That's a bit harsh on strong atheists. I used to be a strong atheist, and I don't think I or anyone else considered me an asshole for it.I used to be a strong atheist (aka an asshole)
Umlaut wrote:A vocal strong atheist, rather. It was a phase.
mosc wrote:Umlaut wrote:A vocal strong atheist, rather. It was a phase.
I think I had one of those too. That time in your life when you've decided that you've completely solved one of the great questions of humanity and it's so blatant and simple that you just feel compelled to tell everyone you meet. I think they call it "17".
I didn't say you were crazy, I said you were intolerant. I didn't ask you to ACCEPT my position, I asked you to respect it. Discussion is the point yes but it can only be accomplished from a position of mutual respect.
My god is undefinable.
mosc wrote:nath wrote:The thing that I find confusing is why people believe in specific things that we cannot perceive: gods, for instance. Now, 'god' is a loosely defined word; I'm assuming it refers to an intelligent, sentient mechanism that is directly or indirectly responsible for human life. I don't see how the existence of imperceptible things implies the existence of this specific imperceptible thing.
My god is undefinable. Your definition is limiting. "Directly or indirectly responsible for human life" is a specific interpretation that is not required to believe in god IMHO.
mosc wrote:nath wrote:I'm asking whether you believe that the perceptible universe would be different.
I BELIEVE that a human being is incapable of KNOWING the answer to your question. I BELIEVE I must be open minded about it because I accept that I am incapable of knowing. If you want me to speculate blindly, I'd have to first decide on even a basic description of the entire universe (both perceivable and imperceivable) and that's just too absurd for me to try and do. Knowing the unknowable is a game for psychics and fortune tellers. All I'm saying is I have accepted there are things I cannot know. Also, I find the question itself kind of silly. How would the universe be different without gravity? Uh, ok... how about VERY different? Or maybe there's the same thing except we call it gravito? Or maybe it's 99.999% the same? I dunno, why the hell would I speculate? See my point?
zar wrote:This is getting silly. Do you realize that you are defining your god to be undefinable? I still don't have the slightest idea as to what you mean when you say "god". You seem to be scrambling to make your "god" into something that can never be challenged by anyone, yet in doing so chip it away to nothing. What exactly is your god?
Knowledge = Justification + Truth + Belief
mosc wrote:The word "God" to me means an entity beyond my ability to perceive that is inherently positive. Definitively positive, good.
mosc wrote:I don't have any more answer than you do. I don't say "I'm right and you're wrong" in matters I cannot use the scientific method on. I don't think I have some special covenant or understanding of the divine and I appreciate all beliefs that simply accept things in this universe beyond our ability to perceive.
Gelsamel wrote:When using science to explain things you MUST SUBSCRIBE TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Otherwise you are -not- using science. It is not arbitrary at all. Souls are non-physical (unless you use some definition of soul other then the common one) and are therefore by DEFINITION Supernatural (not subject to natural laws). Thus using "Conservation of Energy" to describe the eternalness of the soul (even if they had some similar concepts) is quite ridiculous. Also supernatural things have NOTHING to do with being imaginary. Supernatural things are things which -by definition- are unexplainable via. natural laws.
As for your astral projection "Spooky action at a distance" has absolutely nothing to do with it... it's called hallucinations.
So far I've seen you misuse scientific principle after scientific principle while talking about your non-physical supernatural soul. I have no problem with you believing in a soul but trying to validated it by using scientific principles which you obviously misunderstand is unscientific (via. philosophy of science) and frankly quite ridiculous, your supernatural beliefs need no validation within logic OR science, so trying to prove that your belief is logical or scientific is un-needed.
Matthias wrote:I still go with fifty-fifty, on the basis that there is no way to know the odds, but the fact is that the probability doesn't matter. Basically, either the soul does exist, or it doesn't; without proof of either theory there is no way to calculate the odds, and come to think of it assigning probability fields to something that has already happened (or not) seems a bit, I don't know, silly?
Matthias wrote:Anyway, as I said, it either exists or it doesn't, and as it stands there's really no way to pick which one except through assumption. I therefore assume (or believe, if you like) the idea that I like better: that the soul exists.
Matthias wrote:I am of a scientific mind--even if I am not, it seems, so learned as you--and I can't just adopt a religion on faith alone. So, I traced it back to the fundamental question, the one that determines whether adopting a religion at all is a valid idea--the existence of the soul--and worked from there to the views I hold now.
