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The Religion and Philosophy Thread

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Comments

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 1,907



    @mashedtaters Someone who is able to examine their beliefs critically should abandon any beliefs that are irrational when he discovers them. That is what I would call reasonable.

    @FinneousPJ

    That’s an interesting belief. Why do you believe people should abandon all their irrational beliefs as they discover them?

    ThacoBell
  • Grond0Grond0 Member, Moderator Posts: 4,867

    @Grond0 By scientific do you mean it's also immune to reasoning and logic?

    Quite the reverse. Anything described as scientific would be susceptible to reasoning and logic. As I've said though, I don't believe the existence of God can be proved (or disproved) scientifically.

    Your questions suggest that you believe there is no place for anything other than reason and logic. Some of the recent discussions in the thread have touched on other ways of perceiving and understanding the world and I don't think a logical approach is the only possible way to do this. In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational. In a situation where there is no direct evidence available, there should certainly be skepticism about God's existence, but to elevate that to the certainty of a belief doesn't seem justified.

    I may of course be misunderstanding your views about reason and logic. Western approaches to logic have tended to be very linear 'it's either true or false', but that's not the only way to use logic. I came across this article which is quite approachable in the way it describes how logical mathematical analysis can be used to better understand Eastern philosophy, which doesn't follow a simple true or false pattern.

    JLeeThacoBell
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456



    @mashedtaters Someone who is able to examine their beliefs critically should abandon any beliefs that are irrational when he discovers them. That is what I would call reasonable.

    @FinneousPJ

    That’s an interesting belief. Why do you believe people should abandon all their irrational beliefs as they discover them?
    Only if they want to be reasonable :) Can you explain how you can claim to be reasonable if you knowingly maintain unreasonable beliefs?
    Grond0 said:

    @Grond0 By scientific do you mean it's also immune to reasoning and logic?

    Quite the reverse. Anything described as scientific would be susceptible to reasoning and logic. As I've said though, I don't believe the existence of God can be proved (or disproved) scientifically.

    Your questions suggest that you believe there is no place for anything other than reason and logic. Some of the recent discussions in the thread have touched on other ways of perceiving and understanding the world and I don't think a logical approach is the only possible way to do this. In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational. In a situation where there is no direct evidence available, there should certainly be skepticism about God's existence, but to elevate that to the certainty of a belief doesn't seem justified.

    I may of course be misunderstanding your views about reason and logic. Western approaches to logic have tended to be very linear 'it's either true or false', but that's not the only way to use logic. I came across this article which is quite approachable in the way it describes how logical mathematical analysis can be used to better understand Eastern philosophy, which doesn't follow a simple true or false pattern.
    "As I've said though, I don't believe the existence of God can be proved (or disproved) scientifically. "
    I mean by that do you imply it cannot or should not be examined logically?

    "In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational."

    Depends on the definition of god.

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 1,907
    @FinneousPJ

    I feel like I answered that question here https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/1036470/#Comment_1036470 , but maybe I wasn’t that clear. If you could ask more specifically, I could try to explain.

    But you didn’t answer my question. I don’t see that your qualifier is particularly relevant, because many people want, or at least think they want, to be/appear as reasonable.

    Why do you believe that someone who wants to be reasonable should give up their irrational beliefs as they discover them?

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456

    @FinneousPJ

    I feel like I answered that question here https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/1036470/#Comment_1036470 , but maybe I wasn’t that clear. If you could ask more specifically, I could try to explain.

    But you didn’t answer my question. I don’t see that your qualifier is particularly relevant, because many people want, or at least think they want, to be/appear as reasonable.

    Why do you believe that someone who wants to be reasonable should give up their irrational beliefs as they discover them?

    Well because irrational beliefs are unreasonable by definition.

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 1,907
    edited December 2018

    @FinneousPJ

    I feel like I answered that question here https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/1036470/#Comment_1036470 , but maybe I wasn’t that clear. If you could ask more specifically, I could try to explain.

    But you didn’t answer my question. I don’t see that your qualifier is particularly relevant, because many people want, or at least think they want, to be/appear as reasonable.

    Why do you believe that someone who wants to be reasonable should give up their irrational beliefs as they discover them?

    Well because irrational beliefs are unreasonable by definition.
    @FinneousPJ
    That doesn’t really answer the question. That’s just repeating what you said already again.

    Let me try again:
    Rationality is hardly a human’s only motivation. It’s not even one of our primary motivations.

