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The Problem with Religious Moderation From Sam Harris

#121 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 02:59

View Post32519, on 2013-October-09, 00:38, said:

Sorry, I keep forgetting. It all has no purpose!


You keep insisting that there must be a "purpose" to life, science, whatever, but you have not hinted what you think that purpose might be.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#122 User is offline   Trinidad 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 03:18

View Postnige1, on 2013-October-08, 10:17, said:

As explained before, it may help to distinguish
  • Atheists who believe that God doesn't exist
  • Agnostics who believe it's not possible to know whether God exists.
Humpty

This distinction about what non religious people believe is absolutely unhelpful. It is made be religious people who don't understand or refuse to understand non religious people. The non religious people don't feel the need to distinguish, because in reality the vast majority are best decribed as:
  • not knowing whether there is a god
  • knowing that it is highly unlikely that there is a god
  • fundamentally not caring whether there is a god: Why would you debate a question when you know that you will not be able to find the answer?


As you can see, for non religious people, believing doesn't enter the equation. You would think that this is obvious (after all we are discussing people who are non religious), but religious people just can't get it that someone can manage to not believe: "You must believe in something!". No, you don't.

Rik
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#123 User is offline   32519 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 04:21

As a youngster I was one of the greatest Pink Floyd fans you could ever hope to find. The lyrics off much of "Dark Side of the Moon," (to me anyway) are unrivalled. Read these lyrics and decide for yourself when measured against what has already been said in this thread so far.

Breathe
(Waters, Gilmour, Wright) 2:44

Breathe, breathe in the air.
Don't be afraid to care.
Leave but don't leave me.
Look around and choose your own ground.

Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be.

Run, rabbit run.
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don't sit down it's time to dig another one.

For long you live and high you fly
But only if you ride the tide
And balanced on the biggest wave
You race towards an early grave.

On The Run
(Gilmour, Waters) 3:32

"Live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me, HaHaHaaaaaa!"

Time
(Mason, Waters, Wright, Gilmour) 7:06

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I'd something more to say.

Breathe (reprise)

Home, home again.
I like to be here when I can.
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire.
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.

The Great Gig in the Sky
(Wright) 4:44

"And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I
don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying?
There's no reason for it, you've gotta go sometime."

"If you can hear this whispering you are dying."

"I never said I was frightened of dying."

Money
(Waters) 6:32

Money, get away.
Get a good job with good pay and you're okay.
Money, it's a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I'll buy me a football team.

Money, get back.
I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it's a hit.
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit.
I'm in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
And I think I need a Lear jet.

Money, it's a crime.
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today.
But if you ask for a raise it's no surprise that they're
giving none away.

Us and Them
(Waters, Wright) 7:40

Us, and them
And after all we're only ordinary men.
Me, and you.
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do.
Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it's only round and round.
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside.

"I mean, they're not gunna kill ya, so if you give 'em a quick short,
sharp, shock, they won't do it again. Dig it? I mean he get off
lightly, 'cos I would've given him a thrashing - I only hit him once!
It was only a difference of opinion, but really...I mean good manners
don't cost nothing do they, eh?"

Down and out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about.
With, without.
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?
Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died.

Brain Damage
(Waters) 3:50

The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

"I can't think of anything to say except...
I think it's marvelous! HaHaHa!"

Eclipse
(Waters) 2:04

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.
All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark."
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#124 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 04:31

How about using links instead? For example, here is a link to the fallacy you are committing: http://en.wikipedia....to_consequences
... and I can prove it with my usual, flawless logic.
      George Carlin
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#125 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 04:32

View Post32519, on 2013-October-09, 04:21, said:

<Pink Floyd lyrics>


So we are all here for a purpose, and that purpose is listening to Pink Floyd? OK, I can live with that.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#126 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 06:48

View Postmikeh, on 2013-October-08, 11:09, said:

We see this all the time. I am an atheist. I describe, in often way too much verbiage, precisely what I think about the existence of a god entity, which (to repeat myself) is that I see no compelling or persuasive reason to infer it but I recognize that I cannot disprove it, and I get told by the nige's of the world that I am an either mistaken about what I am or am lying. The approach used by nige has been called the dictionary approach. Nige reads a definition...a definition written by someone who clearly hasn't understood what atheism is in the real world, and he assumes that the definition applies even to those who say, clearly, that it doesn't.

