Religion: The Deuce

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guenther
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:52 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:Which way is 'up' in space? It is a meaningless question. That doesn't mean that the intent behind the question is meaningless. To ask that question so as to not be meaningless, one could ask (for example) "Which way should we define up in space so that we can all know where each other is going?" It is in this manner that "What is morally good?" is a meaningless question.

I don't say it's without meaning. People can attach whatever meaning they want even if the question is poorly defined. I simply call them poorly defined questions, which means they're difficult to objectively evaluate. If we want to bring out our tools for probing into objective truth, then the questions need work. But people don't have to approach every query that way, and quite often they don't. And there's still value in discussing those sorts of ideas. In fact, people here have spent a lot of time promoting the value of reason and rationality without ever defining precisely how to quantitatively measure these concepts. As an example, what's the objective test for how reasonable an idea is?

nitePhyyre wrote:So IF science can derive moral axioms, and science can not legitimately prove the axioms 'human prosperity is good', and 'that humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished', it just means that you haven't gone deep enough. It just means that 'the notion that human prosperity is good' and 'humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished' aren't axioms.

First of all, I actually agree with Sam Harris that what he proposes is theoretically feasible, but it's far from being practical today or anytime in the foreseeable future. If people want to probe the science of morality, I'm all for it, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting on it to provide useful results.

Second, this is besides the point. The issues isn't whether morality can be studied scientifically, but whether people can be trained to deal with morality in a scientific manner. This is a much harder thing to do, and I think it's optimism to have any sort of confidence that it can happen.

nitePhyyre wrote:So we all agree that reason, rationality, and life-long learning are laudable goals?
We all agree that religiosity hinders those goals?
Guenther, how do you NOT see a contradiction when you want to promote those goals AND something that hinders those goals?

A) While I agree that those are laudable goals, my calculus of value doesn't depend solely on them. I mentioned earlier that my highest value is our ability to care about one another.

B) I don't agree that religiosity hinders those goals. If you think it does, then prove it. People have cited things related to this, but I've seen nothing that demonstrates that something fundamental to religion actually gets in the way. I've made this challenge a number of times. This is how you show weakness in my argument because I'm claiming that religion (and specifically Christianity) doesn't inherently conflict with any of the tools that are measurably demonstrating success. And in the absence of this, I can promote both without contradiction.

DSenette wrote:i think one of the reasons you're having trouble imagining how rational thought, logic, and the scientific method wouldn't work for this application is because you're applying it to the modern crop of humans.

I'm having trouble imagining it because it's completely untested. You're trying to demonstrate it's effectiveness with theoretical future children. What you propose is an extraordinary claim, and you seem to recognize that because you admit that it won't work on our modern crop of humans. There's nothing to tell us it will actually outperform other methods of training people. I think I'm right to be highly skeptical of it until there's some data backing it up.

And I believe that the "book keeping" is critical to why science is as successful as it is (though this doesn't mean that I can't appreciate a show like Mythbusters). The problems with our inherent biases can't simply be hand waved away by claiming we'll have better training methods in the future. I maintain that the fundamental limitation is the lack of an objective measurement for our internal biases. With diet as hard as it is, imagine how much harder it would be to train people to control their objective weight if they only had access to how heavy they are in their minds eye? (Which is still an easier problem because we can actually see ourselves in the mirror.)
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:59 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I don't rely on anything I don't understand. In some contexts, very limited ones, I think reason and rationality are very laudable. But people throw the ideas around as if they can be used for anything. You can reason logically and come to wrong conclusions. To get any use from it you have to be able to see and understand your bias's and overcome them. And currently I see no research that says you can do that reliably, assuming you can recognize them. Very intelligent people can and do make irrational decisions, without the benefit of Religion. So I'm not prepared to embrace the idea without reservations.
people can be very capable of understanding and overcoming their own personal bias. assuming their taught to recognize bias.

also, so what if you come to a wrong conclusion with logic and reason? a wrong conclusion usually comes with a negative outcome. when you hit a negative outcome you redesign the experiment. also known as "learning from one's mistakes".

intelligence has nothing to do with it either. ability to use tools has everything to do with it.

morriswalters wrote:In addition, Religious Institutions are conservative and resistant to change. They act as a governor on society and keep us from moving to fast. Since we can't say what Society would have been like absent those structures, its quite easy to argue that things might have been worse had they not existed. There is also an argument that people need something like a God to supply a framework to a random existence. I find that outliers on either side of the debate tend to be zealots and tend to cause problems because they can't accept opposing points of view. They tend to be dismissive of positions other than their own.

you can also argue that without religion in history things would be a million times better. just imagine how much farther along certain fields of science would be if they didn't have to do the science and fight the church at the same time to get anything done.

people may CURRENTLY need a framework to a random existence NOW, but is that because they've always been brought up with the framework of God?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:08 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:people may CURRENTLY need a framework to a random existence NOW, but is that because they've always been brought up with the framework of God?

I've posted this link a couple of times now. From that page at the bottom:
Dr. Justin Barrett, senior researcher at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at the University of Oxford, is one of several researchers looking for the roots of religion in important cognitive processes we use as "shortcuts" to perceive and make sense of the world. He thinks that because of these cognitive tools, we're primed to look for signs of intention in the world, and to think that most events have a some agent, possibly a supernatural one, making them happen. In this conception, religious thinking is a kind of natural byproduct of normal mental processes. Interestingly, Dr. Barrett, a Christian, thinks that these ideas are easily reconcilable with many different religious faiths.


It's not just that the notion of God is embedded in our culture, but that it's nearly ubiquitous throughout history and across all cultures.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:12 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:people may CURRENTLY need a framework to a random existence NOW, but is that because they've always been brought up with the framework of God?

I've posted this link a couple of times now. From that page at the bottom:
Dr. Justin Barrett, senior researcher at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at the University of Oxford, is one of several researchers looking for the roots of religion in important cognitive processes we use as "shortcuts" to perceive and make sense of the world. He thinks that because of these cognitive tools, we're primed to look for signs of intention in the world, and to think that most events have a some agent, possibly a supernatural one, making them happen. In this conception, religious thinking is a kind of natural byproduct of normal mental processes. Interestingly, Dr. Barrett, a Christian, thinks that these ideas are easily reconcilable with many different religious faiths.


It's not just that the notion of God is embedded in our culture, but that it's nearly ubiquitous throughout history and across all cultures.

right, but the notion of god has been the answer to the "what the shit is happening" because there was no better answer. it's not a "well surely there has to be a god, why else would so many people think there is one" situation. it's a matter of there not being a better answer at the time.

IMO we've got MORE than enough better answers to the VAST majority of the questions that religion/god was created to answer that it seems incorrect to hold on to the last couple of threads. humans have found the other real answers to the questions already, so why shouldn't we be able to find the rest of them?
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:23 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:right, but the notion of god has been the answer to the "what the shit is happening" because there was no better answer. it's not a "well surely there has to be a god, why else would so many people think there is one" situation. it's a matter of there not being a better answer at the time.

IMO we've got MORE than enough better answers to the VAST majority of the questions that religion/god was created to answer that it seems incorrect to hold on to the last couple of threads. humans have found the other real answers to the questions already, so why shouldn't we be able to find the rest of them?

Dr. Barrett isn't proposing that we merely had no better answer, but that we seek intent in the random. However, the more we probe with science, the more we see a distinct lack of intent. This is a conflict between what's intuitive and what science tells us. This doesn't mean we can't overcome it, but I don't think you're explanation for why we have religion has a lot of support.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:04 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:They are not questions that science is silent on, which is something I've stated numerous times.
You cannot derive moral axioms from science; scientific empiricism provides no way to get to the notion that human prosperity is good, or that humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished. Science can tell us the best ways to fulfill these moral truths, but the moral truths themselves are not in any way scientific.

When Sam Harris talks about moral absolutes and using science to pursue those absolutes, he's working from the assumption that human contentment is good. But that remains an assumption. There's no empirical answer to "What is morally good?"; only empirical answers to "Now that we've decided that human prosperity is morally good, what is the best way to pursue it?".

Science is the best tool we have to get us there. But it doesn't tell us where to go. That decision has always been up to us.


I'd rather like to endorse this point. I think a huge part of these Metaphysical (and, to a degree, Meta-ethical ones) comes down to an imprecise understanding of the Epistemological Definitions we are working with. There are different sorts of truths, Empirical, Rational and Subjective. I think addressing the particular areas of one might be useful for the purposes of any future discussion.

Empirical If the proposition in question relates in anyway to the external world. This is one of my problems with Religion as a Metaphysical Proposition, or really any sort of revealed or Faith based knowledge. When deciding anything to do with the external world one uses Empiricism, I mean that's true of both the Religious and Irreligious. If you're trying to decide whether a Proposition like "John's Car is Green", you'll go and look at the car and notes its colour. One does this for everything. When people (especially in the context of a Religious debate) say "Science" with a capital "S", they treat it like it's some sort of elitist system. It's understandable, any sort of modern science is far more complicated than the basic fact verification of auto-mobile aesthetics. Yet it is the same thing. The same principal. What I cannot understand and what I would really like an explanation of, is how the Religious justify this special case which seems to so particularly define itself into an exception.

