@EKAthans, from Dinah's intro, on deconversion

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@EKAthans, from Dinah's intro, on deconversion

EKAthans wrote:
I am starting to get annoyed with this site already...I thought I had found a new home but maybe not...

"How much better off would we be today if a culture had existed back then which valued knowledge for knowledge's sake, and not simply because it was currently in vogue with the dominant faith in the region. The reason Islam is fucked today is precisely its basis in faith."

Maybe much better, maybe not but guess what? There wasn't a culture back then that valued knowledge so what is your point? What if people were super nice and everyone was equal? You think knowledge today isn't being used for personal gain? Do you think the American government which poses all of this knowledge is worried about the best interests of the people? Like I said in my last post...WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST? WE HANG RELIGIOUS PEOPLE?

...

Thanks, I needed that. I was starting to feel like we needed to scream at black people and tell them they shouldn't be black because that is what they are. Everyone complains about a situation but no one gives a solution...I mean other than an implausable one such as convincing religious people they are wrong...

I'm quoting all that to give the context of what I'm responding to first. However, I'll need to break it down to chunks to be clear about what I'm saying and not saying.

EKAthans wrote:
I am starting to get annoyed with this site already...I thought I had found a new home but maybe not...

Possibly not. However, just as you posted an intro to make sure people understand you, perhaps you will likewise take the time to understand us (individually) before you jump to conclusions.

The RRS is not like-minded on all topics. The main thing all its supporters agree upon is the need to actively work against the persistent irrationality that abounds around the world. Beyond that, you'll get different opinions about just about everything. Of course, there tends to be a conformity to mainstream science, because that's what the best evidence supports. So, most of us are like-minded on scientific topics, but even that is not a requirement for supporting RRS.

A person may face fierce opposition in debates/comments if they try to defend a viewpoint not supported by evidence, but that alone won't get you banned or anything like that. As long as discussion remains productive, rather than "Yes it is." "No it isn't." assertions, we tend to let people discuss pretty much any point of view. If that bothers you, you may not like it here.

Quote:
"How much better off would we be today if a culture had existed back then which valued knowledge for knowledge's sake, and not simply because it was currently in vogue with the dominant faith in the region. The reason Islam is fucked today is precisely its basis in faith."

Maybe much better, maybe not but guess what? There wasn't a culture back then that valued knowledge so what is your point?

You defended the idea that religion specifically was the (or one of the) main reasons why some Muslims kept some of the ancient texts and even expanded on some of them.

My argument (and hence, my point) is that it is not religion (as faith based belief) that preserved this knowledge, but some people who valued knowledge for knowledge's sake (which is not a religious value per se).

In my hypothetical, if there had been a culture which had that value embedded in it--rather than valuing faith more than knowledge--then such a culture would have done a much better job of preserving ancient knowledge.

It is not the Islamic religion (as a faith based religion) that preserved that knowledge, but some Muslims who valued that knowledge for its own sake. Islam itself holds knowledge in low regard compared to faith. My point is that this knowledge survived despite there being a dominant faith-based religion in the culture, not because of it.

I was highlighting this difference between religion and science by hypothetically 'turning up the dial' on the 'valuing knowledge' setting in a hypothetical scenario, to show that this was the main force of knowledge preservation, not the religious (i.e. faith-based) forces which in the case of Christianity had strongly contributed to knowledge destruction (and would also have done so if we hypothetically 'turned up the dial' of 'valuing faith' in the Islamic culture of the time).

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You think knowledge today isn't being used for personal gain?

No. Did I say that? No. Where do you get that idea from? Not from anything I've written, I'll wager.

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Do you think the American government which poses all of this knowledge is worried about the best interests of the people?

No, I don't. But I do not see the relevance here. The American gov't doesn't really value knowledge for knowledge's sake either. (Thankfully it's not dominated by faith-based reasoning, either... yet. Dubya was a close call and it can happen again.)

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Like I said in my last post...WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST? WE HANG RELIGIOUS PEOPLE?

If you knew anything about me, you'd know that I'm staunchly anti-violence, as is this website as a whole (ask Sapient if you want to check this). I have never and will never advocate the use of violence to promote any view, with the only possible exception being self-defense from a violent aggressor. In fact, in many many cases, I have argued strongly with people who even hinted at possibly maybe supporting the use of violence in the promotion of atheism and/or critical thinking.

To suggest--simply because you yourself cannot see any alternative--that I must therefore automatically endorse something as grotesque as hanging religious people is, to put it rather mildly, intellectually dishonest. If I was putting it more strongly, I'd call it incredibly naive. Take it which ever way you prefer.

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I was starting to feel like we needed to scream at black people and tell them they shouldn't be black because that is what they are. Everyone complains about a situation but no one gives a solution...I mean other than an implausable one such as convincing religious people they are wrong...

The fact that you personally consider this possibility implausible does not automatically make it implausible. You would have to argue and defend that point, preferably with evidence, if you want to convince us it is true. I personally do not agree.

It is your personal opinion that religious people cannot change. Unfortunately, there is much evidence against this, so it's not a very solid opinion. Specifically....

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Let me ask you this…Have you ever sat down with a Christian or any other religious person and showed them the empirical, logical evidence and have them say “holy crap you are right! Thank you for showing me! I no longer believe in God!”

As a matter of fact, I (and many others on this site) have seen that happen multiple times. Of course, it does not happen the way you satirized, but it does happen.

It even happens to people who on the surface do not appear to be open to empirical evidence and logical argument.

In fact, there is a certain knack, or skill, that one can develop at bringing people in a discussion along a path toward unbelief. There are even multiple approaches that work. Some approaches work better with some target audiences than others. Likewise, some approaches are more suited to some atheists than others.

For example, I tend to use a fairly aggressive approach, directly challenging every little thing the theist claims which I already know (from much past experience) cannot be backed up by evidence. Then I just ask them to show me the evidence. And I keep bringing it back to that, no matter how they try to dodge and squirm out of their burden of proof.

For me, that method suits me very well, especially in one-on-one face-to-face conversations, although it is also quite effective in online forum debates, such as we've seen here in these very forums multiple times.

However, for other atheists, they may not be comfortable with such an 'aggressive' approach (I am never actually aggressive, only in a rhetorical sense). That is fine. I don't care if others prefer their own approaches. That's why I have no problem with your position of wanting to promote understanding of religion rather than arguing over religion. I think your approach would probably be very helpful to many people who are simply ignorant of religion itself.

But the point is this, just because you don't try to deconvert people, and perhaps have never actually seen it happen, and perhaps used to try, but eventually gave up on it, that does not mean that it cannot and does not actually happen. It can, and it does. Even to people who seem closed to reason.

I'm not claiming all people can be convinced by argument or evidence. Part of my vision of 'success' in this endeavour involves simply long-term attrition by starving religion of young converts (by making the intellectual and educational environment more 'hostile' to religious indoctrination of young people), and just waiting for the truly 'stuck' devout to get older, less numerous, less powerful, and eventually die a peaceful, natural death as everyone eventually dies (hopefully naturally and peacefully). This approach was described very well by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

And, in fact, this is an entirely plausible strategy, because something similar has already happened in Europe, especially Scandanavia, and also in other parts of the world such as Japan.

Sociologist Phil Zuckerman has published Society Without God in which he presents his and others' (such as Gregory Paul) research on largely secular societies such as Denmark, Norway, Japan, and others.

Paul and Zuckerman present the idea that large scale secularization is not only possible, but also already actual in Why the Gods Are Not Winning.

Another Zuckerman article: Imagine No Religion: Can a Society Be Successful Without It?

Interview with Phil Zuckerman:


Now, given this background information, let me revisit what you said:

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I was starting to feel like we needed to scream at black people and tell them they shouldn't be black because that is what they are.

Non-sequitur. Religious people are not biologically religious, they are culturally religious. Their natural state is unbelief, and it takes a positive indoctrination to make them into believers. Being religious is not 'what they are', it is 'what they have become'. Similarly, they can also become non-religious again. We call it deconversion.

You may at this point like to acquaint yourself with Richard Dawkins' deconversion testimonials page Converts' Corner, which includes literally hundreds of deconversion stories from believers of all types. Also, you can find all sorts of deconversion stories on YouTube if you look. Also, one of the best spokespeople for atheism, Matt Dillahunty, regularly recounts his own deconversion story on Atheist Experience (click for episode archive; it's great), and uses it to challenge theists all the time to consider a different point of view from the one they grew up with.

Check out this theist being challenged to think differently:


Many of the RRS members, especially the core members such as Brian Sapient, came from the forums at Reginald Finley's The Infidel Guy Show. Finley is a master at using the socratic method to dig into peoples' belief systems and tear them apart. He doesn't do as many shows as he used to, but many of us, including myself, basically got a course in 'deconversion therapy' from his show, website, and forums. Anyone interested should definitely subscribe as a Gold Member to his site and access his over 800 hours of archived shows. I spent a good few months going through the archive a few years ago. Definitely worth it.

And I haven't even gotten to the RRS stories yet. First, you'll find a common thread in the deconversion stories that accompany many of the Introductions posts. Many hardcore believers become some of the best debaters against religion, because they know it from the inside, and know at least how they got out of it, and can often communicate that to other theists.

Deconversion almost always happens over a long period of time, usually months, sometimes years or decades. No one single argument is going to change anybody's mind, but many arguments--on several topics--over the course of a few weeks or months, can put someone firmly on a path toward future deconversion. We have seen it happen many times, and that's not including the times which haven't been reported directly to the forums.

