Arguing that theism isn't necessarily irrational - Part 1: The Reason for Reason

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Arguing that theism isn't necessarily irrational - Part 1: The Reason for Reason

The RRS claim that theism is irrational is a controversial one, even amongst atheists.
It happens that I'm one of the atheists that disagree with them on this point.
Here I present 7 essays that gradually build up to a web of arguments against it.
They start off completely uncontroversial, and I don't expect a large amount of disagreement in the first few, but gradually build into a position that might not be so widely held.

Whether you agree with them or not, I think that these arguments will be of interest.
Sometimes we can just hear an argument, intuitively 'smell' the sophistry, but not be able to clearly see where it lies. Our intuition can mislead us, but often it can be right on the money. Even so, it's not helpful in a debate. For a disagreement to be constructive you need to try and articulate why you disagree. There's many out there who criticise the RRS, find them 'militant' and 'fundamentalist' but are yet to give a clear argument against their position.
These essays may help shed light on where their point of view is coming from, making it possible to address their concerns.

I'm not going to post them all at once. The reason why they were split up was because there's a lot in to take all in at once, and a debate simply gets muddled when you try and bring it onto too many fronts at once. Today I'll post the first two, and then gradually post further ones, the gap depending on how much discussion is required before the next one. So without further ado, I give you the first essay in the series, Reason for Reason.

The Reason for Reason
Most of what will follow in this essay is fairly obvious and straight forward.
Where this disagrees from the norm will be in subtle details.
There are two points to this essay.
One would be to explain the purpose of reason to someone who was sceptical of it.
The second will become clear when subtle points made in this essay are used to defend later ones.

What is reason?
We all talk about reason, seeing reason, using reason, being rational, what exactly is it and why are we doing it?
Sometimes when we use a word or concept so much we can take it for granted and forget where it came from. When this happens, we might want to take a step back and try to imagine how we would explain it to someone who had not come across it before, or remember how we first came across it ourselves.

To me, reason is the method by which we settle disputes over the truth.
This dispute needn't be between two people. Perhaps you yourself have found yourself with two beliefs that contradict themselves. Perhaps you are entertaining a position that contradicts a belief of yours in order to test this belief against possible objections.
When we come across two positions that contradict each other, only one of them can be right. How do we choose which one? This is where the methods of reason come into play.
From here, there are two approaches to take.
One would be to build positive arguments in favour of your position.
Perhaps you can show that your position logically follows from beliefs that your opponent holds.
Another possibility is to show problems in your opponents argument. Perhaps their position contradict other beliefs of theirs, or perhaps you
It is possible an argument will be a clear cut, undisputable, absolute proof.
In reality, especially with more complex arguments, the difference won't be so clear cut and we will have to settle by noting that one position faces more problems than the other or that one position has a stronger case in it's favour.

Ways to criticise and defend a position
There appear to be two main ways to criticise a position, both of which are coupled with a corresponding method of justification.
The first one involves a use of logic.
You can use logic to criticise a position by showing a contradiction in your opponent's position. It might be that their position contradicts another one of their beliefs, or maybe the position itself involves an internal contradiction.
The corresponding positive argument is logical inference, where you show that your opponent denies your position they contradict one of their beliefs in the process, so they must choose between accepting your position or giving up this belief of theirs.
I write more about logic in another essay.

The other way to criticise an opponents belief involves observation.
If we are debating the existence of a mythical creature then the observation might be of the creature. We might criticise an observation by claiming that they saw something else and mistook a different animal for the mythical creature, maybe back this up with reasons why they might've made this error, e.g. they weren't wearing their glasses.
On the other hand, we could make a positive argument by showing someone this creature with their own eyes, so they observe it for themselves.
The type of observation will vary with the question.
For instance, questioning the tautology "all bachelors are married" involves questioning the meanings of the words involved. We could settle a dispute on the meanings of words by observing how other people use them, or observe how we ourselves tend to use them in particular contexts.
A mind experiment can be an observation in this way, as it observes how we naturally apply the concepts we are looking at.

So why reason?
It's not that reason in general needs justifying - after all, the demand for justification is itself an action of reason. It's that reason can be applied in various ways, each way for a different purpose, so particular applications might need justifying.
That's why it is worth recognising the purpose of reason, so we can recognise when we are mis-using it.
If we were to dispute whether cows exist then we could settle the question by observing the physical object of the cow.
If, on the other hand, the dispute was over the existence of there being a prime number between 3 and 6, trying to observe a physical object would be completely the wrong way to go about it - you would have to seriously misunderstand the question at hand to try and solve it through that method.
This example is obvious and is not a mistake that we are likely to make in real life, but it shows the kind of mistake that can be made and might make us wonder if there are more subtle examples that we might have missed.

One of the key points of the essays that follow will be to take account for a factor that many of us seem to forget - that reason is done for a purpose and when this is forgotten the rules of reason can be mis-applied, sometimes dogmatically.
Another key point is that reason is something we do, so if we say that someone's belief is irrational then we are making claims about how the person has treated that belief rather than the content of that belief. So to claim that theism is irrational already sounds a bit strange as the rationality is being judged by the content of the belief, rather than how the person in question came to this belief.


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Strafio wrote: So why

Strafio wrote:
So why reason?
It's not that reason in general needs justifying - after all, the demand for justification is itself an action of reason. It's that reason can be applied in various ways, each way for a different purpose, so particular applications might need justifying.
That's why it is worth recognising the purpose of reason, so we can recognise when we are mis-using it.

This is exactly on target.  Saying somehting is "reasonable" doesn't mean that it is observed, it means that the conclusion follows from the conditions, and that the conditions are strong assumptions.

There is a current thread on this subject titled "A reasonable belief in God." (it is in the Atheists vs. Theists section)  You should take a look at it. 


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RationalDeist

RationalDeist wrote:

Strafio wrote:
So why reason?
It's not that reason in general needs justifying - after all, the demand for justification is itself an action of reason. It's that reason can be applied in various ways, each way for a different purpose, so particular applications might need justifying.
That's why it is worth recognising the purpose of reason, so we can recognise when we are mis-using it.

This is exactly on target.  Saying somehting is "reasonable" doesn't mean that it is observed, it means that the conclusion follows from the conditions, and that the conditions are strong assumptions.

There is a current thread on this subject titled "A reasonable belief in God." (it is in the Atheists vs. Theists section)  You should take a look at it. 

Perhaps you should re-read the OP.

" To me, reason is the method by which we settle disputes over the truth."

 

See any glaring differences between your and his thesis?

 

He isn't arguing that belief  can be rationally adopted based on fear, or 'happiness' but rather that theism can be the result of a rational process.

Yours isn't.

