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New Dawkins book: "The God Delusion" 
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Frank:

This last post is one of your best arguments to date, IMO.

::80


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I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

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Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:26 am
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Mad
Quote:
Point out which of my arguments assumes an answer either way.


In order for you to say that the naturalistic evidence can never detect the supernatural, you first have to make some assumptions about the supernatural.

How can assumptions be made about something we can't detect?

Mad
Quote:
All I've stated is that the criteria you've offered doesn't give us a reliable means of determining whether or not there is a supernatural, regardless of whether there is one or not.


Again, how can you know this?

Mad
Quote:
That doesn't make it more logical. Most people also listen to really bad pop music and eat junk food. So can't we drop that argument?


And that makes them foolish because we (and they) know it is illogical behavior.

Mad
Quote:
Again, you've made an assertion, but you've made no attempt to demonstrate that it's logical.


I thought it was obvious that I did not need to. But hear you go.

Credibility, in the absence of evidence any outrageous claim should be discounted. The logical reasons are...

Because gullible means victim in our world. (I created a time machine... want to buy it?)

Accepting some claims can be dangerous. (I cast a magic spell on you, so if you flap your arms you can fly as long as you jump off of something high enough.)

Some are just ridiculous (Yea, I raised a dog from the dead.)

And then there is the endless stream of inconstant ideas. (So which is it, karma, luck or fate?)

Without some kind of evidence why entertain any of it? How do you logically decide which are credible and which aren't? You use the naturalistic evidence of course. And in this case there is good reliable naturalistic evidence, it shows nothing.

If you give me some reason to think of the supernatural as credible and show some reason why we could never detect any supernatural agent, then we can move on from there.

Later




Thu Dec 21, 2006 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Dear Mad:

Are your arguing it's okay to believe whatever you want so long as you don't attempt to convince anyone else and you don't base any action on your beliefs?

That seems trivial to me, but I agree.

Quote:
What remains subjective is our knowledge of any given thing.


Not true. Empirical knowledge of the natural world is demonstrably not subjective, which is why many people become atheists and accept naturalism in one form or another.

Quote:
The explanation I've seen is that weather conditions of a sufficient kind could allow for patterns of wind that would create a depression in the Red Sea.


Have you even SEEN the Ten Commandments??? :)

I'll give you this, from our discussion I have concluded that it is not fair to assert atheism is necessarily more rational than theism. On the other hand, it seems clear that theism frequently leads to irrational assertions about the nature of reality, or maybe I should say the reality of nature.

Finally, I think the fact that you believe a supernatural world exists, but can't find any evidentiary basis for your belief and are also not willing to accept it on faith worries you. I'm not making fun of you; just making an observation.

Letting go of the supernatural world solves the problem, but it can be a difficult thing to do emotionally.

I also agree we've pushed this as far as we need to.

Fiske




Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:34 pm
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
irishrosem: I disagree I think any society that works at establishing an equality based judicial system attempts to make that compact explicit (clear or unambiguous).

Maybe I wasn't being terribly clear. What I meant is that it's rare for individuals within a society to really make explicit any sort of broad social compact. When a society develops a judicial system, they're doing it on behalf of the members of that society. You could probably make a case that those who actually institute the judicial system, and those who consciously work in it, are making an explicit social compact, but they're usually a minority in the society that the system is meant to serve.

Do you mean three people never influenced by any society, or three people from different or same societies who meet on a deserted island?

No, I don't put much stock in the idea of intrinsic concepts -- we're socialized to believe in justice

Oh o.k., so then you think that the majority of the world's population, when they think of justice, imagine a blindfolded woman with superhuman powers meting out retribution?

No, I mean that the majority of the world's people treat justice as some kind of reality rather than as a convenient fiction. It doesn't matter if they anthropomorphize it or maintain it as a kind of "furniture of the universe" principle -- so long as they believe in justice, they're believing in something for which they have no evidence and require no logical demonstration.

If the world, I'd hazard country, were full of theists like you, I seriously don't think it would be an issue.