Here is a really fascinating case of the user SAVAGE, formerly JesusWalks, who credits RRS members with a large part of his deconversion process. The RRS Radio Show #20 has his deconversion story in his own words. He was actually one of the wackier Christians we met, and his deconversion was a bit of a surprise to many of us.

If you click on the Google Search link and search for 'deconversion', you'll find lots of stories of deconversions connected with this site.


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Everyone complains about a situation but no one gives a solution...

So, yeah. After all that info, it appears to me that you're actually rather hypocritical here. You're complaining, but you give no solution.

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I mean other than an implausable one such as convincing religious people they are wrong...

And again, this just comes of as ignorant, arrogant, condescending, and self-defeating.

And I'm not even talking about being arrogant and condescending towards us. Actually I couldn't care less what you thought of our approach. (I know it works from first hand experience, so your opinion is rather moot.)

I'm talking about being arrogant and condescending towards believers! You've (apparently) given up on them and are even trying to discourage others from helping them out of theism. Considering the huge relief many people who deconvert feel after giving up religion, that seems like an irresponsible thing to do, IMO.

Let's take a look at this, for example...:

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Of course it not logical or scientific. A point I have made before is that does not matter to them. Some people do not need logic or empiricism but abductive reasoning alone. That is how their brain works and I think there could be an evolutionary/biological explanation for this.

So, some people are genetically incapable of breaking out of theism, but you're luckily one of the elite who doesn't need the baby blankie? Please.

Even some of the most deeply indoctrinated can break out. There's no reason to throw them to the wolves. Deconversion is not a hopeless situation. And the more who deconvert, the more atheists who speak out and make the prevailing mainstream culture hostile to unchecked religious dogma, the better for everyone.

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But why is it that the vast majority don’t change their mind?

Because for the vast majority of them, it has never even seriously crossed their mind as an option. Because the prevailing culture has a taboo against openly criticizing religion, because atheism is demonized and people are taught from a young age that atheists eat babies and shit like that. Because not enough people have heard the strongest arguments against religion. Because of a lot of other social and cultural reasons that people like Phil Zuckerman and Gregory Paul are uncovering with scientific research. Because of a lot of reasons.

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Because they don’t care…they don’t need logic. Abductive reasoning is enough for them.

But this is not one of those good reasons. Of course people care. Or they would if they understood the costs and risks properly. If they understand how religion holds society back. Not everyone will be reached by this, probably. But many many will, and many many are being so reached as we speak.

Of course people need logic. Of course they need more than abductive reasoning. They only lack the awareness of this need, and the resources to help them gain these skills. Our long term goals are to help correct this lack.

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Yes, I think religion, for the most part, is illogical and worthless. But it does bring happiness to many people

Do you have solid evidence that this is true? Because it's a sort of common folk wisdom, but has never actually been demonstrated conclusively, and there are good reasons to suspect that the opposite is more true: That religion in fact brings many people unhappiness, strife, and poor mental health.

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and it’s not going away.

That's merely an opinion. Can you demonstrate good reasons to believe that it is very likely to be true?

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If it’s not going away what should we do? Should we understand them and accept them, or hang them all?

This is called a False Dichotomy Fallacy, the fallacy that there are only two possibilities when in reality there are more than two.

It is not, in fact, a choice between 'understanding and acceptance' vs. 'hanging'. That is mere rhetorical hyperbole.

The strategy we endorse at RRS is the 'many approaches is better than one' strategy. The more broad range of approaches used, the more quickly and successfully we will likely be able to progress. We have our own approach(es), and we will work with anyone who will also work with us. For one, we don't usually appreciate it when people who haven't taken the time to understand our approach tell us that it cannot actually work. Especially when we've seen it work again and again.

(quick diversion to respond to Cpt.)

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

On the other hand while the RRS claims to cheer for science and knowledge, they reject the actual empirical evidence of why humans fight and hate each other and just pin it on religion.

... she says, while lacking any good empirical evidence to support her claim. We've gone over this before. Are you just cranky today or what? You've never demonstrated a clear case to counter our actual positions.

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In a way it's worse thinking than religion, because it's claiming a solution, but it's not a solution and takes away from the actual cause.

Now this is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence. But, I'm feeling generous. I'll settle for ordinary evidence.

Can you actually support your positive claim that our approach actually 'takes away from the actual cause'?

No? I thought not.
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While I don't think they want to hang people, their ideas are just as bad if not worse.

Really. This is just ridiculous. Our ideas are worse than hanging people? Are you fucking out of your mind, or drunk, or what? Get a grip on reality, Cpt. It's slipping away from you again.

(I plan on responding to more of your posts, Athans. Despite what may appear to be insult or disrespect to you in my above comments, I actually have no animosity toward you. My issue is with your beliefs/ideas/proposals only. In fact, I am still very interested to hear more from you, and I think if you take the time to discuss your objections with us, you'll find that we probably have way more in common than not.

Now, the day is getting on and it's time for a break.)

 

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So sorry. I must have

So sorry. I must have somehow accidentally tripped the comment settings without realizing it. Anyone should be able to comment now. If not, send me or BobSpence1 a message.

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natural wrote:You've never

natural wrote:

You've never demonstrated a clear case to counter our actual positions.

 

That's the beauty of it. I don't have to cite a single peer reviewed study in regard to your position. You do.  The only study that I've seen is the Gregory Paul study, but anybody who took a intro stats course knows that he merely showed correlaltion NOT causation. Not because the study is flawed, it's because Gregory wasn't trying to establish causation, but that's another story. It simply shows that you can have a healthy society without religion and he's right.

 

If you like I can dig up studies that goes against atheist are less likely to be dogmatic, and that religion bends the moral compass.

 

I also see inconsitencies.

 

For example: Islam influences people's behaviors. If that's true, it's possible that Islam influenced the people to preserve ancient knowledge that they otherwise might have thrown out or kept to themselves. I'm not saying it did, but if Islam influences behavior it could have in this case. You may say that Islam is faith based and hence the anti-thesis of preserving knowledge therefore it didn't. But even faith based system can stumble onto something good. You can't pick and choose what Islam influenced and what it didn't simply based on what the thing itself is.

 

Either Islam influenced X or it didn't. In order to determine if it did or not would require much more research than simply reading a statement that it influenced X.

 

You may also say that they didn't need Islam or religion to preserve knowledge or derive algebra, and you'd be right. But then again religion isn't needed to do good or bad.

 

People have done both good and bad things with and without religion.

 

Now you may bring up the Wienberg quote, however that's just an assertion and I haven't seen any proof of it. [Plus if it's true, couldn't religion make a bad person do good things?]

 

 

natural wrote:

 

Can you actually support your positive claim that our approach actually 'takes away from the actual cause'?

 

 

Simple. As above, you are relying more on intuition than on actual study. You may think it's obvious that religion causes more harm than good. You may think the evidence is so clear and all around us.

 

But that's a common trap. William Lane Craig will say the same about religion being good. Both are merely assertions and quite frankly use the same evidence/logic.


 

If you think you know the answers, you'll stop looking for them.  Just like a Christian will stop looking for what brought the universe into existence, because she thinks it's god.

 

Just like the Christian needs to provide the evidence that god did indeed bring our universe into existence rather than rely on "it's obvious" and "the evidence is all around us" the atheist movement must do the same for their claims. Anything less is saying it's okay to skimp on peer review and scientific investigation. I don't mean "Cause the Bible says so" or "Cause Christopher Hitchens says so" I mean formulate an hypothesis, test it and submit it for peer review. If we can't follow the scientific method, how can we expect theists to?


 

As for getting rid of religion, religion is an evolutionary by-product. That is it's a bunch of cognitive mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. But guess what? Getting rid of religion won't make these mechanisms magically go away.

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Now you

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Now you may bring up the Wienberg quote, however that's just an assertion and I haven't seen any proof of it. [Plus if it's true, couldn't religion make a bad person do good things?]

Religions can 'make' 'bad' people do 'good' things. I don't really like the Weinberg quote, lol. 

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
As for getting rid of religion, religion is an evolutionary by-product. That is it's a bunch of cognitive mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. But guess what? Getting rid of religion won't make these mechanisms magically go away.

But, it still gets rid of religions, which are systems of dogmatic doctrines; they are definitively closed-minded groups. I'm not sure we mean the same thing when we say 'religion.' Obviously, humans have other avenues for venting their disgusting instincts, but getting rid of religion would be like eliminating one category.

Even if the overall moral effect of religion so far is neutral, do you think this kind of worldview is something we should oppose, in principle?

 

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


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Don't have time for a full

Don't have time for a full reply, but have time for this bit.

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

As for getting rid of religion, religion is an evolutionary by-product. That is it's a bunch of cognitive mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. But guess what? Getting rid of religion won't make these mechanisms magically go away.

Pneumonia is an evolutionary byproduct. It affects organs and tissues that evolved for other reasons. But guess what? Getting rid of pneumonia won't make these organs and tissues magically go away.

What a freakin non-sequitur.

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butterbattle wrote:Even if

butterbattle wrote:

Even if the overall moral effect of religion so far is neutral, do you think this kind of worldview is something we should oppose, in principle?

 

 

Yes I do. I'm not saying don't critisize religion, I'm saying keep your critisisms scientific.

