite different to that of an 'outsider', and what has been thoroughly established by many studies is that the internal perspective can often be far less accurate than that of a intelligent, observant, informed observer, even about the individuals own behavior and how their belief affects their own attitudes and life actions.

I personally regard Art as a far more open and unlimited and non-limiting way to gain both intellectual and emotional, and, dare I say, what some refer to as 'spiritual', insight, than religion. I regard 'spiritual' as a useful word to refer to a dimension of our internal experience that is not accurately described as either rational or simply emotional. I resent the takeover and distortion of the raw sense of the word by doctrinal religions.

I think we all have some level of truly 'spiritual' experience, sometimes described as the sense of the 'numinous', or what many describe as a sense of wonder as we contemplate 'Life, the Universe, and Everything'. I see this as an important inspiration of Religion, which then proceeds to structure a doctrine around it, and reduce it to some lowest common denominator, into a packaged doctrine.

Mystics from within a religion are people who, with varying degrees of success, try to break out of the packaged 'spirituality' to recapture the original raw experience, at least it seems to me.

Just some thoughts...

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
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
hey guys

hahah - I can´t resist - had to sneek away from last minute christmas shopping!!

Very quickly, I understand the confusion! I was initially interested in testing the hypotheses that any heuristic that models the social contract (and I suggested the Golden Rule) might be useful in orientating society and individuals towards behaviour that brings net benefits to the participation in the system adopting such a heuristic. Successively, Bob, Harley and now you Blake have shown that hypotheses to be fraught with challenges.

I need to emphasise the following:

1/ I´m sorry blake if you felt insulted by my last post, that was not my intention at all. I confess that I was interested in pursuing several different hypotheses simultaneously, and I can see that this has caused some difficulties in communication. To clarify, I suggest that the Golden Rule is not the foundation of the Christian aesthetic.

2/ You guys are all very well equipped to discuss the pros and cons of different prescriptive ethical systems. Blake, your application of logic is very impressive.

3/ My primary interest is in pursuing a dialogue regarding the philosophy and importance of art and the aesthetic, beyond the limiting and antagonistic theist/atheist dialectic.

4/ I have a secondary interest in social / evolutionary psychology, the importance of tribe, the function of semiotics, linguistics and dogma, and the challenges that humans face in building constructive dialogue.

If you are not interested in pursuing a dialogue regarding the philosophy and importance of art and the aesthetic, beyond the limiting and antagonist theist/atheist dialectic, I would be interested to know why. I do not consider it a red herring.

I am here because I love using the socratic method to call into question deeply held assumptions and build dialogue and mutual understanding. I assume that I know nothing and am open to all new ideas.

You guys are all fantastic: thank you, Internet, for making this all possible!

Hugs

Options.


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Bob

Super post, I completely agree with everything here. I particularly liked:

bob wrote:

[on the numinous / spiritual] I see this as an important inspiration of Religion, which then proceeds to structure a doctrine around it, and reduce it to some lowest common denominator, into a packaged doctrine.

Very well put. This parlays very well into my secondary line of enquiry as stated in the post above, regarding the function of social / evolutionary psychology, semiotics, linguistics and dogma, and barriers to constructive and open dialogue. I join you in your war against politicized, and 'ethical enforcer' religionists, 100%.

I would suggest that correct doctrine, while guilty to the charge of what I see as inevitable reductionism, mitigates this danger.

One of my working hypotheses is (will this get me flamed to death?!?!?!?!) that many atheist posters on here may have done exactly the same i.e. Jesus is Hitchens, Logic is God, if you question me, you are an insult to reason and you are evil!

Bob, thank you for your open mind, you are a blessing to this forum.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5861
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
A couple of clarifications,

A couple of clarifications, options...

Logic is prime.

Even if not consciously acknowledged, it has to be the basis of the starting assumptions of any coherent discussion.

We do not regard Hitchens or Dawkins as 'God' in any even metaphorical sense, but as individuals who are articulate, pretty well researched, esp. with Dawkins, and worth listening to.

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
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Bob

Fully accepted.

Peace


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
harleysportster wrote:Thanks

harleysportster wrote:

Thanks you guys for taking the time to point those fallacies and contradictions out. I feel better prepared for the next theist that tries to keep redefining god to whatever he wishes it to be at the moment.

 

My pleasure.  Just let me know if you have any more problems, or find an argument you have trouble answering, and I'll do my best to help you out.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

I was initially interested in testing the hypotheses that any heuristic that models the social contract (and I suggested the Golden Rule) might be useful in orientating society and individuals towards behaviour that brings net benefits to the participation in the system adopting such a heuristic. Successively, Bob, Harley and now you Blake have shown that hypotheses to be fraught with challenges.

I think the most essential problem with this- and what I mentioned initially- is that it *can* be very useful, but that such a heuristic is necessarily crude by comparison to those we now have, which are much better and more foundational models that express the inherent logic to it (and which I believe any person so educated is fully capable of understanding).  The core reason I assert that such heuristics are not useful now (and in most situations) is that it would require a better system to be abandoned in their favor.  A reduction in efficiency is not useful.

However I have pondered on the possibility of a kind of religious heuristic which, as one studies more, unfolds itself into science and reason (thus not providing an obstacle to a greater understanding, but a path to it).  That current religions ultimately serve as obstacles to learning and progressing into a more accurate model is the core issue with their inefficiency. 

I suspect that, to some small degree, this may be what the Vedic texts as well as Hebrew scriptures attempted to accomplish- the barriers to entry were a progressive and complete understanding and adherence to prior texts, which gave way to more abstract and philosophical studies.  One would find, in many ancient religious traditions, that the bulk of the unstudied populous would be dogmatic in following rules they didn't understand, where those who had the leisure and access to the information to engage in study would be more open minded (in a sense) and contemplative.

Such a religion, I believe, would have to be "reverse engineered" in a way from science and logic and distilled carefully into more compressed and metaphorical axioms that lend themselves to fluid and barrier free progression back to the core principles at the foundation when education and study allow.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

If you are not interested in pursuing a dialogue regarding the philosophy and importance of art and the aesthetic, beyond the limiting and antagonist theist/atheist dialectic, I would be interested to know why. I do not consider it a red herring.

 

I consider these aesthetics to be memetic infrastructure- something which is subject to conceptual drift, and great variation from society to society, and person to person; similar to cultural tastes in music.  In any case, memetic infrastructure can be made of use, but Christianity isn't special in this regard- a secular system can also make use of motivating aesthetics.  What it takes is artistic genius to put it into practice in fitting with the environment.

