Being 'Born-Again' Linked to More Brain Atrophy: Study
verthex

And who was the last president before Obama...

I guess it explains it all now doesn't it. :-/

Specter Phoenix

I'm waiting for the study that talks about the number of pointless studies that are conducted by universities.

verthex

Are you kidding me this is important. Now I know how fast to run from anyone who utters the word "born again christian".

Trent Gamblin

I'm a born again Christian. Now please run away and never come back. :P

Evert

Is it popcorn time yet?

someone972

A sample size of 268 seems a bit small for a study like that in my opinion. It also seemed to me, when reading the article, that they were talking more about the effect of stress than religious affiliation.

Tobias Dammers

A sample size of 268 seems a bit small for a study like that in my opinion.

Yeah, but there are practical concerns - I challenge you to come up with more than 268 born-again Christians willing to participate in a study on brain damage.

You'd be surprised how many single-case studies are being published; I've seen some where the author even tries to argue that single-case studies are more meaningful than randomized-sample double-blind studies with huge populations, cross-matched control groups and proper baselining.

Specter Phoenix
verthex said:

Are you kidding me this is important. Now I know how fast to run from anyone who utters the word "born again christian".

You'd run from a Charlie Brown cartoon.

Any idiot can say they are Christian just by believing in God. Born again Christian means they had some life changing experience (near death accident or something that makes them believe in God more) to where they change how the live and worship God more than just believing in the idea of God. For example, a lot of soldiers who return from war become born again Christians due to them being alive while their friends being killed in the war.

Wikipedia defines it as:

Quote:

In Christianity, born again refers to a "spiritual rebirth" (regeneration) of the human soul or spirit, contrasted with the physical birth everyone experiences. The origin of the term "born again" is the New Testament: "Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.'"[Jn 3:3 NIV] It is a term associated with salvation in Christianity. Individuals who profess to be born again often state that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Being born again Christian is no more a threat than a 40 year old person still believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Only danger you have from a born again Christian is that they will walk door to door preaching for you to become saved and "accept Jesus Christ as your savior".

23yrold3yrold

No one's going to mention the brain damage is a result of stress? Damn Atheists, persecuting us all the time ... ;)

In seriousness, where is "Duke University"? Because if that's the explanation they're rolling with, I would expect this effect would occur more in, say, California, than the Bible Belt, correct?

Arthur Kalliokoski

You're so stressed you can't Google?

Tobias Dammers

No one's going to mention the brain damage is a result of stress? Damn Atheists, persecuting us all the time...

I have absolutely nothing against Christians. I don't buy most of what Christianity says, but I respect Christian beliefs. Just don't try to convert me or demand that scientific evidence be ignored in favor of any religious belief, and don't demand that science be treated as a religion or other subjective belief.

MiquelFire

Just don't try to convert me or demand that scientific evidence be ignored in favor of any religious belief, and don't demand that science be treated as a religion or other subjective belief.

QFT

Arthur Kalliokoski

I don't quite get it, are they trying to say that an atrophied brain is susceptible to religion, or religion atrophies the brain?

Matthew Leverton

That study was from last year... You guys have bad memories. >:(

verthex

I don't quite get it, are they trying to say that an atrophied brain is susceptible to religion, or religion atrophies the brain?

It doesn't say it in the article but people get brain atrophy because of cocaine and meth use and those are the people I'm talking about.

bamccaig

According to the study, people who said they were a "born-again" Protestant or Catholic, or conversely, those who had no religious affiliation, had more hippocampal shrinkage (or "atrophy") compared to people who identified themselves as Protestants, but not born-again.

That seems vague. :-/ Do they mean atheists or people that "don't know" or "don't care"? >:( I would expect the latter, but it seems intentionally unclear.

Johan Halmén

This thread is about nothing, so... wait...
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bamccaig

8-)

Tobias Dammers
bamccaig said:

Do they mean atheists or people that "don't know" or "don't care"?

When you say "atheist", do you mean "someone who believes that no gods exist", or "someone who doesn't believe that gods exist"?

bamccaig

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Tobias Dammers

Valid question.

When people say "atheist", they may mean any combination of:

a) A person who positively believes that no deities exist.
b) A person who lacks any belief in a deity, but does not per se reject such beliefs.
c) A person who rejects any notion of spirituality or religion.

Note the subtle yet important differences. Considering them, I would say the word "atheist" is about as politically correct as "heathen", and from the mouth of a militant Christian, they usually mean exactly the same ("someone who does not share my beliefs").

Specter Phoenix

Wonder which makes less sense. Scientology or Atheism?

ks

Re: sample size

Why just have an "opinion", just give us the sample size and power analyses calculations. You could start at http://www.fmripower.org/

Stas B.

a) A person who positively believes that no deities exist.

How do you "believe" that something doesn't exist? ???

Matthew Leverton

video

LennyLen
Stas B. said:

How do you "believe" that something doesn't exist?

The same way that you believe anything else.

Specter Phoenix

"Born again Christians" aren't what you need to worry about. You need to worry about the street preachers that say God is going to kills us because a few days later they will walk into the local Walmart and start shooting it up. When asked about it they will say, "God told me it was a good idea!"

SiegeLord

subjective belief

Nothing wrong with subjective belief, it is in fact the cornerstone of the scientific method as practiced by scientists. There's nothing wrong with having subjective beliefs... they key bit is that you must allow your subjective beliefs to be adjusted by incoming evidence.

Evert

I would call option b agnostic.

bamccaig said:

That seems vague. :-/ Do they mean atheists or people that "don't know" or "don't care"? >:

It's not unclear at all. It's basically their "none of the above" category. The gist of what they're saying seems to be that it's healthier to be protestant than anything else. Probably because of this:

Quote:

when you feel your beliefs and values are somewhat at odds with those of society as a whole, it may contribute to long-term stress that could have implications for the brain

or in other words, if you feel that you don't fit in (for which your particular religious beliefs are nowhere near the only variable) you experience stress. Long-term stress is bad for your health. Both of which are no-brainers. In short, a waste of good reasearch time and money.

Stas B.
LennyLen said:

Stas B. said:
How do you "believe" that something doesn't exist?

The same way that you believe anything else.

To believe in something, you need some kind of reason. Some kind of evidence. I'm not talking about the scientific kind. Any kind will do. Now, what kind of evidence can you possibly have for the non-existance of something? Unless we're talking about something that can be reduced to a mathematical or logical abstraction and proven contradictory, you can't have evidence for the non-existance of something. I've never heard anyone saying "I believe that god doesn't exist". People just say "I don't believe that god exists".

Arthur Kalliokoski

There have been hundreds if not thousands of other ghods invented by superstitious charlatans, such as Zeus or Ishtar, so by believing in one ghod you're 99.9% atheist anyway. And before you say "he's the one true ghod", ask yourself why kids seem to know that the ghod that their parents brainwashed them with is the right one, no matter which ghod it is. And if you think about it, all kids are born atheists anyway.