Pointing out flaws in critisisms of religion isn't defending religion, any more than critisizing conspiracy theories of George Bush bringing down the Twin Towers in a controlled demolition is defending Bush.

 

natural wrote:

Don't have time for a full reply, but have time for this bit.

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

As for getting rid of religion, religion is an evolutionary by-product. That is it's a bunch of cognitive mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. But guess what? Getting rid of religion won't make these mechanisms magically go away.

Pneumonia is an evolutionary byproduct. It affects organs and tissues that evolved for other reasons. But guess what? Getting rid of pneumonia won't make these organs and tissues magically go away.

What a freakin non-sequitur.

 

The point was that replacing religious irrationality with secular irrationality isn't going to do much help. Everything religion does either for the good or bad [whether it be charity or group think] is a by product of our evolutionary history and getting rid of religion won't make the charity or group think go away.

 

Rather we should be focusing on the group think and the cognitive mechanisms and THAT will get rid of religion, rather than hitting religion head on. Even if you do manage to deconvert Joe Blow, they are still able to fall into group think.  That's because group think is a product of our evolutionary heritiage, and we have to overcome that.

 

 

To stick with the disease analogy it's like treating SARs with a cough drop.  You're trying to get rid of the cough, when the cough is merely a symptom of something bigger.

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Yes I

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Yes I do. I'm not saying don't critisize religion, I'm saying keep your critisisms scientific.

So, what, no moral criticisms? No parody or mockery? No philosophical criticisms?

Sorry, but I'll feel free to continue those criticisms while simultaneously keeping the scientific criticism up, too.

Curious: Do you have a scientific criticism for why using non-scientific criticism is necessarily morally or ethically wrong?

No? Hmmm. I'm beginning to see a pattern with your criticisms. (Just kidding: I saw this pattern a long time ago.  )

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The point was that replacing religious irrationality with secular irrationality isn't going to do much help.

Who said anything about doing that?! This isn't the 'Secular Irrationality' Response Squad.

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Rather we should be focusing on the group think and the cognitive mechanisms and THAT will get rid of religion, rather than hitting religion head on.

Okay, I'll bite. Let's see your best technique for 'focusing on the group think and the cognitive mechanisms'. Do you have any examples of the techniques you are supposedly defending? Can you show that they work. Have you any examples of people who have given up religion with the aid of the techniques you claim are better?

No?

Hmmmm. My skeptic senses are tingling....

You know what, Cpt.? How about this idea: Many approaches. Sound good? You do your techniques and we'll do ours. As long as neither you nor we do anything unethical, we should even support each other in our mutual efforts, right? After all, if you can't show that someone is doing something wrong, there's no point trying to condemn them and interfere with them, especially since both of us supposedly have the same goals, right?

How's that sound?

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Even if you do manage to deconvert Joe Blow, they are still able to fall into group think.  That's because group think is a product of our evolutionary heritiage, and we have to overcome that.

Even if you do cure Joe Blow of pneumonia, he's still able to get sick again from pneumonia. That's because susceptibility to pneumonia is a product of our evolutionary heritage, and we have to overcome that.

So, are you saying we shouldn't cure Joe Blow's pneumonia--er, I mean, theism?

Quote:
To stick with the disease analogy it's like treating SARs with a cough drop.  You're trying to get rid of the cough, when the cough is merely a symptom of something bigger.

Tell that to the thousands of people who have publicly declared their stories of deconversion.

You know what, a funny thing just struck me the other day. I have never heard a single deconversion story which ended: "And I found out that, after rationally rejecting theism, I would rather still be a theist."

That pretty much says it all. You are fighting against a danger that isn't there.

People are in the vast majority of cases much better off after deconversion. Do you disagree?

If not, then WTF is your problem?

And you know what's even funnier? The methods we use to deconvert rely crucially on educating people about how to think more critically and rationally, and to value evidenced-based reasoning over fallacies and flawed intuitions.

Where are all these atheists making arguments like, "You should be an atheist so you can be just like us. Come on! Everyone's doing it these days." It's such bullshit for you to complain about this when it never actually happens.

I mean, do you have any real examples, with links and real people to point to, and not just phantasms in your head? Do you have any examples of me doing that, for instance?

No?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm..........

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:The

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
The point was that replacing religious irrationality with secular irrationality isn't going to do much help.

I don't understand what 'secular irrationality' you're talking about now.

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Everything religion does either for the good or bad [whether it be charity or group think] is a by product of our evolutionary history and getting rid of religion won't make the charity or group think go away. 

Rather we should be focusing on the group think and the cognitive mechanisms and THAT will get rid of religion, rather than hitting religion head on. Even if you do manage to deconvert Joe Blow, they are still able to fall into group think.  That's because group think is a product of our evolutionary heritiage, and we have to overcome that.

Uh, so your argument is simply that we should encourage people to be free thinking and skeptical in addition to deconverting them from their specific religion? I don't know anyone here that would disagree with that.

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
To stick with the disease analogy it's like treating SARs with a cough drop.  You're trying to get rid of the cough, when the cough is merely a symptom of something bigger.

I much prefer natural's analogy.

By comparing individual religions to a 'cough,' I interpret it as implying that they're completely benign, which is obviously false; otherwise, your analogy simply fails. You don't think we should treat symptoms such as a high fever or an organ failure? What if the disease is difficult to treat, but we have the means to control the symptoms? I feel like you're just arguing because you want to disagree with someone now.

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


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natural wrote:Cpt_pineapple

natural wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Yes I do. I'm not saying don't critisize religion, I'm saying keep your critisisms scientific.

So, what, no moral criticisms? No parody or mockery? No philosophical criticisms?

Sorry, but I'll feel free to continue those criticisms while simultaneously keeping the scientific criticism up, too.

Curious: Do you have a scientific criticism for why using non-scientific criticism is necessarily morally or ethically wrong?

No? Hmmm. I'm beginning to see a pattern with your criticisms. (Just kidding: I saw this pattern a long time ago.  )

 

 

Perhaps I should re-phrase that. Keep your scientific cristisms scientific. I don't think the atheist movement is seperating their other criticisms with scientific ones.

 

For example you can argue the hell is immoral. That's a philosophical/moral criticism.

 

You can make fun of YEC by saying "If life came from rocks why are there still rocks?"  that's mockery/parody.

 

But to claim that religion has X effect on society or the indivdual, that's a scientific one. It's a claim in psychology and sociology and hence subject to the scientific method.

 

You can use different approaches, just don't think a philosophical criticism is a scientific one or vice versa. You can have both [such as a philosphical criticism that uses mockery.

 

 

What "pattern"?

 

 

natural wrote:

Who said anything about doing that?! This isn't the 'Secular Irrationality' Response Squad.

 

Just putting "Rational" in your name doesn't make it so. I'm not saying every little thing the RRS does is irrational, or that everybody on the RRS supports or condones the approach.

 

natural wrote:

Have you any examples of people who have given up religion with the aid of the techniques you claim are better?

 

Yeah. Me. I didn't give it up because you or anybody else pointed out the flaws, I gave it up because I saw flaws in others and realized that I was doing the same in my theism.

 

natural wrote:

You know what, Cpt.? How about this idea: Many approaches. Sound good? You do your techniques and we'll do ours. As long as neither you nor we do anything unethical, we should even support each other in our mutual efforts, right? After all, if you can't show that someone is doing something wrong, there's no point trying to condemn them and interfere with them, especially since both of us supposedly have the same goals, right?

How's that sound?

 

Lots of people take different approaches than me, and I'm ok with that. The issue isn't the approach itself. If you want to use the religion causes X approach or the we would be better off without religion approach go for it, but make sure you have the scientific evidence to back it up. The issue isn't your approach, it's how you.....approach your approach.

 

 

 

natural wrote:

So, are you saying we shouldn't cure Joe Blow's pneumonia--er, I mean, theism?

 

I'm not saying we shouldn't "cure" Joe Blow's theism.

 

The disease analogy isn't working now, the point is that getting Joe Blow off of pseudoscientific and irrational thinking by using irrational thinking isn't going to work.

 

See the quote in my signature. If we want to spread reason and science, then we have to put our views to reason and science. You may think there is already proof of your claims, but as I've said before, haven't seen any.

 

natural wrote:

People are in the vast majority of cases much better off after deconversion. Do you disagree?

 

I'm not so sure about that it's the vast majority or what percentage consituttes "the vast majority". I don't deny there are cases where people were better off after their deconversion, but all those are posted on atheist sites, where guess what, people tend to post stories on how they think they're better off after their deconversion.

 

 

natural wrote:

And you know what's even funnier?

 

A cat riding a unicycle

 

natural wrote:

The methods we use to deconvert rely crucially on educating people about how to think more critically and rationally, and to value evidenced-based reasoning over fallacies and flawed intuitions.

 

No, it relies on getting them to think more critically about religion. If you did the think or critically and value evidence based reasoning over fallacies thing, I wouldn't see some of the claims I've seen on the boards over 4 years.

 

 

 

natural wrote:

Where are all these atheists making arguments like, "You should be an atheist so you can be just like us. Come on! Everyone's doing it these days." It's such bullshit for you to complain about this when it never actually happens.

 

I never claimed that atheists make those arguments or that you or anybody on the RRS is.

 

natural wrote:

I mean, do you have any real examples, with links and real people to point to, and not just phantasms in your head? Do you have any examples of me doing that, for instance?

 

 

...........Do you read the atheist blogsphere? Or the posts on the board? Or Chris Hitchens or Sam Harris?

