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Old 4th October 2018, 10:44 AM   #121
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
How can a company be real, if you can tear down its buildings and fire all its employers, yet it still exists as far as the law is concerned?
But when a Judge or Notary signs a piece of paper, a company with thousands of employees and many buildings can be created or destroyed.
As others have pointed out this is stretching the word fiction beyond any meaningful use as you are simply saying nothing isn't fiction.
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Old 4th October 2018, 10:45 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
what is the difference between fictitious and abstract? Is there an actual Platonian Realm in which LLCs exit? Is there a natural law that requires humans to act in a way that necessitates LLCs?

I don't really care to draw a line here, because as far as I am concerned they mean the same thing: they are concepts in the mind that can be shared.
Using your definition above a company isn't fictional....
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Old 4th October 2018, 10:46 AM   #123
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sure, it's easier to have something better to replace the old.
But a standard religious argument is that whatever isn't 100% explained by science can be explained by God, so God is real.
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Old 4th October 2018, 10:47 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I understand what you mean.

But this would put Religion in the Abstract, rather than the Fictitious category, as it creates commitments and agreements.
No because you've missed the important point and that is that at least one of the parties in the agreement is fictitious.
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Old 4th October 2018, 10:57 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
At least, it's probably one of the differences. For instance, how exactly did the universe begin? Or life? We don't know exactly, but nothing seems to indicate that an intelligent creator did it. So the God 'hypothesis' wins every time if you prefer to believe in certainty instead of accepting uncertainty.
For questions like this, most of the time what you really see is you have one side saying “You can’t prove God made the universe so there must be a natural/scientific explanation” and another saying “You can’t prove there is a natural/scientific explanation so t must have been made by God”

The form of the two arguments is identical and there really is no good reason to chose one over the other but many people are more included to believe one or the other. Debunking the other, however, does not lend strength to the competing idea but people tend to debunk the one that doesn’t appeal to them as a way of re-affirming the one that does.

IMO If you are really just debunking you need to be very careful to apply equal skepticism to both, not just the one that doesn’t appeal to you. Even (especially?) among skeptics I don't think many people really do.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:03 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
No because you've missed the important point and that is that at least one of the parties in the agreement is fictitious.
nope - Religon is an agreement between people.
They just use a fiction as an enforcer of the deal.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:53 AM   #127
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
nope - Religon is an agreement between people.
They just use a fiction as an enforcer of the deal.
All the organised mainstream religions have an agreement /contract with their god/gods.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:58 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
All the organised mainstream religions have an agreement /contract with their god/gods.
How? Can you make a deal with a rock?

They have an agreement with themselves and each other.
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:01 PM   #129
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
For questions like this, most of the time what you really see is you have one side saying “You can’t prove God made the universe so there must be a natural/scientific explanation” and another saying “You can’t prove there is a natural/scientific explanation so t must have been made by God”

The form of the two arguments is identical and there really is no good reason to chose one over the other but many people are more included to believe one or the other. Debunking the other, however, does not lend strength to the competing idea but people tend to debunk the one that doesn’t appeal to them as a way of re-affirming the one that does.

IMO If you are really just debunking you need to be very careful to apply equal skepticism to both, not just the one that doesn’t appeal to you. Even (especially?) among skeptics I don't think many people really do.
No they are not the same argument. One can point to the evidence that supports that the universe is a natural phenomenon, the other has no evidence to support it. To state that they should both be viewed with the same level of skepticism is not skepticism, skeptism goes with the evidence. Skepticism is absolutely fine with probabilities, that we can't be "certain" that the universe has a natural origin the evidence so far points to it having a natural origin.

But we can by the way state with certainty that the god/gods of the mainstream religions did not create the universe, so if a "god" did create the universe it is one of those fictional gods, the ones that no one claims to believe in.
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:01 PM   #130
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
How? Can you make a deal with a rock?

They have an agreement with themselves and each other.
How? Because they think they have of course.
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:46 PM   #131
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Fine; I have no problem with the claim that the Roman Catholic Church exists. Nor do I have any problem with the claim that some people believe God exists. Neither of these in any way support the claim that God exists.