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Stas B.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that it's valid to believe in deities because you can't prove they don't exist. I'm just saying that people reject the concept of god because it's superfluous and lacks valid evidence, not because they "positively believe" that god doesn't exist. A sentence like "atheists believe that god doesn't exists" sounds like a theist's try to bring atheism to down his level. ("What's the difference between positively believing that something exists and positively believing that something doesn't?")

[EDIT]

The reason I'm saying this is because I felt that the undertone of the post was "I don't buy Christianity but I don't outright reject the concept of god and neither should you, because positively believing that god doesn't exist is as bad as positively believing that god does exist." Most people who reject god actually have a valid reason to do so, not some arbitrary belief.

Specter Phoenix

Arthur Kalliokoski:
Nice picture. Though it is no secret why religion was never in Star Trek.

Wikipedia Quote:

Quote:

Although Roddenberry was raised as a Southern Baptist, he instead considered himself a humanist and agnostic. He saw religion as the cause of many wars and human suffering.[22] Brannon Braga has said that Roddenberry made it known to the writers of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation that religion and mystical thinking were not to be included, and that in Roddenberry's vision of Earth's future, everyone was an atheist and better for it.[23] However, Roddenberry was clearly not punctilious in this regard, and some religious references exist in various episodes of both series under his watch. The original series episodes "Bread and Circuses", "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and "The Ultimate Computer", and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Data's Day" and "Where Silence Has Lease" are examples. On the other hand, "Metamorphosis", "The Empath", "Who Watches the Watchers", and several others reflect his agnostic views.

LennyLen
Stas B. said:

To believe in something, you need some kind of reason. Some kind of evidence. I'm not talking about the scientific kind. Any kind will do. Now, what kind of evidence can you possibly have for the non-existance of something? Unless we're talking about something that can be reduced to a mathematical or logical abstraction and proven contradictory, you can't have evidence for the non-existance of something. I've never heard anyone saying "I believe that god doesn't exist". People just say "I don't believe that god exists".

If belief requires proof, then no, you couldn't believe in the non-existence of something. I don't know why you think that belief requires proof however. In fact, The Oxford English Dictionary even defines belief as the acceptance that something is true or exists, especially without proof.

Stas B.

I didn't say it requires an actual proof, but what reason could a person have to "believe" that something does not exist? As I said, it could only be based on a logical argument (not necessarily a valid one) since things that don't exist don't leave tangible evidence for their non-existance. This exception does not apply in the context of this thread and I'll explain why: A person could say "The Christian god does not exist because he's supposed to answear prayers and experiments demonstrate that he doesn't". As any Christian would tell you, that's a belief, not a concrete proof, because the apparent idleness of god could have any number of underlaying reasons. However, the holder of such a belief may very well be a Buddhist, for example. What makes one an atheist is the rejection of the entire concept of some supreme deity. It's apparent enough that you can't have a logical argument for the non-existance of all possible deities that I've never met an atheist who believes they have one. ???

LennyLen
Stas B. said:

What makes one an atheist is the rejection of the entire concept of some supreme deity. It's apparent enough that you can't have a logical argument for the non-existance of all possible deities that I've never met an atheist who believes they have one.

I agree, you can't have a logical argument for it. I just don't agree that a logical reason is needed to believe something. There are many illogical beliefs.

Stas B.
LennyLen said:

I agree, you can't have a logical argument for it. I just don't agree that a logical reason is needed to believe something. There are many illogical beliefs.

I guess you're right. You could technically have some invalid pseudo-logical reasons to believe that some abstract concept is false in principle. It's just unintuitive. It's like saying "I believe pink jello does not exist somewhere in outer space". People don't generally do that.

Tobias Dammers
Stas B. said:

You could technically have some invalid pseudo-logical reasons to believe that some abstract concept is false in principle.

I choose not to believe in anything without having a good reason. And I'll go with Ockam's Razor on the God hypothesis - as with any hypothesis, the burden of proof on those who propose it. In this case, most of the proponents fail on the preliminary definitions already.

Trent Gamblin

Why would you expect the supernatural to behave based on human rules?

Stas B.

I choose not to believe in anything without having a good reason. And I'll go with Ockam's Razor on the God hypothesis - as with any hypothesis, the burden of proof on those who propose it. In this case, most of the proponents fail on the preliminary definitions already.

In that case, you don't believe in the existence of X. As you noted yourself, that's different from believing in the non-existence of X.

Why would you expect the supernatural to behave based on human rules?

You would not expect anything at all from the supernatural. If it does not obey the rules of logic, you can't reason about it by definition and your belief is irrational. It's in no way different from a schizophreniac believing in deamons that tell him to murder.

Trent Gamblin

Ya, if any of that made any sense I would comment, but I'm going to hide this thread now.

Arthur Kalliokoski

i.e. "LA LA LA I can't hear you!"

SiegeLord

There is no difference between not believing a god exists and believing it does not exist, if you take subjective belief to be the subjective probability, as you must to be coherent. The equivalence of those two statements comes from the axioms of probability. The god must either exist or not exist, so the probability of it existing and the probability of it not existing sum to 1. When you claim that you don't believe god exists, you are assigning the probability of god existing. When you claim that you believe god does not exist, you are assigning the probability of god not existing. Since they both sum to one, those statements are ultimately equivalent.

Now that is all if you think subjective beliefs are probabilities. I welcome your efforts to disprove decades of work on the topic and show a different treatment of beliefs :P.

Stas B.

Ya, if any of that made any sense I would comment, but I'm going to hide this thread now.

It makes perfect sense. Natural is everything that obeys the laws of the universe. The laws of the universe are the laws of logic. Supernatural is anything that is not bound by the laws of the natural. I.e., the supernatural does not necessarily obey the rules of logic. How can you reason about the nature of something that does not obey the laws you reason with? How do you conclude that it is "good" and that it "loves" you and that it wants you to pray and worship it? That's insane in every sense of the world. The only reason they don't lock you people up is that you're a majority. :P

Feel free not to reply anymore. It makes you look all the more silly.

[EDIT]

SiegeLord said:

The equivalence of those two statements comes from the axioms of probability. The god must either exist or not exist, so the probability of it existing and the probability of it not existing sum to 1. When you claim that you don't believe god exists, you are assigning the probability of god existing.

I do not assign ANY probability. That's exactly my point. There is no probability for something to exist. It either does or it does not.

In fact, here's a better way to demonstrate why what you're saying is absurd. If I'm not aware of the concept of X, I do not believe that X exists. That's obviously different from believing that X does not exist because it requires having a concept of X.

Thomas Fjellstrom
Stas B. said:

Feel free not to reply anymore. It makes you look all the more silly.

Or you since he used the "Hide thread" option :P means he won't even see the thread anymore.

Arthur Kalliokoski
SiegeLord said:

There is no difference between not believing a god exists and believing it does not exist, if you take subjective belief to be the subjective probability, as you must to be coherent.

That applies to the Flying Spaghetti Monster (bless his noodley goodness) as well, doesn't it?

Stas B.

Or you since he used the "Hide thread" option means he won't even see the thread anymore.

