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Old 20th November 2012, 10:26 PM   #161
Darth Rotor
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@ Tsig: that was rich, coming from you, mate.

Cheers.

Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
Catholic, protestant and jewish people don't have the same "conventional 10". And I am not even counting potential cults.
I alluded to that by using the link that I provided. Did you not bother to open it and examine the table of comparisons?
Originally Posted by I Ratant View Post
"In the absence of people" nothing exists, and therefore has no value.
Respectfully disagree.
In the absence of people, what exists is a set of things that is all "NOT PEOPLE" and if there is any value to be had, that value is assigned and experienced by what/who remains in the set of all that is NOT PEOPLE.

You with me so far?

Sam:

Sorry it wasn't as filling as a few pints of Guinness. I'll offer up the point made frequently that 'simply going to church does not one a Christian make. The whole thing is a journey, and a lot of it is experiential. I find some of it profound, and some damnably frustrating. But I am keeping the faith, and moving forward one step at a time.

If this **** was easy, anybody could do it. What remains to be seen is if I can, and how well I can. Still a work in progress.
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:50 AM   #162
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Best of luck with that.
It just never resonated with my mindset.
Dull world if we were all the same.
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Old 21st November 2012, 02:37 AM   #163
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Well, the same thing could be said about raising Cthulhu. It's a journey, and a lot of it is experiential, and it's frustrating at times (rise already, dammit!), and I don't know if I can, and all that And of course just going to a sacrifice and some chanting around some ancient idol does not a cthultist make

Doesn't make it sane. Though I guess for Cthulhu going insane is kinda confirming that one is on the right track
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Old 21st November 2012, 02:56 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
No, the professed belief that the universe is valueless, and the implied belief that people are worth something.
People are 'worth something' only to themselves and others they affect. The universe doesn't give a toss. What are you finding difficult / irreconcilable about that?

Atheist have values largely because they recognise that those values generally enhance the greater good and by extension themselves* plus they've been socially conditioned to those values just like everyone else. That has nothing to do with some greater 'worth' beyond humanity.

*If you think that's selfish then it is no more so (and I'd argue less so)than following a set of values because if you don't you'll be damned to an eternity of hellfire but if you do you'll have an eternity of paradise.
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Old 21st November 2012, 04:42 AM   #165
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There was an overlooked, directly responsive answer to the OP's title question (What actually do JREF religious believers believe?). Apart from its topicality, the answer is also interesting for the light it casts on more abstract and generalized treatments of the issues raised by the question.

Soetkin (post 113)

Quote:
I'm now a member of a small religious group where I am very happy and spiritually fulfilled. We generally see the myths pertaining to our religion as symbolic explorations of the nature and character of our deities; not as descriptions of actual provable events. We also have no Holy Book of any kind.
The conjecture that myths were typically written as factual biographies of the characters who appear in them is sparingly supported and certainly not self-evident. Maybe its advocates believe that no genre of figurative narrative existed until recently. If so, then they must also believe that nobody shared their dreams with others until recently.

For example, I don't believe that any of the characters or major incidents in the Odyssey recount portions of the true history of the real world. It is perfectly obvious that this work is profitably approached as a "symbolic exploration of the nature and character of" archetypal figures and situations.

There is nothing about that assessment which is peculiar to any specific time or place. That's what "archetypal" means. Given this reason to write the text, its composition is meager evidence that it was written for an incomaptible purpose, to document an ontological belief, or that anybody ever believed in the existence of the supernatural characters who are depicted there.

It is also plausible that the supernatural characters aren't original with Homer. Art works shown to this very day include Athene, Hermes and Circe, even though almost every living person believes these gods don't exist. Thus, artistic or ritual use of these figures furnishes equivocal evidence that any audience of the Odyssey believed these characters existed in the prosaic sense that a modern Nicene Christian believes that Jesus was executed by Pilate.
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Old 21st November 2012, 07:02 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
I don't know what's more sad, the idea that you really can't recognize that something doesn't have to be valued by the entire universe to have value to a person, or the idea that you do recognize that but are so blinded by hate and prejudice that you mentally block out that recognition just so you can look down on atheists.
Do you really think that my posts on this subject are characteristic of someone "blinded by hate and prejudice", or you just trying to live up to your name?
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Old 21st November 2012, 07:07 AM   #167
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Originally Posted by blobru View Post
Yes (we agree that these discussions matter, as able to affect what we think [introduced definition of "matter": able to affect us]).