Dave
Which means exactly nothing to someone who believes Gods existence is a matter of faith and not something that can be proved one way of the other.


In reality what’s going on is something like this.
Catholic “Proving God exists is probably impossible, but as long a you can’t prove he/she/it doesn’t I’m perfectly justified in by belief”

Atheist “Proving God doesn’t exist is probably impossible but as long as you can’t prove he/she/it doesn’t I’m perfectly”

Wrt to supporting their belief with positive, both sit in the same middle ground of “there is no proof either way” Both have simply extended their belief to include that middle ground. If you are being truly skeptical I think the conclusion is that both have watered down their position too far for there to be any meaningful distention so there is no possibility or either side presenting evidence for the superiority of their belief.
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:04 PM   #132
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
No they are not the same argument. One can point to the evidence that supports that the universe is a natural phenomenon, the other has no evidence to support it. To state that they should both be viewed with the same level of skepticism is not skepticism, skeptism goes with the evidence. Skepticism is absolutely fine with probabilities, that we can't be "certain" that the universe has a natural origin the evidence so far points to it having a natural origin.
What is your definition of “natural phenomenon”? There is evidence that things occurring inside the universe can be predicted from other things observed within the universe, but the religious explanation doesn’t necessarily dispute this. These causal relationships break down when you attempt to explain the existence of the universe so they provide us no evidence for (or against) either position.
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Old 4th October 2018, 05:31 PM   #133
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After reading this topic, I can tell you skeptics can complicate the bejeesus out of anything.

If I see a guy supposedly bending spoons with his mind, I'm not going to take a deep dive into what "atheism" means before I decide if I am qualified to determine if the guy is a huckster. This religious litmus test is some real rookie crap.

Lighten up, you goons!

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Old 4th October 2018, 06:17 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
nope - Religon is an agreement between people.
They just use a fiction as an enforcer of the deal.
I suggest to you that people are fictional.
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Old 4th October 2018, 06:18 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
How? Can you make a deal with a rock?
Rocks are fictional.

This is fun!
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Old 4th October 2018, 06:59 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
It wasn't.
Okay. So what was your point? Because I think Dave made the distinction between fictitious and non-fictitious things very clear, and that the idea that any shared belief is a religion in non-sense, but maybe you are saying something that I was unclear about or have a better argument that you haven't presented yet.
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Old 4th October 2018, 09:39 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I suggest to you that people are fictional.
I see you are a "Sign-of-One" adherent.

good for you.
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Old 4th October 2018, 10:35 PM   #138
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I see you are a "Sign-of-One" adherent.

good for you.
I was being sarcastic. I see I missed the mark here.

Once you start declaring things as fictional, how do you know where to stop? If a corporation or a government is fictional, or a nation, why not the land on which the nation sits? Isn't "rock" just a fictional construct that we invented to describe conglomerations of minerals? Are the minerals themselves not fictional?

Solipsism is a slippery slope and there is nothing at the bottom.
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Old 4th October 2018, 10:51 PM   #139
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For Harari, the test is: can it feel pain?
And yes, this isn't the most stringent definition, but it allows to debunk notions about entities such as corporations or nations.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:00 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
For Harari, the test is: can it feel pain?
And yes, this isn't the most stringent definition, but it allows to debunk notions about entities such as corporations or nations.
Or plants.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:12 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Okay. So what was your point? Because I think Dave made the distinction between fictitious and non-fictitious things very clear, and that the idea that any shared belief is a religion in non-sense, but maybe you are saying something that I was unclear about or have a better argument that you haven't presented yet.
For this argument, I don't see the point in distinguishing between "fictitious" and "abstract". I was talking about the normative effects of narratives.

People like Jordan Peterson (and most other religious apologists) speak of the need for Religion as a means to unify people from different places and socio-economic backgrounds; they argue that Religion is necessary for humanity, regardless of whether it is true or not (and thereby making in true in some twisted way).

But the same argument can be made for Atheism - the mere belief that not believing in Gods will be on average better than bothering with deities can also unite people from different cultures in a similar fashion that organized religion can: if you know nothing else about a person, the fact that both of you are professed Atheist can create a sense of kinship.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:13 PM   #142
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Or plants.
plants can feel stress, and we can measure it.