What do I care, really? If I can ridicule him without him being able to defend his position, all the merrier. I wouldn't be surprised if he's bluffing about hiding this thread, but it doesn't really matter. I just felt like elaborating on my statement for anyone else who may be confused by it.

SiegeLord
Stas B. said:

I do not assign ANY probability. That's exactly my point. There is no probability for something to exist. It either does or it does not.

But you don't know, do you? In fact you can never know for sure, since if you see god with your eyes or experience god through an internal revelation it could just be a psychotic episode. Still, you can observe things in the world and use that evidence to form a belief for existence of god. You can absolutely never know it for sure though, so talking about the actual existence of god without taking into account of all the uncertainties that are definitely also involved.

That is of course logical arguments aside... but those are beside the point. I just showed you how you can believe soundly, coherently and rationally in something's non-existence. There is plenty of evidence of god non-existing (it's literally everything you've experienced to date).

That applies to the Flying Spaghetti Monster (bless his noodley goodness) as well, doesn't it?

Sure. It applies to pretty much everything (logical proofs aside, although I'm sure you can think of some treatment of logic that uses probabilities).

I believe FSM does not exist = probability of FSM not existing is very high.
I don't believe FSM exists = probability of FSM existing is very low.

Arthur Kalliokoski
SiegeLord said:

I believe FSM does not exist = probability of FSM not existing is very high.
I don't believe FSM exists = probability of FSM existing is very low.

So there is no independent reality? But that would imply several realities due to the plethora of beliefs.

SiegeLord

So there is no independent reality?

No, there is. But we observe it through imperfect senses. We are also limited by the fact that we don't have infinite time to observe it.

Quote:

But that would imply several realities due to the plethora of beliefs.

I think the proper way to think of it is that there are multiple beliefs of what reality is. You can pool beliefs of multiple people to get a better estimate of what is actually out there in the world. The fact that you can do that seems to argue against multiple independent realities.

Stas B.
SiegeLord said:

But you don't know, do you? In fact you can never know for sure, since if you see god with your eyes or experience god through an internal revelation it could just be a psychotic episode. Still, you can observe things in the world and use that evidence to form a belief for existence of god. You can absolutely never know it for sure though, so talking about the actual existence of god without taking into account of all the uncertainties that are definitely also involved.

Since you're quoting my post, I must ask how that is relevant to the difference between not believing in the existence of X and believing in the non-existence of X?

Quote:

That is of course logical arguments aside... but those are beside the point. I just showed you how you can believe soundly, coherently and rationally in something's non-existence.

First of all, if you have, I don't see it. Second, I never denied that you can rationally believe in the non-existence of something. I made it clear several times that you can prove the non-existence of something using logic and clarified what I meant in the context of this thread.

Quote:

There is plenty of evidence of god non-existing (it's literally everything you've experienced to date).

Such as?

Quote:

I believe FSM does not exist = probability of FSM not existing is very high.
I don't believe FSM exists = probability of FSM existing is very low.

That's wrong. It could be that I don't believe FSM exists because I don't know what the FSM is. It could be that when I hear about the FSM, I don't ponder about the probability of it existing because probability does not make sense in this case and I have no reason to ponder about something I have no evidence of.

Arthur Kalliokoski
SiegeLord said:

You can pool beliefs of multiple people to get a better estimate of what is actually out there in the world.

Well, I guess I'm screwed then.

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Still, I'd rather not worship such a spoiled brat of a god that boosting his ego is more important than acting ethically.

SiegeLord
Stas B. said:

Since you're quoting my post, I must ask how that is relevant to the difference between not believing in the existence of X and believing in the non-existence of X?

Because...

Quote:

I made it clear several times that you can prove the non-existence of something using logic and clarified what I meant in the context of this thread.

...you just tied the two together. Logical proofs are (largely) irrelevant for empirical questions such as god's existence.

Quote:

First of all, if you have, I don't see it.

Well, what part of my post didn't you get then? The bit that did it was the paragraph about the probabilities.

Quote:

Such as?

To the layman, the following is essentially a retelling of Occam's razor. Probabilistic treatment of subjective beliefs, shows using math why Occam's razor is a good idea: it leads to hypothesss about the world that have higher probability. Given two hypothesis and some observations, you generally prefer a hypothesis that assigns higher probability to those observations.

Given the current scientific knowledge, the probability of the current world is high. E.g. take gravity... given the simple formulation of Newtonian law of gravitation we predict spherical celestial objects, shape of mountains, things falling down etc etc. Given evolutionary theory we predict the shapes of animals and how they change in response to the environment (e.g. insular dwarfism). Now, take the god hypothesis. Where in the god hypothesis do we get the mathematical form of gravitation? Where in the god hypothesis do we get insular dwarfism from? God could have made any kind of world with any kind of animals, and the probability that he made specifically the one we live in with these kinds of laws and these kinds of animals is very insignificant.

Even more simply... look at your bilateral symmetry. Why would god create a symmetrical animal, as opposed to one with radial symmetry (like a starfish?). There is nothing in the god hypothesis that specifies that. On the other hand, the alternative hypotheses (e.g. evolution) predict those facts very well.

Thus, god probably does not exist because the evidence that we have is best explained by different, more specific and ultimately simpler hypotheses.

Well, I guess I'm screwed then.

On the contrary, that seems to indicate that there is a lot of room for doubt in terms of higher deities! It'd be more troubling if everybody agreed (like everybody agrees about things like gravity).

Stas B.
SiegeLord said:

...you just tied the two together. Logical proofs are (largely) irrelevant for empirical questions such as god's existence.

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Quote:

Well, what part of my post didn't you get then? The bit that did it was the paragraph about the probabilities.

The bit with the probabilities did nothing. Probabilities do not apply to the possibility of existence. There can't be something with a probability of existence other than 0 or 1, even conceptually. It does not demonstrate the equivalence between not believing that something exists and believing that something does not exist either. If Y does not have a concept of X, Y does not believe in the existence of X. That does not mean that Y believes that X does not exist. That's a logical contradiction and you can't possibly prove otherwise.

Quote:

Thus, god probably does not exist because the evidence that we have is best explained by different, more specific and ultimately simpler hypotheses.

A better, more specific and ultimately simpler hypothesis to explain the universe has no effect on the probability that god exists. Even if you manage to explain the whole universe to a satisfactory degree, there will always remain the question of what caused the first event in the chain of events that lead to the universe coming to existence. We don't use it because it's more "probable". We use it because it works. Occam's razor has nothing to do with probabilities. It has to do with picking the explanation that gives you the most useful insight with the minimal amount of cruft.

Evert

Why would you expect the supernatural to behave based on human rules?

I never understood the arbitrary distinction between "natural" and "supernatural". There's no need for any such distinction if "natural" means "all that exists" rather than "all that exists except for some things that I think exist but don't want to call natural".

Although last time I brought up that point people were confused by "natural" in some contexts also not including things that are "artificial". Ah, the joys of discussing things in imprecise language where everyone means something slightly different by the same word.

Yes, I know Trent prefers to not read about people not sharing his worldview (and why), but think of it as a tangent to the discussion.

