The concept of Hersey

todangst
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The concept of Hersey

I wrote some of this years ago. I'm going to edit it a bit and post it here... with one addition: while heresy is a religious concept, atheists could fall prey to thinking in terms of heresy too.... so let's all be on the lookout for this type of thinking when it creeps up in our own thoughts.

HERESY

Definition:

"The act of asking one's pastor or priest a question he can't answer."

Ok, officially, "heresy" is an opinion or a doctrine at variance with established religious beliefs, especially dissension from or denial of Roman Catholic dogma by a professed believer or baptized church member.

The concept of heresy ought to arouse any theist's critical thinking skills....in fact it would serve as an indicator of the falsity of religion, as any system that was undeniably true would hardly need to fear and punish doubters.

In science, for example, criticism of a new theory is eagerly sought after by theorists, for the failures to disprove the theory serve to validate its truth. For example, quantum theorists wanted the great Einstein to try and knock their theories down. Einstein's failure to knock down quantum theory (particularly the work of Niels Bohr) helped support quantum theory - if the brilliant Einstein could not disprove it, then this served to show the theory's strength.

Yes, scientists who postulated or even just supported the old, discarded theory may be upset, but "scientific heresy" serves science as a whole, it serves to discard false or inferior theories and to support true theories.

Shouldn't a true religion equally desire such rigorous challenges?

Here's a way to make my point even more clear. Imagine you are a furnniture salesman, about to sell a chair, and you are encountering a difficult customer who questions its craftsmanship. Your chair is one of the sturdiest chairs on the market, and can easily hold his weight. How do you confront your customer?

With anger?

With threats?

By ostracization?

By damning his soul?

No. You invite him to sit on the chair.

Now, imagine the chair is a repainted piece of rickety garbage. You have to prop it up against a wall to help it brace against even a mild wind. Yet you still must sell it. Now, you meet the same fellow, and need to unburden yourself of the chair. Do you let him sit on it?

NO.

You do all you can to pawn off the chair on him, without allowing him scrutinizing it. You might use the above mentioned techniques, if possible. And, if your own guilty conscience rises up during your sale... well, you'll have to use the same methods on yourself, right?

Those who doubt the law of gravity quickly gain an appreciation for the truth of it the second they defy it. "Newtonians" don't need to go around torturing doubters and enforcing acceptance - even their enemies can be compelled to recognize the law's verifiable and replicable proof. Those who refuse to appreciate the evidence defy gravity at their own peril. Burning at the stake would be superfluous - "Anti-Newtonians" would all perish given enough time.

Another way to see the problem with heresy is to consider a crude style of bluffing in poker. Some oafs try to bluff you by suddenly placing a large wager into the pot, and then make strong eye contact with you - imparting the message: "How dare you enter that pot when I have this powerful hand? You better fold." The message is clear - it is a threat. But the truth is that anyone who really possessed a good hand would have no fear of your hand and would GLADLY accept your addition to the pot, after all, its going to be his money. If he has the best hand, what does he have to fear?! A poker player with a winning hand welcomes challenge. He will win in the end. So he would never threaten you with the prospect of losing. A poker player who does so clearly tips off his actual hand as being weak, not strong.

From these examples it should be clear that a system of beliefs that fears "heretics" and actively seeks to silence them by threats of violence or excommunication, reveals that they do not trust in, or that unconsciously doubt, the veracity of their own beliefs. Challenges frighten them, yet challenges should only frighten those with false creeds.

I think we ought to all take this to heart in our debates, whatever side we are on... if we find ourselves feeling that our opponents words are heretical.... then we're clearly going down the wrong path.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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Rigor_OMortis
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Perhaps not...

What you say, todangst, works perfectly given that theere are only two distinct possible levels of logic: common logic and reverse logic.

Yet, we have no idea on which one of these two logic levels one's thinking is. Reverse-reverse logic is actually straight logic. Therefore, we cannot place one's logic on any level without an error margin of 50%... which is a lot.

Let's take the example of the poker player bluffing with a weak hand. How do you know that his intention is to give you a FALSE impression that his hand is weak? If we are to follow your logic, one should add more and more to the pot, until the bluffer fears too much for his own safety that he withdraws, knowing that the one with such reactions is a bluffer, and he will withdraw eventually, leaving quite a sum on the table. However, one with a very good hand might also have this reaction in order to entice players that follow your logic to place more and more in the pot, knowing that he will earn a lot more in the end. Tell me, how do you know in which one of these situations you find yourself ?