View PostTrinidad, on 2013-October-09, 03:18, said:

This distinction about what non religious people believe is absolutely unhelpful. It is made be religious people who don't understand or refuse to understand non religious people. The non religious people don't feel the need to distinguish, because in reality the vast majority are best decribed as:
  • not knowing whether there is a god
  • knowing that it is highly unlikely that there is a god
  • fundamentally not caring whether there is a god: Why would you debate a question when you know that you will not be able to find the answer?
As you can see, for non religious people, believing doesn't enter the equation. You would think that this is obvious (after all we are discussing people who are non religious), but religious people just can't get it that someone can manage to not believe: "You must believe in something!". No, you don't.
Of course, Mikeh, Trinidad and everybody else can use the word Atheist any way they like. As explained previously, in my post defending Moderation (to which Mikeh took exception), I assumed the definition "someone who believes that God does not exist".

I accused nobody of lying. I meant no offence when I wrote that most people base their lives on unprovable moral assumptions. Even atheists seem prepared to die for those assumptions. I accept that some do not consider such assumptions to be beliefs. I apologise if I hurt anybody's feelings.
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#127 User is offline   billw55 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 06:51

So, you think you can tell heaven from hell?
Life is long and beautiful, if bad things happen, good things will follow.
-gwnn
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#128 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 08:41

View Post32519, on 2013-October-08, 22:00, said:

I fail to understand your point.

These things are all occurring on the watch of every scientist currently still alive. They are also occurring on the watch of every government across the face of planet earth. So who do we blame? I don't recall ever seeing some or other super-natural being chopping down our forests or polluting our water or whatever you care to name.

So who then do you think should carry the can for what is happening on the earth today?


Obviously man is to blame. Equally obvious, a belief in god has not helped. Promoting a furtherance of belief has no factual basis for being a solution to the problems you categorize.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#129 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 09:10

View Post32519, on 2013-October-09, 00:38, said:

A question for mikeh:

Suppose you were not only a scientist, but also the most successful businessman that ever walked (or will walk) planet earth, successful to the extent that you ended up owning not only everyone, but also everything on planet earth and in the universe. You are the owner of so much wealth that you can never hope to spend even a small fraction of it in umpteen thousand lifespans. How much of this wealth would you be prepared to surrender to acquire eternal life? 1%, 10%, 100%? Or how much of this wealth would you be investing back into science to find the answer to stop the process of ageing? Or even better, to reverse the process of ageing? Time marches on, you are getting older, and thus far the scientists have come up with…..nothing! In desperation you try something that science has managed to do, you get the scientists to clone you so that you can live on. Alas, the cloned thing/individual also died/dies. What now?

Sorry, I keep forgetting. It all has no purpose!


I understand this question was for MikeH but I can't help but respond - why do you assume universal fear and rejection of aging and death?

What you are suggesting is that no one can accept his status as "only human", that no one can accept a natural aging and dying as normal and not to be feared, and that is simply untrue. The difference between you and me seemingly is that I understand the natural process of life, aging, and death, and I accept it without any need to change the outcome. You, on the other hand, seem to want to turn back the clock and recapture a time when you were young and healthy - to me, that is nothing but whimsical (i.e., magical) thinking. It is an immature response to an event you do not like - but regardless of your feeling about it, aging and death will happen to us both. Apparently, only one of us is OK with that.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#130 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 09:39

View Postnige1, on 2013-October-09, 06:48, said:

Of course, Mikeh, Trindidad and everybody else can use the word Atheist any way they like. As explained previously, in my post defending Moderation (to which Mikeh took exception), I assumed the definition "someone who believes that God does not exist".

I accused nobody of lying. I meant no offence when I expressed the view that most people base their lives on unprovable moral assumptions. I accept that, for some, such assumptions are not beliefs. I apologise if I hurt anybody's feelings.

You don't get it at all, do you?

You have read a definition of 'atheist'. A definition with which I am familiar, from many years ago. I don't know its origins, and I can't be certain that it was inaccurate when first coined. I am sure that it was coined at a time when atheism was a very unpopular worldview, little understood by the vast majority of people, including people who wrote dictionaries.

Your approach is similar to a person who, having read a definition describing dogs as 3-legged animals, insists that every 4 legged dog he sees is a mutant, or 'not really a dog'.

When I wrote that your ignorance was showing, I meant just that: you are ignorant, in the sense of ill-informed and lacking knowledge.