SiegeLord said:

Thus, god probably does not exist because the evidence that we have is best explained by different, more specific and ultimately simpler hypotheses.

Quite independent of that: if you answer any question of the form "how did X come about?" with "God did it" all you've done is dodged the question. Afterall, "how did God come about?"

EDIT

Stas B. said:

Even if you manage to explain the whole universe to a satisfactory degree, there will always remain the question of what caused the first event in the chain of events that lead to the universe coming to existence.

Also known as "God of the gaps". Which is an unsatisfactory type of god in anyone's book.

Stas B.
Evert said:

Also known as "God of the gaps". Which is an unsatisfactory type of god in anyone's book.

That's besides the point. Occam's razor can not be used as a proof for the improbability of god. It tells you not to concern yourself with a complex model when you have a simpler one that's equally good at explanation and prediction even though the more complex model could be closer to how things work under the hood. I reject the idea of god because I don't need it, not because I believe that he probably does not exist.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Evert said:

Yes, I know Trent prefers to not read about people not sharing his worldview (and why)

Yes, it's very nice to imagine seeing deceased loved ones again, and this time it's Forever.

SiegeLord
Stas B. said:

The bit with the probabilities did nothing. Probabilities do not apply to the possibility of existence. There can't be something with a probability of existence other than 0 or 1, even conceptually. It does not demonstrate the equivalence between not believing that something exists and believing that something does not exist either. If Y does not have a concept of X, Y does not believe in the existence of X. That does not mean that Y believes that X does not exist. That's a logical contradiction and you can't possibly prove otherwise.

Actual existence doesn't matter directly because it is unknowable directly! We can only observe the world through our senses, and actual existence only matters in the sense that it affects what we perceive. If god exists, then the outside world will reflect that. If god does not exist, then the outside world will reflect that. But the direct fact of god existing is unknowable, just like nothing else (unless it's in the domain of math) in the outside world. The fact that I exist is unknowable to you (and probably to me) but you have tons of evidence to suggest that I do exist. You should believe in my existence.

Anyway, I think you didn't read that wikipedia link in my original post. Seriously, read it. You are using frequentist objections to subjective probability that are simply irrelevant. There is nothing wrong in thinking about probability of something existing or not. Re-read that wikipedia article until you agree with this last sentence.

Quote:

A better, more specific and ultimately simpler hypothesis to explain the universe has no effect on the probability that god exists.

Yes it does. It's how probabilities work. Let's look at the probability of the current scientific understanding being an accurate description of how the world works. I just explained why probability is high. This means all alternative hypotheses are less likely, because probabilities sum to 1. If god hypothesis is the only alternative to the scientific hypothesis, then it becomes less and less likely the more likely the scientific hypothesis becomes. The only way that won't be true is if you're irrational about your beliefs.

Quote:

We don't use it because it's more "probable". We use it because it works

It's more probable because it works, so you are using it because it's more probable even if you didn't think of it. If it wasn't probable, it wouldn't work etc.

Quote:

It has to do with picking the explanation that gives you the most useful insight with the minimal amount of cruft.

Things that don't satisfy these statements are not probable. Things that do, are probable.

Evert said:

Quite independent of that: if you answer any question of the form "how did X come about?" with "God did it" all you've done is dodged the question. Afterall, "how did God come about?"

That is another issue, although an irrelevant one. Look at the sun... you can use science (and subjective beliefs which are the same thing) to argue that it uses hydrogen for fusion without needing to answer where that hydrogen originally came from. It helps a lot that we have an explanation for hydrogen coming about from somewhere, but the hydrogen hypothesis can stand on its own. Saying that god did hydrogen is a better theory than god makes sun shine.

Tobias Dammers
SiegeLord said:

Saying that god did hydrogen is a better theory than god makes sun shine.

And saying that we don't know how the hydrogen came about is even better, because it has the same explanatory value, but it can do without the God concept.

Stas B.
SiegeLord said:

Actual existence doesn't matter directly because it is unknowable directly! We can only observe the world through our senses, and actual existence only matters in the sense that it affects what we perceive. If god exists, then the outside world will reflect that. If god does not exist, then the outside world will reflect that. But the direct fact of god existing is unknowable, just like nothing else (unless it's in the domain of math) in the outside world. The fact that I exist is unknowable to you (and probably to me) but you have tons of evidence to suggest that I do exist. You should believe in my existence.

The world can not reflect the non-existence of something unless that something is supposed to have perceptible effects on reality that can be attributed to it but it doesn't. Other than that, I agree with what you say.

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Anyway, I think you didn't read that wikipedia link in my original post. Seriously, read it. You are using frequentist objections to subjective probability that are simply irrelevant. There is nothing wrong in thinking about probability of something existing or not. Re-read that wikipedia article until you agree with this last sentence.

I tried but I can't stay focused enough to comprehend what it says. Maybe I'm just dumb. I'm sure you can come up with some definition of probability that makes sense in the context of existence. I won't argue about it because we're clearly not talking about the same. In any case, none of this is relevant. When Christians say that they believe in god, they assert the actual existence of god, not the high probability of the existence of god. In this context, "I believe that god doesn't exist" should be interpreted as "I'm sure god doesn't exist". As you said yourself, actual existence is unknowable directly, which is exactly why you can't be "sure" about the non-existence of god. I guess you can interpret "I don't believe in god" and "I think god probably doesn't exist" as the same thing, depending on your definition of "probable", which apparently does not match mine.

Evert
SiegeLord said:

you can use science (and subjective beliefs which are the same thing) to argue that it uses hydrogen for fusion without needing to answer where that hydrogen originally came from.

Sure, but you immediately raise new questions: where does the hydrogen come from? Knowing that the energy source is hydrogen, how does the fusion work (the temperature in the sun isn't high enough for a proton to overcome the potential barrier around another proton clasically)? What happens when the hydrogen runs out? Some of those questions are even necessary if you want to understand how hydrogen fusion works in the first place.

I guess the point is that "God did it" typically comes with an implied "and therefore there are no further questions". But of course there are.

Stas B. said:

The world can not reflect the non-existence of something unless that something is supposed to have perceptible effects on reality that can be attributed to it but it doesn't.

Does something that has no effect at all on anything actually exist? In what sense would it exist?
It's an old question, but relevant.

Stas B.

Something that has no effects at all on anything does not exist, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe someone can come up with a consistent definition of existence that allows something like that, but it probably won't be very useful. The key words are "perceptible" and "attributable" though. I would argue that something you can not perceive or may nontheless exist.

Derezo

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion. There was a thread on Reddit about that recently.

Many Atheists make fun of people who believe in god, even when their concepts of what that means don't match. Sometimes they think that atheism and science are the same thing, which is funny, but false.

Evert said:

I never understood the arbitrary distinction between "natural" and "supernatural".

I think of "supernatural" as the parts of a process that are unknown or unexplainable, and thus it is a subjective term. Sometimes there are unknowns that are shared amongst many people, such as "How did we get here?", "Where are we going?". That's usually the kind of stuff the god did. As we progress forward in time, more and more unknowns are disappearing, and I think that is why atheism is bigger today than it ever has been (because many people think we can, or do, know everything).

