Religion: The Deuce

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

Nem
Posts: 336
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:19 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Nem » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:25 am UTC

pheonixduprese wrote:Yeah! Exactly. It's like the blind guys and the elephant legend? You know?

The elephant is obviously the deity, but what (or who) is the elephant keeper?


If you're trying to do systematic philosophy you need to recognise there are some rather hefty prices to be paid for making that sort of move. You want to get to this position:

Personally I'm of the belief that all of the gods people worship, they're all the same diety. So if you're an adherent of a faith, then you'll get to heaven anyway. Regardless.


Composed of the beliefs that there's a heaven and that god will grant you entrance to if you worship him (or more specifically a part thereof). In short you want build the foundations that will get you a vaguely church-shaped result.

Having an elephant doesn't do that. What is the elephant; a deity? Well, maybe. The problem with invoking that sort of analogy is you can equally apply it to truths in general. And then the question becomes whether the elephant is the deity or the result of a process of emotional conditioning interacting with pragmatic considerations. (To mention one alternative.) Which doesn't require the plethora of special assumptions that invoking a god would.

Likewise even if you could say that the elephant was a god, where does heaven enter into this analogy, where does the 'regardless' come from? You need the elephant to look a particular way if you want to invoke it in support of those beliefs. But if believers are blind men, maybe it doesn't.

pheonixduprese
Posts: 306
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:41 am UTC
Location: Des Moines (IA)

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby pheonixduprese » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

SnakesNDMartyrs wrote:
pheonixduprese wrote:The elephant is obviously the diety, but what (or who) is the elephant keeper?


So in the analogy the men used the sense of touch to describe different parts of the elephant, what do religions use to 'touch' the different parts of God? Which parts of which religions accurately 'describe' God and how can you be sure of this?

Why did the men only touch one part of the elephant each? If someones account of the elephant differed so dramatically from mine I would go over and touch what they are touching to compare and eventually end up with a complete picture of the elephant...


Well in Buddhism you have the eightfold path, in Hinduism you have reincarnation, in Christianity you have repentance, forgivness, love (which all the other religions pretty much have too.). Also, they use this "touch" to find the properties of the diety- or maybe not the properties, but the answers to your questions. It's like, in Buddhism again. You have the eightfold path, and if you follow the path you'll reach nirvana, in which case you'l learn or be "enlightened." Christianity, you have that if you are good your whole life, you get to meet Jesus, who knows, well, I'll say "stuff."
And, they all like to make the facade, or maybe the hope, that the Diety is a good person. Which could be wrong, but lets not risk it. ;P

In response to your second part, I think it's an example of the nature of men. For example, if there was a mysterious substance in the middle of a field, and someone told you it tasted like bananas, would you eat the substance?

Plus, since most religions have the whole "you're tied to God in your soul" outlook, I'm sure that the relationship you have with said diety would make you stay away from the other "bad" religions.

Also, I feel that its hard to get ideas through text. Damn you, visual representatives of speech. So, sorry if I'm not making sense... if you don't understand, I'll make a much lengthier post explaining everything in a parent-to-three-year-old-way.
Candace wrote: She's like CATNIP for BOYS! She's BOYNIP!

infernovia
Posts: 931
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:27 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:22 am UTC

Buddhism doesn't even have a deity. I don't know what you are talking about.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:22 am UTC

infernovia wrote:Buddhism doesn't even have a deity. I don't know what you are talking about.

Thats mostly cause hes babbling about nothing useful.

But his point seems to be that all religions have a doctrine, and that in general those doctrine's have very similar root concepts although their representation is different. Thus he finds value in religion as long as people follow a doctrine regardless of which it is because in his mind they seem to be basically interchangeable.

Ignoring that there is no evidence for any of them, that the effect of religions does not lead to instilling morals, good judgement, critical thinking nor even happiness on their laity.

And from the "Which could be wrong, but lets not risk it" comment it seems he thinks that the reason to adhere to morals and act ethically is to appease some possible deity rather then his own integrity, valuing society, progression or his local community.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:16 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Ignoring that there is no evidence for any of them, that the effect of religions does not lead to instilling morals, good judgement, critical thinking nor even happiness on their laity.

Has morality, good judgment, and critical thinking been measured with respect to religiosity? Or do you mean that religion has not been shown to improve these things.

As for happiness, at least in the US religion correlates with greater happiness. Though you know that because we've been back and forth on that point many times.

Zcorp wrote:And from the "Which could be wrong, but lets not risk it" comment it seems he thinks that the reason to adhere to morals and act ethically is to appease some possible deity rather then his own integrity, valuing society, progression or his local community.

Acting out of love for God is a powerful motivator for many people even if you don't respect it.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

yukizora
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:13 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby yukizora » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:22 pm UTC

guenther wrote:Acting out of love for God is a powerful motivator for many people even if you don't respect it.

Sure, but then, can't you just substitute it for love for nature or whatever you'd like?

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:55 pm UTC

Yup. And when one does that, they shouldn't scoff at the people that have not chosen to do the same.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:00 pm UTC

guenther wrote:As for happiness, at least in the US religion correlates with greater happiness. Though you know that because we've been back and forth on that point many times.
Yes and it is still not valid to suggest it is religion rather then the culture as it is not a consistent result across different cultures.
guenther wrote:Yup. And when one does that, they shouldn't scoff at the people that have not chosen to do the same.

I do scoff at them as they are generally willfully ignorant, delusional or apathetic to the systemic effect of their beliefs and actions.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:32 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Yes and it is still not valid to suggest it is religion rather then the culture as it is not a consistent result across different cultures.

For those that are in that culture, it is a relevant effect that is not reproducible for non-religious communities (i.e. it hasn't been shown that, say, regular sports goers are about as happy as regular church goers). So it's something particular to the religion as practiced in that culture that makes it effective, at least within that culture.

And for those not in that culture, religion hasn't been shown to actually reduce happiness. (This makes it sort of a utilitarian version of Pascal's wager.)

Zcorp wrote:I do scoff at them as they are generally willfully ignorant, delusional or apathetic to the systemic effect of their beliefs and actions.

Well, many of them probably scoff at an unbeliever like yourself. But I believe we would all do better by sharing more respect and less scoffing.

And do you have reason to believe that religious people are more likely than others to be guilty of this willful ignorance, delusion, and apathy?
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

infernovia
Posts: 931
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:27 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:24 am UTC

It seems to me that there were many doctrines that were not similar in any way and counter each other's idea (doctrines of the more violent kind). I could name a few important distinctions between Christianity and Buddhism, etc.

Regardless, any form of ethics is dictated by a God, he is right about that. But just because the majority of the world wants it to be true (maybe not even anymore), doesn't mean that it is so.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:56 am UTC

infernovia wrote:Regardless, any form of ethics is dictated by a God, he is right about thaat. But just because the majority of the world wants it to be true (maybe not even anymore), doesn't mean that it is so.

A belief in truth is often more powerful at shaping our society than measurable truth, especially in areas where truth is poorly defined. So when a majority of people believe something to be true, it might be very practical to behave as if it were true. For example, the belief that rape is wrong or that gold is valuable. People often treat both as objectively true when all we can really measure is that people believe they're true. But still it behooves us to act as if they were true.

