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martpark
01-09-2012, 10:41
Rus has some competition.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/31/trouble-with-athiests-defence-of-faith

The trouble with atheists: a defence of faith
Francis Spufford has heard all the arguments against Christianity. He understands the objections of Dawkins and Hitchens and he realises it's a guess as to whether there's a God or not. But here he offers a defence of his faith

Francis Spufford
guardian.co.uk, Friday 31 August 2012 08.00 BST

'There’s something truly devoted about the way that Dawkinsites manage to extract a stimulating hobby from the thought of other people’s belief.' Photograph: Frank Baron
My daughter has just turned six. Some time over the next year or so, she will discover that her parents are weird. We're weird because we go to church.

Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
by Francis Spufford

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This means as she gets older there'll be voices telling her what it means, getting louder and louder until by the time she's a teenager they'll be shouting right in her ear. It means that we believe in a load of bronze-age absurdities. That we fetishise pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we're too stupid to understand the irrationality of our creeds. That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures on the marshmallow foundations of a fantasy. That we're savagely judgmental. That we'd free murderers to kill again. That we're infantile and can't do without an illusory daddy in the sky. That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in young minds. That we teach people to hate their own natural selves. That we want people to be afraid. That we want people to be ashamed. That we have an imaginary friend, that we believe in a sky pixie; that we prostrate ourseves before a god who has the reality-status of Santa Claus. That we prefer scripture to novels, preaching to storytelling, certainty to doubt, faith to reason, censorship to debate, silence to eloquence, death to life.

But hey, that's not the bad news. Those are the objections of people who care enough about religion to object to it. Or to rent a set of recreational objections from Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. As accusations, they may be a hodge-podge, but at least they assume there's a thing called religion which looms with enough definition and significance to be detested. In fact there's something truly devoted about the way that Dawkinsites manage to extract a stimulating hobby from the thought of other people's belief. Some of them even contrive to feel oppressed by the Church of England, which is not easy to do. It must take a deft delicacy at operating on a tiny scale, like fitting a whole model railway layout into an attaché case.

No: the really painful message our daughter will receive is that we're embarrassing. For most people who aren't New Atheists, or old atheists, and have no passion invested in the subject, either negative or positive, believers aren't weird because we're wicked. We're weird because we're inexplicable; because, when there's no necessity for it that anyone sensible can see, we've committed ourselves to a set of awkward and absurd attitudes that obtrude, that stick out against the background of modern life, and not in some important or respectworthy or principled way, either. Believers are people who try to insert Jee-zus into conversations at parties; who put themselves down, with writhings of unease, for perfectly normal human behaviour; who are constantly trying to create a solemn hush that invites a fart, a hiccup, a bit of subversion. Believers are people who, on the rare occasions when you have to listen to them, like at a funeral or a wedding, seize the opportunity to pour the liquidised content of a primary-school nativity play into your earhole, apparently not noticing that childhood is over. And as well as being childish, and abject, and solemn, and awkward, we voluntarily associate ourselves with an old-fashioned, mildewed orthodoxy, an Authority with all its authority gone. Nothing is so sad – sad from the style point of view – as the mainstream taste of the day before yesterday.

What goes on inside believers is mysterious. So far as it can be guessed at it appears to be a kind of anxious pretending, a kind of continual, nervous resistance to reality. We don't seem to get it that the magic in Harry Potter, the rings and swords and elves in fantasy novels, the power-ups in video games, the ghouls and ghosts of Halloween, are all, like, just for fun. We try to take them seriously; or rather, we take our own particular subsection of them seriously. We commit the bizarre category error of claiming that our goblins, ghouls, Flying Spaghetti Monsters are really there, off the page and away from the CGI rendering programs. Star Trek fans and vampire wanabes have nothing on us. We actually get down and worship. We get down on our actual knees, bowing and scraping in front of the empty space where we insist our Spaghetti Monster can be found. No wonder that we work so hard to fend off common sense. Our fingers must be in our ears all the time – la la la, I can't hear you – just to keep out the sound of the real world.

The funny thing is that, to me, it's belief that involves the most uncompromising attention to the nature of things of which you are capable. Belief demands that you dispense with illusion after illusion, while contemporary common sense requires continual, fluffy pretending – pretending that might as well be systematic, it's so thoroughly incentivised by our culture. Take the well-known slogan on the atheist bus in London. I know, I know, that's an utterance by the hardcore hobbyists of unbelief, but in this particular case they're pretty much stating the ordinary wisdom of everyday disbelief. The atheist bus says: "There's probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life." All right: which word here is the questionable one, the aggressive one, the one that parts company with recognisable human experience so fast it doesn't even have time to wave goodbye? It isn't "probably". New Atheists aren't claiming anything outrageous when they say that there probably isn't a God. In fact they aren't claiming anything substantial at all, because, really, how would they know? It's as much of a guess for them as it is for me. No, the word that offends against realism here is "enjoy". I'm sorry – enjoy your life? I'm not making some kind of neo-puritan objection to enjoyment. Enjoyment is lovely. Enjoyment is great. The more enjoyment the better. But enjoyment is one emotion. To say that life is to be enjoyed (just enjoyed) is like saying that mountains should only have summits, or that all colours should be purple, or that all plays should be by Shakespeare. This really is a bizarre category error.

But not necessarily an innocent one. Not necessarily a piece of fluffy pretending that does no harm. The implication of the bus slogan is that enjoyment would be your natural state if you weren't being "worried" by us believers and our hellfire preaching. Take away the malignant threat of God-talk, and you would revert to continuous pleasure, under cloudless skies. What's so wrong with this, apart from it being total bollocks? Well, in the first place, that it buys a bill of goods, sight unseen, from modern marketing. Given that human life isn't and can't be made up of enjoyment, it is in effect accepting a picture of human life in which those pieces of living where easy enjoyment is more likely become the only pieces that are visible. If you based your knowledge of the human species exclusively on adverts, you'd think that the normal condition of humanity was to be a good-looking single person between 20 and 35, with excellent muscle-definition and/or an excellent figure, and a large disposable income. And you'd think the same thing if you got your information exclusively from the atheist bus, with the minor difference, in this case, that the man from the Gold Blend couple has a tiny wrinkle of concern on his handsome forehead, caused by the troublesome thought of God's possible existence: a wrinkle about to be removed by one magic application of Reason™.

These plastic beings don't need anything that they can't get by going shopping. But suppose, as the atheist bus goes by, you are povertystricken, or desperate for a job, or a drug addict, or social services have just taken away your child. The bus tells you that there's probably no God so you should stop worrying and enjoy your life, and now the slogan is not just bitterly inappropriate in mood. What it means, if it's true, is that anyone who isn't enjoying themselves is entirely on their own. What the bus says is: there's no help coming. Now don't get me wrong. I don't think there's any help coming, in one large and important sense of the term. I don't believe anything is going to happen that will materially alter the position these people find themselves in. But let's be clear about the emotional logic of the bus's message. It amounts to a denial of hope or consolation on any but the most chirpy, squeaky, bubble-gummy reading of the human situation. St Augustine called this kind of thing "cruel optimism" 1,500 years ago, and it's still cruel.

A consolation you could believe in would be one that wasn't in danger of popping like a soap bubble on contact with the ordinary truths about us. A consolation you could trust would be one that acknowledged the difficult stuff rather than being in flight from it, and then found you grounds for hope in spite of it, or even because of it, with your fingers firmly out of your ears, and all the sounds of the complicated world rushing in, undenied.

I remember a morning about 15 years ago. It was a particularly bad morning, after a particularly bad night. We – my wife and I – had been caught in one of those cyclical rows that reignite every time you think they've come to an exhausted close, because the thing that's wrong won't be left alone, won't stay out of sight if you try to turn away from it. Over and over, between midnight and six, when we finally gave up and got up, we'd helplessly looped from tears, and the aftermath of tears, back into scratch-your-eyes-out, scratch-each-other's-skin-off quarrelling. Intimacy had turned toxic: we knew, as we went around and around it, almost exactly what the other one was going to say, and even what they were going to think, and it only made things worse. It felt as if we were reduced – but truthfully reduced, reduced in accordance with the truth of the situation – to a pair of intermeshing routines, cogs with sharp teeth turning each other. We got up, and she went to work. I went to a café and nursed my misery along with a cappuccino. I could not see any way out of sorrow that did not involve some obvious self-deception, some wishful lie about where we'd got to. And then the person serving in the café put on a cassette: Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, the middle movement, the adagio.

Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters
If you don't know it, it is a very patient piece of music. It too goes round and round, in its way, essentially playing the same tune again and again, on the clarinet alone and then with the orchestra, clarinet and then orchestra, lifting up the same unhurried lilt of solitary sound, and then backing it with a kind of messageless tenderness in deep waves, when the strings join in. It is not strained in any way. It does not sound as if the music is struggling to lift a weight it can only just manage. Yet at the same time, it is not music that denies anything. It offers a strong, absolutely calm rejoicing, but it does not pretend there is no sorrow. On the contrary, it sounds as if it comes from a world where sorrow is perfectly ordinary, but still there is more to be said.

I had heard it lots of times, but this time it felt to me like news. It said: everything you fear is true. And yet. And yet. Everything you have done wrong, you have really done wrong. And yet. And yet. The world is wider than you fear it is, wider than the repeating rigmaroles in your mind, and it has this in it, as truly as it contains your unhappiness. Shut up and listen, and let yourself count, just a little bit, on a calm that you do not have to be able to make for yourself, because here it is, freely offered. There is more going on here than what you deserve, or don't deserve. There is this as well. And it played the tune again, with all the cares in the world.

