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Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison) 
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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
You know, Robert, bob, Harry, there are MANY more facets to his discussion besides the existence of one or many deities, right? I am hoping we can discuss some of the other aspects of his discussion. Loch Ness? Ancient Aliens? Global Warming?


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
froglipz, what a strange remark by you. I thought you were the person that made the following quote, "1.2 billion Hindu and 1.5 billion Muslim and 2 billion Christians can't all be right, there can't be one god and many gods at the same time, and not one of these has proven their case with evidence that is incontrovertible. Never mind the hundreds of other religions and variations of religions out there.

I am taking a good hard look at my own beliefs for biases and lazy thinking, I am sure I will find areas for improvement"

Odd that you bring up the discussion about God, and when it happens, you run for cover of sea monsters, aliens and global warming?? Sounds like very serious topics in comparison to find a GOD! You are funny.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
The first confronting statement in this chapter that made me wonder was "you like me have at least one foot in fantasyland all the time." I think this is quite a sloppy thing to say.

His justification for this claim is that the “subconscious mind influences and dictates thoughts and actions.” That I can agree with. The subconscious is closely aligned to instinctive reaction, and it is true that many of our reactions are governed by instinct since we don’t have time and energy to consciously process all the data we encounter. But fantasy and subconscious instinct are different. My ability to walk through a crowd without bumping into people involves instinct but not fantasy. It is not necessary that people believe in fantasy, as Harrison’s “one foot all the time” line seems to imply. So it is worth trying to deconstruct the meaning of fantasy as a psychological phenomenon.

Visualising future possibilities does not constitute living in a fantasy world. Nor does using imagination. Nor does basing political opinions upon personal values, unless these values involve some level of deception and error. Even real fantasy, such as movies and novels and buying lottery tickets, involves a suspension of disbelief. Actually believing fantasies is a form of mental illness, or a result of cultural delusion. Fantasy is a dangerous pathology when people take it seriously.

It is true that our world, in the sense of our framework of reference and meaning, is a social construct rather than something simply given as evidence to the senses. However, construction of our world view does not have to have one foot in fantasy all the time, as Harrison implies. It is actually possible to do better than that, and have a sane and rational perspective on reality, grounded in objective knowledge and good thinking. Beliefs about the world can be grounded in knowledge about the planet.

I think it is worth picking Harrison up on pedantic points of detail like this comment about fantasy, given his agenda of promoting good thinking. The risk here is that it is too easy to jump from a vague term like fantasy to a conclusion based on a specific meaning, where the conclusion does not follow from the evidence.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Tulip, "His justification for this claim is that the “subconscious mind influences and dictates thoughts and actions.” That I can agree with. The subconscious is closely aligned to instinctive reaction, and it is true that many of our reactions are governed by instinct since we don’t have time and energy to consciously process all the data we encounter."

I would take a much different slant on the subconscious. The mind has been proven to be so much more complex than the finest computer. Even with the limitations that we often only use a small proportion of its power. I believe that its workings are defined by a very defining equation for men - PRIDE. Our pride protects us from considering inevitable truth because of the consequences that it would entail. Does an atheist stay and atheist because of the evidence or because it would upset the "apple cart" of his world? Like the thief on the cross, who out of desperation and no alternative, gave Jesus the due respect and admiration that ultimately let him to acknowledge the Savior of the world. If his conditions were better he would have "ran" right past Him without a second thought.

Robert, it seems that you allude to FANTASY as possibly being a quest of HOPE, but in the danger of really being a DANGEROUS DELLUSION. That you are so ground in the facts of observed knowledge that you find it difficult, like almost all men, to see or understand matters beyond your ability of personal observance.

I believe you hit the nail on the head, even if, you did not fully verbalize or construct the thought yourself.

You are so grated to keeping your feet on the ground that you can't see the validity of a realm beyond our earth. May you take the challenge to take a quest to find such concepts a true reality. Good thoughts



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
brother bob wrote:
Harry, to put it kindly, Men are almost always wrong about God!

Including me and thee, brother.

brother bob wrote:
Your statement denies the concept of absolute truth! You would have to conclude that there is no such concept as absolute truth in our world.

Well, I think it makes sense to deny that we ** have ** the absolute truth about God.

I think there is absolute truth in the natural world, though I doubt that we have it yet, given that we don't know the full implications of quantum mechanics. That is, I think there is a **true** truth and that the closer we get to it the more all of our investigations will have the power to find further confirmation in further investigation.

With God, things are not like that. Whether because there is no **true** truth, or because its nature is inherently elusive, we do not find this property of further investigation confirming principles we have already found evidence for.