Were I to come to you and make claims regarding Faeries down the bottom of the garden, Faeries which I could imbue with significant metaphysical qualities as opposed to just "X mythical creature" (though that works just as well to be honest), then one would naturally be sceptical without substantive proof of said Faeries and their significant metaphysical qualities. Yet, if I say that I have "Faith" in these Faeries then it seems to provoke some sort of understood exemption to general standard we all use.

Furthermore,
nitePhyyre wrote:So IF science can derive moral axioms, and science can not legitimately prove the axioms 'human prosperity is good', and 'that humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished', it just means that you haven't gone deep enough. It just means that 'the notion that human prosperity is good' and 'humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished' aren't axioms.


Okay, you seem confused about what an axiom is. An Axiom is, by definition, unprovable. This is the point. Unless, somehow, floating around amidst the clusters of sub-atomic particles lie bundles of Ethical truths ready to observed then Science can't tell us what those ultimate Ethical Principles are. Unless they exist in some sense, then Science cannot speak on the matter. This means, that they must be Axioms. Truths, which can't be proven, but on which we've agreed and which serve as the basis for further truths.

morriswalters wrote: You can reason logically and come to wrong conclusions. To get any use from it you have to be able to see and understand your bias's and overcome them. And currently I see no research that says you can do that reliably, assuming you can recognize them. Very intelligent people can and do make irrational decisions, without the benefit of Religion. So I'm not prepared to embrace the idea without reservations.


Sure you can! The point is that those conclusions can be challenged and freely so, according to agreed upon standards - whether these are Empirical or (pure) Rational in their nature. The point is Religion is an endorsement of irrationality or abdicating any standard. Religion is an appeal to unmitigatedSubjectivity - Faith, and its exclusion from all independent and inter-Subjective standards.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:30 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:I don't think he is saying that those questions shouldn't be asked at all. I think he is saying that they should be reword so as to be properly defined. If I can make an analogy with these quotes in mind:
guenther wrote:But people ask those questions all the time and measurably find them important. You can tell them that they're not important, but I don't think that will get far.
The Great Hippo wrote:What is morally good? How should we define justice? What fundamental rights should a human being possess?

Which way is 'up' in space? It is a meaningless question. That doesn't mean that the intent behind the question is meaningless. To ask that question so as to not be meaningless, one could ask (for example) "Which way should we define up in space so that we can all know where each other is going?" It is in this manner that "What is morally good?" is a meaningless question.
"What is morally good?" is the question that lies at the core of all morality. Before we answer this question, we can take no moral action. To put it another way--rather than asking "Which way is up in Space", it's like asking "Which way would you like to go in space?"--science cannot answer that question, but to describe it as unimportant or meaningless is silly.
nitePhyyre wrote:So IF science can derive moral axioms, and science can not legitimately prove the axioms 'human prosperity is good', and 'that humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished', it just means that you haven't gone deep enough. It just means that 'the notion that human prosperity is good' and 'humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished' aren't axioms.
You forgot to include the part of your post where you back up your assertion with some process of logic.

For instance: What question would science replace "What is moral good?" with? What would the answer be?

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:54 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:They are not questions that science is silent on, which is something I've stated numerous times.
You cannot derive moral axioms from science; scientific empiricism provides no way to get to the notion that human prosperity is good, or that humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished. Science can tell us the best ways to fulfill these moral truths, but the moral truths themselves are not in any way scientific.

I never claimed they were, I claimed that our ability to understand human well-being is. The Rational Axiom human well-being is morally good is just that, a reasonable starting position to build on top of. Unlike the unreasonable starting position that God exists and these are the laws he has given to us which we must follow so we can enter heaven.

morriswalters wrote:I don't rely on anything I don't understand. In some contexts, very limited ones, I think reason and rationality are very laudable. But people throw the ideas around as if they can be used for anything. You can reason logically and come to wrong conclusions. To get any use from it you have to be able to see and understand your bias's and overcome them. And currently I see no research that says you can do that reliably, assuming you can recognize them. Very intelligent people can and do make irrational decisions, without the benefit of Religion. So I'm not prepared to embrace the idea without reservations.
Which is why we are discussing Critical Thinking, one of aspect of which is reason. Reason alone is not enough we also need self-reflection. If we can't reflect on the axioms we are already granting we can not challenge those axioms. From there logic is a great tool to arrive at right conclusions.

Otherwise we get the Crusades, Hitler, the US invading Iraq. But this has been covered, many times. I hope you can understand that it is frustrating for this side of the argument to have to restate the same arguments over and over. While your side refuses to defend its own.

In addition, Religious Institutions are conservative and resistant to change. They act as a governor on society and keep us from moving to fast. Since we can't say what Society would have been like absent those structures, its quite easy to argue that things might have been worse had they not existed. There is also an argument that people need something like a God to supply a framework to a random existence.
Please examine your argument here, and try to understand how it is not within the bounds of reason.

"We can't say what Society would of been like absent those structure, it quite easy to argue that things might have been worse had they not existed."

If we can't say that society would of been like, THERE IS NO argument to say what would of been better or worse. By the very premise that we can not say what it would of been like. This is basic logic. You and others arguing on your side consistently make arguments with no logic. Which adds further evidence that people with reliance upon faith have less ability to engage in logic. You are acting the stereotype, right here.

guenther wrote:But people don't have to approach every query that way, and quite often they don't. And there's still value in discussing those sorts of ideas.
What is that value? I've asked this before, each time you have ignored it. What is that value?

As for reason, we have provided you with lots of material, I know its a lot it and it would take you a long while to get through. Please take some time and try and learn what is being argued. That you are resistant to learning this material but wish to argue the point before understanding is, much like Morris, fitting the stereotype. This is one type of behavior that I'm stating I don't find valuable and that I even find destructive. It is also what we are(or if that is overly presumptuous of other people in this thread, I am) accusing Christianity of creating.

First of all, I actually agree with Sam Harris that what he proposes is theoretically feasible, but it's far from being practical today or anytime in the foreseeable future. If people want to probe the science of morality, I'm all for it, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting on it to provide useful results.
So by holding your breath, you mean are you sticking to what you are using now; despite that you know it is flawed and just want other people to do the work for you. Then after years of research and trying to understand humanity and morality you expect them to be able to explain it to you over an forum, despite that you refuse to actually take the time to read and understand any of the material they have spent years (or in some instances people have spent lifetimes) researching and trying to understand?

And most of that is fine, I can't care significantly about quantum mechanics and my area of study, I haven't had the time and realistically probably won't ever have the time to be come an expert in that field. The problem is when you are teaching your children things that decrease potentially their own but certainly societal well-being compared to other options. Or help by contributing to the system you help perpetuate it on a massive scale.

A) While I agree that those are laudable goals, my calculus of value doesn't depend solely on them. I mentioned earlier that my highest value is our ability to care about one another.

B) I don't agree that religiosity hinders those goals. If you think it does, then prove it. People have cited things related to this, but I've seen nothing that demonstrates that something fundamental to religion actually gets in the way. I've made this challenge a number of times. This is how you show weakness in my argument because I'm claiming that religion (and specifically Christianity) doesn't inherently conflict with any of the tools that are measurably demonstrating success. And in the absence of this, I can promote both without contradiction.

The ability to care for one another, or to create better well-being is one of the tenants of Humanism. What else do you value, what do you value that is unique about Christianity? And why is it unique to Christianity? Because the only thing that you seem to be holding on to and refusing to say is a the irrational faith in God and that Jesus is our savior. Either you value those ideas more than Critical Thinking, or you don't. If you do that is certainly a unique value to Christianity, but I think you will have a hard time expressing its unique value beyond that it allows you to self-identify with the majority culture today.

From the data I've provided we can with reason understand that Christianity correlates to:
1) worse writing skills
2) worse reasoning skills
3) worse knowledge of their own religion and other religions (an aspect of this certainly comes from it being a majority culture and thus are exposed to other ideas less frequently and have to defend their own less frequency)
4) A desire to mandate that other people behave in what they perceive God's will to be rather than what is actually good for the individual or society (and thus often decrease the well-being of both).
5) A conviction in belief that prevents them from attaining humility about a given topic and a behavior that expresses little interest in bettering our macro culture; as it teaches duty to self, family and God should placed at a higher value than duty humanity.

The data I've provided does show these things, there isn't really any question about that. There is a question about where you understand that it shows these things. If you don't understand that it shows these things I'd be happy try to explain how it does. But to state you don't agree that religiosity hinders the goals that we've agreed upon, is just you ignoring the data.

Does Christianity have to create those effects? Maybe not for some of them, like writing skills and knowledge of their own doctrine and those of other religions, although some of them are it has to or else it can't reasonably be considered Christianity. Like irrationally putting God above all else, and if someone is doing that it is a rational assumption that they don't understand reasoning.

The problems with our inherent biases can't simply be hand waved away by claiming we'll have better training methods in the future.
Spending years teaching children how to understand themselves, how they behave and how to allow their actions and thinking to dictate their behavior rather than their feelings is not hand-waving it away. And I'm not claiming we will have better techniques in the future, I'm telling you about and pointing you to the techniques we have now for better creating the values we've discussed.