I accept that people have different points of view and different values, but not that those different values are equally valid (I would need see the basis of Y's argument that X is worthless).
It's certainly possible for Y to have unsound reasons for thinking X is worthless. However, if it's just a preference, then there's no scientific reason to disagree with him.

Quote:
Does "matter" in what sense? Every person is able to affect us and so matters by my introduced definition (and not only affect by actions; the bare fact of their existence affects me, leads me to reason that they are conscious and autonomous and have the right to be just as I would ask it for myself); are you thinking of a definition where people matter just as people, with no other moral reasoning required?
I mean in the sense that it matters what happens to a child, whereas it doesn't matter what happens to a rock.
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Old 21st November 2012, 09:12 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by Darth Rotor View Post
..
Respectfully disagree.
In the absence of people, what exists is a set of things that is all "NOT PEOPLE" and if there is any value to be had, that value is assigned and experienced by what/who remains in the set of all that is NOT PEOPLE.

You with me so far?

...
.
Sure, but...
Who cares what something other than a person values, in the absence of a person to evaluate that value?
The odd tiger or tiger shark may value a meal of person, but that's not a universal problem, and would of interest to the main course only.
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:48 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by Ethan Thane Athen View Post
People are 'worth something' only to themselves and others they affect. The universe doesn't give a toss. What are you finding difficult / irreconcilable about that?

Nothing. I've said that that's a perfectly legitimate position.

Quote:
Atheist have values largely because they recognise that those values generally enhance the greater good
This is exactly what I mean. In the context of the universe not giving a toss, there's no "greater good".


Quote:
and by extension themselves* plus they've been socially conditioned to those values just like everyone else. That has nothing to do with some greater 'worth' beyond humanity.
The acceptance of values, plus the acceptance that the values are acquired by social conditioning, is the conflict to which I have been referring.

Quote:
*If you think that's selfish then it is no more so (and I'd argue less so)than following a set of values because if you don't you'll be damned to an eternity of hellfire but if you do you'll have an eternity of paradise.
If someone does something to avoid punishment, rather than because it's right, then your criticism is apt.
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Old 21st November 2012, 11:00 AM   #170
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Nothing. I've said that that's a perfectly legitimate position.



This is exactly what I mean. In the context of the universe not giving a toss, there's no "greater good".




The acceptance of values, plus the acceptance that the values are acquired by social conditioning, is the conflict to which I have been referring.



If someone does something to avoid punishment, rather than because it's right, then your criticism is apt.
Why do you keep conflating the universe with humans?
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Old 21st November 2012, 11:16 AM   #171
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Hominins-7 million years
Universe-13.5 billion years.

We're not even a blip on the radar.
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Old 21st November 2012, 12:05 PM   #172
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
Why do you keep conflating the universe with humans?
.
Who gives a **** about the universe?
We should pay attention to here and now on earth.
That other stuff.. nice to look at and speculate, but otherwise, of zero consequence to anything anyone can do here.
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Old 21st November 2012, 12:58 PM   #173
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
This is exactly what I mean. In the context of the universe not giving a toss, there's no "greater good".
Of course there is. It's short term, but that doesn't matter. What happens to the universe a trillion years hence is interesting , even though it won't matter to anyone. What happens to a hungry kid today matters - even if it's not very interesting.
Quote:

If someone does something to avoid punishment, rather than because it's right, then your criticism is apt.
That's only so if you postulate absolute "right" and "wrong". If morality is actually derived from the biology and nature of people, and punishment is part of that nature (as for example, being ostracised by the group is punishment) then avoiding punishment IS "right".
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:39 PM   #174
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It's certainly possible for Y to have unsound reasons for thinking X is worthless. However, if it's just a preference, then there's no scientific reason to disagree with him.
Right, the value of a human life doesn't show up on a valu-o-meter, or whatever (I assume that's what you mean by "there's no scientific reason..."). So it has to be a matter of definition, of ongoing philosophical, iow rational, discussion. If we agree that no single person (Socrates's insight and the origin of philosophy) is an authority (here philosophy necessarily departs from religion) in matters of value, is fit to universalize his or her private visions and intuitions and preferences as unimpeachable morality, then we have to depend on each other in our search for value, on rational dialogue (Socrates again) tending to rational values. Where someone's preference is to dismiss any sort of criticism and rational dialogue about values, unless he can offer another way to derive them, so be it: nothing to contribute to the dialogue, put him on ignore.