 

(edit spel, clarification)


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gregfl

gregfl wrote:
RationalDeist wrote:

Strafio wrote:
So why reason?
It's not that reason in general needs justifying - after all, the demand for justification is itself an action of reason. It's that reason can be applied in various ways, each way for a different purpose, so particular applications might need justifying.
That's why it is worth recognising the purpose of reason, so we can recognise when we are mis-using it.

This is exactly on target. Saying somehting is "reasonable" doesn't mean that it is observed, it means that the conclusion follows from the conditions, and that the conditions are strong assumptions.

There is a current thread on this subject titled "A reasonable belief in God." (it is in the Atheists vs. Theists section) You should take a look at it.

 

Perhaps you should re-read the OP. He isn't arguing that belief can be rationally adopted based on fear, or 'happiness' but rather that theism can be the result of a rational process.

 

Yours ins't.

Perhaps you should re-read what I said.  I never said the OP argued that belief can be rationally adopted based on fear, or 'happiness' but rather pointed out that he correctly distinguished reason as a process of thought that attempts to arrive at a conclusion because of strong conditions.


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You said "exactly" and then

You said "exactly" and then referred him to your thread where you make exactly that claim.

 

Stop playing games.

 

 


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gregfl wrote: You said

gregfl wrote:

You said "exactly" and then referred him to your thread where you make exactly that claim.

 

Stop playing games.

 

Are you new to sentance structure?  After I said "exactly" I said "Saying somehting is "reasonable" doesn't mean that it is observed, it means that the conclusion follows from the conditions, and that the conditions are strong assumptions."  I was, of course, referring to this statement.  I use this fact to take a different perspective (from yours) on what is "reasonable" in my thread, but this fact has nothing to do with what I said.

wow... this has to be the most pointless discussion I have ever had.  I am arguing with someone about what I said.  And then he accuses ME of playing games! 


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RationalDeist

RationalDeist wrote:

 However, when you ask the question: "what happens after I die" the evidence in this world suddenly becomes worthless.  We know that our bodies rot away into dust, but this does not bring us any comfort.  In fact, it is this fact, and this fact alone, which can potentially make us fear death--fear it with such an inward pain that it can ruin our life.  But wait!  If our life is to be ruined by this fear of death, if we are to be afraid of what happens in the shade beyond--is that not reason to believe in a God?

Out of respect for Strafio's well thought out OP, I am not going to engage you in this pointless discussion.  Anyone interested can research the Op, your opening remark, and your rather silly 4 page thread on why it is reasonable to believe in god in order to codify your fear of death.

good day.


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um... why are you bringing

um... why are you bringing quotes from other threads and then accusing me of saying them regarding the current one?  Out of respect for this thread I too will drop this, no matter if you respond, but you should really just stop trying to decieve people.  What I said had nothing to do with my personal belief in God, it had to do with the definition of "reasonable."  Trust me, I know.  I am the one who wrote it after all

 

Anyway, very good OP Strafio, looking forward to commenting on the conclusion of it. 


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'Reason' is not just about

'Reason' is not just about settling disputes over 'truth', it is how we arrive at any non-obvious conclusions about reality, or what would be a 'reasonable' course of action in a given set of circumstances. The assumptions on which it is based do not have to 'strong', they merely should be 'reasonable' in the light of our own relevant experience to date. IOW, based on the balance of evidence as judged against our own knowledge.

Actions or conclusions are not 'reasonable' if they are based on emotional reactions or feelings and there are 'rational' arguments against them. If there is no rational, evidence-based argument to suggest the actions are ill-advised, then it may still be reasonable to follow a particular course, since indulging our emotional urges or desires is not necessarily a bad thing.

'Rational' or 'reasonable' arguments do not necessarily lead to valid conclusions, since they may be based on incorrect assumptions, or there may be subtle errors of logic which can easily happen in informal reasoning, especially about imprecisely defined premises. It would be itself unreasonable to declare someone as being unreasonable or irrational if they make such subtle errors. Rather we should suggest that, in our assessment, they have made an error.

So I would say that Theism is ultimately not reasonable because when serious effort is made to consider all the best available evidence and arguments, they don't hold up, in my judgement. I would assert this a reasonable statement for me to make, since I base it on a lot of investigation, reading and thought.

Now for a particular person it may be reasonable to hold to Theism if their education and experience to date does not provide them with evidence and tools of thought that would significantly contradict that conclusion.

However, if they hold to that position when presented with well-structured evidence and arguments that strongly suggest that their belief is not well supported, and indeed contradicts some good evidence, then it would be reasonable for us to suggest they are being unreasonable, especially if they seem to be intellectually capable of following the logic.

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BobSpence1 wrote: 'Reason'

BobSpence1 wrote:

'Reason' is not just about settling disputes over 'truth', it is how we arrive at any non-obvious conclusions about reality, or what would be a 'reasonable' course of action in a given set of circumstances.

Hi Bob,

I agree with this fair cohesive statement; I think Strafio's premise follows directly from either of those points wherever one regards truth based conclusions or actions to be the most reasonable. 

 

BobSpence wrote:

So I would say that Theism is ultimately not reasonable because when serious effort is made to consider all the best available evidence and arguments, they don't hold up, in my judgement. I would assert this a reasonable statement for me to make, since I base it on a lot of investigation, reading and thought.

I find it interesting that you say that, to me the opposite is true. It may be that we are applying different definitions of "serious" and "best available" in the context.

In my view serious effort to reason theology would comprise seeking knowledge of the mythos and tradition over a wide scope of culture and era, adding depth wherever the investigation uncovers theistic concepts valued more much, or more widely in the spectrum. While 'best available' to me comprises always the original or otherwise the most especially unique version of each story or argument. On that scale apologetics is the lowest of sources of information, being neither original nor especially unique in almost all cases, and as such gets a wide berth from me in terms of a serious effort to investigate. ie the arguments of other theologians barely factor in my acceptance of theology; original arguments by atheists get way more of my time.

And ultimately, my label here is theist, and that is accurate, I am wilingly identifying that way. 

We hold opposite conclusions through what it looks might be the same reasoning. What are your thoughts to that? Are the differences in the definitions I suggested? Or do you have other ideas?

 

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Strafio wrote:

Strafio wrote:
That's why it is worth recognising the purpose of reason, so we can recognise when we are mis-using it. If we were to dispute whether cows exist then we could settle the question by observing the physical object of the cow. If, on the other hand, the dispute was over the existence of there being a prime number between 3 and 6, trying to observe a physical object would be completely the wrong way to go about it - you would have to seriously misunderstand the question at hand to try and solve it through that method.

I think this point is really important to the subject at hand in this forum. While we are considering the question of whether a reasonable position for theistic beliefs exists, and subseqently conflate those beliefs we do end up looking for a cow somewhere between the numbers 3 and 6.