    Aside from that, from a purely Darwinian standard, most standards of morality are almost entirely irrational.
    As long as you can find some way to escape the consequences:
    Abstaining from theft is irrational.
    Abstaining from violent revenge is irrational.
    Abstaining from the pursuit of power is irrational.
    Even abstaining from murdering someone who is a threat is irrational.

    There are many more beliefs that are irrational by scientific standards, but why do you believe that is reason enough to abandon them?

    ThacoBell
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456

    @FinneousPJ

    I feel like I answered that question here https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/1036470/#Comment_1036470 , but maybe I wasn’t that clear. If you could ask more specifically, I could try to explain.

    But you didn’t answer my question. I don’t see that your qualifier is particularly relevant, because many people want, or at least think they want, to be/appear as reasonable.

    Why do you believe that someone who wants to be reasonable should give up their irrational beliefs as they discover them?

    Well because irrational beliefs are unreasonable by definition.
    @FinneousPJ
    That doesn’t really answer the question. That’s just repeating what you said already again.

    Let me try again:
    Rationality is hardly a human’s only motivation. It’s not even one of our primary motivations.

    Aside from that, from a purely Darwinian standard, most standards of morality are almost entirely irrational.
    As long as you can find some way to escape the consequences:
    Abstaining from theft is irrational.
    Abstaining from violent revenge is irrational.
    Abstaining from the pursuit of power is irrational.
    Even abstaining from murdering someone who is a threat is irrational.

    There are many more beliefs that are irrational by scientific standards, but why do you believe that is reason enough to abandon them?
    Whoa, please show how those statements are irrational.

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 1,907
    Ok here is a hypothetical scenario of pure rationality (this isn’t me, it’s just an analogy):

    I was raised by drug addicted parents who neglected and abused me as a child. They did not believe in God (no heaven/hell, no consequences for good or evil) and, though they said they tried to be good people, their actions didn’t match their words. Given the circumstances, a perfectly rational response from me is to pursue drugs myself as I get older and to neglect my own children because that’s all I know.

    I somehow manage to escape the more horrible consequences of doing drugs and become a successful drug dealer. Given the circumstances, a perfectly rational response to that scenario is to seek more power and money to expand my market.

    As I expand my drug operation, I find out that there is someone I know who has a good stash of cash on them. Given the circumstances leading up to this, a perfectly rational response would be to find and steal the money, being careful not to get caught.

    When I get to the operation, I got faulty information and the man is there. A perfectly rational response is to kill the man so that he doesn’t alert the authorities. As I live in an area where the police are unlikely or unable to track down the murder, I am certain that I will not face any consequences for the murder.

    Irrational beliefs in God and morality have prevented many people from pursuing paths like this, and have motivated them to turn their lives around from the horrible circumstances they started.

    So, given this scenario and many others like it (including my own), why do you believe that people who wish to be reasonable should give up their irattionsl beliefs purely on that basis? They could believe things for very good reasons that have nothing to do with science or logic.

    Grond0ThacoBellmlnevese
  • JLeeJLee Member Posts: 648
    Grond0 said:


    In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational. In a situation where there is no direct evidence available, there should certainly be skepticism about God's existence, but to elevate that to the certainty of a belief doesn't seem justified.

    I wonder how much our conversation would differ if instead of describing our relationship to god, we instead described our attitudes towards the ineffable. Athiesm is a projection and, just like any belief, it can inhibit one from seeing reality as it is. Logically, agnosticism seems a good choice. If you wish to see reality as it is, to the extent you can, you must be very aware of your projections. The position of "I don't know" is quite powerful and fertile.
    Grond0 said:


    I may of course be misunderstanding your views about reason and logic. Western approaches to logic have tended to be very linear 'it's either true or false', but that's not the only way to use logic. I came across this article which is quite approachable in the way it describes how logical mathematical analysis can be used to better understand Eastern philosophy, which doesn't follow a simple true or false pattern.

    That was an interesting article. I'm surprised the author did not delve into Jainist logic, the seven fold Anekantavada

    In order to describe a phenomenon, you must describe it with respect to seven aspects (from wikipedia):
    Affirmation: syād-asti—in some ways, it is,
    Denial: syān-nāsti—in some ways, it is not,
    Joint but successive affirmation and denial: syād-asti-nāsti—in some ways, it is, and it is not,
    Joint and simultaneous affirmation and denial: syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, and it is indescribable,
    Joint and simultaneous affirmation and denial: syān-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is not, and it is indescribable,
    Joint and simultaneous affirmation and denial: syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, it is not, and it is indescribable,
    Joint and simultaneous affirmation and denial: syād-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is indescribable.

