Christian/Religious call-in show similar to The Atheist Experience?

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Jerram Fahey:

Let's assume I structure my worldview around the assumption that there are no deer in North America. I then go to North America and witness a great number of deer myself, that can be independently verified by other observers, plus an entire population of people that disagree with my initial assumption and can justify their beliefs better than I can. These observations seem to contradict my initial assumption, so a reasonable person would conclude my assumption is flawed. A reasonable person would NOT conclude that the apparent existence of deer in North America is an illusion.

Though there are certain faults in this analogy, let's continue with it. If you assumed there were no deer in North America and then didn't observe any, would you not, as a reasonable person, maintain that position? The "observations contradicting the initial assumption" of God's existance don't exist; that assumption is so fundamental that there logically cannot be contradiction against it.

As I said earlier, the default position for unknown claims is disbelief - i.e. to not accept the truth or probability of a claim before it's met its burden of proof.

And I disagreed. You keep throwing this one out in exposition, but it still isn't right. Even science doesn't do that. Science makes almost totally unbased claims and then tries to disprove them- that's how the scientific method works. It has to assume unevidenced hypotheses before it can test anything. The "default position is disbelief" garbage is propoganda and only that.

And I promise, that's not what you do for everything, and children are the evidence for that. When you were a kid, you almost assuredly believed in a lot of nonsense. It takes years of life experiences not agreeing with those beliefs to shrug them off. But a religious person's life experience agrees with their faith in God so it only gets stronger. It's pretty scientific, in fact- make an explanation for something, test ways it could be wrong, if you can't make it wrong it's a valid theory. Science, it works!

nor am I foolish, to try and convince someone I'm "right" by appealing to utility. Indeed, it's only the fool that believes "right" and "wrong" in terms of certainty are anything more than abstract concepts. If anyone thinks they're right about anything, with certainty, they're delusional (with perhaps "cogito ergo sum" being the one exception).

What I was trying to get at there is that there is not utility in saying whether God exists or not, whether or not you're right. It's not actually useful information.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

Let's assume I structure my worldview around the assumption that there are no deer in North America. I then go to North America and witness a great number of deer myself, that can be independently verified by other observers, plus an entire population of people that disagree with my initial assumption and can justify their beliefs better than I can. These observations seem to contradict my initial assumption, so a reasonable person would conclude my assumption is flawed. A reasonable person would NOT conclude that the apparent existence of deer in North America is an illusion.

Though there are certain faults in this analogy, let's continue with it. If you assumed there were no deer in North America and then didn't observe any, would you not, as a reasonable person, maintain that position? The "observations contradicting the initial assumption" of God's existance don't exist; that assumption is so fundamental that there logically cannot be contradiction against it.

Well the initial assumption wasn't reasonable to begin with so you wouldn't be justified in maintaining it (belief in no deer (unjustified) =/= disbelief in some deer (justified)). But apart from that you're absolutely correct, although that analogy was given to demonstrate that what you said about evidence necessarily supporting prior assumptions was incorrect - which it does. In the case of God, you're correct that there can be no evidence that contradicts that position, but the same can be said for any number of fictional entities. If I believe there's an undetectable monster in my closet, by definition I could never demonstrate that isn't the case. But that doesn't make it reasonable to hold such a belief. This is why the default position assumes the claim is false, and why your initial assumption of God's existence is equally unreasonable. Which leads us to...

tstorm823:

As I said earlier, the default position for unknown claims is disbelief - i.e. to not accept the truth or probability of a claim before it's met its burden of proof.

And I disagreed. You keep throwing this one out in exposition, but it still isn't right. Even science doesn't do that. Science makes almost totally unbased claims and then tries to disprove them- that's how the scientific method works. It has to assume unevidenced hypotheses before it can test anything. The "default position is disbelief" garbage is propoganda and only that.

You can disagree all you want but you're still wrong - and you have a very poor understanding of science. Science doesn't make claims then tries to disprove them, it makes claims then tries to prove them (colloquially speaking). First of all, hypotheses are based on knowledge, so they're not completely "unevidenced". For example, if I use knowledge about electricity to explain why lightning occurs, that's a hypothesis. If I appeal to Thor, that's not a hypothesis - that's a guess. Second of all, you don't need to assume your hypothesis is true in order to test it - obviously it's possible to test a hypothesis with the expectation it'll fail, but beyond that you would clearly be unjustified in believing the hypothesis before it was tested. Thirdly, science works on utility, not truth. The best theories are the ones that are the most useful, the most accurate, and these are refined and replaced as we form better and better models. Scientists scrutinise hypotheses and try to disprove the validity of a hypothesis - i.e. they attempt to show that the proposed model cannot produce accurate predictions - that it has no utility. They don't try to prove that the claim itself is factually incorrect, because they can't. They do this because the default position is disbelief, and only after a claim has proven itself against such intense scrutiny can we be justified in believing it.

So there. Your claim that the "default position is disbelief" is nothing more than propaganda, and that science doesn't employ scepticism, it just flat out wrong. You have a critical misunderstanding of how science works, and more importantly why it works.

tstorm823:
And I promise, that's not what you do for everything, and children are the evidence for that. When you were a kid, you almost assuredly believed in a lot of nonsense. It takes years of life experiences not agreeing with those beliefs to shrug them off. But a religious person's life experience agrees with their faith in God so it only gets stronger.

I am not a child, nor do I understand the world the same way a child does, so your point is moot. I will gladly admit that I was much less sceptical when I was a child then I am now, but so what? That doesn't preclude me from employing scepticism now. It doesn't preclude me from employing sceptical principles to prior beliefs - especially when those beliefs are challenged - so a religious person has no justification to do so. "Because I was raised that way" is not justification for belief when you have the capability of employing a far more rigorous method to determine what's more likely to be true.

tstorm823:
It's pretty scientific, in fact- make an explanation for something, test ways it could be wrong, if you can't make it wrong it's a valid theory. Science, it works!

O_O ... WOW, you have NO fucking clue how science works! XD Scientific theories need to be DEMONSTRATED! You're arguing that "Scuzzlebutt exists" is a valid scientific theory if no evidence to the contrary exists, and that's just, to be blunt, fucking retaaaaarded! Please forgive the language there, I was just blown away how mind-numbingly asinine your statement was. I suggest you retract that one.

tstorm823:

nor am I foolish, to try and convince someone I'm "right" by appealing to utility. Indeed, it's only the fool that believes "right" and "wrong" in terms of certainty are anything more than abstract concepts. If anyone thinks they're right about anything, with certainty, they're delusional (with perhaps "cogito ergo sum" being the one exception).

What I was trying to get at there is that there is not utility in saying whether God exists or not, whether or not you're right. It's not actually useful information.

That depends entirely on the god. If we're assuming the truth of Christianity (which in your case, you are), then we should act the way Christianity instructs us as it has the utility of sending us to Heaven and avoiding Hell. Given such intense, binary consequences, the truth of God's existence isn't merely useful information, it's critical information. If, on the other hand, we're talking about some nebulous god that has no influence on the universe, then I agree knowledge about its existence useless (and unattainable).

Jerram Fahey:
No, this is, again, completely wrong (at least with regards to the sceptic/atheist beliefs). As I said earlier, the default position for unknown claims is disbelief - i.e. to not accept the truth or probability of a claim before it's met its burden of proof.

