Poll: Theist or Atheist?

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Zeconte:

Seanchaidh:
As far as I am concerned they actually believe what they believe. Whereas for you it seems to be the case that people don't believe what they believe.

I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is, that someone can hold a belief without necessarily believing their belief to be the truth on the matter, only the one they believe most likely, or even simply the one they personally would most prefer, to be true. In other words, in lieu of actual, provable knowledge on the subject, people can, and will, form a belief about the matter, but this doesn't necessarily mean they have confused their belief as being the actual truth. If they have, then they have erred as they are confusing their belief for knowledge, and deserve to have this pointed out to them;

I'd call the first bold more of a suspicion than a belief, and the second is a hope. Suspecting is fine. Hoping is fine. The third bold is fine as long as this belief is treated with very little confidence and doesn't contradict anything else that is known. I don't see a reason that it shouldn't be subject to argument.

if they haven't, however, I see no reason someone should go out of their way to try to convince them to abandon their belief completely simply because there is no way to know whether or not their belief is true. And all too often on this site, I see people doing just that, like Eddie the head did with CrazyGirl17.

Eddie was just sharing what he believes.

It's also quite arguable that there is "no way to know whether or not their belief is true." It is perfectly conceivable that one could have a justified true belief (knowledge) on such a matter, for example by making an inference to the best explanation regarding something tangentially related and happening to be right. Just because direct observation seems impossible does not mean that knowledge is impossible. The more and more we're able to discern exactly how much the brain does, and how it does so, the more we have evidence against a soul: souls are supposedly not just 'watching', but actively participating in our decisions. If we can completely explain human behavior by reference to physical facts (biochemistry) then the immaterial soul will have been thoroughly discredited. Right now it's just mostly discredited because the best explanation does seem to be that the chemical operation of the brain is responsible for all human behavior.

As far as I'm concerned, stating that you believe something because you want to believe it is a perfectly valid reason to believe in something where knowledge is lacking on the matter, so long as you acknowledge that just because you believe it doesn't mean it is true, only that you'd like to believe it is true. Believing something because you'd like to believe it is most likely true is not the same as stating something is true because you'd like to believe that it is true.

Right. I describe that as a hope, and not a belief. I'd welcome people to have hopes, though if their hopes seem unlikely I don't see a particular reason not to tell them.

I don't know what you mean by "invalid" in this case. If you mean that the statement lacks argumentative force or foundation, then that would depend on its justification.

I mean invalid in the sense that stating something as true without evidence to prove its truth is invalid, because you cannot actually establish its truth and yet are claiming it to be regardless. In this regard, you are making an invalid, empty claim.

This is why, to me, a belief is not, or at least, should not, be seen as someone stating "this is true" but someone stating "I have justified this to myself". Truth, to me, is something one can objectively justify to everyone, who can then verify it for themselves, whereas belief is something one can only subjectively justify to themselves, and the two should not be confused or treated as one and the same.

For me, a true statement is simply some statement that is accurate. It needn't be verifiable or accessible by others. And belief is simply thinking that some statement is true.

Holding a belief while recognizing that it may not be true is not the same thing as holding a belief that one doesn't think is true. The former is merely having less than full confidence in a belief. The latter is not actually holding a belief.

Of course it's not the same, one is recognizing that one's belief is not necessarily true, the other is holding a belief that one thinks is false. If you believed your belief was false/not true, why would you hold it? But just because you hold it does not necessarily mean you believe it is true, only that it is the one that makes the most sense to you.

I must verify: do we have the same reading of these three phrases?

1)does think is true
2)doesn't think is true
3)thinks is untrue

I regard #2 as simply lacking belief, not believing the opposite, because it is the negation of #1, though I'm sure it has been used in just the same way as #3 many times. I draw a distinction between believing P, not believing P, and believing ~P. I've observed that some (many) other people don't sometimes, and this can lead to confusion.

As far as how this all relates to the argument, religious views are generally held more confidently than their justifications warrant. That is the error which people wish to correct by discussion or, in some cases, ridicule. Exposing fallacious reasoning or emphasizing a lack of justification or the superiority of some other opposed idea is intended to weaken the confidence in such beliefs to be more in line with the quality or force of their justifications.

To which I fully agree; however, my issue is when someone does not hold such a view more confidently than warranted, does not make this error, and yet is ridiculed for it anyways, as simply weakening confidence in such beliefs is not enough, but the wholesale abandonment of such a belief is the only acceptable outcome. To me, those who want someone to abandon their belief entirely because they do not believe there is any justification whatsoever to hold it are making the exact same mistake. When one believes that what they believe (or as often is the case here, that holding no belief) is the only acceptable position to hold and that everyone should adopt their belief/position, that is when they become dangerous. That is what leads to persecuting others for their beliefs. And claiming to hold no belief on the matter is just as susceptible to this as holding a belief is, which is why I will always defend someone's right to believe anything no matter their reasoning, so long as they respect the right of others to believe differently.

I think that believing yourself to be right is a fine justification for proclaiming your position to others. I think it is reasonable to defend a person's right to believe whatever he will, but I don't think that has anything to do with arguing with critics of that person's belief. People have a right to be free from harassment and intimidation, not criticism (which can take the form of ridicule.) There is nothing in criticism that disrespects the right of others to believe differently. Persuasion is not invasion. What we're doing here is just putting our views out there.

Zeconte:

As far as I'm concerned, stating that you believe something because you want to believe it is a perfectly valid reason to believe in something where knowledge is lacking on the matter, so long as you acknowledge that just because you believe it doesn't mean it is true, only that you'd like to believe it is true. Believing something because you'd like to believe it is most likely true is not the same as stating something is true because you'd like to believe that it is true.

People who believe something have attributed a higher likelihood to that possibility than other possibilities. We can agree on that, right? They don't necessarily think it certainly true, but they think it likelier than the alternatives?

With that in mind, how on earth is it valid reasoning to believe something because it would be a nice idea?

As Seanchaid said, that's a hope, and hoping is fine, but fundamentally different. You can't rationally apply a higher probability (as you are, by definition, if you "believe" it) to possibilities you like the look of. That is to say, you can't if you place any stock at all in evidence.

I am open mind, but believe there is a god. How living things come from other living things no?