We all know that the basis of faith is almost solely the willingness to believe something. "Almost", because there's something more involved: the possibility of that faith being true. Until now, you have proven that Jehowah, Allah, etc. do not exist as they were described, but you did not prove that A God that nobody has yet defined doesn't exist. Therefore, taking some unexplainable elements, putting in promises of good afterlife and adding in so much detail, that the "codecs" of the faith, which could be summarized in, let's say, 200 pages or so takes up 1500 pages, all these summed up emerge as a system of faith in which the believers cannot possibly follow all flaws or contradictions, and eventually end up giving up and just believing.

From these points of view, we can regard the punishment of heresy from two different perspectives:
1. principially speaking: in such a system, presuming it is an ideal system and it does not involve exploitation, heresy should be punished because it diverts thinking from the original laws, therefore introducing the possibility that Satan or how you wish it named might introduce false thoughts in order to deceive believers
2. factually speaking: without the presumption of lack of human exploitation, the punishment of heresy was needed in order to elliminate competition. Christianity, for example, undermined the old Roman beliefs by creating heretics. They wanted, therefore, to eliminate the possibility that such a thing may happen to Christianity as well. Given the punishment of heretics a face of the sort of "fighters for salvation, elliminating the devil from amongst us", the church/inquisition could also gather money, donated WILLINGLY by the "sheep".

I would advise pro-heresy, but to a heresy in both sides that can be logically proven.

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todangst
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Rigor_OMortis wrote:What you

Rigor_OMortis wrote:
What you say, todangst, works perfectly given that there are only two distinct possible levels of logic: common logic and reverse logic.

What do you mean by 'common logic' and 'reverse' logic?

Quote:

Yet, we have no idea on which one of these two logic levels one's thinking is. Reverse-reverse logic is actually straight logic.

This doesn't make sense to me. It sounds like you are refering to the negation of a negation. Is this what you mean?

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Therefore, we cannot place one's logic on any level without an error margin of 50%... which is a lot.

Nothing you've said so far implies that logical claims have a 'margin of error'... Valid deductive claims can have no margin of error - they are tautologies, ergo necessarily true.

The only way I can make sense of your words is to assume that you are talking about the principle of exclusion. That a meaningful proposition is either true or false. But this has no bearing on the actual truth value of any particular statement.

Quote:

Let's take the example of the poker player bluffing with a weak hand. How do you know that his intention is to give you a FALSE impression that his hand is weak? If we are to follow your logic, one should add more and more to the pot, until the bluffer fears too much for his own safety that he withdraws, knowing that the one with such reactions is a bluffer, and he will withdraw eventually, leaving quite a sum on the table. However, one with a very good hand might also have this reaction in order to entice players that follow your logic to place more and more in the pot, knowing that he will earn a lot more in the end. Tell me, how do you know in which one of these situations you find yourself ?

You've misunderstood the actual intent of the analogy. The point of the analogy is that people with a good hand do not fear a challenge - they welcome it as an opportunity to win cash, whereas people with a weak hand, fear a challenge, for a challenge means a loss.

That's the point of the analogy. So your points above have no relevance.

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We all know that the basis of faith is almost solely the willingness to believe something.

Theistic faith is entirely based on desire.

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"Almost", because there's something more involved: the possibility of that faith being true.

That's already involved in the desire. One wishes it to be true!

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Until now, you have proven that Jehowah, Allah, etc. do not exist as they were described, but you did not prove that A God that nobody has yet defined doesn't exist.

1) No one can 'define' a 'god' in the first place.
2) The mere existence of uncertainty is not a reason to hold to a position.

Quote:

Therefore, taking some unexplainable elements, putting in promises of good afterlife and adding in so much detail, that the "codecs" of the faith, which could be summarized in, let's say, 200 pages or so takes up 1500 pages, all these summed up emerge as a system of faith in which the believers cannot possibly follow all flaws or contradictions, and eventually end up giving up and just believing.

Well, ain't that the truth.....

But so far, all you've managed to say, can be boiled down to this:

"I don't know, ergo I believe in something I don't know anything about."

Quote:

From these points of view, we can regard the punishment of heresy from two different perspectives:

1. principially speaking: in such a system, presuming it is an ideal system and it does not involve exploitation, heresy should be punished because it diverts thinking from the original laws, therefore introducing the possibility that Satan or how you wish it named might introduce false thoughts in order to deceive believers

Your claim is self contradictory! If you have an Ideal system, then by definition, there would be no one who would turn from it!