It seems to me it would be a good idea to acknowledge that many of our ideas about God reflect social processes, in which "confirmation" means satisfying large numbers of people that an idea about God makes sense. As modernity has shattered the social basis for some of our fundamental concepts about God, it has gotten harder to find a widespread consensus. The fundamentalist response is to insist all the louder that the traditional concepts are correct. My response is different.

Yours seems to be different still from either one (though with a strong Mormon flavor, if you don't mind my saying so).



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Robert Tulip wrote:
His justification for this claim is that the “subconscious mind influences and dictates thoughts and actions.” That I can agree with. The subconscious is closely aligned to instinctive reaction, and it is true that many of our reactions are governed by instinct since we don’t have time and energy to consciously process all the data we encounter. But fantasy and subconscious instinct are different.

Good observation. Harrison makes a fundamental error when he identifies the two as the same phenomenon. The "tiger in the forest" theme identified one link, but it is a serious mistake to think of ideas of the supernatural mainly as "flawed perception" (or, as I like to put it, "bad science") when in fact they have evolved far beyond that to "stories about the meaning of things, including life choices."

Robert Tulip wrote:
Visualising future possibilities does not constitute living in a fantasy world. Nor does using imagination. Nor does basing political opinions upon personal values, unless these values involve some level of deception and error. Even real fantasy, such as movies and novels and buying lottery tickets, involves a suspension of disbelief. Actually believing fantasies is a form of mental illness, or a result of cultural delusion. Fantasy is a dangerous pathology when people take it seriously.

Competing principles are at work. Fantasy taken seriously may be like a dangerous medicine (I am told they are all dangerous, except vitamins) so, taken in proper doses, it functions to create social cohesion and a common culture, but if imbibed to excess, can create terrible side effects.
Robert Tulip wrote:
It is true that our world, in the sense of our framework of reference and meaning, is a social construct rather than something simply given as evidence to the senses. However, construction of our world view does not have to have one foot in fantasy all the time, as Harrison implies. It is actually possible to do better than that, and have a sane and rational perspective on reality, grounded in objective knowledge and good thinking.

It remains to be shown, I think, whether this is true for "most people".
Robert Tulip wrote:
Beliefs about the world can be grounded in knowledge about the planet.

Explaining that structure is the proper work of the intelligentsia. So far, not so well done.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Harry wrote:
it is a serious mistake to think of ideas of the supernatural mainly as "flawed perception" (or, as I like to put it, "bad science") when in fact they have evolved far beyond that to "stories about the meaning of things, including life choices."


I don't think the supernatural evolved into such stories(meaning, it became them). Rather, it's included as a piece of background or as a storytelling device. A small distinction, but one that makes you wonder if the same stories, including the same meanings, could be told without the supernatural elements. Can you think of a story or piece of wisdom that it's impossible to do this with? To naturalize?

I still don't have the book unfortunately, but I think the supernatural is mainly flawed perception. A dash of poor reasoning as well.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Harry Marks, "It seems to me it would be a good idea to acknowledge that many of our ideas about God reflect social processes, in which "confirmation" means satisfying large numbers of people that an idea about God makes sense. As modernity has shattered the social basis for some of our fundamental concepts about God, it has gotten harder to find a widespread consensus. The fundamentalist response is to insist all the louder that the traditional concepts are correct. My response is different.

Yours seems to be different still from either one (though with a strong Mormon flavor, if you don't mind my saying so)."

You take the approach that a philosophy reflects the attitudes of society. In some way you could be right. Mankind has a great tendency to practice what is appeasing to one's mind. However, you contradict your statement that society has drastically opposed matters of God due to modernity shattering concepts of God. I would agree that over time man is less likely to hold to the principals of God because of, as we are currently seeing, a drop in the morality of society. This has been done for hundreds of centuries. Mankind likes to push the envelope of thinking they are practicing the ways of God, but are slowly progressing away from Him.

Fundamentalism has become a catch all phrase to those who practice according to the wayward spiritual systems? How do you define fundamentalism? To give you an out, I would define fundamentalism as a group applying the very basic principals that God has laid out to man with an unwavering attention to detail.

Quote "Harry, to put it kindly, Men are almost always wrong about God!"

Absolutely, this phrase is personally applied to me on numerous occasions to show that I have been wrong!! Only by God's patience and persistant teaching that I am brought into a better understanding of truth.

