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what is your religion?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by matadorpoeta, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. Matt

    Matt Senior member

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    This makes sense to me. What I don't understand are people of all stripes (Christian, Muslim, Atheist, whatever) who are so hostile to other people's choice of belief systems. As far as I'm concerned, as long as you're not trying to harm someone else, you can believe in whatever the hell you want -- Christ, Mommamed, Xenu, The Almighty Dollar, whatever. If it works for you and helps you make sense of the world, and helps you answer some of the otherwise unanswerable questions, cool. No skin off my nose.
    exactly what I think. If having Christ/Allah/Buddah/Tom Cruise/Vishnu or whoever else in your life makes you believe that you are a better man than you would be without them, then I am all for it.
     
  2. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    The dogmatic faith of atheists usually takes the form of a worshipping of reason, which is no different a belief system than any other propagated throughout history.

    None of these have anything to do with a/theism per se, but only the specifics of individual religious structures.
     
  3. Saucemaster

    Saucemaster Senior member

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    The dogmatic faith of atheists usually takes the form of a worshipping of reason, which is no different a belief system than any other propagated throughout history.

    In what sense are you intending the word "reason" here? Because if you're just talking about logic, then it's not a "belief system" per se. It doesn't really matter what you do, something cannot be both A and Not A at the same time. It's just how things are.
     
  4. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    In what sense are you intending the word "reason" here? Because if you're just talking about logic, then it's not a "belief system" per se. It doesn't really matter what you do, something cannot be both A and Not A at the same time. It's just how things are.
    Exactly.
     
  5. Saucemaster

    Saucemaster Senior member

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    Exactly.

    But not, though. I mean, existence is literally unthinkable without the basic tenets of logic, and it's literally *impossible* to imagine something being red and not red at the same time, for example. It's on a very different plane than something like believing in the existence of a deity. One is a fundamental precondition for the act of belief or thought in any form, the other is the *content* of belief/thought. It's a crucial distinction.
     
  6. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    Is it?
     
  7. Margaret

    Margaret Senior member

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    But not, though. I mean, existence is literally unthinkable without the basic tenets of logic, and it's literally *impossible* to imagine something being red and not red at the same time, for example. It's on a very different plane than something like believing in the existence of a deity. One is a fundamental precondition for the act of belief or thought in any form, the other is the *content* of belief/thought. It's a crucial distinction.

    Admittedly I'm out of my league here, but what if the commonly accepted precepts of logic that we've been using are wrong -- or at least, insufficient? I mean, didn't Einstein have to suspend or modify commonly accepted precepts of logic to develop the Theory of Relativity?
     
  8. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    Excuse me? Do you feel you are acting on "faith" when you decide not to believe that Zeus and the rest of the Greek pantheon are watching you from Mt. Olympus? No. For that matter, do you think that your (presumed) non-belief in dragons is a significant act of faith? I mean, if you're wrong, the consequences could be similarly severe. Trogdor, for example, could burninate the countryside and/or the peasants.
    That's a bit of strawman argumentation. I think we'd all be atheists if Zeus and dragons were our only choices. I'll even throw Scientology in with those choices.

    That said, the affirmative aspect of atheistic faith is really no different than that of any other religious belief. Completely distilled, it attempts to answer the question of what constitutes a meaningful existence. For the atheist, the answer must come from himself. Getting that answer wrong or only partly right might not be such a big deal if you think that the ultimate end of man is fertilizer, but that conclusion is again predicated on an atheistic belief system.
     