Trinidad did a better job of summarizing the views of every atheist whose views are known to me. There are lots of books out there by atheists these days, and if that is too much work for you, I am sure that some of Dawkin's talks are on youtube, for free, and he also does an excellent job of describing modern atheism.

I accept that you are honest. I accept that you meant no insult. Maybe you can accept that you are wrong and learn from your mistake. It is not an admission of weakness to change your opinion when you are exposed to new information inconsistent with your earlier view. It is, in fact, a reflection of intelligence :D

Neither Trinidad (I infer) nor I 'believe that god does not exist'. Instead, we hold to a far more defensible and logical position: we do not believe that god exists.

As it happens, the evidence suggests that god probably doesn't exist, at least not in any form recognizable from any religion, and it seems wasteful to spend time, energy, and money on the assumption that it does exist in some sense.

That's atheism...as lived by atheists, rather than as understood by some dictionary writer many years ago.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#131 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 10:01

View Post32519, on 2013-October-09, 00:38, said:

A question for mikeh:

Suppose you were not only a scientist, but also the most successful businessman that ever walked (or will walk) planet earth, successful to the extent that you ended up owning not only everyone, but also everything on planet earth and in the universe. You are the owner of so much wealth that you can never hope to spend even a small fraction of it in umpteen thousand lifespans. How much of this wealth would you be prepared to surrender to acquire eternal life? 1%, 10%, 100%? Or how much of this wealth would you be investing back into science to find the answer to stop the process of ageing? Or even better, to reverse the process of ageing? Time marches on, you are getting older, and thus far the scientists have come up with…..nothing! In desperation you try something that science has managed to do, you get the scientists to clone you so that you can live on. Alas, the cloned thing/individual also died/dies. What now?

Sorry, I keep forgetting. It all has no purpose!

The fact that you think this is a useful question says far more about you than it asks of me.

What a horrible life you have imagined for me! Where are my friends, and family? How can I have real friends if I 'own everybody'?

I can't imagine wanting an eternal life. I can certainly imagine wanting a far longer period of being middle-aged and relatively healthy than I am going to experience, but I think I'd want that for a lot of other people, even if only to avoid loneliness and bitterness, as well as sorrow as all my friends die.

Then I'd have to worry about the envy of the less long lived.

Then I'd have to worry about the harm that I am doing.

I hope I am going to grow old. I hope that I retain my mental faculties to a good degree...at 60 I am sure I would score lower on a range of cognitive testing than I did when I was a young adult, and that is going to get more so as time marches on. So far I think I am ahead of the game because what I have lost in mental acuity, I think I have made up in gaining knowledge and understanding.

I know I am going to die. There are times when I think of that fact and feel some resentment...not fear. I think it is Mark Twain I am paraphrasing when I say that I was unaware of my non-existence for billions of years before I was born and I will be unaware of my non-existence for the duration of time after I am dead. The state of non-being is devoid of emotional or any other experience, so when the light switch is flipped into the off position, and the small light that is me is turned off, I won't be aware of it or hurt by it.

I feel sorry for you that you are so frightened of living as a contingent fluke of the universe that you feel a need to find a purpose where none exists, or yearn for an afterlife to assuage your fear of non-being.

You should not think that your weaknesses, fears, or ignorance are experienced by all others.

Finally, it is open to all of us to find a purpose for ourselves. I choose to find a purpose based on my view of reality, and the fact that I am a human being, with emotions as well as intellect, and with the ability to hold mutually contradictory views just as all of us can. I find beauty in life. I find joy in the mere existence of the world. I ask you this: go out into the country one clear night and stand there looking at the stars. While doing so, try to picture yourself standing on this enormous planet....enormous until you try to grasp the significance of what you are seeing. With luck, you might see a satellite passing overhead, or a shooting star.

Imagine the unlikeliness of 'you' being there at that moment and being able not just to see this but to have some understanding of what you are seeing. There is no need to invoke a god merely because the scale frightens you or you feel you don't understand how you could be there otherwise. Just accept the wonder of it all.....if you are at all like me, you will be filled with awe.

For the religious believer, this may be interpreted as some sort of spiritual reaction: to me it is just a very enjoyable, humbling glimpse of the magnificence of the universe. The fact that nothing out there, other than the possible satellite, has any concern with or interest in humans doesn't detract from the experience....if anything, it adds to it.