This happens when, for example, there is a lack of distinction between the concept of God and the concept of Spirit;

drawing on a recent discussion I have had here:

Using Strafio's examples one could say that the cow is spirit, and God is the prime number. That is to say, theology defines 'spirit' as observable of itself, and 'God' as observable only within the context of spirit. So it defies the question to ask for visible proof of God and not of spirit. A theist has not failed to defend their belief if they can not produce this result on demand, because it does not represent their belief accurately. Theology defines a method for observing God, not unlike Math defines a method for observing prime numbers. Theism is the act of following this predefined method and to think otherwise is to misunderstand the question of theism.

Secondly, if I was to tell you that a cow existed and you had no previous knowledge of 'cow' or what entity the word entailed, I could, for all purposes, show you a lump of coal to prove the existence of a cow. The word itself has no intrinsic meaning until meaning is assigned, its a well used point but an important one here - The question of the existence of a cow arises when I tell you that a cow is a large four legged creature which grazes on land, and makes a mooing sound. Those details are what proves the existence of the cow when it is observed. Without the constraint of these qualifying statements a cow can be a lump of coal and in the absence of cows I can prove to you that one exists.

Likewise with the concept of spirit.

Spirit is not going to jump out at the observer and declare "Here I am, I'm SPIRIT!" on demand. The cows existence is ascertained by independent observation, made by someone who is under no obligation to call it a cow, only to verify the defined properties are visible in the defined format. This is how the observer and the claimant come to agreement on the truth of it's existence, what they call it makes no difference to that, they can agree to call it cow, or they can go separate ways - one calling it cow and the other calling it Bos taurus. In either case the existence of the observable proof is no longer under question.

The existence of a real 'place' where the dead are ostensibly alive, or the spirit world? the names are a matter of semantics when the properties are the same. The question of whether that precise definition of spirit world has a real counterpart is very much alive in brane cosmology.

And it is reasonable to say that where ever the claimant and the observer can agree that the defined properties have an observable quality of existence in the defined format, the claimant is holding a rational belief.

We get to this point only by a solid and appropriate method, if we fail this method, I feel I have demonstrated that, important conclusions go begging.

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Interesting choice,

Interesting choice, Strafio, to define reason in terms of resolving disagreements, rather than according to the more common mode of seeing reason as a system for consistently connecting causes and their effects. 

Defined in terms of disagrements, this meaning for "reason" strongly resembles the meaning for the classical term "dialectic."

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I wrote a long critique of

I wrote a long critique of this when it was a book page.  I'll try to remember as much of it as I can and reproduce it accurately.

Quote:
To me, reason is the method by which we settle disputes over the truth.

It may mean this to you, but it's much wider.  Reason is also used for arriving at conclusions when there is no dispute. 

If Suzy hops the 7:18 bus in Boston and Harry takes the 12:30 train from Philly, who will arrive in Syracuse first? 

When faced with this question, we use reason to determine what necessary information is missing from the question.  Then, we use math to derive the answer.  Both are processes of reason, and there is no dispute, either with another person or with ourself.

I suspect subterfuge with the use of this narrow definition of reason.  Why wouldn't you just use the commonly accepted definition?

 

Quote:
It is possible an argument will be a clear cut, undisputable, absolute proof.
In reality, especially with more complex arguments, the difference won't be so clear cut and we will have to settle by noting that one position faces more problems than the other or that one position has a stronger case in it's favour.

You're setting up an interesting equivocation.  In debate, it is often the case that there is not a single correct answer.  There are simply better or worse answers that are entirely dependent on the subjective goal of the debate.  Right now in Georgia, they're debating over a severe water shortage caused by ten years of drought.  The simple fact is, there are too many people wanting water, and not enough water to go around.  In this debate, there is not a single answer.  Whatever they decide on will be the position that won the debate, but it won't be objectively correct in the same way that an unmarried man is objectively a bachelor.

In describing the result of the debate, we can say that both sides are reasonable because we're dealing with highly subjective questions and vastly different points of view, each of which can be justified. 

There's a big, big difference between this and many of the fundamental questions we ask at RRS.  I'm going to leave this soapbox for a bit because I've already seen your next essay, and I know that I'll have plenty of opportunity to return to it.

 

Quote:
The first one involves a use of logic.

All critiques of a position involve logic.  I think you mean to say that we can demonstrate the invalidity of an argument using formal logic.

 

Quote:
The other way to criticise an opponents belief involves observation.
If we are debating the existence of a mythical creature then the observation might be of the creature. We might criticise an observation by claiming that they saw something else and mistook a different animal for the mythical creature, maybe back this up with reasons why they might've made this error, e.g. they weren't wearing their glasses.

This is still using logic, just informally.  Logic is the description of how we process data.  Formal logic is the codified representation of this processing.

In order to win a position in a debate, we must:

1) Formally prove the opposing argument to be invalid

2) Demonstrate a more parsimonious answer than the opponent

3) Demonstrate the inaccuracy or invalidity of the opponent's evidence.

 

Quote:
For instance, questioning the tautology "all bachelors are married" involves questioning the meanings of the words involved. We could settle a dispute on the meanings of words by observing how other people use them, or observe how we ourselves tend to use them in particular contexts.

Just to be clear, debate cannot occur until both sides agree on definitions.   Even in a debate over the meaning of a word, all the other words we will be using must have agreed upon definitions.

 

Quote:
It's not that reason in general needs justifying - after all, the demand for justification is itself an action of reason.

Reason is axiomatic, for questioning it requires using it.  Correct.

 

Quote:
That's why it is worth recognising the purpose of reason, so we can recognise when we are mis-using it.

This is where you're going astray.  There is no purpose of reason, any more than there is a purpose of a hammer.  A person has a purpose for using either a hammer or reason, and these purposes can be questioned, but reason is without purpose.  Reason, again, is the description of how we think.  It is objectively either valid or invalid.  

Quote:
Another key point is that reason is something we do, so if we say that someone's belief is irrational then we are making claims about how the person has treated that belief rather than the content of that belief.

No.  When we say a belief is irrational, we are saying that the content of the belief can be demonstrated to be logically invalid.

 

Quote:
So to claim that theism is irrational already sounds a bit strange as the rationality is being judged by the content of the belief, rather than how the person in question came to this belief.

The only thing that sounds strange so far is your definition of reason and your misuse of the term purpose.

 

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To be fair to RationalDeist,

To be fair to RationalDeist, although you guys might've had an easy time picking apart his position in that thread, that doesn't mean that he didn't have the right idea, just that his particular argument didn't get the details. I reckon that if he was to devellop his position to answer the criticisms, his argument would gradually take a similar shape to mine.