Yet you've already brought up the God-experiences of believers (the core justification for most God-beliefs), and at present, there are very few ways to scientifically determine what exactly happened to that believer. Without the tools to even gather the required evidence, how can one say what happened/is happening with any kind of certainty? This brings me to the next point:

Jerram Fahey:
But I'll be fair, and I'll agree with you that the sceptical position (not all atheists are sceptics) includes, by default, the assumption that God doesn't exist - and makes the same assumption for Sasquatch, unicorns, fairies, uncharted islands, new weight loss programs, and any and all new claims. The fruits of this application of uniform doubt can be seem in every scientific development throughout history - in fact it's one of the very foundations of science.

I actually disagree rather strongly on this point. Much of science, especially the basics upon which modern science relies (i.e. Newton, Mendeleev, Kepler, Curie, and all those other sciency people we hear about in school), stems not from a foundation of disbelief but rather from the strong, intuitive belief that "there is something there, and I must find out what." The null hypothesis isn't as strong or powerful as atheists make it out to be, because the only thing you can do with it is tell you something you already know, i.e. that something did or did not happen. This is apparent in every single study done on the existence and/or power of "God": the study seeks to support the assumption that a deity exists, and that its influence is real and measurable.

Yet now that we have failed to find evidence, it seems that we become more and more complacent to simply assume the null rather than continue to seek for support of the positive--and I think this is what tstorm is getting at. I know that you're not an atheist, but bear in mind that plenty of atheists now latch on to the null as dogma in the same way that plenty of Christians latch onto scripture. It's not a good thing to do, especially when humanity's knowledge relative to the information contained in the cosmos is infinitesimally small at best.

As an example, I possess the rudimentary ability to directly intuit the emotions of others. It's difficult, has taken considerable effort to even get it to the rudimentary state it's in, and is rather difficult to verify--yet as of late, that effort has paid off to the point where I can say with with limited uncertainty how a person is feeling. In attempting to explain it, I've happened onto a number of theories--one strong candidate being an ability to regulate my oxytocin levels, though that would definitely be only a part of the whole story--but I realize that to know for sure, I would either need to be an advanced biopsychology/neuropsychology/endocrinology researcher, or happen to be a participant in a study led by the same, neither scenario being likely at all at this point in my life.

And all the same, many people would call me an idiot for even entertaining the notion of direct empathic perception. They would come to me and say "Oh? What am I feeling right now?" to which the only reply is "Without an independent, direct, objective means of measuring emotion (i.e. not requiring me to trust you to not lie if I say what I believe your current emotional state is) and therefore verification of my conclusion, there is no point in my answering your question." The more relevant question of "Could it not simply be that you've gotten better at reading body language?" is one that I struggle with. Truth be told, I do not know. I don't think it is, though--unfortunately, that's entirely dependent on my own intuition. I do attempt to be as rigorous as I can when it comes to verifying my intuition, but I recognize that there's only so much I can do on my own, without external tools or experience guiding me.

And therein lies the problem--we do not have anywhere near the tools to come anywhere near an answer as to whether or not a deity exists (as we currently perceive such a being/s.) We have made considerable strides, yes; we may seem galaxies closer to such an understanding when we look back at what we've accomplished since we first discovered discovery. Again, I know I preaching to the choir here, but look at this from tstorm's perspective--relative to what is unknown, atheists have only a smidgen more justification for their beliefs than he does for his (that is to say, "close" to none.) And at that point, picking this religion or that is insignificant, especially if he acknowledges his personal ignorance, because it simply comes down to what most appeals to him. It seems that he wants the comforts of basic Christian traditions, and he decided to stick with it; not all in his shoes do. So long as he does not embrace strict dogma, and/or attempt to enforce it on others, why does it matter what beliefs give him comfort?

Jerram Fahey:

I was just blown away how mind-numbingly asinine your statement was. I suggest you retract that one.

The correct response was "you don't have any ways to test for/agaisnt God so it never leaves the first step."

I'll level with you. What I have accepted and you haven't is that we are two opposing positions of equal consistency that simply disagree with the assumptions of the other. No amount of prefectly logical arguement from one of us will ever be able to convince the other. The only way to do so is cheap tricks that pull the wool over the opponents eyes. Most of what you've said agaisnt my beliefs, most of the atheists mantra in fact, are nothing more than that- cheap tricks. Well I've heard all that dozens of times and stand firm, but you haven't heard all my tricks, so I take my advantage and throw softballs at you until you whiff or one of us gets bored. Well, I've gotten bored. Good job on outlasting my attention, but you've got to learn that you have no logical advantage. Anyway, I'm gonna take my leave from this thread.

Vuliev:

Jerram Fahey:
No, this is, again, completely wrong (at least with regards to the sceptic/atheist beliefs). As I said earlier, the default position for unknown claims is disbelief - i.e. to not accept the truth or probability of a claim before it's met its burden of proof.

Yet you've already brought up the God-experiences of believers (the core justification for most God-beliefs), and at present, there are very few ways to scientifically determine what exactly happened to that believer. Without the tools to even gather the required evidence, how can one say what happened/is happening with any kind of certainty?

Look at it this way: how can a person possibly justify the belief that their "God-experience" was caused by God? You could argue that's the common explanation they've been given by their friends and family, but like you said - these experiences are the core justification for their belief in the first place. This makes their belief system entirely circular, and you could replace God with literally ANYTHING. If someone is told brain pixies invoke a sensation equivalent to "God-experiences" then would they not point to these experiences to justify their belief in brain pixies? This is exactly why you have people the world over each claiming to have experienced Allah/Krishna/Mithras/etc. - even folklore like ghosts and fairies are based on the same flawed reasoning.

As you can see, "Because I was raised that way" isn't valid justification to assume these experiences come from God. You would need some evidence from outside that circular argument - some evidence to justify the belief God exists and can cause experiences (to justify the belief your experiences are from God), or some evidence your experiences were caused by God (to justify the belief God exists). That's the problem theists using the argument from experience face, and that's a problem I've never once seen addressed. Of course the experience COULD be from God, but how is that person able to distinguish a God-experience from a similar non-God-experience? If they can't, what grounds do they have to believe it was from God?

Vuliev:
This brings me to the next point:

Jerram Fahey:
But I'll be fair, and I'll agree with you that the sceptical position (not all atheists are sceptics) includes, by default, the assumption that God doesn't exist - and makes the same assumption for Sasquatch, unicorns, fairies, uncharted islands, new weight loss programs, and any and all new claims. The fruits of this application of uniform doubt can be seem in every scientific development throughout history - in fact it's one of the very foundations of science.

I actually disagree rather strongly on this point. Much of science, especially the basics upon which modern science relies (i.e. Newton, Mendeleev, Kepler, Curie, and all those other sciency people we hear about in school), stems not from a foundation of disbelief but rather from the strong, intuitive belief that "there is something there, and I must find out what." The null hypothesis isn't as strong or powerful as atheists make it out to be, because the only thing you can do with it is tell you something you already know, i.e. that something did or did not happen. This is apparent in every single study done on the existence and/or power of "God": the study seeks to support the assumption that a deity exists, and that its influence is real and measurable.

I agree with you completely, though I don't see how what you've said is incompatible with what I said. Yes, science (and the pursuit of knowledge in general) is based in the strong intuition that we can learn about the world around us, and the drive to find out what's out there. But that doesn't mean that any explanation is better than no explanation, and that we should accept a baseless claim for the sole reason nobody has presented a better alternative. Whenever a new hypothesis is proposed in science, before it becomes accepted as valid knowledge it undergoes intense scrutiny. This is because not all hypotheses are equally valid, and not all are equally useful. There is of course the drive to discover what's out there, but there's also the drive to ensure our discoveries are as accurate as possible. This is why some hypotheses get confirmed and become scientific theories, and other hypotheses are discarded (because they're inaccurate, have extraneous assumptions, or some other factor that makes it an insufficient explanation). THIS is where scepticism comes in as a scientific foundation. It's not the only foundation, but it's a very important one.

