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Old Today, 03:23 PM   #201
IanS
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Okay, here's an example description (one of many along the same lines) of someone I know well and personally. Middle aged woman, mother of 4 very kind and well-adjusted children, married ~20 years, medical doctor, generous, kind and considerate towards people of all sorts. Raised in a Christian home, became more involved in and committed to her faith as a young adult. Knows that faith and science are sometimes at odds, but has found intense peace, comfort, joy, hope, inspiration etc. in times of prayer and other expressions of her faith, both privately and within her community. As such, she is not concerned about trying to define her belief in ways that are congruent with "all current knowledge and understanding of reality", but is very happy to continue to explore and express her faith within the context of Christianity.

So back to the earlier definitions; in my opinion, she is not naive, uneducated, silly, or crazy.

Well it's "uneducated" if she believes that evolution is untrue and that an invisible God really made humans.

And it's a "silly" belief to think that Jesus really could have been dead for 3 days and then rose from his grave and floated off to heaven.

And in common every-day language it's "crazy" to believe that Jesus walked on water, fed 5000 people with just a few loaves and a couple of fish, commanded other dead people to come back to life and walk away etc.

In biblical times it seems that almost everyone on Earth believed that things like that happened almost daily in various towns and cities all around them. But they had a good excuse, because in the 1st century AD almost nobody had the faintest idea of what caused things like thunder & lightning, or earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, famine, disease, or how any stars could have been "put" into the night sky. So with that almost total lack of any scientific knowledge at all, it certainly would have seemed to everyone that a supernatural creator and constant miracles were probably the only possible answer.

But we are not in the 1st century AD any more. And educated honest people should know now that science has provided completely convincing answers for all those things ... with no hint of any God ever found anywhere in any of the many millions of explanations we now have for almost everything that surrounds us all every day and which we all rely on every day in our daily lives. We expect all of that vast environment from science to be absolutely perfectly correct and to work all day every day, absolutely perfectly every time, - and it does all actually do that! But in stark contrast, wherever we have ever been able to make a genuine investigation of any religious claims about miracles, faith healing (including anyone rising from the truly dead), visions etc., or even claimed "personal experiences", all of those claims have turned out to be completely false; every last one of them!

The other point about your doctor friend, is this - what she believes from her faith may indeed give her comfort, and it may indeed persuade her to help others in need, etc. But her beliefs, like the beliefs of all her millions of fellow Christians, do have real consequences. And those consequences also include some of the faithful attacking abortion clinics, praying for sick children instead of calling for medical help, attempting to get creationism officially taught in schools, in the US it also includes the fact that it's almost impossible to get elected to political office unless you swear that you are a Christian believer, and along with that it includes all sorts of church groups then requiring tax favours from all those elected "Christian" politicians. Of course in the Muslim world it also includes a shockingly large number of people who think it's actually their religious duty to wage a holy war in order to exert the supremacy of Islam and establish an Islamic Caliphate etc.

Now you might think that your doctor friend is a Christian "moderate" who would never do any of those things, and that it's only fundamentalists who do all of that. But the truth is it's a sliding and very fluid scale from moderate to extremist; where, just because at one time the believer is entirely benign, certainly does not mean they cannot change their views quite rapidly to become seriously dangerous to themselves and to others around them. IOW, religious moderates can quite easily and quickly become dangerous extremists for all sorts of reasons ... and if you doubt that then just look at how many young Muslims from the UK and other EU countries have left to fight for IS in Syria and elsewhere, and look at their earlier background where almost all of them were former moderates who very quickly changed their minds and decided to cross that line into lethal extremism.

In short - the problem is that religious beliefs are dangerous. In fact, it's often said that all beliefs rooted in fantasy are potentially dangerous, and perhaps in the end that's true.
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Old Today, 04:16 PM   #202
Minoosh
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
A person that knows there’s conflict and contradiction between their strongly held and committed life-long Christian God beliefs and their educated intellectual knowledge chooses to compartmentalize them rather than honesty facing and addressing their cognitive dissonance.
Do you believe it's a choice?
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Old Today, 04:28 PM   #203
ynot
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Do you believe it's a choice?
As much as anything is a choice.
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Old Today, 04:32 PM   #204
ynot
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Well it's "uneducated" if she believes that evolution is untrue and that an invisible God really made humans.
I would say "intellectually dishonest of an educated person that favours emotional god beliefs".
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Old Today, 04:48 PM   #205
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
I was trying to remember where I had seem some esteemed astrophysicist saying that we knew but a little, and that we therefore could not rule out things that we would call supernatural. Then I remembered it was Brian May. He's esteemed, all right, but for his guitar playing and songwriting, not his science.

