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Old 21st February 2019, 02:05 PM   #321
Thor 2
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Right. I don't disagree with anything you've said there. What I'm saying though is that these testimonies are frequently from people who already feel quite badly about themselves before having any theistic beliefs or involvement in any religious community. This is certainly not true in every case, but these cases are pertinent to the OP I think. As such, the "all have sinned and fallen short" part of the Christian message is encouraging in a "it's okay, none of us is perfect and God doesn't expect us to be" kind of way. The further encouragement that I think often leads to belief is the sense of love and inclusion and hope for change that I mentioned earlier.

Interesting concept this one. I mean the idea that some people who feel badly about themselves could be drawn to and find comfort in Christianity. Although I can see the possible truth in this, I find it somewhat perverted in a way. I can also see the possibility, nay probability, that some with high self esteem, could have that feeling of self worth depleted, perhaps dramatically.

My brother was a good illustration I think. Whether it was poor self image that drove him to become a Christian I cannot say, but he certainly finished up with it. He really went for songs like "Amazing Grace" (poor wretch like me theme) and "It's me oh Lord" (needing prayer to help him through theme).

His low self esteem broadened to low esteem for humanity in general. He would strongly argue against any idea that man could evolve into a more moral or worthy being in the future. A song like "These things shall be. A loftier race ...." would have him writhing in his chair.

My own deliberations lead me to conclude, that my brothers convictions were inevitable, if you embrace Christianity. You can dress up services to be all "Happy Clappy", but the underlying premiss that we are miserable sinners in need of salvation just won't go away. This is the rock that Christianity rests on. We are unworthy in our own right and need to accept this if we are to be saved.
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:11 PM   #322
epeeist
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
He thinks not believing in god is a faith or belief. There are a surprising number of theists that think this. I think it's origin as an idea comes from the presuppositionalists who think that we all without exception really believe in their particular god but are in denial/misguided/evil/possessed. The thought is (or seems to be from epeeist's version of it) that we all as humans have a faith compenent intrinsic to our very beings. No exceptions. From that perspective, atheists have simply substituted something else in which to have faith because that faith component must be filled by something, even egotism or hedonism or my personal favourite, the love of sinning, which is all kinds of messed up.

These types of arguments are rather easy to pick apart with the exception of the hard presups. They are so convinced that you or I believe in their god that when you tell them you don't believe in any god or gods, they will call you a blatant liar to your face. They know you believe in their god. In their souls (like that is going to sway anyone). It is at that point that I go way off script and come up with a steady stream of escalating bizarre claims that I know are true. The throbbing veins on their temples and bulging eyes are a treat.

In fairness, be under no illusion. I am not claiming epeeist is one of those wingnuts at all. Nevertheless, it is the line of thinking that originates such claims/beliefs.

Regardless that epeeist is likely unaware where he glommed onto such a notion, the claim falls into a couple of joint claims.

1. We have a soul.
2. All souls have a faith shaped jigsaw puzzle piece in them
3. You must fill in that empty faith shaped jigsaw puzzle piece with something even if it is the wrong piece
4. Atheists have filled in the jigsaw puzzle hole with the wrong piece
5. If only the atheist could be persuaded to swap his piece for a carbon copy of my piece he/she would be saved
6. It is not possible to not fill that hole with something nor to not have a hole in the first place nor to have an empty hole (scuse unintentional FNAR)

And the real kicker. This leads to an inevitable consequence.

7. Those having an empty hole, or no hole at all are by definition sub-human.

Those who think this way usually go along with 1 to 6 but balk at the cliff edge of 7. Presups don't even hesitate at 7.

I don't. I fully expect that if and when I die, there will be nothing at all. I wont even know about it because there will be no me to know anything. So suppose I die and there is some god resplendent in glory to my astonishment. I would reject him/her/it/housecat immediately and I would have a single statement to make.

You could have made things better, perfect even. You chose to do nothing. That makes me your moral superior and you know it.
Since this isn't what I meant, and I profoundly disagree especially with #5 and #6 and #7, either my necessarily brief explanation, or your understanding, or both, are wrong.

I mean, how do you get from me repeatedly and explicitly saying that atheism isn't a choice and it's not sinful because it's not rejection of God it's just non-belief in God, to what you wrote as (or an extension of) what you misstate as my views?!
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:22 PM   #323
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post

I mean, how do you get from me repeatedly and explicitly saying that atheism isn't a choice and it's not sinful because it's not rejection of God it's just non-belief in God, to what you wrote as (or an extension of) what you misstate as my views?!
Atheism is a choice. It is a rejection of belief in god. And it is, of course, not sinful. It is a choice of a free and rational person.

I have seen repeatedly that, somehow, many believers cannot wrap their mind around the fact that non-believers simply ... don't believe. Just like non-smokers don't smoke.

Hans
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:24 PM   #324
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Interesting concept this one. I mean the idea that some people who feel badly about themselves could be drawn to and find comfort in Christianity. Although I can see the possible truth in this, I find it somewhat perverted in a way. I can also see the possibility, nay probability, that some with high self esteem, could have that feeling of self worth depleted, perhaps dramatically.