I have my doubts. It looks to me like the idea that religion and theism is intrisically dangerous is getting more and more popular all the time. Which returns us to the original topic of this thread...

But, unless I specifically name you, Mad, I rarely have you in mind when generalizing the term "theist."

If I were feeling perverse, I could make the complementary assertion to that made a number of times by Frank in this very thread -- that belief in a god is the only thing implied by the term theist, just as lack of belief is the only thing implied by atheist. But I didn't think it was a very convincing argument when he made it, so I'm certainly not going to make an issue of it.

All that being said, I don't think I have ever tried to "argue" you out of your theism, any more than I imagine you try to argue me into theism.

No, and I have a great deal of respect for both you and Fiske for being so respectful.

me: But how do you decide that theism is a faulty premise?
Rose: As I explained before it is a faulty premise because it presumes a god.

I don't understand your objection. All premises presume something for which there is no definitive evidence. We could equally say that naturalism is a faulty premise for presuming a the quality of "natural".

Just because you interpret the term atheist in a different way does not make your interpretation right.

I still don't see that my definition of atheist has anything to do with it. And I've accepted the definition offered by the atheists in this discussion, so it should be a dead issue.

It demands that, if theism wants to be considered as sound logic, it has to propose a logically sound premise and develop a logically sound conclusion. It has yet to do so.

I don't think theism is sound logic. I just also happen to think that atheism is equally a-logical.




Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:05 pm
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Frank 013: In order for you to say that the naturalistic evidence can never detect the supernatural, you first have to make some assumptions about the supernatural.

I don't have to assume the existence of the supernatural, though. The only real assumption that I would need to make is that the supernatural is not the natural, which seems warranted given the dichotomy between the two. If you think that's a problematic assumption, then by all means, argue it.

me: All I've stated is that the criteria you've offered doesn't give us a reliable means of determining whether or not there is a supernatural, regardless of whether there is one or not.
Frank: Again, how can you know this?

I don't know it. Neither of us knows it. Which is precisely why it's unreliable.

me: Again, you've made an assertion, but you've made no attempt to demonstrate that it's logical.
Frank: I thought it was obvious that I did not need to.

It isn't obvious to me. And ultimately, it isn't terribly important to me that you do make a logical argument of your claim. I'd be interested to see it. But when you make a claim like "atheism is more rational", it's important for the validity of your claim that you at least be capable of demonstrating it rationally.

Credibility, in the absence of evidence any outrageous claim should be discounted.

Part of what I've been getting at all along is that, even if we were presented with evidence for the supernatural, we'd have no criteria that would allow us to recognize it. So we can't be sure that there really is an absence of evidence.

You use the naturalistic evidence of course. And in this case there is good reliable naturalistic evidence, it shows nothing.

That's news to me. What's the evidence, and how is it pertinent to the question of whether or not the supernatural exists.

If you give me some reason to think of the supernatural as credible and show some reason why we could never detect any supernatural agent, then we can move on from there.

I'm not really interested in making you believe in the supernatural, so I'm not going to bother arguing for its credibility. As for the second part, I've never said that it's impossible to perceive a supernatural agent, but given that all of our methods and modes for "detecting" a thing -- by that term, I take you to mean controlled, voluntary perception, ie. I want to find a thing, I take steps to find it, and voila! I find it... given that all of our methods and modes for detecting any given thing are built on the premises of methodological naturalism, why would we expect them to be applicable to something that is, by definition, not naturalistic, regardless of whether it existed or not? Imagine the evidentiary method as a kind of machine that is meant to work only on square objects. Attempting to make evidentiary method a verifiable test of the supernatural is like trying to make that machine perform the same function on round objects.

FiskeMiles: Are your arguing it's okay to believe whatever you want so long as you don't attempt to convince anyone else and you don't base any action on your beliefs?

No. I'm just arguing that logic itself is not sufficient to validate belief.

me: What remains subjective is our knowledge of any given thing.
Fiske: Not true. Empirical knowledge of the natural world is demonstrably not subjective, which is why many people become atheists and accept naturalism in one form or another.