 

 

 

It's late now, so I bet I can dig some up later. I'm not saying everything Sam Harris or Chris Hitchens says is wrong. [I for instance agree with Harris that the word atheism doesn't mean a lot and simply says one thing you don't believe, not what you do]

 

 

 

It's possible that it's my own bias, but I do recall several things from across the years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Captain Pineapple,You still

Captain Pineapple,

You still seem to be stuck somewhat on the false dichotomy of "cant we all just get along" vs blasphemy and ridicule. It IS not an either or proposition because the two subjects are not related or automatically always apposed.

YES, civil society SHOULD get along. No one wants to live in a lawless society.

I fully remember when you first joined how gung ho you were on your own woo. I can also fully remember how I ripped your claims a new one and kept repeating to you that your pet woo was not special and had as much evidence for it as any other pet claim.

Yet you have been around me long enough to know that my "fangs" are not about the person, but the person's clalms. There are very few people as people, that I hate. Most people I do not and CAN get along with.

I think many believers AND atheists who are well intended, do not give others credit for knowing the difference between a person, and what a person claims.

You obviously did not take my ridicule of your claims when you first came here that personally. So I really think it is false to equate ridicule and blasphemy as being the same as fudementalism, especially radical political violence. I am not saying you are doing that, just that far to many do make that false equation.

I cant stand hit and run posters. I am willing to give the ones who make the attempt to stay, credit for knowing the difference between themselves and what they claim. But what I will not do, is back off when they were not forced to come here and especially AFTER we explain to them it is not about them, but what they claim, and then they still insist on whining and complaining.

Once you know what you are getting into, and you still chose to stay, complaining(I've seen this behavior all over the web) you are being unreasonable.

Mind you, everything I am talking about here is a general description of observation of MANY PEOPLE on many websites over the years. If I don't own a website it is silly to me to complain about what is allowed there. AND to always presume that people cant handle their claims being kicked around, or shouldn't be kicked around, is doing a disservice to the open dialogue needed to pull humans, at a minimum out of tunnel vision and show them that there is no group deserving of being the center of the universe.

So what is really going on is comfort level, not word choice. I advice BOTH atheists and believers, to post in the climate they are most comfortable with. If a library is where an atheist or believer is comfortable, then they should find websites that cater to a more quiet setting. But there ARE plenty of atheists and believers who do jump into the verbal boxing ring, who do not hate each other.

 

I no Caposkia doesn't hate me. I am quite sure I drive him nuts. I actually admire his guts in taking the beating he has over the years. We probably could hang out and have a beer together, if we met. But I won't mince words in saying to him or anyone, friend family or foe, if you postulate to me the claim of a non material thinking entity, NO MATTER HOW MUCH I MIGHT LIKE YOU outside that claim, to that claim I will respond "bullshit".

I am not sure what your end goal is in this thread, but merely reminding you, that you survived our blasphemy and ridicule and even gave up on your own claims  AND you are still here. So this site did do something right in exposing you to both the library and the boxing ring and exposing you to the full range of personalities and approach styles here.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Perhaps

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Perhaps I should re-phrase that. Keep your scientific cristisms scientific. I don't think the atheist movement is seperating their other criticisms with scientific ones.

Fair enough. Do you have ANY examples of RRS supporters disagreeing with that? No? Hmmmm.

[Edited for clarity: We agree with underlined part. Not the last sentence, though.]

Quote:
But to claim that religion has X effect on society or the indivdual, that's a scientific one. It's a claim in psychology and sociology and hence subject to the scientific method.

Yes, true, but unfortunately there isn't much actual science to talk about yet, one way or the other. So we make educated guesses just like any political pundit or amateur philosopher out there on ANY other subject, but you don't seem to care to complain about THOSE. Just us. Funny, that.

And note that I do not always ask for scientific evidence for peoples' opinions, because I realize that it's not always available. But I do ask for some kind of evidence, which can include non-scientific evidence such as quotes and their sources (to check for quote-mined claims), anecdotal/experiential evidence (which I may question the interpretation of, but I don't usually conclude is totally false), correlations in the absense of causations (to support reasons for educated guesses, for example), etc.

So, for a person to claim that religion probably has certain effects on society, based on large quantities of anecdotal/experiential evidence, correlations in the absense of causations, etc. is not always an unreasonable claim, even if it is not a scientific one. You cannot call it, for instance, completely unsupported by evidence. You can only say that the evidence is not as good as we would want it, and that we should study it more to get a better picture, and that in the mean time we shouldn't take it as unquestionable fact. Not that I ever take anything as unquestionable, only to compare these weak claims of probable truth with religious claims of absolute truth.

To be sure, unless you have scientific evidence that the weak claims are most probably false, then you are in exactly the same position we are in. Your claims are just as weak. So if you're telling us never to express our strong opinions, then why are you expressing your strong opinion?

And, in the interest of valuing evidence over opinion (even if that evidence isn't completely scientific), do you have ANY evidence that RRS supporters have made scientific claims without scientific evidence as opposed to merely strong opinion based on non-scientific evidence? Such as, for example, "It is definitely a fact (and not just my strong opinion) that such and such," or, "There's lots of scientific evidence to support this and that," (when there actually isn't).

I do not believe you will be able to find anything like this. Or at least, it will be very (exceedingly) rare, and probably followed up by an apology for overstating one's case.

Let me tell you this: If I have ever made any such scientific claims without having actual scientific evidence to back it up, I would very much appreciate it if someone could expose my claims and point them out to me so that I can correct my overstatement and, perhaps, revise my opinion. So if you ever find me doing that, please let me know.

BUT, if all you can find are people expressing strong opinions without claiming it's definite fact (such as theists do all the time) or backed by science, then I have very little idea of why you are complaining about this, especially since your own claims about this are merely you expression your own strong opinion. Which is fine, if you consider being hypocritical 'fine'.

Quote:
What "pattern"?

The pattern of you complaining about our approaches without providing evidence that they are really a problem.

Quote:
natural wrote:

Who said anything about doing that?! This isn't the 'Secular Irrationality' Response Squad.

Just putting "Rational" in your name doesn't make it so. I'm not saying every little thing the RRS does is irrational, or that everybody on the RRS supports or condones the approach.

And just because we (like literally every human ever) sometimes are irrational, doesn't mean we don't value being rational, and promoting this value, and attempting to improve our own performance on this measure, and admit our mistakes when clearly corrected, etc.

That is why your criticisms never go anywhere, because you never bother to get to the part where you actually show us where we are clearly wrong outside of your own opinion.

That is why I use the term 'unapologetic' so much, because all our critics only ever bother to criticize and condemn, but I'm not going to apologize, because--inoocent until proven guilty--I don't agree with their criticisms, and I am very self-critical already, and so I don't believe that excercising my freedom of speech, expression, and thought is automatically a crime just because someone somewhere just happens to say so.

Quote:
natural wrote:

Have you any examples of people who have given up religion with the aid of the techniques you claim are better?

Yeah. Me. I didn't give it up because you or anybody else pointed out the flaws, I gave it up because I saw flaws in others and realized that I was doing the same in my theism.

Dodge. I intentionally asked questions about techniques because I expected you would try to use yourself as an example.

I'm already an atheist, thanks. I don't need to become one. What I need are useful techniques which can be used with other people to help them break out of theism.

Here are the questions I asked and you did not answer. I would appreciate a real answer to them:

natural wrote:
Okay, I'll bite. Let's see your best technique for 'focusing on the group think and the cognitive mechanisms'. Do you have any examples of the techniques you are supposedly defending? Can you show that they work. Have you any examples of people who have given up religion with the aid of the techniques you claim are better?

Quote:

natural wrote:

You know what, Cpt.? How about this idea: Many approaches. Sound good? You do your techniques and we'll do ours. As long as neither you nor we do anything unethical, we should even support each other in our mutual efforts, right? After all, if you can't show that someone is doing something wrong, there's no point trying to condemn them and interfere with them, especially since both of us supposedly have the same goals, right?

How's that sound?

Lots of people take different approaches than me, and I'm ok with that. The issue isn't the approach itself. If you want to use the religion causes X approach or the we would be better off without religion approach go for it, but make sure you have the scientific evidence to back it up. The issue isn't your approach, it's how you.....approach your approach.

You know what, Cpt.? My issue isn't with your approach either, it's with your hypocrisy.

You are telling me to change my approach. I don't believe my approach has anything wrong to it. (If I did, I would attempt to correct it.) What gives you the right to dictate my approach?

I could understand if you made a kind of ethical argument or something, but you don't. You simply claim that our approach is wrong, for whatever reason, and then fail to provide any evidence that you are right and I am wrong. Innocent until proven fucking guilty. Stop complaining and show us the evidence.

The hypocrisy comes in when you realize (if you realize) that your criticism here is that we do not always have scientific evidence, and so we are wrong to make any claims (i.e. to exercise our free speech rights to express our opinions). And yet your claim is itself entirely unscientific. Hypo-fucking-crite. If it bothers you so much, then follow your own damn standards.

Quote:
The disease analogy isn't working now, the point is that getting Joe Blow off of pseudoscientific and irrational thinking by using irrational thinking isn't going to work.

What do you mean it isn't going to work. The OP lists all sorts of evidence that it works. Do you deny that people can be cured of theism (one example of one problem) without necessarily making them invulnerable to any irrationality at all?

