Religion: The Deuce

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guenther
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:22 am UTC

Dark567 wrote:Just because we evolved some behavior doesn't mean we ought to follow it. Many human behaviors which have evolutionary backgrounds could be seen as being immoral. Harris just commits the naturalistic fallacy, like so many others before him. His "science of morality" only describes the causes of the actions we take, not whether or not those actions are "good".

I haven't read his book, but I did hear an interview with him. My understanding is that he doesn't merely want to describe our current morals, but rather to devise a moral policy that helps us better achieve certain agreed upon goals (which he defines very broadly as "improving our well-being"). It's just like devising an economic policy to achieve certain economic goals. With this technique, you're not limited by what evolution has given us (at least not inherently, though some moral policies might be impractical because of how we're biologically wired). However, this technique is hampered based on how well we can study the problem, which I think is a daunting limitation.
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Dark567
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Dark567 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:44 am UTC

guenther wrote:I haven't read his book, but I did hear an interview with him. My understanding is that he doesn't merely want to describe our current morals, but rather to devise a moral policy that helps us better achieve certain agreed upon goals (which he defines very broadly as "improving our well-being").
If he defines the goal to be "well-being" than he hasn't moved morality into science at all. The debate on whether or not well-being should be maximized would still exist independent of that. If thats the case, why doesn't he just call himself a utilitarian?
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

guenther
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:50 am UTC

He might consider himself a utilitarian, I don't know. But he was making a case about science, not philosophy. And if people agree upon a set of axiomatic goals, we can theoretically apply science and learn what policy helps us best achieve them. Of course, it seems likely people won't agree, which is probably why he uses vague terms like "well-being".
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

infernovia
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:11 am UTC

And this game theory vs. love each other is also something to express creation, or a guiding hand, or whatever phrase you want to term to there being a being of power. If we all came directly out of unadulterated evolution, why is it that humans can feel love, have devotion to mates, or have ethics ?
-> Love makes no sense. Having one mate is silly to natural selection: the people who had the most babies should be the most expressed genes. Love should never have happened: it defies almost every rule of "survival of the fittest": its putting someone in your life ahead of your own importance. Its hard to spread your genes when you take that lion claw for your mate, but here it is. Its what makes Harry survive lord voldemort...
-> Ethics? Why ethics? Why is it that there is a general consensus that there should be fairness or equality. Laws have existed for as long as there has been recorded history: a society that creates at least a little bit of equity in a supposedly efficient free market of life or death. Merchants should all try and cheat people, and none of us should pay, but all steal. The first ethical mutation would have resulted in that guy being quite low on the food chain.

See, if you are going to go through with it, go through with it all the way.

How could "ethics" (more like equality and fairness) have survived? Wasn't it to garner wealth for the higher man? Sure, if individuals were strong enough to just steal from each other and cheat from each other, it could work, but only if there was not one individual stronger than the other. But in reality, you can't have this kind of equilibrium. One end will be more powerful than the other. And so, you get a powerful faction under a powerful leader who commands them to serve him. And he can't have them stealing from each other or being a self-serving asshat, no, that would decrease his own power. So he crushes these rebellions and promotes their helplessness (their servitude) so that he becomes stronger through their property.

Does this not explain Pax Monglica and Pax Romana?

And what about Love? It is wrong to make martyrs the only account of love. A woman loves, a man loves, and their love is much more basic and here one can see that love is about something quite different. It is the desire to completely own the other, first the body, then the mind, and even into their soul. And is this not what Jesus had done?

Zcorp
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:39 am UTC

Dark567 wrote: If he defines the goal to be "well-being" than he hasn't moved morality into science at all. The debate on whether or not well-being should be maximized would still exist independent of that. If thats the case, why doesn't he just call himself a utilitarian?

He believes that social science and neurology is becoming advanced enough to define well-being. Might want to read his book, watch his ted talk or do some research. Debating people that don't fully understand his arguments (myself included) is not only pointless it's destructive, instead if you entered the discussion to understand his arguments not only will we all learn but you're less likely to fall victim to confirmation bias.

bobjoesmith wrote:-> Love makes no sense. Having one mate is silly to natural selection: the people who had the most babies shoudl be the most expressed genes. Love should never have happened: it defies almost every rule of "survival of the fittest": its putting someone in your life ahead of your own importance. Its hard to spread your genes when you take that lion claw for your mate, but here it is. Its what makes Harry survive lord voldemort...
-> Ethics? Why ethics? Why is it that there is a general consensus that there should be fairness or equality. Laws have existed for as long as there has been recorded history: a society that creates at least a little bit of equity in a supposedly efficient free market of life or death. Merchants should all try and cheat people, and none of us should pay, but all steal. The first ethical mutation would have resulted in that guy being quite low on the food chain.

What does love have to do with monogamy? And love and empathy certainly should of happened, if our goal is to continue on our genes or find some aspect of immorality it only makes sense that we should value our offspring more than ourselves and the people that can more directly care for our offspring more than ourselves.

As for ethics it relates to the same issue, if I don't want to live in a world where I have to constantly worry about someone clubbing me and taking my shit, or just taking my shit (both of which affect my ability to become the fittest) I have to enter a social agreement/contract that I won't also do that to other people. Which is how societies function, and the role of societies have greatly influenced out evolution and ability to survive and thrive. The aspect of empathy that was created to find these social agreements desirable is often correlated to our survival vs that of other species, such is possibly neanderthal.

Here's Jeremy Rifkin discussing empathy and love it through the fun and engaging RSA animate format for you.

infernovia
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:58 pm UTC

Oh btw, its hilarious that he pulls Harry Potter into this equation. I mean what does a fairy tale have to do with a topic like this? That you would like Jesus's sacrifice to have protected you from the devil as long as you believed? Yeah, w/e.

Hey, listen! If you want to at least appear intelligent, stop pulling fiction writers into serious discussion.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Dark567 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:25 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Dark567 wrote: If he defines the goal to be "well-being" than he hasn't moved morality into science at all. The debate on whether or not well-being should be maximized would still exist independent of that. If thats the case, why doesn't he just call himself a utilitarian?

He believes that social science and neurology is becoming advanced enough to define well-being. Might want to read his book, watch his ted talk or do some research. Debating people that don't fully understand his arguments (myself included) is not only pointless it's destructive, instead if you entered the discussion to understand his arguments not only will we all learn but you're less likely to fall victim to confirmation bias.
I have seen the TED talk and read his book. Yes, he believes social science and neurology is becoming advanced enough to define well being, but that isn't what I am arguing against. He is making the claim that all morality moves into science because we can understand what we need to to do to maximize well being. He is assuming maximizing well being is a "good" thing(i.e. utilitarianism). This is precisely the point which philosophers have been arguing about for hundreds of years, whether or not maximizing well being, happiness or something else is "good". Harris just makes that assumption without any justification and claims ethics is now science.

Science can only answer moral questions about the more we have, not the ones we ought to have. This is the essence of the is-ought gap, something which Harris fails to recognize. Most major philosophers and scientist think the entire thing is worthless.
I apologize, 90% of the time I write on the Fora I am intoxicated.


Yakk wrote:The question the thought experiment I posted is aimed at answering: When falling in a black hole, do you see the entire universe's future history train-car into your ass, or not?

quantumcat42
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby quantumcat42 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Hey, listen! If you want to at least appear intelligent, stop pulling fiction writers into serious discussion.

This is not always a bad thing. Many works of fiction illuminate philosophical issues with real bearing on the world, and can bring value to a serious discussion. That being said... Harry Potter is not really one of them.

bobjoesmith
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bobjoesmith » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:29 pm UTC

...alrite guys... a. harry potter was a joke... im not saying hp is really a supporting fact... so meaning chill out... serious discussion doesn't mean you can't joke. serious.

b. When there is a huge empire, say the Pax Romana, it is to the Empire's interests because of bureaucracy: it is not like an individual. It works on a macro scale where there are armies to feed, and people to conqueor and at that point it mayu be less cost effective, but at a micro scale from which human civilization developed it wouldn't work. If we were all butt-scracthing monekys, we want peace but mr. kong doesn't. Why would he want us around to potentially challenge him for a mate? None of us attack him but he would attack us. Why Rome chose peace is because in a Empire of that size, its inefficient to communicate, send men, and a zillion other things: it chose to do it in its own interest. However, if there was no reason for love, peace or whatever, mr. supremeo would not have developed peace because he didn't need to march ten thousand men on foot four hundred miles and feed and lodge them in order to conqueor more land. He could just drive a male away and boom more mates.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:59 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:I have seen the TED talk and read his book. Yes, he believes social science and neurology is becoming advanced enough to define well being, but that isn't what I am arguing against. He is making the claim that all morality moves into science because we can understand what we need to to do to maximize well being. He is assuming maximizing well being is a "good" thing(i.e. utilitarianism). This is precisely the point which philosophers have been arguing about for hundreds of years, whether or not maximizing well being, happiness or something else is "good". Harris just makes that assumption without any justification and claims ethics is now science.
Great, then why are you accusing him of the naturalistic fallacy or that he's claiming human well-being as a moral goal is some how a revolutionary idea, because he does not do either of those things. Especially since you've read the book, it is wise not to straw-man his points when discussing them.

As for the links you provide, neither support the idea that most major philosophers and scientists think his arguments are worthless. Plus an appeal to authority is going to get you nowhere. The wiki link is full of ad hominems and no subtsance, while the NYT article is certainly critical and brings up good points it comes no where close to suggesting that it is worthless. The first argument against his book in the paper is that science has not yet revealed the entirety of human well being, which he doesn't claim that it does. His claim is simply that he thinks it can, based on the progress we have made so far and what even the relatively immediate future is expected to bring with developments in neuroscience and sociology. Plus no one taking 10 minutes to think about the Repugnant Conclusion believes that is what utilitarianism is arguing for.

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DecemberSoul
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DecemberSoul » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:12 pm UTC

I was under the impression that Sam Harris acknowledged that we had to first make the assumption that the goal of morality is the well-being of sentient beings (although this may be from a video of Richard Dawkins discussing the book The Moral Landscape). He is seeking a rational system of morality, and that is the only one we have. Certainly, most religions would make the claim that their systems of morality achieve this goal too. (For example , a Christian would say 'God loves you, so these rules are for your own good, and pleasing God is the ultimate in well-being' etc)
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Greyarcher
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:08 pm UTC

Woohoo! Finished! I told Guenther I'd write something on religion, children, adults, non-believers, and reasonable belief. It's a discussion post though, and not a book, so I don't present an exhaustive argument.

I use the discussion to propose that the majority of theists do not hold their religious beliefs on reasonable grounds.

Onwards!

---------

All people begin as non-believers. People who are born to religious families likely acquire religious beliefs at an early age; specifically, they're converted while they're children. If I'm not mistaken, this is the standard way religious beliefs perpetuates themselves (i.e. from generation to generation in religious families).