Maybe he was just being polite to legions of fans who want to believe Freddie Mercury still exists.
Well, maybe, but maybe he's just being scientific about it. As the saying goes, you can't disprove a negative. (Well, most of the time, anyway.) As such, most of us not believing in X, Y or Z, are simply falling back on the default hypothesis until evidence is presented to disprove it, rather than believing that X, Y and Z are absolutely disproven or anything.

I'm quite open myself to the idea that magic exists, or a god exists, or hell, that elves exist in my fridge. As gods go, I'm not even asking for omnipotence or anything. If anyone can do the stuff that has been ascribed to Pharaohs for example -- since a Pharaoh was supposed to BE a god, not just a messenger or something -- I'll gladly pull stones for his pyramid.

But, you know, until evidence is presented, I'll stick to the null hypothesis that there is no such thing happening.

UNFORTUNATELY, instead of evidence, I tend to get the same old rationalizations over and over again. I wish someone would at least come up with an original stupidity, really, but I'm kinda jaded at this point
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Last edited by HansMustermann; Today at 04:49 PM.
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Old Today, 04:52 PM   #206
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Thanks. Well there’s a lot of unnecessary warm-fuzzy emotional “chaff” in that, so I’ll edit it down to what I believe is the relevant “wheat” of the matter . . .

But first, here’s a reminder of what Thor 2 and myself collectively said and which you took exception to and ridiculed - “God beliefs are silly for the educated and intellectually honest in modern times”.

My abridged edit . . .
A person that knows there’s conflict and contradiction between their strongly held and committed life-long Christian God beliefs and their educated intellectual knowledge chooses to compartmentalize them rather than honesty facing and addressing their cognitive dissonance. Their reason for doing this is to preserve and protect the comforting and desirable “rewards” they get from their God beliefs. In other words, they are willfully choosing to be dishonest to their intellectual knowledge in favour of their comforting God beliefs. From this person’s perspective they aren’t being silly because they aren’t being intellectually honest. From an intellectually honest person’s perspective however they are being silly (to put it mildly).

So back to the earlier definitions: Whether she is naive or not is irrelevant because nativity isn’t one of our definitions. She is certainly educated but she's also being intellectually dishonest. She chooses to compartmentalize her educated intellectual knowledge from her comforting emotional God beliefs and favours the beliefs. From an intellectually honest persons perspective intellectual dishonesty in favour of comforting emotional god beliefs is silly, crazy and potentially dangerous for humanity.

So ““God beliefs are silly for the educated and intellectually honest in modern times” is neither condescending nor insulting, it’s merely true.

Please let me know if there’s anything there you take exception to (I imagine there will be ).
I understand what you mean, but you're right, I disagree with your use of the word dishonest. As I mentioned in a different post, I think many people honestly look at science in a rational way, then honestly examine their feelings and experiences with faith in an emotional way. I think it's quite possible to honestly decide that denying the science is impossible, but equally so is denying the experiences encountered exploring faith. In such a case, the only honest position is to acknowledge the challenge. One may then proceed to try to work through the challenge, perhaps eventually reinterpreting their religious experiences and thoughts in non-supernatural terms, however it is not incumbent on them to do so, nor necessarily dishonest if the choose not to.

Also, the purpose of the emotional chaff is to give you a context of things I consider to be strong evidence of someone being neither uneducated, naive, silly or insane. Much better metrics, in my opinion, than what religions beliefs someone holds.

One last point. I wouldn't do this, but I could contend that you are being dishonest by not acknowledging that it's reasonable for someone to have both scientific understanding and religious beliefs as helpful models for understanding different aspects of their existence. I make no such claim because I don't believe you are being dishonest. I believe you when you say you can't understand how that is possible. I think you are attempting to understand and finding that it remains incomprehensible. Perhaps you could try a different approach, or try harder, but it is not incumbent on you to do that, and it is not dishonest if you choose not to.
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Old Today, 04:58 PM   #207
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Do you believe it's a choice?
I would argue that it HAS to be, because it's neither logical, nor the natural way the brain files information. In fact, quite the opposite, the brain has mechanisms in place like cognitive dissonance to try to force you to have ONE world model and keep it coherent.