My brother was a good illustration I think. Whether it was poor self image that drove him to become a Christian I cannot say, but he certainly finished up with it. He really went for songs like "Amazing Grace" (poor wretch like me theme) and "It's me oh Lord" (needing prayer to help him through theme).

His low self esteem broadened to low esteem for humanity in general. He would strongly argue against any idea that man could evolve into a more moral or worthy being in the future. A song like "These things shall be. A loftier race ...." would have him writhing in his chair.

My own deliberations lead me to conclude, that my brothers convictions were inevitable, if you embrace Christianity. You can dress up services to be all "Happy Clappy", but the underlying premiss that we are miserable sinners in need of salvation just won't go away. This is the rock that Christianity rests on. We are unworthy in our own right and need to accept this if we are to be saved.
First just as an aside re the song Amazing Grace, as I recall one Catholic hymnal (but not another one) alter "that saved a wretch like me" to "that saved and strengthened me".

Second, more generally, you seem to be focusing on a particular strain of view. You note that even a happy Christian hymn would disturb your brother. Well, what about all the other Christians who like such hymns, who are happy and take joy in their religious beliefs and practices? Your own experience and deliberations and belief as to what is inevitable if one embraces Christianity, doesn't mean you are correct.
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:30 PM   #325
Thor 2
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
Since this isn't what I meant, and I profoundly disagree especially with #5 and #6 and #7, either my necessarily brief explanation, or your understanding, or both, are wrong.

I mean, how do you get from me repeatedly and explicitly saying that atheism isn't a choice and it's not sinful because it's not rejection of God it's just non-belief in God, to what you wrote as (or an extension of) what you misstate as my views?!
Well I said I couldn't understand what you had written and you reject abaddon's interpretation of the same text. So where does that leave us?
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:32 PM   #326
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Atheism is a choice. It is a rejection of belief in god. And it is, of course, not sinful. It is a choice of a free and rational person.

I have seen repeatedly that, somehow, many believers cannot wrap their mind around the fact that non-believers simply ... don't believe. Just like non-smokers don't smoke.

Hans
Re smoking or not smoking, that's again, an example of behaviour, not belief.

Maybe being vegan is a helpful example. Eating vegan is behaviour. Believing that because of animal rights one should be vegan is a belief. Believing that for health reasons one should be vegan is a belief. Eating vegan because one's spouse is and it's easier to go along, is pure behaviour, not principled belief in health or ethical reasons for veganism. Eating meat despite one's vegan beliefs means one is not, by behaviour, a vegan, even if one believes it is wrong and unhealthy to eat meat and so in a sense is a vegan believer who occasionally sins?

I have no problem believing there are non-believers who don't believe.

I do however have difficulty believing it's a simple choice that can be turned on or off as you seem to posit. Or maybe it can't be turned on, but only off, it's a one-way switch? It's not clear to me what you mean. Perhaps it's a grammatical or linguistic problem, are we using the same words to mean different things?
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:35 PM   #327
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Well I said I couldn't understand what you had written and you reject abaddon's interpretation of the same text. So where does that leave us?
You didn't understand me, fair enough. Abaddon's attempted explanation is entirely NOT what I believe. So I'm fine with your not understanding me; I'm not fine with leaving such a profound misstatement about my beliefs (I'm not attributing any malign intent to Abaddon, I presume as noted mistake or miscommunication by one or both of us).
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:35 PM   #328
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
First just as an aside re the song Amazing Grace, as I recall one Catholic hymnal (but not another one) alter "that saved a wretch like me" to "that saved and strengthened me".

Second, more generally, you seem to be focusing on a particular strain of view. You note that even a happy Christian hymn would disturb your brother. Well, what about all the other Christians who like such hymns, who are happy and take joy in their religious beliefs and practices? Your own experience and deliberations and belief as to what is inevitable if one embraces Christianity, doesn't mean you are correct.

Oh, so you are saying you don't accept the fundamental premiss of Christianity? Jesus died on the cross to save us because we are miserable sinners, tainted by the original sin of Adam and Eve.
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:45 PM   #329
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Atheism is a choice. It is a rejection of belief in god. And it is, of course, not sinful. It is a choice of a free and rational person.
Not true, atheism can be a position of indecision. Atheism is the default position, theism is a choice or indoctrination.

Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
I have seen repeatedly that, somehow, many believers cannot wrap their mind around the fact that non-believers simply ... don't believe. Just like non-smokers don't smoke.

Hans
Now you have it! No choice required. Trouble is you contradict your first statement. Perhaps you also cannot wrap your mind around the correct version?
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:47 PM   #330
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Oh, so you are saying you don't accept the fundamental premiss of Christianity? Jesus died on the cross to save us because we are miserable sinners, tainted by the original sin of Adam and Eve.
Taking the last part first, and oversimplifying a bit, Catholic teaching is that humanity, through arrogance, distanced itself from God. That is what original sin is. That is the religious truth in Genesis. There is no need to believe in a literal Adam and Eve (though one may).