The Christian aesthetic is just as arbitrary as any fad- while you can identify present cultures in which any particular "Christian" memetic infrastructure is strongly rooted, it ultimately waxes and deforms elsewhere.  You can identify similar aesthetics in various religions (some of which were hugely popular) going back to the dawn of civilization.  I think it's worth studying *why* some of these aesthetics work or do not, in an evolutionary sense and regard to the socioeconomic environment, but it would be counter-productive to hinge on the premise that the Christian aesthetic in particular is special or worthy of study on its own (it just happens to be dominant for you), or of particular note (Islam, for example, is growing, as are many once-Christians converting to Buddhism). 

That is, studying the "Christian aesthetic" is useless in itself, but a comparative study of religious aesthetetics over time, culture, and philosophy is very useful.  We can study messiah's, the concepts of guilt and sin, the concept of forgiveness- Christianity does not own these. 

Your suggestion regarding analysing the Christian aesthetic strikes me very much as the suggestion of spending time analyzing the number "3", when indeed we should be doing calculus.  And it is that calculus that is, to me, a foregone conclusion; it's something any meme needs to take into account- whether it's an advertising campaign for a new purse, a new pop-singer, or a comprehensive system of ethical social philosophy.  When speaking of aesthetics, we're ultimately talking about Localization - I'm talking about the product itself, which is a more inherent consideration.

I've never disregarded the power of utilizing existing memetic infrastructure, however, any such consideration of aesthetics is ultimately secondary to the essential goal of establishing foundational principles that will be expressed in terms of those aesthetics.

From my perspective, you want to discuss localization before we've even agreed upon a product.

 

I'll quote myself from be beginning of this post:

Blake wrote:
I have pondered on the possibility of a kind of religious heuristic which, as one studies more, unfolds itself into science and reason (thus not providing an obstacle to a greater understanding, but a path to it).  Such a religion, I believe, would have to be "reverse engineered" in a way from science and logic and distilled carefully into more compressed and metaphorical axioms that lend themselves to fluid and barrier free progression back to the core principles at the foundation when education and study allow.

The most essential discussion is regarding those core principles, and what they are intended to achieve.  Whether they need to be delivered in an envelope of local aesthetic or not is irrelevant.  Aesthetic is useful metaphor, but it is not the message itself.

What do we strive to do for society?  To equip it to protect itself from tyranny?  To encourage empathy and peace?  To drive intellectual enlightenment and human advancement beyond the singularity?

 

Optionsgeek wrote:
One of my working hypotheses is [...] that many atheist posters on here may have done exactly the same i.e. Jesus is Hitchens, Logic is God, if you question me, you are an insult to reason and you are evil!

Personality cults are rare among new atheists, but you might find a few.  However, "God" is definitely not logic; the two are not comparable, although some rationalist Christians try to make them seem that way.  Like my earlier description- logic isn't prescriptive, but is something that gives one the means to execute thought and choice. 

Questioning is very important... just so long as we don't get carried away with questioning the basis for thought and conversation (because then we're just chasing our tails).  I think Bob and I both have expounded this sufficiently. 

Empiricism not only should, but *must* be questioned in order to be most reliably kept scientifically objective- that's how science works, and anybody who bows to authoritative answers on empirical matters without thinking about it is probably doing it wrong.


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote:3/ My

Optionsgeek wrote:

3/ My primary interest is in pursuing a dialogue regarding the philosophy and importance of art and the aesthetic, beyond the limiting and antagonistic theist/atheist dialectic.

4/ I have a secondary interest in social / evolutionary psychology, the importance of tribe, the function of semiotics, linguistics and dogma, and the challenges that humans face in building constructive dialogue.

The evolutionary psychology is a bit of a fascination of mine. Not too long ago, I put up a question about a common theist argument (these are usually arguments from theists that have a "broad" definition of god, rather than the clear cut definition of a "ONE TRUE GOD" type of assertion) that since every culture seems to have some sort of a spiritual belief system at it's core, then could that not indicate the presence of "something" rather than nothing ?

It was pointed out to me that Dawkins gives real good coverage in the God Delusion. A couple of links also were given to me that lead me to several titles and the realization that entire bodies of work were dedicated to understanding this.

One of the first ones that I happened to pick up at the library was The God Part of the Brain by Mathew Alper (I must forewarn that some of his findings I did not fully agree with). That builds a great deal of evidence that we are almost genetically hard-wired by the brain to worship. It was pointed out on several websites that this might be a good book to start out with, but not a good one to use as a final word since there is much more to it. One of Alper's findings was evolution only allows for things that helps the species to survive (some experts that I read disagree with that notion totally).

Why God Won't Go Away by Andrew Newberg is one that I hope to begin pretty soon.

Recommended to me by one of the other members on here was : In Gods we Trust : The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion by Scott Atran

Sam Harris has a fairly new one out called the Moral Landscape that I also hope to get to.

(Granted, my time to read is not as unlimited as I would like it to be, but this has become an interest of mine that I would like to know alot more about .Just for my own curiousity. And I am sure that yours is a bit limited as well,.But I thought that I would throw out a few of these titles should you like to pursue the idea of evolution, developed behaviors and such) .

A member on here, EXC sent me a link to this video that you might find interesting :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMjTSJR3M6M

There are certain traits that we can assign to humans that we could safely classify as "human" traits. For instance, all cultures seem to have sorrow and happiness, all cultures have developed a language, and it seems that almost all cultures seem to have some spiritual belief at their core.

Now, I know that the crux of your discussion is not aimed at the atheist/theist dialogue, but I thought you might find it interesting to see that there are emergent properties  of human behavior that are a direct byproduct of evolution. Wouldn't that touch upon some of your questions about aesthetics ?

“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


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
I would also point out, if

I would also point out, if the 'regular' posters here see someone acting like

Optionsgeek wrote:
One of my working hypotheses is [...] that many atheist posters on here may have done exactly the same i.e. Jesus is Hitchens, Logic is God, if you question me, you are an insult to reason and you are evil!
.  Blind, 'faith' that you need to treat something as a deity can't really co-exist with the micro-culture that exists here, at least that I've seen.

Even for the most passionate of us, we're still essentially materialists of one kind or another and as such it is hard for us to treat anything with that level of awe or respect.

Most of us would attack that idea as readily as we attack the ideas of a typical theist.  Some of the most scathing things I see here are not theist versus atheist, they are atheist versus atheist.

Again, I really think you are making too much of how we treat a troll.  Jean was a foaming-at-the-mouth hellfire and damn you all type of theist once you get down to it, and you can't really converse with that personality type.