Having said all of that, I do not believe that Yeshua Christos was born of a virgin, and hence I am not a Christian. However, I do believe that he was an incredibly brilliant philosopher. I consider myself a spiritual person because I have beliefs that answer questions without measurable proof or evidence. For the most part, those questions are of little consequence anyway.

Evert said:

Does something that has no effect at all on anything actually exist?

I don't believe that such a thing exists.
One of my beliefs is that the entire universe is interconnected, as if the whole thing emerged from a singularity. It's a popular belief, and I don't personally have any proof, and can't measure it. The whole is the sum of it's parts.

Stas B.
Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion. There was a thread on Reddit about that recently.

How can the lack of a belief in a deity be a belief system in itself or a religion? Wait, there was a thread about it on Reddit? Must be true then. ::)

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Many Atheists make fun of people who believe in god, even when their concepts of what that means don't match. Sometimes they think that atheism and science are the same thing, which is funny, but false.

Then they're stupid. It doesn't make their rejection of god any less valid.

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I think of "supernatural" as the parts of a process that are unknown or unexplainable, and thus it is a subjective term

Sadly, you don't get to define what terms actually mean. As I'm sure you know, "supernatural" literally means "above nature", as in, something that is not constrained by the natural laws. Stuff we don't know is just stuff we don't know. Ancient people could not explain why it rains. That does not mean rain used to be supernatural and now it's natural.

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As we progress forward in time, more and more unknowns are disappearing, and I think that is why atheism is bigger today than it ever has been (because many people think we can, or do, know everything).

Ever notice how atheism is popular in places where they don't cut your head off for being an "infidel" and not very popular in places where they do? Maybe it has more to do with freedom of thought and expression.

SiegeLord
Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself

A rational belief system. A belief system that allows beliefs to be changed by evidence, and in fact arises from evidence. Religion also originally came about from evidence, but once formed, it stopped taking in new evidence and became irrational. Everybody has some rational beliefs even if they don't explicitly think about it (even if they have a knee-jerk belief-is-religion reaction), but that does not make them equivalent to the irrationality of religion.

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Sometimes they think that atheism and science are the same thing, which is funny, but false.

I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist, because they misunderstand the critical aspect of scientific method. Any science they do is good only by accident, or by imitating the scientists that do understand the scientific method.

Specter Phoenix

Well according to the dictionary and what I've found online, the accepted definition for an atheist is:

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a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

They seem to believe more in the scientific manner of how things came to be (big bang theory).

verthex

I'm so proud of myself, yet another a.cc religion thread. Sorry I have no cookies. ;D

Stas B.
SiegeLord said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself

A rational belief system. A belief system that allows beliefs to be changed by evidence, and in fact arises from evidence.

What are you guys talking about? You don't just get to define words to mean whatever you feel like. Atheism is the rejection of the belief in deities. It has nothing to do with the scientific method or with science. So many people who are atheists don't understand the scientific method and put blind faith in anything labeled "science". That doesn't mean they're any less atheist, nor does it mean that atheism is a religion, nor does it mean that science is religion. Those people are stupid. That's all it means. If somebody wants to say that the scientific method is a belief system, go ahead. Not all beliefs are equally valid. Some are based on logic and evidence and some are based on wishful thinking. The reason some people have knee-jerk reactions when hearing the word "belief" in the context of science is because the kind of people who bring that up are usually theists and when theists say "belief", they mean "faith".

[EDIT]

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I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist, because they misunderstand the critical aspect of scientific method. Any science they do is good only by accident, or by imitating the scientists that do understand the scientific method.

Do you realize a lot of great thinkers and scientists actually believed in god? According to the scientific method, you should have some actual evidence when making strong claims. Humans have this amazing ability to hold several contradictory beliefs at the same time and apply rationality selectively. To use double-think. Whether a scientist who believes in god is a good scientist (in the sense that he contributes something to science) depends on whether he adjusts his god to not conflict with science or whether he adjusts science to not conflict with his god.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion.

I'd say that some people want to take some things too far, even atheism, resulting in a lot of silly rules. Fundies do it too, with their hatred and protests based on the slimmest of reasons from the bible.

This guy takes pencil sharpening way too seriously!

video

SiegeLord said:

I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist

If a particular scientist had claustrophobia, would that prevent him from being a scientist? As long as the irrationality confines itself to one aspect of his life, I'd say no. And we all have irrational beliefs of one kind or another. And how about Issac Newton, widely believed to be one of the greatest scientists of all time? He made money on the side with astrology, although he probably didn't believe it himself. Maybe a few cardinals and the Pope himself are actually atheists who know a good scam when they see it.

23yrold3yrold
SiegeLord said:

A rational belief system. A belief system that allows beliefs to be changed by evidence, and in fact arises from evidence. Religion also originally came about from evidence, but once formed, it stopped taking in new evidence and became irrational.

This statement is itself irrational. If you're "born-again" (per the thread title) then logically you must have had your beliefs changed by new evidence. Also, you imply that religious people never change their beliefs within the same religion. Obviously wrong.

Of course, the real reason you're saying this is because you think your beliefs are the only rational ones. Well, as long as you aren't religious about it or anything. :)

I'd say that some people want to take some things too far, even atheism, resulting in a lot of silly rules. Fundies do it too, with their hatred and protests based on the slimmest of reasons from the bible.

True facts.

Specter Phoenix
verthex said:

I'm so proud of myself, yet another a.cc religion thread. Sorry I have no cookies. ;D

Yep, congratulations! You've started another topic that has been done before, just like making a Pong Clone. Very original. Glad to see someone likes to celebrate their mediocrity so much.

Stas B.

This statement is itself irrational. If you're "born-again" (per the thread title) then logically you must have had your beliefs changed by new evidence.

What are the chances that you could change their opinion again by presenting them with valid evidence that challenges their new beliefs? Or by giving them a valid proof of their acceptance of a new world view being based on flawed evidence? In any case, that's not even relevant. Do you know what they call the act of challenging the fundamental concepts of a religion? Heresy. Most religions have rather strict laws regarding heretics. There's no denying that some people who are raised religious have the common sense to eventually reject their religion, but that's not because their religion allows or encourages subjects to challenge it.

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Also, you imply that religious people never change their beliefs within the same religion. Obviously wrong.

Absolutely irrelevant. He implies that religious people can't accept evidence that challenges the fundamentals of their religion. You have endless examples of people like that. The moment you start questioning your religion, you are no longer religious by definition.

m c

Of course being born again means less brain cells.

They were just born again.

We have to wait for them to grow to toddler, little kiddy, young man, and so on and so forth...

Evert
Stas B. said:

Something that has no effects at all on anything does not exist, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe someone can come up with a consistent definition of existence that allows something like that, but it probably won't be very useful. The key words are "perceptible" and "attributable" though. I would argue that something you can not perceive or may nontheless exist.

Something that has an effect is something that can be perceived through that effect.

Derezo said:

Atheism is a belief system in and of itself, which implies that it is it's own religion.