    I don't believe they are being ironic, but it is hard for me to not see it that way. I get it already! Language is limiting!


    Grond0ThacoBellmlnevesemashedtaters
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Okay first of all you gave a general statement: "Abstaining from theft is irrational." You cannot justify that With a specific example.

    "So, given this scenario and many others like it (including my own), why do you believe that people who wish to be reasonable should give up their irattionsl beliefs purely on that basis? They could believe things for very good reasons that have nothing to do with science or logic."

    I looked up your comment and if your definition of reasonable is "someone you can have a conversation with" then there is no conflict between irrationality and being reasonable. I don't agree with your definition.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    JLee said:

    Grond0 said:


    In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational. In a situation where there is no direct evidence available, there should certainly be skepticism about God's existence, but to elevate that to the certainty of a belief doesn't seem justified.

    I wonder how much our conversation would differ if instead of describing our relationship to god, we instead described our attitudes towards the ineffable. Athiesm is a projection and, just like any belief, it can inhibit one from seeing reality as it is. Logically, agnosticism seems a good choice. If you wish to see reality as it is, to the extent you can, you must be very aware of your projections. The position of "I don't know" is quite powerful and fertile.




    Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. Atheism addresses BELIEF while agnosticism address knowledge. You can be

    A Gnostic theist
    An agnostic theist
    An agnostic atheist or
    A Gnostic atheist

    BelgarathMTH
  • Grond0Grond0 Member, Moderator Posts: 4,867

    @FinneousPJ

    I feel like I answered that question here https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/1036470/#Comment_1036470 , but maybe I wasn’t that clear. If you could ask more specifically, I could try to explain.

    But you didn’t answer my question. I don’t see that your qualifier is particularly relevant, because many people want, or at least think they want, to be/appear as reasonable.

    Why do you believe that someone who wants to be reasonable should give up their irrational beliefs as they discover them?

    Well because irrational beliefs are unreasonable by definition.
    @FinneousPJ
    That doesn’t really answer the question. That’s just repeating what you said already again.

    Let me try again:
    Rationality is hardly a human’s only motivation. It’s not even one of our primary motivations.

    Aside from that, from a purely Darwinian standard, most standards of morality are almost entirely irrational.
    As long as you can find some way to escape the consequences:
    Abstaining from theft is irrational.
    Abstaining from violent revenge is irrational.
    Abstaining from the pursuit of power is irrational.
    Even abstaining from murdering someone who is a threat is irrational.

    There are many more beliefs that are irrational by scientific standards, but why do you believe that is reason enough to abandon them?
    Whoa, please show how those statements are irrational.
    This is where rationality gets intertwined with game theory. In order to determine what behaviors are rational you need a lot more information, such as:
    - are you considering short term or long term consequences?
    - are behaviors one-off or repeated?
    - what's the chance of being caught?
    - what sanctions are imposed for known misbehavior?

    In the case of theft it could well be that a one-off theft of high value items would seem totally rational for an individual, whereas repeated thefts of low value items could seem totally irrational - in terms of the balance between risk and reward. However, I don't think questions of rationality can be considered only at the individual level. There's good evidence that complex human societies perform better when individuals cooperate and levels of crime and corruption are low. That means that successful societies are likely to provide an incentive for individuals to cooperate. That can be done partly through a legal framework and sanctions, but moral sanctions and rewards are at least as important and religion is one means that can be used to apply those. That is one of the reasons for saying that, even if you believe that religion is not rational at the individual level, it may still be rational at a wider society level.

    ThacoBell
  • Grond0Grond0 Member, Moderator Posts: 4,867

    JLee said:

    Grond0 said:


    In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational. In a situation where there is no direct evidence available, there should certainly be skepticism about God's existence, but to elevate that to the certainty of a belief doesn't seem justified.

    I wonder how much our conversation would differ if instead of describing our relationship to god, we instead described our attitudes towards the ineffable. Athiesm is a projection and, just like any belief, it can inhibit one from seeing reality as it is. Logically, agnosticism seems a good choice. If you wish to see reality as it is, to the extent you can, you must be very aware of your projections. The position of "I don't know" is quite powerful and fertile.




    Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. Atheism addresses BELIEF while agnosticism address knowledge. You can be

    A Gnostic theist
    An agnostic theist
    An agnostic atheist or
    A Gnostic atheist
    I agree there is a distinction between belief and knowledge in the definitions, although I'm not sure how helpful it is in this context. If you follow the scientific method then, in order to know something you need to be able to test the evidence. In the case of the existence of gods there is no scientific test to determine that - therefore saying you don't know whether gods exist or not is not really different to the weak atheist position of saying you don't positively believe in gods (a strong atheist would positively disbelieve in gods, which would not be compatible with an agnostic position for someone following the scientific method).