Yes, we use methods that are not strictly rational (such as mockery). However, we back that up with rational argument to support it. And no, rational is not necessarily scientific.

Quote:
See the quote in my signature. If we want to spread reason and science, then we have to put our views to reason and science.

That's what I do. Can you point to ANY example where I clearly haven't?

Quote:
You may think there is already proof of your claims, but as I've said before, haven't seen any.

Where have I claimed to have proof? I almost never use that word. Can you guess why?

You may think that I think there is already proof of my claims, but as I've said before, I haven't seen any evidence that you are actually correct that I think this.

Quote:

natural wrote:

People are in the vast majority of cases much better off after deconversion. Do you disagree?

I'm not so sure about that it's the vast majority or what percentage consituttes "the vast majority".

Let's put it at 95%. Seems pretty vast to me, as far as majorities go.

Quote:
I don't deny there are cases where people were better off after their deconversion, but all those are posted on atheist sites, where guess what, people tend to post stories on how they think they're better off after their deconversion.

No fucking shit, Sherlock!

And you would expect that if there were a significant number of people who rationally gave up theism and then found that it was a bad thing to do, that their stories would be on various theist or non-affiliated websites. But you won't find those stories, because they don't exist.

I remember a while back someone tried to locate even one story of an atheist who gave up theism for rational reasons and then later became a theist again. I think they found two possible cases, one was dubious, and the other seemed probably legit (but the reasons for becoming a theist again were not rational reasons).

So, to acheive 95%, let's say you need to find about 5% of more than 1000 (that I'm aware of), or let's just say 50 stories. But, I'll be generous and settle for 10.

Not counting Antony Flew, who has Alzheimer's dementia unfortunately.

Quote:
natural wrote:

And you know what's even funnier?

A cat riding a unicycle

That too. Where's pic?!

Quote:

natural wrote:

The methods we use to deconvert rely crucially on educating people about how to think more critically and rationally, and to value evidenced-based reasoning over fallacies and flawed intuitions.

No, it relies on getting them to think more critically about religion.

So teaching someone how to spot fallacies in religious dogma only applies to religious dogma... because of... what, exactly? Remember! Be scientific!

Quote:
If you did the think or critically and value evidence based reasoning over fallacies thing, I wouldn't see some of the claims I've seen on the boards over 4 years.

Such as... what, specifically. Links please. (And they better be scientific links, too!  )

Quote:
natural wrote:

Where are all these atheists making arguments like, "You should be an atheist so you can be just like us. Come on! Everyone's doing it these days." It's such bullshit for you to complain about this when it never actually happens.

I never claimed that atheists make those arguments or that you or anybody on the RRS is.

Then explain what you mean by this:

Cpt wrote:

The point was that replacing religious irrationality with secular irrationality isn't going to do much help. Everything religion does either for the good or bad [whether it be charity or group think] is a by product of our evolutionary history and getting rid of religion won't make the charity or group think go away.

Rather we should be focusing on the group think and the cognitive mechanisms and THAT will get rid of religion, rather than hitting religion head on. Even if you do manage to deconvert Joe Blow, they are still able to fall into group think.

Where are all the atheists using irrational group-think-related arguments to convince people to give up theism?

Links, please.

Quote:
natural wrote:

I mean, do you have any real examples, with links and real people to point to, and not just phantasms in your head? Do you have any examples of me doing that, for instance?

 

...........Do you read the atheist blogsphere? Or the posts on the board? Or Chris Hitchens or Sam Harris?

Yes, I surely do. I would like to see where they promote groupthink and other irrationality.

By the way, your rhetorical questions there do not constitute "real examples, with links and real people to point to".

Quote:
It's late now, so I bet I can dig some up later.

I'll call, and I'll raise you an "I bet you can't".

Quote:
It's possible that it's my own bias, but I do recall several things from across the years.

I, too, recall several accusations of significant instances of atheists doing these kinds of things. I also recall personally following up on more than a dozen such accusations, as well as reading (and checking) many other peoples' follow-ups on such accusations. And I also recall being severely disappointed with the so-called 'evidence', which almost always turned out to be quote-mined, misinterpreted, misrepresented, exaggerated, or outright fabricated.

If you are not yet familiar with the "Tom Johnson Affair", I recommend you familiarize yourself with some of its long and complex history before you dig yourself too deep into your own Tom Johnson hole.

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I think Cpt seems hung up a

I think Cpt seems hung up a false dichotomy, that without peer-reviewed, rigorous science to support it, an argument is 'irrational'.

I think, natural, you make the best point when you compare the degree of supporting evidence we normally try to muster, such as anecdote, correlation, etc, against what usually amount to naked assertions or bible quotes from the Theist.

To assert that anything based on less than full scientific method is of little or no value is simply false. Sure, if the theists had some 'peer-reviewed' evidence for the benefits of religion vs. its problems, we would acknowledge it, bit not without checking it out.

Wowzers1 tried this with his reference to a study claiming that families who got their children involved with church activities benefited their children over those who didn't. It appeared weak at best. I don't think anyone here denied there was a correlation, and no benefit to the children, but it really didn't compare the situation with enough alternative possibilities and other, non-church-based activities, and other social contexts to 'prove' much at all.

Even pointing out that if that is what he considered one of the best studies to support his claim, he is in a weak position, while not refuting his claim, definitely makes a valid point against it.

Peer reviews are typically not 'peer-reviewed' themselves, but point out methodological flaws and un-examined assumptions, and so on, in the papers submitted. Which is what we do, typically. So what we do is arguably very much in the spirit of science.

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

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Rather than go quote by

Rather than go quote by quote, I'll just post a block response because you both touch on the same issues.

 

First the claims of some atheists in the movement and the evidence against them.

The biggest example I can come up off the top of my head without digging through thousands of posts is that religion bends people's moral compass. This is in the spirit of the Weinberg quote, that religion takes the compass of somebody that's good, and twists it to something evil. Religion makes good people do bad things. Is that fair to say?

 

Here's an empirical study

 

http://www.pnas.org/content/106/51/21533.full.pdf+html

 

Quote:

Finally, these data have interesting implications for the impact
of religious thought on judgment and decision-making. People
may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions
and making decisions based on what they presume God as
the ultimate moral authority would believe or want. The central
feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter
what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that,
unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may
instead point people further in whatever direction they are
already facing.

 

 

Another claim is that religious people are more likely to be dogmatic, authoritian etc... right?

 

http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~ara/Manuscripts/Hansen%20&%20Norenzayan_religion_chapter.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

But the biggest gripe is in this thread about the nature of evidence.

 

Consider these claims:

 

1] Religion does more harm than good

 

2] Religion does more good than harm

 

 

Now what would I have to do to prove any given one? They are mutually exclusive.  We can throw around stories all day.

 

 

How can we throw away Wowzer1's argument of 2] because it's not peer reviewed and relies too heavily on anecdotes, when our argument of 1] isn't peer reviewed and relies too heavily on anecdotes?

 

That's the problem with anecdotes, everybody has them. I bet you can tell stories and find lots of stories of how people became better off after deconverting. I bet most of those stories are true.

 

But then Wowzer can come up with stories about how Joe Blow got out of gangs after he found jebus. Of how Susie was in a drug induced depression but then found jebus and turned her life around. Just go to a Christian forum and ask them how jebus changed their lives. I bet most of those stories are true too.

 

 

That's why I brought up selection bias. Of course the atheists are going to post their stories on atheist sites to get support from other atheists, and of course Christians are going to post their stories on Christian websites to get support from other Christians. I don't think many atheists browse Christian forums and vice versa.

 

 

As Bob said, the objections to Wowzer's study doesn't disprove it. Does that mean it's true? Nope, he still need peer reviewed scientific evidence. So if 2] needs peer reviewed evidence why doesn't 1]?

 

 

I'm not trying to take away your free speech. I let Christians spew nonsense and I don't want to take away their rights, I want to take away their claim of scientific and philosophical support for their claims which they don't have.

It's the same argument against moderate theists. They are saying it's ok to not have scientific evidence for your claims and to rely on anecedotes.


Here's a source

http://livinglifewithoutanet.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/moderate-religion-two-lies-in-one/

 

You guys seem to be halfway there. It's the "prove me wrong" attitude just re-read what you wrote about how I don't have studies AGAINST your arguments. But I don't need evidence because I'm not making the positive claim. If I were to claim religion was neutral, then I would have the burden of proof.

 

You wanted specific topics? Look at this one

 

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/15652

 

Hamby rightly spanked me. There are many many others, but I don't feel like digging through thousands of posts to get them, but if you want I more I will. Did he provide evidence my views were wrong? No, he showed that they lacked evidence and that my strong opinion still need empirical evidence.

 

If I held to your view of strong opinion vs fact, I would still be a Theist. I was an agnostic, I wasn't 100% sure there was a god, but I had a strong opinion that there was one. However that feel through because I only had anecdotal and emotional evidence rather than scientific.

 

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:You guys

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

You guys seem to be halfway there. It's the "prove me wrong" attitude just re-read what you wrote about how I don't have studies AGAINST your arguments. But I don't need evidence because I'm not making the positive claim. If I were to claim religion was neutral, then I would have the burden of proof.

I agree that positive claims require evidence.  I agree that both 1 and 2 are positive claims.  The question I'm having trouble with is 'What kind of evidence is needed to show a specific belief is responsible for specific behavior'.  