A vague problem itches at my mind when I think over this situation. The conversion rate seems oddly high. I would think that if the high conversion rate were through giving good reasons to believe then the high conversion rate shouldn't be limited to children. Hitting adults with the same corpus of reasons should convert them as well, if they're so convincing. Except of course that doesn't happen, and I find reason to think that it is because children are converted through various factors and influences that are distinct from proper reasons for belief.

What relevantly distinguishes a child from an adult in this situation? One could roughly sum it up in three factors: Independence, Worldliness, and Intellectual Maturity. But these are just labels; let's discuss their situation.

If a child is born to a religious family, we can expect that the child will be igiven the impression that the family's religious beliefs are true. The child is likely intellectually and socially dependent on the parents; they are both teachers and guardians; the information available to the child and the range of social contact will be largely determined by the parents. In other words, the major sources of information that we can expect the child to trust will convey that the religious belief is true.

If the family is part of a religious social group (e.g. via the church), we can expect them to provide further reinforcement that the religious beliefs are true.
Independent adults have likely developed standards of their own for evaluating new possible beliefs; that is, new possible beliefs are subject to a critical eye. But we can't expect a child to be that critical if the proposed belief comes from a trusted source (e.g. parents and people presented as trustworthy by the parents).
We can probably expect the child's exposure to contrary religious viewpoints to be low (e.g. not conveyed by the parents) and/or from a less trusted or discredited source (e.g. dismissed by the parents). Thus, any contrary information would be quite unable to meaningfully counter the primary religious influences on the child.

Basically, children are susceptible to conversion because, in contrast to adults, they have had little exposure to contrary social influence, little contrary information, and little critical mindset. All the factors described should have a significant effect on how easily one adopts a belief.

But note: none of these factors could really be construed as positive. We likely think positively of "an impartial, well-informed, and critical judgment", and negatively of "a biased, ignorant, and uncritical judgment". But given these factors, the child's judgment to hold a religious belief is the latter and not the former. In fact, the word "judgment" may not even apply; if the religious belief does not seem sufficiently controversial--due to the aforementioned factors--it may simply be absorbed as fact.

Thus, religious belief is pressed into young minds before they have the independence, information, or maturity to critically evaluate it. As the children grow to adulthood, it becomes difficult to dislodge the belief because they are no longer subject to the same influences/deficiencies that made them so easily converted as children. As a further frustration, the belief is defended by ex post facto justifications that are not the actual cause of their belief; its major claims are conveniently unconfirmable and/or unfalsifiable; and any criticisms receive the critical skeptical eye that their own religious belief did not receive.

If this situation is how religious belief is caused and how it perpetuates itself, then religious belief is unreasonable at its root.
In serious discussion, I usually strive to post with clarity, thoroughness, and precision so that others will not misunderstand; I strive for dispassion and an open mind, the better to avoid error.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Jimmigee » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:24 pm UTC

So, Greyarcher, I believe a summary is: 1) Children believe what they're taught and 2) as adults we are less likely to change these beliefs.

I'm not sure this applies more to religion than any other belief though. What is the conversion rate from religious to atheist?

I'd be tempted to suggest that most non-religious people don't hold their beliefs based on reason either. I bet a good proportion who believe we evolved from single celled organisms couldn't give you their reasoned argument, rather they trust in the system that provides that reasoning.

I think this is a comment on people in general, not religion.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:10 pm UTC

Jimmigee wrote:So, Greyarcher, I believe a summary is: 1) Children believe what they're taught and 2) as adults we are less likely to change these beliefs.
That's less of a summary, and more of a failure to address/counter specific criticisms while instead glossing over them via an over-simplified caricature.

Jimmigee wrote:I'm not sure this applies more to religion than any other belief though. What is the conversion rate from religious to atheist?
Children are mostly fed mundane information, and their beliefs are about those things (i.e. that's an apple; the sky is blue, 1+1=2, Europe is over here, the USA is over there, etc.). They're uncontroversial beliefs so critical mindsets or lack of contrary information aren't an issue--you'd expect an average well-informed adults to acquire those same beliefs if they weren't taught them in their childhood for some reason. Contrast this to religious belief: if average well-informed adults weren't taught a religion in their childhood, we don't have a reason to think they'd all acquire belief in, say, Judaism, or Hinduism, or Catholicism, or deism, etc. Religious beliefs are indeed notably different.

As for the latter question, who knows? It's obviously far less than the conversion rate from non-believer to believer, because otherwise most people would be atheist; but it seems irrelevant anyways.

Jimmigee wrote:I'd be tempted to suggest that most non-religious people don't hold their beliefs based on reason either. I bet a good proportion who believe we evolved from single celled organisms couldn't give you their reasoned argument, rather they trust in the system that provides that reasoning.
The response to this is basically the same as my earlier response contrasting religious belief with your average mundane beliefs. But if some people taught, say, a specific controversial political ideology to children and it was very hard to get them to disbelieve as adults, then I might agree that an argument like mine could be leveled at them. (Especially if they held certain unconfirmable and unfalsifiable claims as true that we'd expect they'd be much less likely to believe had they been raised without such teachings.)

To boil it down another way: if you were taught a specific belief as a child, but it's much less likely you would acquire or accept that specific belief as a well-informed adult, then my argument might apply.

Thanks for the reply. I'm aware there are a number of objections that can be made to my earlier post; I'll do my best to respond and discuss any problems if they're brought up.
In serious discussion, I usually strive to post with clarity, thoroughness, and precision so that others will not misunderstand; I strive for dispassion and an open mind, the better to avoid error.

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:14 pm UTC

guenther wrote:First: Science vs. Religion
Why can't we be both nice and have clean water? You act like our toolbox is only big enough to hold one tool. We either have a hammer or a screwdriver, but never both. I'm of the opinion that our toolbox is big enough to hold multiple tools. There are some questions that are difficult to scientifically study or are simply outright unscientific. Faith can help here, though of course it has the power to do bad stuff too. And then there are other areas where faith will give consistently bad results but science will triumph.

When I said faith can impede science, I meant that if a scientist has faith in a certain outcome, it will bias their ability to objectively observe. But if that same scientist has a faith in God, it doesn't necessarily have to conflict at all. Only on one screw or nail do we have to choose, but that doesn't mean our life is either filled with only screws or only nails. Also there's a middle ground where faith is inappropriate, but the science is lacking.

This begs the question: How can we tell when each tool is appropriate?

Religion does more to impede science than you give it credit for. Religious people actively fight science. Hell, look at scientology vs psychiatry. Christianity is no better. If you disagree, I urge you to open a history book. You can't miss it.

guenther wrote:Second: Love your Neighbor
"Don't be a dick" is a weak version of "Love your neighbor", and I think it's sad that people conflate them. And the Bible without the magic stuff isn't simply a message that we should love, even though that's certainly the most important. The book has lots of wisdom on how to live life.

If you want to pick game theory over the golden rule for your morality, go ahead. I do think there's utility to it, particularly in politics where teams win points by fostering animosity towards each other. These negative emotions are powerful motivators to take action. However, I personally think it's trading short-term political gains for long term societal dysfunction. Politics creates a huge distortion of perspective where acting rationally is very challenging. I think your approach will further fuel this leading to greater distortions. I believe the fix is to challenge the sharp divide, which means challenging our internal negative feelings about the opposition. The natural hook to do this is to extend empathy and respect across dividing lines. I think this will improve people's ability to think critically and rationally. And it will improve our ability to work together to produce even better results into the future. But it does come with the downside of being less politically effective since it means rejecting hate as a weapon.

First off, what wisdom? The golden rule that predates Christianity by several centuries? An eye for an eye? That people should stay away from menstruating women? That non-jews are a worthless sub-species of human?

'Golden Rule' vs. 'Prisoner's dilemma' isn't the dichotomy. The GR is a possible strategy to use in the dilemma. It would be the 'always co-operate' strategy. The dichotomy is 'Golden Rule' vs 'Tit-for-Tat'. The Golden Rule provides demonstrably worse results than tit-for-tat. So even in this case, religious faith, religious dogma, hurts people. Following this teaching is harmful. Promoting a harmful philosophy is evil.

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:I find the idea that perpetuating a lie to the masses as long as it serves an ulterior motive arrogant and offensive. This same logic that you to defend religion, is the the same process Bush used to get the States into Iraq. He preached the gospel of WMDs until enough people believed his subjective truth as objective truth.

I don't promote building up lies to serve ulterior motives. If you don't believe something you shouldn't promote it as truth. And if you do believe something and you promote it as truth, you aren't lying.
True. Although it seems like 'subjective truth' would be closer to the 'lie' end of the spectrum than the 'objective truth' end.

guenther wrote:Also, the analogy doesn't work. Who is making the case that we should have applied faith to the question of the existence of WMDs in Iraq? Who is saying that a question of war should be made on faith and not intel? Certainly I'm not, and I don't think Bush did either. Just because I believe that faith can have value doesn't mean we should apply it everywhere blindly.

The first thing that comes to mind is Rumsfeld's 'unknown unknowns' answer. Just to make sure we are on the same page. The thought process i'm talking about is the following.
1) Come up with something that 'feels right'
2) Use whatever fallacies, biases, and logical disconnects necessary to continue to believe what 'feels right' regardless of evidence.
3) Tell everyone you can, convincing them that what 'feels right' to you is the truth.
...
4) Profit

guenther wrote:A better analogy would be morality. For example, there's no way to measure the goodness/badness of homosexuality, so its truth is poorly define. But that doesn't stop people from actively professing their perceived moral truth as if it's objective fact. Not everyone describes this process as faith, but I think it's a similar phenomenon to the professed truths of religion.

Well, actually, no. You can easily define the goodness/badness of homosexuality. Once on the subject of sexual relationships, there are only so many possible options. You can have a relationship for sexual gratification, for reproduction, or for companionship. Most likely a combination of the three, with weights distributed differently between different people. There aren't really any other reason to enter a relationship. Given that entering a relationship is goal related behavior, it is easy to define the goodness/badness of orientation. For instance, if one was entering a relationship for the sole purpose of reproduction, a homosexual relationship would be a terrible choice.

That being said, the obvious winner in this case is bisexuality. Best of both worlds, none of the drawbacks. duh!
And how is being gay an analogy for WMDs in Iraq?

Ortus wrote:Faith has a different connotation here than I'm used to, and I think that's what is giving me the most trouble. Maybe I'm synonymising faith and philosophy (the ideal of philosophy, rather)? Anyways, as to the bolded: I wasn't aiming for that question exactly. I'm differentiating between SCIENCE and science, RELIGION and religion. SCIENCE (Science) is the scientific process, science is the actual stuff derived from that process (subject to change, essentially meaningless to the process). RELIGION (Religion) is 'faith' (or my interpretation of it, I guess) and religion is, say, Christianity or Judaism which is, essentially, meaningless to the idea of faith. That's where I'm trying to draw parallels, though I could be wrong in my assumptions. The idea that the actual substance of a science, or of a faith, is on some level irrelevant, as it is subject to change, to evolve and grow as our understanding grows and it is the process (Science and Religion) that is the thing that truly matters. If either faith or science fail to grow as our understanding grows, as in our substance (irrelevant things) and our essence (the process of the scientific method and 'faith') don't evolve with our understanding, I would label that as a failing (and failing is okay, it is [or should be ffs] encouraged) of the person/people perpetrating the understanding and not the actual idea of Science and Religion.