This comes from my notion that there exists something between objective and subjective that I call aggregate subjective. It's when beliefs are stored purely subjectively in our heads, but they're shared across a great many people who often end up treating it as if it were objectively true. Our mind has trouble practically distinguishing between these "truths" and truths that are measurably objective. And as a result much of our culture and language has evolved with major conflations between the two. So I think much of what shapes religion is the same thing that fuels how we deal with morality and economic value, as well as many other concepts that permeate our society.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

infernovia
Posts: 931
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:27 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby infernovia » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:51 am UTC

In fact, I am not really worried about "truth" (especially the need of objectivity) because it is influenced in the same manner as morality and ethics were developed under. Anyway, I agree with your statements, we call them the "easiest solutions."

It doesn't make sense that we are only looking for what is similar (the elephant), we should look at the differences too. You should always be careful about using a metaphor, sometimes it traps you even more. Just a heads up to the people trying to use the above theory.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:19 am UTC

guenther wrote:
Zcorp wrote:Yes and it is still not valid to suggest it is religion rather then the culture as it is not a consistent result across different cultures.

For those that are in that culture, it is a relevant effect that is not reproducible for non-religious communities (i.e. it hasn't been shown that, say, regular sports goers are about as happy as regular church goers). So it's something particular to the religion as practiced in that culture that makes it effective, at least within that culture.
So you value the relative culture of a specific group of people (in this case americans) to themselves vs the relative culture of that group of people to the entire rest of the world? And that because within this one group there is an invalid correlation we should stick with it because it seems to be working for one aspect of our society while within others it is creating significant problems and the long run effects are problematic?
A belief in truth is often more powerful at shaping our society than measurable truth, especially in areas where truth is poorly defined. So when a majority of people believe something to be true, it might be very practical to behave as if it were true. For example, the belief that rape is wrong or that gold is valuable. People often treat both as objectively true when all we can really measure is that people believe they're true. But still it behooves us to act as if they were true.
So you are willing to give up changing the culture because the short term effect will create some stress despite that the long term effects are negative?

yukizora
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:13 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby yukizora » Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:05 am UTC

guenther wrote:This comes from my notion that there exists something between objective and subjective that I call aggregate subjective. It's when beliefs are stored purely subjectively in our heads, but they're shared across a great many people who often end up treating it as if it were objectively true. Our mind has trouble practically distinguishing between these "truths" and truths that are measurably objective. And as a result much of our culture and language has evolved with major conflations between the two. So I think much of what shapes religion is the same thing that fuels how we deal with morality and economic value, as well as many other concepts that permeate our society.

The problem with that claim is that you're labeling belief on things that are purely rational. Rape is crossing the line of individual liberties. You're doing physical harm to someone else, and this is never, ever, right. Gold is valuable because you can sell it at a set price, which is high. It could fall tomorrow, but if I have gold right now, and I want to sell it now, it's valuable.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:31 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:It doesn't make sense that we are only looking for what is similar (the elephant), we should look at the differences too. You should always be careful about using a metaphor, sometimes it traps you even more. Just a heads up to the people trying to use the above theory.

Well, how people look for similarities and differences is a funny thing. Some people want to unite all religions in some metaphysical way. But others amplify small differences to causes worth killing over (i.e. Sunni and Shia, Protestants and Catholics). I think how we compare things is often driven by very non-rational forces, even though our analysis is masqueraded as rational even to ourself.

Personally I know I've wanted to believe in a "all spiritual roads lead to heaven" idea because it pained me to think a devout Buddhist monk who ranks high on intuitive measures of goodness would get condemned to an eternity in hell by my God simply because he didn't choose the same road as me.

In the end there's probably some balance point in between that's better than defining relationships largely by similarities or largely by differences.

Zcorp wrote:So you value the relative culture of a specific group of people (in this case americans) to themselves vs the relative culture of that group of people to the entire rest of the world? And that because within this one group there is an invalid correlation we should stick with it because it seems to be working for one aspect of our society while within others it is creating significant problems and the long run effects are problematic?

This is a very loaded question. I don't believe in problematic long-run effects of religion (though how religion is practiced can be very problematic) and I don't believe the correlation between happiness and religion in America is invalid. And just because I think it gives us insight into how useful religion can be doesn't mean that I value culture related to itself more than culture related to other cultures.

I also find it interesting when people are quick to blame religion for problems, but when religion is correlated with stuff we find good, those same people have more nuanced explanations that remove religion as a direct contributor.

Zcorp wrote:So you are willing to give up changing the culture because the short term effect will create some stress despite that the long term effects are negative?

Again more invalid premises. I don't give up on changing culture, in fact I think that's a very important thing to do. However, mine and your visions of how it should change are very different.

I wrote that part because I was challenging the idea that if we have no scientific evidence of God's existence, we would be wise to not believe in him. infernovia didn't make that claim, but I've seen it mentioned a lot and decided to respond to it. I think much of our beliefs about the world are shaped by forces other than rational analysis of objective measurements. In fact, science is very poor at describing areas where truth is poorly defined (i.e. where we don't have good objective ways of producing measurements). But how we establish belief in some of those fuzzy areas has a profound impact on how people live their lives.

yukizora wrote:The problem with that claim is that you're labeling belief on things that are purely rational. Rape is crossing the line of individual liberties. You're doing physical harm to someone else, and this is never, ever, right. Gold is valuable because you can sell it at a set price, which is high. It could fall tomorrow, but if I have gold right now, and I want to sell it now, it's valuable.

You can sell gold because it's valued, not because it's valuable. The fact that those mean the same thing to many people is the conflation that I mentioned. In many people's heads the value is a property of the gold just like density and color. But it's really a property of us and how we interact with gold (which is of course related to real objective properties of gold). We interact with value as if it were an objective property, and we even have ways to objectively measure it. But that would be like having a market place for belief in God and objectively measuring qualities like God's love based on what large groups of people believe.

And your claim of rightness is just simply declared without any support. The fact that this is often a convincing way to share beliefs of rightness says something about how we relate to concepts of morality. But sometimes it's not convincing when people begin to ask why. And I suspect people create elaborate narratives about our objective world to better defend their claims of rightness. Once you establish (and reinforce through faith) a belief in claims about the world, claims of rightness naturally follow. So the aggregate subjective beliefs of religion differ from others because they're actively reinforced through faith.

By the way, I think our concept of rationality behaves in aggregate subjective ways as well. We don't have a better way to measure the rationality of ideas other than simply asking people if they believe it's rational. (Maybe that's not true for logically rigorous ideas like in mathematics, but descriptions of our world are rarely logically rigorous outside of hypotheticals).
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sat Jun 19, 2010 3:58 pm UTC

guenther wrote:I don't believe in problematic long-run effects of religion (though how religion is practiced can be very problematic) and I don't believe the correlation between happiness and religion in America is invalid.
Then maybe you don't understand what validity is. If the results are not consistent it shows that the correlation in America has nothing to do with religion but with something that religion provides based on the culture of America. Thus the study was not actually testing if religion makes people happy, it was testing to see if the culture in america makes people that are non-religious less happy due to cultural pressures.

I also find it interesting when people are quick to blame religion for problems, but when religion is correlated with stuff we find good, those same people have more nuanced explanations that remove religion as a direct contributor.
I find it interesting that you still use this single invalid point to defend religion on a societal scale.