And I don't have to imagine how hard it is, I know how hard it is through experience. It is incredibly hard to change the behavior of someone who thinks they already know the best way to achieve this goals, as demonstrated by this discussion. Part of what these tools teach is humility, that we KNOW that we do not know the best ways, that we need to continually search to find better ways.

However, children do not have those patterns of behavior established and Christianity has to use quite a few very powerful techniques to squash the human capacity for reasoning and induction in children. We are very naturally inductive and curious and only when we are consistently met with social pressures or reward for compliance, as well as answers that continually stifle that progression do we start to decrease in that pattern of behavior (this is again broad, the desire and capacity change based on aspects of the self ( like temperament) and is not just limited to environment).
Last edited by Zcorp on Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:14 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:03 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:They are not questions that science is silent on, which is something I've stated numerous times.
You cannot derive moral axioms from science; scientific empiricism provides no way to get to the notion that human prosperity is good, or that humans are valuable creatures who should be respected and cherished. Science can tell us the best ways to fulfill these moral truths, but the moral truths themselves are not in any way scientific.

I never claimed they were, I claimed that our ability to understand human well-being is. The Rational Axiom human well-being is morally good is just that, a reasonable starting position to build on top of. Unlike the unreasonable starting position that God exists and these are the laws he has given to us which we must follow so we can enter heaven.
Then you misunderstood what I was saying when I said that science is silent on the matter of "What is moral good"? Science can answer this question when we have the highest hierarchy of it answered ("Human prosperity." - "Okay, so what is moral good in *this* situation?" - "Whatever maximizes human prosperity. Let me run some tests."), but it can't give us the first answer--the answer which informs all moral action which follows.

This is what I mean when I say that science and empiricism are silent on some very, very important questions. You describe the axioms you've derived as sensible, but they aren't empirical--they're just axioms that any reasonable person reading can agree with.

Also, not all Christians function from the starting position that moral good is derived from requisite behavior to get into Heaven. Actually, a very large number of Christians in the US believe that moral good has no impact on whether or not you get into Heaven (only the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your savior accomplishes that). Moral good is derived separately from this issue, and may, in fact, follow the same arc as humanist values (which is why I'm ambivalent toward religion, particularly when its participants believe in the same moral behavior as I do).

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:08 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Then you misunderstood what I was saying when I said that science is silent on the matter of "What is moral good"? Science can answer this question when we have the highest hierarchy of it answered ("Human prosperity." - "Okay, so what is moral good in *this* situation?" - "Whatever maximizes human prosperity. Let me run some tests."), but it can't give us the first answer--the answer which informs all moral action which follows.
Then yes I did not understand that phrase to mean what you intended it to mean, for that first answer we need critical thinking.

This is what I mean when I say that science and empiricism are silent on some very, very important questions. You describe the axioms you've derived as sensible, but they aren't empirical--they're just axioms that any reasonable person reading can agree with.
Yup, they are Rational axioms.

(which is why I'm ambivalent toward religion, particularly when its participants believe in the same moral behavior as I do).
I don't share your ambivalence, as I'm trying to assist in designing an educational system that better embodies that first answer. While the laity of these organizations may believe in the same moral behavior in some regards, they generally don't act in that way.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:22 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:I don't share your ambivalence, as I'm trying to assist in designing an educational system that better embodies that first answer. While the laity of these organizations may believe in the same moral behavior in some regards, they generally don't act in that way.
The important question, then, is this: Does Christian belief and Christian thought interfere with humanism belief and humanism thought? That is, if Christianity were to disappear, would humanism fill the gap?

I don't think it would; I see Christianity's injustices as an expression of deeper injustices intrinsic to human psychology and human nature. There might be a reduction in injustice, but I have doubts as to how much. Nevertheless, I do accept that were we to replace every Christian with a sincere humanist, the result would be overwhelmingly positive.

Simultaneously, if we were to replace every humanist (sincere or otherwise) with a sincere Christian... would we have a comparable result? Ignoring population ratios, of course.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:38 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:I don't share your ambivalence, as I'm trying to assist in designing an educational system that better embodies that first answer. While the laity of these organizations may believe in the same moral behavior in some regards, they generally don't act in that way.
The important question, then, is this: Does Christian belief and Christian thought interfere with humanism belief and humanism thought? That is, if Christianity were to disappear, would humanism fill the gap?
Yes, one places God and Faith above all else, and the other places Humans (or beings based on their potential for complex thinking) and Reason itself above all else.

They don't work together, but you can certainly be a Humanist and believe in some sort of *superior being and after life. You just can't be Christian.

Simultaneously, if we were to replace every humanist (sincere or otherwise) with a sincere Christian... would we have a comparable result? Ignoring population ratios, of course.
We would greatly stifle our ability to progress and learn about the world, as there would less of a need to answer those questions. Christianity does that for us.

*Editted: this from God as "God" generally refers to the Christian God rather than the concept of a superior being.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:52 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Yes, one places God and Faith above all else, and the other places Humans (or beings based on their potential for complex thinking) and Reason itself above all else.

They don't work together, but you can certainly be a Humanist and believe in some sort of superior being and after life. You just can't be Christian.
Can you see how a Christian can put God above all else, but through God, pursue humanism as the be-all end-all? How a Christian with this perspective would be, in every way, identical to an atheist humanist except for their belief in God?

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:58 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:What I cannot understand and what I would really like an explanation of, is how the Religious justify this special case which seems to so particularly define itself into an exception.

Well I can only speak for myself. I justify this by rejecting that religion is an exception. I think the whole idea of putting moral claims into a special realm of meta-ethics is just us giving it a special label so we think about it differently. We could let religious claims into that realm if we wanted to, or we could say religious claims require proof. But regardless, that's us drawing boxes and boundaries. If we look past those boxes, I think moral claims behave a lot like religious claims. They're ideas that are hard to prove, but with answers that matter a lot. You can say that you can't prove an axiom, but we know that all aren't equally good, as in we would intuitively reject some. So in our head there's some metric going on even if we don't know what it is. And if we zoom out a level, there's a physical process shaping what we believe to be right and wrong. Not all moral axioms are equal, some will provide a better fitness for the members of the group that promote it, and that process of selecting for fitness is what evolved us. So I do believe there's an objective truth to morality, it's just not easy to figure out (and it's not as straightforward as "Do X not Y").

This is the formula: Questions are hard to answer, but how we answer them is important. I suggest that when this is true, people inflate bubbles of truth that provide a narrative that helps them make choices. I believe that this is what our notion of morality, meta-ethics, religion, identity, value, justice, etc. are all about. Religion is not the exception, it's part of a bigger group that infuses our life. And the value (or perhaps utility) of all of these "truths" are not in their objective weight like the color of John's car. They have a value in shaping how we live our lives.

Faith isn't simply about filling in a box saying "Yes, now I know that answer!". Faith is about how we live our lives. Having faith in fairies or teapots doesn't make a lot of sense if it doesn't impact how you make choices. As I've said before, I believe faith is about faithfulness.


Zcorp wrote:
guenther wrote:But people don't have to approach every query that way, and quite often they don't. And there's still value in discussing those sorts of ideas.
What is that value? I've asked this before, each time you have ignored it. What is that value?

Clearly we both see the value in discussing whether an idea is reasonable even if we don't have a scientific gauge to quantify that. This is just one example. And I have answered this numerous times. Above to Whimsical Eloquence, I sketched out a more detailed version, where the punch line is that objective weight isn't the only factor in assessing the value of beliefs. And I've raised this point many times. In fact I've even provided that sketch above many times. I just wrote it again because I didn't want to go find the last time I said it.


Now I responded to that one point because clearly it's important to you since you feel you've had to raise in numerous times. But I don't want to respond to anymore until you extend me the same courtesy. At least four times I've raised the issue of the dichotomy, and I haven't seen you respond to it (I apologize if I just missed it). I'm afraid that if we don't resolve that, we'll just go around again and spend a lot of time doing nothing. I feel that this is a key difference in our positions, and we have the capacity to make headway if we resolve it.


Zcorp wrote:As for reason, we have provided you with lots of material, I know its a lot it and it would take you a long while to get through. Please take some time and try and learn what is being argued. That you are resistant to learning this material but wish to argue the point before understanding is, much like Morris, fitting the stereotype. This is one type of behavior that I'm stating I don't find valuable and that I even find destructive. It is also what we are(or if that is overly presumptuous of other people in this thread, I am) accusing Christianity of creating.

I will respond to one more thing. I will make an honest attempt to listen to your request. Please point me to (at least) one piece of online reading that you feel will clear up my ignorance on something relevant to our discussion. And then please tell me which part of my argument it challenges. I will read through it and report back my response.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:59 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Can you see how a Christian can put God above all else, but through God, pursue humanism as the be-all end-all? How a Christian with this perspective would be, in every way, identical to an atheist humanist except for their belief in God?
No, unless you are only taking the concepts of their being Loving God and that Jesus was his Son, dropping sins that he died for our sins and many other significant parts of the Bible. Even then you are holding on to an irrational belief in your specific concept of God and his Son vs other religions which creates lack of acceptance of other concepts of God and the Messiah or lack their of.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:05 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Sure you can! The point is that those conclusions can be challenged and freely so, according to agreed upon standards - whether these are Empirical or (pure) Rational in their nature. The point is Religion is an endorsement of irrationality or abdicating any standard. Religion is an appeal to unmitigatedSubjectivity - Faith, and its exclusion from all independent and inter-Subjective standards.
I won't argue that, however if you can't point to a source for an alternative ethical anchor I can't go on the trip. Any standard is going to be subjective at this point in time. And I can't live my life using a moving target. I suppose I would be classified as an Atheistic Christian. I accept the moral framework of Christianity, whatever its flaws, because I don't see any other coherent framework, yet. Neuroscience is making inroads into the problem but they are not there yet. When they can understand the root of the decision process and human behavior then the framework will exist to replace religion. guenther was right, don't be a dick is not enough. And that's all we have currently.