 

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


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
@Blake: Thanks for the

@Blake: Thanks for the effort on helping me understand that.  I was watching a debate about morality today with Matt Dillahunty http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2010/11/source-of-human-morality-debate-videos.html (decent debate, btw.  I'm fairly certain the whole live debate format is pretty useless to actually get anywhere in general though) and since he beats the same drum as you do, just with different language, it helped quite a bit.

 

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


Jean Chauvin
Theistard
Jean Chauvin's picture
Posts: 1211
Joined: 2010-11-19
User is offlineOffline
Hello

Hello,

I had a pretty successful move. I missed you guys too.

Regarding what you call "evolution" of aesthetics via evolution, you are again hypocrites. Beauty and morals are dead in atheism.

Don't you remember the 1960's when they said "God is Dead." They weren't talking about God ontologically speaking, but the idea of the concept of God was dead.

And via this, it was admitted that the death of ethics, and beauty, and being, and knowing as well. And this brought in the Post-modern era in contrast to the modern era. Atheism consistently applied has affected and effected our culture. This is why they say

Quote:
"beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Be intellectually honest. Where did this quote come from? Who now adopts this thinking most consistently, Chrisitans or Atheists.

Before I even posted on beauty, you all said this and believed this. It is ingrained in our culture due to the 60's and the God is Dead movement.

Regarding evolution within the area of psychology, you cannot just say the term evoloution and call it a day. This is what is known as sloppy thinking. Since evolution is non-empirical, and since you use empiricism for evolution, then your method of argument refutes the thesis argued itself.

Let alone the so called evidence that is used within your system. Even if you didn't have the first two problems, the 3rd problem (among many) would be the area of probability. Since it is equally admittedly probable of the evolution by the notion of a theory, then logically there is a probable "chance" that evolution is wrong by admittion of the Evolutionists. Since this is the case, then there is no way to know for sure anything regarding anything and thus the dead or hands up I give up of post modern speaks to our culture today.

If yet you still deny these historical truths, then explain how and where and by what mode and means did the Post-Modern era come into play? Why do they teach that there is no truth in the Universities across the world? Are they wrong? Would not at least these atheistic professors have to consistently say that knowledge, and beauty, and art and ethics has died?

Compare the art of today to the Dutch Painters, or even the Secular painters. Art usually reflects culture.

Regarding specifics of psychology, it would be an enjoyable discussion since psychology is not even a science via the meaning of science via empiricism (fake science).

Do you agree or disagree? What caused our culture Post-modern? Karl Popper was the last philosohper since philosophy is dead.

An even more enjoyable discussion would be to compare art in retrospect to the time it was painted to the type of culture it was painted in. Perhaps this shall also be are venture. Whether you disagree, the truth is right before you, and perhaps we shall study art in connection to worth. The more one moves away from God, the more dull and flat art has been in the history of art. And we can see this same trend that has happened already happening today in it's most disgusting non-art mode.

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).


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5861
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Jean, since your antiquated

Jean, since your antiquated epistemology and ontology clearly cannot encompass the extra subtlety and enhancements that allow us useful insights into the actual origins of aesthetics and ethics, and to manage uncertainty, you have no option but to sling your empty assertions at us from inside the wall you have built around your mind to protect your preconceptions from the harsh light of reality.

Since our model clearly works, giving us working theories, and objects and techniques designed by application of those theories, from computers to satellites, from anti-biotics to genetics, your rejection of it borders on solipsism.

To paraphrase another thinker, "(We) have no need of (your) hypothesis", since you have clearly shown that it does not explain anything.

You see, Jean, we get it. We got it early in your posts. You cannot see how we, as atheists, can have knowledge, or ethics, or aesthetics, just because we do not approach 'Life, the Universe, and Everything' from your starting point, with your assumptions.

But our approach does allow us to have a workable, arguably far more workable, version of those things, those values. You are in no position to tell us our version does not work for us, any more than we would be in a position to tell you that yours doesn't work, to an adequate degree, for you personally.

It is futile for you to continue to argue against our initial and guiding assumptions system from within yours. You make yourself a laughing-stock when you try to tell us we cannot have an appreciation of Art, a workable system of Ethics, when we are every day employing and experiencing them, completely God-free.

I can see, albeit imperfectly, but still usefully, where you are coming from, and how your aesthetic works, within your own bizarre set of assumptions, to a degree, but you clearly have no idea how our approach can possibly work, so you resort to accusing us of being in denial, or delusional, or whatever.

You are at least one paradigm-shift behind us.

So go and tell Sartre where he can insert his Infinite Reference Point, and make sure he pushes all the way in - to infinity...

Put even less politely, STFU. At least until you can come up with something new...

BTW, when are you going to introduce us to this "Rational Christian of Intelligence" you referred to in the thread title? Make a nice contrast to 'arguing' with you.
 

[ some minor editing for clarity ]

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


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
</b>[/b]</strong>The three or four posts

</b>[/b]</strong>

The three or four posts are showing up as bold in firefox (it starts in mellestad's post #279). I think there's an unclosed tag up there somewhere that's causing it.  It's very hard to read (in IE it shows up normally).  I can't seem to get it to unbold...

 

BobSpence1 wrote:

But our approach does allow us to have a workable, arguably far more workable, version of those things, those values. You are in no position to tell us our version does not work for us, any more than we would be in a position to tell you that yours doesn't work, to an adequate degree, for you personally.

</b>[/b]</strong>

I disagree.  I think I would be in the position to tell him not only that his ideas on ethics are unworkable, but that they are also hypocritical, and are essentially evil.

So, I'll say it:  Theistic views, and in particular these kinds of "Christian" beliefs, are farcical, hypocritical, and objectively evil because they're predicated on lies.  A theist can not be legitimately ethical or moral.  Theists can only be accidentally moral insofar as their world views incidentally overlap with science and reason- but in this regard, and to the extent they accept reality in day to day actions, they are inconsistent and irrational.  Accidental morality is not morality- theism, and particularly Christian theism, is at the best of times arbitrary and amoral, and in general outright immoral.

 

Jean ha demonstrated himself to be unteachable, though, so I don't think there's any point in addressing him directly anymore- Ignoring him would probably be the best solution.

 

EDIT:

 Something is seriously broken here.  Does anybody else see all of this in bold?