This is why I find it so annoying when people like you claim that my life is bleak :P Seems to me, based on your fear of death, that it is you who live a bleak life.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#132 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 10:17

View Postmikeh, on 2013-October-09, 09:39, said:

You don't get it at all, do you? You have read a definition of 'atheist'. A definition with which I am familiar, from many years ago. I don't know its origins, and I can't be certain that it was inaccurate when first coined. I am sure that it was coined at a time when atheism was a very unpopular worldview, little understood by the vast majority of people, including people who wrote dictionaries. Your approach is similar to a person who, having read a definition describing dogs as 3-legged animals, insists that every 4 legged dog he sees is a mutant, or 'not really a dog'. When I wrote that your ignorance was showing, I meant just that: you are ignorant, in the sense of ill-informed and lacking knowledge. Trinidad did a better job of summarizing the views of every atheist whose views are known to me. There are lots of books out there by atheists these days, and if that is too much work for you, I am sure that some of Dawkin's talks are on youtube, for free, and he also does an excellent job of describing modern atheism. I accept that you are honest. I accept that you meant no insult. Maybe you can accept that you are wrong and learn from your mistake.
Insult? It seems that atheist is not the only word that we use with different meanings :)

View Postmikeh, on 2013-October-09, 09:39, said:

It is not an admission of weakness to change your opinion when you are exposed to new information inconsistent with your earlier view. It is, in fact, a reflection of intelligence :D
I hope we can all go along with that assessment :)

View Postmikeh, on 2013-October-09, 09:39, said:

Neither Trinidad (I infer) nor I 'believe that god does not exist'. Instead, we hold to a far more defensible and logical position: we do not believe that god exists. As it happens, the evidence suggests that god probably doesn't exist, at least not in any form recognizable from any religion, and it seems wasteful to spend time, energy, and money on the assumption that it does exist in some sense. That's atheism...as lived by atheists, rather than as understood by some dictionary writer many years ago.
I think I understand MikeH but, perhaps, we should both try to stop repeating ourselves :)
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#133 User is offline   onoway 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 11:08

Mikeh
I certainly didn't intend to suggest in any slight degree that atheists don't experience beauty and love and all the other positive things that life has to offer, so obviously I didn't express myself adequately. I agree that would be both insulting and stupid as well as simply wrong. Nor did I intend to suggest that some of the composers would have not written music had there not been religion in their lives, in fact I said many artists write or paint or compose because they must.

A forum thread I've been reading with interest http://www.talkclass...s-religion.html reflects much of what I was trying to say (obviously ineffectively). I suspect the same sort of interaction between religion and architecture applies...how many palaces can a leader build, and how many compare to the cathedrals such as Chartres? What would have happened to those visions had they not had a reason/excuse to be made manifest or nobody had a reason/excuse to fund them? I don't see the same sort of thing happening in an atheist society as there doesn't appear to be the same sort of shared celebratory aspect to atheism, but perhaps I've just never run across it. (By celebratory I don't mean just the rah rah stuff, I mean an emotionally involved sharing)
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#134 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 11:23

I think the way most modern atheists view that word is that atheism simply means a rejection of the belief in god because no compelling evidence exists to assume otherwise. It is not in and of itself a different belief but a different mode of validating and accepting information as factual.
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#135 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 12:20

View Postonoway, on 2013-October-09, 11:08, said:

Mikeh


A forum thread I've been reading with interest http://www.talkclass...s-religion.html reflects much of what I was trying to say (obviously ineffectively). I suspect the same sort of interaction between religion and architecture applies...how many palaces can a leader build, and how many compare to the cathedrals such as Chartres? What would have happened to those visions had they not had a reason/excuse to be made manifest or nobody had a reason/excuse to fund them? I don't see the same sort of thing happening in an atheist society as there doesn't appear to be the same sort of shared celebratory aspect to atheism, but perhaps I've just never run across it. (By celebratory I don't mean just the rah rah stuff, I mean an emotionally involved sharing)

What I glean from history is that all artists, including architects to some degree, are creatures reflective of the culture in which they live.

I have done a lot of reading, and my conclusion is that while atheists are individuals, and our common identity is a lack of a certain culturally popular belief, many of us share a common view of reality that is, as I have said many times, awe-inspiring.

It has always been my understanding that it is this sense of awe, of wonder, of appreciation of 'beauty', that underlies most art that we see as powerful. I fail to see how this shared view of the wondrous nature of reality is less 'shared' or less 'inspiring' than the notion of a god.