At a stretch, Atheism is a blief system (it's more the lack of one, but ok). It is in no way or form a religion. The first clue should be that there is no single common set of beliefs that atheists share.

SiegeLord said:

I shall make a strong claim that any scientist that is not an atheist is not a good scientist, because they misunderstand the critical aspect of scientific method. Any science they do is good only by accident, or by imitating the scientists that do understand the scientific method.

I think you can argue that case. If, as a scientist, you truly believe that some things should be explained as special acts of some otherwise unknowable diety, then you do have to ask yourself what exactly you'retrying to do. Why bother trying to understand why supernovae explode if you could just say that every supernova is a special act of God and therefor there is nothing to understand?
However, I do know scientists who are religious, to the point of being lay preachers - quite succesful scientists too. It's not as clear-cut in practice.
I suspect it makes a difference whether the science you do is descriptive or explicative.

They seem to believe more in the scientific manner of how things came to be (big bang theory).

That really has very little to do with being an atheist or not. There are Christians (for example) who "believe" those things and I'm sure there are atheists who don't. An atheist is someone who does not believe in God(s). No more, no less.

Stas B.
Evert said:

Something that has an effect is something that can be perceived through that effect.

Something that has an effect is something that can in principle be perceived through that effect. Things had effects before humans were around to perceive them or attribute them to their respective sources. It is possible that some things we perceive as truly random have underlying non-random causes. It is also possible that the human senses and mental abilities are not enough to perceive certain things. We have no reason to consider that as an actual possibility, yet we can not rule that out.

Johan Halmén
Stas B. said:

Whether a scientist who believes in god is a good scientist (in the sense that he contributes something to science) depends on whether he adjusts his god to not conflict with science or whether he adjusts science to not conflict with his god.

Very well said! God is adjustable, science is not! I know this might offend many believers, as many believers have a carved-in-stone viewpoint/relation to faith/God. But many believers have not. Science ends being science, when making it starts to be affected by political or religious or other personal reasons. Different believers understand their personal faith very differently, some of them has a quasi scientific point of view, because that's what religion very often has tended to tell about. This and that created this and that, etc. For some believers these outer world explaining myths are not essential at all. The sad thing is that for some non-believers, all that religion is about is explaining the material world. Well, it's actually far from a sad thing. They have lots of fun laughing at the believers.

About atheism being a belief system. That might be true for some people, maybe people like Dawkins. But mostly I guess it's like me not believing in Potrzebie. I don't believe in Potrzebie, but there's absolutely no involved system in it, nor any belief. Just a void.

weapon_S
Evert said:

Both of which are no-brainers. In short, a waste of good reasearch time and money.

Actually it does tell something about stress and belief. Even strong believers get stress, if they find adversity.

SiegeLord said:

as you must to be coherent

It is true that I have a little trouble concentrating right now, but I can't figure out the analogy between selling each other tickets, and choosing a a stand-point (with certain probabilities). Perhaps a more "entry-level" explanation? :-[ It does sound interesting.

Evert said:

I guess the point is that "God did it" typically comes with an implied "and therefore there are no further questions". But of course there are.

But of course there aren't! For a farmer to overthink a unified field theory or a widow to wonder what has happened to their spouse; it is a futile effort. In the same way your understanding of how crops grow might end with cell division, photo-synthesis and basic plant anatomy, while a primitive[1] farmer's "hands on" knowledge makes him better at growing crops, even if at some point he believes God does something. The 'biological knowledge' is a way to understand crops that grow. Most people will not question the matter any further, and it would be unproductive if they did. That doesn't imply there shouldn't be any people at all who question it.

Derezo said:

I think that is why atheism is bigger today than it ever has been (because many people think we can, or do, know everything).

Stas B. said:

So many people who are atheists don't understand the scientific method and put blind faith in anything labeled "science".

That reminds me of BS scientific explanations that go around. I think I've given some myself at one point or another, but in some circles such explanations are common and accepted. I wish I had any hilarious examples... These misconceptions tend to be hilarious.
Because God used to explain a lot, science is naturally His enemy. So in a sense even these misconceptions could be labeled "atheism". You're less likely to get raised eyebrows if you incur words like "ions", or "Coriolis-effect" than "God", when you don't know what you're talking about. Using the word "god" implies having a set of ideas you're not willing to change; no wonder some people react reluctant to it.
On the other hand people who have a religion are like the Emperor in his new clothes[2]; strutting around thinking they got it all figured out. You shouldn't laugh at them, or yell at them, unless you want to hurt them. You should take them in-doors and subtly suggest it might be cold in such fine clothes ;D But of-course, it's not everybody's job to make everyone live in harmony with each other; or more precise: other jobs have priority :P
On the other hand, analogous to what was mentioned before, I think religious people can be more open-minded on some matters (politics), than their atheist counter-parts; sometimes even going against there faith in principal. But I have no examples.
Nice to have a place to summarize my stance on religion once in a while. :P
That pencil sharpening is... total overkill. Unless you want a certified sharpened pencil >_>

References

  1. I'm not saying farmers are primitive; I'm not saying believers are primitive; only for this example I think a big contrast makes it clearer.
  2. You know the story, right?
23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

What are the chances that you could change their opinion again by presenting them with valid evidence that challenges their new beliefs?

The same as any other human on any other topic. In fact moreso, since according to the study they're under strong pressure to.

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Do you know what they call the act of challenging the fundamental concepts of a religion? Heresy.

By "they", I assume you mean the Catholic church alone? Because that word is kinda specific to them as far as religion goes AFAIK. It's also somewhat abused and meaningless nowadays; you use it for the act of challenging fundamental concepts of anything.

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The moment you start questioning your religion, you are no longer religious by definition.

By whos definition? What if you question parts of your religion that are not essential doctrine? What if you find one religion makes more sense than the religion you were brought up in? What about churches that have debates within their own religion for discussing new ideas? Are they no longer religious by definition? What definition are we working with here, exactly?

Stas B.

The same as any other human on any other topic. In fact moreso, since according to the study they're under strong pressure to.

I don't think I've ever heard of that, not that it's even relevant to the discussion.

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By "they", I assume you mean the Catholic church alone? Because that word is kinda specific to them as far as religion goes AFAIK. It's also somewhat abused and meaningless nowadays; you use it for the act of challenging fundamental concepts of anything.

I don't care who this word is specific to according to pop cutlure. I gave you the correct definition. Even if you don't agree with it, it doesn't really matter as long as we both know what I'm talking about. The Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions all specify severe punishments to those who question the foundations of the religion. Furthermore, those religions claim that their teachings are the indisputable word of some infalliable god. It's perfectly clear they deny the possibility of there being evidence against their core teachings. When in doubt, you are required to use blind faith, which is the ultimate achievement and proof of your loyalty to god.

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By whos definition? What if you question parts of your religion that are not essential doctrine?

Questioning any part of a religious doctorine implies questioning the core value of faith. You must accept the parts that don't make sense to you by faith because they are all based on the word of god. Why exactly do religions put such an emphasis on faith if it's perfectly valid to adjust things untill they make sense and no faith is required?