Silvanus:
People who believe something have attributed a higher likelihood to that possibility than other possibilities. We can agree on that, right? They don't necessarily think it certainly true, but they think it likelier than the alternatives?

With that in mind, how on earth is it valid reasoning to believe something because it would be a nice idea?

Because unless you are trying to convince someone else to adopt your beliefs, you really don't need to justify your beliefs to anyone else, so as long as it's a good enough reason for you, it's a good enough reason.

You can't rationally apply a higher probability (as you are, by definition, if you "believe" it) to possibilities you like the look of. That is to say, you can't if you place any stock at all in evidence.

Whether you place any stock at all in evidence is rather irrelevant unless your belief is invalidated by evidence, in which case, it would be quite irrational to continue holding it, such as those who argue that the world is only 6000 years old, or that it's hollow, or against evolution. These are irrationally held beliefs that deserve to be argued against and ridiculed. These are beliefs that people actually have valid ground to argue against people holding, because they can be proven wrong. But to argue that all beliefs are irrationally held and therefore, should be argued against, that is one belief I will never get behind, as is just as dangerous as the belief that Christianity is the one true religion, because I can guarantee you, had that line of thinking rose to power instead of Christianity, it would have been utilized just as violently and oppressively to attempt to silence all other dissenting beliefs. You may believe it to be harmless and intend no harm by espousing it yourself, but the more popular such a belief is, the more support it has, the more power it gains, and the more likely it is to be abused as a justification for oppression.

Why is it so hard for people to simply set aside their differences and have a respectful discussion about their beliefs without hurling insults and accusations and trying to prove their beliefs superior to the other? Why is it so hard to set aside logic and rationality and disbelief and explore what it would mean if a belief were true? Evidence is indeed important, as we all exist in and share this universe together, but how we individually think and feel about how we individually perceive and experience this universe is also important, because that says far more about ourselves than what we know and learn from others ever will, and there is much to learn from considering beliefs different than your own, regardless of whether or not they are true. In this regard, the fact that there's no reason to believe a certain belief is more likely to be true than another, the fact that it may even be irrational and illogical to do so, is a rather weak justification to dismiss it outright and refuse to give it any real thought or consideration, and only a fool would think themselves so wise to not only do so themselves, but actively encourage others to do the same.

Zeconte:

Because unless you are trying to convince someone else to adopt your beliefs, you really don't need to justify your beliefs to anyone else, so as long as it's a good enough reason for you, it's a good enough reason.

What do you mean, "good enough"? Such reasons are certainly convincing. I need only look at how vehemently these beliefs are held to see that the people who have them are convinced.

But they are not rational. For rationality, you must have reason, and without evidence, there is no reason. It is by definition irrational.

Zeconte:

Why is it so hard for people to simply set aside their differences and have a respectful discussion about their beliefs without hurling insults and accusations and trying to prove their beliefs superior to the other?

An honest discussion cannot be made if we are unable to criticise. I don't think I've been particularly disrespectful, here, but if I have, I apologise-- it wasn't my intention.

Silvanus:

Zeconte:

Because unless you are trying to convince someone else to adopt your beliefs, you really don't need to justify your beliefs to anyone else, so as long as it's a good enough reason for you, it's a good enough reason.

What do you mean, "good enough"? Such reasons are certainly convincing. I need only look at how vehemently these beliefs are held to see that the people who have them are convinced.

But they are not rational. For rationality, you must have reason, and without evidence, there is no reason. It is by definition irrational.

To which again, I point out, that rationality is not a necessary requirement for personal belief unless you are attempting to convince a person who values rationality in their beliefs (in which case, they would not hold such beliefs anyways, but I digress) to adopt your beliefs. To one who values rationality and logic above all else, no reason nor personal evidence/experience will convince them of the rationality or validity of your belief unless you can raise your belief to the level of knowledge. Which is all well and fine for those people, but if someone can rationalize a belief to themselves and the only argument you have against it is that there is not enough reason/evidence to prove it true, it can hardly be considered irrational unless it is being espoused as the truth.

An honest discussion cannot be made if we are unable to criticise. I don't think I've been particularly disrespectful, here, but if I have, I apologise-- it wasn't my intention.

But the problem is, you insist on criticizing it as a claim of knowledge rather than as a belief. When someone states their belief and you criticize it by saying what amounts to "there isn't sufficient reason/evidence to support the truth of that claim" and the person replies "I never said there was" and you continue to argue that there's insufficient reason to support the truth of the claim, how is that an honest, respectful discussion rather than you lecturing them on why it is wrong to hold a belief in the first place?

Zeconte:

To which again, I point out, that rationality is not a necessary requirement for personal belief unless you are attempting to convince a person who values rationality in their beliefs (in which case, they would not hold such beliefs anyways, but I digress) to adopt your beliefs. To one who values rationality and logic above all else, no reason nor personal evidence/experience will convince them of the rationality or validity of your belief unless you can raise your belief to the level of knowledge. Which is all well and fine for those people, but if someone can rationalize a belief to themselves and the only argument you have against it is that there is not enough reason/evidence to prove it true, it can hardly be considered irrational unless it is being espoused as the truth.

"It can hardly be considered irrational" to hold a belief that has no supporting evidence? That is definitively irrational.

It's not a necessary requirement for belief, I know that; I see enough people who have beliefs without rationality. But it is the only logical criteria.

Zeconte:

But the problem is, you insist on criticizing it as a claim of knowledge rather than as a belief. When someone states their belief and you criticize it by saying what amounts to "there isn't sufficient reason/evidence to support the truth of that claim" and the person replies "I never said there was" and you continue to argue that there's insufficient reason to support the truth of the claim, how is that an honest, respectful discussion rather than you lecturing them on why it is wrong to hold a belief in the first place?

I'm criticising it as a claim of probability.

That's what a belief is. If someone holds a belief, they regard that possibility as being more likely than the alternatives. By definition, that's what a belief is.

I think you're conflating beliefs about objective matters (beliefs about the factual nature of the world around us) with opinions on subjective matters.

Silvanus:

Zeconte:

To which again, I point out, that rationality is not a necessary requirement for personal belief unless you are attempting to convince a person who values rationality in their beliefs (in which case, they would not hold such beliefs anyways, but I digress) to adopt your beliefs. To one who values rationality and logic above all else, no reason nor personal evidence/experience will convince them of the rationality or validity of your belief unless you can raise your belief to the level of knowledge. Which is all well and fine for those people, but if someone can rationalize a belief to themselves and the only argument you have against it is that there is not enough reason/evidence to prove it true, it can hardly be considered irrational unless it is being espoused as the truth.