I wrote that part because I was challenging the idea that if we have no scientific evidence of God's existence, we would be wise to not believe in him. infernovia didn't make that claim, but I've seen it mentioned a lot and decided to respond to it. I think much of our beliefs about the world are shaped by forces other than rational analysis of objective measurements. In fact, science is very poor at describing areas where truth is poorly defined (i.e. where we don't have good objective ways of producing measurements). But how we establish belief in some of those fuzzy areas has a profound impact on how people live their lives.

Agreed that science has a large amount left to learn, but because there is not scientific explanation attributing it to God as the definitive cause is destructive to critical thinking, reason and knowledge, and thus society. Why can't you accept not knowing things rather then requiring everything to be miraculous? Not only does this give us reason to investigate more about how the universe functions but it does not create as many cognitive biases and irrational behavior.

User avatar
Coffee Stain
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:23 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Coffee Stain » Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:36 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
I also find it interesting when people are quick to blame religion for problems, but when religion is correlated with stuff we find good, those same people have more nuanced explanations that remove religion as a direct contributor.
I find it interesting that you still use this single invalid point to defend religion on a societal scale.

Would you do us all a solid by taking a few steps back and reframing the entire issue? I'm getting tired of this "No you're wrong" bullcrap.

Then maybe you don't understand what validity is. If the results are not consistent it shows that the correlation in America has nothing to do with religion but with something that religion provides based on the culture of America. Thus the study was not actually testing if religion makes people happy, it was testing to see if the culture in america makes people that are non-religious less happy due to cultural pressures.

If the correlation exists, it's valid no matter how strong the correlation is. Inconsistency reduces the degree of the correlation, not the validity of the correlation if it's shown to exist. The cause of the correlation is entirely unrelated to this point, unless the point in question was to declare the cause of the correlation, in which case further analysis is necessary, analysis beyond the study that simply showed the correlation. It is the absence of such a study in this case (or at least the absence from this discussion) that makes points on the matter overstated.

My problem with arguing about whether religion is "good" for society or individuals is that it is nearly devoid of usefulness. If we suddenly discovered that religion were a good thing, does that somehow mean that we should go around promoting it? What if promoting religion were a negative, and the only positives are found to be resulting from people practicing religion of their own accord? If we suddenly found that religion were a bad thing, does that mean we should go around decrying it? What if the only negatives to be found result from the fact that it's being decried, misunderstood, and generally misused right now? Wouldn't the better thing be to attempt to improve it, no matter the long-term overall effects of the thing you're improving? When we decide that a country or a people group have either a positive or negative effect on global society, do we take the correct response to be, respectively, encouraging reproduction or euthanasia?

Whether religion is good or bad in general is far less interesting and far less useful than why it is good or bad in particular.

yukizora
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:13 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby yukizora » Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:21 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
yukizora wrote:The problem with that claim is that you're labeling belief on things that are purely rational. Rape is crossing the line of individual liberties. You're doing physical harm to someone else, and this is never, ever, right. Gold is valuable because you can sell it at a set price, which is high. It could fall tomorrow, but if I have gold right now, and I want to sell it now, it's valuable.

You can sell gold because it's valued, not because it's valuable. The fact that those mean the same thing to many people is the conflation that I mentioned. In many people's heads the value is a property of the gold just like density and color. But it's really a property of us and how we interact with gold (which is of course related to real objective properties of gold). We interact with value as if it were an objective property, and we even have ways to objectively measure it. But that would be like having a market place for belief in God and objectively measuring qualities like God's love based on what large groups of people believe.

And your claim of rightness is just simply declared without any support. The fact that this is often a convincing way to share beliefs of rightness says something about how we relate to concepts of morality. But sometimes it's not convincing when people begin to ask why. And I suspect people create elaborate narratives about our objective world to better defend their claims of rightness. Once you establish (and reinforce through faith) a belief in claims about the world, claims of rightness naturally follow. So the aggregate subjective beliefs of religion differ from others because they're actively reinforced through faith.

By the way, I think our concept of rationality behaves in aggregate subjective ways as well. We don't have a better way to measure the rationality of ideas other than simply asking people if they believe it's rational. (Maybe that's not true for logically rigorous ideas like in mathematics, but descriptions of our world are rarely logically rigorous outside of hypotheticals).

Thanks for your answer, I think we fall pretty much in the domain in what's valuable and what's not. Actually nothing would be *absolutely* valuable in your opinion?
I do agree, but I really don't know what's your point after we've agreed on that.

Then, concerning your definition of morals. I do enforce the universal human rights and only that. It's a great approximation on which rules are essential for all people to live happy together, taking into account our reaction to physiological events, like pain, fear, love, etc... If you've got something better, prove it's better. I don't tell it's absolute, just it's the best approximate yet we have to base our morals on.
I also disagree on your definition of rationality. There are clearly defined logic rules. If a claim can't follow these, then it's not proven rational. It's just that people like to appropriate this to their personal appreciation, which can be flawed.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sun Jun 20, 2010 5:51 am UTC

Zcorp wrote: Then maybe you don't understand what validity is. If the results are not consistent it shows that the correlation in America has nothing to do with religion but with something that religion provides based on the culture of America. Thus the study was not actually testing if religion makes people happy, it was testing to see if the culture in america makes people that are non-religious less happy due to cultural pressures.

Regarding the underlined section, either based on the culture of America or based on how religion is largely implemented in America. Or some combination. But if religion is providing something useful then that supports my premise. I'm not arguing that religion is good, I'm arguing that it has the potential to be good when done properly.

Also, using your rationale we could argue that government is bad because it leads to lots of bad stuff and the good stuff it does isn't consistent across cultures and countries. Or we could recognize that government comes in many different forms and has the potential to be very bad or very good. And even when it's very good, it still leads to bad stuff. So instead of arguing for or against a monolithic idea of government, I think we should instead push to have better government.

Zcorp wrote:I find it interesting that you still use this single invalid point to defend religion on a societal scale.

The point isn't invalid. I believe you're trying to say that my conclusions based on that point are invalid. And as I mentioned above, I'm not defending religion on a societal scale, rather I'm arguing against it being a villain (which I guess is sort of like defending it). I don't believe we'd have less bad stuff in the world if everyone abandoned religion; I think we'd just have people using other reasons to team up and hurt other people. Religious and non-religions people can find common ground on opposing the bad stuff, and I think that's better than mutual scoffing and finger pointing.

Zcorp wrote:Agreed that science has a large amount left to learn, but because there is not scientific explanation attributing it to God as the definitive cause is destructive to critical thinking, reason and knowledge, and thus society. Why can't you accept not knowing things rather then requiring everything to be miraculous? Not only does this give us reason to investigate more about how the universe functions but it does not create as many cognitive biases and irrational behavior.

I think our human cognition is destructive to critical thinking, reason, and knowledge. We love striving for rationality, but it's so much easier to create the illusion of it rather than actually improving. I don't believe that removing religion would make us better at dealing with cognitive biases or make us behave more rationally. Rather I think religion is just the product of our sub-rational biology. By the way, I don't hold rationality as an ideal. I think it's a great tool that we should be able to wield when needed, but our irrationality is very much linked with what we identify as our humanity. Star Trek deals with this a lot with Vulcans.