So, not just preference, but not scientific either; philosophical disagreement, the best means we have, apparently, for discovering value (ideal social assumptions and relations for material beings, if you like).

Quote:
I mean in the sense that it matters what happens to a child, whereas it doesn't matter what happens to a rock.
Well, it's either philosophy or just take someone's word for it, isn't it? If rationality can't assign value, if by "inherent" value we mean something we have to accept prior to rational discussion, we mean obedience to authority (and some philosophers have and do argue for this: "WWJD?" universalized; but again, thanks to Socrates (see Euthyphro DilemmaWP), their sway has been relatively brief, thank... Zeus (counting the Middle Ages as relatively brief, and hoping the current Islamic versions are much briefer). Whose authority? How do we know it's moral (seems to beg the question, if we care about the question at all)? If, however, by "inherent" value we mean something that is there waiting to be discovered by rational discussion, as a "necessary" (or sufficiently compelling, let's say, assuming Kantians wrong about a priori ethics) conclusion, then philosophy may demonstrate that a child does indeed have inherent value (and moral worth, whereas a rock doesn't), without appeal to any other authority except human reason.

Oh gosh, that's a much longer answer than I'd intended, usually not a good sign. Good luck reading it all; hope it's more or less consistent - if not, let me know - and doesn't read like a harangue - certainly wasn't intended as such.
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Old 21st November 2012, 02:21 PM   #175
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Originally Posted by blobru View Post
Oh gosh, that's a much longer answer than I'd intended, usually not a good sign. Good luck reading it all; hope it's more or less consistent - if not, let me know - and doesn't read like a harangue - certainly wasn't intended as such.
There aren't many professionals here, and I'm quite sure that my own viewpoint could do with polishing. I'm always glad to see rigorous disagreement, and I wouldn't confuse it with haranguing.

Will address the substance shortly.
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Old 21st November 2012, 06:41 PM   #176
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Do you really think that my posts on this subject are characteristic of someone "blinded by hate and prejudice", or you just trying to live up to your name?
Yes, I do. You show all the signs. You tell us what we believe, and when explained to you in the simplest of terms you simply dismiss the explanations and continue ascribing false beliefs to us despite knowing better. Also, these beliefs you ascribe to atheists seem structured to denigrate them as much as possible. Just because your words are polite doesn't make them less laced with hatred and prejudice.
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Old 21st November 2012, 09:07 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
Yes, I do. You show all the signs. You tell us what we believe, and when explained to you in the simplest of terms you simply dismiss the explanations and continue ascribing false beliefs to us despite knowing better. Also, these beliefs you ascribe to atheists seem structured to denigrate them as much as possible. Just because your words are polite doesn't make them less laced with hatred and prejudice.
Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I do have the consolation that you will burn in hellfire for eternity.
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Old 21st November 2012, 09:12 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I do have the consolation that you will burn in hellfire for eternity.
That... has to be the sickest, most horrible thing I've ever seen someone say on this forum.

That is really, really awful. I just couldn't lurk any more. What you said is sick and horrid.
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Old 21st November 2012, 09:39 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by Minarvia View Post
That... has to be the sickest, most horrible thing I've ever seen someone say on this forum.