DSenette wrote:people can be very capable of understanding and overcoming their own personal bias. assuming their taught to recognize bias.

also, so what if you come to a wrong conclusion with logic and reason? a wrong conclusion usually comes with a negative outcome. when you hit a negative outcome you redesign the experiment. also known as "learning from one's mistakes".

intelligence has nothing to do with it either. ability to use tools has everything to do with it.
I disagree with you first two statements. The most I will accept is that some people can, some of the time. Making mistakes is not the problem. That will happen in either context. Intelligence has everything to do with it, as does emotion and any number of other things. The more complex the idea, the harder the tools are to use, therefore the more intelligent you will need to be to use them. I agree with your final point though, but with reservations. When there are tools that are reliable and that offer some of the same things that Religion uses mysticism to offer, then the time will have arrived to move society away from mysticism.
Zcorp wrote:Which is why we are discussing Critical Thinking, one of aspect of which is reason. Reason alone is not enough we also need self-reflection. If we can't reflect on the axioms we are already granting we can not challenge those axioms. From there logic is a great tool to arrive at right conclusions.

Otherwise we get the Crusades, Hitler, the US invading Iraq. But this has been covered, many times. I hope you can understand that it is frustrating for this side of the argument to have to restate the same arguments over and over. While your side refuses to defend its own.
I defend my own such that it is. And it is certainly your responsibility to defend yours. Understand, an argument is about testing your idea against counter reasoning, to sharpen it. I don't know that a discussion like this has ever changed anyone's mind. But you should be challenged to look at your own ideas more critically. However if you wish a position I am more than welcome to give you one.

Religion serves a purpose. It doesn't do it well, but there are no established, working alternative schemes to accomplish the goals I am interested in. I want social stability. I want a moral compass which at least has some modicum of Authority and which people will at least pay lip service to. Religion does all this. Most people don't want to think. They don't want to reason. They want the world handed to them. They want their ideas wrapped in pretty packages. They want to be amused. A majority of people in the US don't vote. And those that do base there decisions on things other than rationality. Look at the ads. When I see one election where the outcome comes from a rational process then I might be convinced.
Zcorp wrote:If we can't say that society would of been like, THERE IS NO argument to say what would of been better or worse. By the very premise that we can not say what it would of been like. This is basic logic. You and others arguing on your side consistently make arguments with no logic. Which adds further evidence that people with reliance upon faith have less ability to engage in logic. You are acting the stereotype, right here.
That is a rhetorical argument, I do that to illustrate a point using a hypothetical situation, I just can't prove them. I'm trying to decide if you think everyone who doesn't agree with you is foolish? Because that seems to be what you are saying. Now I've been Ninja'd several times so I'm going to post, sorry if I missed anything.

edited the word in italics

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:12 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:No, unless you are only taking the concepts of their being Loving God and that Jesus was his Son, dropping sins that he died for our sins and many other significant parts of the Bible. Even then you are holding on to an irrational belief in your specific concept of God and his Son vs other religions which creates lack of acceptance of other concepts of God and the Messiah or lack their of.
I honestly don't understand your position here; there are a number of Christians who are self-professed humanists--who believe all the same things I do, concerning morality--and explain this simply by de-emphasizing their Christianity (that is to say, they're Christians, but they don't go to the Bible for their morality and don't examine the conflicts that arise between humanism and Christian values). Are you claiming that these Christians aren't actually humanists, or aren't actually Christians? Because I'm fine with allowing them to be both.

But even beyond that--I don't see how holding on to an irrational belief somehow impacts your dedication to humanism. Much like I don't demand that Christians uphold the Bible for every element in their lives, I don't demand humanists uphold rationalism for every element in their lives; I only ask that these two groups behave the same when it comes to morality--i.e., act as if human prosperity is the most important goal.

I can see ways to rationalize Christian morality into humanism ("God desires His creations to prosper; therefore, human prosperity is the highest goal we humans can work toward"); seeing how these moral axioms are unempirical to begin with (you call them rational, but really, they're not; in what way is placing value on human prosperity a product of rationalism? Self-serving rationality, maybe, but even that seems like a stretch), I really don't care where they come from, so long as they are there and they are honored.

Edit: I should add that I'm fine with a discussion that questions whether or not Christianity, by large, is a force for good in the world; the general thrust of your position, however, seems to be that it is impossible for someone with a Christian perspective to be as morally righteous as an idealized humanist--that in perfect conditions, the humanist will always have a better morality because they don't have the same obstacles that Christians have. If that's not what you're arguing, I apologize--if it is, I think you're projecting unnecessary baggage onto Christian doctrine. Plenty of Christians never even examine their doctrine, and plenty more examine it and derive humanist values from it.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:18 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I honestly don't understand your position here; there are a number of Christians who are self-professed humanists--who believe all the same things I do, concerning morality--and explain this simply by de-emphasizing their Christianity (that is to say, they're Christians, but they don't go to the Bible for their morality and don't examine the conflicts that arise between humanism and Christian values). Are you claiming that these Christians aren't actually humanists, or aren't actually Christians? Because I'm fine with allowing them to be both.
Do they believe in God as described in the Bible? Do the believe Jesus is Christ? Do they use the Bible is a way in which God is trying to speak to us to tell us how to behave and what is moral?

If no to all of those things, they don't fit any reasonable definition of Christian.

Do they value things we can prove are real like Humans and their well-being over concepts we can't and have no observable effect like God? Do they value complex thinking skills over creating strong feelings in things? That behaving based on action and thinking is in general better than behaving based on feeling or instinct (this does not mean that there isn't a place for behaving based on feeling or instinct).

If not then they don't fit any reasonable definition of a Humanist.

But even beyond that--I don't see how holding on to an irrational belief somehow impacts your dedication to humanism. Much like I don't demand that Christians uphold the Bible for every element in their lives, I don't demand humanists uphold rationalism for every element in their lives; I only ask that these two groups behave the same when it comes to morality--i.e., act as if human prosperity is the most important goal.
It doesn't. Holding irrational beliefs or Faith over Reason is not humanism. I already mentioned that you can be a Humanist and believe in superior beings. But a Humanist knows that is an irrational belief and chooses to believe in it do to the personal Faith might have on their life for things they we can't use reason for. However once that Faith interferes with Reason or Well-being it must be discarded or they are not acting according to the tenants of Humanism. Or simply because they want to hope in such a being. Humanism is a values system, that doesn't mean by being a humanist you are immune to irrational feelings like Phobias.

I ask that people work toward bettering our well-being and progressing our understanding of the world. Christianity not only doesn't hold these values above the worship of God it doesn't create the same effect on behavior relating to those values. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" just because many Christianity is trying to create a very similar effect they are relatively failing at doing so.

I can see ways to rationalize Christian morality into humanism ("God desires His creations to prosper; therefore, human prosperity is the highest goal we humans can work toward"); seeing how these moral axioms are unempirical to begin with (you call them rational, but really, they're not; in what way is placing value on human prosperity a product of rationalism? Self-serving rationality, maybe, but even that seems like a stretch), I really don't care where they come from, so long as they are there and they are honored.

They are rational, but that would take us into the anti-humanist thread, you can read there for the rationality of Humanism.

The problem is that when you place God above Human's well-being you start to get into situations where the best thing for humans is what God has mandated. Like not having sex before marriage, being straight, being monogamous.



I should add that I'm fine with a discussion that questions whether or not Christianity, by large, is a force for good in the world; the general thrust of your position, however, seems to be that it is impossible for someone with a Christian perspective to be as morally righteous as an idealized humanist--that in perfect conditions, the humanist will always have a better morality because they don't have the same obstacles that Christians have. If that's not what you're arguing, I apologize--if it is, I think you're projecting unnecessary baggage onto Christian doctrine. Plenty of Christians never even examine their doctrine, and plenty more examine it and derive humanist values from it.
My argument is that they are conflicting Ideologies. Its like saying we should increase taxes on the rich, but your against a progressive tax system.

You can't value Reason more than Faith and Faith more than Reason.

You can't value what is good for Humans and Humanity above what is good for God and how is dogma tells us we should behave and value God more than Humanity. That is unless you think they are the same thing. At which point your definition of God is not what is being used in this context.

morriswalters wrote:I don't know that a discussion like this has ever changed anyone's mind. But you should be challenged to look at your own ideas more critically. However if you wish a position I am more than welcome to give you one.
I gain a better understanding of things and often changes my perceptions of them all the time due to discussions like this. It is even a quality I'm advocating for in this discussion.