How is that possible? All of the apparatus that we use to take in perceptions are subjective; the mind which we use to parse that information is subjective; the premises against which we judge all experience is subjective. How could objective knowledge come from all that?

On the other hand, it seems clear that theism frequently leads to irrational assertions about the nature of reality, or maybe I should say the reality of nature.

I think you could probably make a fairly convincing argument of that.

Finally, I think the fact that you believe a supernatural world exists, but can't find any evidentiary basis for your belief and are also not willing to accept it on faith worries you.

You've got me all wrong, brother.




Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:52 pm
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
It seems the term Supernatural requires an evaluation that cedes an extra somethingness beyond the natural realm. Super commonly refers to having more power, strength, ability...not limited to normal (or natural) constraints or barriers.

Thus, most folks use the term Supernatural to describe a force that is not constrained by natural law: able to manipulate time, space, energy (under natural circumstances) in patently impossible ways.

The Supernatural is not simply not natural, or other than natural...it is superior to and unobstructed by natural demands...the forces of nature submit to Supernatural power...Supernatural forces are able to direct and control natural powers: gravity, death, birth, all the biggies and not so big....pushed, pulled, lifted, dropped, taken, vanished, replaced, reversed....the impossible becomes possible, becomes something altogether different.




Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:31 pm
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Dear Mad:

Quote:
You've got me all wrong, brother.


I don't think so.

Fiske

Edited by: FiskeMiles at: 12/22/06 10:40 pm



Fri Dec 22, 2006 9:20 pm
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Everyone...clear something up for me:

Who brought up that logic HAS to be used to decide whether it is rational to believe in things and beings that have no evidence to support said existence, save for what some people say the feel?

And: Is reason the same thing as logic? Is Freethinking the same as logic? Since the validity, or the acceptance, of a logical argument depends solely on if the person listening to the argument accepts the premises...what good is logic after all?

It is reasonable not to believe things that there is no proof for and has all appearances of being made up. I do not need any sybols or functions to show that.

Mr. P.

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Mr. P's Bookshelf.

I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - 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 Piper




Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:06 am
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Dissident:

Going back (I do not know where exactly) to your critique of the "Cowboy Atheist" and independent agent as it applied to Frank, and I assume others...

Do you think that maybe that type of personality suits someone who would admit they were an atheist? Consider that an admitted atheist comes up againt alot of chastising and alienation by, mostly, Xtians and other religious people.

Maybe in order to make it in a world steeped in irrational belief, an avowed atheist tends toward a tough, loner type of personality.

Whaddaya think?

Mr. P.

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

Mr. P's Bookshelf.

I'm not saying it's usual for people to do those things but I(with the permission of God) have raised a dog from the dead and healed many people from all sorts of ailments. - Asana

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - 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 Piper




Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:17 am
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Fiske, it's something of a point of interest to me that a number of people on this forum have decided that I'm something of an atheist in training -- that, if I stick with BookTalk long enough, I'll eventually give up on my experimental theistic phase and buckle down to what's patently obvious. (The counter-argument would be that those same people want that to be the case because they hate seeing someone with a rigorously logical mind and wide interests draw a conclusion so diametrically opposed to their atheism. But I reserve judgment on that one; your reasons are your reasons, and I don't presume to know them.)

misterpessimistic: Who brought up that logic HAS to be used to decide whether it is rational to believe in things and beings that have no evidence to support said existence, save for what some people say the feel?

The original claim was that atheism is more rational. I understood rational to refer to whether or not logical arguments could be used to support the claim. I tried to suggest several times that rational didn't necessarily mean that, but since no one on the opposing side of the discussion tried to argue for a definition of rational that excluded logic, I assumed that it was agreed that logic was part of the equation.