Vuliev:
Yet now that we have failed to find evidence, it seems that we become more and more complacent to simply assume the null rather than continue to seek for support of the positive--and I think this is what tstorm is getting at. I know that you're not an atheist, but bear in mind that plenty of atheists now latch on to the null as dogma in the same way that plenty of Christians latch onto scripture. It's not a good thing to do, especially when humanity's knowledge relative to the information contained in the cosmos is infinitesimally small at best.

Firstly, I am an atheist :P Secondly, I certainly respect your approach and, again, AGREE with it completely. I completely support the notion of seeking support for the positive and continually testing and refining hypotheses. Where I think you're misunderstanding me is that you think because I'm against prematurely leaping to conclusions I must also be against seeking conclusions, and that's not true. People should definitely seek support of their hypotheses, but the time to believe those hypotheses is when you find that support - not before. Take string theory for example: I'm thrilled that people are out there researching experimental physics, but do I believe string theory? No, not yet - as far as I know (and I could be wrong) the evidence isn't strong enough to reasonably say "Yes, this is correct". They should keep trying, definitely, but there's still the possibility the hypothesis is complete nonsense. So I reserve judgement - as should everyone. Likewise, theists should keep trying to demonstrate their belief that God exists. And if/when they're able to do so, I will believe.

Vuliev:
As an example, I possess the rudimentary ability to directly intuit the emotions of others. It's difficult, has taken considerable effort to even get it to the rudimentary state it's in, and is rather difficult to verify--yet as of late, that effort has paid off to the point where I can say with with limited uncertainty how a person is feeling. In attempting to explain it, I've happened onto a number of theories--one strong candidate being an ability to regulate my oxytocin levels, though that would definitely be only a part of the whole story--but I realize that to know for sure, I would either need to be an advanced biopsychology/neuropsychology/endocrinology researcher, or happen to be a participant in a study led by the same, neither scenario being likely at all at this point in my life.

Awesome - keep investigating. Just bear in mind though that, as you said, your hypothesis is rather difficult to verify. One of the things many scientists struggle with is confirmation bias. It's difficult to separate what you want to see from what's actually happening. We all have the ability to read other people's emotions, to varying degrees, which is likely due to 3 billion years of evolution combined with a lifetime of social interaction - we're both hard-wired and very experienced in subconsciously reading subtle (and not so subtle) body language. I assume you hypothesise you intuit emotions either to a higher degree or via a different mechanism than other people, and that's something you should definitely test. But again, you HAVE to bear in mind that you have no justification to believe your hypothesis is true until you can demonstrate the truth of it. Just because you find that task difficult to do doesn't mean you can throw your arms up and say "Oh well, fuck it. I'm sure it'll work out". Human intuition is notoriously unreliable.

I'll get back to the rest of your post in a bit.

EDIT:

Vuliev:
And all the same, many people would call me an idiot for even entertaining the notion of direct empathic perception. They would come to me and say "Oh? What am I feeling right now?" to which the only reply is "Without an independent, direct, objective means of measuring emotion (i.e. not requiring me to trust you to not lie if I say what I believe your current emotional state is) and therefore verification of my conclusion, there is no point in my answering your question." The more relevant question of "Could it not simply be that you've gotten better at reading body language?" is one that I struggle with. Truth be told, I do not know. I don't think it is, though--unfortunately, that's entirely dependent on my own intuition. I do attempt to be as rigorous as I can when it comes to verifying my intuition, but I recognize that there's only so much I can do on my own, without external tools or experience guiding me.

That's all fair enough, as long as, again, you recognise the limits of your intuition and place your trust first and foremost in empirical evidence (where available). I'm obviously sceptical that what you're doing is anything more than reading body language, but if you get the evidence showing otherwise I'll be much more inclined to accept your hypothesis.

Vuliev:
And therein lies the problem--we do not have anywhere near the tools to come anywhere near an answer as to whether or not a deity exists (as we currently perceive such a being/s.) We have made considerable strides, yes; we may seem galaxies closer to such an understanding when we look back at what we've accomplished since we first discovered discovery. Again, I know I preaching to the choir here, but look at this from tstorm's perspective--relative to what is unknown, atheists have only a smidgen more justification for their beliefs than he does for his (that is to say, "close" to none.) And at that point, picking this religion or that is insignificant, especially if he acknowledges his personal ignorance, because it simply comes down to what most appeals to him. It seems that he wants the comforts of basic Christian traditions, and he decided to stick with it; not all in his shoes do. So long as he does not embrace strict dogma, and/or attempt to enforce it on others, why does it matter what beliefs give him comfort?

It's because beliefs don't exist in a vacuum. All beliefs inform your actions to a degree, and actions have consequences for both yourself and others. Obviously a moderate Christian is going to be far less influenced by their religious beliefs than a fundamentalist, but that influence is there nevertheless. That's why I feel somewhat obligated to purge my mind of garbage, so that I don't unintentionally harm others for no reason. If my actions do harm people I'd like to be able to rationalise that the harm was an unavoidable side effect of nature, and not something that was a direct result of my ignorance.

tstorm823:
I'll level with you. What I have accepted and you haven't is that we are two opposing positions of equal consistency that simply disagree with the assumptions of the other.

You're correct - I haven't accepted that our positions are equally consistent because they aren't. You apply a different metric to your own religions beliefs than you do for all other religious and/or unknown claims, whereas I apply the same metric across the board.

tstorm823:
No amount of prefectly logical arguement from one of us will ever be able to convince the other. The only way to do so is cheap tricks that pull the wool over the opponents eyes.

I'm sorry you're not confident in your ability to reason logically, but please don't try to project your own shortcomings onto me.

tstorm823:
Most of what you've said agaisnt my beliefs, most of the atheists mantra in fact, are nothing more than that- cheap tricks.

I'm sorry you see it that way. I've tried to explain it as best as I could, and even tried to clarify things for you when you clearly misunderstood my arguments. Unfortunately you chose to retort with "Nuh uh!" in place of thinking, but I obviously can't force you to consider the possibility you've made a mistake.

tstorm823:
Well I've heard all that dozens of times and stand firm, but you haven't heard all my tricks, so I take my advantage and throw softballs at you until you whiff or one of us gets bored.

So why even bother if you were just wasting my time? That's like someone losing a fight then saying "I could have beaten you if I wanted to!". Well why the fuck didn't you want to? If you have all these tricks up your sleeve, why not use them? In the future, don't pull your punches - it's very disrespectful. Then again, there's also the possibility you're full of shit.

tstorm823:
Well, I've gotten bored. Good job on outlasting my attention, but you've got to learn that you have no logical advantage. Anyway, I'm gonna take my leave from this thread.

Logical, maybe not. Evidential? Absolutely. I laid out the advantages of scepticism, the utility of default disbelief in garnering accurate beliefs about reality, and the infinitely small (Bayesian) probability of you picking the correct God to believe in. You gave no response other than to insist it's nothing but tricks and propaganda. Well, I'm sorry you've chosen to remain ignorant.

Thanks for the discussion anyway though, I appreciated it. :D

tstorm823:
snip

For the sake of completeness, I'd like to try to summarise our discussion:

You argued that given the assumption of God's existence, and the lack of evidence to challenge that assumption, the belief will persist. Likewise, given the assumption of God's nonexistence, and the lack of evidence to challenge that assumption, the belief will also persist. I agree.