@Nath:You're right; probability is not always equally divided. I was thinking about this earlier today, actually, and I came up with the following problem.
If you take two ideas, the existence and non-existence of the soul, you have fifty-fifty odds. If, however, you add other possibilities--the various ideas on the nature of the soul if it exists--then you reduce the odds for each possibility. If you have four different theories on how the soul is constructed, you can still only really have one theory on how it's not constructed, so the odds are 20% each--and now there's an 80% chance that the soul exists. By that logic you could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt the existence of the soul by coming up with an infinite number of theories on its construction. This is obviously ridiculous.
I still go with fifty-fifty, on the basis that there is no way to know the odds, but the fact is that the probability doesn't matter. Basically, either the soul does exist, or it doesn't; without proof of either theory there is no way to calculate the odds, and come to think of it assigning probability fields to something that has already happened (or not) seems a bit, I don't know, silly?
Malice wrote:As for the second part... You can never provide probabilities for theories, only levels of confidence in the evidence behind them. It is not, "I am 100% sure the sun will rise tomorrow", it is, "I am 100% sure that the evidence we have collected proving that the sun will rise tomorrow is entirely accurate." There are no "odds" of a soul existing or not; either it does, and the odds are 1, or it doesn't, and the odds are zero. Had we evidence either way, we could attach some kind of probability.
Nath wrote:I agree that the numerical value of the probability you assign is not all that important; I was just pointing out that there's no real basis for picking fifty-fifty.
As for assigning probabilities to unknown past events: I don't think that's silly at all. This is a standard way to deal with uncertainty in artificial intelligence, and it turns out that it works pretty well.
Nath wrote:OK. But I find this approach philosophically troubling; the fact that you like one idea or the other better has no impact on how likely it is. To return to a previous example, it's like assuming that I'll win the lottery.
The thing is, in this case, you don't need to pick one of the two alternatives. You can accept them both as possibilities, and assume/believe neither.
darkbladedancer wrote:As a pseudo-aside from all of this, let me point out that the great majority of philosophy done in the last 100 years or so has been to explain just what knowledge is. For a long time we started out with the premise that:Knowledge = Justification + Truth + Belief
This concept, that knowledge is justified true belief doesn't work because there are cases in which justified true belief does not equal knowledge. Most famously in philosophy, a guy named Gettier proved this in about a page and a half. As a result of his explanation the conception of knowledge had to change.
Originally, many of the philosophers involved in 20th century epistemology believed knowledge was something like a building. A set of 'stories' set on top of a foundation that was based in empirical observation. A.J. Ayer, the Vienna Circle, and a host of other people held this view until Gettier and others came along and proved all their work wrong.
Matthias wrote:Yeah, I can see what you mean; I'm not too familiar with AI, but I think I can see how past probabilities would be helpful. Something along the lines of debugging, I suppose?
But I think the existence (or non-existence) of the soul would fall more under the realm of natural law than past event, so I still say probability doesn't necessarily apply. It would be rather like, for instance, assigning a probability to the existence of gravitons: they either do or they don't.
Matthias wrote:I, meanwhile, need to pick one of those possibilities to satisfy my dislike of personal indecision. I don't like being on the fence about things I feel are important.
Matthias wrote:There is no need to assume that the soul--if it does exist--sits outside the realm of natural laws. They could feasibly exist in one or more of the non-spatial dimensions that M-theory calls for. Or not.
The point I'm making here is that what seems supernatural might not be. It might simply be that we don't yet have the science and research to explain so-called supernatural phenomena.
2) Occam's Razor states that the preferable theory is the one with the least assumptions. Our opposing explanations for my alleged astral projection have the same amount.
Anyway, as I said, it either exists or it doesn't, and as it stands there's really no way to pick which one except through assumption. I therefore assume (or believe, if you like) the idea that I like better: that the soul exists.
Malice wrote:It should not be used to dismiss a theory entirely, especially when the two theories are, as you demonstrated, so mathematically close.
Matthias wrote:There's a third choice: walk away.
Matthias wrote:If you feel the idea of "pick an option and run with it" troubling, and avoid it on that ground, I hope you can see the logic in my avoiding the idea that agnosticism and uncertainty are the only logical conclusions, on the same ground.
Mary Ellen Rudin wrote:Let X be a set. Call it Y.
Gelsamel wrote:Malice wrote:It should not be used to dismiss a theory entirely, especially when the two theories are, as you demonstrated, so mathematically close.