Your post, iow, simply reflects the same old trope: religious believers are simply unable to accept that there are happy, creative, talented, productive people who enjoy life as much as they do and do so with no belief in god. Why is that? Could it be that you are defensive about your beliefs and need to find a reason to claim that in some way having this belief makes you a better person or results in a richer culture? Are you afraid that if you lose your belief, your life will be less happy?

I have news for you: unless you are part of a religion that shuns (or kills) apostates, the odds are that your experience of life will improve once you realize that you don't need to worry about your imaginary god or pay heed to the religious leaders who exploit you for their political and financial benefit.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#136 User is offline   Trinidad 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 12:36

View Postnige1, on 2013-October-09, 06:48, said:

Of course, Mikeh, Trindidad and everybody else can use the word Atheist any way they like. As explained previously, in my post defending Moderation (to which Mikeh took exception), I assumed the definition "someone who believes that God does not exist".

Which is why I didn't use the word "atheist" in my post: It is a term conjured up by believers: People who are convinced that you have to believe something. And if you don't believe that god exists (theism), you must believe that he doesn't exist (atheism). That is like "Either you're with us, or you're against us.".

But the vast majority of those who are not theists are simply non believers. They don't believe there is a god and they don't believe there is no god. They simply don't believe... because they can live their lives (and die their deaths!) without knowing or believing things like that.

View Postnige1, on 2013-October-09, 06:48, said:

I accused nobody of lying. I meant no offence when I wrote that most people base their lives on unprovable moral assumptions. Even atheists seem prepared to die for those assumptions. I accept that some do not consider such assumptions to be beliefs. I apologise if I hurt anybody's feelings.


I may be missing something, but I don't think I base my life on unprovable moral assumptions. I think I am postponing my judgement ("I don't know.") and I tend to follow what is most probable to work well for me, my family and friends and the rest of the world, given the information that I have obtained throughout my life.

As an example, I think that the "Golden rule" has proven its validity: Where it is followed, people seem to be happy. Where it is broken, people seem to be unhappy. I am no sociologist or philosopher, but to me, the "Golden rule" is as much a sociological/philosophical fact as evolution is a biological fact.

I don't think I "believe" in the "Golden rule" theory or evolution theory. I think the available evidence supports both theories, and because of that they have substantial merit. This is entirely different from "believing" in them because a believe doesn't require evidence.

So, I try to follow the "Golden rule". That is not an "unprovable moral assumption". It is backed up by empirical evidence. Maybe tomorrow, I will get into a situation where people get really aggressive when I treat them kindly and they will treat me nicely when I act like a jerk. It could happen, but I don't find it very likely. I base that judgement on the empirical evidence, not on a belief.

Finally, you didn't hurt my feelings, so there is no need to apologize (at least not to me).

Rik
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The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!), but “That’s funny…” – Isaac Asimov
The only reason God did not put "Thou shalt mind thine own business" in the Ten Commandments was that He thought that it was too obvious to need stating. - Kenberg
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#137 User is online   mycroft 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 12:49

View PostWinstonm, on 2013-October-08, 13:13, said:

I agree with most of what you say - the only thing Harris's ideas would accomplish - if they worked - would be to rid the world of one type of violence. He does, to my knowledge, acknowledge this limitation. Still, isn't it better to do improve the world by 10% than not at all?
My argument is that I do not believe it would do that - and that there is being made no arguments that removing one type of violence would in fact, reduce violence. It is simply assumed without comment.

As the damage done to American liberty from the Communist witch hunts (and anti-communism in general) became "required", and expanded (as Communism retreated as a threat), to fight "the horror that is drugs in our community", which has seamlessly migrated (given that even most backers of the War on Drugs know that it hasn't reduced anything, it's not sellable any more), thanks to a spectacular failure of intelligence (not unreasonable, and failures of intelligence of that level happen every day; just that this one had spectacular results), into a huge expansion "to fight Terrorism"... my strong belief is that, after about 5 years, should religion go the way of the dodo tomorrow, the reduction in violence would be - zero at best.

The people with the power will find other ways to justify and exercise that same power, and the people wanting the power will find other ways to invigorate the people and justify the actions required to get it, and the same things will happen. Some will fall, and some will rise. Soviet Communism was a pervasive, destructive beast with power concentrated unnaturally. Since 1988, what has changed? Do not the people with influence still have influence? Do not the extra-legal ways things work not still work? Is there still not injustice and violence, at scales (if not by the same methods) as before? Even many of the people are the same.