That is really, really awful. I just couldn't lurk any more. What you said is sick and horrid.
Oh, ffs. I should have known irony doesn't work on the Internet.
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:02 PM   #180
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I had hoped I was wrong, and I guess I was. You are right that things don't always come off as you may want in print. Just reading it - it looks awful. But again, this wouldn't be the first time I've been mistaken about a poster's meaning.
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:03 PM   #181
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I do have the consolation that you will burn in hellfire for eternity.
Further evidence: you're sorry "I feel that way", but show not the slightest sign of reevaluating your words and considering why they would give someone such an impression.
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:07 PM   #182
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
Further evidence: you're sorry "I feel that way", but show not the slightest sign of reevaluating your words and considering why they would give someone such an impression.
I'm so glad you posted this. I was seriously considering starting a thread in the Community Section about how to end my apparent idiocy. I know realise that what you said is exactly why I interpreted the post as being terrible.
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Old 21st November 2012, 10:59 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Oh, ffs. I should have known irony doesn't work on the Internet.

Based on your posts in this thread, you come across as someone who believes in God and eternal damnation.

How you then apparently joke about your being consoled that another poster will suffer for all eternity (as nonsensical as that is) is anything but lighthearted.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 12:33 AM   #184
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Originally Posted by DreamingNaiad View Post
I honestly can't tell if you're deliberately misunderstanding or not.

I was pointing out that whether the bible (or any other religious book) is fact or fiction has nothing to do with the possibility of a god-like being existing.

There probably isn't such a creature so I'm not going to waste my life worrying about it. But there's nothing wrong with keeping my mind open to the tiny possibility.

How that means I believe harry potter/dragons/fairies/'pick a god any god' exist I have no idea. Or how I must be livivg my life as if they do.

I've never said that belief in any religions definition of a deity is correct. I'm saying that just because every religion can reasonably be called fiction doesn't mean there could never ever be a being out there that could fit the description 'god'.

Please see post #49. Bruto explained it better than I ever could.
That's the point. If you think that agnostics are right because there is a possibility that a god exists, then you must also be a Harry Potter agnostic, that is you must believe there is a possibility that Harry Potter exists, too.

It hinges on why one can't be sure about those types of things and for the same reason that you can't be sure about a god, you can't be sure about Harry, the Tooth Fairy, Santa, elves, flying pink elephants, etc.

Every positive claim requires evidence or it is just an assertion. Saying "there is a god" requires evidence that there is. Saying "there could be a god" requires evidence that there could be. There isn't evidence to support either claim, they are both mere assertions.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 01:01 AM   #185
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Well, I'll grant a "could be" even without evidence, personally, but that's because it doesn't really mean anything and is the default position for anything unsupported. I'm quite open minded that there could be an invisible gnome in my fridge who turns the light back on when I close the door, if evidence of that were presented, but before that, "could be" without evidence is pretty much equivalent to "could be, but it isn't."

Heck, the weird city of R'lyeh where great Cthulhu lies dreaming "could be." There was a recent paper by an actual scientist showing that the weird geometry and shifting perspectives and even "that is not dead which can eternal lie", can be explained by a bubble of warped space-time. And in fact even the timeline given in the Call of Cthulhu makes more sense if the sailors experienced some extreme time dilation in their very short time (from their perspective) inside that warp bubble around R'lyeh. In fact it's arguably too consistently explained by GR to be just some random ramblings of a layman. And that actually anyone who can create such a stable warp bubble, could actually use it for interstellar travel (and a few other things) which is consistent with the description of the Great Old Ones being space travellers.

Fascinating paper, really, and well worth a read.

So, yeah, it "could be." Doesn't mean you should take it as more than "but it isn't" anyway.

(Now when we finally awake the Great Old One, THEN you can start taking him seriously)
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Old 22nd November 2012, 01:30 AM   #186
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Oh, ffs. I should have known irony doesn't work on the Internet.
Well, it's not just that, but it is something said in all earnest by theists every day. There are people calling atheist TV shows to say something like that, or sending emails to Dawkins or Hitchens (well, while he was alive) to gloat about just that.

Plus you can find no shortage of even theologians holding it that part of the entertainment in heavens will be to watch the other guys burn in hell. At least one (Samuel Hopkins) going as far as to say that if God stopped torturing those guys in hell, THAT would ruin a lot of the fun of being in heavens. And we're not talking just "back then", but it was no farther back than the 1960's that a pamphlet from the Catholic Truth Society proclaimed that a mother seeing her sinner kid burn in hell will just glorify the justice of God for that.