To say that I am a Mormon is quite wrong! I have identified them as a cult. You could say that I am a spiritual rebel, like a mixture of Paul and John the Baptist, so I call myself PAHN. I believe that the AMerican culture of spiritual people are wayward AND people seeking truths about God are being unfair in many of their viewpoints and assessments about God. Good thoughts though, Brother Bob



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Harry wrote:
it is a serious mistake to think of ideas of the supernatural mainly as "flawed perception" (or, as I like to put it, "bad science") when in fact they have evolved far beyond that to "stories about the meaning of things, including life choices."


Interbane wrote:
I don't think the supernatural evolved into such stories(meaning, it became them). Rather, it's included as a piece of background or as a storytelling device. A small distinction, but one that makes you wonder if the same stories, including the same meanings, could be told without the supernatural elements.


There is virtually nothing in the story of Samson which could not have really occured, with his immense strength being psychosomatically controlled by his belief that it was the result of a vow not to cut his hair. Apparently it gives content to work on for the climax of the story, in which he knows that Delilah is trying to betray him but gives in anyway ("I knew the bed was on fire when I lay down on it"). What we are really meant to think about is why Samson would do such a thing. Indeed, why do men hand over so much power to women they know are bad for them, and vice versa? (Is it the holy, or the broken, "Alleluia"? to borrow Leonard Cohen's rendition).

Many other important Bible stories share the same quality - the feeding of the five thousand, for example, or even Joseph's redemption in the court of Pharaoh. To that extent I agree with you that the supernatural is often just a device, or even just a background element.

But Jesus' parables often get right to the heart of the sociology of his society, as do many stories about him such as Zacchaeus, the healing on the Sabbath, the woman taken in adultery, the overturning of the moneychangers' tables and his own crucifixion and resurrection. To subtract out the discussion of the divine would be to subtract out the element of ultimate meaning, because that is how it was discussed in those days.

Interbane wrote:
Can you think of a story or piece of wisdom that it's impossible to do this with? To naturalize?


Tillich and Bultmann did not simply snip out the supernatural, Jefferson style. Rather they worked in terms of what Tillich called "broken" myths - that is, myths whose mythical status is acknowledged. Rather than try to "figure out" how the thing "might really have happened" one simply acknowledges that it might not have happened in precisely the way that is represented, but takes the transcendent significance to be as expressed.

An obvious example is the appearance to Paul on the Damascus Road. It may be that not a single thing occurred as the story is told in the book of Acts, but we know that Paul believed Jesus appeared to him, and that important truth was communicated that way, so it might as well have happened like the Damascus Road story said. Something changed Paul from a fire-breathing persecutor of the church into its foremost advocate and evangelist. Why does it matter exactly how it happened?

Remember that "mythos" is a category about subconscious significance - archetypal connections between powerful psychological forces and the stories which come to symbolize them.

Consider the following true story. Nobel Laureate Christopher Sims, when he was at the University of Minnesota and the editor of Econometrica, the most prestigious journal in economics, said, "that is the first time I have seen econometric results which were not Keynesian." (The results turned out to be an artifact of erroneous estimation procedure, by the way, as did the famous "neutrality of money" results.) So I asked him why he was not a Keynesian. He explained that rational expectations is a higher standard to hold modeling to, because if you take Keynesian theory to be a mechanical description of reality, it is subject to failure by the attempt to exploit it.

The statistical results back up Keynesian theory. (Everything about the economic environment of the Great Recession supports Keynesian theory - whole schools of thought have been repudiated in the last 10 years). But it contains a subtle flaw which does not allow it to be used as described. The flaw is in the assumptions about how people process policy expectations.

Keynesian theory, in a time of more or less full employment, can be evidenced but not used. Equilibrium theory can be used but not evidenced. It is mythos. Over the last ten years I have seen otherwise rational economists so wedded to the mythos of equilibrium theory that they could not accept the plain evidence that it had broken down in the recession.

My contention is that at some point we may have the ability to explain how any particular piece of mythos works, but until then it is entirely sensible if people use it without fully understanding it. Harrison's book seems to me to be a good example. He makes the case fairly effectively that there are significant misuses of our lives based on poor thinking - based on our eagerness to have some control, for example, to the point where straws are grasped and people's gullibility exploited.

But he is far from fully cognizant of how good thinking works. He seems to think that only fully evidenced conclusions should be trusted, for example, but as Robert pointed out, he does not follow this himself. He is following some mythos as well.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Harry wrote:
Remember that "mythos" is a category about subconscious significance - archetypal connections between powerful psychological forces and the stories which come to symbolize them.