Religion serves a purpose. It doesn't do it well, but there are no established, working alternative schemes to accomplish the goals I am interested in. I want social stability. I want a moral compass which at least has some modicum of Authority and which people will at least pay lip service to. Religion does all this. Most people don't want to think. They don't want to reason. They want the world handed to them. They want their ideas wrapped in pretty packages. They want to be amused. A majority of people in the US don't vote. And those that do base there decisions on things other than rationality. Look at the ads. When I see one election where the outcome comes from a rational process then I might be convinced.

Your description of humanity suggest that you have no understanding of environmental and developmental psychology nor sociology. People do want to think and in fact creating is generally considering the greatest pleasures can experience. I'll again refer you to the book Flow.

And there are alternatives to Religion, we've been talking about one for the last few pages. Humanism, what do you think it is? Then even within Religion western religions (those based on Egyptian observations and Gods) have been shown to be worse at the values we have discussed over this thread. Even if you don't think Humanism is a sufficient replacement (and you should tell me why if you don't) then you should be looking to Buddhism if you care about the aforementioned values.

But you might not, I don't think you've agreed they are valuable. What are your goals that you speak of?

That is a rhetorical argument, I do that to illustrate a point using a hypothetical situation, I just can't prove them. I'm trying to decide if you think everyone who doesn't agree with you is foolish? Because that seems to be what you are saying.
In fact it's not an argument at all. You have to have some level of logic or evidence to have an argument, and your statement had none. I can make the same type of statement and it is just as useless and illogical.

History is full of people killing people because of religion. If religion didn't exist there would of been less killing in history.

And I'm not saying you are foolish. In the part that you quoted I am displaying that you are behaving in a way that fits the negative generalization about Christians. And that because you (although you haven't said it I'm inferring this, tell me if it is wrong) self-identify as Christian you current behavior is an example of the effect that Christianity has on people.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Sat Jan 29, 2011 3:53 am UTC

morriswalters wrote: I suppose I would be classified as an Atheistic Christian. I accept the moral framework of Christianity, whatever its flaws, because I don't see any other coherent framework, yet.
Would that be clear enough? From my last post. More later.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:09 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
morriswalters wrote: I suppose I would be classified as an Atheistic Christian. I accept the moral framework of Christianity, whatever its flaws, because I don't see any other coherent framework, yet.
Would that be clear enough? From my last post. More later.

Not at all. You can't be an atheist Christian. Are you against premarital sex? Divorce? Gays? Or are you just saying that you agree with Love you neighbor. At which point your being disingenuous towards the word Christianity. And every other philosophical framework, especially the ones before Christiany chronologically or that present the message in a way with a lot more description and nuance. As that is not a concept that defines Christianity at all.
Last edited by Zcorp on Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:26 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:21 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Do they believe in God as described in the Bible? Do the believe Jesus is Christ? Do they use the Bible is a way in which God is trying to speak to us to tell us how to behave and what is moral?

If no to all of those things, they don't fit any reasonable definition of Christian.
Emphasis mine; what about no to some of those things? Also, what about inconsistent Christians--am I still allowed to be a Christian if I'm just not examining my Christianity and emphasizing my position as a humanist more?
Zcorp wrote:It doesn't. Holding irrational beliefs or Faith over Reason is not humanism. I already mentioned that you can be a Humanist and believe in superior beings.
Then what's the problem? If, as a humanist, I'm allowed to hold irrational beliefs so long as they don't interfere with my pursuit of human prosperity, then can we not imagine ways that I could believe in a Christian God--believe that Jesus died for my sins--without that impacting my pursuit of human prosperity?
Zcorp wrote:The problem is that when you place God above Human's well-being you start to get into situations where the best thing for humans is what God has mandated. Like not having sex before marriage, being straight, being monogamous.
But God didn't mandate that; or, at least, that's a selective interpretation of what God has mandated (a point we're often fond of noting: He also mandated we shouldn't eat shellfish). These are moral axioms derived not from the broadest understanding of God's will ("God believes humans should prosper"--to this end, all Christians are likely in agreement), but interpretations of God's word that are likely motivated by a desire to other ("God wants homosexuals to suffer! I figured this out from my selective reading of the Bible, that in no way represents me projecting my wants on God's desires"). There are people who believe these things independent of their own desires ("My pastor told me that homosexuals are evil, and I trust in my pastor"), but if we trace the history of these axioms back to their source, at some point we'll find that religion was not the inspiration but rather the justification.
Zcorp wrote:You can't value what is good for Humans and Humanity above what is good for God and how is dogma tells us we should behave and value God more than Humanity.
'What is good for God' is a contradiction in Christian belief; God is omnipotent--everything is already good for God. The only thing that matters is what God wants us to do. Besides, there are plenty things I value more than what's good for humans and humanity, but I'm still a humanist. It would be better for humanity if I dedicated my life to the poor, but I value myself more than I value humanity, so I'll continue living for myself first.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby ExplodingHat » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:25 am UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:Are you just poking fun or are you trying to say something serious about my theory?

More or less the former. I use "I.e:" and "E.g:" a lot in everyday speech, so I guess if you didn't know that you might be confused. :) Sorry.
On a more serious note:
Zcorp wrote:However, children do not have those patterns of behavior established and Christianity has to use quite a few very powerful techniques to squash the human capacity for reasoning and induction in children.

Now that's a bit harsh, my friend. :? I was raised in a devoutly Catholic household, and yet my parents always actively encouraged my intellectual growth, and took pride in my insatiable hunger for knowledge of a scientific nature. (I remember they bought me this really sweet electronics kit thing; I ended up taking it apart and bias overloading all the LEDs... :cry: )

(P.s: I also generally have a tendency to use tentative language pretty much in excess. If confused, feel free to err mostly on the side of humor. :wink: )
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby marky66 » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:58 am UTC

I'm sure this fits as a reply to someone in this thread, but I can't find an ideal candidate.

On his radio show today, Michael Medved had a caller expressing many of the same anti-religion thoughts enumerated in this thread. I only caught the tail end but his response included something to the effect of this:

If nothing else, religious people spend a an hour or two a week and generally a little time each day in prayer, pondering "how can I be a better human?" How many atheists make it a point to do a similar self-reflection on a daily or weekly basis?


I must admit, I had never thought about it this way. Do you agree with his implication that atheists do not perform this introspection? Does it make any difference one way or the other?

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:04 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
morriswalters wrote: I suppose I would be classified as an Atheistic Christian. I accept the moral framework of Christianity, whatever its flaws, because I don't see any other coherent framework, yet.
Would that be clear enough? From my last post. More later.

Not at all. You can't be an atheist Christian. Are you against premarital sex? Divorce? Gays? Or are you just saying that you agree with Love you neighbor. At which point your being disingenuous towards the word Christianity. And every other philosophical framework, especially the ones before Christiany chronologically or that present the message in a way with a lot more description and nuance. As that is not a concept that defines Christianity at all.
Bull shit. That's arrogant on your part. I'm saying that being a Christian is much more complex than the idea of "God". Certainly you don't believe that Christians all interpret the Bible the same way do you? I pick and choose what I'll use of it but it's as good as a place to start as any other. The name is for the benefit of outsiders since I know what I believe.
Zcorp wrote:Your description of humanity suggest that you have no understanding of environmental and developmental psychology nor sociology. People do want to think and in fact creating is generally considering the greatest pleasures can experience. I'll again refer you to the book Flow.
And how does this relate? Having achieved this state when drawing I am aware of it. I glad that you seem to have special knowledge but I have to deal with what I've got. I draw inferences from what works. Sanity check. Most people I know could care less about debating this concept. Which is why I post here. So what practical observation can you point out to me that says people want to put in the level of commitment it takes to practice reason and rationality?

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:23 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I'm saying that being a Christian is much more complex than the idea of "God".
Though I'm not so sure about the notion of Christian atheism (that is to say, I'm certain they're Christian atheists, but I'm not so sure that they're Christians), this nevertheless strikes me as an important point that I've missed--that Christianity itself is far too complex to be simplified into a set of core tenets and beliefs; that, much like Judaism or Islam, it's a cultural identity and set of practices that are passed down from generation to generation with a wide variety of diverse meanings. And much like with Judaism and Islam, I'm fully capable of opposing the parts of it that are oppressive while leaving room for its practitioners to flourish.

That is to say, opposing Christianity as an ideology--in its totality--and wishing to see its eventual end--is strikingly similar to opposing a culture and wanting to see its end. No Godwinning nonsense here, but one of my problems with your stance (Zcorp) is that you seem very unconcerned with the notion that Christian values are of great importance to a great number of people; you perceive it as an obstacle, not as a way of life.

When I argue that belief in God is as much of a value as belief in fundamental rights--that both are assumptions based not on empirical evidence but rather just things we have decided are true, and both assumptions are of equal value--it's in part because I don't perceive these values as mere instruments to get to a goal, but ways which we define ourselves; ways in which we individually pursue our own personal happiness and prosperity. Their moral or educational utility is of a secondary concern to me.