So, you know, a theist spewing one of the more or less standard nonsense responses seen when a theist can't support their argument... there is not much reason to assume that they were being sarcastic just this time. Sorta like if one were to see a skinhead doing a "sieg heil", there wouldn't be all that much reason to assume that he's just taking the piss.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 02:05 AM   #187
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post

This is exactly what I mean. In the context of the universe not giving a toss, there's no "greater good".
I thought it was fairly obvious that by 'greater good' I was referring to the human species alone. This is a pure evolutionary survival thing - increase the chances of survival / better conditions etc of the human species as a whole and you increase the chances of survival / better conditions etc for you and your progeny. Hence the gathering together into tribes for protection etc. That does not contradict the fact that the universe doesn't give a toss - we are an extremely minor blip both timescale wise and geographically wrt the universe.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 02:25 AM   #188
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I wouldn't even go as grandiose as the whole human species. Make a difference for one community or even for one person, and you've done something of value for them.

I may have mentioned before that as a kid I had an accident and went straight into circulatory shock. Or at least I was there when the ambulance came. They got called by a neighbour who, frankly, had no obligation to do that, if all your actions have to be measured by their cosmic-scale value. (Or if you listen to some libertarian apologetics.) There was no cosmic-scale good to be achieved there, no turning point for the whole human species, etc.

Does the universe give a flip? No. Does God give a flip about a dying child? Judging by his track record about not even caring about kids with brain cancer or kids dying in a fire, I'd say there is no reason to assume he'd care about my being about to die rather comfortably from circulatory shock. Will the whole human species remember that in a thousand years? Well, no.

But it still made a difference for ME. I'd be dead and buried decades ago otherwise. It made a huge difference in my world views too, because that was enlightened self-interest working right there. It made a difference for my parents, for grandma, etc.

I don't see any reason why I wouldn't find a real value in that act. For myself. I don't need God's or the universe's seal of approval to value it. I don't see why would I need God's or the universe's seal of approval.

My being alive is worth something TO ME. And presumably to my relatives, friends and so on, too.

As I may have mentioned before, I really can't imagine what kind of lack of self-respect would I need to consider my life, or that act, as worthless unless it pleases some imaginary friend in the sky. Why would I judge my life or that act as effectively worth nothing, except žn how much it pleases some imaginary dictator? What kind of lack of self-worth would I need to effectively say that the only thing that matters is how much I please that guy over there, and what he thinks of me? Regardless if that's a real guy or an imaginary one.

It sounds to me more like the position of a totally abused spouse, whose spirit has been totally crushed. That's what God does to people.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 02:59 AM   #189
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In fact, heck, check God against any of the lists of signs that you're in an abusive relationship. Jesus loves you, except

- he's putting you down, and bonus points if you actually start believing that you've got no worth except in as much as you're pleasing him

- he's belittling your achievements and your role in them. The RCC still has pride as the deadliest sin, and it includes ANY crediting yourself, even as little as "I prayed to God more", instead of treating it as a random gift from God.

- he puts you down and makes you feel stupid. No, really, the whole arguments about how infinitely smarter he is than you, and conversely how much of an intellectual zero you are next to him.

- he blames you for any abusive behaviour. No, really, I'm supposed to believe that even babies killed in a tsunami deserved it, and God wouldn't have to do that violence if they weren't such bad persons.

Again, bonus points if you've actually begun to believe that you're an inherently bad person who deserves to be punished and mistreated.

- you find that you've been broken to the level where you HAVE to make up excuses for his bad behaviour, no matter what he's done

- he treats you as an object or property, not as a real person with feelings and an own intelligence. You'll do what he says, or else.

- you're effectively his servant.

Bonus points if you've actually begun to think everything you do must be with him, or with his approval.

- there are rigid roles in that relationship. He's master, you're slave. There are no circumstances under which you can feel entitled that he does something for you too, for a change.

- he's stalking you all the time and constantly checking up on you. (This is actually one behaviour that's a sign you need to RUN, not just walk away, in a real relationship.)

- he has a history of being violent and often homicidal to previous people he supposedly loves lots. (Again, if this happens in a real relationship, RUN, don't walk.)