    JLeeThacoBell
  • JLeeJLee Member Posts: 648
    edited December 2018
    @FinneousPJ If you attach a modifier to agnostic, it is no longer the quality of agnosticism that I am referring to. Any belief/disbelief applies an interpretive layer of mind over reality.

    Of course the mind is such that it is practically impossible to avoid such projections, but the next best thing is to realize that they are there. Better still is the experience the east calls "dropping the mind," but that cannot be achieved through any effort, only through understanding or happenstance.

  • lefreutlefreut Member Posts: 1,360
    edited December 2018
    Balrog99 said:

    I don't understand what that means.

    What's with the jailbars around you and @ThacoBell icons?
    Sorry, this is completely out of topic (moderators can move/remove this if they want).

    You only see jailbars on people when you use the mobile version of the site not the desktop one.

    I guess it's some kind of warning that the user gets. I don't think every members should be able to see that. It's only relevant to moderators/administrators.

    JLeelolien
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 8,556
    @FinneousPJ And there is no evidence to suggest such a place doesn't. Being certain of its non-existence is equally as irrational as being certain of its existence. We both believe in something unprovable.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    ThacoBell said:

    @FinneousPJ And there is no evidence to suggest such a place doesn't. Being certain of its non-existence is equally as irrational as being certain of its existence. We both believe in something unprovable.

    I have never said I was certain of its non-existence. Please don't tell me what I do or do not believe.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    JLee said:

    @FinneousPJ If you attach a modifier to agnostic, it is no longer the quality of agnosticism that I am referring to. Any belief/disbelief applies an interpretive layer of mind over reality.

    Of course the mind is such that it is practically impossible to avoid such projections, but the next best thing is to realize that they are there. Better still is the experience the east calls "dropping the mind," but that cannot be achieved through any effort, only through understanding or happenstance.

    What are you referring to then? As I said before, defining your terms really helps...

    JLee
  • JLeeJLee Member Posts: 648

    JLee said:

    @FinneousPJ If you attach a modifier to agnostic, it is no longer the quality of agnosticism that I am referring to. Any belief/disbelief applies an interpretive layer of mind over reality.

    Of course the mind is such that it is practically impossible to avoid such projections, but the next best thing is to realize that they are there. Better still is the experience the east calls "dropping the mind," but that cannot be achieved through any effort, only through understanding or happenstance.

    What are you referring to then? As I said before, defining your terms really helps...
    The first two sentences from wikipedia are in alignment with my own understanding:
    "Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable.[1][2][3] An agnostic can also be one who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic. "

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    edited December 2018
    Right, that's what I said. The view that something is unknown or unknowable has nothing to do with whether you believe it. An agnostic theist can say "I don't know but I believe god exists."

    EDIT: The point being, it's a different question:
    Do you believe
    Do you know

    EDIT2: Now that I'm on a computer and not on mobile, let me clarify some of my thoughts

    There is a thesis: "A god or gods exist(s)"
    We call people who accept this thesis (I believe a god or gods exist(s)), "theists".
    We call people who do not accept this thesis (I do not believe a god or gods exist(s)), "atheists".

    As a subject in either category, you can make a claim to knowledge; hence:

    A gnostic theist - I know a god or gods exist(s)
    An agnostic theist - I don't know but I believe a god or gods exist(s)
    An agnostic atheist - I don't know but I don't believe a god or gods exist(s)
    A gnostic atheist - I know a god or gods do(es) not exist(s)

    An agnostic can be either of the two beliefs, given that agnosticism addresses knowledge.

    JLee
  • JLeeJLee Member Posts: 648
    I will admit that the term "agnostic athiest" does not make a lot of sense to me. If you admit that something is unknowable, how and why do you then take a position? (this is rhetorical as I don't know if you personally can or want to answer it)

    Keep in mind that my general outlook is to avoid belief or hope, so this is puzzling to me.

    My point was that it is possible to abstain from either believing or disbelieving and that this attitude may be advantageous to understanding. I was responding to and agreeing with @Grond0 's point, "In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational."

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    edited December 2018
    JLee said:

    I will admit that the term "agnostic athiest" does not make a lot of sense to me. If you admit that something is unknowable, how and why do you then take a position? (this is rhetorical as I don't know if you personally can or want to answer it)

    Keep in mind that my general outlook is to avoid belief or hope, so this is puzzling to me.