Greatest_Curse
Posts: 12
Joined: 2010-12-25
User is offlineOffline
Jean Chauvin

Jean Chauvin wrote:

ANSWER:

You Said:

"If you knew the fallacy of Pascal's wager and Bentrand Russel's "teapot" example you'd know what mistake you are making with the "burden of proof"

In terms of secular logic, the burden rest on the affirmative of the thesis. So if I say I do believe in God, and you say I don't, I have the burden of proof. But according to Black's Dictionary of Law, the burden can switch throughout the argument. Since I negative the atheist view and you affirm it, then the burden would be on you.

I believe your logical dictionary is in error.

 

 

Claim: God exists (a positive)

Claim: The claim "God exists" is false (a negative)

Claim: The claim "The claim 'God exists' is false" is false (a negative)

 

It is false that (it is false that (God exists)) ≡ -(-(a)) = a ≡ negative of (negative of (positive statement)) = positive statement. (of course, that's assuming we're dealing with some algebraic structure similar to the real numbers, lol)

 

EDIT- I see this thread is huge. Didn't notice at first, since I'm still kind of getting used to the format here. Please excuse me if the above has already been pointed out.

 

The fundamental laws of our universe
As they are taught us by our greatest curse


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Jean Chauvin

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hello,

 Beauty and morals are dead in atheism.

Don't you remember the 1960's when they said "God is Dead." They weren't talking about God ontologically speaking, but the idea of the concept of God was dead.

And via this, it was admitted that the death of ethics, and beauty, and being, and knowing as well. And this brought in the Post-modern era in contrast to the modern era. Atheism consistently applied has affected and effected our culture. This is why they say

 "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Beauty is not in the eyes of the beholder ? Where does the Bible define standards of beauty ? By what standards is beauty defined ? Have Christians not  radically changed alot of their ideas to fit into the more modern world ? Isn't tradition merely an illusion of impermanence ?

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Be intellectually honest. Where did this quote come from? Who now adopts this thinking most consistently, Chrisitans or Atheists.

Before I even posted on beauty, you all said this and believed this. It is ingrained in our culture due to the 60's and the God is Dead movement.

The quote "God is Dead" was originally put forth by Nietzsche. Granted, that was on the front cover of a Time Magazine in 1966 and is famous for that scene in the film "Rosemary's Baby" but the notion of such ideas are much older than the 1960's. Wouldn't you agree ?

Jean Chauvin wrote:

If yet you still deny these historical truths, then explain how and where and by what mode and means did the Post-Modern era come into play? Why do they teach that there is no truth in the Universities across the world? Are they wrong? Would not at least these atheistic professors have to consistently say that knowledge, and beauty, and art and ethics has died?

I am glad that you brought this up. I even posted a question about this in another thread. It was on one of my first posts here. Many times, I have heard several Christian writers and preachers referring to the "Post-Modernist Thinkers". As a matter of fact, there are several Christian websites that are dedicated to debating "Post Modernist Thinkers". The problem is, NONE of them have ever properly defined the term. Are these Christians referring to the late 19th Century Philosophy ? Are they referring to the more existential type movements that came about in the 20th Century ?

Post Modernism seems to be very broad and hard to really classify. From what little I can understand of it, it seems to be one of those types of philosophical schools of thought that would readily accept ALL claims as truth.

Many of the anti-Post Modernist Christian websites that I have seen, are constantly complaining of the fact that all truths can not be true. Well, in that regard, I would have to agree with the Christians on that one. All truths can not be true. That is why I reject religion and all beliefs in god. I reject the belief in god because of all it's inherent self-contradictions and downright absurd claims. (See Blake's posts above about Dialetheism). So if the Christians are referring to Atheism as Post-Modernism and if I understand the term Post-Modernism correctly, then I could not be a Post Modernist nor could most of the Atheists that I know.

Post Modernism, from what I understand, seems to entertain the notion that everyone and all claims could be correct simultaneously and that science is a cultural narrative. Which is not a standpoint  that I would think that most Atheists would take. (Even though there is no real classification of what Atheists think, there are as many opinions on Atheism as there are Atheists).

So could you please define for me what you and other Christians are referring to when speaking about Post-Modernism ?

Jean Chauvin wrote:

An even more enjoyable discussion would be to compare art in retrospect to the time it was painted to the type of culture it was painted in. Perhaps this shall also be are venture. Whether you disagree, the truth is right before you, and perhaps we shall study art in connection to worth. The more one moves away from God, the more dull and flat art has been in the history of art. And we can see this same trend that has happened already happening today in it's most disgusting non-art mode.

That is actually a discussion that I would like to see. How can you prove that art is flat ? How can you prove that something as subjective as art is good/bad ? Now granted, I like the medieval and Renaissance art over the more modern pieces, but that is just a matter of personal taste and fascination with history. I  fail to see how it proves anything. Can you enlighten me on that one ? For instance, you mentioned the Dutch painters and the Renaissance era, the period of art that I also happen to like. But, have you ever studied these sculptures and paintings in museums ? Blatant displays of sexuality and nudity are everywhere. Something that could have been risque for that era. Also, how do you account for the heavily Pagan influenced iconography in early Christianity ? Pagan imagery that is still in use today ?

“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


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5861
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Blake

Blake wrote:

</b>[/b]</strong>

The three or four posts are showing up as bold in firefox (it starts in mellestad's post #279). I think there's an unclosed tag up there somewhere that's causing it.  It's very hard to read (in IE it shows up normally).  I can't seem to get it to unbold... 

BobSpence1 wrote:

But our approach does allow us to have a workable, arguably far more workable, version of those things, those values. You are in no position to tell us our version does not work for us, any more than we would be in a position to tell you that yours doesn't work, to an adequate degree, for you personally.

</b>[/b]</strong>

I disagree.  I think I would be in the position to tell him not only that his ideas on ethics are unworkable, but that they are also hypocritical, and are essentially evil.

So, I'll say it:  Theistic views, and in particular these kinds of "Christian" beliefs, are farcical, hypocritical, and objectively evil because they're predicated on lies.  A theist can not be legitimately ethical or moral.  Theists can only be accidentally moral insofar as their world views incidentally overlap with science and reason- but in this regard, and to the extent they accept reality in day to day actions, they are inconsistent and irrational.  Accidental morality is not morality- theism, and particularly Christian theism, is at the best of times arbitrary and amoral, and in general outright immoral.

Jean ha demonstrated himself to be unteachable, though, so I don't think there's any point in addressing him directly anymore- Ignoring him would probably be the best solution.

EDIT:

 Something is seriously broken here.  Does anybody else see all of this in bold?

Found where the bold started, in one of HarleySportster's posts.