The novelist Richard Powers has written that the Clarinet Concerto sounds the way mercy would sound, and that's exactly how I experienced it in 1997. Mercy, though, is one of those words that now requires definition. It does not only mean some tyrant's capacity to suspend a punishment he has himself inflicted. It can mean – and does mean in this case – getting something kind instead of the sensible consequences of an action, or as well as the sensible consequences of an action. Mercy is …

But by now I would imagine that some of you reading this are feeling some indignation building up. Wait a minute, wait a minute, you say; never mind how you're defining mercy. What about the way you're defining religion? That's religion, listening to some Mozart in a café? You were experiencing what we in the world of unbelief like to call "an emotion", an emotion induced by a form of artistic expression which, to say the least, is quite well known for inducing emotions. You were not receiving a signal from God, or whatever it is you were about to claim; you were getting, if anything, a signal from Mr Mozart, that dead Austrian in a wig. I hope that isn't your basis for religious faith, you say, because you've described nothing there that isn't compatible with a completely naturalistic account of the universe, in which there's nobody there to extend any magical mercy from the sky, just stuff, lots and lots of astonishing, sufficiently interesting stuff, all the way up from the quantum scale to the movement of galaxies.

Well, yes. By the same token, what I've described is also completely compatible with a non-naturalistic account of the universe – but that's not really the point, is it? The point is that from outside, belief looks like a series of ideas about the nature of the universe for which a truth-claim is being made, a set of propositions that you sign up to; and when actual believers don't talk about their belief in this way, it looks like slipperiness, like a maddening evasion of the issue. If I say that, from inside, it makes much more sense to talk about belief as a characteristic set of feelings, or even as a habit, you will conclude that I am trying to wriggle out, or just possibly that I am not even interested in whether the crap I talk is true. I do, as a matter of fact, think that it is. I am a fairly orthodox Christian. Every Sunday I say and do my best to mean the whole of the Creed, which is a series of propositions. But it is still a mistake to suppose that it is assent to the propositions that makes you a believer. It is the feelings that are primary. I assent to the ideas because I have the feelings; I don't have the feelings because I've assented to the ideas.

So to me, what I felt listening to Mozart in 1997 is not some wishy-washy metaphor for an idea I believe in, and it's not a front behind which the real business of belief is going on: it's the thing itself. My belief is made of, built up from, sustained by, emotions like that. That's what makes it real. I do, of course, also have an interpretation of what happened to me in the café which is just as much a scaffolding of ideas as any theologian or Richard Dawkins could desire. I think – note the verb "think" – that I was not being targeted with a timely rendition of the Clarinet Concerto by a deity who micro-manages the cosmos and causes all the events in it to happen (which would make said deity an immoral scumbag, considering the nature of many of those events). I think that Mozart, two centuries earlier, had succeeded in creating a beautiful and accurate report of an aspect of reality. I think that the reason reality is that way – that it is in some ultimate sense merciful as well as being a set of physical processes all running along on their own without hope of appeal, all the way up from quantum mechanics to the relative velocity of galaxies by way of "blundering, low and horridly cruel" biology (Darwin) – is that the universe is sustained by a continual and infinitely patient act of love. I think that love keeps it in being. I think that I don't have to posit some corny interventionist prod from a meddling sky-fairy to account for my merciful ability to notice things a little better, when God is continually present everywhere anyway, undemonstratively underlying all cafés, all cassettes, all composers.

That's what I think. But it's all secondary. It all comes limping along behind my emotional assurance that there was mercy, and I felt it. And so the argument about whether the ideas are true or not, which is the argument that people mostly expect to have about religion, is also secondary for me. No, I can't prove it. I don't know that any of it is true. I don't know if there's a God. (And neither do you, and neither does Professor Dawkins, and neither does anybody. It isn't the kind of thing you can know. It isn't a knowable item.) But then, like every human being, I am not in the habit of entertaining only those emotions I can prove. I'd be an unrecognisable oddity if I did. Emotions can certainly be misleading: they can fool you into believing stuff that is definitely, demonstrably untrue. Yet emotions are also our indispensable tool for navigating, for feeling our way through, the much larger domain of stuff that isn't susceptible to proof or disproof, that isn't checkable against the physical universe. We dream, hope, wonder, sorrow, rage, grieve, delight, surmise, joke, detest; we form such unprovable conjectures as novels or clarinet concertos; we imagine. And religion is just a part of that, in one sense. It's just one form of imagining, absolutely functional, absolutely human-normal. It would seem perverse, on the face of it, to propose that this one particular manifestation of imagining should be treated as outrageous, should be excised if (which is doubtful) we can manage it.

But then, this is where the perception that religion is weird comes in. It's got itself established in our culture, relatively recently, that the emotions involved in religious belief must be different from the ones involved in all the other kinds of continuous imagining, hoping, dreaming, and so on, that humans do. These emotions must be alien, freakish, sad, embarrassing, humiliating, immature, pathetic. These emotions must be quite separate from commonsensical us. But they aren't. The emotions that sustain religious belief are all, in fact, deeply ordinary and deeply recognisable to anybody who has ever made their way across the common ground of human experience as an adult.

It's just that the emotions in question are rarely talked about apart from their rationalisation into ideas. This is what I have tried to do in my new book, Unapologetic. Ladies and gentlemen! A spectacle never before attempted on any stage! Before your very eyes, I shall build up from first principles the simple and unsurprising structure of faith. Nothing up my left sleeve, nothing up my right sleeve, except the entire material of everyday experience. No tricks, no traps, ladies and gentlemen; no misdirection and no cheap rhetoric. You can easily look up what Christians believe in. You can read any number of defences of Christian ideas. This, however, is a defence of Christian emotions – of their intelligibility, of their grown-up dignity. The book is called Unapologetic because it isn't giving an "apologia", the technical term for a defence of the ideas.

And also because I'm not sorry.

mds45
01-09-2012, 11:07
The trouble with atheists is there isn't enough of them !

rusmeister
01-09-2012, 11:53
Mart, you surprise me. My hat's off to you.
That is a really good article.

The only thing I would take any exception to at all is his comment about knowing, about being able to know. I have a different understanding of the word and think that, there, he is applying an incorrect neaning, and so, does not mean what he says.

But that is a small quibble. It is an outstanding approach to expressing faith. Not mine; my angles are a little different, but it's still very good.

Mds, I get the impression you read the title and nothing else.

mds45
01-09-2012, 12:10
Mart, you surprise me. My hat's off to you.
That is a really good article.

The only thing I would take any exception to at all is his comment about knowing, about being able to know. I have a different understanding of the word and think that, there, he is applying an incorrect neaning, and so, does not mean what he says.

But that is a small quibble. It is an outstanding approach to expressing faith. Not mine; my angles are a little different, but it's still very good.

Mds, I get the impression you read the title and nothing else.

It"s humour rus - it's good you should try a little :)

harrycallaghan
01-09-2012, 12:55
Im a non believer, I dont run around telling people they are silly or they shouldnt believe what they believe, (i would prefer religion of any kind wasnt thought in schools).
I have a question and its not the kind of question that is designed to poke holes in peoples faith or anything with devious undertones, I am just curious as to why people believe, and I know its not a choice (or maybe it is) but im curious as to how a believers life differs from mine. How do they benefit from this belief in a way that I do not?

Jas
01-09-2012, 13:59
This book ripped off the title from famed Pakistani lesbian Irshad Manji who wrote a brilliant book entitled, "The Trouble with Islam."

So now we got in revenge "The Trouble with Atheists."

I wud urge everyone to read Irshad Manji.

Carl
01-09-2012, 14:37
This book ripped off the title from famed Pakistani lesbian Irshad Manji who wrote a brilliant book entitled, "The Trouble with Islam."

So now we got in revenge "The Trouble with Atheists."

I wud urge everyone to read Irshad Manji.

I would bet there are hundreds of book titles that start with "The Trouble with ....(fill in space)...". Accusing this author of pilfering some obscure Pakistani writers title seems a bit if a stretch.

harrycallaghan
01-09-2012, 15:03
I would also like to add there is no "famous Pakistani lesbian" :D

TolkoRaz
01-09-2012, 15:24
She might be famous in Pakistan, but I am quite sure she is not famous elsewhere, unless we are now told that Benazir Bhutto did not like men! :eek:

rusmeister
01-09-2012, 17:13
Im a non believer, I dont run around telling people they are silly or they shouldnt believe what they believe, (i would prefer religion of any kind wasnt thought in schools).
I have a question and its not the kind of question that is designed to poke holes in peoples faith or anything with devious undertones, I am just curious as to why people believe, and I know its not a choice (or maybe it is) but im curious as to how a believers life differs from mine. How do they benefit from this belief in a way that I do not?

Well, one of the biggest things I get is that by it I see everything. The entire world comes into sharp clarity. Life makes sense. Death and suffering acquire sense. Why we feel that we ought to behave one way but actually behave another. Why we don't want to die and yet do. And why we need not and should not go overboard on hating or fearing death.

Without it, a growing awareness that my life is growing shorter and shorter. A realization that, if it is NOT true, nothing means anything. "Enjoying life", turns out to be pointless and senseless if meaning is not transcendent. Without it, death becomes the thing to fear most, the end, complete annihilation of the self and everything that I worked toward learning and becoming, for I become nothing but a lump of rotting meat. "Life" may go on, but I clearly do NOT go on.

With it, I get why I should love my neighbor and it is NOT "enlightened self-interest", and I am called to do it. It answers all of my instincts as to why I should be good. It gives me hope, even after death, both the hope of retaining my individual personality (something the Buddhist essentially seeks to eliminate) and of all kinds of meetings, and of ultimate happiness. Yes, "pie-in-the-sky", the fulfilling, not necessarily of our petty desires, but of our deepest longings.

In a word, everything clicks. The complex key fits the complex lock.

yakspeare
01-09-2012, 19:32
I would also like to add there is no "famous Pakistani lesbian" :D

I stand corrected. I was , not 30 mins after that post, in a discussion with a guy who I found out happened to be a gay muslim in Australia. He mentioned two of her books as his inspiration. Surreal timing.