"It can hardly be considered irrational" to hold a belief that has no supporting evidence? That is definitively irrational.

It's not a necessary requirement for belief, I know that; I see enough people who have beliefs without rationality. But it is the only logical criteria.

Zeconte:

But the problem is, you insist on criticizing it as a claim of knowledge rather than as a belief. When someone states their belief and you criticize it by saying what amounts to "there isn't sufficient reason/evidence to support the truth of that claim" and the person replies "I never said there was" and you continue to argue that there's insufficient reason to support the truth of the claim, how is that an honest, respectful discussion rather than you lecturing them on why it is wrong to hold a belief in the first place?

I'm criticising it as a claim of probability.

That's what a belief is. If someone holds a belief, they regard that possibility as being more likely than the alternatives. By definition, that's what a belief is.

I think you're conflating beliefs about objective matters (beliefs about the factual nature of the world around us) with opinions on subjective matters.

And I'm pretty sure you've just definitively proven you are more interested in lecturing people on why it is wrong to hold a belief than having an honest, respectful discussion about them. Which is all well and fine, but at least be honest that you have no interest in actually discussing a belief that cannot first be proven true and that you would prefer that such unproven beliefs were not held by anyone.

Zeconte:

And I'm pretty sure you've just definitively proven you are more interested in lecturing people on why it is wrong to hold a belief than having an honest, respectful discussion about them. Which is all well and fine, but at least be honest that you have no interest in actually discussing a belief that cannot first be proven true and that you would prefer that such unproven beliefs were not held by anyone.

For goodness' sake, I'm not saying that beliefs must be proven true.

How on earth can we discuss beliefs if we're not allowed to discuss the evidence for them? If we're not allowed to discuss evidence, then discussions must just boil down to one side telling the other side what they believe, and the other side nodding sagely and commenting on how nice that belief is.

Silvanus:
For goodness' sake, I'm not saying that beliefs must be proven true.

How on earth can we discuss beliefs if we're not allowed to discuss the evidence for them? If we're not allowed to discuss evidence, then discussions must just boil down to one side telling the other side what they believe, and the other side nodding sagely and commenting on how nice that belief is.

My point is, by definition, beliefs have no evidence beyond personal experience and reasoning, which most people who value evidence do not regard as sufficient evidence to prove anything anyways. In other words, as I have explained multiple times already, if beliefs had sufficient evidence to meet your requirements, they would no longer simply be beliefs, but would be knowledge, in which case, it would be perfectly reasonable to discuss the evidence of it, as you would actually have evidence to discuss. But how, exactly, can you discuss the non-existent evidence for beliefs?

As for how you discuss beliefs without discussing the evidence, it's pretty simple, you discuss the beliefs themselves, what they are, what they imply, and the line of reasoning and possibilities that flow from them. You discuss a belief not by saying "why do you believe it?" and then attempting to invalidate the reasons they give, but by saying "if this belief were true, then..."

Zeconte:

My point is, by definition, beliefs have no evidence beyond personal experience and reasoning, which most people who value evidence do not regard as sufficient evidence to prove anything anyways. In other words, as I have explained multiple times already, if beliefs had sufficient evidence to meet your requirements, they would no longer simply be beliefs, but would be knowledge, in which case, it would be perfectly reasonable to discuss the evidence of it, as you would actually have evidence to discuss. But how, exactly, can you discuss the non-existent evidence for beliefs?

"If beliefs had sufficient evidence to meet my requirements, they would no longer simply be beliefs, but would be knowledge"-- what do you think my requirements are, exactly? For something to be knowledge, there would have to be enough evidence to dismiss all other possibilities as negligible. But those are not my only criteria for believing something. That would be ridiculous.

As I've explained multiple times, to believe something you must be attributing a higher probability than you do to the alternatives. This does not necessarily mean you have enough evidence to know it to be true.

For example; I believe that the majority of yet-to-be-discovered species on Earth are insects. This is not knowledge, because the alternatives are real probabilities. Yet, I believe it, and my reasons are based on evidence (the trends of discovery thus far; the areas of least exploration; the relatively wider variety in known insects).

Zeconte:
As for how you discuss beliefs without discussing the evidence, it's pretty simple, you discuss the beliefs themselves, what they are, what they imply, and the line of reasoning and possibilities that flow from them. You discuss a belief not by saying "why do you believe it?" and then attempting to invalidate the reasons they give, but by saying "if this belief were true, then..."

I'm afraid I do discuss beliefs by asking, "why do you believe it?"

It strikes me as the only reasonable way of evaluating how likely a belief is to be true.

Silvanus:

Zeconte:

My point is, by definition, beliefs have no evidence beyond personal experience and reasoning, which most people who value evidence do not regard as sufficient evidence to prove anything anyways. In other words, as I have explained multiple times already, if beliefs had sufficient evidence to meet your requirements, they would no longer simply be beliefs, but would be knowledge, in which case, it would be perfectly reasonable to discuss the evidence of it, as you would actually have evidence to discuss. But how, exactly, can you discuss the non-existent evidence for beliefs?

"If beliefs had sufficient evidence to meet my requirements, they would no longer simply be beliefs, but would be knowledge"-- what do you think my requirements are, exactly? For something to be knowledge, there would have to be enough evidence to dismiss all other possibilities as negligible. But those are not my only criteria for believing something. That would be ridiculous.

As I've explained multiple times, to believe something you must be attributing a higher probability than you do to the alternatives. This does not necessarily mean you have enough evidence to know it to be true.

For example; I believe that the majority of yet-to-be-discovered species on Earth are insects. This is not knowledge, because the alternatives are real probabilities. Yet, I believe it, and my reasons are based on evidence (the trends of discovery thus far; the areas of least exploration; the relatively wider variety in known insects).

Zeconte:
As for how you discuss beliefs without discussing the evidence, it's pretty simple, you discuss the beliefs themselves, what they are, what they imply, and the line of reasoning and possibilities that flow from them. You discuss a belief not by saying "why do you believe it?" and then attempting to invalidate the reasons they give, but by saying "if this belief were true, then..."