Blake, I did specifically try to qualify that Jean's approach may well 'work' personally for him, ie purely in his eyes, from his (distorted) perspective, not in any broader, coherent sense.

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


Nikolaj
Superfan
Nikolaj's picture
Posts: 503
Joined: 2008-04-27
User is offlineOffline
Welcome back Jean

Well hello Jean, and welcome back.

 

I have to say, your persistance fascinates me.

It is, however, particularly ironic that you should come back now to object to Post Modernism, because let's just have a look at in what contexts those two words are most commonly used:

 

Post Modernism as a philosophical school of thought is a fairly well established concept within academia.

Post Modernism as a cultural trend or tendency is discussed back and forth alot in educated society, and often entail things such as Multi-culturalism, Post-colonilism, and the intersection between aesthetics and ethics.

And then there's Post Modernism as a derogatory term, used by many many people, on these boards, on fundy Christian boards, and across many spheres of academia, intended to mean: "A post-modernist is someone who doesn't care about what is true, but only cares about who can state their personal opinion of the truth in the most pompous, elitist, inpenetrable, and pseudo-academic vocabulary"

 

Well dear Jean, could there be a more accurate description of you than that?

 

I have understood all your arguments on this page quite well, and however much you dress it up in your pseudo-academic vocabulary, it still boils down to one very simple premise: "God axiomatically is". All your many many words, still means nothing more than this, and it is quite entertaining that you should now bring up Post Modernism as something you object to, since the only defence of your premise is that you've used alot of fancy words to state it.

 

God is because God is" is quickly and easily refuted as a circular argument, with a little bit of Special Pleading to boot, since you are specific about what you mean by "God", saying: "MY God is because he is, but Hindus, Muslims and all other people's own versions of metaphysics, can't be, even though many people use the same circular reasoning to argue for their metaphysics as I do. But THEIR arguments are circular, mine are Axiomatic"

 

So like Bob, I get what you are arguing, it just doesn't hold up in the real world. Only in your head.

In the same way that it would make sense to me, that somebody who thought they were Napoleon would talk alot about troop movements and taxes and invading Britian, your arguments make sense to me. But that doesn't mean your words map onto reality any more than those of the Napoleon guy in the Asylum does.

 

What you are doing is pure sophistry, and it serves only to show how hypocritical, and opnoxiously self-rightious you are.

 

Why don't we discuss some specific art, and you try and argue why it is beautiful? You have to understand Jean, that you are right in saying that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder.

You see beauty is in the eye of me. What I find beautiful, IS objectively beautiful, and whoever does not agree with me is simply in denial, stubborn, and/or delusional.

How do you intend to show that this is not the case? That I am the ultimate arbiter of truth and beauty in the universe? It is self-evident to me. I know the truth because I know the truth, and I know that I know the truth, so what I believe to be true IS true, and so what I find beautiful is TRULY beautiful"

 

Clearly you can see that this is not a circular argument, but rather a self-contained truth; and axiom.

Don't you agree?

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13689
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
I was having a nice holiday

I was having a nice holiday until Bob pointed out the fact Jean came back. Thanks for ruining my day Jean.

Since you insist on being a pain in the ass, could you please stop regurgitating stereotypical crap and actually debate.

We are humans. We are capable of being good without believing in your pet god claim. We wont eat your babies or rape your women.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
Thanks for fixing the bold

Thanks for fixing the bold Bob.

BobSpence1 wrote:

Blake, I did specifically try to qualify that Jean's approach may well 'work' personally for him, ie purely in his eyes, from his (distorted) perspective, not in any broader, coherent sense.


I think I see what you mean...

The phrasing 'works for you' seems to imply that what works or doesn't is subjective, where is really isn't.  I agree that he *thinks* it works for him, but solely due to his warped perspective- though in matter of fact, it doesn't work for him.  The extent to which his actions are functional is the extent to which he ignores the implications of his world view and carries on as a hypocrite, passively accepting the trappings of science and reality, and blaspheming against his core 'values', which themselves are illegitimate in the most objective sense (being founded on a framework that is inherently false).

Sorry if my scrutiny is irritating, but I do think the exact way we phrase things can be very important.  It's quite easy for morons to get the wrong idea from it all (as Jean obviously has from what he has heard of universities, due in part to poor or inexact phrasing).


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Nikolaj wrote:Post Modernism

Nikolaj wrote:

Post Modernism as a philosophical school of thought is a fairly well established concept within academia.

Post Modernism as a cultural trend or tendency is discussed back and forth alot in educated society, and often entail things such as Multi-culturalism, Post-colonilism, and the intersection between aesthetics and ethics.

And then there's Post Modernism as a derogatory term, used by many many people, on these boards, on fundy Christian boards, and across many spheres of academia, intended to mean: "A post-modernist is someone who doesn't care about what is true, but only cares about who can state their personal opinion of the truth in the most pompous, elitist, inpenetrable, and pseudo-academic vocabulary"

 

I have been trying to figure out what the Post-Modernist thing means for quite a long time. THANKS ! 

There is a guy on Facebook that I argue back and forth with alot. Nutcase Christian. He goes on and on about how he can not deal with "POST MODERNIST THINKERS" and how he hates "POST MODERNIST THINKERS". He carries on about it so much that it is almost comical. (I started to put up all sorts of statuses to the Facebook wall and somehow include the word Post-Modernism in them, hehe)  I googled it and came back with all sorts of Christian websites filled with seething hatred about the poison of the "POST MODERNISTS !!!!". I couldn't figure out why they were all so freaked out by them and exactly what it meant. I think your definition of it sums it up alot more clearly for me now. So that is what they are talking about eh ?

 

“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


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Hey

I would have loved to have continued the conversation, but the 4 SD event arrived in the form of a resurgent JC, so I think that for the sake of tidiness, we should place our current dialogue on hold.

Jean - put the 'Institutes' down for a minute and answer me this: where is the love? 

Peace

Options


Blake
atheistScience Freak
Posts: 991
Joined: 2010-02-19
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote:I would

Optionsgeek wrote:

I would have loved to have continued the conversation, but the 4 SD event arrived in the form of a resurgent JC, so I think that for the sake of tidiness, we should place our current dialogue on hold.

Jean - put the 'Institutes' down for a minute and answer me this: where is the love? 

Peace

Options

Jean is a non-issue; don't mind him.  He has already demonstrated himself a broken record, generally incapable of critical thinking.  Having another conversation and ignoring him would not complicate things.  Please, continue with whatever points you wanted to make.


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
RE: Jean

 Fair point! I will address you and harleys comments seperately...


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Blake

Thanks again for another intelligently written and well thought out post.