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What if you find one religion makes more sense than the religion you were brought up in?

If you are a Muslim who finds that Christianity makes more sense, you are no longer a Muslim. Clear as day.

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What about churches that have debates within their own religion for discussing new ideas?

Are you trying to imply that they are actually willing to accept any evidence? The sole purpose of those debates is for the trained preachers to quell any valid arguments using skillful demagogy. Here, have an example:

The Christian Bible says that Jesus very literally promised that if you pray, you shall receive anything you wish for. Well, maybe Jesus was exagerrating a bit. Let's just assume he meant that if you're a honest Christian praying for something reasonable and unselfish, you shall receive it. Scientific studies clearly demonstrate that prayer does not increase the chance of something happening, no matter what it is. Either Jesus lied when he promised your prayers will be answeared or the Bible lies and he never made such promise. Are you willing to accept this evidence and doubt the veracity of Jesus\the Bible and accept the futility of prayer? Let's suppose you do. What do you suppose would happen if you said in a debate "Well, I still believe in God and Jesus, but prayer doesn't work and Jesus was probably lying."

Matthew Leverton
Stas B. said:

What do you suppose would happen if you said in a debate "Well, I still believe in God and Jesus, but prayer doesn't work and Jesus was probably lying."

That's a self-contradictory statement...

If you question the "foundation" of your religion, then of course you are a "heretic" and don't belong. It's ludicrous for somebody to say, "I'm a Catholic, but I don't believe in the virgin Mary, Jesus, or the authority of the church," because by definition a Catholic is somebody who believes in those things.

A religion must have some set of core beliefs that define what it intrinsically is. If those core beliefs change, then you've got a new religion. Most religious groups are very open to debate and discussions that stem from those core beliefs.

Your arguments are hilarious, as is this entire discussion. Lots of people are here thinking they are very deep and profound, yet are as shallow and ignorant as the rest of us. 8-)

Stas B.

Great job missing the entire point, which happens to be identical to the one you're trying to make. It's basic reductio ad absurdum. If you're going to claim that your flavor of religion accepts scientific evidence, it follows that it must accept scientific evidence against its core set of bliefs. That's ridiculous and that's exactly what I'm trying to show. I don't think I am deep and profound. I'm just making simple logical arguments. If my logic is flawed, anyone can point it out.

Arthur Kalliokoski

Well, the Xian church worked closely with scientific knowledge etc. until Copernicus came along and said the Bible was wrong. The Pope just forgave Galileo in the year 2000, apparently because they were tired of being such a laughingstock.

Matthew Leverton
Stas B. said:

If you're going to claim that your flavor of religion accepts scientific evidence, it follows that it must accept scientific evidence against its core set of bliefs.

The point that I think escapes you is that these core beliefs of religions have already stood the test of time. They have already gone through rigorous scientific examination in the minds of the believers.

So when somebody comes by and says "I have scientific proof that praying doesn't work," it's something that has already been heard before and already refuted. There's no point in discussing it again and again. If you don't believe, then leave the church.

You assume that people blindly ignore the results of your studies. That's where you are wrong. They review the evidence and draw different conclusions than you do.

Arthur Kalliokoski

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Stas B.

So when somebody comes by and says "I have scientific proof that praying doesn't work," it's something that has already been heard before and already refuted. There's no point in discussing it again and again. If you don't believe, then leave the church.

You assume that people blindly ignore the results of your studies. That's where you are wrong. They review the evidence and draw different conclusions than you do.

You can review the evidence and always invent some contrived explanation as an alternative to the obvious one in order to avoid conflict with your predetermined beliefs. That's rejection of scientific evidence that goes against your beliefs, plain and simple, albeit rationalized. You are the one making ridiculous arguments.

[EDIT]

If you want to differentiate the "LALALA I can't hear you" kind of rejection of evidence from the "I'll take the contrived explanation over the reasonable one because that's more convinient" kind of rejection of evidence, no problem. Religions don't reject evidence. (They examine evidence and explain it away.) Religions change based on evidence. (When they can't keep explaining it away without becoming a laughing stock and only when it does not concern core values.) You are right and I am wrong. I am officially an idiot. I think what Siegelord originally meant in his post is that science handles evidence in a way productive for humanity and religion does the reverse. That's a view I agree with and I was trying to protect it.

Tobias Dammers

You're all skipping a step: Defining what we're discussing about. What is "God"?

Stas B. said:

It's basic reductio ad absurdum. If you're going to claim that your flavor of religion accepts scientific evidence, it follows that it must accept scientific evidence against its core set of bliefs.

Not if those beliefs concern themselves with subjective issues. I believe that it is wrong to hurt others - not out of some sort of utilitarian cost/benefit analysis, but because I believe that it is morally wrong, that all human beings have a fundamental right to be treated respectfully, etc. - basic Humanist values, really. (It stands to reason whether Humanism qualifies as a religion though). None of those are based upon any scientific evidence, and so I don't need any evidence to believe in them, and neither can any scientific evidence disprove them: they are, in fact, arbitrary, which is why I refer to them as beliefs, not facts nor universal rules. I can, however, draw logical conclusions from them and combine them with scientific evidence to make the case that if you agree with me on those values, then it follows that you also have to agree with me on the particular issue we're discussing.

You assume that people blindly ignore the results of your studies. That's where you are wrong. They review the evidence and draw different conclusions than you do.

I have nothing but respect for people who do this, and in my experience, they are perfectly capable of applying common sense and logic, and I've had plenty of fruitful and inspiring conversations with them. But there's also the "La la can't hear you" kind of religious person who does accept or ignore evidence selectively.

Stas B. said:

The Christian Bible says that Jesus very literally promised that if you pray, you shall receive anything you wish for. Well, maybe Jesus was exagerrating a bit.

My take is that Jesus might actually have gotten quite a few things right, but then the Bible authors did a horrible job in writing it down.

Evert said:

I think you can argue that case. If, as a scientist, you truly believe that some things should be explained as special acts of some otherwise unknowable diety, then you do have to ask yourself what exactly you'retrying to do. Why bother trying to understand why supernovae explode if you could just say that every supernova is a special act of God and therefor there is nothing to understand?
However, I do know scientists who are religious, to the point of being lay preachers - quite succesful scientists too. It's not as clear-cut in practice.
I suspect it makes a difference whether the science you do is descriptive or explicative.

I can very well imagine that, as a scientist, one can reach the conclusion that certain things are not explainable through science in principle, and (unless you see no room for a free will) that certain things are arbitrary and subjective (see above). Science won't tell you what the Meaning of Life is; it won't tell you whether it's right or wrong to kill others; it won't even tell you whether you really exist, let alone the outside world. That's where religion and spirituality come in (although it is equally possible to just go with "there is no meaning, everything is arbitrary, it doesn't matter either way" - I'm just not sure what the logical practical consequence would have to be...). And of course, Science is so diverse and spread out into specialties that most scientists are busy working out very specific details of a very specific sub-branch of a branch of a particular discipline; few are actually doing work that could shake the very foundation of how we view the world.