BobSpence1 wrote:
'Reason' is not just about settling disputes over 'truth', it is how we arrive at any non-obvious conclusions about reality, or what would be a 'reasonable' course of action in a given set of circumstances.

I actually consider this to be an example of 'settling a dispute'.
The bit in bold is the key word, showing that there's some kind of dispute. If something is obvious then it is clear that we don't need to question it. If something isn't obvious then doesn't that show some kind of dispute?

How do we tell whether something is obvious?
An intuitive doubt? Then our mind has offered a dispute.
Perhaps we thought something was obvious until someone else disputed it?
I think that my key point is that what should be considered 'obvious' or 'not obvious' is subjective and depends on whether the subject experiences a dispute on it.

At the moment, I can't think of a counter example that breaks this mold. I'll make it a challenge to you guys to see if you can find one.

Quote:

So I would say that Theism is ultimately not reasonable because when serious effort is made to consider all the best available evidence and arguments, they don't hold up, in my judgement. I would assert this a reasonable statement for me to make, since I base it on a lot of investigation, reading and thought.

Now for a particular person it may be reasonable to hold to Theism if their education and experience to date does not provide them with evidence and tools of thought that would significantly contradict that conclusion.

However, if they hold to that position when presented with well-structured evidence and arguments that strongly suggest that their belief is not well supported, and indeed contradicts some good evidence, then it would be reasonable for us to suggest they are being unreasonable, especially if they seem to be intellectually capable of following the logic.


I quoted this as it is uncannily close to the conclusion I came to over literalistic/fundamentalist forms theism. It's not necessarily an irrational position to hold but if someone doesn't gradually move on from it then that suggests that they're not really reasoning anymore.
I don't think that Dan Barker suddenly became rational, rather he was rational even as an evangelical Christian, so he was never going to stay one for long.

Where I disagree is by denying that all 'religion' and 'theism' is necessarily in a literalistic context, but that's a pretty muddy subject so I'll leave that there until we reach the appropiate essay in the series.


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Quote:

Eloise wrote:
BobSpence wrote:

So I would say that Theism is ultimately not reasonable because when serious effort is made to consider all the best available evidence and arguments, they don't hold up, in my judgement. I would assert this a reasonable statement for me to make, since I base it on a lot of investigation, reading and thought.

I find it interesting that you say that, to me the opposite is true. It may be that we are applying different definitions of "serious" and "best available" in the context.

By "serious" I simply means a careful and thorough approach to the issues, as distinct from a casual response. It also means I try take seriously the responses of the other person and address them as well. When the other person does not show signs of taking my arguments seriously and addressing them, but simply falls back to re-stating their own position, I begin to lose respect for that position. If they persist in this non-response, even when I attempt to present my position in different terms, on the charitable assumption that they are not familiar with the terminology or references that I have used, I feel further justified in assuming this person is not being 'reasonable'. I have encountered this situation many times in these and related forums, not just with regard to religious questions.

"Best available" simply means making sure that you have rounded up the best evidence for each aspect of the argument that I can personally locate. Obviously and inevitably, this will be in my honest opinion, but includes trying to find evidence/discussion that may best be meaningful and understandable to the person you are talking to.

Regarding your point about studying the various actual beliefs of various cultures, I am interested in that sort of thing, to an extent. It is indeed evidence of the psychology of belief, why people cling to these ideas, and I am very interested in this aspect. But unless the beliefs point to something outside their own minds, which can be tested and/or independently observed, there really is no evidence for the existence of the entities referred to in those beliefs as other than concepts.

If we are to take seriously as possibly real every idea that a significant number of people have become deeply convinced about, without any other kind of 'evidence', there are many ideas which have far more explicit and coherent internal content, more direct personal testimony, than most religions, maybe like UFO abduction stories, for example.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: It may

Hambydammit wrote:

It may mean this to you, but it's much wider. Reason is also used for arriving at conclusions when there is no dispute.

If Suzy hops the 7:18 bus in Boston and Harry takes the 12:30 train from Philly, who will arrive in Syracuse first?

When faced with this question, we use reason to determine what necessary information is missing from the question. Then, we use math to derive the answer. Both are processes of reason, and there is no dispute, either with another person or with ourself.


Lol! I guess this is that counter example I was talking about in my previous post. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether this counter example will take away from the argument at hand. Let's take a note of it and see if it bears any relevence to my later arguments.

Hambydammit wrote:

I suspect subterfuge with the use of this narrow definition of reason. Why wouldn't you just use the commonly accepted definition?


1) I'm not so sure that there is such a commonly accepted definition. I found you, BobSpence and Textom to all give slightly different opinions on reason. I did what philosophers always try to do and tried to capture an 'essence' to the concept.
It seems that I didn't really capture an absolute essence, but onto the next point:

2) Even if I didn't trully capture an 'essence' and my view of reason is just one of many, it was a good way to make people look at it for the topic at hand as it placed emphasis on our use of reason which is central to the arguments in this debate.
The purpose was to make a note of characteristic of reason that we usually take for granted, and that we don't usually account for in our arguments, to see whether taking note of it will make a difference.
Talking of the 'purpose' of reason:

Hambydammit wrote:
This is where you're going astray. There is no purpose of reason, any more than there is a purpose of a hammer.

Bear in mind that I'm using the word 'purpose' for the want of a better word.
What I'm getting at is that we could say that a hammer is good for certain tasks (e.g. banging nails) but not for others (e.g. chopping down trees) so we could say that some tasks use a hammer in a way that it is suited for but other don't. That's what I mean by the purpose of the hammer. (If you have a better word than purpose then suggest it!)

If you accept my premise that reason is a method, i.e. a tool, then it can be said to have purpose in a similar way. We would expect a person to use reason to work out a problem in mathematics but not to dodge a ball in the heat of the moment. That's an obvious example and whether this kind of 'purpose' has any relevence to RRS debate is yet to be shown, but you get what I mean by purpose now?

Hambydammit wrote:
A person has a purpose for using either a hammer or reason, and these purposes can be questioned, but reason is without purpose. Reason, again, is the description of how we think. It is objectively either valid or invalid.

If someone asked you a question and suggested that you might take a guess or use reason, would you feel that you had a choice or would your brain just take it's course regardless?
If you do have a choice then is does make sense to talk about reason as if it's a tool that we can apply or not depending on the situation. What's more, this application can be judged on practical grounds. Are we using the hammer to smash thing or are we trying to use it as a pogo stick?
Are we using it appropiately or not?

That's the important points covered.
The rest of this post was mainly technical disagreements, which might just be a bit pedantic, but subtle details like these might also turn out to be quite important so here goes:

Strafio wrote:
In reality, especially with more complex arguments, the difference won't be so clear cut and we will have to settle by noting that one position faces more problems than the other or that one position has a stronger case in it's favour.