Fungi, on the other hand, can get bent.
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:43 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
plants can feel stress, and we can measure it.

Fungi, on the other hand, can get bent.
There's a difference between "stress" and "pain".
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Old 4th October 2018, 11:50 PM   #144
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
For this argument, I don't see the point in distinguishing between "fictitious" and "abstract". I was talking about the normative effects of narratives.
I think Dave did a very good job of articulating exactly why that distinction is meaningful:

Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
History. If you and I sit down together and have a conversation, in the course of which we agree to do certain things, that conversation is abstract but real, as is the agreement we formed. If I tell someone that you and I sat down together and had a conversation and agreed to do certain things, but in fact we didn't, that conversation is fictitious, as is the agreement. And it's one of the things I find most disturbing about the current state of the world that this sort of thing is even worth bothering to say.

Dave

Quote:
People like Jordan Peterson (and most other religious apologists) speak of the need for Religion as a means to unify people from different places and socio-economic backgrounds; they argue that Religion is necessary for humanity, regardless of whether it is true or not (and thereby making in true in some twisted way).
Yes, and Peterson is wrong: something being useful doesn't make it true.

Quote:
But the same argument can be made for Atheism - the mere belief that not believing in Gods will be on average better than bothering with deities can also unite people from different cultures in a similar fashion that organized religion can: if you know nothing else about a person, the fact that both of you are professed Atheist can create a sense of kinship.
Except that "not believing in Gods will be on average better than bothering with deities" isn't a defining belief of atheists. An atheist could think that people would be better off believing in gods, and still be an atheist. Atheism is about whether or not gods exist, not whether or not believing in them is useful.

Furthermore while it may or may not be true that atheists will tend to feel a sense of kinship for one another, that doesn't make it a religion. That may suggest that atheism could have one of the effects of religion. But sharing one attribute does not make two things identical. There are many attributes of religion that atheism does not share. There are also many other things that aren't religions that share that particular attribute. For instance I like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a lot. If I meet someone else who trains BJJ I tend to feel an immediate sense of kinship toward them, but that doesn't make BJJ a religion.
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Old 5th October 2018, 12:01 AM   #145
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I spoke of the sub-group of Atheists who not only not believe in Gods, but think that they are better for it and that others would be better for non-believing, too.
You don't have to call this a religion, but it is a Belief, and can create all the benefits of a religion, perhaps with fewer drawbacks.
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Old 5th October 2018, 01:36 AM   #146
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
For Harari, the test is: can it feel pain?
So rocks are fictional?

Dave
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Old 5th October 2018, 02:00 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
So rocks are fictional?

Dave
define 'rock'.


just kidding.




Are we in danger of confusing rocks with gods?
Probably not.
The debate starts when people start talking about "the invisible hand of the market" that must be obeyed, even if it leads to people being homeless. When the "insult to the honor of group x" is given as reason to kill: these are fictional/abstract concepts which aren't fixed in any way, and shouldn't be treated as if they are real.
You might be able to give an explanation why these concepts have merit, but they have no Independent existence.

PS: I'm trying to paraphrase things Harari has said much better and it is highly likely that I'm not doing him a service here.
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Old 5th October 2018, 02:03 AM   #148
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I spoke of the sub-group of Atheists who not only not believe in Gods, but think that they are better for it and that others would be better for non-believing, too.
You don't have to call this a religion, but it is a Belief, and can create all the benefits of a religion, perhaps with fewer drawbacks.
Just what benefits of religion can atheism offer as a belief?

I am an atheist, but I believe that I would be better off if there was a heaven where everything would be nice and beautiful, and where I could meet my deceased loved ones. I would be comforted by the thought that evil will be judged and punished eventually, and so on.
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Old 5th October 2018, 02:06 AM   #149
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Provided Harari does really use the word 'religion' in this weird fashion in his book/s, then he seems to have confounded the abstract with the fictive. And he seems to have committed this further elementary error in logic : because religion is fictive, therefore everything fictive is religious. That's like saying : Because birds fly, therefore everything that flies is a bird.