I understand this. Young impressionable minds do not. It's one thing to have already build a solid worldview and be able to disambiguate these things. I agree with you if we're talking about teaching critical thinking to people who are already critical thinkers. But the people who need this most, the generations that follow us, should have a legacy of information that isn't so confusing. Why combine supernatural elements into stories and convey them as truth? Yes, there is partial truth, but what I'm saying is that this distinction is overlooked. Not by all, but by many who hear such stories and are in the throes of building an understanding of the world. If we can convey the same wisdom without requiring supernatural elements, then we should.

Quote:
But he is far from fully cognizant of how good thinking works. He seems to think that only fully evidenced conclusions should be trusted, for example, but as Robert pointed out, he does not follow this himself. He is following some mythos as well.


I agree that only fully evidenced conclusions should be trusted. Conclusions which fall short can still be useful. But if we think of trust as the act of closing the loop and no longer examining something - for brevity's sake - then the bar should be high indeed. To question everything is great wisdom, but we can't requestion everything in the time we're allotted.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Harry, "An obvious example is the appearance to Paul on the Damascus Road. It may be that not a single thing occurred as the story is told in the book of Acts, but we know that Paul believed Jesus appeared to him, and that important truth was communicated that way, so it might as well have happened like the Damascus Road story said. Something changed Paul from a fire-breathing persecutor of the church into its foremost advocate and evangelist. Why does it matter exactly how it happened?"

Yes, it does matter a lot! If the account of Paul's encounter with God is not accurate, than what else in the book is not credible? You have to understand the mindset of true spiritual men of God, as one, I would find it repulsive to represent something as an actual event that never happened. Last time I checked that would fall under bearing false witness, lying. NO, we can be rest assured that the account is credibly accurate. Matthew 5:16 shows that God declared that the essence of His message would be preserved until the end of the earth.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
brother bob wrote:
If the account of Paul's encounter with God is not accurate, than what else in the book is not credible?


:-D yeah!, next you'll be telling us that it doesn't really matter if we dont have a bird in our hands, ...but how will be able to tell if it's worth two in the bush?!?!?

please don't tell me it doesn't matter if there wasn't an actual historical bush?!?!?!

oh noes.... here comes the thinky pain again...... :-D

Jesus existed, and Satan too and they both still do, look, there are pictures

Image

to suggest that these two figures are allegories of major human psychological archetypes is just plain dumb, coz then who would win the arm wrestle?!?!?!!



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
hey wait a minute, this is the "Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)" thread.

Quote:
Too much of the world is a dark, bleeding mess. (praise the Lord) Now is the time for good thinking so that our future might be better.





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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Brother Bob -
"I would agree that over time man is less likely to hold to the principals of God because of, as we are currently seeing, a drop in the morality of society."

I disagree. I haven't seen the evidence, and just at first blush the end of lynching strikes me as a vast improvement.

"I would define fundamentalism as a group applying the very basic principals that God has laid out to man with an unwavering attention to detail. "

If an omnipotent creator was laying out the principals with attention to detail, what we have would be much clearer and more straightforward. What we have is just what it looks like we have - a collection of writings by people who wanted to bring messages about their religion. Not a bad start, but it explains the mess.

"To say that I am a Mormon is quite wrong!"

Okay, I am sorry. You said something about God having once been a man, and maybe I just heard that as Mormon doctrine rather than a slightly idiosyncratic way of talking about Jesus.

" If the account of Paul's encounter with God is not accurate, than what else in the book is not credible?"

Well, there are quite a few things in the books of Luke and Acts that are probably not accurate. I would not say the same about "credible" as long as you look at it as something written for that day. The author had a story to tell, and it was an important story, at least in the eyes of the author. Probably the author dressed it up a bit, or drew from sources that had. I don't think it was any big deal at the time - people seem to have made extravagant claims about many figures in the day, and as far as I can tell, it was just a way of saying "This is a story about somebody who really, really mattered!"

If I didn't believe some version of the core story, I would not bother being a Christian, praying, teaching Sunday School, supporting the church. But it really is not necessary to insist that a 1st century presentation of the matter is bound to be literally accurate, as if one must throw out all understandings of the whole matter if there is one error in the writings.



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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Case for Good Thinking ("Good Thinking" - by Guy P. Harrison)
Youkrst, Where did you get the information or proof that Satan and Jesus Christ are allegorical figures? I would have to kindly claim that you are speaking in a very illogical set or parameters where you pick and choose what is reality. We have tons of proof about Jesus Christ being an actual person that walked the face of the earth. Please provide more proof than the words that came out of your mouth. This is my very case in point where men go off half-cocked by their own premonitions OR how man is not very original in his thinking and piggy backs off of the thoughts of others. I guess you could deny all of the evidence that proves that he was a real man and claim to "suck up" to the thinking that supports your presupposed concepts.



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