You then argued that, given the lack of evidence to sway either belief, both assumptions are equally valid. I disagreed, and appealed to the utility of scepticism to justify my belief that nonbelief in God is the only valid belief. You brushed this off as tricks and propaganda without proposing any counter argument. The closest you came was to assert I formed beliefs that weren't based on scepticism, which doesn't address the validity of scepticism, and the assertion that science doesn't employ scepticism, which is false. This leads me to conclude you either don't understand what scepticism is, or you're simply incapable of defending your argument further.

Anything further to add?

Captcha: "think twice". I couldn't agree more, captcha. :P

Vuliev:

And therein lies the problem--we do not have anywhere near the tools to come anywhere near an answer as to whether or not a deity exists (as we currently perceive such a being/s.) We have made considerable strides, yes; we may seem galaxies closer to such an understanding when we look back at what we've accomplished since we first discovered discovery. Again, I know I preaching to the choir here, but look at this from tstorm's perspective--relative to what is unknown, atheists have only a smidgen more justification for their beliefs than he does for his (that is to say, "close" to none.)

You're still taking non-existence of a deity as if it's a positive statement. No-one's claiming the null hypothesis has any inherent strength or advantage; it's just the default.

Perhaps you'll answer the point I asked Tstorm twice before, which was ignored in favour of snide, dismissive remarks.

I sit here, and I have no reason to think there's a wizard behind me. I can't see one when I check; nothing in the room could be construed as magic. Tstorm's argument for "equal logical consistency" states that I must apply a 50% probability to the existence of said wizard. I must put it on an equal footing with non-existence.

My belief, and I expect the belief of Jerram, is that you have to have evidence for my to assign anything but negligible probability to the wizard. I do not need proof to dismiss it; the lack of evidence for IS evidence against.

Vuliev:
And at that point, picking this religion or that is insignificant, especially if he acknowledges his personal ignorance, because it simply comes down to what most appeals to him. It seems that he wants the comforts of basic Christian traditions, and he decided to stick with it; not all in his shoes do. So long as he does not embrace strict dogma, and/or attempt to enforce it on others, why does it matter what beliefs give him comfort?

Because we're not debating "what feels the nicest <3", we're debating the truth.

Jerram Fahey:

You argued that given the assumption of God's existence, and the lack of evidence to challenge that assumption, the belief will persist. Likewise, given the assumption of God's nonexistence, and the lack of evidence to challenge that assumption, the belief will also persist. I agree.

You then argued that, given the lack of evidence to sway either belief, both assumptions are equally valid.

Equally justified, yes.

I disagreed, and appealed to the utility of scepticism to justify my belief that nonbelief in God is the only valid belief.

Scepticism is not universally helpful. Often it's pure inefficiency, wasting a lot of time not trusting people and finding out yourself, sometimes it could outright contribute to being wrong if everyone else is right and you don't believe them. It's not terribly difficult to imagine scenarios when scepticism backfires.

You brushed this off as tricks and propaganda without proposing any counter argument.

That's the thing- tricks and propaganda are made not to be answered. If someone says "la-dee-dah flying spaghetti monster" it isn't worth the effort responding since the correct solution to that puzzle is hilariously convoluted. If you appeal to the utility of scepticism, I could say mountains of things over the course of countless paragraphs to explain why that does not invalidate my beliefs, but at this point I'd much rather leave it at "that sounds very useful unless your wrong, which is something you can't seem to address any more than me."

Silvanus:

Perhaps you'll answer the point I asked Tstorm twice before, which was ignored in favour of snide, dismissive remarks.

I sit here, and I have no reason to think there's a wizard behind me. I can't see one when I check; nothing in the room could be construed as magic. Tstorm's argument for "equal logical consistency" states that I must apply a 50% probability to the existence of said wizard. I must put it on an equal footing with non-existence.

You know, maybe if you listened I'd respond nicely to you. You tried to apply approximately zero probability to God. I told you that probability doesn't work that way, you can't just assign values without any data, to which you respond that I'm arbitrarily assigning it a 50/50 chance. As it turns out, I'm not assigning it a 50/50 chance, since that would be making up probabilities with no data to work off of.

tstorm823:

You know, maybe if you listened I'd respond nicely to you. You tried to apply approximately zero probability to God. I told you that probability doesn't work that way, you can't just assign values without any data, to which you respond that I'm arbitrarily assigning it a 50/50 chance. As it turns out, I'm not assigning it a 50/50 chance, since that would be making up probabilities with no data to work off of.

If "no data exists" about the existence of something, the default position is non-existence. You said that with no data, it's just as much of an assumption to believe something's not there. That's what you did: That's saying both positions are equal with no data.

For the fourth time, I now ask you: I have no data regarding the existence of a wizard behind me. Is it logical to assume that there isn't one? I believe it is. By the application of the same process you apply to God, you believe it isn't.

Silvanus:
No-one's claiming the null hypothesis has any inherent strength or advantage; it's just the default.

And as I said, the null does absolutely nothing other than tell you if you have observed something to occur, something which is patently self-evident. This leads me to the next part:

Silvanus:
I sit here, and I have no reason to think there's a wizard behind me. I can't see one when I check; nothing in the room could be construed as magic. Tstorm's argument for "equal logical consistency" states that I must apply a 50% probability to the existence of said wizard. I must put it on an equal footing with non-existence.

And here's the crux of the argument--essentially, all those of us in this thread are doing is arguing semantics. There is, undoubtedly, a series of actions or processes that produce the God-experience common to a good portion of humans worldwide. Many of them ascribe the experience to this deity or that deity--while you may believe them misguided for ascribing a complete explanation to incomplete data (which is somewhat justified), you are also misguided in dismissing their experiences out of hand. The evidence for something exists--don't get hung up on what those that may not have your scientific background call it. So long they are reasonable and not bound to dogma, there is zero harm done.

Silvanus:
For the fourth time, I now ask you: I have no data regarding the existence of a wizard behind me. Is it logical to assume that there isn't one? I believe it is. By the application of the same process you apply to God, you believe it isn't.

Yet your analogy has a critical flaw: you have data, the God-experiences of tens, if not hundreds of millions of people on the planet. Simply because you don't have a tool to independently examine and verify those experiences is not reason to dismiss them out of hand--what the people call those experiences is irrelevant (to the extent that the beliefs aren't used to oppress or exclude), and that's exactly the case with tstorm. What we should be doing is developing the tools to directly observe and verify those experiences, not belittle those that are doing no harm.

If the fear of Hell, the desire for Heaven, or both, motivates a person to perform the same good works that your secular ethics say you should do, what does it matter that that person believes in a deity?

It seems to me that the bone of contention between tstorm and everyone else is that he has chosen to not continuously pursue the full explanation of what he's experienced. Lamentable, perhaps, from your perspective, but it's his choice--and not every person needs to dedicate themselves to the relentless pursuit of the how. So long as he does not foist his beliefs onto others, there are plenty others left in the world to carry on the pursuit of the how.

tstorm823:
Scepticism is not universally helpful. Often it's pure inefficiency, wasting a lot of time not trusting people and finding out yourself, sometimes it could outright contribute to being wrong if everyone else is right and you don't believe them. It's not terribly difficult to imagine scenarios when scepticism backfires.

That doesn't change the fact it's by far the most accurate method we have available to determine the validity of a claim. Just because Pete Sampras misses a couple of shots here and there doesn't mean a novice is equally likely to beat him in a tennis match. You're trying to argue that because Sampras misses the occasional shot he's no better at tennis than a novice - that given a match between the two, you would be equally justified in assuming the novice will win. Sorry, but I can't agree with that.