Seems unlikely this celebrated writer would have made such elementary errors. Perhaps he was simply being poetic/metaphorical? One can, after all, if one is being metaphorical not literal, refer to an aircraft as a bird, or refer to the repititive noise of a railway carriage as percussive/drum beats. That would convey the sense well enough, in a given context.
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Old 5th October 2018, 02:11 AM   #150
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
What is your definition of “natural phenomenon”? There is evidence that things occurring inside the universe can be predicted from other things observed within the universe, but the religious explanation doesn’t necessarily dispute this. These causal relationships break down when you attempt to explain the existence of the universe so they provide us no evidence for (or against) either position.
At the moment we have no evidence to suggest there is any supernatural component to the universe, so far we have been able to come up with theories that explain the universe around us that are testable and verifiable by assuming that it can be explained by natural phenomenon therefore the skeptical position should be to go with the evidence. We also know that a god such as the Roman Catholic Church states exists did not create the universe and we know that their god does not exist.

Again you may be able to come up with a definition of "god" that can't be ruled out but that will not be the god that people claim to believe in, and I would go further and say it causes needless confusion to use the word "god" to cover that kind of "argument" entity. I think it makes much more sense for the word "god" to be used as a label for the god/s that people actually believe in.

As I said earlier I'm happy to deal with the "real" gods that religious people actually believe in, but not a fictional god that is created to try and win an argument.
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Old 5th October 2018, 02:19 AM   #151
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I obviously failed to get the point across, for which I take full responsibility.

Religion, like market economies, nations states, money, techno-optimism, "Family Values" etc. etc. are nothing more than ways in which we chose to sort our perception of the world; and we can talk and cooperate much more easily with people who share the same sorting mechanisms. And is is very hard to talk to people with very different perception patterns.

We can see this in the current US divide, the "two movies on one screen" effect of reality perception where identical facts lead people who believe in different narrative to vastly different perceptions of said facts.

Atheism is another narrative, and we know how hard it can be to talk to Theists about it and how much of a relief it can be to talk to fellow non-believers. This is because our brains are trained for a specific story of the world, and replacing it with another is hard work. But it is made easier by realizing that they are, in fact, just stories.
Some better than others.
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Old 5th October 2018, 02:21 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Just what benefits of religion can atheism offer as a belief?
Believing in what is true (or not believing what is not true) does present more benefits, in practical terms, than believing in what is not true.

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I am an atheist, but I believe that I would be better off if there was a heaven ...
But you would not be better off believing in a heaven that doesn't exist.

You'd be better off with a billion in the bank. But it wouldn't benefit you to simply believe that you had a billion in the bank, if your bank account did not actually have that kind of money. Carrying erroneous beliefs can actually cause you harm, if you acted basis those wrong beliefs.

So sure, atheism can be beneficial. Not that that is central to atheism, but just saying.

Last edited by Chanakya; 5th October 2018 at 02:27 AM.
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Old 5th October 2018, 04:11 AM   #153
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I obviously failed to get the point across, for which I take full responsibility.
I'm not actually sure that you did, I haven't read his books, though I'm interested in doing so, but I did listen to his appearance on Sam Harris' podcast last week and he talks about these ideas a little there. The problem may be more with the idea he's presented than with your ability to convey it, which I think you've done a good job of. As I say though, I haven't read his books yet.


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Religion, like market economies, nations states, money, techno-optimism, "Family Values" etc. etc. are nothing more than ways in which we chose to sort our perception of the world; and we can talk and cooperate much more easily with people who share the same sorting mechanisms. And is is very hard to talk to people with very different perception patterns.
I think you're right that a shared worldview can make conversation much easier. There are extraordinarily many consistent ways to classify the world in different objects, systems, etc. But consistent is a key word here, because each classification system needs to be not just consistent with itself, but also with the actual world. And that, again, is the difference between fiction and, well, non-fiction.

Even abstractions are either patterns that exist in the world, or they are not, and whether they are or not can be tested.