MickeyTong
01-09-2012, 20:54
I stand corrected. I was , not 30 mins after that post, in a discussion with a guy who I found out happened to be a gay muslim in Australia. He mentioned two of her books as his inspiration. Surreal timing.

Such things are arranged by forces unseen......

mds45
01-09-2012, 22:00
Such things are arranged by forces unseen......

If only we had someone on the forum who could explain those forces to us in a clear and concise manner- I think we all would like it in the style of an Edwardian gentleman - alas :(

MickeyTong
01-09-2012, 22:01
If only we had someone on the forum who could explain those forces to us in a clear and concise manner- I think we all would like it in the style of an Edwardian gentleman - alas :(

That would be Providential.

Jas
01-09-2012, 22:30
She might be famous in Pakistan, but I am quite sure she is not famous elsewhere, unless we are now told that Benazir Bhutto did not like men! :eek:



Er, Irshad Manji is totally famous. Only her ancestors are from Asia and she's Canadian. If u don't no her then it's cos ure mixing in the rong circles and stuff. Here is her site. And yes, they stole her idea.

https://www.irshadmanji.com/

rusmeister
01-09-2012, 23:53
If only we had someone on the forum who could explain those forces to us in a clear and concise manner- I think we all would like it in the style of an Edwardian gentleman - alas :(

You know, mds, you're asking for it... ;)

JanC
02-09-2012, 11:36
Another waste of time. The whole "problem" boils down to an inherent inability to understand the other side.

Strong atheists (a rare breed, but theists tend to assume every atheist is a gnostic one) are wasting their time with bus slogans like that (if they are serious anyway)
You can't reason people out of something they were not reasoned into, and in the unlikely scenario they'd be successful at getting someone to doubt the belief they've held since they were a child, you'll probably make their life worse than better which is not a noble objective.
I think they should just shut up about it, leave people be, don't get in their face and focus on repelling the attacks of the fundamentalist religious minority on education and liberty.

Theists on the other hand seem unable to grasp the concept of non belief, which is understandable. In the same way that the world's biggest Michael Jackson fan simply cannot imagine a world where Michael Jackson never existed (and that his/her life would be less meaningful in that case)
The assertion that life would mean "more" or "less" based on what happens afterwards is unfounded and in any case irrelevant.
The argument is entirely from convenience and wishful thinking (emotional as he puts it) which is fine but its only purpose can be to give people who already believe as he does (seems entirely about Christianity rather than religion generally) a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Not a bad way to sell a book probably.

rusmeister
02-09-2012, 12:56
Another waste of time. The whole "problem" boils down to an inherent inability to understand the other side.

Strong atheists (a rare breed, but theists tend to assume every atheist is a gnostic one) are wasting their time with bus slogans like that (if they are serious anyway)
You can't reason people out of something they were not reasoned into, and in the unlikely scenario they'd be successful at getting someone to doubt the belief they've held since they were a child, you'll probably make their life worse than better which is not a noble objective.
I think they should just shut up about it, leave people be, don't get in their face and focus on repelling the attacks of the fundamentalist religious minority on education and liberty.

Theists on the other hand seem unable to grasp the concept of non belief, which is understandable. In the same way that the world's biggest Michael Jackson fan simply cannot imagine a world where Michael Jackson never existed (and that his/her life would be less meaningful in that case)
The assertion that life would mean "more" or "less" based on what happens afterwards is unfounded and in any case irrelevant.
The argument is entirely from convenience and wishful thinking (emotional as he puts it) which is fine but its only purpose can be to give people who already believe as he does (seems entirely about Christianity rather than religion generally) a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Not a bad way to sell a book probably.

Jan< I really do want to get to your posts on the religion thread - the trouble is the amount of time that a fair synthesis - so as to identify the root assumptions and fairly cover all the bases.

I'd say that the believer who came (or came back) to faith as an ADULT after decades of adult unbelief DOES understand it. I certainly do; the charge is absolutely false as applied to me.

You are right on not being able to reason people out of something they were not reasoned into, but if they WERE reasoned into it - as I was, then you have another problem - of trying to reason them out of something, taking the risk, since you appeal to reason, of yourself being reasoned out of your position - unless either or both sides are dogmatically entrenched in spite of reason. (Pointing out again that dogmas can be reasonable and well founded, or not).

I think they should just shut up about it, leave people be, don't get in their face and focus on repelling the attacks of the fundamentalist atheist/agnostic minority on education and liberty. (As that is precisely what we see to be the case. YOU attack intelligence, reason and liberty, not we, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.)


The argument is entirely from convenience and wishful thinking (emotional as he puts it) which is fine but its only purpose can be to give people who already believe as he does
Which is what I think about your arguments and position.

Your statements can be completely turned on their head, Jan. Every attack by the ACLU or whoever on crosses, the presence of the 10 Commandments in court houses, etc, prove that unbelievers attack believers at least as much as believers attack determined unbelief (let alone the insistence on the exclusion of such common sense as admonitions to children to honor their parents, and to not steal or murder (the very things court houses are supposed to be part of preventing).

JanC
02-09-2012, 13:56
I'd say that the believer who came (or came back) to faith as an ADULT after decades of adult unbelief DOES understand it. I certainly do; the charge is absolutely false as applied to me.

You can say that, but without laying out the premises and logic involved it's just assertions that cannot be debated.

In any case when looking at the world at large, it is clear that the vast majority of religious belief is NOT arrived at through reason.

If it were, we would not see the clear geographical divisions between religions. You'd expect to see them in similar proportions wherever you look, not necessarily in equal proportions because not every religion is necessarily equally reasonable or appealing.

But we don't see that. What you see is Christian areas producing new Christians, Muslim areas producing Muslims and Hindus...well you get the point. More narrowly, it is simply very rare for anyone to have a significantly different religion from their parents.

It is statistically obvious that the majority of religion is entirely inherited.

I'm sure it is a coincidence that for you Christianity turned out to be the "reasonable" faith, coming from a society that is mostly Christian.


but if they WERE reasoned into it - as I was

As you claim to have been, actually. You haven't yet established that.


then you have another problem - of trying to reason them out of something, taking the risk, since you appeal to reason, of yourself being reasoned out of your position - unless either or both sides are dogmatically entrenched in spite of reason.

We're going to have to define reason just for clarity I think. If you are going to reasonably believe in a deity for example, you must offer evidence that is distinguishable from delusion, and testable.
You'll have to establish both the validity of the premises and the logic itself, in short.


YOU attack intelligence, reason and liberty, not we, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding

You're heading off into the deep end now, Rus.

Your claim for attack on intelligence I consider unfounded, and reason we can argue about, but liberty? I am all for religious freedom, letting people believe what they believe if it makes them happy. But when you're in a science cl**** there is no liberty to believe whatever you want to, it's not a democratic issue and neither is the truth.

Also, define "we" please, I'm not entirely sure who or which group you're referring to.



Every attack by the ACLU or whoever on crosses

I consider such attacks cowardly and entirely unjustifiable, as most people do and should do regardless of their position.
I don't see it as any different from death threats made by religious fundamentalists to vocal atheists, or threats and attacks from PETA on fast food restaurants. It's terrorism no matter who does it.


the presence of the 10 Commandments in court houses, etc, prove that unbelievers attack believers at least as much as believers attack determined unbelief

Hang on a minute.

The 10 commandments are an entirely Christian, and therefore religious, creation. There is a clear constitutional (in the US) line that church (no matter which) and state are separate. The state can not back a particular religion, though one is free to practice any religion.

The 10 commandments are not US law, they are religious. As such they simply have no business being in a courtroom which judges by law not only Christians but people of all faiths and non-faith. Displaying religious commandments undermines at the very least the appearance of being neutral on religion and everything else.

Your notion that calls to remove commandments from courts is an attack on religion is unfounded. The people who put the commandments there were the ones attacking the freedom of religion and separation of church and state. (though I would assume they were not in any way doing so with malicious intent)
Considering that in many of these cases it was found that the commandments were in fact against the law, I don't see your point. Attacking unlawful things is bad now???



(let alone the insistence on the exclusion of such common sense as admonitions to children to honor their parents, and to not steal or murder (the very things court houses are supposed to be part of preventing).

The first part is irrelevant to a court which deals in LEGAL matters.
The second part can easily be achieved by non-religious means, because there are actual federal laws on those topics.

The problem is not that there is anything "wrong" with what the 10 commandments are saying or trying to achieve. The problem is entirely that they are religious, and tied to a specific religion. Their removal from a court is not a judgement on their moral validity.

rusmeister
02-09-2012, 15:58
OK, Jan, in trying to consider what iscworth responding to...

1) We are both dogmatics; that's OK by me, as long as it's acknowledged.

2) I do not think my faith provable in any empirical sense, I think that the chain of reason that leads to it takes into account life experience, and consideration of the fact of death and our relationship to it, and things that cannot be proved but everybody knows, such as, generally speaking, we do not want to die; we do not desire death, non-being, annihilation. I don't think it thoroughly provable, though deductible from observation of human behavior. Obviously a certain level of reasonable assumption is allowed.
3) I DO, however, think materialism to be provable as false and illogical, and have laid out how that is so. Your own theories shoot you in the foot. By accepting mysticism on one thing, I obtain light and logic everywhere. I am free to accept the possibility of devils, angels, miracles and so on. But the materialist is tightly bound. The slightest hint of the supernatural undoes his theory completely; all evidence must be thoroughly and dogmatically denied, explained away at all costs. The essential self-contradiction of a lack of transcendent meaning necessitated by the death of the individual ends all meaning, and does so retroactively. It is a gibbering madhouse where nothing means anything at all.