The first part, huge difference between recognizing ourselves as sinners, saved by God's mercy (and Jesus' sacrifice) versus ignoring that, as part of God's creation, we are also inherently good and loved by God despite sinfulness. Which some of those emphasizing the miserable sinners aspect miss.
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:52 PM   #331
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Not true, atheism can be a position of indecision. Atheism is the default position, theism is a choice or indoctrination.
I think theism or atheism may be a result, at least in part, of indoctrination (using the word broadly) so to at least some extent agree with you.

As to the default position, I disagree - or at least, don't agree. How do you know what a hypothetical blind and deaf person who was raised by robots and never learned language might believe, whether their default position would be atheism or theism? Repeating the experiment a thousand times, what would the result be? Other than, of course, being incredibly cruel and evil to conduct such an experiment...
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:56 PM   #332
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Oh, so you are saying you don't accept the fundamental premiss of Christianity? Jesus died on the cross to save us because we are miserable sinners, tainted by the original sin of Adam and Eve.
Will-o'-the-wisp theism
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Old 21st February 2019, 02:58 PM   #333
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
I think theism or atheism may be a result, at least in part, of indoctrination (using the word broadly) so to at least some extent agree with you.

As to the default position, I disagree - or at least, don't agree. How do you know what a hypothetical blind and deaf person who was raised by robots and never learned language might believe, whether their default position would be atheism or theism? Repeating the experiment a thousand times, what would the result be? Other than, of course, being incredibly cruel and evil to conduct such an experiment...
Name one person that was born believing in a god.

Atheism isn't having a belief, it's not having a belief (in any god or gods).
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Old 21st February 2019, 03:19 PM   #334
Thor 2
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
Taking the last part first, and oversimplifying a bit, Catholic teaching is that humanity, through arrogance, distanced itself from God. That is what original sin is. That is the religious truth in Genesis. There is no need to believe in a literal Adam and Eve (though one may).
No matter how you redefine it original sin is still there and is what we are burdened with, thus making us unworthy in our own right.

Quote:
The first part, huge difference between recognizing ourselves as sinners, saved by God's mercy (and Jesus' sacrifice) versus ignoring that, as part of God's creation, we are also inherently good and loved by God despite sinfulness. Which some of those emphasizing the miserable sinners aspect miss.

Oh yes, got it I think.

Well the acceptance of being a sinner and inherently good simultaneously is a difficult mental pose to hold.

Referring to your Catholic definition of "Original Sin" I wonder if you could give us a guideline, about the best method to determine if Biblical script is literal or allegorical. It vexes me that some Christians will duck behind the allegorical shield, whenever something particularly nasty or absurd is quoted from the text.
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Old 21st February 2019, 06:42 PM   #335
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Interesting concept this one. I mean the idea that some people who feel badly about themselves could be drawn to and find comfort in Christianity. Although I can see the possible truth in this, I find it somewhat perverted in a way. I can also see the possibility, nay probability, that some with high self esteem, could have that feeling of self worth depleted, perhaps dramatically.

My brother was a good illustration I think. Whether it was poor self image that drove him to become a Christian I cannot say, but he certainly finished up with it. He really went for songs like "Amazing Grace" (poor wretch like me theme) and "It's me oh Lord" (needing prayer to help him through theme).

His low self esteem broadened to low esteem for humanity in general. He would strongly argue against any idea that man could evolve into a more moral or worthy being in the future. A song like "These things shall be. A loftier race ...." would have him writhing in his chair.

My own deliberations lead me to conclude, that my brothers convictions were inevitable, if you embrace Christianity. You can dress up services to be all "Happy Clappy", but the underlying premiss that we are miserable sinners in need of salvation just won't go away. This is the rock that Christianity rests on. We are unworthy in our own right and need to accept this if we are to be saved.
I can understand why your experiences with your family have lead to some strong negative conclusions about Christianity in general. That sort of experience may very well be common, bit not in my (admittedly limited) experience, and as such, I would encourage you to consider that as evidence that, at least, it is not inevitable.
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Old 21st February 2019, 06:50 PM   #336
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Will-o'-the-wisp theism
I think the idea of Christ's sacrifice being an act of reconciliation is pretty common. I.e. that it was meant to reestablish an intended good relationship. I think this theme resonates more strongly for many christians than cartoon-y ideas of heaven and hell; harps and fires and such.
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Old 21st February 2019, 07:04 PM   #337
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
...Referring to your Catholic definition of "Original Sin" I wonder if you could give us a guideline, about the best method to determine if Biblical script is literal or allegorical. It vexes me that some Christians will duck behind the allegorical shield, whenever something particularly nasty or absurd is quoted from the text.
I think many of the Christians ynot might refer to as "willo-the-wisp-ish" start with the premise that God loves them and wants good for them (and mankind in general) in this life and whatever lies beyond. As such, they are likely to try to interpret (and yes, sometimes force fit) scripture in a way that is consistent with that, (or perhaps admit that it doesn't fit and they don't know why).