Hambydammit wrote:
You're setting up an interesting equivocation. In debate, it is often the case that there is not a single correct answer. There are simply better or worse answers that are entirely dependent on the subjective goal of the debate.

Fair point, but these aren't the kinds of debates I had in mind.
I actually had scientific debate in mind.
It'll become clearer where I'm coming from in the third essay where I talk about paradigms. Is that the essay in which you were planning to return with this point? Something to look forward to. Smiling

Hambydammit wrote:

This is still using logic, just informally. Logic is the description of how we process data. Formal logic is the codified representation of this processing.


I disagree here.
I see logic as using our linguistic mode of processing.
Intuition and emotions are also forms of processing data but I wouldn't consider them to be 'logic'.
The distinction I was trying to make between logic and observation in the classic distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge.

Hambydammit wrote:

Just to be clear, debate cannot occur until both sides agree on definitions. Even in a debate over the meaning of a word, all the other words we will be using must have agreed upon definitions.


Hmmm... I think this is a tad idealistic.
In reality, language will differ subtly from person to person and often it won't be until we hit major disagreements that we realise we have been using words in a different way.

Another point I should make is that I tend to use the word 'definition' as to be how we use a word. I think technically, definition is supposed to mean a formal rule for using a word, defining it in terms of other words. In which case we have recognise that most of our words are 'undefined' and we are relying on our natural grasp of them.

These points were possibly a bit pendantic and might not add to the debate, but you never know! Smiling


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I can't help feeling like

I can't help feeling like this all boils down to an equivocation.

If the best evidence I know supports the conclusion that UFOs exist, then my belief in UFOs is rational. 

If the best evidence available (known by man) supports the conclusions that UFOs do not exist, then the belief that UFOs exist is irrational.

 

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Quote:

Strafio wrote:
BobSpence1 wrote:
'Reason' is not just about settling disputes over 'truth', it is how we arrive at any non-obvious conclusions about reality, or what would be a 'reasonable' course of action in a given set of circumstances.

I actually consider this to be an example of 'settling a dispute'.
The bit in bold is the key word, showing that there's some kind of dispute. If something is obvious then it is clear that we don't need to question it. If something isn't obvious then doesn't that show some kind of dispute?

I don't think so. I am talking about the case where I simply lack a current explanation or deeper understanding of something. IOW, it's not about a dispute between competing explanations, it is about acquiring some explanation in the first place.

And of course I am talking about subjective terms, that is my point - this statement was precisely about my personal road to acquiring a better personal understanding of reality in terms which makes sense to me. Often, of course, when I seek help by researching what other people have put forward as explanations, I will encounter ideas which conflict with my current conclusions, and with those of others. This is where ways of assessing competing ideas comes in. This is a whole subject in itself, of course.

This is where I see a fundamental difference in the approach of people who typically but not exclusively are inclined to theism, supernatural and similar types of ideas, and people like myself who incline more to what may be called the naturalistic outlook. It is, to me, centred around just what are the criteria you use to decide whether a particular proposition, up to including a whole word-view, is worth serious consideration or even full adoption.

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Hambydammit wrote: I can't

Hambydammit wrote:

I can't help feeling like this all boils down to an equivocation.

If the best evidence I know supports the conclusion that UFOs exist, then my belief in UFOs is rational.

If the best evidence available (known by man) supports the conclusions that UFOs do not exist, then the belief that UFOs exist is irrational.

 


Hmmm...
I'll admit that I've not really been thinking of 'irrational' in that second sense. This does affect some aspects of my argument, but not the most important parts. Again, we'll have to see what impact it has as the debate goes on.

I'd've used the word 'wrong' for that second def before, but I can see a clear distinction between 'irrational' and 'wrong', e.g. Aristotelien physics was wrong back in it's day but not irrational, wheras nowdays it would be both.


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Quote: I'd've used the word

Quote:
I'd've used the word 'wrong' for that second def before, but I can see a clear distinction between 'irrational' and 'wrong', e.g. Aristotelien physics was wrong back in it's day but not irrational, wheras nowdays it would be both.

You're doing it again.  Call it wrong, call it ignorant, call it irrational, call it a glass of warm milk if you like.  A person can rationally (having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense) believe in a god if they are not aware that the belief in god is actually irrational (not in accordance with reason)

 

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
I'd've used the word 'wrong' for that second def before, but I can see a clear distinction between 'irrational' and 'wrong', e.g. Aristotelien physics was wrong back in it's day but not irrational, wheras nowdays it would be both.

You're doing it again. Call it wrong, call it ignorant, call it irrational, call it a glass of warm milk if you like. A person can rationally (having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense) believe in a god if they are not aware that the belief in god is actually irrational (not in accordance with reason)

 


I thought I'd gotten it right that time?
Given that your standard for rationality was "given the best evidence known to man", bearing in mind that we had different evidence back in the days of Aristotle...
Not that we, looking back, could say that it was rational but if we'd been around at the time then it would've been the right thing to call rational.

Anyway, although your definition might undermime my argument that literalistic/fundamentalistic theism can potentially be rational, I'm not so sure it does the same to the rest of it. We're not going to get there for a while though.


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I would be inclined to say

I would be inclined to say someone is holding onto a belief irrationally if they become aware that there is considerable informed opinion against that belief and they make no effort to examine that opinion and weigh it against their own 'reasons' for holding to the belief. IOW not even considering alternative ideas is a major sign of an irrationally held belief, even if the person originally came to the belief 'rationally', ie based on (limited) evidence available to them at the time.

Not being prepared to update your understanding of the world in the light of new information is a sure sign of un-reasonably held beliefs.

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I should add that, in

I should add that, in practice, we have to rank 'alternative ideas' in terms of some sort of prima facie 'reasonableness', or we will burden ourselves with the obligation to spend much unproductive time wrestling with every off-the-wall proposition out there, or risk being labelled unfair or intellectually dishonest.

Am I being unreasonable in dismissing flat-earthers, hollow-earthers, Heaven's Gate believers, etc, etc, without having read all their documents? Because I personally put Xian belief in much the same category, am I being unfair in my dismissal of apologeticist 'arguments', and essentially all of Theology, without studying them? Maybe, but it all comes to my current personal assessment of the likelihood of those arguments having enough substance to be worth spending part of the finite amount of time I have available for such things.

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Hambydammit wrote: You're

Hambydammit wrote:

You're doing it again. Call it wrong, call it ignorant, call it irrational, call it a glass of warm milk if you like. A person can rationally (having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense) believe in a god if they are not aware that the belief in god is actually irrational (not in accordance with reason)

this is a meaningless statement.  Its a tautology without expanding our perspectives of the matter at hand.  Saying that someone can have a rational view if they do not know that it is irrational is like saying that someone can like vanilla ice cream if they do not know that they hate vanilla ice cream. To assume that belief in God is irrational like you have done in your argument, before the argument over whether it is irrational is actually made, is pointless.