I'm afraid I do discuss beliefs by asking, "why do you believe it?"

It strikes me as the only reasonable way of evaluating how likely a belief is to be true.

So, the only thing you care to discuss about a belief is whether or not it is true, and in order to "prove" you're capable of discussing spiritual beliefs respectfully, you give an example of a scientific belief that is ultimately meaningless to you and how you live your life whether it is true or not? Oh yes, you've totally convinced me that it's worthwhile to discuss spiritual beliefs with you and that you totally won't simply lecture people on why it's wrong to hold them and nothing more.

Zeconte:

So, the only thing you care to discuss about a belief is whether or not it is true, and in order to "prove" you're capable of discussing spiritual beliefs respectfully, you give an example of a scientific belief that is ultimately meaningless to you and how you live your life whether it is true or not? Oh yes, you've totally convinced me that it's worthwhile to discuss spiritual beliefs with you and that you totally won't simply lecture people on why it's wrong to hold them and nothing more.

I'd have thought whether or not they were true is... well, kind of the most important question to ask. If it's not true, after all, then all other questions are just hypothetical.

I was not trying to prove that I can discuss spiritual beliefs respectfully*. I see no reason that questions about "spiritual" matters should not be subject to the same rigour as questions about anything else.

(*The purpose of what I wrote, on insects, was to demonstrate that people hold beliefs based on evidence all the time. I do not have to know something to be true to believe it; but I do require enough evidence to support it as the most probable possibility. This was in response to you mistakenly stating that "if beliefs had sufficient evidence to meet your requirements, they would no longer be beliefs, but knowledge").

Silvanus:
I'd have thought whether or not they were true is... well, kind of the most important question to ask. If it's not true, after all, then all other questions are just hypothetical.

I was not trying to prove that I can discuss spiritual beliefs respectfully. I see no reason that questions about "spiritual" matters should not be subject to the same rigour as questions about anything else.

Which, again, is why it's pointless to discuss such matters with you, because you entirely miss the point of holding a belief in the first place. The truth of a belief is ultimately irrelevant, it's what it means to you and your outlook on life that matters in regard to whether a belief is worth holding. Once again, pursuing objective truth about the universe is all well and good, but not all important, as how we subjectively perceive the universe regardless of the objective truth is pretty important too, and your outlook on life entirely ignores and invalidates that side of the human experience, making it pointless for those who do not have such an outlook to attempt to discuss it with you, because all you do is spend all your time trying to convince others that you are right and they are wrong and not actually discussing the merits of such a belief.

Sometimes, being right or wrong just doesn't matter, as there are far more interesting things worthy of discussion.

Also, on the topic of right or wrong, according to my captcha, it's apparently wrong to prefer a snack food based on flavor. Who knew?

Time to jump in again.

Zeconte:

Silvanus:
I'd have thought whether or not they were true is... well, kind of the most important question to ask. If it's not true, after all, then all other questions are just hypothetical.

I was not trying to prove that I can discuss spiritual beliefs respectfully. I see no reason that questions about "spiritual" matters should not be subject to the same rigour as questions about anything else.

Which, again, is why it's pointless to discuss such matters with you, because you entirely miss the point of holding a belief in the first place. The truth of a belief is ultimately irrelevant, it's what it means to you and your outlook on life that matters in regard to whether a belief is worth holding. Once again, pursuing objective truth about the universe is all well and good, but not all important, as how we subjectively perceive the universe regardless of the objective truth is pretty important too, and your outlook on life entirely ignores and invalidates that side of the human experience, making it pointless for those who do not have such an outlook to attempt to discuss it with you, because all you do is spend all your time trying to convince others that you are right and they are wrong and not actually discussing the merits of such a belief.

Sometimes, being right or wrong just doesn't matter, as there are far more interesting things worthy of discussion.

That 'side' of the human experience can easily be expressed by someone asking a bunch of "what if..." questions, writing fiction, imagining different universes, and so on. And that without even having to confine oneself to the plausible. There are better ways of doing what you find so 'interesting' that are less limited in scope and manage not to entangle themselves with the question of whether your view of the world is reasonable or deluded. The utility of an active imagination does not require extending it credence.

Also, on the topic of right or wrong, according to my captcha, it's apparently wrong to prefer a snack food based on flavor. Who knew?

Very interesting.

Seanchaidh:
That 'side' of the human experience can easily be expressed by someone asking a bunch of "what if..." questions, writing fiction, imagining different universes, and so on. And that without even having to confine oneself to the plausible. There are better ways of doing what you find so 'interesting' that are less limited in scope and manage not to entangle themselves with the question of whether your view of the world is reasonable or deluded. The utility of an active imagination does not require extending it credence.

Actually, no one ever argued that this needed to be confined to the plausible, nor advocated limiting one's scope to it, so I'm not really sure why you're trying to argue that I am, except to disguise the fact that just because one can write fiction and otherwise use imagination in inconsequential ways, does not mean there is no reason to hold beliefs of consequence and allowing those beliefs to shape how you choose to live your life. You and Silvanus are the ones arguing that one's scope of belief and outlook on life should be limited and confined to what can be proven true, but just because the utility of an active imagination does not require extending it credence, doesn't mean there is no reason to utilize belief as a way to enhance one's perspective on life and how they live it.

Zeconte:
The truth of a belief is ultimately irrelevant

With that, I can see there's no point in replying any further on that subject. I'll just clear up one little misconception you voiced about me, and then I'll be off.

how we subjectively perceive the universe regardless of the objective truth is pretty important too, and your outlook on life entirely ignores and invalidates that side of the human experience

No, it doesn't.

My "outlook" (confining myself to believing in things that have evidence) does not prevent me from holding opinions about subjective matters, morality, philosophy, etc.

Silvanus:

Zeconte:
The truth of a belief is ultimately irrelevant

With that, I can see there's no point in replying any further on that subject.

... I've only more or less stated this in pretty much every single post I've made on the last 3 pages of this thread, and you're only now coming to this realization? I mean, my entire argument, the whole point I was posting in this thread to begin with, was to argue that the truth had little to do with belief, and in every post I've replied to you with, I've been trying to convince you that there is more to discuss in regards to beliefs than whether or not there is evidence to support their truth. What exactly did you think I was arguing here?