And let me point out that even though I'm pessimistic about people reaching new heights in rationality, I very much support efforts to prove me wrong. I'm happy to see people trained up in new a-religious schools of thought, and I'd be fascinated to hear how they do. But I would oppose them if they're built around an anti-religious core element (i.e. they're taught to scoff at the lesser minded people that use primitive tools like faith). It's the same way that I oppose churches being built around an anti-heretic sentiment. I think it's unhealthy for a group to form around these negative concepts of why others are bad people.

Coffee Stain wrote:Whether religion is good or bad in general is far less interesting and far less useful than why it is good or bad in particular.

I'm definitely fascinated to know why it's good or bad in particular. I want science to delve into the details and give us a better understanding. I don't feel religious miracles are any less miraculous when we understand the real-world mechanics of how it works.

yukizora wrote:Thanks for your answer, I think we fall pretty much in the domain in what's valuable and what's not. Actually nothing would be *absolutely* valuable in your opinion?
I do agree, but I really don't know what's your point after we've agreed on that.

Well, we can define "valuable" in any way we want. It's truth by definition. My point isn't to discuss semantics. But rather that instead of having our language reflect that value is a property of people, we attach it to objects. I suspect this is because believing that gold is valuable informs us on how to behave with respect to it. But if we chose to process it in the more accurate way of people valuing it, it's an extra layer of processing that doesn't serve any useful purpose. But we do process it in a more nuanced way if the value isn't regarded as universal (i.e. we might describe rare comic books as valuable to collectors). So with regards to economic value, I don't think this conflation actually causes trouble (and I'm not promoting a better way to describe value). Rather I'm trying to make the case that how we describe and relate to value is revealing of how our brain works, and this same mechanism causes conflation in other areas that do very much cause problems.

yukizora wrote:Then, concerning your definition of morals. I do enforce the universal human rights and only that. It's a great approximation on which rules are essential for all people to live happy together, taking into account our reaction to physiological events, like pain, fear, love, etc... If you've got something better, prove it's better. I don't tell it's absolute, just it's the best approximate yet we have to base our morals on.
I also disagree on your definition of rationality. There are clearly defined logic rules. If a claim can't follow these, then it's not proven rational. It's just that people like to appropriate this to their personal appreciation, which can be flawed.

My point isn't that I have something better. Rather I'm saying that the whole notion of goodness in this field is poorly defined. We'd have to agree on metrics before I could even begin to prove that I have something better. And even if we can agree on objective measurements, actually measuring them for morality is very hard because it operates on such a wide scale over such a long period of time with an immeasurable number of variables. So morality lives in a world where people are filled with notions of objective betterness without any way to back it up other than bold appeals to obviousness. (By the way, I often make such bold appeals.)

And defining rational in terms of logical rigorousness will yield poor results for morality. Basically we can define any starting axiom we want and craft any logical conclusion we want. We can have a moral system where rape is the pinnacle of pure goodness. There's really no limit to the stupidity of what we can create. But we inherently judge it by some metric other than logical consistency since we'd immediately throw out any system that glorified rape. I believe this metric is one based on what feels right and is inherently irrational.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:04 pm UTC

guenther wrote:Regarding the underlined section, either based on the culture of America or based on how religion is largely implemented in America. Or some combination. But if religion is providing something useful then that supports my premise. I'm not arguing that religion is good, I'm arguing that it has the potential to be good when done properly.
Aye, I understand. I'm arguing that we can have secular institutions that fullfil that same potential good without the negative effects of religion (and specifically I'm speaking of western religions, and some aspects of buddism) .

Also, using your rationale we could argue that government is bad because it leads to lots of bad stuff and the good stuff it does isn't consistent across cultures and countries. Or we could recognize that government comes in many different forms and has the potential to be very bad or very good. And even when it's very good, it still leads to bad stuff. So instead of arguing for or against a monolithic idea of government, I think we should instead push to have better government.
By using my rationale you could argue that a government system that has a potential to do well is worth exploring, but after trying it for a about 1500 years and having noticeable negative effect it would be wise to find a way to improve upon that system.

The point isn't invalid. I believe you're trying to say that my conclusions based on that point are invalid. And as I mentioned above, I'm not defending religion on a societal scale, rather I'm arguing against it being a villain (which I guess is sort of like defending it). I don't believe we'd have less bad stuff in the world if everyone abandoned religion; I think we'd just have people using other reasons to team up and hurt other people. Religious and non-religions people can find common ground on opposing the bad stuff, and I think that's better than mutual scoffing and finger pointing.
You are correct that was poorly worded, as you and Coffee Stain correctly pointed out. I'm not arguing for removing religion and leaving a void in peoples lives where it used to be. I"m arguing that technology and education has allowed society to progress to a place where we can replace what religion has historically served in peoples live to something that does not also perpetuate magical thinking and a anti-intellectual environment.

I think our human cognition is destructive to critical thinking, reason, and knowledge. We love striving for rationality, but it's so much easier to create the illusion of it rather than actually improving. I don't believe that removing religion would make us better at dealing with cognitive biases or make us behave more rationally. Rather I think religion is just the product of our sub-rational biology. By the way, I don't hold rationality as an ideal. I think it's a great tool that we should be able to wield when needed, but our irrationality is very much linked with what we identify as our humanity. Star Trek deals with this a lot with Vulcans.

This is exactly the problem with much of the image of humanity that has been created, and is often a argument against science for people who don't understand what it is.

Human behavior is largely influenced by instinct and emotion, and thinking otherwise is not rational or reasonable. But the trait that makes humans unique is not our empathy, although it is a trait that should be valued, the trait that is uniquely human is our capacity for reason and self-awareness. This includes understanding human function and behavior and our emotional and instinctual aspects are part of ourselves but they are not what makes us human.

And let me point out that even though I'm pessimistic about people reaching new heights in rationality, I very much support efforts to prove me wrong. I'm happy to see people trained up in new a-religious schools of thought, and I'd be fascinated to hear how they do. But I would oppose them if they're built around an anti-religious core element (i.e. they're taught to scoff at the lesser minded people that use primitive tools like faith). It's the same way that I oppose churches being built around an anti-heretic sentiment. I think it's unhealthy for a group to form around these negative concepts of why others are bad people.
I'm not interested in teaching people to be anti-religious. I'm interested in teaching people to be critical thinkers, value learning and have a interest in bettering society. None of which are typically taught within Western religions, new age spirituality and even the sects of Buddism I'm familiar with. In fact these institutions decrease the chance of people developing those skills, and even fight against their development as we can see with abortion, the changes in texas text books, gay marriage, creationists and various other similar similar occurrences.

And again, the point is not that religion does not have positive aspects, simply that we can create institutions that the same positive effects and less negative effects. But one of the large reasons that they exist on such a small scale is due to religion fighting so strongly against them.

SnakesNDMartyrs
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:45 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby SnakesNDMartyrs » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:41 pm UTC

guenther wrote:In many people's heads the value is a property of the gold just like density and color.


Just to be a bit pedantic - color isn't a property of an object. Color is the way our mind interprets particular frequencies of light that are reflected by the object; color, like sound, doesn't exist outside of a mind. Trees that fall in deserted forests really don't make a sound :)
An attempt to make a living at online poker: PokerAdept

User avatar
Coffee Stain
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:23 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Coffee Stain » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:09 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:I'm not interested in teaching people to be anti-religious. I'm interested in teaching people to be critical thinkers, value learning and have a interest in bettering society. None of which are typically taught within Western religions, new age spirituality and even the sects of Buddism I'm familiar with. In fact these institutions decrease the chance of people developing those skills, and even fight against their development as we can see with abortion, the changes in texas text books, gay marriage, creationists and various other similar similar occurrences.