I don't feel I can add anything to the conversation regarding the macro social benefits of one aesthetic / heuristic (I think here we are using them interchangeably!) over another. You have clearly given this a lot of thought, and I don't have any real difficulty with any of the points you made here (although I wonder about the practicality of a 'reverse engineered' system - my sense is that it is passionate leaders driven by very subjective factors that create new movements / heuristics / social aesthetics).

So, regarding your questions and issues about discussing the christian aesthetic:

blake wrote:

 

That is, studying the "Christian aesthetic" is useless in itself, but a comparative study of religious aesthetetics over time, culture, and philosophy is very useful.  We can study messiah's, the concepts of guilt and sin, the concept of forgiveness- Christianity does not own these. 

Your suggestion regarding analysing the Christian aesthetic strikes me very much as the suggestion of spending time analyzing the number "3", when indeed we should be doing calculus.  And it is that calculus that is, to me, a foregone conclusion; it's something any meme needs to take into account- whether it's an advertising campaign for a new purse, a new pop-singer, or a comprehensive system of ethical social philosophy.  When speaking of aesthetics, we're ultimately talking about Localization - I'm talking about the product itself, which is a more inherent consideration.

I've never disregarded the power of utilizing existing memetic infrastructure, however, any such consideration of aesthetics is ultimately secondary to the essential goal of establishing foundational principles that will be expressed in terms of those aesthetics.

I understand your difficulty here. I must restress that I accept that you and harley are very well equipped to discuss the relative merits of one heuristic over another as regards to its benefits to society. I accept that there are fundamental weaknesses to the use of the 'Christian aesthetic' in the governance of society (although to my understanding, orthodox christianity rejects such an application anyway). 

The reason I am interested in discussing beauty / aesthetics separately, is because I am interested in exploring the limits to the benefits of rational thinking from the individuals perspective, and the function and purpose of the aesthetic and 'beyond rational' to mankind. I posited, in my reply to Nigel, that we all make a leap into the world of the aesthetic to give our lives meaning and colour. I wondered if it would be very difficult to function in relationship with friends and family if we were only rational, or indeed when we self consciously move to aesthetic mode? I think Bob saw where I was going, and I was happy with his openness to what he called the numinous / spiritual / transcendant, and his insight that religions always have a link to such experience, even if such a link can get corrupted over time. 

But to labour the point, I will go into a bit more depth here, and hopefully it will clarify my line of questioning:

For example, if my partner asks me, 'Do you love me?' and I say, 'well, I have a well above average dopamine response level when I think about you, but that is likely to wear off over time as from an evolutionary perspective the only reason i feel like this is to fertilize you, though this could be replaced in turn by the elevated seratonin and oxytocin levels that come from frequent touch, itself a byproduct of an evolutionary need to form social units to better navigate the challenges presented by a brutal environment.' I wonder how she will feel? Given this perspective, am I being honest when I tell her that I love her? Indeed, does the word love have any meaning beyond being a linguistic representation of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain individuals?

Or maybe, I am talking to my friends, swapping stories, but my rational brain starts analysing objectively what is happening, and I am forced to confront the fact that the word 'friendship' has no transcendentant meaning at all - we are just organic matter that has evolved to form tribe, and all of the conversation is just the swapping of linguistic cues to reinforce unit cohesion. Does friendship have any meaning beyond being a linguistic representation of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain individuals?

And the pain of losing someone? Do we rationalize our way through it? Maybe we could just throw the bodies of the deceased into an incinerator? But maybe we understand and accept the importance of ceremony and ritual in the formation of social cohesion and tribe, so we accept the tears and the funeral, but always cogniscent of the fact that these feelings, rituals etc, are just the product of the chaotic processes of the universe, that led to the evolution of these carbon based life forms whose frontal cortexes have developed enough to give them the ability to think abstractly and ponder their own existences? Do death and sorrow have any meaning beyond being linguistic representations of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain events?

Or the joy of a new life? Or movies? Or paintings? Or music? Or literature? Through the rational lense, where does art go? I remember being told once, that the ability to enjoy art, involves 'a willing suspension of disbelief'. What do you think?

I have no answers really on this Blake, maybe we should all be trained to rationalise our way through everything, and maybe that would benefit us from a psychological perspective. But maybe not. What do you think?

Sorry again if this is beyond the scope of the forum, but I am sincerely interested in your responses - you are an intelligent chap, and any new insights on this would be appreciated - these are all questions that I have had to wrestle with personally...

 


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
Harley

 Thank you for these super book recommendations - I will be sure to look out for them when I'm next in the anglophone world!! Even before reading any of them, I know that I would completely agree with the thrust of their content. My interest, however, is focused on the AFTERMATH of this knowledge. What happens to man when rationality has explained away the transcendentant? This is where I think kierkegaard, nietzsche and Wittgenstein and some members of the pragmatic movement really come into their own...

Really enjoying this conversation Harley, thank you for your time!

 

 

 


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
I've been following the

I've been following the discussion.  I have some spare time, so I'll give you my take on these questions.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

For example, if my partner asks me, 'Do you love me?' and I say, 'well, I have a well above average dopamine response level when I think about you, but that is likely to wear off over time as from an evolutionary perspective the only reason i feel like this is to fertilize you, though this could be replaced in turn by the elevated seratonin and oxytocin levels that come from frequent touch, itself a byproduct of an evolutionary need to form social units to better navigate the challenges presented by a brutal environment.' I wonder how she will feel? Given this perspective, am I being honest when I tell her that I love her? Indeed, does the word love have any meaning beyond being a linguistic representation of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain individuals?

 

I don't know about your partner, but I would crack up laughing if my husband said that to me.  And then I'd wrestle him to the ground.  That would be so hot.  Whoo!  I guess my husband is right when he calls me a geek.

Yes, that is what love is.  Our word "love" is a short cut for the emotions evoked by the hormones excited by hanging with that special someone.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

Or maybe, I am talking to my friends, swapping stories, but my rational brain starts analysing objectively what is happening, and I am forced to confront the fact that the word 'friendship' has no transcendentant meaning at all - we are just organic matter that has evolved to form tribe, and all of the conversation is just the swapping of linguistic cues to reinforce unit cohesion. Does friendship have any meaning beyond being a linguistic representation of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain individuals?

 

I don't know on this one.  I have darn few friends and I like it that way.  Most people I know I think of as acquaintances.  Even ones I spend a lot of time with.  Friendship, to me, implies a level of trust that most acquaintances just don't deserve.  I know a lot of people have acquaintances they hang with and call "friends" but there really isn't much - if any - emotional involvement with those people.  And if all we are talking about is bonding with the other hunters - well, that isn't very important in most places these days, is it?