My "outlook" (confining myself to believing in things that have evidence) does not prevent me from holding opinions about subjective matters, morality, philosophy, etc.

Except, based on your replies to my arguments, you don't seem interested at all in discussing morality, philosophy, ect, because you insist on getting hung up on whether or not one's basis for their beliefs on morality, philosophy, etc are true, and refuse to go any further than that unless you first accept the evidence they have to hold a belief in the first place.

Zeconte:

Seanchaidh:
That 'side' of the human experience can easily be expressed by someone asking a bunch of "what if..." questions, writing fiction, imagining different universes, and so on. And that without even having to confine oneself to the plausible. There are better ways of doing what you find so 'interesting' that are less limited in scope and manage not to entangle themselves with the question of whether your view of the world is reasonable or deluded. The utility of an active imagination does not require extending it credence.

Actually, no one ever argued that this needed to be confined to the plausible,

You did:

Zeconte:

Whether you place any stock at all in evidence is rather irrelevant unless your belief is invalidated by evidence, in which case, it would be quite irrational to continue holding it, such as those who argue that the world is only 6000 years old, or that it's hollow, or against evolution. These are irrationally held beliefs that deserve to be argued against and ridiculed. These are beliefs that people actually have valid ground to argue against people holding, because they can be proven wrong.

The minimum of plausibility is that which hasn't been proven wrong. That minimalist sense of 'plausible' is what I meant to convey. The broader point is that there is a line which even you won't cross there.

Zeconte:
Actually, no one ever argued that this needed to be confined to the plausible, except to disguise the fact that just because one can write fiction and otherwise use imagination in inconsequential ways, does not mean there is no reason to hold beliefs of consequence and allowing those beliefs to shape how you choose to live your life. You and Silvanus are the ones arguing that one's scope of belief and outlook on life should be limited and confined to what can be proven true, but just because the utility of an active imagination does not require extending it credence, doesn't mean there is no reason to utilize belief as a way to enhance one's perspective on life and how they live it.

If someone wants to live his life according to some blue or orange morality or whatever, that's fine with me (as long as it doesn't hurt anyone I care about...) You don't need to rely on any supposition about reality to do that. Since morality ultimately doesn't come from facts anyway, but preferences (as applied to facts), a person's actions or habits can be as weird or strange as he wants them to be without any tenuousness in his beliefs whatsoever. You can be as epistemically rigorous as you want and lose nothing of what you're talking about. Not even nothing of value, just nothing! Your beliefs can be limited to all that which is verifiable and inarguable and you can take whatever moral position you want with any behavioral consequences that you want. Instead of saying that shellfish is an abomination, you can say "I'm not going to eat shellfish ever." Radical.

Seanchaidh:
The minimum of plausibility is that which hasn't been proven wrong. That minimalist sense of 'plausible' is what I meant to convey. The broader point is that there is a line which even you won't cross there.

Well, you didn't convey it very well, but since you clarified, yes, when it comes to making statements of what you believe could be true, it is pretty reasonable to exclude things that have already been proven not to be true. But then you weren't talking about beliefs anymore, you were talking about works of fiction and imagination and then asking why, in this regard, should one limit themselves to the plausible as if the two were one and the same. Perhaps you should try to stay on point instead of making equivocation fallacies? That might clear up some confusion.

Instead of saying that shellfish is an abomination, you can say "I'm not going to eat shellfish ever." Radical.

Or, and here's where things get truly radical, person A can say "shellfish is an abomination" and person B can say "I'm not going to eat shellfish ever" and person C can say "shellfish are awesome, I'd never eat one, they deserve to live their awesome life under the sea" and person D can say "shellfish are pretty tasty, I eat them all the time" and so on and so forth, and there's nothing wrong with that. Now, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, "People thinking differently and using different justifications and none of them being wrong? Preposterous!" But trust me, if people would just let people believe differently from themselves, it would totally work.

Zeconte:

Seanchaidh:
Instead of saying that shellfish is an abomination, you can say "I'm not going to eat shellfish ever." Radical.

Or, and here's where things get truly radical, person A can say "shellfish is an abomination" and person B can say "I'm not going to eat shellfish ever" and person C can say "shellfish are awesome, I'd never eat one, they deserve to live their awesome life under the sea" and person D can say "shellfish are pretty tasty, I eat them all the time" and so on and so forth, and there's nothing wrong with that. Now, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, "People thinking differently and using different justifications and none of them being wrong? Preposterous!" But trust me, if people would just let people believe differently from themselves, it would totally work.

Which would be very nice! Unfortunately, people who think something is an abomination aren't particularly inclined to let alone those who don't.

Kaulen Fuhs:
Which would be very nice! Unfortunately, people who think something is an abomination aren't particularly inclined to let alone those who don't.

I dunno, the Jews (who originally came up with that very claim) have an extremely long history of doing just that, considering they never once advocated forcing their beliefs and laws upon anyone but themselves, and in fact actively try to dissuade people from adopting their religion and laws.

Zeconte:

Kaulen Fuhs:
Which would be very nice! Unfortunately, people who think something is an abomination aren't particularly inclined to let alone those who don't.

I dunno, the Jews (who originally came up with that very claim) have an extremely long history of doing just that, considering they never once advocated forcing their beliefs and laws upon anyone but themselves, and in fact actively try to dissuade people from adopting their religion and laws.

Which makes them pretty damn unique, wouldn't you agree? The same can be said of very few other religions. Of course, most other religions don't stipulate based on ethnicity.

Kaulen Fuhs:
Which makes them pretty damn unique, wouldn't you agree? The same can be said of very few other religions. Of course, most other religions don't stipulate based on ethnicity.

Not really. Greek Orthodox Christianity (as far as I know, at least, I've never heard of them forcing their religion upon people, I could be wrong), Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Taoism, Paganism, Shamanism, Animism, Jainism, in fact, the only religions I can think of that have gone out of their way to force their beliefs upon others are certain forms of Christianity and Islam with a history of imperialistic political powers backing them, which was less about religion and more about the empire subjugating a foreign populous by replacing their beliefs and culture with that of the empire's.

Also, yes, actually, most religions throughout history have been fairly unique and limited to a certain culture, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism have really been the only exceptions.

Zeconte:

Kaulen Fuhs:
Which would be very nice! Unfortunately, people who think something is an abomination aren't particularly inclined to let alone those who don't.