Let say that there was a person who believed that a can of cola was safe to drink, but in truth the can contained poison.  The person drank the cola and died.  Can we say that the person drank the cola because he/she believed it was safe?  What evidence do we have about why the person drank the cola?  Is the correlation between the persons belief and their actions evidence?  Can the state of mind of the person be used as evidence?   Let say that everyone the person knew said that the person was happy and enjoyed life.  From this information can we say that the person didn't want to die so he/she must have drank the cola because he/she thought it was safe?   Given this situation what types of arguments would you accept as evidence, and what types of arguments would you not accept as evidence. 


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Cpt,we are NOT putting

Cpt,

we are NOT pitting opinion vs. fact.

We are considering indirect evidence for a proposition - anecdote, less than fully controlled or comprehensive observation, some reasoning by analogy, and so on - vs. denial by assertion and/or assumptions.

You keep equating anything less than a full scientific study as of ZERO value. 'Opinion" is at one extreme of a spectrum, with assessments based a lot of experience and observation at the other.

Now if you have research which is more scientific, and I will have a look into the study you referenced when I can (soon), AND it really does address our informal assessments, I will happily concede.

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

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

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

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


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:First

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
First the claims of some atheists in the movement and the evidence against them.

The biggest example I can come up off the top of my head without digging through thousands of posts is that religion bends people's moral compass. This is in the spirit of the Weinberg quote, that religion takes the compass of somebody that's good, and twists it to something evil. Religion makes good people do bad things. Is that fair to say?

 

Here's an empirical study

 

http://www.pnas.org/content/106/51/21533.full.pdf

Quote:

Finally, these data have interesting implications for the impact
of religious thought on judgment and decision-making. People
may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions
and making decisions based on what they presume God as
the ultimate moral authority would believe or want. The central
feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter
what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that,
unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may
instead point people further in whatever direction they are
already facing.

<sigh>

Captain, Captain, Captain.... <sigh>

<sigh>

This?!

This is your biggest example?!?!?!?!?!?!

<sigh>

Oh my fucking ... <sigh>


Class, will you turn to page 1 of the article, paragraph 3? Joey, could you read the part that begins with "This research?"

Joey wrote:
This research
examines the strength of such egocentric representations by
measuring the extent to which people’s own beliefs guide their
predictions about God’s beliefs. This research does not in any
way, however, deny the possibility that the inverse process of
reflection (using God’s presumed beliefs as a guide to one’s own)
may operate
in contexts where people’s own beliefs are uncertain
or unknown.

And, under the "Discussion" section, page 5, paragraph 2. Joey?

Joey wrote:
Although people obviously acquire religious
beliefs from a variety of external sources, from parents to
broader cultural influences
, these data suggest that the self may
serve as an important source of religious beliefs as well. Not only
are believers likely to acquire the beliefs and theology of others
around them
, but may also seek out believers and theologies that
share their own personal beliefs. If people seek out religious
communities that match their own personal views on major
social, moral, or political issues, then the information coming
from religious sources is likely to further validate and strengthen
their own personal convictions and values. Religious belief has
generally been treated as a process of socialization whereby
people’s personal beliefs about God come to reflect what they
learn from those around them, but these data suggest that the
inverse causal process may be important as well: people’s
personal beliefs may guide their own religious beliefs and the
religious communities they seek to be part of.

So, Cpt. "Pineapple" -- if that is your real name (somehow I doubt it) -- your 'biggest' piece of evidence is a study that not only doesn't contradict our position, but actually supports it!

It only shows that people also modify their religious beliefs based on their personal beliefs.

Well, that's a useful bit of knowledge to have, but is it even surprising?! No. It is not.

When people try to imagine what 'God's beliefs are, they are not actually getting their knowledge from an actual god, obviously, right? So where are they getting it from? From themselves, obviously, right?

And do you know of many believers who don't believe that their beliefs are in concordance with what they believe that God believes? I can't think of any.

Of course they think that they believe the same things God believes. If they thought God thought differently, they would change their minds to match what they believe God believes. Why would you believe anything differently than what you believe an all-knowing being believes?

The research in no way examined how religious beliefs may or may not influence the beliefs of believers. The researches explicitly conceded that such influence occurs.

Quote:
Another claim is that religious people are more likely to be dogmatic, authoritian etc... right?

 

http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~ara/Manuscripts/Hansen%20&%20Norenzayan_religion_chapter.pdf

 

Oh, Captain, my Captain....

Please please please, stop being a hypocrite. Please. I beg you.

Is this supposed to be 'scientific' evidence?

I dare you to find where that paper was published and provide a link to where one could obtain a copy of the actual publication. I tried for 15 minutes in Google and found nothing. Only scattered chapters around the web. This is the first time I've ever seen so many references to a book, with no apparent way to actually find the actual book itself.

Let me ask you, was this book peer reviewed? My guess is no. But it's impossible to tell because neither the book, nor its editor can be located.

I dare you to find out whether this paper (with its Excel graphs and all) was actually published as a scientific paper.

Quote:
But the biggest gripe is in this thread about the nature of evidence.

Yes, me too. You demand the highest, and provide the lowest.

I may or may not respond to the rest of your post, but I don't have time right now. Frankly, I'm disappointed.

Remember what I said about misrepresentations, and misinterpretations, and Tom Johnsons?

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BobSpence1 wrote:Cpt,we are

BobSpence1 wrote:

Cpt,

we are NOT pitting opinion vs. fact.

We are considering indirect evidence for a proposition - anecdote, less than fully controlled or comprehensive observation, some reasoning by analogy, and so on - vs. denial by assertion and/or assumptions.

You keep equating anything less than a full scientific study as of ZERO value. 'Opinion" is at one extreme of a spectrum, with assessments based a lot of experience and observation at the other.

Now if you have research which is more scientific, and I will have a look into the study you referenced when I can (soon), AND it really does address our informal assessments, I will happily concede.

 

 

Bob, I'm not saying either full scientific study or zero value. In fact, opinions and speculations are what creates the theories in the first place!

 

The issue I'm having is how we evaluate 1] vs 2]. There are anecdotes and circumstancial evidence galour for both.

 

So the million dollar question is how can we reject the evidence for 2] but not for 1] or vice versa?

 

What claims don't need peer reviewed scientific evidence and can be furthered by anecdotes and less than fully controlled observation or indirect evidence?

When are those enough? For what claims are those enough?

 

 

 

Now to natural

natural you amuse me more.

 

If your views don't need peer review why do mine?

 

But anyway a ten second search and actually reading the link found the book:

http://www.amazon.ca/Where-Science-Meet-Three-Volumes/dp/0275987884/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307418185&sr=8-1

Which is a collection of studies about religion. Yes, it was peer reviewed.

The name of the book was in the link [LITERALLY on the first page], and then it was a simple manner of copying it and pasting it into amazon.  I know that's too much for a  computer programmer to figure out, so perhaps I should have done that for you in the first place. For future reference, the little wheel on your mouse scrolls down the page. Then it's a simple matter of hovering your mouse pointer near the text, holding down the left mouse button and highlighting the text. After that is done, simply hold the button that says "Ctrl" while pressing the "c" key. Go to a website such as amazon and google. Click on the search bar and then hold down "Ctrl" once again only this time hit the "v" key. After the text appears in the search bar, click on the search button.


 

Speaking of actually reading the link.

 

Those graphs are figures 3 and 4 respectively and

 

Quote:
Figures 3 and 4 illustrate how this uninteresting finding becomes interesting. In Figure 3, again we split the sample in half, but in order to hold coalitional attitude constant, we divided the sample not simply with a median split based on religious devotion scores, but based on a “more devoted than coalitional” score. We created this score by subtracting the average of the four coalitional variables from the average of the two devotional variables, or {[(divine devotion + religious devotion)/2] – [(authoritarianism + fundamentalism + dogmatism + exclusivity)/4]}. While this formula bears no resemblance to the formulas used in multiple regressions, splitting the sample by this formula luckily accomplished what a multiple regression effectively does: holding some variables constant while allowing other variables to vary. As shown in Figure 3, authoritarianism, fundamentalism, dogmatism, and exclusivity are a lot less different between the two groups than they were in figure 1: these coalitional attitude variables are more or less held constant between the devoted group and the not devoted group. Even with this more controlled division of the devoted from the non-devoted, the devoted group is above the mean of the scale (5) and the non-devoted group is below it. Figure 4 shows that with this more controlled division of the sample between the devoted and non-devoted, the devoted group was LESS intolerant on all measures, even on civil intolerance (recall that the devoted group was MORE intolerant on this measure when coalitional variables were not controlled).

 

 

You'll also notice something interesting, when coalition WASN'T controlled for religious people were MORE likely to be intolerant, but when it was controlled for, they weren't. When this happens in stats, than it's likely that it's the coalition that causes the intolerance.

 

If you want the raw data, or the methodology [IIRC it was about 200 Canadian students] email one of the authors, here's his personal website

http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~ara/

 

But once again natural, the burden of proof is on you. At least I'm trying to put my views to peer review and scientific method rather than just shrugging it off.

natural wrote:

So, Cpt. "Pineapple" -- if that is your real name (somehow I doubt it)

 

You caught me, I'm neither a Captain nor a pineapple.

 

But anywho, I direct your attention to study six, class.

 

When they gave a speech opposite to what they believed about the death penalty [either for or against], that changed not only their view, but god's view. If religion doe influence behavior on the scale it's claimed, then they would have stuck to their original guns and NOT changed their or god's view. Also it shows that religious people's beliefs on moral issues CAN change despite the claim that religion is slow to change moral views.