When you say that I must offer a testable way to distinguish reality from delusion, the answer is obvious. Faith iscrequired to know anything at all. The shortest answer is here; I posted it recently, I guess you missed it.

http://www.chesterton.org/discover-chesterton/selected-works/the-philosopher/philosophy-for-the-schoolroom/


What modern people want to be made to understand is simply that all argument begins with an assumption; that is, with something that you do not doubt. You can, of course, if you like, doubt the assumption at the beginning of your argument, but in that case you are beginning a different argument with another assumption at the beginning of it. Every argument begins with an infallible dogma, and that infallible dogma can only be disputed by falling back on some other infallible dogma; you can never prove your first statement or it would not be your first. All this is the alphabet of thinking. And it has this special and positive point about it, that it can be taught in a school, like the other alphabet. Not to start an argument without stating your postulates could be taught in philosophy as it is taught in Euclid, in a common schoolroom with a blackboard. And I think it might be taught in some simple and rational degree even to the young, before they go out into the streets and are delivered over entirely to the logic and philosophy of the Daily Mail.

Much of our chaos about religion and doubt arises from this–that our modern sceptics always begin by telling us what they do not believe. But even in a sceptic we want to know first what he does believe. Before arguing, we want to know what we need not argue about. And this confusion is infinitely increased by the fact that all the sceptics of our time are sceptics at different degrees of the dissolution of scepticism.

Now you and I have, I hope, this advantage over all those clever new philosophers, that we happen not to be mad. All of us believe in St. Paul’s Cathedral; most of us believe in St. Paul. But let us clearly realize this fact, that we do believe in a number of things which are part of our existence, but which cannot be demonstrated. Leave religion for the moment wholly out of the question. All sane men, I say, believe firmly and unalterably in a certain number of things which are unproved and unprovable. Let us state them roughly.

(1) Every sane man believes that the world around him and the people in it are real, and not his own delusion or dream. No man starts burning London in the belief that his servant will soon wake him for breakfast. But that I, at any given moment, am not in a dream, is unproved and unprovable. That anything exists except myself is unproved and unprovable.
(2) All sane men believe that this world not only exists, but matters. Every man believes there is a sort of obligation on us to interest ourselves in this vision or panorama of life. He would think a man wrong who said, “I did not ask for this farce and it bores me. I am aware that an old lady is being murdered down-stairs, but I am going to sleep.” That there is any such duty to improve the things we did not make is a thing unproved and unprovable.
(3) All sane men believe that there is such a thing as a self, or ego, which is continuous. There is no inch of my brain matter the same as it was ten years ago. But if I have saved a man in battle ten years ago, I am proud; if I have run away, I am ashamed. That there is such a paramount “I” is unproved and unprovable. But it is more than unproved and unprovable; it is definitely disputed by many metaphysicians.
(4) Lastly, most sane men believe, and all sane men in practice assume, that they have a power of choice and responsibility for action.
Surely it might be possible to establish some plain, dull statement such as the above, to make people see where they stand. And if the youth of the future must not (at present) be taught any religion, it might at least be taught, clearly and firmly, the three or four sanities and certainties of human free thought.

That is all the proof you will get from me, for I am sane. I KNOW that I must take my basic perception of the world on faith, that it is real and not a delusion, and refusing to do so is mentally unhealthy; that is, insane.

I just rewatched "A Beautiful Mind", and the radical and rare exception is illustrated. Setting aside the fictionalization of a true story, proof that the experience WAS delusion required observation of a clear violation of natural law (with no supporting supernatural explanation, such as a miracle would entail).

I do not see what a science class has to do with anything, unless you are buying into the common fallacy that "religion" and "science" are opposed to each other. Maybe I missed something... I say, however,that when you are in a philosophy cl**** there is no liberty to believe whatever you want to, it's not a democratic issue and neither is the truth.

By "we", I was referring to believers, who accept the compatibility of faith and reason. Note I said "compatibility", not "identicality".

To say that there are laws on anything does not determine what is moral. Wicked rulers - and people darkened by wickedness in general, including democracies, if there be such a thing - can and do make immoral laws. So it is no comfort to tell me that laws exist (at the moment) forbidding murder (which are violated by things like abortion and euthanasia anyway, but that's a lesser point). We must first know the basis on which murder is immoral, and of morality in general. My point there, though, was that the 10 Commandments are mostly common sense, and say things that are true. They say what you would enforce anyway, and it is all to the good if the citizens believe certain things are wrong, not merely because the government says so, but God. They will all the more firmly insist on the maintenance of that morality.

A sum-up would be that I do not propose to scientifically prove my faith. I DO propose that a believer can be intelligent and logical, and use reason, even though you disagree with his conclusions, and so the idea that a believer must be unreasonable must be dropped. Grant us intelligence, and stop promoting the idea that we are unintelligent.

JanC
02-09-2012, 21:24
1) We are both dogmatics; that's OK by me, as long as it's acknowledged.

I'll consider myself dogmatic in the same way that the result of an equation comes from mathematical dogma.


I think that the chain of reason that leads to it takes into account life experience, and consideration of the fact of death and our relationship to it, and things that cannot be proved but everybody knows, such as, generally speaking, we do not want to die; we do not desire death, non-being, annihilation. I don't think it thoroughly provable, though deductible from observation of human behavior.

So basically it's not really distinguishable from wishful thinking.

Also, I'll just point out that our survival instinct is something we share with all creatures on this planet. It's pretty easy to see why survival instinct would be favored by evolution through natural selection.

An instinct is not something you consider, but you have it, and it is something that is generally provable without reasonable doubt.


I DO, however, think materialism to be provable as false and illogical

What's with the materialism? Strictly speaking, even Quantum Mechanics can claim to disprove materialism.


By accepting mysticism on one thing, I obtain light and logic everywhere.

Appeal to consequences fallacy.



I am free to accept the possibility of devils, angels, miracles and so on. But the materialist is tightly bound.

I keep to scientific thought myself, and no scientist will exclude the possibility of anything hypothetical. That's why it's hypothetical. There's an infinite list of things I can add to your little list, that might well exist, but for all intents and purposes do not unless we have a bit more than just the concept.



The slightest hint of the supernatural undoes his theory completely

No hint has ever undone any theory, only facts can.



The essential self-contradiction of a lack of transcendent meaning necessitated by the death of the individual ends all meaning, and does so retroactively. It is a gibbering madhouse where nothing means anything at all.

I have never understood the theistic position that the death of an individual sans afterlife erases any meaning. Or that a certain meaning must by default exist. I honestly don't.
I can see why it would not have the meaning you think it might or should have...but that doesn't qualify you to arbitrarily decide that nothing means anything period.


When you say that I must offer a testable way to distinguish reality from delusion, the answer is obvious. Faith iscrequired to know anything at all. The shortest answer is here; I posted it recently, I guess you missed it.

http://www.chesterton.org/discover-chesterton/selected-works/the-philosopher/philosophy-for-the-schoolroom/

And I've already answered why it is a non answer.

For this conversation to have any point at all, we both need to believe that we're actually talking to each other and that we both perceive the world and reality at least roughly how it is. If we don't then nothing matters.

Just because there is a word faith doesn't mean every instance of faith is comparable, or even relevant or logical. We can only judge case by case whether faith is justified or not.

In this case, our faith in our general perception and existence is justified for the sake of debating.



That is all the proof you will get from me, for I am sane. I KNOW that I must take my basic perception of the world on faith, that it is real and not a delusion, and refusing to do so is mentally unhealthy; that is, insane.

Let's talk perception.

I agree that our basic perception of reality is a matter of faith. But there's only 2 options. Either we are right or none of this matters and I'm talking to myself (whatever I am)

So I think we can both accept that we can both perceive the world in about the same way as all other humans do. Otherwise the internet wouldn't really work either. Anyway.

We can both perceive results of experiments. We can both do math. We can both see that NASA just landed something the size of a car on another planet further away than our earth-evolved minds are able to visualize.

Accomplishments such as these rely on our correct understanding of hundred if not thousands of natural laws which are invariable. We understood them because we were able to perceive the results of experiments correctly. If we had not perceived AND interpreted them correctly, none of this stuff would be working at all.

So let's for the sake of argument use a subject who believes strongly that the earth is only 6,000 years old. He has a problem, because the same laws that we can observe to be working exactly in the way we have determined, conflict with what he believes about the planet (for religious reasons or otherwise)

Now, you can either call that delusional or stubborn, but my point is that our mere ability to see reality generally in the same way as everybody else does not mean that there is no room for irrationality.

That person is not necessarily irrational for holding the belief that there is a God for example, but it IS irrational to believe in claims that are contradicted by natural facts that we have already both established to be valid beyond reasonable doubt.
This is the problem with literal theism, where a certain belief demands that an entire book of stories is taken literally.

I'm not actually lumping you into this category, but I need a somewhat extreme example to make it more obvious.



Setting aside the fictionalization of a true story, proof that the experience WAS delusion required observation of a clear violation of natural law (with no supporting supernatural explanation, such as a miracle would entail).

Proof of delusion would be the fallacy of proving a negative.
Proof has to go the other way round because it's the only way logic works.


I do not see what a science class has to do with anything, unless you are buying into the common fallacy that "religion" and "science" are opposed to each other.

I don't think they oppose each other at all. Science has no say on religion unless evidence of the supernatural turns up then that would make exciting science.

My point was that religious people have tried, and are actively trying, to put non-science (ID) into science classes rather than theology classes where it would belong. That would be an active attack on education.


By "we", I was referring to believers, who accept the compatibility of faith and reason.

So that includes other religions then, quite different from your own.
I was actually debating a chap the other day who was defending the claim that scientific discoveries are proof that the Qur'an has a divine origin (it supposedly foretold them in the usual cryptic fashion)
So he obviously also didn't think science and religion were incompatible, on the contrary.
He might not agree with some other viewpoints you hold though.


To say that there are laws on anything does not determine what is moral. Wicked rulers - and people darkened by wickedness in general, including democracies, if there be such a thing - can and do make immoral laws.