Is there any reason to believe that that would be any different should Religion fall?
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#138 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 13:51

View PostTrinidad, on 2013-October-09, 12:36, said:

Which is why I didn't use the word "atheist" in my post: It is a term conjured up by believers: People who are convinced that you have to believe something. And if you don't believe that god exists (theism), you must believe that he doesn't exist (atheism). That is like "Either you're with us, or you're against us.". But the vast majority of those who are not theists are simply non believers. They don't believe there is a god and they don't believe there is no god. They simply don't believe... because they can live their lives (and die their deaths!) without knowing or believing things like that.
OK. Fine.

View PostTrinidad, on 2013-October-09, 12:36, said:

I may be missing something, but I don't think I base my life on unprovable moral assumptions. I think I am postponing my judgement ("I don't know.") and I tend to follow what is most probable to work well for me, my family and friends and the rest of the world, given the information that I have obtained throughout my life.
A sensible general approach, if you're as unsure as I am. But I still need to make tentative assumptions.

View PostTrinidad, on 2013-October-09, 12:36, said:

As an example, I think that the "Golden rule" has proven its validity: Where it is followed, people seem to be happy. Where it is broken, people seem to be unhappy. I am no sociologist or philosopher, but to me, the "Golden rule" is as much a sociological/philosophical fact as evolution is a biological fact. I don't think I "believe" in the "Golden rule" theory or evolution theory. I think the available evidence supports both theories, and because of that they have substantial merit. This is entirely different from "believing" in them because a believe doesn't require evidence.
Evolution is a scientific theory inductively derived from observation. It can be checked or refuted by further observation and (long-term) experiment.

View PostTrinidad, on 2013-October-09, 12:36, said:

So, I try to follow the "Golden rule". That is not an "unprovable moral assumption". It is backed up by empirical evidence. Maybe tomorrow, I will get into a situation where people get really aggressive when I treat them kindly and they will treat me nicely when I act like a jerk. It could happen, but I don't find it very likely. I base that judgement on the empirical evidence, not on a belief.
In contrast to scientific theories, ethical systems seem to be based on at least two unprovable postulates "X is good" and "You should behave so as to increase X". (For meaningful choices you may need to posit free-will, as well).
For example, the Golden rule seems to be predicated on axioms like "General happiness is good" and "We should try to increase it ". Both assumptions may well be true. But I can't prove them. And I can't verify them by observation or experiment. I speculate that Trinidad's Golden rule would prompt him to give a glass of water to a dying man -- with no expectation of reward -- apart from the satisfaction of abiding by his principles.
Another intriguing example on the border-line between science and ethics. People are prepared to die for their country. The underlying instinct may be gene-survival but some people seem to have made a conscious decision -- even without evolutionary knowledge -- and even when they're genetically closer to the enemy than to those they're protecting. I respect their conviction but can't prove or verify its basis.

View PostTrinidad, on 2013-October-09, 12:36, said:

Finally, you didn't hurt my feelings, so there is no need to apologize (at least not to me).
Good. Thank you.
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#139 User is offline   onoway 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 14:30

View Postmikeh, on 2013-October-09, 12:20, said:

What I glean from history is that all artists, including architects to some degree, are creatures reflective of the culture in which they live.

I have done a lot of reading, and my conclusion is that while atheists are individuals, and our common identity is a lack of a certain culturally popular belief, many of us share a common view of reality that is, as I have said many times, awe-inspiring.

It has always been my understanding that it is this sense of awe, of wonder, of appreciation of 'beauty', that underlies most art that we see as powerful. I fail to see how this shared view of the wondrous nature of reality is less 'shared' or less 'inspiring' than the notion of a god.

Your post, iow, simply reflects the same old trope: religious believers are simply unable to accept that there are happy, creative, talented, productive people who enjoy life as much as they do and do so with no belief in god. Why is that? Could it be that you are defensive about your beliefs and need to find a reason to claim that in some way having this belief makes you a better person or results in a richer culture? Are you afraid that if you lose your belief, your life will be less happy?

I have news for you: unless you are part of a religion that shuns (or kills) apostates, the odds are that your experience of life will improve once you realize that you don't need to worry about your imaginary god or pay heed to the religious leaders who exploit you for their political and financial benefit.

You may indeed have done a lot of reading but it seems none of it included what I actually said.
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#140 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2013-October-09, 15:21

View Postonoway, on 2013-October-09, 14:30, said:

You may indeed have done a lot of reading but it seems none of it included what I actually said.

pot: kettle: black.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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