- he has sudden mood swings, going from loving to angry vengeful monster at the least provocation or excuse. Read the OT.

- there are threats of violence against you. See, Hell. (Again, this is one of those 'RUN, don't walk' things in a real relationship.)

- there is an inordinate hypersensitivity, and he feels insulted or enraged by even the most mundane and normal things. See, for example, the 7 deadly sins. Jesus ain't talking to you no mo' and WILL fry you unless some priest puts in a good word for you (that's what makes them deadly sins) if you just have normal human thoughts or urges.

- he has utterly unrealistic expectations of you, and holds you responsible if you fail to meet that impossible standard. See above, you're not even supposed to have a normal human brain, with the normal needs from Maslow's pyramid. Also see real women contrasted with the impossible standard of Mary, and in fact being told up front that they can't even think of measuring up to that standard.

- he is abnormally and insanely jealous. And, hey, God even says so himself.

- he tries to control you by (direct or indirect) threats or even actual violence against your children. See all the dead babies explained as God's punishment for their parents' sins.

Etc.

But really, WTH... Far from thinking I'm the one with a problem if I find my worth without needing the approval of such an abusive partner, it seems to me like the ones with a problem are those who actually need to be validated by such an abusive partner.

ETA: And such apologetics where the standard is so high that the only way for anything you do to be worth anything without God's approval, is for it to be significant at whole universe scales, are just propagating the emotional bullying. THAT kind of it being flat out impossible for you to measure up to anything, outside of the abusive partner's approval, is exactly what such abusive relationships are about. That's apologetics for being Jesus's battered wife.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 03:41 AM   #190
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That's the point. If you think that agnostics are right because there is a possibility that a god exists, then you must also be a Harry Potter agnostic, that is you must believe there is a possibility that Harry Potter exists, too.
No. The age-adjusted volume of evidence against the existence of Harry Potter is roughly as massive as the evidence against Santa Claus, starting with voluntary confessions from the perps. Mrs Rowling in particular has been subjected to the comfy chair of Monty Python fame. Her confessions, then, are most persuasively voluntary disclosures.

Differentiated and even graduated possibility have already been invented. That I acknowledge the possibility of some proposition, the syntactically verifiable circumstance that it is not necessarily false, says literally nothing at all about my beliefs about its contingent truth or falsehood. Harry Potter and company are easily relegated to the "not seriously possble" category, which was so usefully proposed by Isaac Levi.

Although there are many definitions of an agnostic, presumably something they all describe is someone for whom both "Some god exists" and "No god exists" are serious possibilities in Levi's sense. That much might be true for many theists and atheists, too. It really is a gentle assumption about agnosticism.

It must be reasonably obvious, then, that a religious-sense agnostic need not be a children's-story-sense agnostic. Then, again, that was breathtakingly obvious anyway.

Your further point has more traction. Agnostics can't be right about the question of God. There is or else there is not, and they profess neither. If they are right about anything, then the more Huxleyan varieties commit to characterizations of the evidence and argument bearing on the ontological question of God. So, it is possible that they are right that the quality, in either direction, is underwhelming. Personally, I rate that as seriously possible, and then some.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 03:57 AM   #191
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I dunno... if one can read through the giant conspiracy theory that is Mark, a text which needs to end each event with some form of, basically, "but the Jews are keeping it a secret", and still come out the other end believing that it all happened, I'm sure that Harry Potter would be no bigger a problem. In one case one has to believe that a LOT of Jews are lying to keep a secret, while in the latter we just need to believe that one person, Rowling, is lying about it. Perhaps to not disclose to the muggles her own magical education at Hogwarts

Between needing lots of people in a conspiracy to suppress and deny evidence of Jesus, and needing one person to lie, I'd actually say that believing in Harry Potter makes more sense.