Edit: Oh, because it was mentioned.
marky66 wrote:
If nothing else, religious people spend a an hour or two a week and generally a little time each day in prayer, pondering "how can I be a better human?" How many atheists make it a point to do a similar self-reflection on a daily or weekly basis?
I must admit, I had never thought about it this way. Do you agree with his implication that atheists do not perform this introspection? Does it make any difference one way or the other?
I completely disagree. Religious people do not have a monopoly on moral self-improvement; indeed, I'd argue that the absence of religion to guide or center morality tends to encourage a more sophisticated and robust system of ethics--if for no other reason than that you have to justify your morality outside of any appeal to authority.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

I'm not a Christian because I don't believe in Christ as divine. But I am a fellow traveler.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:44 pm UTC

marky66 wrote:I must admit, I had never thought about it this way. Do you agree with his implication that atheists do not perform this introspection? Does it make any difference one way or the other?

Honestly, I'm a bit amazed that you could possibly ask this question. Have you read a single thing I've written? Are you entirely unaware that I've mentioned self-reflection or Critical Thinking (of which an important aspect is constant self-reflection) in the majority of my posts and that this very value is what I've been arguing for this entire time.

I mean really...have you actually tried to understand a thing I've said?

morriswalters wrote:I'm not a Christian because I don't believe in Christ as divine. But I am a fellow traveler.
You can agree with concepts that the Bible tells us Jesus taught, but calling him Christ suggests that you think he is divine. It is what the word means, "anointed one" "messiah."

He is also not unique on teaching these concepts so it is disingenuous to imply that he is. What you value isn't Jesus, like the Christians do, what you value is a(the) concept(s) that he taught.

Which concepts are those? I imagine you just mean Golden Rule. If not what else do you value in his teachings?


morriswalters wrote:Bull shit. That's arrogant on your part. I'm saying that being a Christian is much more complex than the idea of "God". Certainly you don't believe that Christians all interpret the Bible the same way do you? I pick and choose what I'll use of it but it's as good as a place to start as any other. The name is for the benefit of outsiders since I know what I believe.
It is a worse place to start than many other, largely due to its ambiguity and the general inability to discuss it with people. I doesn't educate people through reason on why valuing the Golden Rule is beneficial to self or society it just wants you to have faith that it is, and that you will be a better person in God's eyes if you do.

I've asked your side of this argument many times in the last few posts to describe to me specifically what you find valuable in Christianities teachings and why it is valuable that you learn it from the Bible rather than any place else. None of you have been able to give me an answer and every time it has been ignored.

So what practical observation can you point out to me that says people want to put in the level of commitment it takes to practice reason and rationality?
I don't expect you to, I expect to offer these tools to children and students. I also expect to inscribe the value of life-long learning in a new generation. I don't expect you to commit to learning more, you've displayed here that it is not something you value. It is something I value and it is something that increases societal well-being.

Christianity doesn't teach people to care about education and improvement through learning, as evident by how much of a problem you seem to think it would be to learn how to reason or even understand a single post I've written. As well as the data I've supplied that suggests how poor Christianity is compared to other cultures at having an educated populace.
The Great Hippo wrote:That is to say, opposing Christianity as an ideology--in its totality--and wishing to see its eventual end--is strikingly similar to opposing a culture and wanting to see its end. No Godwinning nonsense here, but one of my problems with your stance (Zcorp) is that you seem very unconcerned with the notion that Christian values are of great importance to a great number of people; you perceive it as an obstacle, not as a way of life.
I'm not unconcerned with it at all, if I wasn't concerned with it I wouldn't be having this discussion. It concerns me greatly.

And I'm not opposing Christian ideology in its totality. There are very valuable lessons that it teaches, but not a single one I value are unique to Christianity. And yes I want to see cultures that decrease human well-being decrease or end in favor of cultures that increase it.

It is an obstacle to working toward the values I've discussed. Increasing human well-being and progressing our society technologically. I'm challenging Christianity because of the effect it has, not because it is Christianity.

When I argue that belief in God is as much of a value as belief in fundamental rights--that both are assumptions based not on empirical evidence but rather just things we have decided are true, and both assumptions are of equal value--it's in part because I don't perceive these values as mere instruments to get to a goal, but ways which we define ourselves; ways in which we individually pursue our own personal happiness and prosperity. Their moral or educational utility is of a secondary concern to me.
No, we understand a lot about human well-being. We got rid of slavery as it decreases well-being, we got rid of discrimination for the same reason and indoctrination has the same effect.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Sat Jan 29, 2011 8:20 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:When I argue that belief in God is as much of a value as belief in fundamental rights--that both are assumptions based not on empirical evidence but rather just things we have decided are true, and both assumptions are of equal value--it's in part because I don't perceive these values as mere instruments to get to a goal, but ways which we define ourselves; ways in which we individually pursue our own personal happiness and prosperity. Their moral or educational utility is of a secondary concern to me.


Yes, they're both not based on Empirical evidence - but only one of them should be. One is the belief in the existence of God. External Existence is something that should be proven empirically. Either God has an effect on the External World - one that can be measured and thus God exists or he doesn't and thus he might as well not exist as his inclusion in the Empirical Model is unnecessary. It's simply not true. It isn't a value.

The Belief in Fundamental Rights (or any Moral tenants) are usually reducible to certain axiomatic values. These are just that. They're perfectly rational in the context of what they are, a judgement on what should be pursued.

guenther wrote:Well I can only speak for myself. I justify this by rejecting that religion is an exception. I think the whole idea of putting moral claims into a special realm of meta-ethics is just us giving it a special label so we think about it differently. We could let religious claims into that realm if we wanted to, or we could say religious claims require proof. But regardless, that's us drawing boxes and boundaries. If we look past those boxes, I think moral claims behave a lot like religious claims. They're ideas that are hard to prove, but with answers that matter a lot. You can say that you can't prove an axiom, but we know that all aren't equally good, as in we would intuitively reject some. So in our head there's some metric going on even if we don't know what it is. And if we zoom out a level, there's a physical process shaping what we believe to be right and wrong. Not all moral axioms are equal, some will provide a better fitness for the members of the group that promote it, and that process of selecting for fitness is what evolved us. So I do believe there's an objective truth to morality, it's just not easy to figure out (and it's not as straightforward as "Do X not Y").

This is the formula: Questions are hard to answer, but how we answer them is important. I suggest that when this is true, people inflate bubbles of truth that provide a narrative that helps them make choices. I believe that this is what our notion of morality, meta-ethics, religion, identity, value, justice, etc. are all about. Religion is not the exception, it's part of a bigger group that infuses our life. And the value (or perhaps utility) of all of these "truths" are not in their objective weight like the color of John's car. They have a value in shaping how we live our lives.

Faith isn't simply about filling in a box saying "Yes, now I know that answer!". Faith is about how we live our lives. Having faith in fairies or teapots doesn't make a lot of sense if it doesn't impact how you make choices. As I've said before, I believe faith is about faithfulness.


But as I've just outlined above, just because both God's Existence and Moral Values aren't proved by Ethical values dosen't make them part of some special category.
God's Existence is the same as the Existence of teapots, the colours of cars and any other claim about the External World.

Religious Values on the other hand are just the same as Moral Values however. The problem is that most Religious Values, "Praying to God", "Obedience to God" and the like, are predicated upon an empirical proposition, "That an omni-benevolent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent deity who is with out begining and end, who created all and has the x, y and z of a mythology (e.g. prophets, miracles ect.) exists. I've no problem with the religious values save that they're based on an empirical claim which has no empirical evidence.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:22 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:I've asked your side of this argument many times in the last few posts to describe to me specifically what you find valuable in Christianities teachings and why it is valuable that you learn it from the Bible rather than any place else. None of you have been able to give me an answer and every time it has been ignored.

I think I have but I'll try again. I believe in the framework. You seem to think that I have some kind of ethical value that I pull directly from Christianity. I'm intrinsically amoral. I find it simpler to live within the rules because it suits me.
I can live with these from the Wikipedia article on the ten commandments.

12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 You shall not kill/murder.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Was Christianity responsible for these? I think they exist in pretty much all moral codes worldwide. What I want from Christianity is the stick, not the carrot. I want people to have a reason to fear stepping off the line. What I want is stability. What I recognize is that religious practices are so ingrained in the fabric of this society that you couldn't remove it if you tried. The very thing you dislike about religion is what I count on, the stick. The reason to obey the commandments. When the tools exist to make a new framework, then religion will collapse upon itself.
Zcorp wrote:I don't expect you to, I expect to offer these tools to children and students. I also expect to inscribe the value of life-long learning in a new generation. I don't expect you to commit to learning more, you've displayed here that it is not something you value. It is something I value and it is something that increases societal well-being.
I place great value in eduction. I also recognize it limitations. One area that I'm particularly interested in is neuroscience. I am interested in the limitations of our skill set when it comes to morals. Neuroscience is looking at these areas and other and they are much less sanguine than you about our ability to solve these problems. Charlie Rose did a 12 show run on the brain that discusses the current state in the study. If you want the link I would be happy to share it with you. I would also point out to you that we educate more people today than ever before in history. I suspect that we are starting to hit the limits of education in the industrialized countries.
Zcorp wrote:Christianity doesn't teach people to care about education and improvement through learning, as evident by how much of a problem you seem to think it would be to learn how to reason or even understand a single post I've written. As well as the data I've supplied that suggests how poor Christianity is compared to other cultures at having an educated populace.