Notably though, people only tend to duck behind shields when they feel they are under attack. I don't think there's any getting around the reality that when you challenge someone about their faith, you are asking them to try to describe something that they cannot possibly understand fully nor adequately put into words (especially to the satisfaction of an atheist and skeptic). It is a challenge that will almost always lead to someone being defensive, (or having the opposite reaction of becoming arrogant or aggressive depending on the personality), as a counter measure. I find as I read these posts, I am only just barely able to avoid/overcome those same gut reactions because I am already challenging myself in the same measure and with many of the same arguments; but even then, it's not easy for me.
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Old 21st February 2019, 07:06 PM   #338
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Well the acceptance of being a sinner and inherently good simultaneously is a difficult mental pose to hold.
I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I think the idea was the acceptance of being imperfect, but simultaneously loved and valued, which is not so difficult to understand.
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Old 21st February 2019, 11:30 PM   #339
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
Taking the last part first, and oversimplifying a bit, Catholic teaching is that humanity, through arrogance, distanced itself from God. That is what original sin is. That is the religious truth in Genesis. There is no need to believe in a literal Adam and Eve (though one may).

The first part, huge difference between recognizing ourselves as sinners, saved by God's mercy (and Jesus' sacrifice) versus ignoring that, as part of God's creation, we are also inherently good and loved by God despite sinfulness. Which some of those emphasizing the miserable sinners aspect miss.
Mate, at the end of the day, it still boils down to being blamed for and having to make up for something that

A) someone else did, and

B) that one didn't even exist.

It's like blaming all parents because Darth Vader was a crappy one. And they better brown nose me, or I'll torture them for what Darth Vader did.

Second, that's not what the Bible says. It's not even something that the bible text is an actual metaphor for, as in, it actually serves to transfer something you know about X to the similar issue Y. It's just pulling something completely different out of the ass, sometimes not more related than playing madlibs with replacing words in the original text, and sometimes not even that. And that's something that I find outright stonking stupid about Catholicism in general.

It's like if I were to tell dad back then that I cleaned up my room and did my homework. Except when it turns out the room is still the same mess and I haven't written a line, I'd back into, but ah, when I said that, it was metaphorically speaking. When I said "cleaned the room", I meant "played video games", and by "did the homework" I mean "played with the cat too." That's not a metaphor, it's a lame excuse.
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Old 21st February 2019, 11:40 PM   #340
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Which brings us to the issue of choice: yes, you have a choice whether you want to actually apply good logic, or you want to make stupid rationalizations to keep your belief. The belief itself may be just the result of one or the other, but that doesn't mean you never had any choice.

It's like saying that I have no choice in whether that guy lives or dies, I only had the choice to pull the trigger. You can't blame me for homicide, since THAT wasn't within my power to choose. Yeah, well, no court is going to see it that way.

But I don't even have to do metaphors there, I can go by beliefs too. Any other belief held against evidence, like the anti-vaxxer nonsense, trutherism, birtherism, flat earth, or whatever, doesn't get the same excuses. Nobody sane goes "ah, the guy grew up in Denmark (which, at 170m highest point, is even flatter than Florida), he never had any choice but to believe the Earth is flat." Yes he did, when he learned the relevant facts, and he decided that no, the right thing to do is to ignore them and keep believing nonsense.
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Old 21st February 2019, 11:49 PM   #341
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Originally Posted by epeeist View Post
I think theism or atheism may be a result, at least in part, of indoctrination (using the word broadly) so to at least some extent agree with you.

As to the default position, I disagree - or at least, don't agree. How do you know what a hypothetical blind and deaf person who was raised by robots and never learned language might believe, whether their default position would be atheism or theism? Repeating the experiment a thousand times, what would the result be? Other than, of course, being incredibly cruel and evil to conduct such an experiment...
I think our cognitive biases (especially agent detection) predispose us to theism rather than atheism. That's why our ancestors invented gods in the first place. It's also why they invented the scientific method, to eliminate the effect of those biases.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 12:17 AM   #342
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, sure. Of course, even. My point is just that any kind of defeating Critias (yours or the real one) by religion -- again, assuming that would actually work at all as Dostoevsky imagines -- involves getting him to truly belive in Christ. If he's just faking it and, as you put it, making cynical use of religion for his own purposes, as you note, that hasn't solved anything at all.

So what I'm getting at is simply that until you find a way to persuade Critias to start really believing, religion can't do anything to sort him out either.
I insist, convincing a cynic or a tyrant is an almost impossible task. That is not what I have raised here. And of course, Dostoevsky's Christian solution seems illusory to me.
But Dostoevsky creates discomfort for the atheist. If he is sincere, he must recognize that there are no absolute moral principles. But morality demands acting as if they were. Then morality is an illusion like religion, insists the cynic. This is the Dostoevsky dilemma that still concerns moral philosophers.