There was a recent news article about social interactions and a particular portion of the brain.  Mine must be shrunk.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

And the pain of losing someone? Do we rationalize our way through it? Maybe we could just throw the bodies of the deceased into an incinerator? But maybe we understand and accept the importance of ceremony and ritual in the formation of social cohesion and tribe, so we accept the tears and the funeral, but always cogniscent of the fact that these feelings, rituals etc, are just the product of the chaotic processes of the universe, that led to the evolution of these carbon based life forms whose frontal cortexes have developed enough to give them the ability to think abstractly and ponder their own existences? Do death and sorrow have any meaning beyond being linguistic representations of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain events?

 

Death doesn't have meaning.  It just is.  Like life just is. 

Again, I may just be defective.  I have never understood the importance or necessity for funerals and rituals surrounding death.  I don't understand setting up a shrine for the deceased.  When my mother died, my sister had a memorial service at her church.  I didn't go.  As oldest child, I got the dubious honor of having her ashes mailed to me - no one else wanted them - and I got them scattered as soon as I could.  When my best dog had to be euthanized, I didn't want his ashes, his collar or a lock of his hair.  Which my husband has for his best dog who died a few years ago.  I have told my husband when he dies, I'll dump his ashes in the nearest trash can.  Why they have to inflict ashes on someone when no one in the family wants them is beyond me.

That doesn't mean I don't feel sorrow and depression when someone I loved (stimulated serotonin and oxytocin in my brain ) dies.  I do.  Knowing why you feel a particular emotion does not lessen the feeling.

 

Optionsgeek wrote:

Or the joy of a new life? Or movies? Or paintings? Or music? Or literature? Through the rational lense, where does art go? I remember being told once, that the ability to enjoy art, involves 'a willing suspension of disbelief'. What do you think?

I have no answers really on this Blake, maybe we should all be trained to rationalise our way through everything, and maybe that would benefit us from a psychological perspective. But maybe not. What do you think?

Sorry again if this is beyond the scope of the forum, but I am sincerely interested in your responses - you are an intelligent chap, and any new insights on this would be appreciated - these are all questions that I have had to wrestle with personally...

 

Beauty can be measured.  You may not have seen my post about the TV special with John Cleese - The Human Face.  It is the Golden Mean which evokes feelings of harmony and beauty.  It also happens to be associated with athletic ability.  So a mate who is built in accordance with the Mean also is able to bring home the bacon.  And so we (humans) have come to associate physical expressions of this measure with a pleasant feeling including excessive dopamine responses. 

I have never understood why knowing the "hows" of our feelings somehow makes those emotions less important or meaningful.  Does knowing what you are feeling is the haze of an excessive dopamine response make the after glow of orgasm any less satisfying?   Does knowing the prismatic effect of light bending through water droplets created that impressive rainbow in the sky make it less impressive?  Does understanding perspective, optic illusions, color blending, framing and composition make that painting or photograph less impressive/satisfying/beautiful? 
Does understanding rhythm and chord structure make music less enjoyable?  I have never thought so.

What I don't get is that understanding art or beauty or music or life somehow makes all those things less than they were when they were a mystery.  Yes, when I was a child and I heard Beethoven for the first time, I was amazed, fascinated, overwhelmed.  After I had music history, music theory, and music composition courses, was I less amazed, fascinated?  No.  Less overwhelmed, perhaps, but in ever more awe at Beethoven's genius.  And I gained greater appreciation for all composers. 

Rational doesn't mean - to me anyway - less emotional or more robotic.  It means learning and searching for understanding of reality.  Not fairy tales.  I happen to enjoy fairy tales and fantasy and sci fi and all that as pleasant past times.  I don't believe in unicorns or fairies or boggarts - or god/s/dess - just because the stories are pleasant or exciting. 

My question for you is - why should ignorance make emotions more meaningful?

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


Optionsgeek
Theist
Posts: 67
Joined: 2010-12-14
User is offlineOffline
CJ

Thank you for your thoughts and your candour - what a super response, you are a laugh!

In answer to your question:

Quote:

why should ignorance make emotions more meaningful?

of course it doesn't! 

A couple of more questions as a rejoinder:

What about the impulse behind art or behind the artist? Is there any difference between the impulses that set off great faith leaders, and men like beethoven? What are they trying to express?

What about the impulses behind those who respond to art? Is there any difference between the impulses that drive the followers of a religion, or the followers of a composer / author?

Peace

 


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13689
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
I am not against memorials.

I am not against memorials. But I agree they do absolutely nothing for the dead. They are a coping mechanism for the living.

I love you CJ. You couldn't have said it better about life and HOW things work not taking away one's sense of awe. Saying that someone is dead, and that's it, does not change the value you found in them while they were alive.

There is no magic to life, good or bad, and even the ultimate bad that happens to all of us. Saying the ride will end and there is nothing after the ride doesn't mean you cant enjoy and appreciate the ride while you are on it.

Weddings are another waste of money. The money used for what is basically a party, could go for things like food and clothing and housing and bills. I'm not against weddings or funerals, just don't pretend that there is anything magical about them other than a ritualistic placebo. They both can be nice and give comfort to those participating in them, but they do nothing for the future. And they merely line the pockets of the people who sell them.

There was a show, ironically on Fox, exposing the most popular "magic tricks" as the mere illusions they were. I do appreciate the cleverness of Penn and Teller in dreaming up their acts, but knowing they aren't really defying natural law doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the showmanship.

Knowing that my cat was once a kitten and will grow old and die some day doesn't mean I cant enjoy him now while he is alive. I had cats before and they died. If I let the ugly side of life rule me, I wouldn't have the cat I have now. But saying that my cat will die is not negative or positive, it is merely statement of fact.

It just burns believers that we have the same emotions and desires without assigning life to a magical, fictional super hero.

The bottom line is that there is no magic to life, good or bad, and knowing how and why things happen, good or bad, does not mean we are robots and don't have emotions. We merely accept reality without turning it into hocus pocus.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote:For

Optionsgeek wrote:

For example, if my partner asks me, 'Do you love me?' and I say, 'well, I have a well above average dopamine response level when I think about you, but that is likely to wear off over time as from an evolutionary perspective the only reason i feel like this is to fertilize you, though this could be replaced in turn by the elevated seratonin and oxytocin levels that come from frequent touch, itself a byproduct of an evolutionary need to form social units to better navigate the challenges presented by a brutal environment.' I wonder how she will feel? Given this perspective, am I being honest when I tell her that I love her? Indeed, does the word love have any meaning beyond being a linguistic representation of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain individuals?