ETA: but fine, if that's the big stumbling block, we do have anonymous stories, some dating all the way back to ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia. We don't know who wrote those, and have no confession from the authors either way. Should I then keep an open mind for the idea that princesses can sleep for centuries, like Cthulhu, without needing food or water or anything? That magical crocodile statuettes can turn into a real crocodile and eat a cheating spouse? (There actually is a story from Ancient Egypt along those lines.) That witches lived in candy houses in the woods and ate children?
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Old 22nd November 2012, 10:31 AM   #192
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Originally Posted by eight bits View Post
...No. The age-adjusted volume of evidence against the existence of Harry Potter is roughly as massive as the evidence against Santa Claus, starting with voluntary confessions from the perps. Mrs Rowling in particular has been subjected to the comfy chair of Monty Python fame. Her confessions, then, are most persuasively voluntary disclosures.....
Which god myth do you think does not have a "volume of evidence against the existence" of said god?

Is it that you don't have a confession of the 'perp'?
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Old 23rd November 2012, 06:38 AM   #193
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Hi there!

I share the interest of the OP, largely because the more critical thinking I learnt and applied, the less I believed in the religion I'd been brought up in. It's not much use trying to explain exactly where I am right now, because that keeps changing, hence my blog, but since I got over the "4 hump" in the middle of Dawkins' scale, I've been coasting down the hill ever closer to 7 without no real effort.

Speaking for myself, and not intending my experience to be taken as normative in any way, I found that religion was very difficult to let go of. There are so many cognitive biases and tricks that can be deployed to create or maintain belief, and once you're in, you pretty much do it yourself, because a threat to your beliefs becomes a threat to your identity, self-worth and relationships with friends and family. Looking back, I think the fatal blow for me was dealt 13 or 14 years before I left the church, but I did everything I could (generally not consciously) to battle that, because I didn't want it to be untrue, and in Christian circles, doubt was generally treated with pity or even scorn. As Feynman said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool."

Religion is chock-full of clever ways of not answering questions in "deep" ways, which also helps to convince you that you're clever and anyone asking difficult questions doesn't really understand - look at how often Dawkins is vilified or described as ignorant because he asks those questions. If you accept the reasoning, it becomes really quite easy to defend those beliefs. Take transubstantiation, for example - objections can be deflected by claims that only the substance changes, not the material, or in the last resort that God wouldn't allow himself to be tested. It's easy to feel that your beliefs make sense if you can dismiss arguments like this, but in reality the offence against critical thinking is the "arguments" you cling to like a liferaft because they help you to win the argument. It's argumentum ad Sagan's Dragon.

The best way of changing your beliefs is not to know the "right" answer, and to think about it for yourself. I think my beliefs were shaken when I was asked why God doesn't heal amputees, but completely holed below the waterline when I discovered how laughably weak the historical evidence for Jesus is, and how long it was before any gospel accounts were circulating. Around that time, I was humiliatingly taken in by the blatantly obvious NASA/Joshua hoax. I was so embarrassed at my gullibility that I think that incident was a huge factor in me taking an interest in critical thinking and eventually deconverting.

Despite that, I tried all sorts of things to hold onto what there was of my faith, and for a while, I was even keener than before. I tried focusing on how the church had come into being - it clearly did, so something huge must have happened to convince them that it was true. When that started to crumble, I went in for experiential Charismatic beliefs, trying to find another basis for my existing beliefs. I tried on different understandings or interpretations, adopting the label Christian Agnostic (which was more or less code for "I'd like it to be true, but if I'm honest I don't think it is") and finally a sort of weak culturally Christian form of Deism. Each time, I was eventually forced to concede and change my belief. Even then, it took a proper reason (same-sex marriage) to force me into leaving the church, rather than just sticking around and not causing a fuss.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 09:31 AM   #194
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Another bad analogy. There is different evidence supporting ET some place in the Universe. In particular, we exist, so we have evidence that life in the Universe exists. The Universe is vast. We can draw some conclusions that the conditions for life to develop exist elsewhere in the Universe.

With god beliefs, there is no other evidence whatsoever except belief
This simply isn't true. We've had this discussion before and I'll stop now as I don't have time to go though it with you again. IMO, what you are claiming is like saying there's no evidence for alien abductions. You are excluding all anecdotal evidence and personal testimony as being 'evidence'. That the existing evidence is not sufficient to convince you the stories are true is not the same as there being no evidence whatsoever.