But, really, think about it. If you believe X, which again is shorthand for believing X is true, then why wouldn't you apply it all the time? E.g., if you think that those mushrooms over there are poisonous, exactly why and how would you apply it, say, in church, but not in the kitchen? If you believe that that snake over there is poisonous, why would you only use that information in the back of the garden, but not in the front of it?

Why would something like that even evolve? Exactly when would a caveman need such a mechanism?

It seems to me like it's ONLY used for religion, and at that it seems to be a rather modern phenomenon. Far as anyone can tell, in ancient times, or for every tribe we encountered, they just believe that their religion is true and it applies full time.

So, yes, I think that at that point of bending over backwards to work around the very biology of one's brain, you kinda have to choose to do it. It doesn't just happen naturally.
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Old Today, 05:27 PM   #208
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Well it's "uneducated" if she believes that evolution is untrue and that an invisible God really made humans.

And it's a "silly" belief to think that Jesus really could have been dead for 3 days and then rose from his grave and floated off to heaven.

And in common every-day language it's "crazy" to believe that Jesus walked on water, fed 5000 people with just a few loaves and a couple of fish, commanded other dead people to come back to life and walk away etc.

In biblical times it seems that almost everyone on Earth believed that things like that happened almost daily in various towns and cities all around them. But they had a good excuse, because in the 1st century AD almost nobody had the faintest idea of what caused things like thunder & lightning, or earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, famine, disease, or how any stars could have been "put" into the night sky. So with that almost total lack of any scientific knowledge at all, it certainly would have seemed to everyone that a supernatural creator and constant miracles were probably the only possible answer.

But we are not in the 1st century AD any more. And educated honest people should know now that science has provided completely convincing answers for all those things ... with no hint of any God ever found anywhere in any of the many millions of explanations we now have for almost everything that surrounds us all every day and which we all rely on every day in our daily lives. We expect all of that vast environment from science to be absolutely perfectly correct and to work all day every day, absolutely perfectly every time, - and it does all actually do that! But in stark contrast, wherever we have ever been able to make a genuine investigation of any religious claims about miracles, faith healing (including anyone rising from the truly dead), visions etc., or even claimed "personal experiences", all of those claims have turned out to be completely false; every last one of them!

The other point about your doctor friend, is this - what she believes from her faith may indeed give her comfort, and it may indeed persuade her to help others in need, etc. But her beliefs, like the beliefs of all her millions of fellow Christians, do have real consequences. And those consequences also include some of the faithful attacking abortion clinics, praying for sick children instead of calling for medical help, attempting to get creationism officially taught in schools, in the US it also includes the fact that it's almost impossible to get elected to political office unless you swear that you are a Christian believer, and along with that it includes all sorts of church groups then requiring tax favours from all those elected "Christian" politicians. Of course in the Muslim world it also includes a shockingly large number of people who think it's actually their religious duty to wage a holy war in order to exert the supremacy of Islam and establish an Islamic Caliphate etc.

Now you might think that your doctor friend is a Christian "moderate" who would never do any of those things, and that it's only fundamentalists who do all of that. But the truth is it's a sliding and very fluid scale from moderate to extremist; where, just because at one time the believer is entirely benign, certainly does not mean they cannot change their views quite rapidly to become seriously dangerous to themselves and to others around them. IOW, religious moderates can quite easily and quickly become dangerous extremists for all sorts of reasons ... and if you doubt that then just look at how many young Muslims from the UK and other EU countries have left to fight for IS in Syria and elsewhere, and look at their earlier background where almost all of them were former moderates who very quickly changed their minds and decided to cross that line into lethal extremism.

In short - the problem is that religious beliefs are dangerous. In fact, it's often said that all beliefs rooted in fantasy are potentially dangerous, and perhaps in the end that's true.
Thanks for the thorough response IanS. I understand what you're saying and agree with some of it. I just have time to reply to the highlighted bit right now and am picking it because I think many people agree with you, whereas I disagree. I think it's very unreasonable to expect the degree of social change you are describing within the timelines given. I know you're using hyperbole when you says "1 AD", but when do you really think scientific thinking began to become sufficiently mainstream such that "educated, honest people" should have discarded their faith and belief? I would say somewhere around the 1980s this sort of expectation began to emerge and become more popular. I think the pace of the social shift since then has been enormously fast (in historical terms) and that the resistance and "blow-back" seen in places like the US is a typical and predictable result of rapid social change. I think the expectation that thousands of years of established cultural mentality should change entirely in half a lifetime, such that anyone who fails to keep up is uneducated and/or dishonest, is very unrealistic.
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Old Today, 06:46 PM   #209
epeeist
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Given the thread subject, shouldn't posters be practicing ways of reaching out to theists amicably? Save all the accusations of stupidity, dishonesty, mental illness, etc., for all the threads not devoted to atheists amicably approaching theists?