[quote="tstorm823" post="528.398992.16397279"]That's the thing- tricks and propaganda are made not to be answered. If someone says "la-dee-dah flying spaghetti monster" it isn't worth the effort responding since the correct solution to that puzzle is hilariously convoluted.

But here's the thing - they're not tricks and propaganda. You're just making a bald assertion that they are in order to avoid formulating a coherent response. THIS is what's wasting time. In the future, don't be so disingenuous. Or if you're going to say my argument is nothing but tricks and propaganda, support that assertion.

[quote="tstorm823" post="528.398992.16397279"]If you appeal to the utility of scepticism, I could say mountains of things over the course of countless paragraphs to explain why that does not invalidate my beliefs, but at this point I'd much rather leave it at "that sounds very useful unless your wrong, which is something you can't seem to address any more than me."

Let me propose a question: imagine we're back in the day where people believed the Earth to be flat. Given their limited knowledge, this was a reasonable position to hold (and more or less true, at a certain scale). Now let's say someone guesses that the world is a spheroid. They have no reason to think so, they have no evidence to suggest it's the case, they were just like "Woah, how cool would it be if the Earth was round? I'm totally gonna tell everyone it is". Someone hears that and says to themself "Nuh uh! The Earth is banana-shaped!".

Whose belief is more justified? The people that determined the flatness of the Earth through induction and observation of their surroundings but overestimated the degree to which their conclusions hold true, the kid that took a wild stab in the dark and miraculously guessed correctly, or the kid that came to his belief in exactly the same manner but guessed incorrectly?

A thread with religion in the title has turned into an existentialist debate? Shocking!

But I'm motivated at the moment so here goes.

Vuliev:
Yet your analogy has a critical flaw: you have data, the God-experiences of tens, if not hundreds of millions of people on the planet. Simply because you don't have a tool to independently examine and verify those experiences is not reason to dismiss them out of hand

"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."
-Winston Churchill

Personal experience is always weak because, as it is in the name, it is personal. You might say you saw an angel descend from the sky and speak to you while the policeman just saw you standing in front of a neon sign with a toga and a live chicken duct taped to your head. You might say the bleeding statue of Mother Mary is a sign from god while someone who had a closer look says there is a tube inside that leads to the pastor's bedroom.
Individual experiences, even in large quantities, are unreliable because of obvious reasons. A hundred people can say it feels like 20 degrees in the room, yet only objective measurement can make any generally useful statement if there is actually something behind that claim.

If the fear of Hell, the desire for Heaven, or both, motivates a person to perform the same good works that your secular ethics say you should do, what does it matter that that person believes in a deity?

Ah, but if you do something only for fear of punishment or because you want a reward does that make it actually a good deed?
Is it really a selfless act when I work with the homeless because I want to collect gold stars for an entry to heaven instead of actually caring about other people? Sure, one can argue that the results are the same but is forcing good behaviour at gunpoint or with an immense reward really going to result in good people or do I just encourage fear and greed?

And anyway, I'd like to inquire if this is about the assumptions of a specific religion as truth (assuming Christianity as the default here) or the notion of any superior being's existence in general? Kind of not getting a clear picture from the last pages...

Vuliev:
The evidence for something exists--don't get hung up on what those that may not have your scientific background call it. So long they are reasonable and not bound to dogma, there is zero harm done.

But like Silvanus said, whether or not a belief is harmful is irrelevant to whether or not a belief is true - and furthermore, many people that would ascribe that "something" to their God DO bind themselves to dogma and DO harm others.

But you're correct - the evidence for something exists. From my own limited research into the matter I would conclude that by far that "something" is most likely to be "the human mind's ability to see non-existent patterns in patternless data, and respond emotionally to them". I've seen nothing that would suggest the "something" that causes these experiences comes from outside the body (except in the case of drug use leading to hallucinations and "divine" experiences).

Vuliev:

Silvanus:
For the fourth time, I now ask you: I have no data regarding the existence of a wizard behind me. Is it logical to assume that there isn't one? I believe it is. By the application of the same process you apply to God, you believe it isn't.

Yet your analogy has a critical flaw: you have data, the God-experiences of tens, if not hundreds of millions of people on the planet.

But calling them "God-experiences" is begging the question. As you just said, these experiences are merely evidence of something - not necessarily, or even LIKELY, God. So how can you say the experience of X is evidence for the existence of God any more than it's evidence for the existence of anything else?

Vuliev:
Simply because you don't have a tool to independently examine and verify those experiences is not reason to dismiss them out of hand

This is the thing though, and I'm going to speak on behalf of Silvanus here - we're not dismissing the experience, we're dismissing the explanation for the experience. I believe people when they tell me they had an experience, I just don't believe them when they tell me God caused it.

Vuliev:
what the people call those experiences is irrelevant (to the extent that the beliefs aren't used to oppress or exclude), and that's exactly the case with tstorm. What we should be doing is developing the tools to directly observe and verify those experiences, not belittle those that are doing no harm.

We already have the tools, and we've been examining these experiences for a while now. It's called "science".

And no, what people call the experiences is NOT irrelevant, unless what everyone's saying is synonymous (which they aren't). You don't seem to want to accept that beliefs can be wrong.

Vuliev:
If the fear of Hell, the desire for Heaven, or both, motivates a person to perform the same good works that your secular ethics say you should do, what does it matter that that person believes in a deity?

Because people that act in fear of Hell tend to be nervous, mentally scarred people that have stressed themselves out to unhealthy degrees over something that is, in all likelihood, not true. There are even a ton of ex-Christian atheists that still have nightmares and freak out about potentially going to Hell, even though their rational mind dismisses the concept. The very act of teaching people about Heaven and Hell as if they were real places is incredibly harmful to people's mental health.

Vuliev:
It seems to me that the bone of contention between tstorm and everyone else is that he has chosen to not continuously pursue the full explanation of what he's experienced. Lamentable, perhaps, from your perspective, but it's his choice--and not every person needs to dedicate themselves to the relentless pursuit of the how. So long as he does not foist his beliefs onto others, there are plenty others left in the world to carry on the pursuit of the how.

If that's his position then he has no business discussing his beliefs with those that DO care about the "pursuit of the how".

Silvanus:

Jerram Fahey:

2) Odin did it.

Tsk tsk, nobody ever claimed Odin created the Universe, that would be ridiculous! He did slay Ymir the Frost Giant and mold Midgard, the land of men, from his corpse, though.

Of course, this clearly has 50/50 chance of being true, since we have a zero-evidence starting point.

50/50? Surely you jest! The Eddas say that the clouds were made from the brain of Ymir, and they look quite like brains to me. It also says that sparks from Muspell were fashioned into stars by Odin and don't they look kinda like sparks? The only conclusion we can draw is that Odin is both really and the creator of the world. Besides, I like Odin. Seems like a pretty cool guy.

Jerram Fahey:
Snip

Just thought I would chime in on this, you are both ignoring points about science. He is correct that a scientific theory being fallsifiable (able to be proven wrong) is very important, and is a common complaint about things like string theory and Freudian psychology. If a theory is impossible to prove wrong then it is very difficult to demonsrate. In addition you can claim that the universe is evidence for your hypothesis, but until you devise a test that can show whether your hypothesis is true or false, or since we cannot have absolute proof (things like brain in a jar theory exist.) we can only show that it is more likely to be true or more likely to be false. You then begin collecting evidence and the theory that provides the best explanation for observations and is backed by the most evidence is eventually accepted into the scientific community. His claim that you see if you can prove it wrong and if not then it is viable is equally wrong since a key point on science is that it is able to be proved wrong.