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Old 22nd February 2019, 12:37 AM   #343
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
But Dostoyevsky creates discomfort for the atheist.
Does it? I'm in no discomfort myself, other than the occasional facepalm at stupid blank assertions in such threads.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
If he is sincere, he must recognize that there are no absolute moral principles.
Right. Still no discomfort there.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
But morality demands acting as if they were.
No it doesn't. All rules we've come up with boil down to a social contract.

E.g., I don't want to be murdered, you don't want to be murderd, and those guys over there around the tribe's camp fire also don't particularly fancy being killed. Self preservation is, after all, the strongest instinct. So we sit together and make a pact to not murder each other, and to somehow deter anyone else from murderizing any of us to death.

E.g., if I'm one of those tribesmen, I'd like to keep my flint spear and knife, because I worked hard to make them and my feeding my family depends on them. I wouldn't like to wake up one morning and see some other dude going hunting with them. You presumably similarly would like to keep your stuff. And those guys over there are quite fond of keeping theirs. So we invent a notion that taking some other guy's stuff without his permission is theft, and it's wrong.

But there is not a single atom in that flint knife that says it's mine, as opposed to that other guy's. There's not a single atom that says it's ok for it to be in my hand, but totally not ok in that other guy's hand. There is no such thing as an absolute and inherent morality in the whole thing. It's just something that we as a group came up with, because that's what most of us wanted.

You can even look at any parliament to see that in action in real time.

Now if we're more advanced than cavemen sitting around a campfire, we might invoke philosophical theories like utilitarianism. Or we could use sociology and economics to see what kind of principles worked best for other societies. Or if we're into neuroscience, we might look into what kind of things we're hard-wired to abhor, or which cause the most suffering to the most people. Etc.

Or if we're complete stonking idiots, who can't possibly understand how those rules could work unless there's an imaginary bogeyman enforcing them, we lie that they come from some god or great spirit.

But at the end of the day, religion or no religion, it is still what a group of people wanted. They may have lied (or been genuinely schizophrenic) and attributed those rules to some god, or not, but that's what they are in either case.

And it works.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Then morality is an illusion like religion, insists the cynic.
No it's not. Not any more than the peace treaty between, say, Germany, England and France is.

Absolute morality is, as is the notion that it's some entity by itself, removed from the humans that made it, but that's a whole different topic. It's like saying that markets are an illusion, because Adam Smith's imaginary hand isn't actually a real hand, and it doesn't guarantee some absolute values for the right prices. So what? As long as it works and we don't actually have a better mechanism yet, then who cares?

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
This is the Dostoevsky dilemma that still concerns moral philosophers.
Well, I guess it's only fair that philosophy departments also include their fair share of idiots, so they're representative of the general population
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Old 22nd February 2019, 12:49 AM   #344
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Also, just to make it clear, yes, I am aware that for a certain kind of daft people, that's what makes it super-scary. You don't even need to go anthropology on their ass to figure it out, because they'll tell you up front. Stuff like "if morality is just what we decide, there's nothing to stop people from voting tomorrow to take your guns and your money" are all over conservative sites.

For the rest of us, the idea that the rules are what WE as a people need, and can make new ones if new situations arise, or strike old ones if we no longer want them, is what's GOOD about the whole thing. It's not a discomfort. It's in fact quite comforting that we could replace, say, the divine right of kings with the Magna Carta, and can do so again if needed.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 04:19 AM   #345
Aridas
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks for taking the time to express your thoughts. For sure, it's a complex topic; impossible to cover the breadth of it in a forum post. I appreciate your summary of what you feel are some of the key factors though.

I see you emphasize the third person perspective (e.g. observing harm being done to others), which is a good point. I'm also highlighting the first person perspective (recognizing I have done harm to others or harm has been done to me) as being a factor for identifying with the concept of "sin". I appreciate the need to consider both though. Cheers!
To be clear, of course, I did reference the first person perspective a bit when I pointed out that it especially applies to criminals, for example. Actually doing the harm is, of course, generally far more impactful than just seeing it happen.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 04:25 AM   #346
Aridas
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Asking an infinite number of questions is a way of doing that they cannot be answered. Especially if you answer a question with another question. Excuse me but I don't have time to follow that path. I will stick to some of them.
Infinite questions? Hardly. You being unable or unwilling to engage in the first place is your problem, though.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I asked you what evidence you have against Dostoevsky and you tell me that your opinions are evidence. That is an assertion not supported any more than by your own opinions. I thought you were talking about verifiable evidence. I see it was not so.
Funny. Ignoring what was said ain't impressive.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
My command of English is enough to realize that you have no interest in discussing but in slipping as an eel. This "you say I said what I didn't say but now I say what I didn't say before" is one way of wasting others' time. No game theory is needed to say that "Coercion and violence are very often NOT favored ways to make things change". This is obvious. But you attribute it to Critias and this is not what Critias says or what I said he said.
Really? You're now claiming that you didn't say -

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Consequence: there is no rational criterion to decide between one norm and another. The only reason is violence and coercion. The law of the strongest.
Huh. Strange how there seems to be a record of you saying that. It's not that there's no interest in discussing, but if you are trying and failing to be as slippery as an eel, it's true that there's much less point in engaging.


Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
For what it's worth, what Critias said is that the law of the nomos (social) is conventional and that only the law of the strongest is natural.
Which, again, is contradicted by the evidence at hand. The "only" part, specifically. Given human nature, there are biological and psychological impulses that underlie a number of social norms. Going further, one can easily point to the effects of evolution in determining which ones tend to be favored. The "law of the strongest" can be argued to be among those, but very much isn't the only one.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
And Critias was not talking about changing anything, but about justifying his absolute power, which was based on force.
Which alone should be enough to be quite wary of the argument from the start.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Critias' argument is not just to deny that the law of nomos is conventional in 19'', but that no one has been able to prove that it is natural (i.e. objective).
And of course they can't. In part because natural does not validly equate to objective in the first place. In part because a mechanism to make such a thing objective seems distinctly absent from reality. There are very, very few ways that objective social norms can even theoretically be possible, all of which are problematic. That very much applies to "the law of the strongest," too.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Of course he states this after discarding the reasons given by others. This has nothing to do with a 19'' video in which an individual says that tides cannot be explained. I suppose he has given reasons before such a surprising statement and they will be as surprising as his statement.
Since I don't know them, I can't discuss them and I'm not interested in them.
Mmm. So, you're just going to completely ignore the more expansive explanation of why that was invoked given on request. Good to know that your requests are clearly not being made in good faith.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
(This is a correct way to explain a misunderstanding and not what you do. I hope you realize the differences. I start to get a little tired. You will forgive me if I abandon you for a while).
If you're just going to ignore what I actually said almost entirely and lie about what you said, it's true that there's not much point in discussing things with you, though.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 04:41 AM   #347
Aridas
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Atheism is a choice. It is a rejection of belief in god. And it is, of course, not sinful. It is a choice of a free and rational person.
Not true, atheism can be a position of indecision. Atheism is the default position, theism is a choice or indoctrination.

Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
I have seen repeatedly that, somehow, many believers cannot wrap their mind around the fact that non-believers simply ... don't believe. Just like non-smokers don't smoke.

Hans
Now you have it! No choice required. Trouble is you contradict your first statement. Perhaps you also cannot wrap your mind around the correct version?
This subject is a bit tired, but here's yet another obligatory correction. More specifically, atheists lack belief in any gods. This may be out of, say, ignorance of the concept in the first place, and thus isn't a choice. It may also be a failure to accept claims of the existence of any gods, which could potentially be a choice. It may also be a rejection of the existence of any gods, which fairly certainly is a choice.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Does it? I'm in no discomfort myself, other than the occasional facepalm at stupid blank assertions in such threads.
Yeah, no discomfort here. Presenting trivial facts that have already quite been taken into account as if they upended everything doesn't exactly make for a convincing argument.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 04:41 AM   #348
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
I think our cognitive biases (especially agent detection) predispose us to theism rather than atheism. That's why our ancestors invented gods in the first place. It's also why they invented the scientific method, to eliminate the effect of those biases.
Definitely, at least during all written history we've always anthropomorphised the world around us. We see causual agents all around us so it's not surprising that we assume such agents exist for events in the natural world.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 05:56 AM   #349
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But to return to Dostoevsky, and why his testimony is worth exactly nothing, I'll do something that I usually object to, and illustrate it with the rules of the justice system. Because what I object to is mixing up the language and definitions of the two, which are very different, but the part about what testimony is worth anything, they figured out pretty well and is applicable here too. And maybe it'll help those whose only introduction to critical thinking was watching court dramas

Essentially you have:

- the normal witnesses, who can only testify to stuff that they themselves observed first hand. E.g., if Dostoevsky is your witness, he can testify to stuff like "I heard Ivan say that he doesn't have to obey any rule that's not from God", because that would be something that he personally seen or heard.

But these cannot testify such stuff as cojecture about what the other guy was thinking, what were his secret motivations, what were his fears. Unless testifying that one specific guy, specifically said that he stays up all night in fear of eternal death, then it's just your own conjecture. And you can't just bring in your own fantasies as evidence.

- expert witnesses. These are actually the ones who are qualified to infer such extra details, regardless of whether they personally actually witnessed the act or not. E.g., an expert on ballistics might tell you that the round you entered in evidence could not have been fired point blank, because the amount of deformation shows the bullet had slowed down considerably, and because there's no gunpoder residue on the victim's clothes. It doesn't matter if he actually saw the shooting or not, but he has the expertise to give an informed evaluation of the facts laid before him.

BUT -- and this is a huge BUT -- it is critical to first establish that he is, in fact, qualified to be an expert. Education, experience, published works, previous cases he testified on, etc, are all actually crucial to establishing whether the guy is actually an expert or not.

The legal system calls it "voir dire", and it's applied for experts, jurrors, evidence, etc. You first have to show why it's admissible in that particular role first.