And again, the point is not that religion does not have positive aspects, simply that we can create institutions that the same positive effects and less negative effects. But one of the large reasons that they exist on such a small scale is due to religion fighting so strongly against them.

Indeed, and it's very unfortunate. One thing I'm very interested to find out, though, is whether once we teach people to be better thinkers (or rather, once the average thinking ability of the population improves, as it has been doing for quite some time), will Western religion change in popularity, or will Western religion change? I suspect a little bit of both. What is very likely is that improvement of critical thinking will only change the aspects of religion that were impacted by its absence. The positives to be found in religion will probably remain unaffected, and it is important to preserve those as well.

SnakesNDMartyrs wrote:Just to be a bit pedantic - color isn't a property of an object. Color is the way our mind interprets particular frequencies of light that are reflected by the object; color, like sound, doesn't exist outside of a mind. Trees that fall in deserted forests really don't make a sound :)

Color, though a word we use to describe the abstraction that our mind creates, is still an isomorphism of a certain real property of the object. There is a reason that color is the way it is when we perceive it, and it has nothing to do with the perception itself. If a tree falls in an unobserved forest, we would expect that whatever sound is isomorphic to in reality is still existent. To that end, words like "color" and "sound" are so useful that most people use it to great effect in describing the reality itself, or at least the only portion of the reality worth describing.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:And again, the point is not that religion does not have positive aspects, simply that we can create institutions that the same positive effects and less negative effects. But one of the large reasons that they exist on such a small scale is due to religion fighting so strongly against them.

I will voice my pessimism about the prospects of such replacements for religion, but I definitely want those efforts to be given a respected place in our marketplace of ideas.

And while religious people are certainly more likely to fight against progressive ideas, I bet that's because they have a greater value for the wisdom encoded in the way things have always been done. Based on pure speculation, I bet that a healthy society needs both people that cling strongly to old traditions and people that wholly embrace new ways of doing things. The two groups will always have conflicts on the direction of society, and I think your list of grievances against the former group focuses mainly on the times when the latter group is right.

SnakesNDMartyrs wrote:Just to be a bit pedantic - color isn't a property of an object. Color is the way our mind interprets particular frequencies of light that are reflected by the object; color, like sound, doesn't exist outside of a mind. Trees that fall in deserted forests really don't make a sound :)

That's a good point. Maybe color and sound are both further (and pedantic) examples of my point. :) We could go even further and talk about how of perception of separate objects is false when we're really just a wild sea of frothing energy. However, color and sound represent physical phenomenons that are readily measured in an objective way. We can't objectively measure value without resorting to tracking opinions of lots of people. And that's how I defined the notion of aggregate subjective, it only exists as a shared opinion though we treat it like its objective.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

SnakesNDMartyrs
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:45 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby SnakesNDMartyrs » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:42 pm UTC

Coffee Stain wrote:Color, though a word we use to describe the abstraction that our mind creates, is still an isomorphism of a certain real property of the object. There is a reason that color is the way it is when we perceive it, and it has nothing to do with the perception itself. If a tree falls in an unobserved forest, we would expect that whatever sound is isomorphic to in reality is still existent. To that end, words like "color" and "sound" are so useful that most people use it to great effect in describing the reality itself, or at least the only portion of the reality worth describing.


To be isomorphic requires a direct 1 to 1 relationship between the two phenomena. This relationship doesn't exist for 'color - light' or 'vibration - sound', it is entirely possible to have color without light and sound without vibration. It is also possible to have a tree fall in an inhabited forest and still have no sound created (provided all the inhabitants are deaf..).

This is all without even looking at conditions like synesthesia or invoking thought experiments with aliens who hear light and see sound. Calling the relationship between reality and perception isomorphic is far too strong - and yes, I'm aware that I'm being philosophically pedantic.
An attempt to make a living at online poker: PokerAdept

User avatar
Coffee Stain
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:23 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Coffee Stain » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:56 pm UTC

SnakesNDMartyrs wrote:To be isomorphic requires a direct 1 to 1 relationship between the two phenomena. This relationship doesn't exist for 'color - light' or 'vibration - sound', it is entirely possible to have color without light and sound without vibration. It is also possible to have a tree fall in an inhabited forest and still have no sound created (provided all the inhabitants are deaf..).

This is all without even looking at conditions like synesthesia or invoking thought experiments with aliens who hear light and see sound. Calling the relationship between reality and perception isomorphic is far too strong - and yes, I'm aware that I'm being philosophically pedantic.

:) No worries, aren't we all?

For some subset of the reality, it is isomorphic, or quite close to it. It is so because the portion of the reality that influences the perception is the only portion that is relevant. Just because I've only seen the outside of a Corvette doesn't mean that my concept of the vehicle doesn't accurately and directly correspond to some portion of the Corvette. There is, in fact, much more going on "behind the scenes," and yet if nobody were ever able to take a look inside, we would never know to what extent this were the case. But... this thread is about religion right?

SnakesNDMartyrs
Posts: 143
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:45 pm UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby SnakesNDMartyrs » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:32 am UTC

Yes it is about religion - however to me the concepts are related.

Just like something in reality causes us to perceive the sensations of color and sound, something in reality causes people to perceive the 'hand of God'. Perhaps it is a feeble attempt by our minds to make order from chaos, to make known the unknowable. Regardless, religion is the institution that is built to maintain and teach the lessons taught by those believed to be most in touch with God's hand.

Unfortunately, modern religious types seem unable to understand that the lessons can only be taught in metaphor - and that the metaphor itself is only a meaningless vehicle for a message that can only be learnt and not taught. Modern Religion has been hijacked by capitalism and fundamentalism to the detriment of its followers.
An attempt to make a living at online poker: PokerAdept

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:31 pm UTC

Coffee Stain wrote:Indeed, and it's very unfortunate. One thing I'm very interested to find out, though, is whether once we teach people to be better thinkers (or rather, once the average thinking ability of the population improves, as it has been doing for quite some time), will Western religion change in popularity, or will Western religion change? I suspect a little bit of both. What is very likely is that improvement of critical thinking will only change the aspects of religion that were impacted by its absence. The positives to be found in religion will probably remain unaffected, and it is important to preserve those as well.

This will depend upon your definition of religion.
The church changed to deal with changes in science and culture like Astronomy, Round Earth, Darwin etc creating a God of the Gaps scenario.
But what most people mean by religion can no longer exist when the culture no longer believes in a God but instead thinks that the concept of a creator is a novel idea that is not falsifiable and thus a fun mental game but has no useful place in reality. Once culture starts challenging the concept of God itself rather then things associated with the church through confirmation bias religion, as it is understood by most today, can no longer exist.

And while religious people are certainly more likely to fight against progressive ideas, I bet that's because they have a greater value for the wisdom encoded in the way things have always been done.
First Christianity is not the way things have always been done. Second most of the practices suggested within the Bible or even the belief that Jesus is God is not something that anyone can genuinely describe as wise.