As I understand it, a rational position is one which could be justified logically; ergo, the test of the relative rationalness of a position is how well it conforms to logic. But I'm open to other ideas. In fact, the ambiguity behind such terms is the major reason I started the "What is Reason" thread, and its sequel, but those weren't very popular threads. If that -- ie. that a rational position is one that can be demonstrated logically -- isn't a mutual assumption, then we can't really carry on the discussion until we've agreed upon some criteria for determining whether or not a position is rational.

Personally, I think reference to logic is a strong criteria, in that it gives us an established set of rules to go by, rules that are, if not wholly objective, at least prior to any of our involvement in the discussion. If we ditch logic as the reference point, then what are we left with?

And: Is reason the same thing as logic? Is Freethinking the same as logic? Since the validity, or the acceptance, of a logical argument depends solely on if the person listening to the argument accepts the premises...what good is logic after all?

1st question: I'd say, no. I think logic is integral to reason, but it isn't part and parcel of reason. 2nd question: Again, no. You could give lots of reasons, but it's probably sufficient to raise the point that logic can be exercised on premises that are dogmattic. 3rd question: The good of logic is that it allows us to figure out whether particular conclusions are justified given our premises. A really good example of this in actions is the method of drawing conclusions from the results of scientific experimentation. We at BookTalk talk a lot about the observational methodolgy of science, but logic is just as integral to the process. The observational methodology provides some of the premises (but not all), and logic allows scientists to deduce their conclusions from those premises.

Where a lot of people fall out with logic, it seems to me, is in their desire to have something like pure reason -- that is, a set of orderly rules that allows us to draw objective conclusions. That just isn't what logic is for, and it can't come to any conclusion without the input of some human-provided premises. But to call it worthless on account of that is a bit like saying calculators are worthless because we have to punch in the numbers before they'll work.

It is reasonable not to believe things that there is no proof for and has all appearances of being made up. I do not need any symbols or functions to show that.

How do you know it? Is it just there in your mind, sort of like the knowledge and technique necessary to play Tchaikovsky is just there in the minds of Asana's "idiot savant" example?




Sat Dec 23, 2006 4:07 pm
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Post Re: Blessing the Pudding
Dear Mad:

Quote:
Fiske, it's something of a point of interest to me that a number of people on this forum have decided that I'm something of an atheist in training -- that, if I stick with BookTalk long enough, I'll eventually give up on my experimental theistic phase and buckle down to what's patently obvious. (The counter-argument would be that those same people want that to be the case because they hate seeing someone with a rigorously logical mind and wide interests draw a conclusion so diametrically opposed to their atheism. But I reserve judgment on that one; your reasons are your reasons, and I don't presume to know them.


I was raised a Christian -- Sunday school and Church service every weekend (without exception), Bible school in the summer, Nativity plays, caroling, ice cream socials, the whole thing. I don't regret a moment of it, and I certainly wouldn't describe the experience as child abuse! :)

By my late teens I had stopped thinking of myself as a Christian for reasons I won't go into at present.

The thing is, I found giving up Christianity MUCH easier than giving up God. When questioned on the subject, I would say something like, "Well, I don't consider myself a Christian but I believe in a higher power" or "I believe life has a hidden purpose" etc. I guess when you're raised on the idea of immortal souls and life after death, etc., it just becomes part of the landscape. It's so fundamental to your world view you accept it without question. Oh sure, you question whether there really is life after death, but emotionally you can't believe there isn't.

I didn't become an atheist until something like 24 years after giving up Christianity. One night I just realized that the fact people don't want to stop existing at death is no proof they don't. It was an epiphany for me. A watershed event in my life. It didn't lead to depression or a feeling that life has no purpose or anything like that. Quite the opposite. I've been happier since that moment than any time before, I think because I came to accept my place in this world and to feel at home in it as I never had.

I think the whole atheist in training bit is condescending. Just because I rejected the supernatural is no reason you should. But I will say this: either you will 1) accept the supernatural as a matter of faith and stop trying to reconcile the lack of evidence for it, or 2) reject the supernatural and become an atheist, or 3) struggle with the problem as long as you live.

Fiske




Sat Dec 23, 2006 7:13 pm
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