  9. Margaret

    Margaret Senior member

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  10. Saucemaster

    Saucemaster Senior member

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    Is it?
    ...Yes. Try this, for example. Picture a dot in your head that, simultaneously, is a red dot and is not a red dot. It is literally impossible to do. Without certain logical principles, like the principle of identity, the principle of contradiction, and the principle of the excluded middle, you could neither form the belief that there *is* a God or that there *isn't* a God. For one thing, both and neither would/could be true all at the same time, along with an infinity of alternate assertions, all of which would/would not/could/could not/are/were/will be/never were true and false all at once.
    That's a bit of strawman argumentation. I think we'd all be atheists if Zeus and dragons were our only choices. I'll even throw Scientology in with those choices. That said, the affirmative aspect of atheistic faith is really no different than that of any other religious belief. Completely distilled, it attempts to answer the question of what constitutes a meaningful existence. For the atheist, the answer must come from himself. Getting that answer wrong or only partly right might not be such a big deal if you think that the ultimate end of man is fertilizer, but that conclusion is again predicated on an atheistic belief system.
    If you were specifically referring to positive atheism--the assertion that there *is* no God, rather than the lack of a belief in God--then I'll agree with you. I do think that requires faith. But that's not, as I read it, the position you were responding to. If you were referring to negative atheism, then my argument isn't a straw man at all. It's completely on point. If simply not believing in something is an act of faith, then it follows that we are acting in faith with every single one of our non-beliefs. E.g. my non-belief in Zeus, dragons, killer flying bunny rabbits, deep-space octopuses driving intergalactic Ferraris who shoot laser beams out of their eyes, and their cousins, the deep-space octopuses driving intergalactic Ferraris who *don't* shoot laser beams out of their eyes. At that point, I'm saying that the term "faith" is simply meaningless. If I misread you, my bad. EDIT: @ Margaret: If we start getting way into theoretical physics, I'll be out of my league here as well, but nothing I've read about relativity actually violates logical principles. It requires a rethinking of what we mean when we talk about space and time, yeah, but it's still all conceivable.
     
  11. dah328

    dah328 Senior member

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    If you were specifically referring to positive atheism--the assertion that there *is* no God, rather than the lack of a belief in God--then I'll agree with you. I do think that requires faith. But that's not, as I read it, the position you were responding to.
    Both of those beliefs are functionally identical as they result in the same approach to answering questions about life and the world (i.e., the answers must come from oneself) so I tend to treat them identically even if there is some semantic distinction.
     
  12. Saucemaster

    Saucemaster Senior member

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    Both of those beliefs are functionally identical as they result in the same approach to answering questions about life and the world (i.e., the answers must come from oneself) so I tend to treat them identically even if there is some semantic distinction.

    I don't know about other people, but I would approach life and the world differently were I a positive atheist. For one thing, if I actively believed that there wasn't a God, I'd be much much more concerned about convincing people that they're wrong, since I would believe that they are making a tremendous mistake. I'd also be less open-minded to people who tried to convince me there was a God. The "answers come from oneself" thing is a bit of a tangent, since we're talking about metaphysical precepts at the moment, but I think there are plenty of salient differences between positive and negative atheism.
     
  13. tiger02

    tiger02 Senior member

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    ...Yes. Try this, for example. Picture a dot in your head that, simultaneously, is a red dot and is not a red dot. It is literally impossible to do. Without certain logical principles, like the principle of identity, the principle of contradiction, and the principle of the excluded middle, you could neither form the belief that there *is* a God or that there *isn't* a God. For one thing, both and neither would/could be true all at the same time, along with an infinity of alternate assertions, all of which would/would not/could/could not/are/were/will be/never were true and false all at once.
    All of which presupposes 1. our five senses are able to detect every possible stimulus 2. our brain is capable of correctly interpreting those stimuli 3. reality does not extend beyond our ability to understand it (actually a restatement of the first 2.) Five hundred years ago, a godless, moral person was "literally impossible" to imagine, except by accident, and people that long ago weren't smart enough to come up with that possibility.

    Logic is a very tidy, internally consistent way to describe our understanding of the world. That doesn't make it infallible.

    If they're anything like Octopussy, I choose this one.

    Is my new sig militaristic enough to get the point across?