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RationalDeist

RationalDeist wrote:
Hambydammit wrote:

You're doing it again. Call it wrong, call it ignorant, call it irrational, call it a glass of warm milk if you like. A person can rationally (having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense) believe in a god if they are not aware that the belief in god is actually irrational (not in accordance with reason)

this is a meaningless statement. Its a tautology without expanding our perspectives of the matter at hand. Saying that someone can have a rational view if they do not know that it is irrational is like saying that someone can like vanilla ice cream if they do not know that they hate vanilla ice cream. To assume that belief in God is irrational like you have done in your argument, before the argument over whether it is irrational is actually made, is pointless.

Not a good analogy.

I would rephrase Hamby's argument this way: that is is not irrational to hold a particular belief while you are unaware that there are very strong widely-accepted counter arguments.

EDIT: IOW the second use of the term 'irrational" clearly refers to a general consensus, whereas the first refers to reasoning of the individual in question, so it is clearly not a tautology. 

EDIT: You presumably will disagree about the existence of those counter-arguments, but that will just take us to the standard Theist-vs-Atheist debate, not quite the topic of this thread.

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BobSpence1 wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:
Eloise wrote:
BobSpence wrote:

So I would say that Theism is ultimately not reasonable because when serious effort is made to consider all the best available evidence and arguments, they don't hold up, in my judgement. I would assert this a reasonable statement for me to make, since I base it on a lot of investigation, reading and thought.

I find it interesting that you say that, to me the opposite is true. It may be that we are applying different definitions of "serious" and "best available" in the context.

By "serious" I simply means a careful and thorough approach to the issues, as distinct from a casual response. It also means I try take seriously the responses of the other person and address them as well. When the other person does not show signs of taking my arguments seriously and addressing them, but simply falls back to re-stating their own position, I begin to lose respect for that position. If they persist in this non-response, even when I attempt to present my position in different terms, on the charitable assumption that they are not familiar with the terminology or references that I have used, I feel further justified in assuming this person is not being 'reasonable'. I have encountered this situation many times in these and related forums, not just with regard to religious questions.

I think we can safely say that our underlying concept of 'serious effort' are equivalent. In a serious effort you extend an exceptionally fair hearing to the claim, as opposed to a cursory or, even, strictly fair one. Clearly our differences lie most in what material evidence we attend, not how we attend it.

And I think in that case that a reason for our difference of opinion arises from a not uncommon conflation of theism and theologics that we are both falling into.

Your atheism is a position taken in response to your experience of theism, in precise terms, not to be confused with your position on theology which is mostly filtered through theism and as such goes wholly in support of the conclusion that theism is irrational. In the precise terms - 'Theism is' irrational - your conclusion is empirically valid, if we agree to define theism as the identified position of an average theist. In those terms, it would seem you are not even referring to theologics outside of the filter of average theistic expression. In qualification, I presume you are referring to it some, but only to a limited extent. What you are referring to lies essentially in the basis upon which you mount your conclusion and that basis is theism (as defined above) as opposed to theologics of itself.

Then if I conflate the subjects which we are speaking in reference to, by assuming that your basis for your conclusion about theism is theological when it essentially isn't, I would be unable to see how we come to different conclusions via the same reasoning.

Ultimately I can see the validity of your position as I equally find theism (defined as above) all too frequently irrational and what appears in most of those cases to correspond as theologics is just as often equally irrational. To wit, theologics filtered through the vast majority of theism is irrational.

So far we have not disagreed, I believe.

BobSpence wrote:

"Best available" simply means making sure that you have rounded up the best evidence for each aspect of the argument that I can personally locate. Obviously and inevitably, this will be in my honest opinion, but includes trying to find evidence/discussion that may best be meaningful and understandable to the person you are talking to.

I think we can also say that underlying our individual concepts of Best available there is a major difference.

In defining best available I have made a value judgement which you did not make. If I am reading you correctly when you seek 'best available' information it is motivated by immediate circumstances of need, whereas when I seek 'best available' information it is motivated by desire. We are likely to be working from different information in our conclusion on the basis that best avaliable to me, includes information that is not immediately useful (desire motivation) and best available to you is likely to involve frequent rejection of not-immediately-useful information (need motivation).

 

Quote:

If we are to take seriously as possibly real every idea that a significant number of people have become deeply convinced about, without any other kind of 'evidence', there are many ideas which have far more explicit and coherent internal content,

 

I can only say, not necessarily. But this goes to the difference I have suggested in my first paragraph in this post, while I agree that theologics in common theism is internally incoherent, I do not agree that we can state those two things (theologics and theism) as being universally equivalent and thusly i contend the incoherence of theism does not necessarily extend to the underlying theologics.

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Hambydammit wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

I can't help feeling like this all boils down to an equivocation.

If the best evidence I know supports the conclusion that UFOs exist, then my belief in UFOs is rational.

If the best evidence available (known by man) supports the conclusions that UFOs do not exist, then the belief that UFOs exist is irrational.

 

Agreed, Hamby. And which of those is the position of RRS as defined by it's catchcry 'mind disorder of theism' is the controversy.

I think the catchcry is ambiguous and goes to both of those views. Where it is strongest is where it goes to the view that a theist is holding to an irrationally based belief. It is less strong on the view of generalising theism as categorically irrational. But in certain circumstances I would hold that distinction to be trivial, such as wherever the vast and overwhelming dominant concept of theism is irrational, and in being a vast and overwhelming dominant majority it is, of itself, ostensibly, the definition of theism; wheresoever deviations from this majority pale in significance the general statement is strong and valid.

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I can only speak for

I can only speak for myself.  I hold that the belief in god is irrational.  Individuals may have rational beliefs in god because of their ignorance.

 

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[quote+Eloise]

Eloise wrote:
BobSpence wrote:

"Best available" simply means making sure that you have rounded up the best evidence for each aspect of the argument that I can personally locate. Obviously and inevitably, this will be in my honest opinion, but includes trying to find evidence/discussion that may best be meaningful and understandable to the person you are talking to.

I think we can also say that underlying our individual concepts of Best available there is a major difference.

In defining best available I have made a value judgement which you did not make. If I am reading you correctly when you seek 'best available' information it is motivated by immediate circumstances of need, whereas when I seek 'best available' information it is motivated by desire. We are likely to be working from different information in our conclusion on the basis that best avaliable to me, includes information that is not immediately useful (desire motivation) and best available to you is likely to involve frequent rejection of not-immediately-useful information (need motivation).