Well on some of these, I guess I am going to have to speak from personal experience and how I relate to it. I don't guess I would have any way of generalizing it for everyone.

Hehe, I have never thought of using the above line to a particular woman that I am dating (not sure what the results of that would be).

But, I will say feelings of love and intimacy have not been diminished as a result of looking at love from a more scientific standpoint.

Now this is just pure speculation on my part, but do you think it possible, if people had a better understanding of what causes attraction and such, that some of the more negative aspects of love (i.e. pathological jealousy, feelings of owning another, paranoia about cheating) might somewhat diminish ? Now granted, there are probably psychological causes for any sort of destructive and abusive behavior in any relationship. Alot of those psychological causes might not have one thing to do with the actual relationship itself. But I think about so many things that have such horrid stigmas and such unrealistic expectations in our society. That I have to wonder if some of the more rigidly dogmatic ideas of marriage and relationships were taken away and people had a better understanding of what motivates them, perhaps some of that would diminish ?

In my own personal case, if I am dating someone, I am  a one-woman kind of guy while in that relationship. Single, and casual encounters take place.I am a bit old fashioned on that, but is it reasonable for me to believe that everyone should adopt my ideas of relationships and marriage ? How would I be able to do this ?

In the ancient and medieval times, most of the more wealthy people were arranged into marriages. The whole deal negotiatied by the families for political purposes and not for the purposes of love. Might have somewhat helped the country for the heads of say France/England to marry one another, but that certainly does not sound like a good formula for marriage in my book.

Granted, love is a bit of a subjective concept, sort of like beauty, it's all in the eyes of the beholder in my own personal opinion.

Optionsgeek wrote:

Or maybe, I am talking to my friends, swapping stories, but my rational brain starts analysing objectively what is happening, and I am forced to confront the fact that the word 'friendship' has no transcendentant meaning at all - we are just organic matter that has evolved to form tribe, and all of the conversation is just the swapping of linguistic cues to reinforce unit cohesion. Does friendship have any meaning beyond being a linguistic representation of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain individuals?

In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why friendship is so important. It is temporary.Although there are alot of "fashionable" looking biker types these days. The crux of the hard core biker types that I run around with show huge amounts of loyalty and going the extra mile for each other. I am using them as an example because being a biker involves alot of miles and alot of long journeys together. It also is a very dangerous and fast life style. Guys are killed in wrecks and every motorcycle run has the potential to become a huge disaster if one bolt or brake goes awry and a major pile up ensues. A guy that you have been laughing and joking around with one day can be dead in a week. Not to make it sound grim, but in my opinion, that is the essential reason why the parties and get togethers are so strongly united. The uncertainty of  it all and the fact that there are only a handful of old graybeards that will have 30 something years of miles underneath them make the desire to enjoy it all to the fullest that much more important.

Optionsgeek wrote:

And the pain of losing someone? Do we rationalize our way through it? Maybe we could just throw the bodies of the deceased into an incinerator? But maybe we understand and accept the importance of ceremony and ritual in the formation of social cohesion and tribe, so we accept the tears and the funeral, but always cogniscent of the fact that these feelings, rituals etc, are just the product of the chaotic processes of the universe, that led to the evolution of these carbon based life forms whose frontal cortexes have developed enough to give them the ability to think abstractly and ponder their own existences? Do death and sorrow have any meaning beyond being linguistic representations of feelings that result from hormonal responses to certain events?

Don't mean to keep throwing motorcycle culture references at you,hehe. But there is an old biker saying when a friend passes: When we bury one of our friends we bury part of ourselves with them. When we ride we carry a part of them with us.  I have buried close family and friends over the years. It is never easy and always painful. But their influences live on with me. Their memories live on with me. They have a place within my heart and I can take it with me anywhere I ever go.

Optionsgeek wrote:

Or the joy of a new life? Or movies? Or paintings? Or music? Or literature? Through the rational lense, where does art go? I remember being told once, that the ability to enjoy art, involves 'a willing suspension of disbelief'. What do you think?

I am not really sure why I would have to suspend disbelief to enjoy art. As mentioned above, I have a huge fascination with anything medieval or Renaissance related. Just looking at those pieces and trying to imagine the minds that created them, the personalities behind the people of the times they captured, the worlds in which they lived, is enough to keep me mesmerized for hours and hours. Literature does the same thing for me. 

These are just my own personal thoughts and opinions.

“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


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Optionsgeek wrote: Thank

Optionsgeek wrote:

 Thank you for these super book recommendations - I will be sure to look out for them when I'm next in the anglophone world!! Even before reading any of them, I know that I would completely agree with the thrust of their content. My interest, however, is focused on the AFTERMATH of this knowledge. What happens to man when rationality has explained away the transcendentant? This is where I think kierkegaard, nietzsche and Wittgenstein and some members of the pragmatic movement really come into their own...

Really enjoying this conversation Harley, thank you for your time!

I somewhat agree. Would people willingly accept the idea that religion and the desire for spirituality is simply a function of the brain ? As of right now, I don't think so.

One particular aspect of Alper's work that I disagreed with, was the premise that Atheists must simply have some sort of lacking or deficiency in their biological make-up that contributes to the non-believing factor.

I was deeply religious and deeply spiritual for most of my life.  I live close to a Catholic Church that has a very ancient look to it's designs. Even now, when I walk by it on my way to the store on Sunday mornings and I hear the bells ringing, a peculiar sense of longing for the sounds and the stained glass windows is there. Doesn't mean I believe anything about it, doesn't mean that I do not realize that it is purely psychological, but it is still there all the same.

I clung to the belief that god existed for a number of years until a few years ago.

My point being, it is not necessarily a brain deficiency or a Bell Curve that contributes to my lack of belief.

I do think, if people could be aware of the biological, historical and evolutionary aspects of how religion came about and why they feel the way that they do, the aftermath question that you are posing would begin to be resolved. If people in general could effectively accept it.

I think part of people's strong attraction to such notions stem from the fact that they simply do not KNOW the logical explanations for what they feel and do. Knowledge and understanding being 80% of the battle in my opinion. The other 20% being taking action to overcome patterns of behavior. Just an opinion on my part. I am not really familiar with the works of Wittgenstein and Kierkgaard. I only vaguely remember some of Nietzsche's writings, do they address the issues of living in a "godless" world ?

“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