If people explored your system, and found it wanting, then by definition, it would not be Ideal!

An ideal system would speak for itself. There would be no need to threaten people with violence.

Consider again the concept of gravity. Do you need to threaten people to accept the idea? No. They are compelled by reality to accept it.

Quote:

2. factually speaking: without the presumption of lack of human exploitation, the punishment of heresy was needed in order to elliminate competition.

That's quite true, but not in the way you intend it to be true.... The desire was to eliminate other belief systems, to the benefit of the church's financial coffers.

Quote:

Christianity, for example, undermined the old Roman beliefs by creating heretics. They wanted, therefore, to eliminate the possibility that such a thing may happen to Christianity as well.

Just like Microsoft looks to wipe out competitors.

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Given the punishment of heretics a face of the sort of "fighters for salvation, elliminating the devil from amongst us", the church/inquisition could also gather money, donated WILLINGLY by the "sheep".

I would advise pro-heresy, but to a heresy in both sides that can be logically proven.

Um... no.....

Heresey is a violent act commited in the defense of an idea that is unable to stand on its own merit.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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Rigor_OMortis
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OK now...As usual, I have

OK now...

As usual, I have to define my terms. todangst, please do excuse me, I am not a native English speaker, and thus might have mistaken some terms.

Forget about the first part of my response, I'll learn to express what I want to say later.

Be back on the topic in exactly... 4 hours, after I finish work.

Just a quick response now:
"Heresey is a violent act commited in the defense of an idea that is unable to stand on its own merit."
Since there's a different definition for every dictionary I've looked this word up in, I'll stick to this one: "a belief that rejects the orthodox tenets of a religion" <- and therefore my last sentences, I believe, stand.

Also: "That's quite true, but not in the way you intend it to be true.... The desire was to eliminate other belief systems, to the benefit of the church's financial coffers."
I did not specify why to eliminate the competition. Of course that was the main purpose: having nobody else to benefit from the "sheep's" donations.

"1) No one can 'define' a 'god' in the first place."
I said "describe", not "define". If you see an object on the sky, you can describe what you've seen, although you cannot define it, its purpose or all of its properties.

"2) The mere existence of uncertainty is not a reason to hold to a position."
True. And I'm not holding on to that position, I'm just creating an environment for people to understand what I want to say (apparently I failed here).

"Your claim is self contradictory! If you have an Ideal system, then by definition, there would be no one who would turn from it! ..."
OK, take out "ideal" from my words, indeed it doesn't belong there.

"Theistic faith is entirely based on desire."
I desire that most people were smarter. Though I cannot believe that most people are smarter, since I can see that is not the case. It indeed includes desire, but also a great willingness to believe (influenced by many factors). Desire in itself isn't enough. The desire for an amputated leg to heal isn't enough to believe that the amputated leg will heal (talking about a NORMAL person with an amputated leg).

(Speaking of which: www.whywontgodhealamputees.com >-remembered about that site)

On the other hand, screw 2 more minutes of work, I'll give my response now:
"You've misunderstood the actual intent of the analogy. The point of the analogy is that people with a good hand do not fear a challenge - they welcome it as an opportunity to win cash, whereas people with a weak hand, fear a challenge, for a challenge means a loss."
No, YOU'VE misunderstood my analogy, but I cannot blame you, since I could not properly express what I wanted to say in the first part. I shall explain:

Imagine you are playing poker with a person. That person places big in the pot, and, when you place the same, he gives you the attitude that you've described in your original post. How do you know what kind of a hand he's got? He can indeed have a weak hand and bluff, OR he can have a poker, or royal flush or something with a very low probability of loss, and he can falsely take that attitude in order to lure you into betting more and more, thinking that you'll consider his attitude as a certain bluff. So which one is it? Regardless of which one you choose (weak hand vs. perfect hand), if you're playing with a sufficiently intelligent person, you have 50% chances to make a mistake.

That's what I wanted to say with logic and reverse logic: he may think straight, or he may think that you think that he's thinking straight, and therefore he's not thinking straight.

Understood ? Smiling (sorry for the spaghetti speaking I've just done)

Inquisition - "The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on..."
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todangst
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Rigor_OMortis wrote:OK

Rigor_OMortis wrote:
OK now...

As usual, I have to define my terms. todangst, please do excuse me, I am not a native English speaker, and thus might have mistaken some terms.