I suggest that you are incorrect. Some parochial schools manage to turn out some very well rounded individuals despite the source of their education. The thing that is dislike about studies of this type is granularity. Certainly some denominations do less well then others. I generally associate this with zealots of any stripe. However most studies that I have seen have suggested that money is the limiting factor.

Edit, A Celestial Teapot just flew by. It didn't take long. :twisted:

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:40 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Was Christianity responsible for these? I think they exist in pretty much all moral codes worldwide. What I want from Christianity is the stick, not the carrot. I want people to have a reason to fear stepping off the line. What I want is stability. What I recognize is that religious practices are so ingrained in the fabric of this society that you couldn't remove it if you tried. The very thing you dislike about religion is what I count on, the stick. The reason to obey the commandments. When the tools exist to make a new framework, then religion will collapse upon itself.

Cool so you don't agree with what I value at all. You want to control and dominate people. To use external forces to force behavior, hard power rather than soft power. You don't care about human well-being you care about human compliance.

I think that is -in simple terms- shitty, and don't want to live in that world.

If you want the link I would be happy to share it with you. I would also point out to you that we educate more people today than ever before in history. I suspect that we are starting to hit the limits of education in the industrialized countries.
Then you haven't studied education nor are you aware of the problems in relating to it. So you certainly can't be troubled to try and make it better. Again something I would consider shitty. You don't care about well-being or progression. So yeah we greatly differ on what we value.

I suggest that you are incorrect. Some parochial schools manage to turn out some very well rounded individuals despite the source of their education. The thing that is dislike about studies of this type is granularity. Certainly some denominations do less well then others. I generally associate this with zealots of any stripe. However most studies that I have seen have suggested that money is the limiting factor.

I'm not talking about Christian schools vs secular ones. I'm talking about Christian culture in America. Straw-men haven't gotten you very far in this discussion. Maybe you are just simply unaware your are making such arguments though, which brings us back to reasoning...

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:55 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:I've asked your side of this argument many times in the last few posts to describe to me specifically what you find valuable in Christianities teachings and why it is valuable that you learn it from the Bible rather than any place else. None of you have been able to give me an answer and every time it has been ignored.
May I answer in their stead?

Perhaps it was what their parents believed; perhaps it was what their parents' parents believed. Perhaps they've had a powerful, personal religious experience which has brought them to Jesus. Perhaps something in the Bible--or something in the teachings of Jesus--struck them as particularly true, or spoke to a particular experience or facet of their life. Perhaps they used a belief in God to get them through a rough patch, and they feel like they owe Him. Perhaps magical leprechauns invaded their brains and made them just really, really love wine and communion wafers.

I'm no moral relativist; I'm fine with describing one culture as morally inferior to another. But there's a subtle distinction here between demanding that everyone adopt the same moral truths yet simultaneously allowing them to maintain who they are. It's the same distinction I see in opposing those who demand women wear a burqa yet embracing women who choose to wear it. We must stop cultures from oppressing, but we must simultaneously leave room for cultures to prosper. Because cultures are, ultimately, made up of people--and if you don't care about the culture, you can't possibly care about the people in it.1
Zcorp wrote:I'm not unconcerned with it at all, if I wasn't concerned with it I wouldn't be having this discussion. It concerns me greatly.
What I mean to say is that you don't seem to respect Christian values regardless of their individual results. You've seen that, by and large, the results of Christian values tend to be inferior to the results of humanist values, and so you've made the determination that Christian values are inferior to humanist values. Is that a fair summary?

I can't necessarily argue with that logic; I do think that, on average, a humanist will have a better moral sensibility than a Christian. But I don't see that as adequate reason to denounce Christian values; particularly not since it is wholly possible for a Christian's values to be identical to a humanist's save for a few irrelevant differences.
Zcorp wrote:And yes I want to see cultures that decrease human well-being decrease or end in favor of cultures that increase it.
Then you want to see an end to all cultures except the atheist humanist ones? Because that's really the most effective culture out there for maximizing goodness as I see it.
Zcorp wrote:No, we understand a lot about human well-being. We got rid of slavery as it decreases well-being, we got rid of discrimination for the same reason and indoctrination has the same effect.
Er? I don't know what universe you're living in, but we still have slavery and we sure as hell still have discrimination. Though, at least in the case of slavery, their pervasiveness has certainly decreased. Regardless, I'm not sure what your point here is. Did I claim we don't understand a lot about human well-being? My point has only been that caring about human well-being requires the assumption that human well-being is important, or at least worth caring about.
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Yes, they're both not based on Empirical evidence - but only one of them should be. One is the belief in the existence of God. External Existence is something that should be proven empirically.
Why? What need is there to dismiss or deconstruct beliefs which are empirically invalid when they lead to little to no impact on empirical thought? The only time I think it's important to confront this issue is when people are using it to make very bad decisions.
Whimsical Eloquence wrote:The Belief in Fundamental Rights (or any Moral tenants) are usually reducible to certain axiomatic values. These are just that. They're perfectly rational in the context of what they are, a judgement on what should be pursued.
I still fail to see any sense of rationality in moral axioms beyond perhaps the bare bones of self preservation, and even that seems like a stretch.

Edit:

1 In retrospect, this seems unnecessarily harsh. A better way to say it, perhaps: When you dismiss a culture, it's very hard not to also dismiss the people to whom that culture is of great importance to.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:34 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby marky66 » Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:15 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:
marky66 wrote:I must admit, I had never thought about it this way. Do you agree with his implication that atheists do not perform this introspection? Does it make any difference one way or the other?

Honestly, I'm a bit amazed that you could possibly ask this question. Have you read a single thing I've written? Are you entirely unaware that I've mentioned self-reflection or Critical Thinking (of which an important aspect is constant self-reflection) in the majority of my posts and that this very value is what I've been arguing for this entire time.

I mean really...have you actually tried to understand a thing I've said?

Tried to, yes. Maybe I missed the mark. Regardless, I think I've made my point poorly, so let me try again:
The point I was saying had never occurred to me is that the religious do self reflection in the form of prayer, practically on a schedule. I did not mean that atheists are not self-reflective, just that they don't have an imperative (i.e. a prayer life) to perform this on a regular basis.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:34 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Cool so you don't agree with what I value at all. You want to control and dominate people. To use external forces to force behavior, hard power rather than soft power. You don't care about human well-being you care about human compliance.

I think that is -in simple terms- shitty, and don't want to live in that world.

Grow up, you already do. There are police, courts, prisons, and various other institutions that use exactly those techniques. And when they break down, well it's not pretty. Do you truly think that any of what you seem to value, could exist without these controls. With all these things in place crime continues to exist. Murder, rape, slavery, well anything ugly thing you can think of. And that's in the So called industrial nations. Leave that comfort zone and it gets worse. I've said time and again people aren't what you seem to believe they are.
Zcorp wrote:Then you haven't studied education nor are you aware of the problems in relating to it. So you certainly can't be troubled to try and make it better. Again something I would consider shitty. You don't care about well-being or progression. So yeah we greatly differ on what we value.

Why is your first statement that I don't have knowledge. In the US education is one of the top priorities of the country, but everybody has an opinion. Everybody has studies. Everybody has a plan. They are not sure what they want to teach or who they should teach it to. We have a very hard time teaching reading and writing and basic arithmetic. How well do you think a class on ethics would do? And how long do you think a ethics class or a critical reasoning class would last if the parents thought it was teaching something they didn't agree with. That's politics with a capital P. Colleges do very well with this. They expose students to as much intelligent diversity as your ever likely to see. And students are open to it. Because they are free of their parents. But not everybody wants to do this, and there isn't room for everybody if by some miracle they did.
Zcorp wrote:I'm not talking about Christian schools vs secular ones. I'm talking about Christian culture in America. Straw-men haven't gotten you very far in this discussion. Maybe you are just simply unaware your are making such arguments though, which brings us back to reasoning...
What are you talking about? Christian culture? The one size fits all vision of what you think Christianity is all about? Lets talk about some parts of Christian Culture and Theistic culture that you seem to be so dismissive of. In the city I live in the primary hospital corporations started out as religious endeavors. As did many in other cities. A number of superb schools, in particular Catholic ones have been graduating students for as long as the Public schools. Charitable organizations have been dominated by faith based organizations or started by people of faith. Among them, the American Red Cross, founded by Clara Barton, a Christian and the The Salvation Army. The Home of The Innocents is a Louisville based organization taking care of children at risk, one of my favorite Groups. I won't count the number of shelters for the homeless or other things that come to mind. These are part of the Christian culture which you are so dismissive of. Christianity is by no means perfect and if something better came along to replace it I would be among the first to sing it's praises. But nothing you've shown me is ready for prime time. Pop culture Pyscho Babble isn't enough.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sun Jan 30, 2011 2:04 am UTC

What are you talking about? Christian culture? The one size fits all vision of what you think Christianity is all about?
You seem to not understand categorization or definition. If you can bring yourself to actually caring about life-long learning, Please go read a book on Reason or Logic. I suggest The Art of Reasoning by David Kelley.