That's certainly true, even though there unfortunately does not appear to be an absolute moral standard. What is moral depends on who you ask and in which period of time as well.


So it is no comfort to tell me that laws exist (at the moment) forbidding murder (which are violated by things like abortion and euthanasia anyway, but that's a lesser point).

The definition of murder is the unlawful killing of one human by another.
So by definition neither abortion nor euthanasia are murder in countries where these practices are not unlawful.
It's also an uphill struggle to prove an embryo is a human, it most certainly can turn into one, but at that point it's still closer to a baby fish than to a human.
Euthanasia...assisting someone who wants to die rather than continue suffering with no hope of recovery seems not entirely immoral to me. Again, the debate about it illustrates the lack of an absolute moral standard.


My point there, though, was that the 10 Commandments are mostly common sense, and say things that are true.

I know that's your point, but it does_not_matter whether or not the commandments are common sense and/or true. They are RELIGIOUS.

I'm sure you know that the first couple of commandments are all about God himself, his insecurity and wish to be worshiped. Religious, period.
Constitution says, government can't pick a religious side.

I'm sure if we find ourselves a Muslim he can point out some passages of the Qur'an that we all can agree on are moral, just and simply common sense.
Would you have those in the courthouse? Maybe you would, but I bet those folks with their panties in a bunch over the removal of the commandments would catch fire at the thought.

In a free society with freedom of religion and a secular constitution you can't have religious commandments in a courthouse. That would seem to be extremely common sense, no?



They say what you would enforce anyway

Utterly irrelevant, the actual law would do the trick the same and be undeniably neutral.



I DO propose that a believer can be intelligent and logical, and use reason, even though you disagree with his conclusions, and so the idea that a believer must be unreasonable must be dropped. Grant us intelligence, and stop promoting the idea that we are unintelligent.

I fully agree with your notion that a believer can be intelligent, reasonable and logical. I consider you to be all those things.

I do not agree that this automatically proves that this person came to their religious belief by means of reason and logic.

I myself once held beliefs that I did not come to through logic and reason, and afterwards was amazed how I somehow had avoided to ask critical questions and not seen the obvious.
How does Santa visit a hundred million homes in one night? How do the easter clocks fly and deliver (+ hide) chocolate into our garden?

These questions never came to me while I believed in these things which are obviously physically impossible. It leads me to my point of inherited belief. The natural mechanism which speeds up our most basic education at a very young age assimilates all information as true by default.

It explains why religions are so clearly divided geographically. Why a Shia Muslim will give birth to another future Shia Muslim and not a Sunni.

You can claim to be an exception and that's fine, we can debate whether your belief is entirely reasonable and only similar to that of your peers by coincidence.

But it seems clear that you have a very difficult task ahead of you if you intend to show that all these intelligent, reasonable people who are our neighbours and happen to be religious, came to their belief through reason. That should be enough to prove that people with common sense and reason generally do not apply it to their religious faith.

So it would be up to you to show convincingly that you are different, the assertion cannot stand on its own.

Now, in a practical sense I would have to ask you questions or that you provide examples of things you personally believe in, but skeptics such as myself don't. Or something that is generally accepted as true, but conflicts with some religious ideology. You need to have a rational, reasoned explanation for your belief in them and not merely that another belief you hold requires them to be that way.

Faith is not entirely relevant to this because faith in the existence of a God does not provide a direct logical path to believe every sentence and word of what has been written by humans in the name of. Not that I actually claim to know much of what you believe. I've seen you mention Adam and Eve before but I might be too presumptuous.



PS: I actually had to do all this twice. My browser crashed on me the first time right near the end. Serves me right for using beta software. Of course I couldn't remember some of the points I was making, frustration.

PPS: funny story, you linked me to a youtube video a while ago about Chesterton. I went there and while I was watching I noticed a comment from one guy saying how strange it is that those videos don't get any replies from skeptics. I made a short reply to the guy and he answered me entirely civilly, it occurred to me that apparently these Chesterton fans are extremely civil in debate which was nice. Then the uploader of the video entered himself into the discussion, and made some thinly veiled insults about my intelligence which shattered my theory about Chestertonians somewhat.
I replied in a normal, civilized manner but the next morning I woke up to find my e-mail inbox containing 5 youtube replies, and also I was blocked from making any further comments :ignore:
Bit unfair I thought, to spam a man (with more insults I should add) and then take away his right to reply.
Ar well, it's good to be here talking to you, Rus :)

rusmeister
07-09-2012, 23:50
Hi Jan,
Thanks again for your post. Obviously I don't agree on a number of things, but I think we might agree on some, and it would be useful to identify what we DON'T need to argue about.

I'm getting REALLY tired of defending my position - I can do it, but have done it many times for many people, and have been weeding out the people that could care less what I say; that just want to jeer and scorn. Posts like yours and Andy's get put off because they ARE better, and take more time and thought than the simple ones I can fire off quick responses to, so hopefully you can take the back-handed complement.

Plus, the summer is over. I can waste more time in the summer, but always have to cut back during the school year. I AM a teacher, after all.

Wishful thinking bears definition. If I wish for something, it may exist or not. But if I find EVERYONE wishing for a thing, then I conclude that it MUST exist. (Please bear in mind that I speak in terms of rules and exceptions, so I don't doubt that you can find me an insane exception. So words like "everybody" mean "practically everybody".) If the thing exists, then the "wishful thinking" is reasonable, not unreasonable. It desires a real possibility.

I think it wrong to write off our desire not to die as mere instinct - thoughtless reaction. It is RATIONAL to desire to avoid the complete annihilation of oneself, the rubbing out of existence. A martyr may find it necessary to accept death - though he doesn't want to die - and he may flinch instinctively, but his desire to not die is a product of the mind, not instinct.

By "materialism", I mean philosophical materialism, which is not about quantum mechanics; I mean the philosophy that says that this physical world is the limit of human existence; that there is nothing after we die - complete annihilation of the self.

In my comment on mysticism, I was explaining, not drawing a logical chain. But by accepting the mysticism, all logic clicks into place.

The difference between an infinite number of hypothetical things and miracles, angels and devils is that humanity throughout the ages has affirmed the existence of spiritual beings and existence. The evidence there, as given by certainly tens and hundreds of thousands of people, is a little thick for the scientist to dismiss with the wave of a hand. From ouija boards to Christian miracles and visions, from Lourdes to the annual Holy Fire at Orthodox Pascha, we have consistent claims over space and time testifying to certain things which are not just "anything", and which many people claim much more than mere concept.

Again, if the view of the materialist depends on the certain non-existence of the supernatural, then ANY existence of the supernatural actually discovered destroys his theory. Let's not bandy semantics over the use of hint.

The reason meaning is erased is because YOU are erased. If the entire foundation of meaning is individual; if you supply/determine your own meaning, then of necessity you are erased, and concurrently, the meaning that you held for yourself. As far as you are concerned - the only person that matters, all meaning IS destroyed. This becomes blatantly apparent if we consider the destruction of the human race, of the universe. If there is no one left anywhere to mean anything, and no one to even mean it to, then obviously meaning itself comes to an end - and so ceases to exist, making nonsense of everything, past, present and future. The only way out of that logical trap is the existence of transcendent meaning; that the meaning is generated and "meant", not by or to us, but to a Person outside of us, for it must be a Person in order to speak of meaning at all.

On faith and delusion, my answer is that we must have faith that it is NOT a delusion; that our reason is valid. The only test you can apply is whether you have faith or not. Some people really DO enter insanity by doubting their own existence or reason. The way out is that leap of faith, that mysticism, at least that reason is valid or that an experience was real.

I actually have no problem with your comments on perception. The only things that stood out were the typical straw man versions of Christian faith - that the Earth is only 6,000 years old or that everything in the Bible must be taken literally. On claims contradicted by natural facts, I can only say that
a) I agree in general, and
b) that miracles would be an obvious logical exception (this is where reading Lewis's book "Miracles" would save me a TON of posting. :beg beg please please doggy: :)
Of course, to accept miracles, one must either experience one personally or accept the premise of a Creator external to the Universe; only in the former case do I think they could be a starting point of "argument".

If you didn't see the film "A Beautiful Mind", then the point is lost, I suppose. The proof of delusion (in the film) was that the people Nash kept on seeing for years didn't age). That was what I was referring to. The knowledge that if they were real, they would have to age.

The Holy Fire has been showing up like clockwork in Jerusalem at pascha for a thousand years (which would certainly qualify as evidence, of a uniquely predictable miracle at that), and sure, there are naysayers - but the naysayers have themselves been unable to obtain proof... over a thousand years. That's a loooong time to keep a deception up in front of the eyes of the world.

Yes, I certainly acknowledge the common point of various faiths in thinking reason and faith compatible. I won't defend the other faiths, though. I WILL defend them, as far as they defend my own. Where they break off, the defense drops.

On ID, I disagree, and the reason is philosophy and worldview, and its inevitable impact on science. I would agree with you on ANYTHING that began from the assumption of "Creator", though - but if scientific investigation leads to a conclusion that a Creator is possible or even likely - THAT is a different ballgame. So "ID" that BEGINS from an assumption of the Creator is pseudo-science and SHOULD be excluded. But genuine inquiry that starts with a hypothesis certainly should be included, especially if atheistic evolution is so rock solid that it can withstand and disprove the opposing theory. If it CAN'T, then all the MORE reason to include an ID which does NOT start from the assumption of "Creator".