Jerram Fahey:
You then argued that, given the lack of evidence to sway either belief, both assumptions are equally valid. I disagreed, and appealed to the utility of scepticism to justify my belief that nonbelief in God is the only valid belief.

When summarized so, a "nonbelief in God" seems rather silly in its specificity. Why not also specify non-belief in fairies, unicorns, or elves? The recognition that there is indeed something happening is the only thing required here--specifying non-belief in God is simply a counter-reaction against established schools of thought, and it only serves to separate those that don't believe from those that do, with all of the natural tendencies toward discrimination, mistrust, and marginalization coming along for the ride.

One can "justify" damn near anything, given the right perspective, and being reactionary is, in the long run, unproductive.

Silvanus:

If "no data exists" about the existence of something, the default position is non-existence. You said that with no data, it's just as much of an assumption to believe something's not there. That's what you did: That's saying both positions are equal with no data.

Alright... slowly... equally justified beliefs do not constitute equal probability of truth. Why is not making a statement so difficult for you?

For the fourth time, I now ask you: I have no data regarding the existence of a wizard behind me. Is it logical to assume that there isn't one? I believe it is. By the application of the same process you apply to God, you believe it isn't.

Fine, fine. Your example comes from the perspective of a non-believer. You do not believe in the wizard. The question asks why you should start believing. Bt if you already believed in the wizard, it would stop applying. Sheesh, was that so hard?

Jerram Fahey:

Whose belief is more justified? The people that determined the flatness of the Earth through induction and observation of their surroundings but overestimated the degree to which their conclusions hold true, the kid that took a wild stab in the dark and miraculously guessed correctly, or the kid that came to his belief in exactly the same manner but guessed incorrectly?

I'd say the first belief is most justified, sure. But the other two are unjustified since the imaginary holders of those beliefs are actively aware that their belief is nothing more than a product of their own imagination.

I'll ignore the snip, since even though I have a lot to say about it it seems you're not looking for a response, so whatever.

Vuliev:

Jerram Fahey:
You then argued that, given the lack of evidence to sway either belief, both assumptions are equally valid. I disagreed, and appealed to the utility of scepticism to justify my belief that nonbelief in God is the only valid belief.

When summarized so, a "nonbelief in God" seems rather silly in its specificity. Why not also specify non-belief in fairies, unicorns, or elves?

... because we're talking about God, and the claim that God exists? I would have thought that much was painfully obvious.

Vuliev:
The recognition that there is indeed something happening is the only thing required here--specifying non-belief in God is simply a counter-reaction against established schools of thought, and it only serves to separate those that don't believe from those that do, with all of the natural tendencies toward discrimination, mistrust, and marginalization coming along for the ride.

One can "justify" damn near anything, given the right perspective, and being reactionary is, in the long run, unproductive.

Please go and learn what scepticism is all about.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

Whose belief is more justified? The people that determined the flatness of the Earth through induction and observation of their surroundings but overestimated the degree to which their conclusions hold true, the kid that took a wild stab in the dark and miraculously guessed correctly, or the kid that came to his belief in exactly the same manner but guessed incorrectly?

I'd say the first belief is most justified, sure. But the other two are unjustified since the imaginary holders of those beliefs are actively aware that their belief is nothing more than a product of their own imagination.

Ok, well then in order to make the analogy more accurate, let's say these people came to the beliefs in a spheroid/banana-shaped Earth because a respected and trustworthy village elder told them (and the elder made it up just to mess with their heads. EDIT: And to specify, neither of them are aware the elder is telling them porkies - they're both under the impression the wise old elder is sincere, and believe what he says without question). Are they now justified in their beliefs? Are they equally, or more justified than those that inferred the shape of the Earth from reason and observation?

Jerram Fahey:

Ok, well then in order to make the analogy more accurate, let's say these people came to the beliefs in a spheroid/banana-shaped Earth because a respected and trustworthy village elder told them (and the elder made it up just to mess with their heads. EDIT: And to specify, neither of them are aware the elder is telling them porkies - they're both under the impression the wise old elder is sincere, and believe what he says without question). Are they now justified in their beliefs? Are they equally, or more justified than those that inferred the shape of the Earth from reason and observation?

They are equally justified in their beliefs. A trustworthy source is certainly comparable to personal observation in reasons to believe something. Mind you once again, this says nothing about the actual truth of the matter, nor the justification/success of spreading these beliefs if these people were attempting to do so.

Jerram Fahey:
Please go and learn what scepticism is all about.

I know what scepticism is, and what you and many like you are doing is far beyond that. You aren't simply doubting the claims of others due to lack of evidence, you're actively trying to tear those beliefs down and belittle those that hold those beliefs. It is no more than reactionism against established schools of thought that you were taught to perceive as a threat, to reverse the positions of power. You in particular, in this thread, have appeared to waver between proper scepticism (in response to my earlier posts) and the reactionism I just described.

The worst part is that your fervor is simply misguided--you're attacking the belief rather than the actions of the believer. What is the source of bigotry? Human nature, not religion. Hate? Human nature. Marginalization? Human nature. Any philosophy, secular or religious, can very quickly become a conduit for hate. Attacking the conduit that carries hate accomplishes nothing, because hate will simply find another one to travel in.

Confront the emotion, not the belief. If a hateful person confines their hatred to themselves, then when they pass away, their hate passes away too. Any emotion can be confined through self-control, and self-control must be taught from both without and within. In doing this, you stop hatred at the source, and prevent it from spreading. If, after all that, the belief cannot stand, then it will collapse of its own accord.

captcha: words of wisdom. Flattering, Captcha, but it's just common sense.

Vuliev:

Quaxar:
Personal experience is always weak because, as it is in the name, it is personal. You might say you saw an angel descend from the sky and speak to you while the policeman just saw you standing in front of a neon sign with a toga and a live chicken duct taped to your head.

Whoosh. I can't even begin to describe how loud of a whoosh my point made as it sailed in the stratosphere over your head.

Point: There is, undoubtedly, something happening to these individuals. We currently lack the tools to directly measure or observe what is actually happening. We should be creating the tools to do so, instead of belittling these people for, in essence, not having the tools to adequately describe what happened to them.

Oh, I did get your point, I just found it incredibly weak. Just because "there is something" doesn't make it spiritual any more than an unknown noise makes it a ghost.
Epileptics was thought to be possessed by demons, millions of people experienced a family member convulse on the floor without reason. And I believe the fact that many people that were already deeply religious have experiences that support their established belief is pretty clear to psychology.

Quaxar:
Ah, but if you do something only for fear of punishment or because you want a reward does that make it actually a good deed?
Is it really a selfless act when I work with the homeless because I want to collect gold stars for an entry to heaven instead of actually caring about other people? Sure, one can argue that the results are the same but is forcing good behaviour at gunpoint or with an immense reward really going to result in good people or do I just encourage fear and greed?

Ah, now this is a more reasonable question.

In the end, if the individuals in question do not force their beliefs onto others, does it matter? Those that act out of altruism will continue to flourish due to the very nature of altruism in a social species, and those that act out of fear of punishment or hope for reward will pass along without remark. If both contribute an equal net gain to society, why does it matter where their motivation came from?

Moreover, "Hell" need not be "enforced at gunpoint"--in a sense, it's no different that the punishments we impose on criminals in our society. Humans are rather deficient when it comes to trying to truly grasp concept of infinity, so once the punishment extends beyond "lifetime" it's pretty much indistinguishable from that, or from even mortal punishment. And you don't need to focus on the punishment, or even the greater reward--if taught properly, it's really no different than teaching someone secular ethics, because of what I just said about humans having a poor grasp of large-scale things. "Don't do that, or the boogeyman will get you!" should eventually morph into "Don't do that, it hurts everyone." I hesitate to continue with this train of thought, because it's only going to slide into a rant about the anemic state of education in the US, and how obnoxiously short-sighted humans are.