Say six friends and I go for dinner and the restaurant staff have to push two tables together in order to seat us all at one table. In one sense we are all sitting around one large table. In another sense we are sitting around two tables. You can define that object either way without any problems, as long as you do it consistently. But whichever definition you choose, it's still talking about some aspect of the real world. That aspect of the world may simply be a particular pattern shared between the brains of different people, but if it can make predictions about what will happen then it pretty clearly is there, and not a fiction..


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We can see this in the current US divide, the "two movies on one screen" effect of reality perception where identical facts lead people who believe in different narrative to vastly different perceptions of said facts.
And it's both possible for both of them to be accurate and for one or both of them to be false. You might say I'm sitting at one large table and I say it's two, but if someone else says it's a car that we could use to drive out of the restaurant they are just wrong.

Quote:
Atheism is another narrative, and we know how hard it can be to talk to Theists about it and how much of a relief it can be to talk to fellow non-believers. This is because our brains are trained for a specific story of the world, and replacing it with another is hard work. But it is made easier by realizing that they are, in fact, just stories.
Some better than others.
But they aren't just stories. They are descriptions of the world that may or may not be accurate. Sometimes we will never know if they are accurate or not, but even then the world is still as it is.

Another analogy: you take a video of a game of pool and give me a copy. We each draw our own coordinate system over the video. I can use my coordinate system, and the laws of physics, to work out the motions of the balls once the cue has struck, and you can do the same, but we are using different coordinate systems. The system is arbitrary, any coordinate system will do, but the patterns that they describe are not, they actually exist. When we talk to each other we need to be able to translate from one coordinate system to another in order to understand each other, but if we can do that we can still discover errors in each other's analysis.
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Old 5th October 2018, 04:13 AM   #154
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
But you would not be better off believing in a heaven that doesn't exist.

You'd be better off with a billion in the bank. But it wouldn't benefit you to simply believe that you had a billion in the bank, if your bank account did not actually have that kind of money. Carrying erroneous beliefs can actually cause you harm, if you acted basis those wrong beliefs.

So sure, atheism can be beneficial. Not that that is central to atheism, but just saying.
I think it's generally the case that accurate beliefs are more beneficial than erroneous ones, but that's not necessarily always the case.
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Old 5th October 2018, 04:27 AM   #155
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Stories can map onto reality - the News is an example for this.


But take a sufficiently noisy data set: what for one observer looks like the continuation of his observed trend is for another and outlier from his observed trend.

This is why it would be necessary to agree on a framework for interpretation (like margins of error, necessary number of data points, etc.) before investigating the data. In other words, we have to agree on a narrative that we expect to be proven correct, and that only sufficient amounts of data or a more compelling counter-narrative can call into question.


So when we want to sit at a table together, we won't get bothered by the fact that it isn't actually a single table.
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Old 5th October 2018, 04:30 AM   #156
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It still sounds to me like at most one of those interpretations of that noisy data is correct and the other isn't. It just might take some time to figure out which.
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Old 5th October 2018, 04:41 AM   #157
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
It still sounds to me like at most one of those interpretations of that noisy data is correct and the other isn't. It just might take some time to figure out which.
In the field of science, the (currently) best story should always win.

But usually, we have neither the ability nor the luxury of time to collect enough data to tell in advance which interpretation will turn out to be closer to the truth before we have to act.
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Old 5th October 2018, 05:29 AM   #158
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I think it's generally the case that accurate beliefs are more beneficial than erroneous ones, but that's not necessarily always the case.

Heh, love the nitpicks on this site! You're right, of course. It is possible to think of situations where believing in twelve impossible things before breakfast can actually turn out to be beneficial.

Although I suppose, to nitpick your nitpick, in most cases (most, but not all) where believing in what is not true appears beneficial, what is actually beneficial is the appearance of believing. In most cases of this nature -- most, but not all -- the pretense of belief will probably work just as well as belief itself.
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Old 5th October 2018, 08:18 AM   #159
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Haha that's an interesting point that I will have to actually think about. Nicely done with the nitpick on the nitpick.
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Old 5th October 2018, 11:20 AM   #160
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post


A temptating question, but then, we had thousands of years with complete lack of evidence in support of the Higgs boson etc. Science will discover new things, and I will not make any effort to know with certainty what they will discover and what not.
Have we spent thousands of years searching for a Higgs Boson?
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