Were that to be the case, that the two were rather inseparable yet apart and capable of almost painless change, the amount of growth in both areas would be astonishing, even by today's standards. Or I could just be romanticizing the whole thing xD

First there is no reason to be all confusing with dIFferEnt capitalization schemes. We have terms for all your capitalizations, use them.
Science: The scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

science: science
Science is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the natural world. An older meaning still in use today is that of Aristotle, for whom scientific knowledge was a body of reliable knowledge that can be logically and rationally explained .

Religion: faith
Faith is the confident belief or trust in a person, idea, or thing that is not based on proof. Faith is also referred to as “confidence or trust in a person or thing”. As in, evidences of someone’s abilities gave him the faith that they had the ability to do the same (or similar) again. And therefore can be based on proofs or evidences, which can then be projected onto future events.
The word faith can refer to a religion itself or to religion in general. As with trust, faith involves a concept of future events or outcomes, and is used conversely for a belief "not resting on logical proof or material evidence." Informal usage of the word faith can be quite broad, and may be used in place of trust or belief.

religion: religion
Religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of life and the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency, or human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.


Secondly, there are inherent differences in how religion and science changes. When Einstein come around and shows the inaccuracies of Newton's planet motions, it doesn't make Newton wrong. All it does is add nuance and subtleties to the old models. When a geologist comes along and says that the earth is 4.5b years old, it doesn't add subtly and nuance to the idea that the earth is 6000 years old, it makes it flat out wrong. Science is designed to change. Religion is inherently static. How can a timeless, omnipotent, omniscient god evolve? It is counter to the very idea of god.


bobjoesmith wrote:
Jimmigee wrote:Extend this: "how can something exist WITHOUT a guiding hand in building the complexity" to a god and you'll see it has no use as an argument.


By the same token, if the universe could have given us sentient life, why could it not have given us a God as well?

It could have, but then that god wouldn't be the creator, would he?
Oh and occam's razor.

bobjoesmith wrote:And on this science vs. faith thing, distinguish religion from dogma. Earth is flat? Dogma. [Ok, and it makes me angry when people say this, because Pythagoras had found spherical Earth over a millenia ago. By Columbus, anyone learned could tell you the Earth was a sphere. they just didn't know if you could go all the way to China- and they were right] Jesus is God? Faith. Burn the witches? Dogma. God exists? Faith. Crusade for God? Dogma. God is good? Faith.
-> Distinguish clearly the manipulation of religion for human ends and what is in the bible. There is not a single sentence in the bible that says go and kill Muslims, nor does it once say to establish inquisitions. All the foul things listed were done by people to gain power. Hitler didn't have a religious end, and nor did Mao or Stalin. In fact Mao and Stalin detested religion, but caused just as much harm as "a metric fucktonne of crusades" as nitePhyyre said: in fact if you put "a metric fucktonne of crusades" into a single year of Stalin's rule, it would probably be sent to the gulags for being small and insignificant. Be clear on what religion says and what dogma says. The Pope may be the Catholic's rep on Earth and the King of England may've been the Anglicans' , but find me the sentence in the bible that says marry like 8 times and chop of bunch of their heads off [King Henry VIII cough]

Burn the witches?
There are several references to witchcraft in the Bible that strongly condemn such practices. For example, Deuteronomy 18:11-12 condemns anyone who "..casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you" (NIV); Exodus 22:18 states "Do not allow a sorceress to live" (NIV).

So how exactly do we differentiate what is dogma and what is faith?

bobjoesmith wrote:And this game theory vs. love each other is also something to express creation, or a guiding hand, or whatever phrase you want to term to there being a being of power. If we all came directly out of unadulterated evolution, why is it that humans can feel love, have devotion to mates, or have ethics ?
-> Love makes no sense. Having one mate is silly to natural selection: the people who had the most babies shoudl be the most expressed genes. Love should never have happened: it defies almost every rule of "survival of the fittest": its putting someone in your life ahead of your own importance. Its hard to spread your genes when you take that lion claw for your mate, but here it is. Its what makes Harry survive lord voldemort...
-> Ethics? Why ethics? Why is it that there is a general consensus that there should be fairness or equality. Laws have existed for as long as there has been recorded history: a society that creates at least a little bit of equity in a supposedly efficient free market of life or death. Merchants should all try and cheat people, and none of us should pay, but all steal. The first ethical mutation would have resulted in that guy being quite low on the food chain.

As said before "Don't be a dick." Yes but this in and of itself is something to show that something must have had a hand in our development. The guy who isnt being a "dick" is going to be the one screwed over by all the ones who havent learned not to be that way.

There is just so much ignorance in that block I am amused. It's also funny because Harry then goes on to marry Ginny and have three kids, ensuring that Harry's mother's genes get spread. Your example actually works against you. But seriously, you need to do some reading on evolutionary ethics. This crap you are spouting just embarrasses you.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:24 pm UTC

bobjoesmith wrote:And on this science vs. faith thing, distinguish religion from dogma. Earth is flat? Dogma. [Ok, and it makes me angry when people say this, because Pythagoras had found spherical Earth over a millenia ago. By Columbus, anyone learned could tell you the Earth was a sphere. they just didn't know if you could go all the way to China- and they were right] Jesus is God? Faith. Burn the witches? Dogma. God exists? Faith. Crusade for God? Dogma. God is good? Faith.
-> Distinguish clearly the manipulation of religion for human ends and what is in the bible. There is not a single sentence in the bible that says go and kill Muslims, nor does it once say to establish inquisitions. All the foul things listed were done by people to gain power. Hitler didn't have a religious end, and nor did Mao or Stalin. In fact Mao and Stalin detested religion, but caused just as much harm as "a metric fucktonne of crusades" as nitePhyyre said: in fact if you put "a metric fucktonne of crusades" into a single year of Stalin's rule, it would probably be sent to the gulags for being small and insignificant. Be clear on what religion says and what dogma says. The Pope may be the Catholic's rep on Earth and the King of England may've been the Anglicans' , but find me the sentence in the bible that says marry like 8 times and chop of bunch of their heads off [King Henry VIII cough]


um, the bible does in fact say "go and kill Muslims"...perhaps not in those exact words but in one of those wonderful fun books about rules (probably Deuteronomy or Leviticus...sorry but i seem to have lost a link to my typical source for these kinds of things....if i can find it i'll clean this up for accuracy) a direct command is given to kill anyone who doesn't believe in the "God" that's giving the rules. it's generally assumed that the "God" in the bible is not the same guy that Muslims talk about in the Koran (Allah). While the inquisition was almost certainly more about gaining power/land/money than anything else, their tactics and the edicts they followed to set up the entire process were FIRMLY rooted in the bible. Most people seem to forget that A LOT of the population actually supported the inquisition (until they were at your doorstep) because it's methods and reasons were in the bible. so don't claim that things like the inquisition or crusades have nothing to do with the bible simply because there wasn't a passage that said "verily, thou shalt go out and murder the shit out of some folks in spain in my name. it'll be a gas".

Edit:adding sources in an edit so as to not incur the wrath of the double post

Skeptics Annotated Bible


Deuteronomy 7
7:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
7:2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
7:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
7:4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
7:5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
7:6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
any clue where people got the idea that god wanted them to go on a crusade?

Deuteronomy 5
5:7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
5:8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
5:9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
i.e. if the god they're saddled up with isn't me, kill em

Deuteronomy 7 (again)
7:16 And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them : neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.
if god doesn't like someone, he wants you to kill/shun/whatever them

7:25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therin: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God
7:26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.
wonder where people got the idea to go kill anyone who didn't believe the same thing they did?

Deuteronomy 12
12:2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
12:3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
starting to see a trend here

Deuteronomy 13
13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
13:7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
13:8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
13:9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.


13:12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
13:13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
13:14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;
13:15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.
13:16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.



Deuteronomy 17
17:2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant,
17:3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
17:4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:
17:5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.


Deuteronomy 18 (for the witches)
18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.
18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
18:12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.


just in case you want to go with the "well, those were commandments directly to the Israelites, and i am not one of those" argument.
Deuteronomy 29
28:14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
which is followed by a long list of nasty crap that will happen to you.

AH! but it's still the OT, surely that doesn't apply to a modern christian/someone who follows the bible.... Jesus himself said (multiple times) that you must follow every jot and title of all of the laws ever given by "god"
Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.


Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


so that also means that if your kids talk back to you, you should kill them on sight otherwise you aren't going to heaven
Last edited by DSenette on Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:23 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:45 pm UTC

I don't believe that such a verse exists, as I have never seen it cited by anyone, and so I'd request that you provide an actual reference instead of just waving in its general direction.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:58 pm UTC

Greyarcher wrote:If this situation is how religious belief is caused and how it perpetuates itself, then religious belief is unreasonable at its root.

I would say that people are unreasonable at their root. :) The problem you cite with religion exists all over the place (this echos Jimmigee's point) . The most straightforward example would be morality. Should parents keep their children agnostic on whether rape or slavery is OK until they're at an age where they can critically evaluate it without bias? Am I harming open-mindedness by teaching my kids that racism is wrong? On the contrary, I say that it's OK to sometimes give kids a bias, in fact its essential.

Moral truths and religious truths are, as I called them earlier, bubble truths. By this I mean that there's no defined way of testing them for correctness, but they persist because they get shared across a group and get treated as objective facts. Also earlier, I theorized that these bubble truths exist because they encode wisdom on how to behave. This differs from science where facts in their purest form are completely devoid of wisdom.

And it's not just morality and religion that falls into this category. In politics, people have a weird fusion of bubble narratives and hard facts. Take "The tea party is racist" as an example. One may be able to bring up evidence (e.g. "Person X said ..."), but its poorly defined how to evaluate if a group is racist. Does that mean they do racist things? What is a racist action? How often do you have to do it? How many of the members need to do it before the whole group takes on that label? If you pin people down they'll start answering these things, but I bet most of it is reactionary to the question. I've found that many people don't need to know these things precisely to factually claim that the Tea Party is racist. Also, the answers when given are quite subjective, where you'll get wide variations depending on who and when you ask.

The fact is that we aren't perfectly rational in how we form our beliefs. The impact from others is huge, and the bias from childhood is huge. Especially in areas where truth is poorly defined (and also in areas where truth is better defined but the answer is unknown). I think you set a high bar on what should be considered a "reasonable belief". As an example:

Greyarcher wrote:As a further frustration, the belief is defended by ex post facto justifications that are not the actual cause of their belief

The problem is that we simply don't know how beliefs are formed. Or rather we do know, but we're often wrong. As an example, suppose someone is just so unimpressed by Sarah Palin after hearing her speak (imagine this in 2008 when people first were exposed to her), but they can't put into words what the problem is. Then they go online and find a well written critique of her points. I bet it's an easy stretch to take those points as actually reasons for why they were unimpressed, even though there's really no evidence that that's the case. It's impossible (outside of tightly controlled lab settings) to really know why we believe something. The best we can do is evaluate the justification for the belief, which is often formed ex post facto. In fact, when people talk about why they believe, I bet it's more precisely described as how they justify their belief.