I dunno, the Jews (who originally came up with that very claim) have an extremely long history of doing just that, considering they never once advocated forcing their beliefs and laws upon anyone but themselves, and in fact actively try to dissuade people from adopting their religion and laws.

Themselves or their children-- which isn't quite the same thing.

Zeconte:

Seanchaidh:
The minimum of plausibility is that which hasn't been proven wrong. That minimalist sense of 'plausible' is what I meant to convey. The broader point is that there is a line which even you won't cross there.

Well, you didn't convey it very well, but since you clarified, yes, when it comes to making statements of what you believe could be true, it is pretty reasonable to exclude things that have already been proven not to be true. But then you weren't talking about beliefs anymore, you were talking about works of fiction and imagination and then asking why, in this regard, should one limit themselves to the plausible as if the two were one and the same. Perhaps you should try to stay on point instead of making equivocation fallacies? That might clear up some confusion.

Perhaps you could try not throwing around the phrase 'equivocation fallacy' as if you had a clear idea of what it meant.

As to fiction and imagination, the point is that doing those gets you everything about these (irrational, probably untrue) "beliefs" you're so enamored of without any of the problems of misguidance, with fewer limitations and a wider scope. I was referring to both: comparing the two. Fiction allows even that which is proven untrue: it is less limited.

Instead of saying that shellfish is an abomination, you can say "I'm not going to eat shellfish ever." Radical.

Or, and here's where things get truly radical, person A can say "shellfish is an abomination" and person B can say "I'm not going to eat shellfish ever" and person C can say "shellfish are awesome, I'd never eat one, they deserve to live their awesome life under the sea" and person D can say "shellfish are pretty tasty, I eat them all the time" and so on and so forth, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Your justification for the usefulness of "believing differently" (and irrationally) was that it could have practical implications on habits, lifestyles, whatever. These effects can easily be achieved without any irrational beliefs, so irrational beliefs aren't vindicated by those potentially good effects. Someone could even say "I'm going to live according to the fiction that..."-- and it would be fine with me, and an improvement over just irrationally believing whatever follows after the ellipsis in order to achieve precisely the same behavior.

Now, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, "People thinking differently and using different justifications and none of them being wrong? Preposterous!" But trust me, if people would just let people believe differently from themselves, it would totally work.

Irrational beliefs being criticized, ridiculed, etc. can be done along with letting people believe them just the same. You realize that the presence of criticism doesn't force someone to change his belief, right? Yet you treat criticism as if it is the same thing as a lobotomy or brainwashing or something. It's just words. People will be fine.

No one needs you to be hypersensitive on their behalf. In fact, you seem to be the one here advocating that others change their behavior the most significantly-- which is funny since you frame yourself as the one wishing people to be left alone from criticism.

Zeconte:

Kaulen Fuhs:
Which makes them pretty damn unique, wouldn't you agree? The same can be said of very few other religions. Of course, most other religions don't stipulate based on ethnicity.

Not really. Greek Orthodox Christianity (as far as I know, at least, I've never heard of them forcing their religion upon people, I could be wrong), Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Taoism, Paganism, Shamanism, Animism, Jainism, in fact, the only religions I can think of that have gone out of their way to force their beliefs upon others are certain forms of Christianity and Islam with a history of imperialistic political powers backing them, which was less about religion and more about the empire subjugating a foreign populous by replacing their beliefs and culture with that of the empire's.

Also, yes, actually, most religions throughout history have been fairly unique and limited to a certain culture.

Most of the religions you named are more concerned with spiritual imbalance than moral abominations, though. I'm talking about religions which mark actions or objects as abominable, or just the act of marking actions, people, or ideas as abominable.

I'd say all religions are unique :P After all, they wouldn't be distinguishable from others if they weren't

Seanchaidh:
Themselves or their children-- which isn't quite the same thing.

Perhaps, but it's also no different from any other society forcing their laws upon its citizens whether they agree to them or not, but do go on about how Hewbrew laws should be held to a different standard from all other societal laws simply because they intertwined them with their religion. Never mind that Jewish law is far more nuanced and detailed than the English translation of the Bible conveys, nor that the Jews have a well documented history of not really following nor enforcing a strict adherence to such laws speckled with certain groups at certain times calling for a more strict adherence to be enforced for one reason or another. Why should any of that stop you from condemning them for it?

Perhaps you could try not throwing around the phrase 'equivocation fallacy' as if you had a clear idea of what it meant.

Well, first you were equating beliefs with unproven truth statements so strictly that you would not even concede that beliefs could be treated as statements of potential truth, and now you're equating beliefs with fiction and imagination, so that you can argue that they shouldn't even be confined to matters of plausibility, so how exactly is that not an equivocation fallacy?

As to fiction and imagination, the point is that doing those gets you everything about these (irrational, probably untrue) "beliefs" you're so enamored of without any of the problems of misguidance, with fewer limitations and a wider scope. I was referring to both: comparing the two. Fiction allows even that which is proven untrue: it is less limited.

It is indeed less limited because it allows even that which is proven untrue, but allowing even that which is proven untrue is a rather poor place to start when trying to determine what could be true and what personally makes the most sense about that which we do not yet know, now isn't it? Wouldn't you agree that what we already know is a far better starting point for such an endeavor? In this regard, it is just as wrong to compare or confuse belief with imagination as it is to compare or confuse belief with knowledge. All three are distinct from one another and useful in their own way, no matter how much you want to argue beliefs are either knowledge that's simply yet to be proven or simple flights of fancy/delusion and nothing more.

But at least we've made some progress in that you've finally admitted you believe such beliefs to not only be irrational because they cannot be proven true, but that you actively disbelieve them (as in to say, you think them most likely to be untrue). Now, if only you'd take the next step and admit to what you actually do believe, you'd actually be able to participate in a discussion about belief, as opposed to simply sitting on the sidelines and criticizing anyone who dares step up to the plate while high-fiving all the other spectators who're doing the same.

Your justification for the usefulness of "believing differently" (and irrationally) was that it could have practical implications on habits, lifestyles, whatever. These effects can easily be achieved without any irrational beliefs, so irrational beliefs aren't vindicated by those potentially good effects. Someone could even say "I'm going to live according to the fiction that..."-- and it would be fine with me, and an improvement over just irrationally believing whatever follows after the ellipsis in order to achieve precisely the same behavior.