Unless, of course, this is in fact relatively amicable compared to how some of you usually describe us theists...
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Old Today, 06:57 PM   #210
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
Given the thread subject, shouldn't posters be practicing ways of reaching out to theists amicably? Save all the accusations of stupidity, dishonesty, mental illness, etc., for all the threads not devoted to atheists amicably approaching theists?

Unless, of course, this is in fact relatively amicable compared to how some of you usually describe us theists...
Yeeeahhh, you've hit the nail pretty much right on the head here. This is the friendliest thread on this subject I've seen in literally years.
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Old Today, 08:09 PM   #211
Minoosh
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
I don't believe in an interventionist god
But I know, darling, that you do...
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I AGREE
I wasn't familiar with Cave's work and at first I thought this song was going to be a joke - the opening lyrics sounded so heavy. I looked him up and ended checking out Johnny Cash's cover of The Mercy Seat. Plus Cave's version of course.

Thanks for that.
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Old Today, 10:01 PM   #212
Minoosh
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I would argue that it HAS to be, because it's neither logical, nor the natural way the brain files information. In fact, quite the opposite, the brain has mechanisms in place like cognitive dissonance to try to force you to have ONE world model and keep it coherent.
OK. If it's not natural, and not logical, where did it come from?

I think there's a good chance that the ability to hold dissonant views had some survival value in our species. Otherwise only logical people would have lived to reproduce and we'd all be Vulcans.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But, really, think about it. If you believe X, which again is shorthand for believing X is true, then why wouldn't you apply it all the time? E.g., if you think that those mushrooms over there are poisonous, exactly why and how would you apply it, say, in church, but not in the kitchen? If you believe that that snake over there is poisonous, why would you only use that information in the back of the garden, but not in the front of it?

Why would something like that even evolve? Exactly when would a caveman need such a mechanism?
If it didn't evolve, where then did it come from?

In another thread someone said religion existed solely for the benefit of privileged members of society who figured out how to manipulate people with it. But I didn't find that theory terribly persuasive. Somewhere along the way dualism became embedded in the human psyche, and I think it's more primitive than you give it credit for - otherwise religion would not have taken hold to the extent that it did.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
It seems to me like it's ONLY used for religion, and at that it seems to be a rather modern phenomenon. Far as anyone can tell, in ancient times, or for every tribe we encountered, they just believe that their religion is true and it applies full time.
IMO, the truth is, we don't know how it developed. We don't where the concept of "souls" came from. We don't know when funeral rites became sendoffs into the realm of an afterlife, or why such ceremonies exist. It would be interesting to know, but in the meantime I'm not buying that it is a recent phenomenon, except in the sense that civilization itself is a recent phenomenon.

My guess is that magical thinking is the more primitive trait, and it's rationality that is a recent addition.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
So, yes, I think that at that point of bending over backwards to work around the very biology of one's brain, you kinda have to choose to do it. It doesn't just happen naturally.
Everything that human beings are is the accretion of natural processes so I would argue that yes, it does happens naturally. Because what's the alternative? Even if someone 25,000, even 50,000 years ago devised a scheme to increase their own power and status and exerted their intellect to make that happen - that's still a process that happened naturally. Why did it succeed? Who knows? Perhaps because an instinctive drive to follow dominant members of the tribe had survival value for the species.

Holding the view that humans are fundamentally rational beings who can and should use reason to eradicate erroneous beliefs is IMO already positing dualism. As far as I know there is no biological basis for believing that our minds tell our brains what to think. It may feel like that's what is happening, but I'm not sure it's true.

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Old Today, 10:04 PM   #213
Minoosh
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
As much as anything is a choice.
Then I would ask, to what extent is anything a choice?

Maybe that's a derail, but as the OP seems to have disappeared I'm not sure it matters.
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