I don't quite see what you are getting at with this 'immediate', 'need', and 'desire' business. I just seek evidence which is relevant, clearly-presented and documented/referenced, if I am talking about third party articles/links. I would also describe what I personally consider the most relevant and well-established facts about the universe, history, human behaviour, etc. that I am aware of, and why I think they support my position rather than Theism. These qualities are what I 'desire' - I 'desire' to present the most compelling and honest argument I can.

Assuming we are considering variations of the God concept that are not internally incoherent or contradictory, I think they are neither provable or disprovable. To me they are just speculations which unnecessarily add an entity to existence which raises more questions than it 'answers'. It is arguable that a God which is essentially just a abstract concept which some people feel allows them to personally have a framework for thinking about existence and experience are not being irrational. But this not the concept which we at RRS are targeting primarily.

We may have a problem even with this 'God' if the believer wants to use it to justify some action or position which affects other people.

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BobSpence1 wrote: Not a

BobSpence1 wrote:

Not a good analogy.

I would rephrase Hamby's argument this way: that is is not irrational to hold a particular belief while you are unaware that there are very strong widely-accepted counter arguments.

well this makes considerably more sense.  But he was defining what is irrational using the term irrational.

 

Quote:
EDIT: IOW the second use of the term 'irrational" clearly refers to a general consensus, whereas the first refers to reasoning of the individual in question, so it is clearly not a tautology.

ok, now I see what he was getting at.  Thanks for clarifying.

 

Quote:
EDIT: You presumably will disagree about the existence of those counter-arguments, but that will just take us to the standard Theist-vs-Atheist debate, not quite the topic of this thread.
why would you presume that?  There are very significant counter-arguments against theism.


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When we reach a conclusion,

When we reach a conclusion, we have used either valid or invalid logic. If we have used invalid logic, even if our conclusion is true, our reasoning is irrational.

Assuming valid reasoning and false premises, we can say that a person is holding a rational belief based on his acceptance of false premises.

If one holds such a belief, and is presented with overwhelming evidence that his premises are false, and continues to believe, then he is holding an irrational belief.

So, to be precise, I don't think that all theists are irrational. I reserve that moniker only for those who comprehend the arguments against theism and still believe.

I hold that as a concept, theism is entirely irrational.

 

 

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By the way Hamby, did you

By the way Hamby, did you catch my answers do your objections on to the 'purpose' of reason?
I just wanted to be sure as it's a key point.
I addressed it on the previous page.
Ta.

I appreciate all the reading and critique from everyone btw.
Keep it up! Smiling


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Hambydammit wrote: When we

Hambydammit wrote:

When we reach a conclusion, we have used either valid or invalid logic. If we have used invalid logic, even if our conclusion is true, our reasoning is irrational.

Assuming valid reasoning and false premises, we can say that a person is holding a rational belief based on his acceptance of false premises.

If one holds such a belief, and is presented with overwhelming evidence that his premises are false, and continues to believe, then he is holding an irrational belief.

So, to be precise, I don't think that all theists are irrational. I reserve that moniker only for those who comprehend the arguments against theism and still believe.

I hold that as a concept, theism is entirely irrational.

 

Assuming valid reasoning and false premises, we can say that a person is holding a rational belief based on his acceptance of false premises.

If one holds such a belief, and is presented with overwhelming evidence that his premises are false, and continues to believe, then he is holding an irrational belief.

So, to be precise, I don't think that all theists are irrational. I reserve that moniker only for those who comprehend the arguments against theism and still believe.

I hold that as a concept, Atheism is entirely irrational.

 

Strange how your argument is so pointless when the tables are switched, isn't it?  You are full of yourself, are you not, when you claim that "should theists see the evidence that I have, they HAVE to believe what I believe, because MY choices are the RIGHT choices."

This is the kind of reasoning has caused the death of thousands of people in the crusades, the witch burnings, and 9/11.  I would have thought that people who could use logic would have understood by now that they are human, and can not know or understand everything about the world.   

To claim such a thing is, by the definition of irrational that many posters here have defined, the most irrational thing to do.  It is to not allow change in your opinion, no matter the arguments brought against your opinion. 

 

 


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Quote: Strange how your

Quote:
Strange how your argument is so pointless when the tables are switched, isn't it?

Only if they were switched, and only if I had made an argument. All of those points you quoted are technically contentions. I made no "Therefore" statement. Therefore (Note the presence of an argument here) I did not make an argument.

Quote:
You are full of yourself, are you not, when you claim that "should theists see the evidence that I have, they HAVE to believe what I believe, because MY choices are the RIGHT choices."

People may believe whatever they wish after they have seen the evidence I've seen. My beliefs are, to the best of my knowledge, logically valid, and have withstood every attempted refutation I've ever heard. Judging by the complete lack of refutation and the logical cogency of my beliefs, it is fair to say that my beliefs are the objectively correct beliefs.

Note that I have used the word belief instead of choice. You would do well to study the difference.

Quote:
This is the kind of reasoning has caused the death of thousands of people in the crusades, the witch burnings, and 9/11. I would have thought that people who could use logic would have understood by now that they are human, and can not know or understand everything about the world.

Save the schmaltz for someone who cares about appeals to emotion.

Prove me wrong or stop bitching.

Quote:
To claim such a thing is, by the definition of irrational that many posters here have defined, the most irrational thing to do. It is to not allow change in your opinion, no matter the arguments brought against your opinion.

Have you actually read what the atheist position is? We welcome anyone who can prove us wrong. I'll be the first one to admit I'm wrong just as soon as someone proves it.

After you've studied the difference between belief and choice, look up projection. I'm sick and tired of theists projecting their own immovability onto me.

 

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I seems to me that the core

I seems to me that the core dispute here is still whether there actually are cogent arguments for some version of Theism.

There does seem to be some agreement with the principle that someone can be considered rational in arriving at a position through applying normal rational thought processes to the evidence they are aware of, even if there is other evidence or arguments they were not aware of which invalidate their position.

Theism/Atheism are not symmetrical positions, with a dispute between who has marshalled the 'best' arguments and evidence.

The first point is that the argument is about the existence or not of some specific entity. So it is still up to the Theist to provide evidence and arguments for the existence of this entity, and for the Atheist to show the flaws in those arguments. This is the 'Burden of Proof'.

Secondly, it is obvious that there are fundamental differences about what constitutes 'evidence' and what kinds of a argument are valid and even applicable to this subject, including dispute over whether the 'Burden of Proof' just mentioned applies here.

It seems to me that Theists resort to inventing whole new kinds of logic and principles of argument (like 'Theologics' ) to justify their position, when standard logic and rational argument fail them, as they consistently seem to, to both myself and many people associated with RRS.

Many (not myself) have come from a position of strong belief, which they tried to justify by logical argument, and show it was consistent with new information they learned, especially from science, and realized it doesn't work.