What is remarkable about morality is that we do NOT find a range of 360 degrees of a moral compass - at the most, 90 degrees. It is what we have in common across space and time that is remarkable, and tells us what morality must be, and the other things aberrations from that. In general, murder and rape are obvious moral violations in any society. Even when tolerated, their character of moral violation is apparent and acknowledged (we may rape and pillage enemies, but not our own people, etc)


In most places we have a degree of parity, but on lawful killing, I think I've got you cold. Hitler's Germany legalized many immoral things. We CANNOT appeal to law to tell us what is moral, for the law may be made immoral tomorrow. So the definition of murder must NOT include the concept of "lawful". Just, yes. Lawful, no. Above all, it is the unjust taking of human life, especially that which cannot defend itself or which poses no immediate threat to the life of others. Thus, both babies in the womb and the sick and elderly killed under whatever language turn out to be murdered. If we could ask any baby if they would prefer to live, what do you think they would say? Too bad they can't answer, eh? (Yuk, yuk) Oh waitaminnit - Gianna Jessen. I guess they can...
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCQQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DkPF1FhCMPuQ&ei=REhKUOCfK8rc4QT3hYCoCA&usg=AFQjCNGMYstVXLfIpdxEmeLvoN85S5-MUQ
(addressing the Australian parliament)

The issue of personhood is a big one; suffice to say that any point - except conception - is arbitrary - and a completely unscientific matter of opinion - UNLESS we acknowledge conception as the point. But, uh, people don't WANT to. Sounds, uh, scientific to me.... Not.

You lose some of my respect here:

I'm sure you know that the first couple of commandments are all about God himself, his insecurity and wish to be worshiped.
Maybe you had been drinking or something? (Everything else you write is so much better than that, implying that I "know" God is insecure, etc) Heck, I have a beer or two before bed a lot...

On religion, common sense and secular society - To me it is obvious that if a point is both supported by a religion AND accepted in the secular world as common sense, then it is NOT "religious". But cutting to the chase, it is a matter of what the basis of morality is. You yourself champion the idea that we don't agree on morality; on what basis, then, national morality? Where do you get moral authority for your laws? Popular opinion of a given moment? Democratic vote, with laws and morality changing every year as moods change? George Washington, a REALLY smart guy, said

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp
And he's right. It cannot. It'll be more flighty than an unfaithful woman (or man, for that matter). The 10 Commandments, without launching into sermons, provides a general Judeo-Christian basis for morality. "God says" beats the heck every time out of "the government says". You may approve of what the government says - as long as you happen to agree with it. Let the opposition in, and you will find it a far greater tyrant than a God who only troubles to post ten rules and then lets you go and do whatever else you like.

There are so many vital differences between Christ and Santa and the Easter Bunny that it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps with the fact that there ARE no martyrs for Santa; no one has ever died with a defiant cry of "The Easter Bunny lives!" But the thing is, I think most people do NOT come to faith through reason. But I did. And I TOTALLY disagree with your completely unfounded statement that
people with common sense and reason generally do not apply it to their religious faith. That is so completely at odds with what I see in the lives of all the people I know that it hardly bears response.

I believe what I believe because I came to see through a mass of personal experience that it must be true. It was precisely the philosophies of unbelief and their logical end-runs, played out before my eyes, that led me to bow on bended knees in a church and be Chrismated. That mass of experience IS rational. The story of a high school disco I was required to chaperone and what I saw there, living in the home of swingers with a 7-yr old daughter for a couple of months, being in the middle of a crowd of kind LGBT people, having tolerance and diversity shoved down my throat in the teacher cert programs when I was all for them, all pointed at what unbelief leads to.

I do NOT "believe every sentence and word" in the literal sense you seem to ascribe to all of us without distinction. I get that you are against fundamentalism. So am I. But I also get that you don't know much about Orthodoxy.

On your experience with that Chestertonian - I apologize for him. Not everyone is at the same place in life, and most people haven't learned most of what GKC has to teach, and some have learned little to date. I think if called on his behavior by a fellow believer, he would apologize himself. Also, if you say anything that implies we are merely brainless and mind-controlled, we'll shut down quickly. So care in trying to approach and disagree respectfully is required, and the best thing is asking people what they actually believe, instead of assuming it's the same as the fundamentalism you've obviously been exposed to and that I was raised in.

thanks again!

JanC
11-09-2012, 00:09
Plus, the summer is over. I can waste more time in the summer, but always have to cut back during the school year. I AM a teacher, after all.

Your time is appreciated, Rus. When i'm in Russia I tend to have plenty of time to waste but truth be told I'm not always in the mood for debating :)
In any case I find it a fascinating topic to debate, a good leg-stretching exercise for the gray matter.


If I wish for something, it may exist or not. But if I find EVERYONE wishing for a thing, then I conclude that it MUST exist. (Please bear in mind that I speak in terms of rules and exceptions, so I don't doubt that you can find me an insane exception. So words like "everybody" mean "practically everybody".)

I do not see a valid logical path that leads from "a commonly held wish" to "therefore must exist".
I could indeed find a "crazy example" as you rightly point out. This in itself is evidence that the logic is flawed. If it was solid, it would apply to everything.


If the thing exists, then the "wishful thinking" is reasonable, not unreasonable. It desires a real possibility.

I have 2 separate remarks to this.

Firstly, you haven't established that the thing exists. You may have established that it is desirable, I'll grant you that, but desirability does not influence at all the likelihood of something being true. That would be much like appeal to popularity.

Secondly, by official defintion, it is never reasonable. Actually I'd prefer to use rational rather than reasonable which is a bit more ambiguous.

The free online dictionary defines "wishful thinking" as
the erroneous belief that one's wishes are in accordance with reality

That's pretty clear really. When emotion interferes with rational thought, it's a big stretch to call it reasonable.



I think it wrong to write off our desire not to die as mere instinct - thoughtless reaction. It is RATIONAL to desire to avoid the complete annihilation of oneself, the rubbing out of existence. A martyr may find it necessary to accept death - though he doesn't want to die - and he may flinch instinctively, but his desire to not die is a product of the mind, not instinct.

Well, I am approaching this from a scientific perspective which involves probabilities rather than absolutes. It is impossible to conclusively prove that out desire to live indefinitely is nothing more than instinct. In fact I do think in our case there is a bit more to it simply because our brains are so much more advanced and we literally know decades in advance that our life will most certainly end. But that's psychology rather than religion anyway.

But the point I would make here, any creature on this planet simply needs a survival instinct. 1 internal rule that trumps all others to stay alive in the short term above all else. Any creature lacking such an instinct would find it very difficult to survive. So that every living creature has one is not a surprise, it's not a coincidence, it's a necessity.

We as humans are no different. We wouldn't be able to survive without self preservation instincts. The fact that we're here already means we must have them. You might think there is something more to it than that, but it's still a somewhat thin assertion at this point.

We also have the instinct to procreate. Probably second in line to self preservation. Again, without this instinct, we wouldn't be here arguing. The necessity of this should be obvious.

As a result, we all have sexual desires. Does that mean we consciously want to make babies every time we have sex? Heck no! But out rationality does not trump our instinct. It merely helps us to foresee the consequences and allows us to get our cake and eat it too. When it comes to sex anyway.

You'll have a hard time showing that sexual desire is anything else than programming to keep the species going, analogous to your assertion involving our desire to stay alive.



By "materialism", I mean philosophical materialism, which is not about quantum mechanics; I mean the philosophy that says that this physical world is the limit of human existence; that there is nothing after we die - complete annihilation of the self.

Thanks for clearing that up, noted.


But by accepting the mysticism, all logic clicks into place.

It doesn't for me. All I see is fallacies and contradictions. There is no sudden solution that makes sense of everything. On the contrary really. But then again I'm not someone who needs to have an answer for everything.
Too often I see mysticism being used for nothing more than to plug holes in one's knowledge. Humans want answers to every question they can come up with, and more often than not they'll take a poor explanation over none at all.



The difference between an infinite number of hypothetical things and miracles, angels and devils is that humanity throughout the ages has affirmed the existence of spiritual beings and existence.

I disagree entirely.
Existence of spiritual beings is not any more established than alien abduction or astrology.


The evidence there, as given by certainly tens and hundreds of thousands of people, is a little thick for the scientist to dismiss with the wave of a hand.

Scientists, mostly medical ones with an interest in the brain it must be said, have already put considerable effort into understanding what goes on in the brain during "spiritual" moments.
It's fascinating stuff, and you have a lot of work ahead of you to show that this always purely anecdotal evidence is real and not delusion.

There are very well documented processes in our brain that are capable of letting us see things that aren't there (actually our brain is constantly doing that in a way, to compensate for our poorly designed eyes)
Even something fairly simple like magnetic fields to the temporal lobe reliably recreates the "sensed presence" often associated with religious experiences.

Focal seizures are also a well known phenomenon and have been shown to cause "religious" experiences.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that this by no means "proves" that all religious experiences are purely limited to the brain. But it provides a simple, testable explanation for at least some of them, and it does mean that you cannot use a religious experience as conclusive evidence for the existence of the supernatural.



From ouija boards to Christian miracles and visions, from Lourdes to the annual Holy Fire at Orthodox Pascha, we have consistent claims over space and time testifying to certain things which are not just "anything", and which many people claim much more than mere concept.

The list of miracles that have been debunked is gigantic. The list of proven miracles is empty. Those that have not been debunked simply lack conclusive evidence one way or the other.
Again not unlike other absurd non-religious claims that are out there. They either get debunked or lack evidence to support them.

Furthermore, we have enough examples in history that the debunking of a miracle does not stop people from continuing to believe in them. Wishful thinking, part 2.



Again, if the view of the materialist depends on the certain non-existence of the supernatural, then ANY existence of the supernatural actually discovered destroys his theory. Let's not bandy semantics over the use of hint.

There are many extremely large cash prizes out there for anyone who has evidence of the supernatural or paranormal. None have been awarded, so far.



The reason meaning is erased is because YOU are erased.

No...it would take more than just to erase me as an individual. You'd have to erase everything I did in my life which continues to have consequences. Not to mention erase any offspring and family I leave behind.

Would you say the life of Steve Jobs was meaningless now that he's dead? How about that we're still using some of his ideas every day in our life?