    Tom
     
  14. Saucemaster

    Saucemaster Senior member

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    All of which presupposes 1. our five senses are able to detect every possible stimulus 2. our brain is capable of correctly interpreting those stimuli 3. reality does not extend beyond our ability to understand it (actually a restatement of the first 2.) Five hundred years ago, a godless, moral person was "literally impossible" to imagine, except by accident, and people that long ago weren't smart enough to come up with that possibility. Logic is a very tidy, internally consistent way to describe our understanding of the world. That doesn't make it infallible.
    The point isn't whether it's infallible, though; the point is that it's impossible to form any sort of belief without it. Five hundred years ago, a godless moral person was not *literally* impossible to imagine. Not in the same way that it is literally--and I mean "literally" literally [​IMG]--impossible to imagine that there both is and is not a God. I think you're slightly missing my point. You can easily assert, logically speaking, that a person can be godless and moral, and you could have done so 500 years ago. That most people in most parts of the world would have said that you were wrong is immaterial; the statement is conceivable insofar as it does not violate any logical principles. In fact, the argument against it would probably follow some form of asserting that "morality" and "godlessness" were mutually exclusive--which, if you note, is actually an argument based on the logical principles I enumerated above. In other words, the "godlessly moral" person would only be literally impossible to imagine in the event that the definitions of morality *necessarily* included a conception of God. All of which just buttresses my point. [​IMG] EDIT: Or, let's put it another way. Give me an example of a belief system, of any sort, that denies the principles of identity/contradiction/excluded middle. That is, a belief system that believes that A does not equal A, or that A and Not-A can both be true, or that A and Not-A eliminate all other possible assertions. Now explain to me how that belief system can make any assertions, of any sort. For example, if this belief system asserts that there is a physical universe, but denies the principle of contradiction, it is also forced to assert that, though there positively is a physical universe, it's also still possible that there positively is not a physical universe. By the way, I disagree with your list of what, precisely the principles of identity, contradiction, and the excluded middle presuppose. None of them have any necessary reference to our senses, or to any sort of stimuli. You could hold that there is no external world at all and still, your thought would be bound by these principles. Is it possible that the world might work in ways that are impossible for us to understand? Sure. Of course, since by definition we'd never understand how it did so, that wouldn't actually matter as a subject of inquiry, would it? [​IMG] My point still stands: you cannot form any set of beliefs without first relying, like it or not, on certain basic principles of logic. Also, yeah, the new sig is fine. Babykiller. [​IMG]
     
  15. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    This does not negate what I posted. That you are unpersuaded as to the existence of a particular deity is no proof that one does not exist. That you choose to live your life as if none exist is therefore an act of faith -- a rather significant act of faith as the consequences in most religions for such actions are rather severe. I intend only to point out that atheism is no less a dogmatic and faith-based belief system than any other deistic belief system.
    This is not a leap of faith, just as it is not a leap of faith that unicorns and dragons do not exist. edit: This thread is now what I consider a "clusterfuck." I will withdraw all my comments and will no longer be participating in this thread. Sorry for the inconvenience.
     
  16. skalogre

    skalogre Senior member

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    I'd also like to add to what Saucemaster said (I let him do the talking, he seems more eloquent than I) that I have a very simple measure in addition to that. Falsifiability. There is no test you can conjure to prove that there is no god, hence it is out of the realm of scientific reasoning. It cannot be investigated. Hence religion = faith not reason. I seriously believe that if you are looking to prove to yourself that God exists, you are missing the point of faith & religion in general. You believe without needing proof, (the Thomas the Apostle factor as I'd call it [​IMG] )
    Point is, that to believe in nothing requires no effort logically. To believe in a supreme being though you need to rationalise somehow all these nasty little niggles like death disease, suffering, injustice et.c.
    As was mentioned previosuly, ABSENCE of belief is not the same as belief. Unlike many people around me, I cannot just turn off what I know in order to rationalise my existence and the aforementioned points. In some ways people with faith are lucky because they can see something at the end that rationalises their existence for them.

    P.s. 1 do not start going post-modernist on the scientific method. That is a losing proposition and besides the point.
    P.s. 2 I am very well aware of the typical arguments for God & as well as Christianity. I was brought up Orthodox in a country that is predominantly Greek Orthodox (and baptised too).
     