@nitePhyre: I'll have to respond to you a little later.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:02 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I don't believe that such a verse exists, as I have never seen it cited by anyone, and so I'd request that you provide an actual reference instead of just waving in its general direction.


http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+13%3A6-10&version=NIV

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:19 pm UTC

Aha! I thought someone would call me on that ex post facto justification remark, and you did, Guenther. That comparison of religious beliefs to moral beliefs is interesting--a bit tricky--but I think I should be able to distinguish them sufficiently to make my main criticisms hold.

It'll take me a little while to write up an adequate response to your points. A few days, maybe.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:20 pm UTC

@TheGrammarBolshevik see my edit above, i found my source
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:36 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
Greyarcher wrote:If this situation is how religious belief is caused and how it perpetuates itself, then religious belief is unreasonable at its root.

I would say that people are unreasonable at their root. :) The problem you cite with religion exists all over the place (this echos Jimmigee's point) . The most straightforward example would be morality. Should parents keep their children agnostic on whether rape or slavery is OK until they're at an age where they can critically evaluate it without bias? Am I harming open-mindedness by teaching my kids that racism is wrong? On the contrary, I say that it's OK to sometimes give kids a bias, in fact its essential.

but why should a method based on conjecture and things that are quite provably wrong (i.e. the bible) be the source for your teaching? why should a fear of God be the reason that your kids don't want to go on a murder spree? why not just a well balanced sense of reason/logic?

the argument that religion is good because it teaches children how to behave is quite similar to the idea that you can get your kids to behave for half a year by threatening them with Santa Claus and a stocking full of coal.

Morality has NO reason to be tied to religion/faith/god/anything other than rational thought. you teach your kids that murder is wrong (which by the way, you don't really have to teach many people. i seriously doubt that anyone raised in any situation that doesn't explicitly promote the murder of other humans would grow up to think murder is good) by stating enough logical reasons for it being wrong. would you want someone to murder you? would you want someone to murder your mom? your puppy? no? well then maybe you shouldn't murder folks
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:28 am UTC

@nitePhyyre: If you don't mind, I'm going to zero in on this piece for my response to you.

nitePhyyre wrote:'Golden Rule' vs. 'Prisoner's dilemma' isn't the dichotomy. The GR is a possible strategy to use in the dilemma. It would be the 'always co-operate' strategy. The dichotomy is 'Golden Rule' vs 'Tit-for-Tat'. The Golden Rule provides demonstrably worse results than tit-for-tat. So even in this case, religious faith, religious dogma, hurts people. Following this teaching is harmful. Promoting a harmful philosophy is evil.

I'd like you to provide a citation regarding that the Golden Rule is better than tit-for-tat. And by the way, this is different than the Christian rule of love your neighbor, so if you have a citation for why that's inferior as well, I'd like to see it. And further, I'd like a citation that religion is harmful. Not merely that religious people cause harm, but that religious faith is the source of the problem (as opposed to culture, politics, etc.). In other words, we should be able to fix the harm by removing a belief in God, and the harm should not be fixable while the belief remains.

I'm just trying to understand your moral claim about how promoting Christianity is evil. Specifically I'm trying to understand why what my parents did is evil and how I've been harmed as a result. (Or perhaps how I've harmed others due to my parents' sins.)

Greyarcher wrote:It'll take me a little while to write up an adequate response to your points. A few days, maybe.

Take your time. :) Though I'm curious to hear your take on it.

DSenette wrote:but why should a method based on conjecture and things that are quite provably wrong (i.e. the bible) be the source for your teaching? why should a fear of God be the reason that your kids don't want to go on a murder spree? why not just a well balanced sense of reason/logic?

I don't know about you're experience with kids, but I don't find that they have a well balanced sense of reason/logic. Fear of punishment, and fear of disappointment can be important motivators for children (though of course everything in moderation). Whether children should be taught to fear God in this way depends on what the parents believe. This is what distinguishes religious beliefs from a belief in Santa, since most parents don't actually believe Santa is real. If you don't believe that God is real, then the analogy is quite solid.

DSenette wrote:Morality has NO reason to be tied to religion/faith/god/anything other than rational thought. you teach your kids that murder is wrong (which by the way, you don't really have to teach many people. i seriously doubt that anyone raised in any situation that doesn't explicitly promote the murder of other humans would grow up to think murder is good) by stating enough logical reasons for it being wrong. would you want someone to murder you? would you want someone to murder your mom? your puppy? no? well then maybe you shouldn't murder folks

This assumes that if you murder someone, that there's a good chance of reciprocity. If you can guard against that (i.e. murder discretely and with care), why should it matter how you want others to treat you? Unless you're invoking the Golden Rule. But then where's the justification for that?

Of course, as you mention, we generally don't have to teach people not to kill. Is that because of the power of reason/logic? Or is it because we have such a strong gut reaction against it? This is an emotional bias, which is actually a corruption of a perfectly logical process. How is using feelings to help justify a belief that killing is wrong different than using feelings as part of a basis to believe in God?

Also, I'm far from impressed by people applying logic and reason to build up moral conclusions. I've seen people promote some truly awful things that were quite solid based on their logical premises. For example, someone on these boards once suggested that it's OK to "abort" a 3 year old child. I've never been so repulsed by a post here (being a father of a 3-year-old certainly didn't help). It's monstrous. The fact is that with reason and logic we can really justify anything we want. We just need the right starting axioms. How do we choose which starting axioms are good? Many people simply appeal to the obvious, but then that's just another bubble truth without any real justification.

A final point on logic/reason: constructing a solid moral framework is only half the battle. You could devise the best moral code ever, but if you can't actually get anyone to do it, it's worthless. Logic/reason are weak here. Look at diet where there's absolutely no controversy about the science of how poor eating habits are harmful, and then look at the number of people that change their behavior when presented with this strong case. I'd argue that morality is an even tougher nut. With dieting, you trade personal short-term gain for personal long-term harm. The rational case is clear, and our ability to establish cause and effect is straight forward. But in the realm of morality, the harm often lands on other people. Since the number of variables have increased (by having to look at the lives of more people), cause and effect is much harder to establish. And aside from that, the rational case is much less clear in regards to how much we personally should be allowed to benefit at the expense of others.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby duckshirt » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:43 am UTC

The Golden Rule has been mentioned several times already... Does anyone actually follow the Golden Rule? I mean, I'm sure we'd all love it if someone bought us a new computer, but it's not often we actually do it for someone else... At best, we follow a more cheap version like "Either do unto others as you'd like them to do to you, or else pretend they don't exist..." or "Do unto others what they would do for you / have done for you / are believed to deserve..."
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:44 am UTC

I read "want" in a narrower sense than "things that would be nice". To me it's about using our intuition in how we'd ought to be treated and applying it to others. We have a strong bias to the self, and it's a principle that takes advantage of it.

If taken too broadly, this and "Love your neighbor as yourself" can be problematic to interpret in a practical way. But I think there are practical ways to live up to those principals. But do people actually do it? I don't as much as I should. :)
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:11 pm UTC

guenther wrote:@nitePhyyre: If you don't mind, I'm going to zero in on this piece for my response to you.

nitePhyyre wrote:'Golden Rule' vs. 'Prisoner's dilemma' isn't the dichotomy. The GR is a possible strategy to use in the dilemma. It would be the 'always co-operate' strategy. The dichotomy is 'Golden Rule' vs 'Tit-for-Tat'. The Golden Rule provides demonstrably worse results than tit-for-tat. So even in this case, religious faith, religious dogma, hurts people. Following this teaching is harmful. Promoting a harmful philosophy is evil.

I'd like you to provide a citation regarding that the Golden Rule is better than tit-for-tat. And by the way, this is different than the Christian rule of love your neighbor, so if you have a citation for why that's inferior as well, I'd like to see it. And further, I'd like a citation that religion is harmful. Not merely that religious people cause harm, but that religious faith is the source of the problem (as opposed to culture, politics, etc.). In other words, we should be able to fix the harm by removing a belief in God, and the harm should not be fixable while the belief remains.

I'm just trying to understand your moral claim about how promoting Christianity is evil. Specifically I'm trying to understand why what my parents did is evil and how I've been harmed as a result. (Or perhaps how I've harmed others due to my parents' sins.)

i can't answer for nitePhyyre but on the "religion is harmful"....i'm am a strong athiest and religion in general seems wholly illogical/pointless to me. HOWEVER, i can see the value of religion when it's practiced responsibly. the problem is, FREQUENTLY (not always, never always) people use organized religion and it's teachings for the basis of horrendous actions. A subset of Islam has taken what THEY think the religion means and used it to justify blowing up children. that's demonstrable harm caused by religion. a (LARGE) subset of Christianity uses their religion as the basis for hate against homosexuals (and i don't mean mild intolerance, i mean hate, murder and violence).

taking the standpoint that religion plays no part in these peoples actions is shortsighted. these people learned to hate from somewhere, and whoever they learned it from learned it from somewhere as well. reading the documents that these people who carry out these actions cite as the basis for their beliefs and actions, religion is the only source. it says in the bible that you should kill homosexuals, since they'll go to jail for actually doing that, they just discriminate and propagate hate against them

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:but why should a method based on conjecture and things that are quite provably wrong (i.e. the bible) be the source for your teaching? why should a fear of God be the reason that your kids don't want to go on a murder spree? why not just a well balanced sense of reason/logic?

I don't know about you're experience with kids, but I don't find that they have a well balanced sense of reason/logic. Fear of punishment, and fear of disappointment can be important motivators for children (though of course everything in moderation). Whether children should be taught to fear God in this way depends on what the parents believe. This is what distinguishes religious beliefs from a belief in Santa, since most parents don't actually believe Santa is real. If you don't believe that God is real, then the analogy is quite solid.
i have a decent amount of experience with kids, though i have none of my own. and i know full well that if you raise your child to think logically and rationally that they can in fact have a VERY well balanced sense of reason and logic. Most children aren't given the benefit of the doubt that they are capable of figuring things out on their own and making their own decisions (to a point, letting a child figure out that a stove is hot by putting their hands on it is irresponsible). there are certain inarguable "truths" that anyone can teach a child without having to resort to indoctrination or invocation of fear of God (which brings up enough other arguments to fill the storage space for this board). teaching your children that rape, murder, theft, lies, etc... are wrong doesn't require any leaps of faith, or the fear of God. your children should be taught not to want to do those things because they're not acceptable actions (again, except for petty theft and lying i can be pretty sure that anyone left to their own devices would understand the value of these actions)

teaching your children that they must believe in God (or a god) to be a good person is called indoctrination. i'm not accusing you of brainwashing your kids, or suggesting that you stifle free thought in your home (though the following statements may seem as such, they're generalizations and observations). IF children are force fed morality by way of the bible/jesus/allah/ja/whoever, then they're not being encouraged to think for themselves and make their own decisions. at that point they accept the "well, that's the way it is" answer FAR too often, instead of asking "why exactly is that the way it is?". which results in thoughtless regurgitation of passed down beliefs. EVEN when the person regurgitating said beliefs doesn't REALLY necessarily believe them.