No, as I said it doesn't matter for society if you became a doctor because you like the job or because you like the money as long as you work equally well. It's just that I would imagine it mattered to religion. Is someone who spent a considerable time working with the elderly but just because they wanted to secure their entry into heaven really what you want?

Hell is basically eternal torture, so it is mathematically infinitely worse than any punishment you could inflict in a lifetime. Our judical system does punish but not torture, it gives you the chance of learning a craft and there are paroles. Is there still any way out of hell now that the Church doesn't sell expensive letters of indulgence for this purpose anymore?
The Jews manage fine without a hell or at best one where you spend a few weeks regretting, the notion of infinite punishment for doing something your religion disagrees with is absurd. And I am confused how Christianity could have a system like that when its origin doesn't... it's the same god, why would you treat one group of followers completely different? Because one of them are the chosen people? Then why the hell be a Christian when you could just become a Jew and secure heaven that way?

Vuliev:

Yet your analogy has a critical flaw: you have data, the God-experiences of tens, if not hundreds of millions of people on the planet.....

..... What we should be doing is developing the tools to directly observe and verify those experiences, not belittle those that are doing no harm.

If by "God-experiences" you're referring to the times people claim to have literally heard the voice of God, or seen a statue weep, or had some out-of-body experience, then I'd refer you to the (far more common) phenomenon of hallucination, lies, and a human's ability to absolutely convince himself of something he wants to believe without proper reason.

However by your "hundreds of millions" comment, I assume you mean simply belief in God. People claim a "personal relationship", so the commonness of religious belief must count as evidence for the truth of their claims. I don't think I should really have to point out that "people really really feeling like something's true" is not admissible evidence.

When you say "there is undoubtedly something happening to these individuals", you don't think it's a leap to assume the truth of colossal metaphysical claims about the origin of the universe... because these people "feel" something? You don't think perhaps its something psychological, since the same phenomenon convinced hundreds of millions about the truth of Anubis, Thor, and Baron Samedi?

tstorm823:

Fine, fine. Your example comes from the perspective of a non-believer. You do not believe in the wizard. The question asks why you should start believing. Bt if you already believed in the wizard, it would stop applying. Sheesh, was that so hard?

So... if I already believed in the wizard... I would be just as justified in assuming the wizard's existence as I would in its non-existence?

The difference between two beliefs being "equally justified" in your view, and acting as though those beliefs "have 50/50 probability", is no real difference. To say it's "equally justified" to believe the wizard is there as to believe he isn't... that's what I was always accusing you of.

I know perfectly well what you're trying to say, which is that you assign no probabilities at all, and thus you don't discount anything like God. What I'm saying is, you assume in your head that fairies and invisible krakens and flying zombies do not exist. In practice, you assign a negligible probability to them, and the reason is, there is zero evidence. I'm just making the point that you're giving God special treatment, and in practice, by "not discounting" him as you do all these other ridiculous ideas, you're acting as if he's far more probable than flying zombies. He's not. There's precisely the same amount of reason to believe in each.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

Ok, well then in order to make the analogy more accurate, let's say these people came to the beliefs in a spheroid/banana-shaped Earth because a respected and trustworthy village elder told them (and the elder made it up just to mess with their heads. EDIT: And to specify, neither of them are aware the elder is telling them porkies - they're both under the impression the wise old elder is sincere, and believe what he says without question). Are they now justified in their beliefs? Are they equally, or more justified than those that inferred the shape of the Earth from reason and observation?

They are equally justified in their beliefs. A trustworthy source is certainly comparable to personal observation in reasons to believe something. Mind you once again, this says nothing about the actual truth of the matter, nor the justification/success of spreading these beliefs if these people were attempting to do so.

They are NOT equally justified. The latter two are committing the fallacy of an appeal to authority. The elder has not demonstrated expertise in Earth's geometry, so his beliefs on the matter are no more justified than the village idiot - regardless of his authoritative status and general trustworthiness. Furthermore, people didn't believe the Earth was flat based on "personal observation", but consistent, shared, intersubjective observation. This is MUCH stronger evidence than the word of a single "trustworthy" source, especially once you take into consideration that source isn't actually trustworthy (because they have no expertise in the area). So I'm sorry, but you're wrong across the board.

Vuliev:

Jerram Fahey:
Please go and learn what scepticism is all about.

I know what scepticism is, and what you and many like you are doing is far beyond that. You aren't simply doubting the claims of others due to lack of evidence, you're actively trying to tear those beliefs down and belittle those that hold those beliefs. It is no more than reactionism against established schools of thought that you were taught to perceive as a threat, to reverse the positions of power. You in particular, in this thread, have appeared to waver between proper scepticism (in response to my earlier posts) and the reactionism I just described.

The worst part is that your fervor is simply misguided--you're attacking the belief rather than the actions of the believer. What is the source of bigotry? Human nature, not religion. Hate? Human nature. Marginalization? Human nature. Any philosophy, secular or religious, can very quickly become a conduit for hate. Attacking the conduit that carries hate accomplishes nothing, because hate will simply find another one to travel in.

Confront the emotion, not the belief. If a hateful person confines their hatred to themselves, then when they pass away, their hate passes away too. Any emotion can be confined through self-control, and self-control must be taught from both without and within. In doing this, you stop hatred at the source, and prevent it from spreading. If, after all that, the belief cannot stand, then it will collapse of its own accord.

captcha: words of wisdom. Flattering, Captcha, but it's just common sense.

Look, forgive me if this comes across as rude, but the "fervor" and "tear[ing] down" and "belittl[ing]" is all in your head - the product of someone that's unable to separate the contention of ideas from hostility. Given we can't both be right, I'm interested to see if discussing the matter sways the likelihood in either direction - or even a third, previously unconsidered direction. I actually care about truth, whereas you seem to believe anything is good enough as long as we're not killing each other. If you don't care whether people hold false beliefs, that's fine, but don't come in here decreeing that we must all throw notions of objectivity out the window lest we hurt someone's feelings.

Jerram Fahey:

They are NOT equally justified. The latter two are committing the fallacy of an appeal to authority. The elder has not demonstrated expertise in Earth's geometry, so his beliefs on the matter are no more justified than the village idiot - regardless of his authoritative status and general trustworthiness. Furthermore, people didn't believe the Earth was flat based on "personal observation", but consistent, shared, intersubjective observation. This is MUCH stronger evidence than the word of a single "trustworthy" source, especially once you take into consideration that source isn't actually trustworthy (because they have no expertise in the area). So I'm sorry, but you're wrong across the board.

Funny, you forget yet again that we are not talking about what's the truth, we are not talking about what scores points in formal debate, we are talking about personal justification. What's funnier is that you link to the wikipedia article saying that appealing to authority and claiming it's the truth of the matter is fallacious (as I could tell you 8 times over) but otherwise it can be a very legitimate arguement. You disagree about what constitutes proper authority, but that only matters in public discussion- in a public debate, the authority better be mutually accepted; in personal beliefs, there is only one opinion on the authority that matters. If they think the elder is authoritative on the Earth's geometry, then that's logical justification to them. That, by no means, convinces anyone else, but it does to them.

Silvanus:

I'm just making the point that you're giving God special treatment, and in practice, by "not discounting" him as you do all these other ridiculous ideas, you're acting as if he's far more probable than flying zombies. He's not. There's precisely the same amount of reason to believe in each.