At this point, people either 'let go of God', like Julia Sweeney, or decide that the problem must be with 'rationality' or 'reason' itself, so there must be some other 'valid' way of arriving at the 'truth', which they assume, implicitly, that they already possess. Ironically they then typically proceed to use reason to show the 'problems' with reason.

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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Hambydammit wrote: Only if

Hambydammit wrote:

Only if they were switched, and only if I had made an argument. All of those points you quoted are technically contentions. I made no "Therefore" statement. Therefore (Note the presence of an argument here) I did not make an argument.

if you had no argument to make, why did you say anything at all?  What was the point of the post?  Are you saying that you were a spammer?

beside, you had an indirect point, your point was that "theism is irrational", but without any argument.

 

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People may believe whatever they wish after they have seen the evidence I've seen. My beliefs are, to the best of my knowledge, logically valid, and have withstood every attempted refutation I've ever heard. Judging by the complete lack of refutation and the logical cogency of my beliefs, it is fair to say that my beliefs are the objectively correct beliefs.

it is fine to believe this while you are trying to make a point, but it is hard to justify being so direct about it.  Calling other people irrational or not willing to look at the evidence in a reasonable fassion because they don't hold your beliefs is dirrectly in conflict with reasonable debate.

 

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Note that I have used the word belief instead of choice. You would do well to study the difference.

ok... so what is your point? 

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Have you actually read what the atheist position is?

yes

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We welcome anyone who can prove us wrong. I'll be the first one to admit I'm wrong just as soon as someone proves it.

you are asking the wrong questions.

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After you've studied the difference between belief and choice, look up projection. I'm sick and tired of theists projecting their own immovability onto me.

oh yes, my opinion that you say your beliefs are immovable is because I am projecting myself onto you, and not because you said that all other beliefs are irrational.  Good point


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Dude, he was merely

Dude, he was merely clarifying his position in response to my criticisms. The question was whether rational/irrational was applicable to a belief/concept itself, rather than depending purely on the methodology of the person who came to it.

Although I agree that his definition is coherent, which was a bit more than I wanted to conceed Sad, it still doesn't quite sit right with me. It appears to be closer to our common application of the word 'correct' rather than our common use of the word 'reason'.
Having said that, I think that the word is commonly used this way in formal philosophy/science so I think that weigh's strongly in his favour.

I think that from here I'd use the ambiguity and it's potential for being misunderstood as a reason not to use it:
1) If you call theism irrational, people are likely to misunderstand you, and as a group that aims for clarity and precision then it seems we'd do better to use a different wording that isn't so easily misunderstood.
2) A lot of the rhetorical effect of the word 'irrational' comes from it's association with the common usage, and atheists usually intend to make full use of this rhetorical effect when they call theism irrational. (I think this is the point that Eloise was making)


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Quote: if you had no

Quote:
if you had no argument to make, why did you say anything at all? What was the point of the post? Are you saying that you were a spammer?

Because someone asked me to clarify my points.

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beside, you had an indirect point, your point was that "theism is irrational", but without any argument.

Read whatever you like into it.

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it is fine to believe this while you are trying to make a point, but it is hard to justify being so direct about it. Calling other people irrational or not willing to look at the evidence in a reasonable fassion because they don't hold your beliefs is dirrectly in conflict with reasonable debate.

I am undisturbed by your lack of agreement with my normative conclusions.

Reasonable debate is not about people's feelings. It is about whether things are true or false -- irrational or rational. If I take a side in a debate, I must declare a position. I care not that you are offended by my directness. If you can refute me, then refute me. If you are offended, try beer. It always helps me chill out.

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ok... so what is your point?

You have equivocated between belief and choice. I suggested that you learn the philosophical differences between the two so that you could correct your mistake. I have no desire to explain it to you. Do a google search.

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you are asking the wrong questions.

I'm waiting for the justifiable demonstration of this assertion. Until it is forthcoming, I will file your statement with all the other naked assertions I've heard.

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oh yes, my opinion that you say your beliefs are immovable is because I am projecting myself onto you, and not because you said that all other beliefs are irrational. Good point

Correct. I have never said my beleifs are immovable. I have only said that they are as yet unrefuted, and that they have every appearance of being both valid and sound. Since I've never said they are immovable, the conclusion that you are projecting is reasonable.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote: 1) If you call

Quote:
1) If you call theism irrational, people are likely to misunderstand you, and as a group that aims for clarity and precision then it seems we'd do better to use a different wording that isn't so easily misunderstood.

Ah!  Now we're talking about something completely different.  I have my own opinions on this, but frankly, Brian, Kelly, Rook, Yellow, Rich, and I have had very in depth conversations about it, and we're unlikely to change our approach.  I hope you don't consider it rude that I decline the conversation.   I simply don't have enough hours in the day to engage in something that will end up in a normative discussion anyway.

 

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2) A lot of the rhetorical effect of the word 'irrational' comes from it's association with the common usage, and atheists usually intend to make full use of this rhetorical effect when they call theism irrational. (I think this is the point that Eloise was making)

Many have made this point.  We understand it fully, and are aware that there are many who disagree with our approach.

As you've seen from my debate with you in both your essays, I have a very defendable position.  At most, I can be accused of allowing misunderstanding, but I cannot be accused of promoting it.  My argument is in plain sight, and anyone coming here asking about the irrationality of theism will be exposed to my argument.  Whether they feel they've been manipulated or not is not really my concern.

 

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Although I agree that his definition is coherent, which was a bit more than I wanted to conceed Sad, it still doesn't quite sit right with me. It appears to be closer to our common application of the word 'correct' rather than our common use of the word 'reason'.
Having said that, I think that the word is commonly used this way in formal philosophy/science so I think that weigh's strongly in his favour.

I understand what you're getting at, Strafio, and I respect it.  At the risk of sounding ostentatiously didactic, because I definitely don't mean it that way, I think that if you refined your argument, you'd get little or no argument from anyone at RRS.  You're close to having a coherent argument.  As you've deftly pointed out, language is vague, and we're using a very specific and precise meaning of "irrational."  If you want to accuse us of marketing, you can, but I don't think you have a leg to stand on when you accuse us of saying something false.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: If you

Hambydammit wrote:
If you want to accuse us of marketing, you can, but I don't think you have a leg to stand on when you accuse us of saying something false.

Yeah, I guess that's a different argument altogether.
As it happens, I actually accept the RRS argument of 'going too far' for political purposes, as sometimes you need to be a bit controversial in order to get people's attention.
Like you guys say, it's an approach to fit the political climate of the day.

Now we've got it clarified I don't see the need to take this part of the argument further.
That doesn't end my argument though.
Like I've said before, I don't think you'll find my essays controversial until the 5th one. We'll see what happens when we get there.