The fear of "God" and religious persecution kills A LOT of homosexual teenagers every year. They're raised to believe that homosexuals are an abomination in the eyes of "the lord", so when they finally figure out that they are, in fact gay, they can't cope. then they attempt or commit suicide, all because of their taught belief in "a loving god that is made of love, that loves everyone, and created everyone in his image, well, except fags".

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:Morality has NO reason to be tied to religion/faith/god/anything other than rational thought. you teach your kids that murder is wrong (which by the way, you don't really have to teach many people. i seriously doubt that anyone raised in any situation that doesn't explicitly promote the murder of other humans would grow up to think murder is good) by stating enough logical reasons for it being wrong. would you want someone to murder you? would you want someone to murder your mom? your puppy? no? well then maybe you shouldn't murder folks

This assumes that if you murder someone, that there's a good chance of reciprocity. If you can guard against that (i.e. murder discretely and with care), why should it matter how you want others to treat you? Unless you're invoking the Golden Rule. But then where's the justification for that?
why would there need to be a threat of reciprocity? teaching someone something is wrong doesn't always have to suggest that it's wrong because you wouldn't want it to happen to you (though, that is the golden rule). i used that line of thought as an example but it's not the only method, though, teaching children by the concept of reciprocity is the most effective method until age 5, since before then they don't really have a concept of anything outside of themselves, nor do they have the capacity for empathy. Once a child reaches an age where empathy starts happening (generally 6), you can ask them how they'd feel if they got murdered, or if mommy got murdered and then apply that concept of empathy towards others outside of themselves.

by your logic, every human being on the planet is just walking around WAITING to go out on a murdering spree, but because they're afraid of God's wrath or going to prison they don't do it. i think that's awfully degrading to our species. we're born with the instinct of self preservation, but we're also born with the instinct of species preservation, IN GENERAL it almost NEVER serves a good enough benefit to kill someone else. even for money or greed, it's just not a good equation for cost/benefit. regardless of some supernatural judge, some earthly judge, or prison.


guenther wrote:Of course, as you mention, we generally don't have to teach people not to kill. Is that because of the power of reason/logic? Or is it because we have such a strong gut reaction against it? This is an emotional bias, which is actually a corruption of a perfectly logical process. How is using feelings to help justify a belief that killing is wrong different than using feelings as part of a basis to believe in God?
i will NEVER EVER EVER EVER state that someone shouldn't believe in god, God, gods. As long as they've been given the choice to come to that conclusion on their own, and it's not a situation of "well daddy said God is up in heaven so, surely he must be". IF being of faith helps you live your life, then by all means that's great and i don't value your intelligence any less that someone who doesn't. just don't try to force your religion on anyone else, let everyone decide for themselves.

but, to that end, we're still talking about the education of children at this point. you can come to completely logical assertions about morality without the invocation of emotion and bias, assuming you've been taught to trust reason and logic and to think freely.

guenther wrote:Also, I'm far from impressed by people applying logic and reason to build up moral conclusions. I've seen people promote some truly awful things that were quite solid based on their logical premises. For example, someone on these boards once suggested that it's OK to "abort" a 3 year old child. I've never been so repulsed by a post here (being a father of a 3-year-old certainly didn't help). It's monstrous. The fact is that with reason and logic we can really justify anything we want. We just need the right starting axioms. How do we choose which starting axioms are good? Many people simply appeal to the obvious, but then that's just another bubble truth without any real justification.
did the person who you're mentioning (citation would be awesome on this one so i can see who was stupid enough to say something like that in public) actually cite rational/logical reasons for their assertion? with TRUE reason and TRUE logic you can't justify anything. you can rationalize any misguided belief you choose, but generally, those beliefs that you're having to fight that hard to rationalize aren't based in fact.

guenther wrote:A final point on logic/reason: constructing a solid moral framework is only half the battle. You could devise the best moral code ever, but if you can't actually get anyone to do it, it's worthless. Logic/reason are weak here. Look at diet where there's absolutely no controversy about the science of how poor eating habits are harmful, and then look at the number of people that change their behavior when presented with this strong case. I'd argue that morality is an even tougher nut. With dieting, you trade personal short-term gain for personal long-term harm. The rational case is clear, and our ability to establish cause and effect is straight forward. But in the realm of morality, the harm often lands on other people. Since the number of variables have increased (by having to look at the lives of more people), cause and effect is much harder to establish. And aside from that, the rational case is much less clear in regards to how much we personally should be allowed to benefit at the expense of others.

well, we'll never actually solve any morality debate as far as getting to a unified moral code. that's just never going to happen ever. morality is not only situational, it's also geographical, cultural, and dynamic. what's moral today wasn't moral before and it possibly won't be moral tomorrow. but when talking about base morality (i.e. don't kill people) then certain "truths" have pretty much always been true, even before religion. those are instinctual morals, the things that keep us rolling as a species. it actually takes some serious work to get rid of those types of morality.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby nitePhyyre » Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:36 pm UTC

guenther wrote:@nitePhyyre: If you don't mind, I'm going to zero in on this piece for my response to you.

nitePhyyre wrote:'Golden Rule' vs. 'Prisoner's dilemma' isn't the dichotomy. The GR is a possible strategy to use in the dilemma. It would be the 'always co-operate' strategy. The dichotomy is 'Golden Rule' vs 'Tit-for-Tat'. The Golden Rule provides demonstrably worse results than tit-for-tat. So even in this case, religious faith, religious dogma, hurts people. Following this teaching is harmful. Promoting a harmful philosophy is evil.

I'd like you to provide a citation regarding that the Golden Rule is better than tit-for-tat. And by the way, this is different than the Christian rule of love your neighbor, so if you have a citation for why that's inferior as well, I'd like to see it. And further, I'd like a citation that religion is harmful. Not merely that religious people cause harm, but that religious faith is the source of the problem (as opposed to culture, politics, etc.). In other words, we should be able to fix the harm by removing a belief in God, and the harm should not be fixable while the belief remains.

I'm just trying to understand your moral claim about how promoting Christianity is evil. Specifically I'm trying to understand why what my parents did is evil and how I've been harmed as a result. (Or perhaps how I've harmed others due to my parents' sins.)

Love your neighbor is the golden rule.
Wiki on the Golden Rule wrote:Christianity adopted the golden rule from two edicts, found in Leviticus 19:18 ("Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.", see also Great Commandment) and Leviticus 19:34 ("But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God"). Leviticus 19:34 universalizes the edict of Leviticus 19:18 from "one of your people" to all of humankind.

A cursory glance at the Prisoner's Dilemma wiki page would answer most of the citations you asked for. Maybe you should put in an iota of effort to actually learn a bit about the subject you were going to respond to? No? Too lazy? Fine, I'll point you in the right direction.

Prisoner's Dilemma wrote:Axelrod discovered that when these encounters were repeated over a long period of time with many players, each with different strategies, greedy strategies tended to do very poorly in the long run while more altruistic strategies did better, as judged purely by self-interest. He used this to show a possible mechanism for the evolution of altruistic behaviour from mechanisms that are initially purely selfish, by natural selection.
The best deterministic strategy was found to be tit for tat, which Anatol Rapoport developed and entered into the tournament. [...] The strategy is simply to cooperate on the first iteration of the game; after that, the player does what his or her opponent did on the previous move. Depending on the situation, a slightly better strategy can be "tit for tat with forgiveness." When the opponent defects, on the next move, the player sometimes cooperates anyway, with a small probability (around 1–5%). This allows for occasional recovery from getting trapped in a cycle of defections. The exact probability depends on the line-up of opponents.
By analysing the top-scoring strategies, Axelrod stated several conditions necessary for a strategy to be successful.
Nice
The most important condition is that the strategy must be "nice", that is, it will not defect before its opponent does (this is sometimes referred to as an "optimistic" algorithm). Almost all of the top-scoring strategies were nice; therefore a purely selfish strategy will not "cheat" on its opponent, for purely utilitarian reasons first.
Retaliating
However, Axelrod contended, the successful strategy must not be a blind optimist. It must sometimes retaliate. An example of a non-retaliating strategy is Always Cooperate. This is a very bad choice, as "nasty" strategies will ruthlessly exploit such players.
Forgiving
Successful strategies must also be forgiving. Though players will retaliate, they will once again fall back to cooperating if the opponent does not continue to defect. This stops long runs of revenge and counter-revenge, maximizing points.
Non-envious
The last quality is being non-envious, that is not striving to score more than the opponent (impossible for a ‘nice’ strategy, i.e., a 'nice' strategy can never score more than the opponent).


I use an awkward definition of evil. Probably should have mentioned that and said what definition I'm using when I call something evil. My bad. Anyways, Here it goes:
Evil is partaking in or the promotion of non-optimal moral solutions over known better solutions.
A) evil is non-optimal moral solution.
B) GR is a non-optimal solution
C) Christianity promotes the GR as (one of) it's most critical point
therefore Christianity is evil.
There are other instances, but they basically all follow that pattern. Deductive logic, or inductive logic.

DSenette wrote:IF children are force fed morality by way of the bible/jesus/allah/ja/whoever, then they're not being encouraged to think for themselves and make their own decisions. at that point they accept the "well, that's the way it is" answer FAR too often, instead of asking "why exactly is that the way it is?". which results in thoughtless regurgitation of passed down beliefs. EVEN when the person regurgitating said beliefs doesn't REALLY necessarily believe them.

This is probably my biggest concern regarding religion. I would love to know if anyone has any empirical data saying whether this concern is baseless or not.
Does accepting the idea of faith as a virtue make someone [more] faithful in non-religious settings?

guenther, it seems some of your views are reliant on science and religion have each having their own time and place, and that the bible is a good place to receive wisdom.
How do we tell which tool to use and when?
What wisdom can one take away from the bible?

DSenette wrote:IF children are force fed morality by way of the bible/jesus/allah/ja/whoever, then they're not being encouraged to think for themselves and make their own decisions. at that point they accept the "well, that's the way it is" answer FAR too often, instead of asking "why exactly is that the way it is?". which results in thoughtless regurgitation of passed down beliefs. EVEN when the person regurgitating said beliefs doesn't REALLY necessarily believe them.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:11 pm UTC

@DSenette: You are taking a much more moderate stance than nitePhyyre, and a lot of your argument seems to boil down to being against bad religion, rather than religion. While I'm sure you and I will disagree on what's good religion and what's bad, I also suspect we have a wide area of agreement. So if it's OK with you, I'm going to skip that part of the debate since I'm arguing that there are healthy ways to be religious, not to specifically discern what's healthy and what's not. I'm not entirely opposed to that discussion, but it's just in a different direction than I've been going.