Again, you argue that they have no right to believe such things and therefore you'd prefer if they didn't, I argue that they have every right to believe such things, even if they could achieve the same thing without them. People don't have to justify their beliefs to you in order to have the right to believe them, no matter how much you want them to, so why should anyone care whether or not you consider their beliefs to be vindicated? Why do you feel such a strong need to inform them that you do not approve of their beliefs?

Irrational beliefs being criticized, ridiculed, etc. can be done along with letting people believe them just the same. You realize that the presence of criticism doesn't force someone to change his belief, right? Yet you treat criticism as if it is the same thing as a lobotomy or brainwashing or something. It's just words. People will be fine.

Indeed it can, and indeed it will, so long as the presence of criticism/disapproval of a belief does not gain popular enough support to lead to greater/more severe actions being taken against such unapproved beliefs. But that's the problem with criticism and disapproval, the more support it has, the stronger the disapproval becomes, the more likely stronger actions against that which is disapproved of will be taken. And even ignoring this and the many examples throughout history of this occurring, the question still needs to be asked, why do you feel so strongly about this that you simply can't keep your disapproval to yourself? If you're actually willing to let people believe what they want to believe, why bother criticizing them at all? What purpose does it serve if you don't actually desire them to stop believing? Because, it's pretty clear that you honestly do desire them to stop believing, and therefore, hope that your words of criticism are enough to convince them, as that is really the only tool you currently have at your disposal to achieve your goal, and so, you just can't bare the thought of giving that tool up.

No one needs you to be hypersensitive on their behalf. In fact, you seem to be the one here advocating that others change their behavior the most significantly-- which is funny since you frame yourself as the one wishing people to be left alone from criticism.

Ahh, the old "people advocating tolerance should learn to tolerate intolerance" argument. Always an amusing classic. I mean, I'm advocating that people stop being so quick to criticize the beliefs of others as not being true with the end goal of people respecting others and their right to believe even if those beliefs differ and/or conflict with your own, while you're advocating that people should be able to criticize the beliefs of others with the end goal of convincing them to abandon their beliefs completely. But, obviously, I'm the one advocating that others change their behavior the most significantly, because telling someone not to be so quick to criticize others is so much more extreme than telling someone that they should stop believing what they believe, that telling someone they should live and let live without going out of your way to try to convince others think more like you is more demanding of a request than telling someone they should completely alter the way they think so that it is more in line with your own way of thinking because it is far more superior than the way they currently think. You're totally right; I'm so glad you cleared that up for me! From now on, I'll think just like you and encourage others to do the same, just like you want me to, because clearly you've just got everything so totally figured out! How could I have ever thought any other way?

Kaulen Fuhs:

Zeconte:

Kaulen Fuhs:
Which makes them pretty damn unique, wouldn't you agree? The same can be said of very few other religions. Of course, most other religions don't stipulate based on ethnicity.

Not really. Greek Orthodox Christianity (as far as I know, at least, I've never heard of them forcing their religion upon people, I could be wrong), Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Taoism, Paganism, Shamanism, Animism, Jainism, in fact, the only religions I can think of that have gone out of their way to force their beliefs upon others are certain forms of Christianity and Islam with a history of imperialistic political powers backing them, which was less about religion and more about the empire subjugating a foreign populous by replacing their beliefs and culture with that of the empire's.

Also, yes, actually, most religions throughout history have been fairly unique and limited to a certain culture.

Most of the religions you named are more concerned with spiritual imbalance than moral abominations, though. I'm talking about religions which mark actions or objects as abominable, or just the act of marking actions, people, or ideas as abominable.

I'd say all religions are unique :P After all, they wouldn't be distinguishable from others if they weren't

And exactly how many religions beyond Judaism, Christianity and Islam are concerned with marking actions or objects as abominable, and how many of those went out of their way to punish people for violating such laws, yet weren't perpetrated for the benefit of political authority?

Also, I meant unique as in unique to a certain ethnicity/culture, as in, Judaism actually wasn't very unique at all in that regard like you implied it was.

Zeconte:
Ahh, the old "people advocating tolerance should learn to tolerate intolerance" argument. Always an amusing classic.

This must be a new and bizarre usage of the word "intolerance" that I was hitherto unacquainted with. I don't wish to jump further down the rabbit hole, so I'll just stop.

Seanchaidh:
This must be a new and bizarre usage of the word "intolerance" that I was hitherto unacquainted with. I don't wish to jump further down the rabbit hole, so I'll just stop.

You mean you honestly cannot see how outright stating that people should stop holding beliefs you do not approve of and instead engage in ways of thinking that you do find acceptable is being intolerant of their beliefs, nor understand how such a point of view can lead to people trying to force others to stop believing things they do not approve of and has in the past? And before you argue you didn't, I'll just go and point out exactly where you did:

Seanchaidh:
Your justification for the usefulness of "believing differently" (and irrationally) was that it could have practical implications on habits, lifestyles, whatever. These effects can easily be achieved without any irrational beliefs, so irrational beliefs aren't vindicated by those potentially good effects. Someone could even say "I'm going to live according to the fiction that..."-- and it would be fine with me, and an improvement over just irrationally believing whatever follows after the ellipsis in order to achieve precisely the same behavior.

Now, you can try to backpedal and twist your words to explain how you didn't mean it that way, but you very clearly established with this quote that:
1) you do not find such beliefs acceptable/justifiable,

irrational beliefs aren't vindicated by those potentially good effects

2) the same effect can be achieved through ways of thinking you do find acceptable

Someone could even say "I'm going to live according to the fiction that..."-- and it would be fine with me

and 3) you therefore believe people should alter their way of thinking according to your preference as you believe it would be to their benefit.

an improvement over just irrationally believing

And you honestly can't see a parallel between that and the belief among Christian missionaries that it was to the benefit of the native peoples they conquered to replace their beliefs with Christianity? After all, in most cases, they too tried to do so through words alone in many cases, but engaged in less than peaceful/honest tactics in many cases as well, where they had the power to do so.

Zeconte:

Seanchaidh:
This must be a new and bizarre usage of the word "intolerance" that I was hitherto unacquainted with. I don't wish to jump further down the rabbit hole, so I'll just stop.