No, YOU have the same amount of reason to believe in each. I have far more reason to believe in God. Is that really so difficult for you? Perspective is EVERYTHING.

tstorm823:

No, YOU have the same amount of reason to believe in each. I have far more reason to believe in God. Is that really so difficult for you? Perspective is EVERYTHING.

You have far more reason to believe? Do you have some kind of information available to you that I do not? If such information is from your "god-experience", then I'm going to have to refine my point slightly, and say that you have no logical reason to believe. I'm going to have to point you to the countless millions who stated personal experience of Osiris or Samedi or Thor, and hope that you recognise that logically, your "god-experience" shouldn't count as evidence (for you or anybody).

tstorm823:
Funny, you forget yet again that we are not talking about what's the truth, we are not talking about what scores points in formal debate, we are talking about personal justification. What's funnier is that you link to the wikipedia article saying that appealing to authority and claiming it's the truth of the matter is fallacious (as I could tell you 8 times over) but otherwise it can be a very legitimate arguement. You disagree about what constitutes proper authority, but that only matters in public discussion- in a public debate, the authority better be mutually accepted; in personal beliefs, there is only one opinion on the authority that matters. If they think the elder is authoritative on the Earth's geometry, then that's logical justification to them. That, by no means, convinces anyone else, but it does to them.

Ok, I feel we have a disconnect in our understanding of the word "justified", since you seem to be under the impression that merely forming a belief is sufficient for justification.

A justified belief is a belief that can be supported through reason and evidence. People can observe the apparent flatness of the world, the common angles at which objects cast shadows and the unidirectionality of gravity to infer that the Earth is flat. That's a reasonable, justified belief.

An unjustified belief is a belief formed in lieu of reason and evidence. People are unjustified in accepting the word of an authority figure without a reason to believe they know what they're talking about. If the people come to the rash belief that the elder is an authority on the shape of the Earth that's an error in their reasoning. It doesn't make their belief justified just because they happen to believe it.

Silvanus:

You have far more reason to believe? Do you have some kind of information available to you that I do not? If such information is from your "god-experience", then I'm going to have to refine my point slightly, and say that you have no logical reason to believe. I'm going to have to point you to the countless millions who stated personal experience of Osiris or Samedi or Thor, and hope that you recognise that logically, your "god-experience" shouldn't count as evidence (for you or anybody).

Mayhaps you should read through my other conversation going on and realize how easy it is to be justified and wrong. I'm sure you do that all the time.

Jerram Fahey:

If the people come to the rash belief that the elder is an authority on the shape of the Earth that's an error in their reasoning. It doesn't make their belief justified just because they happen to believe it.

And what do you have to say for yourself? That would just be justified and wrong. An error in their estimation of a person does not change the logical basis that estimation may act as for other beliefs. From an outside perspective that doesn't know the elder's perspective, they may or may not be right to trust him, but that has no bearing on how their beliefs are formed since it's exactly the same to them either way.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

If the people come to the rash belief that the elder is an authority on the shape of the Earth that's an error in their reasoning. It doesn't make their belief justified just because they happen to believe it.

And what do you have to say for yourself?

... regarding what?

tstorm823:
That would just be justified and wrong.

What would?

tstorm823:
An error in their estimation of a person does not change the logical basis that estimation may act as for other beliefs. From an outside perspective that doesn't know the elder's perspective, they may or may not be right to trust him, but that has no bearing on how their beliefs are formed since it's exactly the same to them either way.

Meaning they're not justified in trusting him! What part of this are you having trouble with?

Jerram Fahey:

Meaning they're not justified in trusting him! What part of this are you having trouble with?

Firstly, you think justification for believing someone is contingent on the opinions of random strangers? Moreover, I could say "from an outside perspective that knows nothing of science, they may or may not be right to trust Einstein" and it would apply just as much.

Secondly, what does it matter if they are justified in trusting him, trusting him still justifies their beliefs?

a) He makes a statement on a certain matter.
b) They trust him to be knowledgable in the matter.
c) They believe his statement.

At no point in this logic is there some public opinion safety check that makes sure everyone agrees on his expertise.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

Meaning they're not justified in trusting him! What part of this are you having trouble with?

Firstly, you think justification for believing someone is contingent on the opinions of random strangers? Moreover, I could say "from an outside perspective that knows nothing of science, they may or may not be right to trust Einstein" and it would apply just as much.

Secondly, what does it matter if they are justified in trusting him, trusting him still justifies their beliefs?

a) He makes a statement on a certain matter.
b) They trust him to be knowledgable in the matter.
c) They believe his statement.

At no point in this logic is there some public opinion safety check that makes sure everyone agrees on his expertise.

There's peer reviewed publication for once...

It is a difference if you trust an unproveable statement or mathematical equations you might not understand personally but that have been reviewed in prestigious journals and been independently proven by labs all over the world.

tstorm823:

Mayhaps you should read through my other conversation going on and realize how easy it is to be justified and wrong. I'm sure you do that all the time.

Uh-huh. That's a non-sequitur; you'll notice that we've not been discussing what's "right" and "wrong", but just what's more logical, probable, and the more justified belief.

You said you have more reason than I do to believe; I asked whether you have more information available to you, or whether you're classing your "god-experience" as evidence. Your reply (above) simply does not address that.

tstorm823:

Jerram Fahey:

Meaning they're not justified in trusting him! What part of this are you having trouble with?

Firstly, you think justification for believing someone is contingent on the opinions of random strangers?

When did I say that? When I talked about shared experiences? When everyone around you confirms your observations by sharing your experience (preferably via blind test scenarios) you're justified in trusting your observations. It has nothing to do with opinions or random strangers. If we were doing science you'd then write up those observations in a journal and have your peers critique it to further justify that belief.

tstorm823:
Moreover, I could say "from an outside perspective that knows nothing of science, they may or may not be right to trust Einstein" and it would apply just as much.

Yes you're correct - someone ignorant of science, the power of the scientific method, and the veracity of Einsteins claims would not be justified in trusting Einstein. That said, they would be equally unjustified in believing Einstein is untrustworthy.

tstorm823:
Secondly, what does it matter if they are justified in trusting him, trusting him still justifies their beliefs?

No it doesn't. Trusting someone's word is only a valid way of forming beliefs if you have reason to trust them. You're not justified in trusting the word of someone that hasn't demonstrated expertise in the field. Like I said before, there's a difference between forming a belief and forming a justified belief, though you seem to be under the impression that a person is justified in forming any belief. That's simply not true.

tstorm823:
a) He makes a statement on a certain matter.
b) They trust him to be knowledgable in the matter.
c) They believe his statement.

c) does NOT entail justification! You're missing a step (and a half):

a) He makes a statement on a certain matter.
b) He has demonstrated expertise in the field the certain matter pertains to.
c) Based on prior demonstrated expertise, they trust him to be knowledgable in the matter.
d) They believe his statement.

THIS shows a justified belief. Your steps do not.

tstorm823:
At no point in this logic is there some public opinion safety check that makes sure everyone agrees on his expertise.

Yeah - because you missed that step.

Jerram Fahey:
a) He makes a statement on a certain matter.
b) He has demonstrated expertise in the field the certain matter pertains to.
c) Based on prior demonstrated expertise, they trust him to be knowledgable in the matter.
d) They believe his statement.

THIS shows a justified belief. Your steps do not.

That step has no place there because it is meaningless. Since they believe him to be more knowledgable in the matter, obviously in their minds he has demonstrated his knowledge to them. It changes nothing. It's not as though people go "Man, this elder knows NOTHING about geography, but he's supposed to be wise so we HAVE to listen to what he says." To them, he's an expert.

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