Like aether right?
Edit: Unobservables and Improbability are HUGE REASONS to dismiss theories.
Of course it doesn't mean they're 100% definitely wrong (obviously) but they're most likely to be wrong (or un-useful).
Bluggo wrote:Lots of interesting points here, as was to be expected in this forum - I do not post much, usually, but I lurk a lot here.
Personally, I (try to) believe in God - but, I will admit it freely, my belief is far from being rational.
Then, why do I? My answer, pathetic though it may be, is "because I need to".
I need to believe that I am something more valuable than a fancy-shaped brick, that the universe follows a structure and a plan, and that my grandpa - the one person I had the most respect for - is now something more than a bunch of mushy, smelly bones.
Therefore, I choose to believe in God, and I do not care if my reason tells me that this belief has about the same foundations of the belief in invisible pink unicorns: the difference - and it is not a small one, in my opinion - is that I don't give a damn about invisible pink unicorns, whereas I do care - and much - about the immortality of the soul, the meaning of the Universe and all that stuff.
Enigma90825 wrote:What is your view upon religion? I'm not promoting World War III of religions here, just I'm wondering what your view is upon your own religion from a purely analytical perspective.
Matthias wrote:Nath, you haven't even mentioned yours, although you can pretty much glean it from comments made to others, but thanks anyway for remaining civil.
Matthias wrote:That being said, from an analytical viewpoint I'd do the same thing I'm doing now: hope for the best, and plan for the worst. (If I had time before the coin flip I'd plan for the worst by hiring a good lawyer, but there's no real planning involved for the non-existence of the soul. And yeah, I know best and worst in this situation is a matter of judgment.)
So you see, picking an option isn't necessarily inconsistent with reality.
Matthias wrote:Also, belief in the existence of the soul does not promote dispassion about the sufferings of others. Most people who believe in the soul also believe in adhering to moral codes.
Matthias wrote:Edit--@Zar: The existence of god and the existence of a disease are different for a very important reason. AIDS has clear, irrefutable evidence for its existence, whereas the existence of god is by nature uncertain. Also, belief in the existence of the soul does not promote dispassion about the sufferings of others. Most people who believe in the soul also believe in adhering to moral codes.
I think that I'm familiar with this type of reasoning, or at least one of its cousins. I'll try and explain it, and how the AIDS objection poses no threat.zar wrote:I find this reasoning quite puzzling. It may be said that a good thing about believing in god is the comfort received from it. But that's not a reason for actually thinking that it's true. There are lots of things that I would like to be true or like not to be true, but I don't reject the existence of AIDS simply because it quite discomforting, or force the belief on myself that those infected don't really suffer much from it because I would feel better. And I think ultimately that would be doing a disservice not just to those suffering, but also to myself.
There are people who don't care about starvation and suchlike even though they don't believe in immortal souls; similarly, there are people who care even though they do. Even though not caring may be rationally consistent, this won't necessarily stop a person who cares from caring. Insofar as one's belief in the soul/God has significant positive benefits and negligible negative consequences, then one may suppose that it is reasonable to cultivate/hold said belief. This may be entirely possible, particularly if one's beliefs are very "personal" (i.e. they impact your own conduct in positive ways, but you do not try and base things like social policies on the truth of the belief).zar wrote:Believing in the immortal soul for the same reason seems very similar to rejecting the existence of an illness because it makes you uncomfortable, except this goes a step further. Once belief in the soul is accepted, then it is perfectly reasonable to shrug off the deaths of others -- after all, they're not really dead (or at least not their "soul"). Who cares about the starving children? They're just going to a better place anyway. In fact, the fast they die, the better. This is the dangerous reasoning that follows quite logically from that belief.
I've wondered the same thing. I believe the answer is that one does not "force oneself to believe"--one merely takes advantage of a pre-existing inclination to believe and justifies/permits it on consequentialist grounds. People who have no pre-existing inclination would have to first reach a point where they consider the issue epistemically undecidable. Otherwise, the best they could do is hope that x is true rather than believe x (though these can be rather similar in some cases).zar wrote:Finally, how can one force oneself to believe something? Even if I wanted to, I would not be able to force myself to believe in a god unless I was presented with good evidence. (Perhaps this is a skill that only some have, and one that I am clearly lacking.)
Zar wrote:Finally, how can one force oneself to believe something? Even if I wanted to, I would not be able to force myself to believe in a god unless I was presented with good evidence. (Perhaps this is a skill that only some have, and one that I am clearly lacking.)