You mean you honestly cannot see how outright stating that people should stop holding beliefs you do not approve of and instead engage in ways of thinking that you do find acceptable is being intolerant of their beliefs, nor understand how such a point of view can lead to people trying to force others to stop believing things they do not approve of and has in the past? And before you argue you didn't, I'll just go and point out exactly where you did:

No, you won't, because I didn't.

Zeconte:
And you honestly can't see a parallel between that and the belief among Christian missionaries that it was to the benefit of the native peoples they conquered to replace their beliefs with Christianity? After all, in most cases, they too tried to do so through words alone in many cases, but engaged in less than peaceful/honest tactics in many cases as well, where they had the power to do so.

Hey, guess what: I don't think Christian missionaries who do nothing other than talk to people are being "intolerant". And neither does anyone else who is reasonable.

Cute little Hail Mary pass attempt, there, though. You almost moved the goal posts enough to make it work.

Seanchaidh:
Hey, guess what: I don't think Christian missionaries who do nothing other than talk to people are being "intolerant". And neither does anyone else who is reasonable.

Cute little Hail Mary pass attempt, there, though. You almost moved the goal posts enough to make it work.

So, according to you, organizations like the Westboro Baptist Church are not intolerant, so long as they simply use words to advocate their message that homosexuality should not be tolerated? That there is no difference between advocating the benefits of your own beliefs and trying to convince others to adopt them, and criticizing/attacking the beliefs of others in order to convince them to stop believing in them because you do not find them acceptable? I'm really not sure how one can argue with a straight face that intolerance cannot possibly be conveyed and advocated through words.

Zeconte:

Kaulen Fuhs:

Zeconte:

Not really. Greek Orthodox Christianity (as far as I know, at least, I've never heard of them forcing their religion upon people, I could be wrong), Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Taoism, Paganism, Shamanism, Animism, Jainism, in fact, the only religions I can think of that have gone out of their way to force their beliefs upon others are certain forms of Christianity and Islam with a history of imperialistic political powers backing them, which was less about religion and more about the empire subjugating a foreign populous by replacing their beliefs and culture with that of the empire's.

Also, yes, actually, most religions throughout history have been fairly unique and limited to a certain culture.

Most of the religions you named are more concerned with spiritual imbalance than moral abominations, though. I'm talking about religions which mark actions or objects as abominable, or just the act of marking actions, people, or ideas as abominable.

I'd say all religions are unique :P After all, they wouldn't be distinguishable from others if they weren't

And exactly how many religions beyond Judaism, Christianity and Islam are concerned with marking actions or objects as abominable, and how many of those went out of their way to punish people for violating such laws, yet weren't perpetrated for the benefit of political authority?

Also, I meant unique as in unique to a certain ethnicity/culture, as in, Judaism actually wasn't very unique at all in that regard like you implied it was.

When I said "unique", I meant largely unique in the sense that only certain people can be Jewish, based on ethnicity, not just "most of the people making up this religion are from such-and-such a place". But I digress.

As for the first question, I'm not really concerned with specifically which religions do this. My initial segue-way into this discussion was "Unfortunately, people who think something is an abomination aren't particularly inclined to let alone those who don't."

I don't care specifically who these people are, just whether or not such strong moral revulsion results in pressing others into the fold. I didn't even imply that this is something a lot of religions do. I don't believe it is.

Zeconte:
allowing even that which is proven untrue is a rather poor place to start when trying to determine what could be true and what personally makes the most sense about that which we do not yet know, now isn't it? Wouldn't you agree that what we already know is a far better starting point for such an endeavor?

You said earlier,

Zeconte:
if someone can rationalize a belief to themselves and the only argument you have against it is that there is not enough reason/evidence to prove it true, it can hardly be considered irrational unless it is being espoused as the truth".

...This seems in direct contradiction. In the earlier quote, you're saying that beliefs without reason/ evidence "cannot be considered irrational"; in the later quote, you're saying that "what we already know [reason/ evidence] is a far better starting point for such an endeavour [determining objective truths]".

So, is it sensible or not to form our conclusions without evidence?

Silvanus:

Zeconte:
allowing even that which is proven untrue is a rather poor place to start when trying to determine what could be true and what personally makes the most sense about that which we do not yet know, now isn't it? Wouldn't you agree that what we already know is a far better starting point for such an endeavor?

You said earlier,

Zeconte:
if someone can rationalize a belief to themselves and the only argument you have against it is that there is not enough reason/evidence to prove it true, it can hardly be considered irrational unless it is being espoused as the truth".

...This seems in direct contradiction. In the earlier quote, you're saying that beliefs without reason/ evidence "cannot be considered irrational"; in the later quote, you're saying that "what we already know [reason/ evidence] is a far better starting point for such an endeavour [determining objective truths]".

So, is it sensible or not to form our conclusions without evidence?

No, the two are not in direct contradiction, because taken in context of the argument being made, what I was saying was that it is not sensible to hold beliefs that contradict/have been proven false by established facts/knowledge. In cases where there is not enough evidence to support one belief over any other, one is free to choose which belief makes the most sense/seems the most correct to themselves, so long as it does not contradict established knowledge, nor do they make the claim that the belief is true.

Kaulen Fuhs:
As for the first question, I'm not really concerned with specifically which religions do this. My initial segue-way into this discussion was "Unfortunately, people who think something is an abomination aren't particularly inclined to let alone those who don't."

I don't care specifically who these people are, just whether or not such strong moral revulsion results in pressing others into the fold. I didn't even imply that this is something a lot of religions do. I don't believe it is.

As for that, that would depend on what they understand such beliefs to mean. If, for instance, they realize "abomination" is an extremely poor word choice on the translators of the Bible from Hebrew to English, and should instead read "taboo/forbidden by our culture to set us apart from the practices of our neighbors" they would not make much of an issue of it, as the vast majority of Christians make very little issue of most of such laws found in the Old Testament. If, on the other hand, someone had the idea that "God hates fags" imbedded into them from an early age by parents who did not agree with homosexuality and used a similar passage that was actually condemning male temple prostitution, a common practice among the neighboring pagans of the time to help do so, to reinforce this upon them, they may be more inclined to do so, but even then, I'd say the number who simply personally believe homosexuality is a sin outnumbers those who go out of their way to proclaim it to the world and attempt to enforce/spread such a belief.

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