Lets talk about some parts of Christian Culture and Theistic culture that you seem to be so dismissive of...These are part of the Christian culture which you are so dismissive of. Christianity is by no means perfect and if something better came along to replace it I would be among the first to sing it's praises. But nothing you've shown me is ready for prime time. Pop culture Pyscho Babble isn't enough.
So you are claiming that Christianity is responsible for charity and helping others? That Christianity is the reason we have those things? That cultures without Christianity don't have those things? That in a culture is has a significant majority in Christianity that its not surprising that most things were created by Christians? Might as well be arguing that being white is good because white people wrote the Constitution.

I find it unfortunate that you are expressing the same behaviors I'm criticizing Christianity of creating. If you don't actually want to enhance your understanding of the topic through discussion I'm not really sure why you are participating.

I should of continued to ignore you, in fact i'll go back to doing that now.

Hippo and Guenther, I hope to find time to respond to your posts soon. But it might not happen over the rest of the weekend.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby morriswalters » Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:31 am UTC

Works for me. I don't buy textbooks to read so that I can post here, so I'll have to pass. The discussion isn't worth 10 dollars much less 55. Not available at my Library either. I point you to something a little less expensive. A one hour video called the Social Brain, it's free. A Nobel Prize winner and 4 Phd's talking about the Social Brain. Of particular relevance to this discussion is the section at 40 minutes in. Although if you don't watch the whole thing you've wasted an educational opportunity. There is a funny bit about fruit flies and aggression earlier. By the way about charity. I would say that religion of all types have been responsible for the bulk of charity.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bloatyspizzahog » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:00 pm UTC

religious people seem to have this idea that you need religion to want to help your fellow man.
what religion of all kinds tells us is to accept things without providing proper evidence.
this can lead many places including being abused by the individuals spreading their teachings.
if we all just threw out everything without proof and only saw things with pure reason and logic then we can see that it is in all of our best interest to all help one another and be the best people we can be cause the entire world is connected and anything you do to affect the world in a negative way will affect you just the same cause you're stuck here with us too.
i see no need for the fear of god to make us be better people.

so that only leaves the negative effects of religion. i'm sure we could all write endless books on this topic but i think the worst we get from it is ignorance. thinking you already have any kind of answer about anything means thats one less thing for you to actually educate yourself on. i see too many people substitute knowledge for belief and it scares me.
the second you believe something is the second you stop searching for the truth.

i could go on but i think thats pretty much the core of my point so i'll kepp myself from babbling.

thank you and good night
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:50 pm UTC

bloatyspizzahog wrote:i see no need for the fear of god to make us be better people.

And by the same logic, there's no need for the lack of God to make us better people. And until one side has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt (and yes, you can prove a negative beyond a reasonable doubt, and no, it hasn't been done or there wouldn't be so many intelligent and informed people on both sides), both are valid motivators to do good and both can peacefully coexist.

I think pointing fingers at someone else's government, religion, business, or whatever as the cause of our "problems" and eliminating them is just another form of our greed and the real root of many of these conflicts in the first place. In all these discussions about which belief system is best for society, it's important to remember that people on the other side *really do* believe that their beliefs are correct as well, so unless there's a proof that your own view is correct, all the other stats and anecdotes are irrelevant.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bloatyspizzahog » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:55 am UTC

duckshirt wrote:
bloatyspizzahog wrote:i see no need for the fear of god to make us be better people.

And by the same logic, there's no need for the lack of God to make us better people.


thats my point. we can have all the good things religion offers without the actual need for religion itself.
but with religion we get the same good things but with a crap ton of horrible atrocities and the ignorance of belief over learning through scientific practice.

like i said it teaches people (and most frightening) it teaches children to accept certain things without asking for sufficient evidence. and that can be a dangerous weapon that can and has been used by many horrible people in the past.

im not saying there is a god, im not saying there isnt.
im saying if there really is a god then faith is unnecessary. we should just focus entirely on scientific progress. cause with it we would all be educated and if we are all educated then no one would let it be abused.

faith is unnecessary and dangerous and we are better then that.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:01 am UTC

bloatyspizzahog wrote:
duckshirt wrote:
bloatyspizzahog wrote:i see no need for the fear of god to make us be better people.

And by the same logic, there's no need for the lack of God to make us better people.


thats my point. we can have all the good things religion offers without the actual need for religion itself.
but with religion we get the same good things but with a crap ton of horrible atrocities and the ignorance of belief over learning through scientific practice.

like i said it teaches people (and most frightening) it teaches children to accept certain things without asking for sufficient evidence. and that can be a dangerous weapon that can and has been used by many horrible people in the past.
Not all religion teaches that, and it also teaches a lot of good things. You say the good things of religion are all possible without God; I say the bad things of religion are also all possible without God.
im not saying there is a god, im not saying there isnt.
im saying if there really is a god then faith is unnecessary.
Faith (theistic faith anyways) is unnecessary for nontheistic goals. If there really was a God and he really was trying to build a kingdom on earth then faith would be necessary. And if there isn't one, there's still such thing as faith in things other than God - faith can mean confidence in one's own abilities, trusting others, etc... doubting *everything* won't get you anywhere, even on nontheistic, earthly goals. Like I was saying, it simply comes down to what is true - faith is not believing in something that has no evidence; it's having enough confidence (though evidence, experience, whatever) that you're right to act on your beliefs.
and dangerous and we are better then that.
Also debatable but it's been played out in this thread already...
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:19 pm UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:Yes, they're both not based on Empirical evidence - but only one of them should be. One is the belief in the existence of God. External Existence is something that should be proven empirically. Either God has an effect on the External World - one that can be measured and thus God exists or he doesn't and thus he might as well not exist as his inclusion in the Empirical Model is unnecessary. It's simply not true. It isn't a value.

If the claim of existence is empirically weak, then don't include it in the empirical model. But that doesn't mean all claims of existence need to be proven to be believed. You are making a "should" statement. How do you justify that? With an axiom? It could be that not everyone accepts that axiom.

As I said before, there are different ways of assessing the value (or utility) of a belief. Some have value because of their objective weight (knowledge statements), and others have value because they guide us on how to make choices (wisdom statements). But I believe a common phenomenon is for us to cast wisdom statements (beliefs about what is wise to do) in the language of knowledge. I described this in more detail in the past, and I think religious beliefs are also an example. The utility of religious claims isn't in their empirical weight.

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:The Belief in Fundamental Rights (or any Moral tenants) are usually reducible to certain axiomatic values. These are just that. They're perfectly rational in the context of what they are, a judgement on what should be pursued.

Why do you accept some axioms and not others? Clearly they're not all equally valuable. Do you think there's a subjective element? Do you think our emotions or irrational bias plays a role? This is what I believe.

In a similar way, someone could subjectively decide that certain religious claims have enough value to be axiomatically upheld, and then one can logically and rationally derive all sorts of claims from them. I think it's the same process, but in this case it's called faith.

The Great Hippo wrote:
Zcorp wrote:I've asked your side of this argument many times in the last few posts to describe to me specifically what you find valuable in Christianities teachings and why it is valuable that you learn it from the Bible rather than any place else. None of you have been able to give me an answer and every time it has been ignored.
May I answer in their stead?

Perhaps it was what their parents believed; perhaps it was what their parents' parents believed. Perhaps they've had a powerful, personal religious experience which has brought them to Jesus. Perhaps something in the Bible--or something in the teachings of Jesus--struck them as particularly true, or spoke to a particular experience or facet of their life. Perhaps they used a belief in God to get them through a rough patch, and they feel like they owe Him. Perhaps magical leprechauns invaded their brains and made them just really, really love wine and communion wafers.

This is a good point. I've already stated that part of my defense for my beliefs is subjective in nature. So it's not that Zcorp and I are maintaining similar positions but on opposite sides. I've stated numerous times that if people want to follow the path that Zcorp has laid out, they should feel free. I'm not personally convinced, but outside of my Christian ideology, I can't actually make a case that's it's bad. But Zcorp does claim that what I promote is bad. So he has a higher burden of proof. Clearly he feels he's met it, but I don't think he has. He's challenging the American culture around Christianity, which is not what I'm defending. (By the way, I do think this culture has much to be defended even if it has problems, but that's not the case I'm making here. This sort of argument would require us to parse the difference between "The culture is bad" and "The culture has bad stuff within it", something that I don't really want to spend time on.)

If we can't establish that something is harmful, then the only case to fight to remove it is that we find it ideologically unpleasant. This is what religious people do when they fight the acceptance of homosexuality. And while I know this is an unpopular position here, I believe that in principle it's the same thing when people fight the acceptance of religion*. There's nothing wrong with promoting what we feel is better, but this is different than fighting against the acceptance of something.

* My claim that they're the same in principle doesn't mean they're the same in impact. A minority group has much less potential to cause harm than a majority group.

bloatyspizzahog wrote:thats my point. we can have all the good things religion offers without the actual need for religion itself.
but with religion we get the same good things but with a crap ton of horrible atrocities and the ignorance of belief over learning through scientific practice.

For someone so strongly promoting the scientific process for establishing beliefs, you're making a strong claim that's well beyond what science tells us. You seem to have a lot of confidence in what we can get without religion even though we've never known a world where religion hasn't been a dominant force. I think that here you are doing precisely what you are saying is wrong with religion. You don't have sufficient evidence, but you promote your beliefs as fact.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


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