As far as you are concerned - the only person that matters, all meaning IS destroyed

For me, I'm not the only person that matters. But, surely, once I'm dead I won't be able to reason or observe anything anymore. I see nothing wrong with that personally. I am not asserting arbitrarily that my life has eternal meaning. And I consider the assertion that our lives must (again arbitrarily decided by whom?) have eternal meaning as unfounded.



This becomes blatantly apparent if we consider the destruction of the human race, of the universe. If there is no one left anywhere to mean anything, and no one to even mean it to, then obviously meaning itself comes to an end - and so ceases to exist, making nonsense of everything, past, present and future. The only way out of that logical trap is the existence of transcendent meaning; that the meaning is generated and "meant", not by or to us, but to a Person outside of us, for it must be a Person in order to speak of meaning at all.

There is no logical trap. You are creating the trap for yourself by asserting that there is eternal meaning. That's by no means established, in fact going on what we know there is nothing that even points in that direction.

I've not existed for 13.7 billion years before I was born and I have to tell you, it didn't bother me in the slightest.

Frankly put, I do not hold the belief that our existence matters at all on the scale of the universe. There is nothing to suggest the universe or anything outside of it cares about our existence. It's not a logical fallacy because your premise is not established outside of, again, wishful thinking.



On faith and delusion, my answer is that we must have faith that it is NOT a delusion; that our reason is valid. The only test you can apply is whether you have faith or not. Some people really DO enter insanity by doubting their own existence or reason. The way out is that leap of faith, that mysticism, at least that reason is valid or that an experience was real.

Somehow we keep coming back to wishful thinking.

It appears to me, correct me if I'm wrong, that we are discussing 2 options here:
1) Our actions during our life on earth will continue to "mean something" in some way or other in an "eternal" afterlife
2) They will not matter eternally but for a finite period of time (hopefully longer than our own life but not indefinitely)

For me, I'm able to accept both of them. If strong evidence would come forth that #1 is true, I'll be a happy camper.
If option #2 is true, well it's nothing to be happy about but I can accept it, and as far as I can rationally examine these options #2 is far more likely.

If you can only accept 1 of these to keep your sanity, well then that says nothing about the probability of the option but everything about what your mind is willing or able to accept.
Disqualification of the undesirable as a valid option is pretty much still wishful thinking.

I wouldn't even call it a leap of faith anymore. It's being pushed off the cliff into faith due to no other acceptable option being available.



I actually have no problem with your comments on perception. The only things that stood out were the typical straw man versions of Christian faith - that the Earth is only 6,000 years old or that everything in the Bible must be taken literally.

I think the reason for choosing an extreme example is obvious.
We both know that there ARE people who believe the Bible literally to that extent. And at the same time they will have no problem believing the example I gave of NASA on Mars.



Of course, to accept miracles, one must either experience one personally or accept the premise of a Creator external to the Universe; only in the former case do I think they could be a starting point of "argument".

I think I've made my view on miracles clear earlier in this post, but I'd like to add to this that to witness something we consider "physically impossible" would not automatically vindicate the "creator external to the universe" theory. It's another straight up non sequitur argument.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (or miracle if you like) and even the Alien hypothesis would not be less plausible than a God theory. Possibly it'd be more likely because we know for a fact intelligent life exists.
So by no means would "God" be the only possible explanation, and most certainly witnessing a miracle prove anything about the nature of God or even that God is singular as I've said before in another topic.

You probably think I'm over-thinking this and being ridiculous but all I'm trying to illustrate is that the first thing your mind does is run towards the Christian God explanation whereas a fully neutral being would conclude there is nothing to support such a specific conclusion even after witnessing a "miracle" which is not a delusion.



The Holy Fire has been showing up like clockwork in Jerusalem at pascha for a thousand years (which would certainly qualify as evidence, of a uniquely predictable miracle at that), and sure, there are naysayers - but the naysayers have themselves been unable to obtain proof... over a thousand years. That's a loooong time to keep a deception up in front of the eyes of the world.

How is one going to obtain proof unless the would be allowed to be present and examine everything?
The effects can be easily recreated in chemistry cl**** it's not something that is impossible to achieve by any means. It was already called a fraud over 800 years ago by a Pope.
The exact thing has even been replicated on live TV in Greece a couple of years ago.
"doesn't prove it's not a miracle!" Sure, but that's shifting the burden of proof again. This is just too easy to reliably fake to assume it as real until it is proven false (especially considering they're not exactly inviting scientists to verify it)


So "ID" that BEGINS from an assumption of the Creator is pseudo-science and SHOULD be excluded.

Well it's well documented that the very people who came up with the term "intelligent design" were just rebranding creationism. To the point that they used "replace all" in MS Word (and messed it up)
Watch the NOVA documentary on the Dover ID trial.


But genuine inquiry that starts with a hypothesis certainly should be included, especially if atheistic evolution is so rock solid that it can withstand and disprove the opposing theory. If it CAN'T, then all the MORE reason to include an ID which does NOT start from the assumption of "Creator".

I actually agree. The problem is that there is no opposing theory. And with "theory" we mean scientific theory. Scientific theory explains facts and are testable. It's not just a mere idea someone has.
Theories need to make testable predictions. Evolution does that, and has stood the test of time and massive mountains of evidence.

And really, how exactly are you going to have an "intelligent design" theory which does not assume a creator? Both "intelligent" and "design" are incompatible with the idea that there was no conscious process.


What is remarkable about morality is that we do NOT find a range of 360 degrees of a moral compass - at the most, 90 degrees.

Talk about arbitrarily making things up, Rus. I said that there is obviously no absolute morality, and that it changes through time.
Then you come back with "ah but isn't it amazing how it only changes 25%!"
Not really a rebuttal of my statement is it.


Even when tolerated, their character of moral violation is apparent and acknowledged (we may rape and pillage enemies, but not our own people, etc)

Exactly. Nail on the head. Our morality is limited. Which makes perfect sense when you remember that we evolved living in fairly small groups. We have group morality. We care about those in our family and group first and foremost. We care about human beings more than about cows, etc.
People who are moral and just can be made into killing machines simply by branding another human being as the enemy.
Torture, mutilation, hardly anything is unthinkable once you think somebody is your enemy.



I think I've got you cold. Hitler's Germany legalized many immoral things. We CANNOT appeal to law to tell us what is moral, for the law may be made immoral tomorrow.

I'm not entirely certain which previous argument you're referring to. If it's the courthouse one, well the courthouse is there to uphold the law. It has no say over whether or not the law is moral, and it cannot choose to ignore laws it might consider immoral.
Some people find abortion morally acceptable, others do not. Again, not absolute. The law must be absolute otherwise it cannot be enforced.

Your example talks about immoral laws being passed. Immoral by whose standards? By the standards that were prevalent 2000 years ago for example nobody would have raised an eyebrow. That's not to say that the Hitler example isn't tragic and deplorable of course, but I don't see a direct support for any argument you were making.



So the definition of murder must NOT include the concept of "lawful". Just, yes. Lawful, no. Above all, it is the unjust taking of human life, especially that which cannot defend itself or which poses no immediate threat to the life of others.

Who is going to define "just" for us, Rus? Organised religion? They might disagree with each other slightly here and there.
You appear to be suggesting some kind of moral law being implemented, which means someone will have to judge other people by their own morality.

Scary thought if there ever was one.


Thus, both babies in the womb and the sick and elderly killed under whatever language turn out to be murdered.

You're talking about babies. What about a zygote, an embryo, a fetus?
Zygotes are already problematic because the majority of them never even make it to implantation. They're naturally "discarded".
You have to draw a line somewhere and, the mere fact that we are arguing over this shows that it is NOT a given to decide what is morally acceptable and what is not in some cases like abortion.



If we could ask any baby if they would prefer to live, what do you think they would say? Too bad they can't answer, eh?

Only you can't ask a couple of cells without a developed nervous system anything. I can't ask my sperm anything either for that matter.

I see where you're coming from, though. But it's not a black and white topic, hence the controversy. Welcome to majority rule. If most of the population of a country is strongly opposed (morally aligned let's say) then the laws will reflect that.
If you're a minority who happens to find certain legal practices morally unacceptable, well that's tough.



The issue of personhood is a big one; suffice to say that any point - except conception - is arbitrary - and a completely unscientific matter of opinion - UNLESS we acknowledge conception as the point. But, uh, people don't WANT to.

No, YOU want to use conception as the starting point because it suits your belief. The scientific method would be to examine at which point a future human actually becomes human to the point that it can think and feel pain. That's most certainly not at conception. At a week or 2 of age it's really more like a baby fish than a human.



You lose some of my respect here:

Maybe you had been drinking or something? (Everything else you write is so much better than that, implying that I "know" God is insecure, etc) Heck, I have a beer or two before bed a lot...

You'll excuse me a little dig at your position after writing so much ;)

I think insecurity is actually a reasonable conclusion if you're looking at the commandments. I mean, right on top of everything, way before murdering or stealing is "you shall have no other Gods before me"

Clearly, this God cares more about being the only one worshiped than he cares about what exactly his little creatures are doing to each other.

Insecurity is a human concept, and generally humans who like a lot of attention on themselves are in fact, insecure.

It's not a point I want to dwell on, like I said, it was a tease more than anything.



On religion, common sense and secular society - To me it is obvious that if a point is both supported by a religion AND accepted in the secular world as common sense, then it is NOT "religious".

Look, this is getting silly. The word "God" is mentioned several times in the 10 commandments. It's religious no matter how you look at it.
Not to mention, it's specifically Christian. Even if we could get past the religious part it's a clear discrimination against other religions and against the constitution.


You yourself champion the idea that we don't agree on morality; on what basis, then, national morality? Where do you get moral authority for your laws? Popular opinion of a given moment? Democratic vote, with laws and morality changing every year as moods change?