And that's the problem with arguing that some argument has merit because Dostoevsky said so, and he's a smart cookie. No, that hasn't shown that he's qualified to be either kind of witness. Just being "not as stupid as you think", is not clearing that threshold. Unless one first shows that Dostoevsky has done the necessary research and has the necessary experience in the fields of sociology or psychology, then his postulates about how atheists think or what they should be doing at night or whatnot are worth exactly nothing.

Someone being qualified to be your expert witness is a burden of proof of its own. Because you're claiming that some attributes of this witness exist, and are at the required level. Therefore you get to show that.

And trying to reverse it via some "no, you show your scientific data first" is just idiotic, not some clever way around actually having a sound argument.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 07:06 AM   #350
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Originally Posted by Aridas View Post
To be clear, of course, I did reference the first person perspective a bit when I pointed out that it especially applies to criminals, for example. Actually doing the harm is, of course, generally far more impactful than just seeing it happen.
Right. Agreed.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 07:47 AM   #351
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Notably though, people only tend to duck behind shields when they feel they are under attack. I don't think there's any getting around the reality that when you challenge someone about their faith, you are asking them to try to describe something that they cannot possibly understand fully nor adequately put into words (especially to the satisfaction of an atheist and skeptic). It is a challenge that will almost always lead to someone being defensive, (or having the opposite reaction of becoming arrogant or aggressive depending on the personality), as a counter measure. I find as I read these posts, I am only just barely able to avoid/overcome those same gut reactions because I am already challenging myself in the same measure and with many of the same arguments; but even then, it's not easy for me.
What you're describing, and quite accurately for a simple post on a random board, rather than some paper, is really just cognitive dissonance. It's what happens when all the pieces in your mental model no longer fit together. And yes, it's uncomfortable. "Gut reaction" is pretty accurate. That's evolution trying to force you to sort out that model to be self-consistent again.

HOWEVER, please do note that the evolutionary pressure for that was to have a working model that reflects reality and allows you to function in reality. E.g., if my cat since birth (well, since weaning) has always found the food in a square dish and the water in a round bowl, she's formed a mental model that let's her know what to do for either need. If suddenly I reverse that, then something isn't working as expected any more, and she better learn fast that the previously learned rule isn't really true.

It is not just so one can get comfortable again, by deciding to believe a lie instead.

So yes, one might get defensive there. One may even imagine they're under some kind of attack. Surely that guy asking the uncomfortable stuff is just trying to make me feel uncomfortable. What an a-hole, right?

One can even get offensive. E.g., burn all those heretics, they're making me think about uncomfortable stuff.

Or one can decide to tell themselves a comfortable lie that resolves it the way they want it resolved.

Or, you know, they could just go for a mental model that isn't based on defending something illogical.

What I'm saying is that I hope I can be excused if I don't find someone's rejection of reality much of a reason to shut up. Their steadfast rejection of reality is what causes the whole discomfort, but it's their problem, not mine.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 08:43 AM   #352
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Also, just to make it clear, yes, I am aware that for a certain kind of daft people, that's what makes it super-scary. You don't even need to go anthropology on their ass to figure it out, because they'll tell you up front. Stuff like "if morality is just what we decide, there's nothing to stop people from voting tomorrow to take your guns and your money" are all over conservative sites.

For the rest of us, the idea that the rules are what WE as a people need, and can make new ones if new situations arise, or strike old ones if we no longer want them, is what's GOOD about the whole thing. It's not a discomfort. It's in fact quite comforting that we could replace, say, the divine right of kings with the Magna Carta, and can do so again if needed.
To paraphrase the philosopher Beta-Ray Bill: if there is no Good or Evil but what we do, then let us do Good.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 11:48 AM   #353
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Nicely explained, HansMustermann. Many here who've started off theistic and reasoned their way to atheism would empathize with how you describe cognitive dissonance arising out of religious beliefs.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 01:18 PM   #354
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
What you're describing, and quite accurately for a simple post on a random board, rather than some paper, is really just cognitive dissonance. It's what happens when all the pieces in your mental model no longer fit together. And yes, it's uncomfortable. "Gut reaction" is pretty accurate. That's evolution trying to force you to sort out that model to be self-consistent again.

HOWEVER, please do note that the evolutionary pressure for that was to have a working model that reflects reality and allows you to function in reality. E.g., if my cat since birth (well, since weaning) has always found the food in a square dish and the water in a round bowl, she's formed a mental model that let's her know what to do for either need. If suddenly I reverse that, then something isn't working as expected any more, and she better learn fast that the previously learned rule isn't really true.

It is not just so one can get comfortable again, by deciding to believe a lie instead.

So yes, one might get defensive there. One may even imagine they're under some kind of attack. Surely that guy asking the uncomfortable stuff is just trying to make me feel uncomfortable. What an a-hole, right?

One can even get offensive. E.g., burn all those heretics, they're making me think about uncomfortable stuff.

Or one can decide to tell themselves a comfortable lie that resolves it the way they want it resolved.

Or, you know, they could just go for a mental model that isn't based on defending something illogical.