And let me also point out that while I'm defending Christianity, I'm not making the case that one must be Christian to be good/raise good children/etc. So when I say that within Christianity we can do good things, I don't mean that you can't do good things as an atheist.

DSenette wrote:it says in the bible that you should kill homosexuals, since they'll go to jail for actually doing that, they just discriminate and propagate hate against them

First, can you cite which verse you're talking about? Second, "It says X in the Bible" is not the same as "Based on what the Bible says, Christians should do X". Third, I think this is a weak argument that the Bible actually causes people to hate, as opposed to merely shaping who their hate is against.

DSenette wrote:did the person who you're mentioning (citation would be awesome on this one so i can see who was stupid enough to say something like that in public) actually cite rational/logical reasons for their assertion? with TRUE reason and TRUE logic you can't justify anything. you can rationalize any misguided belief you choose, but generally, those beliefs that you're having to fight that hard to rationalize aren't based in fact.

I don't like to point fingers at people who haven't voluntarily joined the debate, so I'd rather not provide the citation. But it's immaterial since it's just a simple extension of Peter Singer's infanticide argument, which applies to babies before they're self-aware, around 1-2 years in age. (It's not just a free license to kill babies, he does have some caveats in there. But I still think it's pretty monstrous.) The person I spoke of talked about how this should be extended to 3-year-olds if the parents are unwilling to provide material support for the child, where at four years and older the state will take responsibility. The issues was based on fiscal responsibility, and I'd say it's logical if you're willing to accept Singer's stance.

I talked about Singer in another thread regarding his stance on our moral obligation to donate money. I won't go through the argument again, but my point there was that his case is weak at getting people to actually give because logic and reason are weak motivators of behavior. So when I challenge your stance that all we need is logic/reason, I'm not saying that you need God, rather that you need something more than logic/reason (e.g. our moral intuition, societal norms).

DSenette wrote:well, we'll never actually solve any morality debate as far as getting to a unified moral code. that's just never going to happen ever. morality is not only situational, it's also geographical, cultural, and dynamic. what's moral today wasn't moral before and it possibly won't be moral tomorrow. but when talking about base morality (i.e. don't kill people) then certain "truths" have pretty much always been true, even before religion. those are instinctual morals, the things that keep us rolling as a species. it actually takes some serious work to get rid of those types of morality.

Doesn't this amount to "It's right because people have always believed it's right", or "It's right because everyone feels it's right"? If we allow feelings and popular support as evidence to help ferret out religious truths, then you can make a much stronger case for God. (Which by the way is what some people do.)

My point in responding to Greyarcher is that at some level, the basis for moral truths has no more support than the any religious claim. And moreover, the same biases (from peers and from how we are raised) play a huge role in what people believe is right. You said so yourself when you talked about how morality is situational. There is no well-defined right answer. But that doesn't stop people from treating it like objective truth. By my reading of Grayarcher's standard of reasonable belief, morality is unreasonable at it's core. (Of course, I'm willing to wait on his response to see if I missed some piece of his argument.)

nitePhyyre wrote:Love your neighbor is the golden rule.

They're not the same thing. Just because the Golden Rule shows up in the Bible doesn't make it the same as "Love your neighbor". Plus, they logically mean different things. Anyway, this is beside the point, so I don't want to spend much more time on it.

nitePhyyre wrote:A cursory glance at the Prisoner's Dilemma wiki page would answer most of the citations you asked for.

It didn't answer my question. You've shown that in a game, being nice can be detrimental to success. And I've already agreed to that. In politics, loving your enemy will hurt your ability to be politically successful. The problem with applying the Prisoner's Dilemma is that in the game there's a very clear objective, but in real life, simply winning in politics doesn't make the world better. Real life is more complicated, and I still claim that you haven't shown that under real-world circumstances we are better served by promoting the value of tit-for-tat rather than love your neighbor. And while I'll be open-minded about any citations you offer, I suspect you'll have difficulty because this is an enormously difficult thing to study, and I don't think our current science is capable of answering it.

As an aside, if we could rationally weigh the utility of various moral strategies, pitting perfect Christians against perfect game theorists is irrelevant. People that love perfectly don't exist (unless you believe the Christian take on Jesus), so it doesn't matter how they perform. In reality, I believe moral rules like "love your neighbor" provide pressure against internal biases (which is why strong statements are important because they provide strong pressure). So to evaluate utility, we need to see the practical impact of promoting the value as compared to not promoting it or promoting something different. This makes the problem immensely harder to study, which is why I say you will be challenged to find a citation.

nitePhyyre wrote:I use an awkward definition of evil. Probably should have mentioned that and said what definition I'm using when I call something evil. My bad. Anyways, Here it goes:
Evil is partaking in or the promotion of non-optimal moral solutions over known better solutions.

Well, since I reject your premise, I suppose I can ignore your conclusion. However, let me ask you how you know how one moral solution is more optimal than another? If you think you know the answer, either you know something amazing or you're simply deluding yourself (or you define "optimal" in some subjective way that is not very helpful to other people).

nitePhyyre wrote:guenther, it seems some of your views are reliant on science and religion have each having their own time and place, and that the bible is a good place to receive wisdom.
How do we tell which tool to use and when?
What wisdom can one take away from the bible?

Regarding which tool, I use Christianity as my guide to living life and I trust in science to provide me answers to how the world around me works. (This isn't absolutist, by the way. For example, I might aim to take various medical findings on diet and exercise into my lifestyle.)

As for wisdom, there's lots. Last week my church had a sermon on Biblical advise for dealing with troublesome family members around the holidays, and this is a particularly important concern for me. And in the past I've sat through sermons that went through all of the fruits of the spirit. I took a financial class where we went through what the Bible said about money. And I even took a class on sexual purity. Now this one will sound controversial, but it was aimed at straight, married men, so nothing in there should really raise alarms (i.e. it wasn't about abstinence before marriage or sexual orientation). And aside from just the Bible, being involved weekly with other people (at church and Bible study) has really helped keep me going on a healthy path and accountable to people that share my same values. And it gives me a lot of opportunities to provide loving support to people around me since my church is very involved in doing community projects.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:59 pm UTC

guenther wrote:My point in responding to Greyarcher is that at some level, the basis for moral truths has no more support than the any religious claim. And moreover, the same biases (from peers and from how we are raised) play a huge role in what people believe is right. You said so yourself when you talked about how morality is situational. There is no well-defined right answer. But that doesn't stop people from treating it like objective truth. By my reading of Grayarcher's standard of reasonable belief, morality is unreasonable at it's core. (Of course, I'm willing to wait on his response to see if I missed some piece of his argument.)
The trick is that there's no need to view morality as consisting of moral truths. :wink: But that gets into a slightly messy discussion about meta-ethics and reasonable belief, so I'm trying to find a way to explain my counter-point simple, clear, and convincing manner.

You see, for many theists, I think moral beliefs may very well be religious beliefs, because religious doctrine involves moral teachings. However, we can in contrast see morality as primarily constituted of values, principles, and guidelines. The principles and guidelines are based on the values, which are themselves held as a baseline thing we consider important. For instance, if we tend to value people's lives, and value not being killed against our will, and value a culture that holds those values, we'll try and spread and perpetuate principles and guidelines that exemplify those values, and/or generally try to cultivate those values. One natural form of this is through teaching children--but teaching children a principle like, "You shouldn't kill other people" or "You shouldn't hurt other people" is not especially similar to a teaching like "God spoke to this person; this book contains the words and actions of God". Although both, in a sense, could be called a belief, they are not particularly similar kinds of belief and you wouldn't normally measure them by the same metric if you asked "Is that a reasonable belief?"

That said, moral truth isn't even a phrase I would use; as you can see above, applying 'true' or 'false' to values and principles or guidelines on how to act doesn't make much sense. So countering my argument by saying moral truths have as little basis as religious beliefs--as you put it in your most recent post--starts from such a different perspective that it's hard for me to succinctly handle it and illustrate my counter-remarks.

For a theist the way I treat morality might be rather alien because of the way religion handles moral teaching. (Of course, non-believers might not quite agree with the way I frame morality either though, since we don't have an outside force shaping our morality/meta-ethics in a unifying way. :D ) So I was taking a while trying to work out how best to make a concise and clear response that bypassed the messier meta-ethical bits.


Edit: Agh. Looking back, I can see more clearly where Jimmigee was coming from. I got caught up providing a thorough description of the dubious factors that seemed a major cause of specific religious belief, and I can't say I'm satisfied with my level of thoroughness, explicitness, nor emphasis on describing how that works to undermine the reasonableness of religious belief. For a theist convinced of their own religion, I certainly don't expect it to be that clear. I'll try and lay out the structure of that argument a bit more clearly later. I covered the main description of the dubious factors, so I can now leave that as a backdrop and focus on the other points more.
Last edited by Greyarcher on Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:24 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby bobjoesmith » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:38 am UTC

Well just somethign about all the times the verses that were cited:

All the verses you cite are valid, but perhaps misinterpreted. For instance, if you go even further down, Matthew 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment" and 5:28 "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." So did Jesus try and say that everyone who has ever been like "that chick is hot" will be shot?

There are two facets to these verses:
->The point of these verses isn't to say that you should go stone every kid who talks back to you, but that you simply aren't good enough as a human. Even to look lustfully is to commit adultery? An insane expectation. However the lesson to be learned isn't to lock yourself up in a monastery, but to demonstrate that as a human, you cannot possibly follow all the laws. Extending on that, this is where the necessity of grace, heaven's expansion pack if you will (with improved multiplayer), enters. You need salvation is essentially what this says.
Furthermore: Jesus had just summarized the Law and the Prophets into this: Love God, and love thy neighbor. He's not concerned about how the exact wording is: the point is to love god and to be good to each other. Furthermore what he says is the following:
->2nd point, this is saying that just because you have get out of jail free, doesnt mean you should rampage murderously. (Bringing to mind Q's statement: "You have a license to kill, not to break traffic laws")

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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:46 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:Although both, in a sense, could be called a belief, they are not particularly similar kinds of belief and you wouldn't normally measure them by the same metric if you asked "Is that a reasonable belief?"

Well what metric do you use for moral claims? How do you distinguish a good moral from a bad one? A common approach I've seen for atheists is to base it on our capacity to achieve certain goals. This makes morality more like moral policy, which is analogous to economic policy. Certain moral guiding principles help us achieve certain agreed upon goals. But even in this framework, there exists moral truths. If you don't want to be stabbed in the back, there are certain values we can promote that will either minimize or maximize those odds.

In my mind, it doesn't matter that the metrics between morality and religion are different. The fact is that there's a metric, and thus we can build a case for betterness. And this means we should be able to build up logical and rational arguments for why some moral systems are better than others. If this is true for your notion of morality, then you still have a problem:

Greyarcher wrote:To boil it down another way: if you were taught a specific belief as a child, but it's much less likely you would acquire or accept that specific belief as a well-informed adult, then my argument might apply.