 

 

natural wrote:

Yes, me too. You demand the highest, and provide the lowest.

 

That's because I'm the center of the universe. But welcome to when I was a theist here. I was hounded [rightly so] to provide peer reviewed scientific direct evidence for god and was rightly rejected and spanked when I didn't and only provided emotional and indirect evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Cpt,in the absence of solid

Cpt,

in the absence of solid peer-reviewed research into an issue such as the effects of religious belief of various kinds and intensity, we can still assess the informal evidence. We can still compare how compelling are the various anecdotes and observations. It is inevitably going to be more subjective and imprecise, but it is NOT 'irrational'.

Just as you say, such informal investigation is what leads to hypotheses - not theories, they only become theories further down the track. We do such comparisons all the time, to decide which hypotheses are worth subjecting to more rigorous testing, if possible.

That is what we are doing. Finding what studies are available and relevant, and doing our own observation if we can, and discussing it with others, as we do on this board. Studies such as that of Gregory Paul are not definitive, I agree, but they are all part of the evidence.

I follow much scientific discussion on the media, including podcasts from major scientific publications and institutions, and interviews with researchers into neuroscience and psychology and social behaviour, and reports of tests that have been done, and continue to be carried out, on how our brains work, how our beliefs are effected by things, and how they effect our behavior, and so on, which all contribute to my current 'opinion' on many subjects such as this. I can't recall off the top of my head a study directly addressing this issue, but many which are relevant in some way.

So I may only have an 'opinion' on this, and I might find it hard to point to specific sources at short notice, but I think I may be justified in claiming I have an informed opinion.

You have a different opinion. I get that.

Let me outline how I see this current topic, and the findings of that study:

Beliefs clearly effect behavior.

People are going to be attracted to organizations, groups, which more closely match their own pre-existing beliefs and general world-view. D'uh. Now when such groups have additional ideas, doctrines, dogmas beyond what the person joining has currently developed, that person is more likely to take up some of those beliefs than if they had never joined the group. Especially since those ideas are based on a similar world-view to their own. You should be able to see where this is going, and it seems to be entirely compatible with that study, at least based on the quotes natural referred to.

There will be other issues, such as how much they may be motivated to act on ideas they have adopted vs. their own, and that study seems to address some of that. I still haven't had time to look it up, but I could not let your comments just stand until I have, since you still seem to be missing the point, IMHO.

And of course such interactions are going to be relevant to way more than just strictly religious attitudes and ideas.

And the dominant direction of causality can be tricky to test in a particular situation. Ie do people adopt particular ideas from people and organizations they associate with, or do they associate with people who already share those ideas or have compatible beliefs? Or more probably, a bit of each.

Even if someone adopts an idea which is one of the nastier ones associated with some faith, such as suicide bombing, apparently on their own volition, the fact that that meme has become widely spread in a particular cultural context means they are far more likely to pick it up. If that idea originates or is strongly supported by a particular cult within that faith, even if not approved by the mainstream, how much blame should the bulk of the people of the faith accept for that idea being 'out there'? Have they taken positive action to stamp it out? Is that even easily possible, without damaging some of the doctrines which the idea feeds off, even if it does so by 'misinterpretation' of those doctrines?

It seems to me this is a far more tricky issue to study and resolve by a specific scientific study than you seem to think. Nevertheless, in the absence of such a study, we can still look into it, assisted by insights from other more general studies on human motivation and thinking and interaction.

So what, if any, is your problem with the reasoning I have just outlined?

 

 

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:natural

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
natural you amuse me more.

You amuse me less.

Quote:
If your views don't need peer review why do mine?

Hey, I'm just going by your standards, and judging you a hypocrite by them. I didn't say your views need to be 'scientific', you did.

Quote:
But anyway a ten second search and actually reading the link found the book:

http://www.amazon.ca/Where-Science-Meet-Three-Volumes/dp/0275987884/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1307418185&sr=8-1

Which is a collection of studies about religion. Yes, it was peer reviewed.

It may be. It may not be. The link you provided does not say.

Quote:
The name of the book was in the link [LITERALLY on the first page], and then it was a simple manner of copying it and pasting it into amazon.  I know that's too much for a  computer programmer to figure out,

Don't count your chickens before they hatch. It is in fact false that the title of the book was on the first page. Let's look at what is on the first page:

paper wrote:
In: (P. McNamara, Ed.), Where God and Man Meet: How the Brain and Evolutionary Sciences are Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Religion and Spirituality. Greenwood Press--Praeger Publishers.

Now let's look at the title of the actual book:

book wrote:
Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion

Quote:
so perhaps I should have done that for you in the first place.

Yes, considering the source you linked to didn't include the correct reference information, I agree, you should have.

Quote:


Speaking of actually reading the link.

Speaking of actually demonstrating that this is a peer reviewed work first... I am no longer doing your homework for you. I'll read the pdf when you show me it is actually 'scientific', as per your own standards.

Quote:
But once again natural, the burden of proof is on you.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Quote:
At least I'm trying to put my views to peer review and scientific method rather than just shrugging it off.

Yes, so you have one study that actually supports our position, not yours, and you have one study that's not even yet confirmed to be actually 'scientific', and which, considering your track record at interpreting things, probably doesn't even support your position either.

Quote:
But anywho, I direct your attention to study six, class. 

When they gave a speech opposite to what they believed about the death penalty [either for or against], that changed not only their view, but god's view.

Joey: Umm, excuse me, Miss. Miss! I have a question.

Cpt.: ...

Joey: Didn't-- umm -- Didn't the researchers in that study explicitly state that "This research does not in any way, however, deny the possibility that the inverse process of reflection (using God’s presumed beliefs as a guide to one’s own) may operate in contexts where people’s own beliefs are uncertain or unknown."?

Cpt.: ... So?

Joey: Umm. Doesn't that kind of undermine your whole point?

Cpt.: pfft! No! If religion doe influence behavior on the scale it's claimed, then they would have stuck to their original guns and NOT changed their or god's view!

Joey: But, Miss--

Cpt.: What?!!?!

Joey: Isn't that actually just your own opinion about the research, since the researchers explicitly claimed that they didn't even study how people's religious beliefs might influence the believers personal beliefs? And didn't the researcher also say "people obviously acquire religious beliefs from a variety of external sources, from parents to broader cultural influences", which actually directly contradicts your own personal opinion, and then they also said, "believers [are] likely to acquire the beliefs and theology of others around them", which is actually the RRS's position?

Cpt.: pfft! No, my interpretation is correct, even though the researchers themselves directly contradict me. Trust me, do I know science! I know it even better than the researchers themselves!

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natural and bob I'll address

natural and bob I'll address the other stuff later, it's late.

 

But I want to address the study now.

 

 

I got the title of the book from Norenzayan's website

http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~ara/research.htm

Hansen, I. G., & Norenzayan, A. (2006). Between yang and yin and heaven and hell: Untangling the complex relationship between religion and intolerance. In: (P. McNamara, Ed.), Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Vol. 3, pp. 187-211. Wesport, CT: Greenwood Press--Praeger Publishers. [PDF]

 

 

Perhaps the spirituality was the original title and it got changed or something. So sorry for the mix up.

 

As for peer review, it was put out by the Boston University School of Medicine Evolutionary Neurobehavior Lab where the editor works.

 

http://www.bumc.bu.edu/len/selected-publications/table-of-contents-for-dr-mcnamaras-book/where-god-and-science-meet/

 

 

It also had it's own advisory board

 

In this preview by google books, if you scroll down to the bottom you can see the members on it.

 

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:As for

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

As for peer review, it was put out by the Boston University School of Medicine Evolutionary Neurobehavior Lab where the editor works.

 

http://www.bumc.bu.edu/len/selected-publications/table-of-contents-for-dr-mcnamaras-book/where-god-and-science-meet/

 

 

It also had it's own advisory board

 

In this preview by google books, if you scroll down to the bottom you can see the members on it.

Okay, fair enough. I'll take a look at it. Thanks for following through on that.

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Guys I'm still  not feeling

Guys I'm still  not feeling it.

I don't deny that Bob or natural have informed opinions. I'm not saying you just pulled it out of your asses and I'm not saying informed opinions don't have their uses.

I still don't see the line where informed opinion is enough to advocate so strongly for something. Especially from a group of skeptics whose main goal is to demand evidence of religion and other claims.

Which brings me to another point. I think the RRS and most of the atheist movement is a wasted effort. Even if I concede that all of their opinions of we would be better off without religion are informed, well educated,  and an inch short of scientific verification, there's a problem:

We have so, so so many arguments against religion that ARE scientific. We can prove the Earth is way over 6,000 years old. We can prove that Evolution accounts for the diversity of life with no cosmic puppet.

But the most important one is that there is no scientific evidence for a god. None. Ask any atheist on this site why they're atheist, I doubt they'd say they're atheist because daddy didn't love them, or "it's the cool thing to do." It's because of the complete lack of scientific evidence for god. No sign of jebus or vishnu in peer reviewed papers. I think that's a good thing.

I'm glad you brought in the example of suicide bombers, because there have been several discussions on competing theories.

Don't worry natural, this time  it's a link to the journal article. The first one was published in Psychological Science the last two were in evolutionary psychology journal.