Zar wrote:I find this reasoning quite puzzling. It may be said that a good thing about believing in god is the comfort received from it. But that's not a reason for actually thinking that it's true. There are lots of things that I would like to be true or like not to be true, but I don't reject the existence of AIDS simply because it quite discomforting, or force the belief on myself that those infected don't really suffer much from it because I would feel better. And I think ultimately that would be doing a disservice not just to those suffering, but also to myself.
Zar wrote:Believing in the immortal soul for the same reason seems very similar to rejecting the existence of an illness because it makes you uncomfortable, except this goes a step further. Once belief in the soul is accepted, then it is perfectly reasonable to shrug off the deaths of others -- after all, they're not really dead (or at least not their "soul"). Who cares about the starving children? They're just going to a better place anyway. In fact, the fast they die, the better. This is the dangerous reasoning that follows quite logically from that belief.
Mary Ellen Rudin wrote:Let X be a set. Call it Y.
I 'believe' in X if I decide to behave as if X were true
Bluggo wrote:As I see it, religious belief is a behavioural, rather than epistemiological, concept, and is perfectly compatible with doubt: I 'believe' in X if I decide to behave as if X were true, and if I accept to face the consequences of my mistake if my belief would prove itself wrong.
But if "faith" means "behaving accordingly to X, although it is not known if X" then the matter is more nuanced: surely such a behaviour would have no rational justification, but as I said before I think that perfectly rational behaviour is neither possible nor desirable.
Tchebu wrote:How does belief in God or an eternal soul or any other religious notion alter your behaviour? You answer differently to "do you believe in God?" and that's it? Or are there further implications such as you don't feel so bad when someone dies, you get a feeling of purpose and direction in life etc?
Tchebu wrote:Also, note that the consolation and feeling of purpose actually arises not from the belief in God itself but rather from the belief that you are, as someone said here in an earlier post, "God's precious snowflake". So essencially your entire belief amounts to you tricking yourself into getting a feeling of being the center of the Universe (or at least somewhere close to the center) and acting accordingly.
this is something that I find particularly ... umm... repulsive, for lack of a better word, in religion, and a very important reason for my disbelief: the fact that religion always, even if it's in a very subtle and indirect way, seems to say that human beings are somehow very very important on a cosmic level
Nath wrote:My question is this: why does one choose irrational behaviour? Very few people are completely rational, true, but most people adjust their behaviour if they know that they are being irrational. Is it just that certain behaviour makes you feel better, even if you know it's based on false assumptions? Is it comparable to children playing 'pretend'? Or is that an oversimplification?
Mary Ellen Rudin wrote:Let X be a set. Call it Y.
Bluggo wrote:I am not really convinced that people adjust their behaviour if they know that they are being irrational.
Most of what we do is irrational, in the sense that we do not know - and, often, we are not even looking for - a rational justification for it.
Let's take art as an (admittedly trite) example: when a painter uses that specific colour in that specific position, he does not care about any rational reason for doing this: it's simply that, according to his experience and his talent, that colour in that position feels "right".
Bluggo wrote:Or consider Love - I am speaking here of true love, not mere hormone poisoning: what's the point of it? To be willing to face hardships for the well-being of a person, no matter what the other person could do for you or if the other person feels the same way... rationally speaking, that's nuts, but it's still the highest, noblest emotion a person can feel.
Bluggo wrote:So no, I do not think it's not like a kid playing pretend - it's more like a girl waiting for his long-disappeared fiance, believing - against all common sense in this world, and with all her heart - that she has not been forgotten, and that some day he will return and they will be happy forever after.
Matthias wrote:Enigma90825 wrote:What is your view upon religion? I'm not promoting World War III of religions here, just I'm wondering what your view is upon your own religion from a purely analytical perspective.
Gelsamel, you've mentioned your religion, yet done nothing to explain it. All you've done is try to disprove mine--after calling it irrational, unscientific BS.
Also, in your notes on Occam's razor, you fail to realize that the probability of whether the soul exists or not is incalculable, and so assigning "bonus assumptions" based on probability is somewhat invalid. I would also refute your method of counting assumptions, or point out inconsistencies in your thoughts about the infallibility of Occam's Razor, but I think any further discussion between us is likely to get us nowhere. I think the only option for us here, if we wish to be mature about it, is to agree to disagree.
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