You haven't demonstrated that when using your framework to view morality, that you somehow are immune from this childhood bias. Assume some moral claim within your framework, "X is wrong", and take two kids, one who is raised to be agnostic on X, and the other raised to believe that X is wrong. When the kids reach adulthood, will your success of convincing them to hold or maintain the belief that X is wrong be independent on their childhood bias? My guess is no.

And the reason I think so is that the metrics of morality are poorly defined. Thus people form bubble truths because even though we can't measure the answer, what we believe is very important. And this is the same with religion, even though the metrics are different.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Ortus » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:21 am UTC

guenther wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Love your neighbor is the golden rule.

They're not the same thing. Just because the Golden Rule shows up in the Bible doesn't make it the same as "Love your neighbor". Plus, they logically mean different things. Anyway, this is beside the point, so I don't want to spend much more time on it.




I have ONE issue with this, but that's because I take 'love thy neighbor as ye would one of your 'own'' in the metaphysical sense. You know, not my physical neighbor, not a physical 'stranger', but one not like myself in that one who is different in any way? I.e. the entire rest of humanity that is not me? Nietzsche would approve. Well, in Twilight of the Idols, at least.
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Phill » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:31 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:with TRUE reason and TRUE logic you can't justify anything. you can rationalize any misguided belief you choose, but generally, those beliefs that you're having to fight that hard to rationalize aren't based in fact.


This sounds dangerously close to the "no true Scotsman" fallacy to me: who decides what is true reason and true logic? I believe all humans are inherently flawed in incapable of perfect rationality. This may be our goal as thinking people, but in reality we all have biases and prejudices which we cannot ignore. There is just no such thing as "true reason" or "true logic", or at least it may exist but from a human perspective I don't think we're ever going to get there.

This kind of brings me on to science and religion. I just wanted to respond to that as there has been some discussion over the past couple of pages. I particularly wanted to respond to what nitePhyre said (I think it was you, I apologise for not finding the exact quote): religion and science both make claims about the world, science has been proved write and religion has been proved wrong. Ergo, religion is wrong and science is right. QED.

Now, with the exception of a (very vocal) minority of creationist / literalist Christians, most Christians I know believe 100% in science. There is just no conflict there at all. Apparently when Darwin's Origin of the Species was published, many clergymen at the time simply didn't see any problem with it. The conflict theory has only been a later addition, mainly because people like Henry Morris came to prominence saying that Genesis 1-2 must be taken literally, for reasons unfathomable.

The point is, the Bible (I can't speak for all religions) deals with our relationship with God. How God related and continues to relate to humanity. Our place in the universe. In other words, the 'why' question rather than the 'how'. The Bible just doesn't attempt to answer the question how we got here, how the world works - it just assumes that it does and that God is the reason behind it. But doesn't make any absurd claims about the natural universe which science can disprove.

As I'm writing I'm thinking about cartoon #485. There are many different ways of understand things. For example, a physicist could give you an accurate model of how the body works, but that would be missing things which a chemist could tell you, which would be missing things a biologist could tell you... etc. I think religion is another way of understanding how the world works which is above and beyond, and complementary to, the way we understand the world through science.

DSenette
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:35 pm UTC

bobjoesmith wrote:Well just somethign about all the times the verses that were cited:

All the verses you cite are valid, but perhaps misinterpreted. For instance, if you go even further down, Matthew 5:22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment" and 5:28 "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." So did Jesus try and say that everyone who has ever been like "that chick is hot" will be shot?

There are two facets to these verses:
->The point of these verses isn't to say that you should go stone every kid who talks back to you, but that you simply aren't good enough as a human. Even to look lustfully is to commit adultery? An insane expectation. However the lesson to be learned isn't to lock yourself up in a monastery, but to demonstrate that as a human, you cannot possibly follow all the laws. Extending on that, this is where the necessity of grace, heaven's expansion pack if you will (with improved multiplayer), enters. You need salvation is essentially what this says.
Furthermore: Jesus had just summarized the Law and the Prophets into this: Love God, and love thy neighbor. He's not concerned about how the exact wording is: the point is to love god and to be good to each other. Furthermore what he says is the following:
->2nd point, this is saying that just because you have get out of jail free, doesnt mean you should rampage murderously. (Bringing to mind Q's statement: "You have a license to kill, not to break traffic laws")

well....here's the bible question for you. Does the bible contain the words of God? when ANY part of the bible "quotes" the words of Jesus, are they accurate? Are the words of Jesus, by extension of his bloodline, the commands of God?

if you answer yes to any of those 3 questions then you're not allowed to decide what was meant/said, or which parts were the word of God and which parts weren't. either the whole book is narrated by God or it's a fairy tale, it can't be parts of both.

so yes, when Jesus "said" "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.", BY his commandment, if you look lustfully at anyone that you're not married to, you are committing adultery (ever wonder why Muslim women wear bhurkas{sp?}?) assuming that you take the bible as the word of God.

so when Jesus COMMANDS you to follow EVERY one of the OT rules/commandments/laws that were "handed down" from God, then that's EXACTLY what he meant. So "follow every jot and letter" means that if you TRULY believe that ANY part of the bible is the word of God, then you should be stoning your children for talking back to you and beating the living shit out of every gay guy you've ever known. it's not an ambiguous concept.

if you take a book of laws (like federal law), you can't go back and decide which ones you think don't apply and which ones were probably not really meant to be followed EXACTLY how they were written down.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

DSenette
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:53 pm UTC

Phill wrote:
DSenette wrote:with TRUE reason and TRUE logic you can't justify anything. you can rationalize any misguided belief you choose, but generally, those beliefs that you're having to fight that hard to rationalize aren't based in fact.


This sounds dangerously close to the "no true Scotsman" fallacy to me: who decides what is true reason and true logic? I believe all humans are inherently flawed in incapable of perfect rationality. This may be our goal as thinking people, but in reality we all have biases and prejudices which we cannot ignore. There is just no such thing as "true reason" or "true logic", or at least it may exist but from a human perspective I don't think we're ever going to get there.
please accept my apologies for an unfortunate choice of modifier there

i don't mean something along the lines of "the one true logic", what i mean is actual application of logic as opposed to pseudo logic or baseless rationalization or twisting logic to meet the goal. Logical thinking/inspection/whatever requires you to attempt, to the best of your ability, to come to a conclusion without allowing bias to interfere. so, you could use pseudo logic, twisted logic, or baseless rationalization to absolve yourself from fault of a completely senseless murder. but it would be VERY difficult to follow through with unbiased, untwisted logic to justify a murder that had no purpose (i'm including amoral reasons for the point that's being made in this section, so, money is a logical justification in this case).

Phill wrote:This kind of brings me on to science and religion. I just wanted to respond to that as there has been some discussion over the past couple of pages. I particularly wanted to respond to what nitePhyre said (I think it was you, I apologise for not finding the exact quote): religion and science both make claims about the world, science has been proved write and religion has been proved wrong. Ergo, religion is wrong and science is right. QED.

Now, with the exception of a (very vocal) minority of creationist / literalist Christians, most Christians I know believe 100% in science. There is just no conflict there at all. Apparently when Darwin's Origin of the Species was published, many clergymen at the time simply didn't see any problem with it. The conflict theory has only been a later addition, mainly because people like Henry Morris came to prominence saying that Genesis 1-2 must be taken literally, for reasons unfathomable.

The point is, the Bible (I can't speak for all religions) deals with our relationship with God. How God related and continues to relate to humanity. Our place in the universe. In other words, the 'why' question rather than the 'how'. The Bible just doesn't attempt to answer the question how we got here, how the world works - it just assumes that it does and that God is the reason behind it. But doesn't make any absurd claims about the natural universe which science can disprove.

As I'm writing I'm thinking about cartoon #485. There are many different ways of understand things. For example, a physicist could give you an accurate model of how the body works, but that would be missing things which a chemist could tell you, which would be missing things a biologist could tell you... etc. I think religion is another way of understanding how the world works which is above and beyond, and complementary to, the way we understand the world through science.

i do have to interject here for a moment, based on MY beliefs and MY stance on the subject. it seems as though other people on "this" side (non theist) of this post may agree.

the problem that moderate Atheists, non-theists, and the like (for the most part) have with "religion" as a whole, isn't with the moderate middle of theists. those that understand science, those that understand that the bible isn't a word for word account of things that happened handed down through the clouds from god, those that don't try to force themselves on others, those that don't propagate hate because of their religion, those that don't force feed their children their own religion and punish them when they question their own levels of faith.

the problem "we" have is with those that do the opposite of all of that. propagate hate, proselytize at every chance, despise those that don't believe what they do, propagate the concept that the world is 6,000 years old and that noah had a bunch of damned T-Rexes on a giant wooden boat right next to the sheep. the people that reject science, rational thought, free thinking, etc... those are the dick bags that ruin religion for the moderates.

they're the reason that people like myself, and those in the moderate middle of theism, have the shortest and most pleasant debates about theism. because we can both sit back and say "yeah, those guys are nutbags aren't they?"....the issue is that, they're dangerous nutbags, and some of them are rather close to controlling this country
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

guenther
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:58 pm UTC

DSenette wrote:so when Jesus COMMANDS you to follow EVERY one of the OT rules/commandments/laws that were "handed down" from God, then that's EXACTLY what he meant. So "follow every jot and letter" means that if you TRULY believe that ANY part of the bible is the word of God, then you should be stoning your children for talking back to you and beating the living shit out of every gay guy you've ever known. it's not an ambiguous concept.

You're welcome to preach your interpretation of the Bible, but that doesn't mean everyone who's Christian needs to read it that way. In you're above quoted section, you missed Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them". The way I understand it, Jesus is saying that God didn't change. If you still want to try reaching God the old way, go for it. But you'd better be pretty righteous. So Jesus is really saying that we need him. He's not abolishing the Old Testament law, he's fulfilling it. So God stays the same, but Christians interact with God differently because Jesus is there to advocate for us.

DSenette wrote:the problem "we" have is with those that do the opposite of all of that. propagate hate, proselytize at every chance, despise those that don't believe what they do, propagate the concept that the world is 6,000 years old and that noah had a bunch of damned T-Rexes on a giant wooden boat right next to the sheep. the people that reject science, rational thought, free thinking, etc... those are the dick bags that ruin religion for the moderates.

A few things. First, you've lumped a lot of groups together, particularly those who use Christianity to promote hate and those that have trouble with evolution. They shouldn't be lumped; they're not equally bad. Hate is bad, but rejecting scientific findings (which is different than rejecting science, by the way) certainly can get in the way of good science, but it's not an evil. We shouldn't wag our moral finger the same way at everyone you've broadly brushed together.

[EDIT: Upon rereading, I realize these next two aren't really in opposition to what you said. I suppose I was just itching for an opportunity to say them. :)]

Second, it's good to oppose Christian hate, but I think it's better to oppose hate in general. Christians aren't more hateful than anyone else. In the US since they represent a majority, the hateful among them have more power to enact harm, but that comes from the power differential rather than because Christians are good at hating. (I'm making the same argument that if someone goes around saying they can't stand Muslim extremists, they'd be corrected that extremism in general is the problem regardless of whether it comes from Muslims.)