Ah! Ok. Then they might just be translation 'errors'... I figured you meant something other than what you were saying.

OK, carry on...

Quote:
Forget about the first part of my response, I'll learn to express what I want to say later.

Just a quick response now:
"Heresey is a violent act commited in the defense of an idea that is unable to stand on its own merit."

Since there's a different definition for every dictionary I've looked this word up in, I'll stick to this one: "a belief that rejects the orthodox tenets of a religion" <- and therefore my last sentences, I believe, stand.


I'm not disagreeing with that defintion. Instead, I am showing the logical ramifications of such a definition: it speaks to a fear of disagreement born of the fact that there is no rational means to refute the disagreement.

Where no facts exist to decide an issue, violence may be the only means of settling disagreement. How is heresy dealt with? Through threats. Violence.

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"1) No one can 'define' a 'god' in the first place."

I said "describe", not "define".


The first step in definition is describing.

Describe - explain - predict.

To be able to describe is to be able to define.

So there's no functional difference here.

One cannot describe something supernatural, as the supernatural has no ontological bearing. One can only speak in negatives of the supernatural. Speaking in negatives, devoid of any universe of discourse, is ontologically empty - meaningless.

Quote:

"2) The mere existence of uncertainty is not a reason to hold to a position."

True. And I'm not holding on to that position, I'm just creating an environment for people to understand what I want to say (apparently I failed here).

I don't think so. You've expressed that there can be doubt. And I've merely pointed out that doubt, in of itself, is not a reason to believe. We seem to have reached an agreement.

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"Your claim is self contradictory! If you have an Ideal system, then by definition, there would be no one who would turn from it! ..."

OK, take out "ideal" from my words, indeed it doesn't belong there.

Good.

Quote:

"Theistic faith is entirely based on desire."

I desire that most people were smarter. Though I cannot believe that most people are smarter, since I can see that is not the case. It indeed includes desire, but also a great willingness to believe (influenced by many factors).

Theistic faith is belief based on desire alone.

Quote:

On the other hand, screw 2 more minutes of work, I'll give my response now:

"You've misunderstood the actual intent of the analogy. The point of the analogy is that people with a good hand do not fear a challenge - they welcome it as an opportunity to win cash, whereas people with a weak hand, fear a challenge, for a challenge means a loss."

No, YOU'VE misunderstood my analogy,


The only intent of my analogy is to provide an example of how a person with a good justification does not fear being challenged on it.

People who have a good reason for their beliefs don't fear a challenge of their beliefs.

That's it.

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but I cannot blame you, since I could not properly express what I wanted to say in the first part. I shall explain:

Imagine you are playing poker with a person. That person places big in the pot, and, when you place the same, he gives you the attitude that you've described in your original post. How do you know what kind of a hand he's got?

You're misapplying my poker analogy. All I used the analogy for was to demonstrate that a person who has a good justification for his belief does not fear being challenged.

That's all I meant. After that, poker has no more relevance here, because the justification is open for review... you don't have to guess at it. You're free to examine it. It's not a like a poker hand, it's already on the table for you to see.

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He can indeed have a weak hand and bluff, OR he can have a poker, or royal flush or something with a very low probability of loss, and he can falsely take that attitude in order to lure you into betting more and more, thinking that you'll consider his attitude as a certain bluff. So which one is it?

Your analogy has no relation to my point. My point refers to heresy: A person with a justification for his belief does not fear being asked for his justification. He does not need to take recourse to threats or violence, because his justification for his belief speaks for itself.

The justification in this case would be open to review, so there's no need to literally talk about guessing an opponent's hand in poker.

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Regardless of which one you choose (weak hand vs. perfect hand), if you're playing with a sufficiently intelligent person, you have 50% chances to make a mistake.

1) This has no relevance to anything I've said here, as explained above.

2) The odds are not 50% anyway. You're mistating the odds, based on applying a classical statistical approach where a frequentist or subjectivist approach is better suited.

No pun intended.

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That's what I wanted to say with logic and reverse logic: he may think straight, or he may think that you think that he's thinking straight, and therefore he's not thinking straight.

Understood ?


No. Sorry.

Quote:

Smiling (sorry for the spaghetti speaking I've just done)

Ok but please, let's drop this focus on the analogy and stick to the points they were meant to express.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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Rigor_OMortis
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Umm, yes, good. We've

Umm, yes, good. We've drifted from the initial subject indeed.

Sorry, got carried away Smiling .