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and we can see from older god myths said gods are fictional. There is no evidence of any gods like there is evidence for life existing in the Universe.

It's not just that all known instances have been demonstrably false, it's that fiction best explains the evidence.
My point is that even if fiction does best explains the available evidence, that would not imply that no gods exist. Just as the fact that other, better, explanations exist for people's alien-abduction stories does not allow me to go further and conclude that therefore life does not exist elsewhere in the universe, concluding that religious books are fiction does not allow me to then go further and conclude that no gods exist. I consider it an extrapolation without sufficient justification.

Originally Posted by westprog View Post
It's certainly possible for Y to have unsound reasons for thinking X is worthless. However, if it's just a preference, then there's no scientific reason to disagree with him.

I mean in the sense that it matters what happens to a child, whereas it doesn't matter what happens to a rock.
Actually, some rocks are important and it matters to humans what happens to then. Diamonds for one instance, continents for another.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 09:52 AM   #195
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With our modern technology, there should be solid... at least not solely anecdotal.. evidence of alien visitations.. discarded space ship parts, disposed food remnants, unusual pregnancies with odd creatures coming out..
A lot more than for anything in the field of religion, which is 100% anecdote, and all of those are brain farts.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 10:14 AM   #196
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Originally Posted by Beth View Post
This simply isn't true. We've had this discussion before and I'll stop now as I don't have time to go though it with you again. IMO, what you are claiming is like saying there's no evidence for alien abductions.
Why don't the aliens ever give documentary evidence to the abductees?
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Old 23rd November 2012, 10:55 AM   #197
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
Why don't the aliens ever give documentary evidence to the abductees?
They never respect them in the morning.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 12:04 PM   #198
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Originally Posted by Beth View Post
This simply isn't true. We've had this discussion before and I'll stop now as I don't have time to go though it with you again. IMO, what you are claiming is like saying there's no evidence for alien abductions. You are excluding all anecdotal evidence and personal testimony as being 'evidence'. That the existing evidence is not sufficient to convince you the stories are true is not the same as there being no evidence whatsoever.
Most skeptics do not accept "I feel God exists" as evidence of gods existing.

Originally Posted by Beth View Post
My point is that even if fiction does best explains the available evidence, that would not imply that no gods exist. Just as the fact that other, better, explanations exist for people's alien-abduction stories does not allow me to go further and conclude that therefore life does not exist elsewhere in the universe, concluding that religious books are fiction does not allow me to then go further and conclude that no gods exist. I consider it an extrapolation without sufficient justification.
Your analogy fails because there is evidence life exists in the Universe: us.

[clarification] I have no reason to believe any alien abduction to date actually occurred, so if all you are talking about is an abduction, then I have no problem saying the evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion aliens have not visited Earth. As for ETs existing, that's another question. [/clarification]


With god myths there is only evidence of myths. There is nothing left to form an alternative hypothesis from.

I'll agree to disagree with you about the "I feel it" evidence.

The bottom line, if it looks like a duck, it's time to call it a duck.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 12:34 PM   #199
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Old 23rd November 2012, 01:06 PM   #200
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Is it that you don't have a confession of the 'perp'?
No. Myths are not typically ontological claims about their casts of characters, whether gods or otherwise. The story itself isn't typically offered as a truth claim, either. There's nothing about myths which the perp needs to confess. If the myths happen to be believed anyway (for example, Daniel), then the author is the wrong person to ask about what happened.

However, if I had the confession of a perp, then it would be sufficient to decide most questions. As it happens, I do for Potter and Santa. For Odysseus and Circe, I don't. No matter, I can resolve those cases prioristically, as I could have with Potter and Santa had I wished.

Quote:
Which god myth do you think does not have a "volume of evidence against the existence" of said god?
I believe you and I have already discussed at length our opinions about how much or little evidence bears on supernatural ontological questions. We didn't reach a satisfactory resolution. Fortunately, reopening that discussion wouldn't plausibly cast any light on qayak's remark about some supposed incompatibility of agnosticism in supernatural questions with a confident categorical disbelief in characters whose very point is that they are make-believe.

Best, then, to file this under "already asked and answered," since it has been.

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