This study that test religious hypothesis vs coalition and found that the coalition hypothesis was the best explaination:

http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~ara/Manuscripts/GingesHansenNorenzayan2009.pdf

 

Here is a response to it saying it's a premature rejection of the religious belief hypothesis.

 

http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP08343345.pdf

 

and the response to the response from the original authors.

 

http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP08346349r.pdf

 

I don't know if there's a response to that.

 

But this is a perfect illustration of how science works.  They evaluated popular assumptions based on informal evidence and worked towards a more solid explanation. Rather than just cross reference wikipedia and random blogs, they decided to put it to the test.

 

That's what I mean by the burden of proof natural. Bob brought up we have different opinions and we do. But who's right? How do we determine who's right if the critieria is anectodes and subjective?

 

You can't just say prove that it ISN'T religion that brought these negative consequences, and Wowzer1 can't say prove it ISN'T religion that brought these positive consequences.

 

We're in a stalemate. Your not the only one I'm in a stalemate with, and I bet that I'm not the only one your in with. I understand neither Bob, or natural or I are anthropologists of psychologists or sociologists ergo we would have a hard time getting funding and submitting the results etc....

 

But when was the last time you've heard my opinion of sediment deposits during river formation? Of using vitainim A to treat MS? I'm not a geologist or medical doctor, so I leave the research and the getting the findings to people who are. I bet I can crack open a geology or medical textbook and form an opinion. But guess what?  That opinion is worth as much as the paper the pages are printed on.

 

I honestly, do not see how this is any different.

 

 


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Those references don't

Those references don't establish anything very convincingly one way or the other, and don't address some of the issues I brought up about whether we should 'blame' the specific religion for having doctrines/writings which can easily be read by certain people to support their disposition to engage in such activities as suicide bombing.

They do clarify a few issues, as the critical reference acknowledged, but don't really resolve the ultimate question of how the prevalence of a specific set of beliefs in a culture, may or may not enhance the probability of at least a few people finding support and/or inspiration for some of very nasty actions in the writings. If they could have found some gathering places for people sharing non-religious views, and run some tests there, that would have been more useful. Since those gatherings are also supported and motivated by the religion, the distinction between person belief and the group-think encouraged by such places is not necessarily relevant to the issue. The ideas encouraged by those meetings are still inspired by the doctrines.

A clear problem is that the more extreme actions usually involve a relatively small proportion of the population, rendering such general correlation studies moot.

I would like to see some studies as to how effective more frequent and explicit condemnation of the extreme actions from people of the faith who the bombers respected, if any, would be in changing their minds, IOW, in a general sense, did they test for how much failures to act, on the part of the mainstream believers. allowed the terror groups to grow and persist.

I also noticed at least as much speculation and pure correlation was involved, so my prime objection to your extreme dichotomy between 'peer-reviewed' studies and informed reasoning from observation definitely still stands.

This is a complex issue to study, and I think your burden is to show how the many explicit 'kill the infidels' bits in the Q'uran have no significant influence on at least a few individuals, who while probably predisposed to be violent, can be pushed 'over the threshhold' by seeing such endorsement of violence in the Book they have been taught since childhood is the source of all wisdom and moral guidance.

For less extreme issues, you need to show that the harsh attitudes to homosexuality, and treating women and servants/slaves as property, explicitly endorsed in certainly the OT, do not reinforce and help to perpetuate those primitive beliefs, which originally got written into the text. When we see such explicit doctrines in the texts, again the burden is on you to show how that has no effect on the attitudes of the followers, even if only to reinforce/magnify existing predispositions.

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Bob, a couple things I

Bob, a couple things I should point out about the study.

 

They attempted to isolate the different variables on religion on suicide attacks. They measured the devotion aspect of it [which crosses over with the beliefs] and the coalition attitude of it. The latter can go on without religion, while the former cannot. Scott Atran points out that the better predictor of support or participation of suicide attack isn't in how religious they are, rather whether or not they belong to an ingroup, such as a soccer team, or a paintball club.

 

Second to compliment the study, we can look at religious backrounds of terrorists.

 

Marc Sageman did exactly that in his article  in the Foreign Policy Research Institute

 

The article is here:

 

http://www.fpri.org/enotes/20041101.middleeast.sageman.understandingterrornetworks.html

 

Quote:

Only 13 percent were madrassa-trained and most of them come from what I call the Southeast Asian sample, the Jemaah Islamiyya (JI).

 

Quote:

At the time they joined jihad, the terrorists were not very religious. They only became religious once they joined the jihad.

 

Which at least lends more crediablity to the coalition as opposed to the religious belief hypothesis.

 

 

Another thing I wanted to point out is from the response to the response. It is extremely difficult to test for, as you would basically get people who support suicide terrorism, support suicide terrorism. It in no way tests against possible post hoc explanations of justification for violence and hatred.

 

It also doesn't address where Islam got the ideas of martydom in the first place. It obviously can be derived without the Koran, because if it couldn't, it wouldn't be in the Koran seeing as Allah didn't come booming down.

 

 

 

But to your broader point about informed opinions. Once again, it's mine vs yours. Even if the study only hints at the coalition as opposed to the religious belief,

 

I think the only way we're going to resolve this is with scientific study, not on blogs and forums. Just like any problem.

 

Opinions are like butts. Everyone has one, but you could get embarassed if you let yours out at the wrong time.

 

But I do wonder:

 

Would Theism have been rational before evolution was proposed? After all, they didn't know why there were so many complex creatures out there and they could have an informed opinion that complexity usually had design.

 

Or would the aluminious aehter have been rational before special relativity was proposed? After all, they could have an informed opinion that things required a medium such as water waves required water as a medium.

 

Those are of course incorrect, I'm sure you can point to instances where informed opinions were correct.

 

I fully concede that without informed opinions, science wouldn't have anything to study in the first place. In fact, they are one of the most crucial steps in science. But the bigger one is confirming said opinions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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I would like to see

I would like to see natural's response before I say much more, but I would like to point out that a reasoned argument based on observations is much more than just an 'informed opinion'.

Deeper testing becomes important when some observations support different conclusions, or credible alternate reasoning can show that different but still logically consistent conclusions can be drawn from the same established data. There really isn't the gulf you keep assuming between the sort of argument myself and natural use and strictly 'scientific, peer-reviewed' studies. They are all part of the same process.

The other major example of a society/culture/group who indulged in suicide bombing, who are said to have 'invented' it, are the Tamil 'Tigers', who started their rebellion when the Sri-Lankan government declared Buddhism the official religion, and Sinhala the official language, against the Hinduism of the Tamils, and their own Tamil language. So again we see religion involved....

There is nothing irrational or unreasonable about observing that two long-running conflicts, with religious differences being a major part of the dispute, have both had one side indulging strongly in suicide bombing. The coalitions are both bound by major religions, in opposition to another group with a different religion. Are you trying to say it is unreasonable, irrational, mere opinion, to conclude that the religions and the associate beliefs are likely to be important components of inspiring such behaviour, whether explicitly via beliefs or implicitly by providing the framework for the coalitions involved?

Not all coalitions lead to such behaviour, so the binding 'force' of each coalition, and its cultural environment, has to be involved, in which the religion of that culture is a very major component. The 'coalitions' involved in 'bombing' cultures are the social aspect of the culture/religion. The beliefs are the personal aspect. 

And of course there is a loop of 'causality' - pre-existing aspects of a culture become incorporated in an emerging religion, and the doctrines preached by the religion reinforce those basic assumptions in the culture. Religion is BOTH the cause and the consequence of the attitudes. We need to break the reinforcing loop somehow, and the irrationality of the religion is a reasonable target.

I have absolutely no problem with as many studies as possible being conducted to try and winkle out the actual 'mechanisms' involved in these processes, which should help those wishing to break the viscous cycle of these conflicts.

A bit more than I intended, but I will now wait to see what natural has to say.

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

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Cpt_pineapple
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Bob, the issue is that of

Bob, the issue is that of course religion is part of the culture, I have yet to find any real culture without religion. The overwhelming majority of the planet is Theist, so I don't see why it's surprising that some members of the Tamil Tigers are religious, ignoring the fact that that was an extremely gross oversimplification of the Sri Lanken conflict.

 

I would also like to point out that Mia Bloom, a political scientist at Georgia university spend time in Sri Lanka, I'll try to dig up references but it was more an ethnic conflict than a religious one. They killed a prominent Hindu Rajiv Gandhi and I don't think they particulary cared that he was a prominent figure in the Hindu community.

 

Even so I can cite other examples, such as the secular PFLP attacking Israel well before Hamas even existed.

 

Once again, I'm sure you can find members of the PFLP who are religious, but that's irrelevant. I can find people in Doctors Without Borders who are religious, that doesn't mean DWB is a religious organization. Neither would be surprising. To establish some sort of causation from that would be daft.

 

That's just the thing, religion is dominent in so much of the world, it's unsurprising that so and so evil person is a theist or conflict in X country has some sort of religion mixed in.

 

Another thing, as I've said in my first post, we can't pick and choose what religion influences. If we agree the beliefs influence behaviors we can't deny it works in the other direction as well. It's entirely possible that MLK used scripture to inspire him to found the civil rights movement, or that Islam encouraged the ancient Muslims to preserve knowledge.

 

 

 

Quote:

wait to see what natural has to say.

 

Dripping in anticipation

 

 

 

 

 


Atheistextremist
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This is an interesting discussion

 

From you folks...tend to agree with all of you. 

 

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