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Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile

#26: April - June 2006 & Nov. - Dec. 2010 (Non-Fiction)
mal4mac

Re: a sane society

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Quote:Tobiahsgirl, I am not taking about a legal definition, I am taking about the DSM-IV-TR. A failrly complete version is available online.Bu the DSM-IV-TR has big problem. For instance, it suggests that someone has depression if a certain number of things apply to that person. But Andrew Solomon, in the Noonday Demon, suggested that if fewer things apply, but are very strongly present (enough to make the person suicidal, say) then surely they are depressed! Also is someone with clinical depression insane? Someone with mild depression? Insanity is incredibly difficult to define - the OED didn't help me much! The definition I liked most was from [Google define:] : "An obsolete term used colloquially to describe a person with a psychotic disorder. Now a legal term applied by the courts to a person who, because of mental disease or developmental disability, is unable to appreciate the wrongfulness or criminality of his or her conduct at the time of an offense, or in some jurisdictions, is unable to control his or her actions."I like the idea of it being an "obsolete term", now we can stop using it and use terms that mean something (unless the people with you know you are using the exact legal definition).By the legal definition, Bin Laden is not insane because he has never been in a court of law. OK, that's a bit glib. I reckon he would be able to appreciate that he was being criminal according to US or UK law, but would declare he was not wrong in what he did. Assuming an exclusive-or in the above definition (as I think we should) then he would not be declared insane. But what about the clever Paranoid serial killer? He thinks killing is an interesting sport, but knows the government thinks it is a criminal act. Therefore he is not insane. (You can see why the term's obsolete - I suggest you need to use the exact descriptors - depressed, paranoid... or be lost in confusion...).
MadArchitect

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Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile

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riverc0il: i could understand being sceptical of what set off the big bang or put everything into motion, but science and the scientific method can only disprove religious belief (the few that can be tested) and untestable phenomena do not stand up to the standards of science. it is perplexing.I wonder if we're not inferring to strong a connection between the people and their occupations. I don't often carry my work home with me, and I think the same is probably true of scientists. The methodology of science has a specific range of applications, and I think that the well-oriented of those scientists who do have religious beliefs probably draw a fairly conscientious line between where scientific method is appropriate and where it is not. Tobiahsgirl: Sam Harris, in the bit of his book I read, before disgust took over, couldn't seem to conceive of "God" in anything but the most literalistic terms, and I assume he brought this outlook to his reading of Gould, for example.Whether or not Harris is capable of conceiving of God in the same terms in which Gould believes in the same may be beside the point. It's a fairly common rhetorical device among atheists attempting to discredit religious belief -- reducing it to its most ridiculous terms, that is. The easiest way to discredit the idea of God, in some people's eyes, is to pretend that all conceptions of God are essentially analagous to Superman or the Great and Powerful Oz.
Tobiahsgirl

Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile

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Quote:The easiest way to discredit the idea of God, in some people's eyes, is to pretend that all conceptions of God are essentially analagous to Superman or the Great and Powerful Oz.Thank you, MadArchitect. But, of course, this is the god that most people "believe" in, some sort of tribal deity who, if they bow down to him, will send them expensive cars and luxury cruises. Or whisk them to heaven and let them watch all the rest of us sinners fry in the flames. It always amuses me when people talk about how human beings are "evolving." Where is this happening? Am I allowed to move there?
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Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile

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Tobiahsgirl: But, of course, this is the god that most people "believe" in, some sort of tribal deity who, if they bow down to him, will send them expensive cars and luxury cruises. Or whisk them to heaven and let them watch all the rest of us sinners fry in the flames.I don't know that this is true. These are a very vocal contingent among religious believers, but it doesn't necessarily fit my personal experience to say that they're the majority, and I don't know that there are any surveys or studies that draw reliable lines between different perceptions of God. I've known and talked to people in urban, suburban and rural regions, and I wouldn't say that there's any particular monopoly on religion by those who believe in a simple, black and white, hell and highwater kind of God. What I have noticed is that those who don't believe that God has placed a moral premium on converting heathens on the assembly line model tend to be more conservative in their religious expression. That doesn't mean that there's fewer of them. And honestly, it's to be expected -- when you believe that your religious conceptions are an intimate personal matter, it only stands to reason that you'll feel less inclined to make it the major topic of conversation. If nothing else, I think a lot of people are hesitant to talk about their belief in God because they're worried about misrepresenting it.
Tobiahsgirl

Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile

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MadArchitect, I think you are absolutely right in suggesting that many people are reluctant to discuss their ideas of God. But in my (and my husband's) experience of "ordinary" (as distinguished from a liberal minority) Christians, ranging from mainstream Methodists to True Believers in The Rapture, I would definitely describe their deity as a tribal god. In the mainstream cases, they view God as a personal deity who has blessed their comfortable lifestyle (Calvinism is not dead), and they abhor any notion of religion as something to challenge them. As one goes deeper into evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, God becomes less mild-mannered and suburban. There is a huge percentage of Americans who worship this vengeful, ugly deity (who worship evil, in the words of Bruce Bawer), and who are fighting the teaching of evolution, banning books in libraries, standing by the roadside with pictures of bloody fetuses, and joyfully awaiting the world blowing up. My husband is a nursing student and working CNA and you would be horrified how many nurses, nursing students and THEIR teachers believe this grotesque stuff.
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Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile

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Quote:It's a fairly common rhetorical device among atheists attempting to discredit religious belief -- reducing it to its most ridiculous terms, that is. The easiest way to discredit the idea of God, in some people's eyes, is to pretend that all conceptions of God are essentially analagous to Superman or the Great and Powerful Oz.It is not hard to get to those ridiculous terms IMO. But this is how the majority of people look at god, judging from the three most prevalent faiths. How SHOULD we look at god then? Would these faiths be lacking if we re-defined god according to some other terms? I do not take the fringe faiths into account when I ridicule religion based on an imaginary being...just those that are making an impact on our daily lives. A negative impact IMO.I am not sure who you know or have met, but MY experience tells me that a majority of people do look at god as a superman. But I thought personal experience did'nt count. You confuse me sometimes Mad!Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.Once you perceive the irrevocable truth, you can no longer justify the irrational denial. - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy PiperEdited by: misterpessimistic  at: 5/2/06 3:19 pm
MadArchitect

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discussing god

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Tobiahsgirl: But in my (and my husband's) experience of "ordinary" (as distinguished from a liberal minority) Christians, ranging from mainstream Methodists to True Believers in The Rapture, I would definitely describe their deity as a tribal god.Then this may all boil down to a difference in experience. Granted, I've seen a lot of images and quotes from hell and brimstone evangelicals, but they are, as I've said, more vocal than moderate Christians. Most of the Christians I've actually met, however, tend to be more moderate, regardless of how they'd describe themselves. And it may be that your experience is more comprehensive than mine. Then again, it may be that your experience is more specialized as well.There is a huge percentage of Americans who worship this vengeful, ugly deity (who worship evil, in the words of Bruce Bawer), and who are fighting the teaching of evolution, banning books in libraries, standing by the roadside with pictures of bloody fetuses, and joyfully awaiting the world blowing up.Again, this contradicts both my experience and my study. Anti-evolutionary activists, to take up one of the examples you've named, tend to be rather isolated people who go through a great deal of effort to stir up entire communities. In the case of Kanawha county West Virginia, for example, much of the protest, and later violence, was attributable mostly to a cultural and political divide that was agitated primarily by one disgruntled board of education member. Close scrutiny of the situation (and I'm drawing on the National Education Association's case study for my information here) really only points us to one or two people who can be described as proactive religious conservatives in this case, though their influence on the community makes it seem as though Kanawha must have been seething with Christian fundamentalist zealots.misterpessimistic: But this is how the majority of people look at god, judging from the three most prevalent faiths. How SHOULD we look at god then?I don't presume to tell you how you should look at the concept of God. I just don't like the turn that conversations take when certain people make assumptions about other people's conception of God without taking the time to learn the personal circumstances of their belief. And as I've said before, I think it's potentially fallicious to presume to know how the majority of people, even within such well known belief systems as Christianity, Judaism and Islam, perceive their respective deities.But I thought personal experience did'nt count. You confuse me sometimes Mad!I confuse a lot of people. Must be my haircut.I never said that personal experience didn't count. It just can't be taken as the sole criteria for determing the truth of the matter. At the same time, I'm critical of the easy acceptance of the way in which any belief system, religious or otherwise, is presented in the media, even when the believers themselves are making that presentation. Someone else make a comment that I think is relavant here: do you think most of the "send money" tele-evangalists are firm believers? How much of their fervor is an image produced in order to make a certain gain? So why should we take their presentation of their religion at face value? In that regard, personal experience is likely a more valid guide than media representation.
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Re: discussing god

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Now that I'm ready to post I am a bit overwhelmed with the size of some of these threads. I wonder if newcomers to BookTalk ever run into this problem. There are 86 posts in this thread alone, so maybe I'll first post some of my thoughts and then go back and read everyone elses comments over the next few days. I'd like to read each and every post, but it would take an hour tonight.
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Re: discussing god

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On p 39, Harris raises a legitimate concern about presidents being elected in the USA without having to, "know anything in particular before setting to work." I have often heard people complain that adults should have to apply for a license before having children. However, I have never, until Harris, heard the same sort of sentiment leveled at presidential candidates. In fact, most often I have heard people favorably talk about the fact that anyone can become president.
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Re: discussing god

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Quote:In fact, most often I have heard people favorably talk about the fact that anyone can become president.Any one with money and the backing of one of the two major parties, at least The legal requirements and reality are not exactly on the same page in this day and age.Quote:Now that I'm ready to post I am a bit overwhelmed with the size of some of these threads. I wonder if newcomers to BookTalk ever run into this problem.I wouldn't be surprised if thread length intimidates some new comers. What baffled me at first when I decided to join was post length, especially back and forth quoting and response. It is hard to maintain continuaty of discussion sometimes and that is challenging. You really need to read through all five pages to fully appreciate the discussion in many cases and this is unlike the current dimension of instant gratification, shortened l33t speak, and the general ideology of cramming as much information into a single page above the fold of the net. I appreciate the need to slow down and read everything here at BookTalk and attempt a well thought out post in response to someone else's views, opinions, thoughts, and arguements.Any ways... post away and read the threads when you get a chance. This is the only excessively long thread in the End of Faith forum currently, so fear not!
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