Third, almost no one takes a position against rational thought. Everyone thinks it's an asset, and everyone thinks the other guys are doing it worse. Many Christians get a black eye here because of their opposition to solid scientific findings, but I argue that it's not because the Bible is making them less rational. Rather it's the fear of losing their Christian culture. And least that's my theory, which comes partly from talking to people in this boat. And this fear gets fostered because it's a useful political weapon. But if you look across the political spectrum, you'll see that fear and hate get promoted all over while reason suffers. It's just that for other teams, that poor reasoning doesn't get aimed at scientific findings, and is thus less obvious. I challenge that if you actually sat down members of the far right and members of the far left and tested they're ability to apply reason, you'd find it's the same. So if you're issue is with people not accepting a solid scientific finding, then Christians look bad, but if you're problem is poor reasoning skills, then I don't think Christians are worse than anyone else. (If anyone actually has data on this, I'd be happy to see it.)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

DSenette
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:21 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:so when Jesus COMMANDS you to follow EVERY one of the OT rules/commandments/laws that were "handed down" from God, then that's EXACTLY what he meant. So "follow every jot and letter" means that if you TRULY believe that ANY part of the bible is the word of God, then you should be stoning your children for talking back to you and beating the living shit out of every gay guy you've ever known. it's not an ambiguous concept.

You're welcome to preach your interpretation of the Bible, but that doesn't mean everyone who's Christian needs to read it that way. In you're above quoted section, you missed Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them". The way I understand it, Jesus is saying that God didn't change. If you still want to try reaching God the old way, go for it. But you'd better be pretty righteous. So Jesus is really saying that we need him. He's not abolishing the Old Testament law, he's fulfilling it. So God stays the same, but Christians interact with God differently because Jesus is there to advocate for us.


guenther wrote:
DSenette wrote:the problem "we" have is with those that do the opposite of all of that. propagate hate, proselytize at every chance, despise those that don't believe what they do, propagate the concept that the world is 6,000 years old and that noah had a bunch of damned T-Rexes on a giant wooden boat right next to the sheep. the people that reject science, rational thought, free thinking, etc... those are the dick bags that ruin religion for the moderates.

A few things. First, you've lumped a lot of groups together, particularly those who use Christianity to promote hate and those that have trouble with evolution. They shouldn't be lumped; they're not equally bad. Hate is bad, but rejecting scientific findings (which is different than rejecting science, by the way) certainly can get in the way of good science, but it's not an evil. We shouldn't wag our moral finger the same way at everyone you've broadly brushed together.

Second, it's good to oppose Christian hate, but I think it's better to oppose hate in general. Christians aren't more hateful than anyone else. In the US since they represent a majority, the hateful among them have more power to enact harm, but that comes from the power differential rather than because Christians are good at hating. (I'm making the same argument that if someone goes around saying they can't stand Muslim extremists, they'd be corrected that extremism in general is the problem regardless of whether it comes from Muslims.)
majority christians may not be "more hateful" than anyone else, but their hate is a bit more dangerous than say, a white supremacists hate. Most people can look at a white supremacist and say "well that guy's just a dick"....but people who hate because of their religion (especially when the majority shares that religion) attempt to use their faith as a free pass. so while they may not be hating "more", typically they're hating more effectively within the construct of their local society.

look at the topic of gay marriage. the only arguments against it that i've seen are all based on religion, and mainly Christianity. there's no (in my opinion) rational or logical reason to bar homosexuals from getting married. it makes economical sense, it's make judicial sense, but the argument against it says that marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman because that's what A) we've always done and B) the bible (insert other religious manuscript). now, there may very well be a good sized group of christians who think this is as stupid as i do, but a large majority of them aren't going to argue for gay marriage because it might get them ostracized in their church, or they think it may send them to hell, or for whatever other religious reasons.

so yes, all hate should be hated (take that for circular speech), but it should be known that some hate is MUCH more dangerous than others.

guenther wrote:Third, almost no one takes a position against rational thought. Everyone thinks it's an asset, and everyone thinks the other guys are doing it worse. Many Christians get a black eye here because of their opposition to solid scientific findings, but I argue that it's not because the Bible is making them less rational. Rather it's the fear of losing their Christian culture. And least that's my theory, which comes partly from talking to people in this boat. And this fear gets fostered because it's a useful political weapon. But if you look across the political spectrum, you'll see that fear and hate get promoted and reason suffers. It's just that for other teams, that poor reasoning doesn't get aimed at scientific findings, and is thus less obvious. I challenge that if you actually sat down members of the far right and members of the far left and tested they're ability to apply reason, you'd find it's the same. So if you're issue is with people not accepting a solid scientific finding, then Christians look bad, but if you're problem is poor reasoning skills, then I don't think Christians are worse than anyone else. (If anyone actually has data on this, I'd be happy to see it.)

i wonder what the quantity of almost no one is? (not being pedantic, i really wish i knew)....i know a decent quantity of people who actually don't like rational thought because it puts their status in jeopardy. i'm thinking of some of the well noted televangelists who would stand to lose a crap ton of money if people thought they were eejits, or politicians of the same ilk. there are large portions of the uneducated south who don't condone rational thought (don't worry, i live here it's ok for me to say it) in any way that would force you to question religion. i'm not going to claim it's the majority, but a minority of these people is too large a number.

and again, to the end statement. i concur, extremism on either side is non-productive. however, IMO religions extremism is much more dangerous than secular extremism (the old joke "you'll never find an atheist suicide bomber" applies). i don't know of any secular extremists (dawkins et al) that have gone out and killed religious folk. it typically winds up in verbal assaults, not physical.
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"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Greyarcher
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Greyarcher » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:28 pm UTC

Ah, you see, Guenther? That moral discussion is what I was trying to concisely explain and bypass. In fact, in my response I will insist upon bypassing it, so let's head on to that.

I usually address specific points, but I think I can counter your argument with a very general meta-response:
My argument which criticized the reasonableness of religious beliefs proposed that, given a certain set of factors and conditions, we would naturally call a belief of that kind unreasonable. And I will reiterate, here, that the kind of beliefs I was talking about were specific religious, foundational, historical beliefs.

Your counter-argument seems to flow in this way: you propose that my argument would label particular moral "beliefs" as unreasonable--with the implication being that unreasonable beliefs should not be taught--but clearly not teaching any morality is a position we would naturally reject, therefore teaching morality is still reasonable.

I will acknowledge that morality is clearly an interesting special case; your argument, too, seems to be premised on an appreciation of its unusual nature.

However, I hold that the foundational religious beliefs are historical claims. If, indeed, religious historical beliefs ought to be judged by a different standard and are an exception to my argument, then you ought to be able to argue this on its own grounds (i.e. by primarily discussing the traits that make those key religious beliefs exceptional, rather than by trying to liken the key religious beliefs to morality).

---------------

Sorry about that, Guenther. But I know quite well that morality--and in this case meta-ethics--are a rather convoluted and extensive subject. I think insisting upon defending a historical belief by comparing it to morality would be a hideous tactic that merely shifts focus and takes advantage of morality's convolution while avoiding focusing on the central topic of religion's key historical beliefs.

I can, to a degree, understand where you're coming from with that talk of religion and morality as bubble narratives and bubble truths. I wouldn't quite frame them that way, but I'm willing to grant morality has an interesting and exceptional nature. But if you wish to treat religious historical claims as an exception I must ask you to argue why they're exceptional on their own grounds.

Sorry again. Even to me it feels like a bit of a cop-out but, well, we could probably spend our entire lives discussing morality and meta-ethics, so I'd like to keep things focused here.

------------------

As a final aside, I've been meaning to address your comments on my "ex post facto justification" remark. But my discussion of that would mainly focus on the way in which religious beliefs maintain themselves in the mind; I think its merit is mostly dependent on these current arguments, so I'm putting it off for now.
In serious discussion, I usually strive to post with clarity, thoroughness, and precision so that others will not misunderstand; I strive for dispassion and an open mind, the better to avoid error.

DSenette
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DSenette » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

Greyarcher wrote:Ah, you see, Guenther? That moral discussion is what I was trying to concisely explain and bypass. In fact, in my response I will insist upon bypassing it, so let's head on to that.

I usually address specific points, but I think I can counter your argument with a very general meta-response:
My argument which criticized the reasonableness of religious beliefs proposed that, given a certain set of factors and conditions, we would naturally call a belief of that kind unreasonable. And I will reiterate, here, that the kind of beliefs I was talking about were specific religious, foundational, historical beliefs.

Your counter-argument seems to flow in this way: you propose that my argument would label particular moral "beliefs" as unreasonable--with the implication being that unreasonable beliefs should not be taught--but clearly not teaching any morality is a position we would naturally reject, therefore teaching morality is still reasonable.

I will acknowledge that morality is clearly an interesting special case; your argument, too, seems to be premised on an appreciation of its unusual nature.

However, I hold that the foundational religious beliefs are historical claims. If, indeed, religious historical beliefs ought to be judged by a different standard and are an exception to my argument, then you ought to be able to argue this on its own grounds (i.e. by primarily discussing the traits that make those key religious beliefs exceptional, rather than by trying to liken the key religious beliefs to morality).

---------------

Sorry about that, Guenther. But I know quite well that morality--and in this case meta-ethics--are a rather convoluted and extensive subject. I think insisting upon defending a historical belief by comparing it to morality would be a hideous tactic that merely shifts focus and takes advantage of morality's convolution while avoiding focusing on the central topic of religion's key historical beliefs.

I can, to a degree, understand where you're coming from with that talk of religion and morality as bubble narratives and bubble truths. I wouldn't quite frame them that way, but I'm willing to grant morality has an interesting and exceptional nature. But if you wish to treat religious historical claims as an exception I must ask you to argue why they're exceptional on their own grounds.

Sorry again. Even to me it feels like a bit of a cop-out but, well, we could probably spend our entire lives discussing morality and meta-ethics, so I'd like to keep things focused here.

------------------

As a final aside, I've been meaning to address your comments on my "ex post facto justification" remark. But my discussion of that would mainly focus on the way in which religious beliefs maintain themselves in the mind; I think its merit is mostly dependent on these current arguments, so I'm putting it off for now.

i really need to start learning how to be eloquent and actually get my point across...

that's the root of most of my issues. the fact that to get a "good" moral education out of religion, you have to take/accept the "bad" history lessons that come with it.
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")

Mapar
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Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Mapar » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:14 pm UTC

I just want to make a quick point in here:

Guenther, you stated that 'most Christians do not read [the Bible] that way', in reaction to the literal meaning posted above.
The people who interpret scripture are selecting guidelines based on some external set of morals. The bible clearly isn't the source of Christian morals, or else they'd all be fundies like Andy Schlafly or Fred Phelps. So basically, we already select.

Now then, why bother with the bible, if it's not a necessary step? If we teach morality, we need not involve superstitious books.

I'm sorry if this has been stated already, but I haven't had the time to read through the whole thread just yet.
Hi.


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