Before christianity we had at the very least the Greeks, Hindus, Buddhists, TCR, Taoists and Egypt all of which embodied the same general principles that are correctly valued within Christianity. Just different bad ones. While today we can study economics, psychology, scientific method and sociology to arrive at the same 'wisdom encoded in the way things have always been done' but without more of the bullshit then ever.

Based on pure speculation, I bet that a healthy society needs both people that cling strongly to old traditions and people that wholly embrace new ways of doing things. The two groups will always have conflicts on the direction of society, and I think your list of grievances against the former group focuses mainly on the times when the latter group is right.
Sure, and age demographics have a lot to do with this valuing current destructive traditions. And radical change for the sake of radical change is just as if not potentially more destructive then maintaining the the current destructive traditions. And the fear of radical change for the sake of change is largely the American political system was designed as it was.

We are getting to a point in our civilization where education has progressed significantly and right now there is a huge struggle to progress it much further, creating better environments for learning and bonding between teacher and students as well as understanding in cognitive function -and the individual differences within- well enough to allow for people to learn more in less time. We are also getting large amounts of data to show the effect of our believes and systems, and thus the rate of change is likely to increase as our are much more aware of the effects.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:46 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Once culture starts challenging the concept of God itself rather then things associated with the church through confirmation bias religion, as it is understood by most today, can no longer exist.

To get rid of the negative impacts of religion, do you need to challenge the concept of God? Of course you can define believing in God with no evidence as ideologically bad. But if we're talking about the intuitively bad stuff like oppression, violence, etc., then I don't think one needs to challenge the belief in God to fix those things.

Zcorp wrote:Second most of the practices suggested within the Bible or even the belief that Jesus is God is not something that anyone can genuinely describe as wise.

This tells me you know very little about Christians. A lot of people genuinely describe what's written in the Bible as wise.

Zcorp wrote:While today we can study economics, psychology, scientific method and sociology to arrive at the same 'wisdom encoded in the way things have always been done' but without more of the bullshit then ever.

I don't believe it will arrive at the same wisdom. One quick example is the idea to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you demonstrate in those fields that one should do this? Even within a religion that has this as one of the central rules, it's hard to get people to comply. When it's not religiously mandated, I can't even get people to agree that's it's something worth striving for. The general sense I get is that it's OK to treat shitty people shitty.

The problem is that providing solid evidence on how to behave with respect to other people is really hard. There will never be consensus on what it means to "love your neighbor" let alone how it impacts the world. So people will pick and choose the results that they find most credible, which will be biased based on what's the most convenient. People that find it easy to extend compassion will place a high value on it, people that find it hard will place more value on other stuff. These moral rules won't actually challenge people to change, people will just change morality instead. At least that's my guess at what will happen in a field where truth is so poorly defined.

EDIT: (Since no one has responded yet, I'll sneak in one more point.) Even when the sciences provide a very clear picture of how we should behave, they do a very poor job of motivating people to actually do the parts that involve hard work. Look at our challenges with diet and debt. So in fields where evidence provides a much fuzzier picture of how to behave, I don't think the results will be better.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:52 pm UTC

guenther wrote:
Zcorp wrote:Once culture starts challenging the concept of God itself rather then things associated with the church through confirmation bias religion, as it is understood by most today, can no longer exist.

To get rid of the negative impacts of religion, do you need to challenge the concept of God? Of course you define believing in God with no evidence as ideologically bad. But if we're talking about the intuitively bad stuff like oppression, violence, etc., then I don't think one needs to challenge the belief in God to fix those things.
No I'm saying that increasing skills like critical thinking, understanding of scientific method and reason almost by definition challenges the concept of God. And unlike previous problems the Church has faced, like the aforementioned Evolution etc, I find it unlikely that the church can adapt to the times when the times challenge the most fundamental aspect of the church in mass.

This tells me you know very little about Christians. A lot of people genuinely describe what's written in the Bible as wise.

A lot of people who do so have never read the Bible. Nor did I state that everything within the Bible is unwise, just most of it including the concept that Jesus is God.

Seminary schools spend years teaching potential clergy about the Bible challenging just about every aspect of it. While still cultivating the group think that perpetuates their faith. They teach these message which sound great and powerful but rarely teach about the marcoeffect of the culture they are creating and sustaining. The laity is often taught in the absolute truth of the Bible and how it is the word of God, despite what the seminaries teach the clergy on the real history of the Bible. It is not wise to assert a philosophy of life that does not create the effect it claims to.

I don't believe it will arrive at the same wisdom. One quick example is the idea to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you demonstrate in those fields that one should do this? Even within a religion that has this as one of the central rules, it's hard to get people to comply. When it's not religiously mandated, I can't even get people to agree that's it's something worth striving for. The general sense I get is that it's OK to treat shitty people shitty.

People don't do this when it IS religiously mandated, as you mention, and thus sticking with a system that does not get the desired result is...well I'm struggling to come up with a word other that fits better than idiotic.

Within educational facilities and many other institutions that lean left not only will you find significantly more agnostics and atheists but you will find nearly all of the people who don't want to live in a darwinistic economy or culture, despite that they are likely to have a better understanding of those concepts and their effect on human behavior then the base of the right.

As the progress of civilization has progressed to allowed significantly easier communication and travel so just caring about your neighbor is no longer efficient or effective. Now we should start caring about the entire system in which we are a part of, which at this point is global. You are much more likely to find highly religious, right leaning base that just wants to be left alone not have the government 'impose' upon them and prefer not to interact with anything other than their local community.

Within Iterated Prisoner's dilemma, game theory is studied in psychology, sociology and economics, the benefits of cooperation become easily apparent.
And your right, this concept does not teach people that we should be cooperate with the people that defect on us. Then we can look at operant conditioning to get a guideline for what happens when you do cooperate with someone who is defecting on you. You are giving them positive reinforcement by doing so, which in most cases is going to increase their behavior of defection.

All of these studies look at how people function and how to better increase the lives of people. And we know from experience that simply telling people to love their neighbor has little to no effect so I'm simply confused why you think it is a valid course of action to create that culture and behavioral norm.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:44 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:It is not wise to assert a philosophy of life that does not create the effect it claims to.

The claimed effect is salvation through Jesus Christ. We can't measure if it creates that effect or not. And you're welcome to believe that much of the Bible is not wise, but I was challenging the assertion that it "is not something that anyone can genuinely describe as wise". That's clearly wrong.

Zcorp wrote:People don't do this when it IS religiously mandated, as you mention, and thus sticking with a system that does not get the desired result is...well I'm struggling to come up with a word other that fits better than idiotic.

Again, you're welcome to your opinion, but now you're arguing that the sciences you mentioned earlier are in fact developing a new body of wisdom. Which means you'll have people that tend to stick to what they know and people that jump readily into new systems.

Zcorp wrote:All of these studies look at how people function and how to better increase the lives of people. And we know from experience that simply telling people to love their neighbor has little to no effect so I'm simply confused why you think it is a valid course of action to create that culture and behavioral norm.

The rule to love your neighbor is challenging to follow, but I'm not ready to agree that it has little to no effect. I still firmly believe in the importance of this rule. I don't think it should be measured by how many people succeed at loving. Rather I think it creates a social pressure to offset our inherent bias to put our own concerns above that of others. We benefit if we push people to care more about others even if they fail at loving perfectly. How much this works in practice is a very hard thing to measure.