    My point was that it is possible to abstain from either believing or disbelieving and that this attitude may be advantageous to understanding. I was responding to and agreeing with @Grond0 's point, "In fact you could reasonably argue that a belief in the non-existence of God is itself irrational."

    An agnostic atheist - I don't know but I don't believe a god or gods exist(s)

    @jlee I feel like you're not grasping the nuance here. "I don't believe X" is not the same as "I believe not X".

    EDITn - I messed up a number of edits:

    An analogy:

    Let a thesis be "There is an even number of blades of grass on your yard"

    If someone were to claim that, you might go

    "I don't believe there is an even number of blades of grass"

    A valid counter is not to say,

    "Aha! You are irrational for believing the number is odd!"

    Because "I don't believe there is an even number of blades of grass" is not the same as "I believe the number is NOT even".

  • Grond0Grond0 Member, Moderator Posts: 4,867
    I think part of the confusion is that the term atheist has 2 possible meanings:
    1) I don't believe (or disbelieve) that a god or gods exist.
    2) I believe that a god or gods do not exist.

    My personal experience is that people who call themselves atheists are referring to the second meaning (sometimes called 'strong' atheists). If they neither believe, nor disbelieve, in the existence of gods they will term themselves agnostics. That distinction makes perfect sense to me - as I said before I don't see that there is any significant difference between knowledge and belief in relation to the existence of unknowable gods. That's a different situation from referring to something that could be precisely determined (like the number of blades of grass). I accept though that's just my personal experience and others - particularly others in different cultures - are likely to have different experiences.

    JLeeThacoBell
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @Grond0 I couldn't be clearer in my definition. As for your two categories, 2 is a subset of 1. 1 is the more general definition of atheist. Also, I think you're doing the same error in logic as my analogy demonstrates. Whether it can be determined or not is irrelevant to the logic.

  • JLeeJLee Member Posts: 648
    @FinneousPJ It is always possible that I am missing something! However in this case, I think I do understand what you are saying.

    This is what I understand from your post: belief and knowledge are two different things and can be described, in the case of religion, by using two axis: gnostic v. agnostic and thiest v. athiest.

    What I am saying is that you can simply maintain an agnosticism without taking a further position of belief or disbelief. "I view the matter of God as inherently unknowable and I shall therefore leave my opinion of its existence unmanifested."

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    edited December 2018
    JLee said:

    @FinneousPJ It is always possible that I am missing something! However in this case, I think I do understand what you are saying.

    This is what I understand from your post: belief and knowledge are two different things and can be described, in the case of religion, by using two axis: gnostic v. agnostic and thiest v. athiest.

    What I am saying is that you can simply maintain an agnosticism without taking a further position of belief or disbelief. "I view the matter of God as inherently unknowable and I shall therefore leave my opinion of its existence unmanifested."

    @JLee Well, that is not possible if you believe in the logical absolutes. The position you stated seems like someone who does not believe a god or gods exist. As I said, that does not imply they believe a god or gods do not exist.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @JLee BTW, why does agnostic theist make sense, but agnostic atheist does not? Don't you think that betrays your bias?

  • Grond0Grond0 Member, Moderator Posts: 4,867

    @Grond0 I couldn't be clearer in my definition. As for your two categories, 2 is a subset of 1. 1 is the more general definition of atheist. Also, I think you're doing the same error in logic as my analogy demonstrates. Whether it can be determined or not is irrelevant to the logic.

    2 is not a subset of 1 (which is a point you've made yourself in several of your posts). There is a big difference between not taking a position about belief in gods and specifically denying such a belief. If you look at dictionary definitions you will see that most dictionaries define 'atheist' as someone who rejects any belief in gods, i.e. the second definition I gave - that fits in with my own experiences of what people think the word means. I do accept though that if you look into more detailed definitions the first definition is also given as a possibility, which is why I made the point that other people's experience (particularly those from different cultures and language groups) might be different.

    I think my logic is fine. I've explained twice now why I think that, if something is unknowable (such as the existence of a supernatural god) there is no significant difference between claiming knowledge or belief about that something. If you reject that logic I think it's your turn to explain why you think there's a flaw in it.

    ThacoBell
  • JLeeJLee Member Posts: 648
    edited December 2018
    @FinneousPJ I wondered if you would pick up on that! I even considered explaining it in my post, but didn't know if it would be relevant. The reason why I am not confused by the agnostic theist position is that I do not expect them to conform to logic as much as I would an athiest, they have made a declaration of belief that makes logical criticism nonproductive.

    Edit: refined my last sentence

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