What I'm saying is that I hope I can be excused if I don't find someone's rejection of reality much of a reason to shut up. Their steadfast rejection of reality is what causes the whole discomfort, but it's their problem, not mine.
Hey HM. Great post. Very clear and well put and I definitely don't think you should shut up. I think there is an important place for a strong, unapologetic atheistic voice, both here in the forum and in society in general. I would just encourage you to exercise discretion as you choose when and how to raise your voice (as you no doubt already do).

I think there are lots of believers who don't experience cognitive dissonance because they don't perceive the contradictions. I think there can be a fine line between educational campaigns and educational crusades, which can be very hard to walk.

Also, I think when it comes to resolving cognitive dissonance, it's reasonable to expect that the many believers will do so in the opposite way you would like. I.e., they will weigh what you say against their life experience and history of belief and happily choose to discount the former, which is unsurprising unless you expect them to immediately accept you as their new authority.

As such, I think the best you can hope for is that what you present will resonate with them and they will continue to explore the matter and gradually adjust their thinking (perhaps even engaging you to talk further about it). To that end, I think you may want to reconsider your language. Words like "dumb" "idiots" "stupid" etc. give someone a good excuse to write off what you say, which is a shame and, I expect, counter to your goals.

ynot may "tsk tsk" me a bit for sounding overly soft and cushy, but if you really want to change people's minds, I don't think self-indulgent name-calling will be net-positive.

Anyway, I appreciate your posts very much. Cheers!
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Old 22nd February 2019, 01:28 PM   #355
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Hmm, well, you seem to assume that my goal is to convert anyone. In truth, I don't really care whether anyone believes or not, or what they believe in. Not per se. I mean, I might think it's stupid, but I'm not losing any sleep over it, and I'm certainly not going to bang on their door to give them the good news. (That they can sleep longer on Sundays)

If anyone comes making an argument for it, though, well, then they better make logical sense.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 01:29 PM   #356
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I don't find someone's rejection of reality much of a reason to shut up. Their steadfast rejection of reality is what causes the whole discomfort, but [so] it's their problem, not mine.
Well said .

Small tweak, but I think "so" is more appropriate than "but".
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Old 22nd February 2019, 01:32 PM   #357
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Ah. Okay. You're right. Sorry for the assumption. Yes, I agree, if someone is coming looking for an argument there's nothing wrong with making it clear that you won't accept premises they can't defend well.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 01:36 PM   #358
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I can understand why your experiences with your family have lead to some strong negative conclusions about Christianity in general. That sort of experience may very well be common, bit not in my (admittedly limited) experience, and as such, I would encourage you to consider that as evidence that, at least, it is not inevitable.

Well we must agree to disagree on this one then, as I can't see how a negative view of one's self and mankind in general, cannot result from the Christian message. I do not offer my brothers experience as a primary piece of evidence but just as an illustration. I observed the same openly expressed idea by many others in my brothers family and circle of friends. I see the same expressed in other hymns and prayer and the fact that yet other hymns and prayers do not feature this sentiment does not diminish the fact.

No matter how you reword and dress it up the essence of Christianity is that man turned out to be less than perfect, (Although God made him so.???), and salvation can only be found via the sacrifice of Jesus, (Who died as some kind of compensation for that imperfection.???), and the saved must acknowledge that fact and believe.

Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I think many of the Christians ynot might refer to as "willo-the-wisp-ish" start with the premise that God loves them and wants good for them (and mankind in general) in this life and whatever lies beyond. As such, they are likely to try to interpret (and yes, sometimes force fit) scripture in a way that is consistent with that, (or perhaps admit that it doesn't fit and they don't know why).

Notably though, people only tend to duck behind shields when they feel they are under attack. I don't think there's any getting around the reality that when you challenge someone about their faith, you are asking them to try to describe something that they cannot possibly understand fully nor adequately put into words (especially to the satisfaction of an atheist and skeptic). It is a challenge that will almost always lead to someone being defensive, (or having the opposite reaction of becoming arrogant or aggressive depending on the personality), as a counter measure. I find as I read these posts, I am only just barely able to avoid/overcome those same gut reactions because I am already challenging myself in the same measure and with many of the same arguments; but even then, it's not easy for me.

HansMustermann answered this so well and comprehensively I can say little more apart from expressing my sympathy for you in your present unease.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 01:36 PM   #359
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Hmm, well, you seem to assume that my goal is to convert anyone. In truth, I don't really care whether anyone believes or not, or what they believe in. Not per se. I mean, I might think it's stupid, but I'm not losing any sleep over it, and I'm certainly not going to bang on their door to give them the good news. (That they can sleep longer on Sundays)

If anyone comes making an argument for it, though, well, then they better make logical sense.
This posts was really helpful for me to recognize one of my own biases that I will try to be more aware of. In most of these discussions of hypothetical interactions between theists and atheists, I am picturing the latter as being the aggressor, which is an unfair presumption.

Thanks for that.
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Old 22nd February 2019, 01:36 PM   #360
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Well said .

Small tweak, but I think "so" is more appropriate than "but".
I like big BUTs and I cannot lie
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