Things like game theory might convince people to cooperate, but I suspect people will be biased to use it selectively when it creates the greatest benefit to self. But there are big, slow feedback systems at play in society that are very hard to characterize, and a lot of people making self-interested decisions might create ugly things at a big level that we can't predict.

For example, I think the Us vs. Them mentality makes it very easy to extend compassion to people on your own team and very hard to do so to members of the other team. It creates an irrational bias that I believe causes damage. We need to overcome that bias to treat the other team poorly, but I think it might come at a cost of reducing your teams chance to win.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:06 pm UTC

guenther wrote:The claimed effect is salvation through Jesus Christ. We can't measure if it creates that effect or not. And you're welcome to believe that much of the Bible is not wise, but I was challenging the assertion that it "is not something that anyone can genuinely describe as wise". That's clearly wrong.
No that part was clearly within a context that had this attached to it "Second most of the practices suggested within the Bible or even the belief that Jesus is God..."

Again, you're welcome to your opinion, but now you're arguing that the sciences you mentioned earlier are in fact developing a new body of wisdom. Which means you'll have people that tend to stick to what they know and people that jump readily into new systems.
No i'm not. I'm arguing that science and reason allow us to arrive at the same body of wisdom about how to treat people to create a happy society but without the easy possibility for misunderstandings, ambiguity, magical thinking, confirmation bias and delusion.

Things like game theory might convince people to cooperate, but I suspect people will be biased to use it selectively when it creates the greatest benefit to self. But there are big, slow feedback systems at play in society that are very hard to characterize, and a lot of people making self-interested decisions might create ugly things at a big level that we can't predict.
Yup, but that is irrelevant to the topic at hand. Now you are talking about systems political system and the free market instead of religion and its [in]ability to educate and instill wisdom and integrity.

For example, I think the Us vs. Them mentality makes it very easy to extend compassion to people on your own team and very hard to do so to members of the other team. It creates an irrational bias that I believe causes damage. We need to overcome that bias to treat the other team poorly, but I think it might come at a cost of reducing your teams chance to win.
You don't need to just think it, you can learn about the research done about that topic due to the aforementioned sciences. But religion doesn't help that mentality. If fact it causes that mentality more so then other human construct besides maybe politics.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:34 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:No that part was clearly within a context that had this attached to it "Second most of the practices suggested within the Bible or even the belief that Jesus is God..."

And I'm saying you're wrong. Lots of people think it's wise. You can discount their opinion by claiming they haven't read the Bible, but that doesn't make your statement more correct.

Zcorp wrote:No i'm not. I'm arguing that science and reason allow us to arrive at the same body of wisdom about how to treat people to create a happy society but without the easy possibility for misunderstandings, ambiguity, magical thinking, confirmation bias and delusion.

This is really the crux of our disagreement. You believe that science and reason can bring this about and I don't.

Zcorp wrote:Yup, but that is irrelevant to the topic at hand. Now you are talking about systems political system and the free market instead of religion and its [in]ability to educate and instill wisdom and integrity.

You don't need to just think it, you can learn about the research done about that topic due to the aforementioned sciences. But religion doesn't help that mentality. If fact it causes that mentality more so then other human construct besides maybe politics.

Religion is powerful, so just as it has the ability to make these problems very bad, I believe it can make it a lot better. The latter is what I'm advocating.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:50 pm UTC

guenther wrote:And I'm saying you're wrong. Lots of people think it's wise. You can discount their opinion by claiming they haven't read the Bible, but that doesn't make your statement more correct.
I'm not trying to discount them so much as stating data and asserting that most of the bible is filled with archaic messages and processes that show little to no understanding of human nature, the universe or even what its own followers believe to be moral action.

This is really the crux of our disagreement. You believe that science and reason can bring this about and I don't.
I don't 'believe it' I look at data, studies and research and use reason to notice that science and reason create a type of behavior and thought within people that is in congruence not only with my values but with the common values mentioned in every significant philosophical or religions framework.


Religion is powerful, so just as it has the ability to make these problems very bad, I believe it can make it a lot better. The latter is what I'm advocating.
Christianity has had nearly 2 thousand years and it has in general done a very poor job of creating the society that its most educated practitioners try to advocate. When will you decide enough is enough and adopt a system that is actually creating that society that they value?

Do you care about the process of the result more? Because Christianity is not creating the results that are desirable. While science and education are.
And when new tools are created within those frameworks, or if a different framework is created that is more efficient I'll adopt those as I care more about the result of the system then sticking to what I believe to be valuable regardless of the consequences.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:02 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:I don't 'believe it' I look at data, studies and research and use reason to notice that science and reason create a type of behavior and thought within people that is in congruence not only with my values but with the common values mentioned in every significant philosophical or religions framework.

While science and reason are great tools that create a lot of value, I haven't observed them to be that effective at creating valuable types of behavior and thought. What is your data?

Zcorp wrote:Christianity has had nearly 2 thousand years and it has in general done a very poor job of creating the society that its most educated practitioners try to advocate. When will you decide enough is enough and adopt a system that is actually creating that society that they value?

Maybe creating that type of society is very hard. I'm not convinced that another way would do a better job. When we have 2000 years of data on a world largely shaped by areligious forces, then we'll know.

Zcorp wrote:Do you care about the process of the result more? Because Christianity is not creating the results that are desirable. While science and education are.

In my life Christianity is creating the results I desire, and I see the same thing happening for many people I know. And maybe science and education have the ability to do so well because we're in a time of prosperity, even now when the economy is not doing so great. And maybe some of that prosperity was brought about by the values instilled in our culture through religious forces. It's hard to know because we only have evidence of a world where religion has had a strong influence on our history.

Zcorp wrote:And when new tools are created within those frameworks, or if a different framework is created that is more efficient I'll adopt those as I care more about the result of the system then sticking to what I believe to be valuable regardless of the consequences.

How do you know that what you prefer now doesn't shape your belief in what system is most efficient? Measuring this stuff is very hard and truth is very poorly defined. When this is the case, I don't believe we can very well separate out our biases. Even if you happen to be very good at it, I bet most people are not.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

User avatar
mmmcannibalism
Posts: 2150
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:16 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:26 pm UTC

While science and reason are great tools that create a lot of value, I haven't observed them to be that effective at creating valuable types of behavior and thought. What is your data?


Name some times when a societal shift away from religion and toward science and reason was a net bad for that society*; now name the times when a move away from science and reason and toward religion ended up as a net good. I am quite confident the second list will be much larger.

In my life Science and reason is creating the results I desire, and I see the same thing happening for many people I know. And maybe Christianity has the ability to do so well because we're in a time of prosperity, even now when the economy is not doing so great. And maybe some of that prosperity was brought about by the values instilled in our culture through scientific forces. It's hard to know because we only have evidence of a world where science has had a strong influence on our history.


Generally, when an argument can be countered by switching words it suggests the argument was very weak to begin with.

*and I don't mean just a move away from religion; so communist Russia is very dubious as an example.
Izawwlgood wrote:I for one would happily live on an island as a fuzzy seal-human.

Oregonaut wrote:Damn fetuses and their terroist plots.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:51 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Name some times when a societal shift away from religion and toward science and reason was a net bad for that society*; now name the times when a move away from science and reason and toward religion ended up as a net good. I am quite confident the second list will be much larger.