That's how it always has been. Slavery was fine until it was...not fine.
Burning witches was fine until it was....no longer.
I should point out people were religious then, and many still are now. Hasn't stopped morality from making giant leaps forward whilst religion remained static.



The 10 Commandments, without launching into sermons, provides a general Judeo-Christian basis for morality. "God says" beats the heck every time out of "the government says"

Not to me, it doesn't. Not to many others either.
The government is the only authority that can directly influence our life and hold us accountable for our actions.
Any threat of hell or divine punishment to an unbeliever is like being threatened by a toddler holding a plastic fork.


Let the opposition in, and you will find it a far greater tyrant than a God who only troubles to post ten rules and then lets you go and do whatever else you like.

Except freedom to worship whatever you like...lol
Really Rus I'm a bit surprised to see an intelligent man such as yourself make such a poor argument.
It's the same as "free will". You're free to choose but be warned that door A gives you salvation and you'll be stoned for choosing door B.


There are so many vital differences between Christ and Santa and the Easter Bunny that it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps with the fact that there ARE no martyrs for Santa; no one has ever died with a defiant cry of "The Easter Bunny lives!"

That's it? The only difference then is that people believe less strongly in Santa and the Easter bunny than in God. Might have something to do with the fact that they generally get told they aren't real whilst they are still kids.
And even if nobody tells them, they'll generally clue into it when the presents and chocolate eggs stop to materialize. Nothing needs to materialize for a person to keep believing in God.
Razor thin difference as far as I can see here.



I believe what I believe because I came to see through a mass of personal experience that it must be true.

I don't doubt your reasons, Rus.
Only thing is that from my point of view I can find 10 more guys exactly like you with the same argument worshiping vastly different Gods.

From my point of view, you are slightly out of touch with reality. Most of your arguments are not logically sound and betray wishful thinking and an active agency detection. That's just my opinion.

I have no wish at all to change your beliefs, I am only debating you because I am convinced that there is no risk of changing your mind.
If I thought there was, I'd leave you well alone.


That mass of experience IS rational

Not all of it, as I have pretty well established already in my opinion.



I do NOT "believe every sentence and word" in the literal sense you seem to ascribe to all of us without distinction. I get that you are against fundamentalism. So am I. But I also get that you don't know much about Orthodoxy.

I really do feel that I made sufficient effort in my previous post to point out that I do not consider every religious person, and certainly not you, to be fundamentalist to such an extent.
Debate tends to feature extreme examples. I used extreme examples of irrationality to make my point.

JanC
11-09-2012, 00:10
Heh, I actually managed to exceed the max char count (the quoting does inflate it but I feel it's more easy to see which point I'm replying to)
-------------------------------------------------------------------




On your experience with that Chestertonian - I apologize for him.

No need, I think he missed GKC's points pretty much himself.


So care in trying to approach and disagree respectfully is required, and the best thing is asking people what they actually believe, instead of assuming it's the same as the fundamentalism you've obviously been exposed to and that I was raised in.


I tend to give direct answers to direct questions, I don't go in throwing insults around. That doesn't accomplish anything. That said, I'm not particularly bothered when someone does offend or insult me.
If I find something offensive, I'll ignore it. I won't organize a crusade to ban it or anything.

Great talking to you Rus, peace.

robertmf
11-09-2012, 01:14
You guys have too much time on your hands. No observe == not exist.



:drink:

rusmeister
11-09-2012, 06:11
You guys have too much time on your hands. No observe == not exist.



:drink:
Glad I can finally rid myself of all those fairy tales about cosmic radiation and black holes and stuff...
:)

rusmeister
11-09-2012, 06:34
Hi, Jan
I susect you know that I could respond, point for point (or is it "blow for blow"?). I really can. (And later, maybe I will...)
There is a danger in making reason our master rather than our servant. The whole human is not only a walking calculating machine. Logic IS important, but it has to integrate with experience, including our feelings. If we try to exclude all of our experience, so that we are left only with logic, then we have found a path to madness.

But I think a smashingly good use of your time would be to read a few chapters from GK Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" (and if you find it interesting, to read the whole darn thing...)
http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/orthodoxy/ (for online reading)

http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/heret12.txt (for downloading/copying) it's legal, public domain

The book is not an argument, really. It's an account of how he came to see, well, what I see. I think a discussion of ideas from THAT would really be fun. I arrange monthly get-togethers in my town to read GKC, drink beer and discuss, and wish I could do it in English...

A teaser:


And if great reasoners are often maniacal, it is equally true that maniacs are commonly great reasoners. When I was engaged in a controversy with the Clarion on the matter of free will, that able writer Mr. R. B. Suthers said that free will was lunacy, because it meant causeless actions, and the actions of a lunatic would be causeless. I do not dwell here upon the disastrous lapse in determinist logic. Obviously if any actions, even a lunatic's, can be causeless, determinism is done for. If the chain of causation can be broken for a madman, it can be broken for a man. But my purpose is to point out something more practical. It was natural, perhaps, that a modern Marxian Socialist should not know anything about free will. But it was certainly remarkable that a modern Marxian Socialist should not know anything about lunatics. Mr. Suthers evidently did not know anything about lunatics. The last thing that can be said of a lunatic is that his actions are causeless. If any human acts may loosely be called causeless, they are the minor acts of a healthy man; whistling as he walks; slashing the grass with a stick; kicking his heels or rubbing his hands. It is the happy man who does the useless things; the sick man is not strong enough to be idle. It is exactly such careless and causeless actions that the madman could never understand; for the madman (like the determinist) generally sees too much cause in everything. The madman would read a conspiratorial significance into those empty activities. He would think that the lopping of the grass was an attack on private property. He would think that the kicking of the heels was a signal to an accomplice. If the madman could for an instant become careless, he would become sane. Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

(PS: That's NOT a personal dig!)

JanC
11-09-2012, 12:02
Logic IS important, but it has to integrate with experience, including our feelings. If we try to exclude all of our experience, so that we are left only with logic, then we have found a path to madness.

Morning Rus!

There is something equally important here as the logical process itself and our experiences. It's the matter of verifiable premise.
If your premise is that experience equals reality (and reliably so) you need to support that, not just assert it.

Your assertion is troubled by the fact that "experiences" are wide ranging, and quite often contradicting "experiences" of others, especially when those others happen to be of a different religion.

Basically, not all experience is right, certainly not religious experience because let's face it, at the very least most religions have to be wrong for even 1 to have a chance at being right. And ALL religions have their experiences/emotions and "personal evidence" that "prove" something to the holders of the belief.

You're just not making a supportive argument for your particular brand and conviction. And you certainly aren't supporting your assertion that, unlike most believers, you have actually arrived at yours rationally and reasonably.

It's an amazing coincidence that people who claim that their religion is the result of reason still hold pretty much the same religious ideas as they were brought up with. I found the exact same thing with a Muslim I was debating on the Big Bang a few weeks ago. He even went so far to claim that science was offering him proof that his holy book was divinely inspired.
And yet, again, it was just a coincidence that he didn't stray from the religion he inherited from his parents. Same with you, same with nearly every apologist for every religion out there. It has to strike you as an amazing coincidence should it not?

I am confident that I can show specific examples where your conclusions are not rational unless you're going to redefine rational as well. Bringing emotion and "experience" into the debate is useful for muddying the waters but it cannot be used to justify logical fallacies. Our world is built on facts and principles that we can verify. Because you need more than that to convince yourself that your beliefs are reasonable, you can bring in personal experience which is what you are doing.
The problem is that I can come up with a million examples where experience, gut feeling, you name it, are in fact wrong. Erroneous. To any reasonable person that should disqualify the argument of experience as inherently rational.


My personal impression of your theological reasoning is that your reason is a tool to arrive at a specific conclusion that you feel comfortable with. More specifically, you appear to be reverse engineering the process in order to get the only result that you can accept as correct. This is also the impression I get from some of GKC's writings. He thought long and hard and came up with a brilliant argument, but it has a purpose from the outset and is not the result of unbiased reason where all options are on the table. Arguments are selected and discarded based on whether they lead to the desired conclusion, rather than on their rational merit.

I'll look at the links, but I have to tell you, previous experience attempts to read a significant amount of it gave me a headache.


Glad I can finally rid myself of all those fairy tales about cosmic radiation and black holes and stuff...
:)

Actually those 2 examples we can observe. One directly, the other indirectly (much like we indirectly observe wind)

mds45
11-09-2012, 13:20
I get the same feeling reading this as I do watching Sherlock battle Moriarty ..

rusmeister
12-09-2012, 05:47
I get the same feeling reading this as I do watching Sherlock battle Moriarty ..

At least in that kind of conflict you have to admit that both sides deserve respect and are not mere scarecrows with borrowed abilities - or opinions. You can't say that Moriarty is just stupid, or that Darth Vader or General Woundwort are weak wimps who can't fight, and fight well... :)

mds45
12-09-2012, 11:28
At least in that kind of conflict you have to admit that both sides deserve respect and are not mere scarecrows with borrowed abilities - or opinions. You can't say that Moriarty is just stupid, or that Darth Vader or General Woundwort are weak wimps who can't fight, and fight well... :)

For me that's the beauty of Sir Arthurs story he created two characters perfectly equally matched at opposite ends of a spectrum - same as you and JanC.

rusmeister
12-09-2012, 18:25
I started writing a response to Jan in my mobile browser and.. The dumb page reloaded on me, erasing everything. I've started another one on my notepad. At a certain point, a blow-by-blow response becomes useless, point for point. Any response after that has to try to touch on what is really important, not just "prove points".

In GKC's "The Ball and the Cross", a Christian and atheist carry out a philosophical duel while trying to conduct a physical one with swords. You'd think GKC would make the Christian the hero, and he does... Only the atheist turns out to be the hero, too, and the real enemies are all the people trying to stop them from conducting their duels, especially the ones that urge that the truth does not matter.