  17. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    The Almighty Dollar

    The most powerful god of all...

    [​IMG]

    Jon.
     
  18. Fuuma

    Fuuma Senior member

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    The point isn't whether it's infallible, though; the point is that it's impossible to form any sort of belief without it. Five hundred years ago, a godless moral person was not *literally* impossible to imagine. Not in the same way that it is literally--and I mean "literally" literally [​IMG]--impossible to imagine that there both is and is not a God. I think you're slightly missing my point. You can easily assert, logically speaking, that a person can be godless and moral, and you could have done so 500 years ago. That most people in most parts of the world would have said that you were wrong is immaterial; the statement is conceivable insofar as it does not violate any logical principles. In fact, the argument against it would probably follow some form of asserting that "morality" and "godlessness" were mutually exclusive--which, if you note, is actually an argument based on the logical principles I enumerated above. In other words, the "godlessly moral" person would only be literally impossible to imagine in the event that the definitions of morality *necessarily* included a conception of God. All of which just buttresses my point. [​IMG]

    EDIT: Or, let's put it another way. Give me an example of a belief system, of any sort, that denies the principles of identity/contradiction/excluded middle. That is, a belief system that believes that A does not equal A, or that A and Not-A can both be true, or that A and Not-A eliminate all other possible assertions. Now explain to me how that belief system can make any assertions, of any sort. For example, if this belief system asserts that there is a physical universe, but denies the principle of contradiction, it is also forced to assert that, though there positively is a physical universe, it's also still possible that there positively is not a physical universe.

    By the way, I disagree with your list of what, precisely the principles of identity, contradiction, and the excluded middle presuppose. None of them have any necessary reference to our senses, or to any sort of stimuli. You could hold that there is no external world at all and still, your thought would be bound by these principles. Is it possible that the world might work in ways that are impossible for us to understand? Sure. Of course, since by definition we'd never understand how it did so, that wouldn't actually matter as a subject of inquiry, would it? [​IMG] My point still stands: you cannot form any set of beliefs without first relying, like it or not, on certain basic principles of logic.

    Also, yeah, the new sig is fine. Babykiller. [​IMG]


    I do enjoy and understand what you're saying, however may I suggest you never attempt taking any zen classes or even reading a book about it, the whole getting rid of the duality inherent in our perception of reality (iea thing is red or not red, not both, not something else) would clash with your mind so much you'd feel you're in crazyland.
     
  19. Fuuma

    Fuuma Senior member

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    All of which presupposes 1. our five senses are able to detect every possible stimulus 2. our brain is capable of correctly interpreting those stimuli 3. reality does not extend beyond our ability to understand it (actually a restatement of the first 2.) Five hundred years ago, a godless, moral person was "literally impossible" to imagine, except by accident, and people that long ago weren't smart enough to come up with that possibility.

    Logic is a very tidy, internally consistent way to describe our understanding of the world. That doesn't make it infallible.


    IfTom


    I recently read an article titled (my translation, from memory) Are mathematics universal? which talked about cultural influences and differenciation in mathematics, the most logical and supposedly universal of all areas of studies. The author also went on tangentially related point when he developed on how scientific studies would have evolved quite differently had we prioritised and used our senses in a different manner (ie if we were sea dwellers with a highly developed sense of feeling but a feeble vision), such discussions, while highly rhetorical, really help bring accross the highly relative nature of our most treasured and fundamental wordlviews and beliefs.
     
  20. Saucemaster

    Saucemaster Senior member

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    I do enjoy and understand what you're saying, however may I suggest you never attempt taking any zen classes or even reading a book about it, the whole getting rid of the duality inherent in our perception of reality (iea thing is red or not red, not both, not something else) would clash with your mind so much you'd feel you're in crazyland.

    I took a year of Heidegger. At this point, nothing's going to phase me. [​IMG]
     

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