I agree that having religion take a less powerful stance in society is a good thing, in particular having it decoupled from the government. But I don't extend that to mean that reducing it's power infinitely will have an ever improving effect.

mmmcannibalism wrote:Generally, when an argument can be countered by switching words it suggests the argument was very weak to begin with.

First, I don't consider it countered. I think science and Christianity can work well together. I want to promote both. So having a time when Christianity can do better because of science is a good thing in my opinion. (EDIT: And let me mention that we don't have a long history of people in large numbers using science in place of religion. Science does a lot of great things, but that's a function that's been poorly tested.)

And second, when I end my statement with "It's hard to know", it should demonstrate a weak argument. It's weak because as I said it's very hard to measure. All any of us can do is speculate.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

DCB
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:59 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby DCB » Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:14 am UTC

guenther wrote: I think science and Christianity can work well together. I want to promote both. So having a time when Christianity can do better because of science is a good thing in my opinion.


Hopefully no one thinks that quote is out of context.

Personally I think science and religion cannot ever work well together since they are in effect two religions. Science is the worship of math, logic, and evidence (and sometimes reason, but not always). Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of any god, since we cannot create a universe or part of a universe "with god" and "without god" and see whether there is any difference in how the laws of physics or whatever are affected.

Science will never be able to prove or disprove anything too big or too small. If string theorists are right, there are distances so small we can never ever ever see what exists in that small space, maybe God is that small. The uncertainty principle says that uncertainty is a fundamental piece of the universe, in effect we can never know where, for example, an electron is, we just need have to have faith that it's somewhere near the atom, probably here or there. And more than a few light years away, who knows what the universe actually looks like? I mean we can see nebulas that are 3 billion years old, but what's there now? and where is the matter that made up the nebula? It's been floating through space for 3 billion years, after all and we won't know where it is now for 3 billion years, and then we still won't know where it is. Maybe Allah is out there, but he's so far out the light just hasn't reached us yet, or that fatass crab nebula is in the way and we'll see him in the telescope in 200 years or something.

To reiterate, my opinion is that science is itself basically a religion. And I don't mean that cult, Scientology. I mean science. There are many, many things science wants to explain and there are many theorists (*cough* prophets *cough*) who want us to take their word on whatever theory of the universe they have and they are example of what will happen if people go into science trying to prove themselves right instead of trying to discover the answer. I'm not saying we should all be Scientists (capitalized to mean followers of Science). I'm saying science has proven that no one can explain the universe fully by logic and reason or by faith (meaning you cannot explain everything by a universally accepted system of description and you cannot provide an argument based on faith that everyone will accept). So the way I see it, in the next few hundred years science will probably dissolve into string theorists, reductionists, etc. and it will be exactly like that South Park episode, except there will still be other religions out there. People have a lot of faith in science and so far there haven't been any significant scandals to dissuade them from the belief in the system, and that is why mixing religion with science is very dangerous.

I know I just assumed any religious scientists would fudge the numbers and try to prove the existence of god so that everyone else would believe, but what else would religious scientists be doing? And I don't mean scientists who happen to believe in god(s), I mean people who go into science to try to prove they are right.


P.S. It's late and I'm tired, sorry if that isn't unified or coherent. Also sorry to the mods if this should be in some science v religion thread.

yukizora
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:13 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby yukizora » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:48 am UTC

Sorry, but you can't prove that science won't disprove the existence of god. And sorry again, but Science doesn't fall in the definition of a religion. One is dogma, the other is reason.

Guenther: Could you please tell me how the Bible in it's whole is better than the declaration of human rights, in your opinion?

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby guenther » Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:12 am UTC

DCB wrote:Personally I think science and religion cannot ever work well together since they are in effect two religions. Science is the worship of math, logic, and evidence (and sometimes reason, but not always).

People can worship math, logic, and evidence, but many people simply value them as tools. In fact, it's science the tool that has demonstrated its amazing value, and it is quite compatible with religion (though people may make claims through science that conflict with religious claims). I believe we should encourage religious people to learn from and value science used in this way to help find objective truths about our world.

Some people have expanded the skills and thought processes taught in science to be used as a broader philosophy on life. This might make it be sort of like a religion (and I've heard Neil deGrasse Tyson describe his relationship to science that way), and this use of science might not be compatible with many religions. But to my knowledge science hasn't been well tested in this role.


yukizora wrote:Sorry, but you can't prove that science won't disprove the existence of god. And sorry again, but Science doesn't fall in the definition of a religion. One is dogma, the other is reason.

First, people use dogma in science, even if it's unscientific to do so, and people use reason within religion. I would argue that the difference between the two is less about reason and more about evidence and how it relates to establishing beliefs.

Second, perhaps we can disprove a specific incarnation of God if someone is willing to put forth claims that are testable (i.e. God lives on that mountain). But mostly people put forth untestable claims, which means they can't be proven true or false (I call them poorly defined truths). Sometimes previously untestable claims become testable, and then there's pushback on that science, but eventually the claims about God get moved to new areas untouchable by science. Many people are already finding ways to reconcile the Bible with evolution, and I think this will happen more as time goes on.

yukizora wrote:Guenther: Could you please tell me how the Bible in it's whole is better than the declaration of human rights, in your opinion?

Well, I'm not fond of using the concept of rights for morality. Just like laws, I think rights are vital for modern civilizations. But also like laws, I think of them as sort of a morality floor. Violating them is usually bad, but not violating them doesn't mean you're doing good, or even that you're not doing bad. Morality should be built above this floor and describe areas of responsibility. I will generally rate any system with a strong sense of personal responsibility higher than one built from rights. (As an example of what I mean, I believe we should give to charities, but charities shouldn't feel they have a right to our donations.)

As for the Bible, I like that its rules for life begin by telling us how to arrange our emotions, which makes sense when emotions have such an impact on shaping our behavior. The first two rules for Christians are about love (love God, love your neighbor). I'm very fond of that.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Religion: The Deuce

Postby Zcorp » Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:24 pm UTC

guenther wrote:I believe we should encourage religious people to learn from and value science used in this way to help find objective truths about our world.
Including the objective truth that we have no way to prove that God exists and that any subjective relationship to job is likely to be a fabrication of the mind more so then anything that is true?

First, people use dogma in science, even if it's unscientific to do so, and people use reason within religion. I would argue that the difference between the two is less about reason and more about evidence and how it relates to establishing beliefs.
No... there is not dogma of science. There are people who use pseudoscience to subjectively validate their beliefs, but science is a method and tool it has no dogma although it has a doctrine.

Many people are already finding ways to reconcile the Bible with evolution, and I think this will happen more as time goes on.

This is going back to mmmcannibalism's comment. Religion changes to science and science does not change to religion, and science and reason is what has allowed more people to know more and live happier.

As for the Bible, I like that its rules for life begin by telling us how to arrange our emotions, which makes sense when emotions have such an impact on shaping our behavior. The first two rules for Christians are about love (love God, love your neighbor). I'm very fond of that.

I"m not entirely sure how what you mean by arrange your emotions; unless you mean it tells who the priority in which you should care about things - with God at the top.

You're right science does not dictate that we should care about a fabrication before reality. It does recognize that there are various levels of influence Global, Marco, Socio-economic, meso, micro, chrono and that people should be aware of all of them and participate in all of them as they are all important, even if innate predispositions have individuals value one over the other.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests