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BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Robert Wright | PBS (video) 
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Post BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Robert Wright | PBS (video)



Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:29 pm
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Post Re: BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Robert Wright | PBS (video)
Very cool. I really like this author. I am looking forward to reading this book.



Sat Aug 28, 2010 12:22 pm
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Post Re: BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Robert Wright | PBS (video)
I like Wright. He's not overly sure of himself, tentative, which is an attractive quality when the subject is religion. He's a materialist, but a soft-core one, and I suppose I put myself in the same category.

I was struck in particular by his statement that although he's been out of religion for many years, he still feels continually that he's being judged by something. He speculates that the feeling results from his youth as a Southern Baptist in El Paso. Even though my upbringing in religion was less fervent than his, I have the same sense of being judged, and I wonder whether this is a legacy of the time I spent in a New England Congregational church. Would we say this is a good or bad thing, having formed this kind of strong conscience? Wright tells us that having a personal god might be a good way for us to tap into the moral axis of the universe, regardless of the fact that the god itself is an illusion.



Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:28 pm
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Post Re: BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Robert Wright | PBS (video)
DWill wrote:
. . . Even though my upbringing in religion was less fervent than his, I have the same sense of being judged, and I wonder whether this is a legacy of the time I spent in a New England Congregational church. Would we say this is a good or bad thing, having formed this kind of strong conscience? Wright tells us that having a personal god might be a good way for us to tap into the moral axis of the universe, regardless of the fact that the god itself is an illusion.

What an interesting idea.


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Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:50 pm
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Post Re: BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Robert Wright | PBS (video)
DWill wrote:
Wright tells us that having a personal god might be a good way for us to tap into the moral axis of the universe, regardless of the fact that the god itself is an illusion.


This is very problematic in terms of logical consistency and ethical justification. It is like Wright is saying that emotional and instinctive attractiveness of an idea is sufficient grounds for adherence to it. At 14 minutes into the interview his actual words are "believing in a personal God is a pretty defensible way to go about orienting yourself to the moral axis of the universe, which wouldn't mean that a personal god exists."

He argues here, apparently from evolutionary utility, that it is defensible to believe in something for which you have no evidence. It is dangerous to say acceptance of illusion is okay. It is like saying it doesn't matter if the foundations of a building are not solid. It will stand for a while, but eventually it will fall down. Then people will wish they had invested more in the first place to ensure their foundations were durable.

While I like his idea that there is a progressive moral axis, I would rather ascribe it to the planet than to the universe. It seems quite arrogant to assert that a pragmatic faith that suits human brains extends in any way beyond our planetary ecology, unless he is using universe to mean world, in the ancient sense of cosmos.

The whole 'personal god' trip is totally illogical. It is the supreme form of wish-fulfillment, desiring makes it so. It is a pre-modern form of thought, committing the logical fallacy of argument from authority, that so many people have believed therefore we should believe. The problem is that personal God faith cocoons us in a selfish fantasy about personal immortality, the idea that if I have faith I will go to heaven. It was understandable that people believed in heaven before the rise of modern science, but the forms of this belief that are incompatible with science are obsolete.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:26 am, edited 2 times in total.



Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:23 am
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Post Re: BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Robert Wright | PBS (video)
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
Wright tells us that having a personal god might be a good way for us to tap into the moral axis of the universe, regardless of the fact that the god itself is an illusion.


This is very problematic in terms of logical consistency and ethical justification. It is like Wright is saying that emotional and instinctive attractiveness of an idea is sufficient grounds for adherence to it. At 14 minutes into the interview his actual words are "believing in a personal God is a pretty defensible way to go about orienting yourself to the moral axis of the universe, which wouldn't mean that a personal god exists."

He argues here, apparently from evolutionary utility, that it is defensible to believe in something for which you have no evidence. It is dangerous to say acceptance of illusion is okay. It is like saying it doesn't matter if the foundations of a building are not solid. It will stand for a while, but eventually it will fall down. Then people will wish they had invested more in the first place to ensure their foundations were durable.

Yes, the illusory part is that the god is a personal one. There other notions of god that are more abstract, and there are ideologies that aren't called god at all but function in a similar way to direct action through belief. Are these other gods illusory and not based on evidence? I might say they are as well, but I don't think it matters, since like Wright I'm a functionalist with regard to religion (see end of Chapter 2). He uses the word "defensible," which isn't the right one, I think. Of course you really can't defend with anything like logic a metaphysical belief. I might instead say "natural" or "functional."
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The whole 'personal god' trip is totally illogical. It is the supreme form of wish-fulfillment, desiring makes it so. It is a pre-modern form of thought, committing the logical fallacy of argument from authority, that so many people have believed therefore we should believe. The problem is that personal God faith cocoons us in a selfish fantasy about personal immortality, the idea that if I have faith I will go to heaven. It was understandable that people believed in heaven before the rise of modern science, but the forms of this belief that are incompatible with science are obsolete.
,
I agree that it's all illogical. It doesn't seem to owe that much to the argument from authority, though, because as you say people want to believe in their immortality. I can't see as much harm in it, relative to other ways of conceiving the infinite, as you see. It seems that there would be more important targets to make war against.



Last edited by DWill on Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:30 am
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