Stas B.

Not if those beliefs concern themselves with subjective issues.

We were obviously discussing objective issues. You can't have scientific evidence concerning subjective issues.

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I have nothing but respect for people who do this, and in my experience, they are perfectly capable of applying common sense and logic

They make stuff up to explain away evidence they're uncomfortable with. They can and do apply common sense and logic, in a way that is selective, unproductive or outright destructive. How is that a good thing?

SiegeLord

This statement is itself irrational. If you're "born-again" (per the thread title) then logically you must have had your beliefs changed by new evidence. Also, you imply that religious people never change their beliefs within the same religion. Obviously wrong.

Naturally it's a question of magnitudes. Sure they change their beliefs, perhaps even rationally so... but they still remain irrational by seriously entertaining the idea of the supernatural.

Several mentioned that scientists can be religious but still do good science, and they do that by being rational while doing science, but being "irrational" (presumably) in other questions. I can agree with that statement and I'm sure many people are like that. A more interesting propositions is a person who remains "irrational" when doing science by considering the supernatural. I shall claim that that does not happen, having read scores of scientific papers I never see the mention of god or other supernatural things as sources of hypotheses.

God and the supernatural aren't used in science because they are terrible hypotheses and have no predictive or explanatory power. If they did, they'd be rational because by mathematical construction rational beliefs are predictive and useful when going about the world. God and the supernatural don't exist because if they actually did, they'd be used in the scientific context. The absence of god and the supernatural in the entirety of the modern scientific corpus is perhaps the greatest evidence that god and the supernatural don't exist.

Scientists are under pressure both from inside and outside to publish interesting findings about the world. If there were phenomena that were best explained by god and the supernatural, that'd be reflected in the scientific work. It'd be irrational for a scientist to pass by an opportunity to use a great hypothesis which would allow him to satisfy his personal urges to explain the world, get recognition by being published, get funding etc.

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Of course, the real reason you're saying this is because you think your beliefs are the only rational ones. Well, as long as you aren't religious about it or anything. :)

If the subjective probability framework started giving wrong results, I would reject it. It is by far the most important advancement of the 20th century as far as I'm concerned, because of its success in many fields of science and engineering.

weapon_S said:

It is true that I have a little trouble concentrating right now, but I can't figure out the analogy between selling each other tickets, and choosing a a stand-point (with certain probabilities). Perhaps a more "entry-level" explanation? :-[ It does sound interesting.

The key idea behind those analogies is the idea that if you actually act on your beliefs (e.g. by betting money on unknown events, be they in the future or simply yet unobserved) then the only way your beliefs will be useful (e.g. maximize your monetary gain when you act on them) is if they act like probabilities that are affected by the evidence about the outside world.

Specifically, what they try to do is to match up statements like "I believe strongly that a coin will land heads up when I flip it" with the amount of money you're willing to bet on that, subject to some constraints. Let me give you an alternative "game" than they one they proposed (it is admittedly confusing).

Say we have two coins, one is fair and one is of unknown fairness (it might be fair, it might not be). I will pay you $1 if a coin lands heads up, and you get to choose the coin. Which coin will you choose?

Let's say you believe strongly that the unknown coin will land on heads (perhaps it looks bent in the right way). Thus you'll flip the unknown coin because you think it'll give you more money in the long run. You do that a few times and you never get heads. Thus, you adjust your belief and start betting on the fair coin instead.

The key idea is that the only way you're going to maximize your monetary gain is if the decisions you make based on your beliefs exactly match the decisions one would make if one had access to the exact probabilities.

Dunno if that helps, I spent like an hour crafting this terrible explanation :P.

furinkan

I really love religious debates and I love to troll about it (as some of you may remember), but I keep coming back to this thread to watch Mr. Rogers of all things.

I feel that this thread is very much like Jock-itch: it spreads rapidly, annoys everyone, and people just accept its existence as okay, when all we really need to do is just all accept FSM and get over it! >:(

Matthew Leverton
Stas B. said:

They make stuff up to explain away evidence they're uncomfortable with. They can and do apply common sense and logic, in a way that is selective, unproductive or outright destructive. How is that a good thing?

I assume by "they" you mean every single religious person. If not, what group are you talking about? (Please don't give a useless 'the people who do' type of answer, because obviously there are people of all types of beliefs who do that sort of thing.)

Or you can ignore that question. I'm more curious which scientific discovery you feel absolutely invalidated religion to the point where all "believers" are categorically insane, and those who do apply logic and examine scientific research only do such in a purposefully devious manner in order to trick and confuse the irrational fools.

(Edit: SiegeLord, you can answer that one too!)

furinkan said:

but I keep coming back to this thread to watch Mr. Rogers of all things.

Yeah, I listen to it every time a new post appears. 8-)

SiegeLord

Or you can ignore that question. I'm more curious which scientific discovery you feel absolutely invalidated religion to the point where all "believers" are categorically insane, and those who do apply logic and examine scientific research only do such in a purposefully devious manner in order to trick and confuse the irrational fools.

Well, being irrational isn't grounds for being insane... but the point I'm making is that why don't those people who are religious use religion in a scientific context? If religion is rational and the supernatural actually affects the real world, where are the scientific papers about it? Why does string theory have no god in it? Where's god in general relativity?

But even ignoring the scientists, if god were real and actually affected something about the world, then even lay people would use that to their advantage. If praying to god actually did something, then everybody would pray because those that didn't would always be at a disadvantage.

I think religious belief persists only to the extent that it somehow meshes with the social structure/biological psyche of humans. Praying makes you feel better, going to church makes you feel better, and feeling better makes your life better, you look at the things happening to you a more optimistic light etc. But you look at it from an objective standpoint and it's clear that no god is required. It's just humans socializing. There is nothing supernatural about the tangible benefits of religion, and that's why not everybody is religious.

Stas B.

I assume by "they" you mean every single religious person. If not, what group are you talking about? (Please don't give a useless 'the people who do' type of answer, because obviously there are people of all types of beliefs who do that sort of thing.)

By "they" I mean religious people. Yes, every single one of them. Christians need to explain away evidence against prayer to remain Christian, for instance. It's impossible to prove beyond any doubt that all of those explanations are false, but it's just a fundamentally different way of examining evidence. They don't draw different conclusions from the evidence. They don't draw any conclusions from it at all. They believe in prayer a-priori and find a way to rationalize that belief in light of this new evidence.

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Or you can ignore that question. I'm more curious which scientific discovery you feel absolutely invalidated religion to the point where all "believers" are categorically insane, and those who do apply logic and examine scientific research only do such in a purposefully devious manner in order to trick and confuse the irrational fools.

And I'm curious to find out what in your opinion is the difference between religiosity and any other kind of delusion. Maybe "categorically insane" is a bit harsh, but religious beliefs are irrational and could be harmful. I'm not saying they apply logic in a purposefully devious manner. They just do it in an inconsistent and flawed manner without even realizing that. The more of them you have living in your society, the more they affect your life and the more power they have to enforce their fake and damaging moral code and belifs on you. To take it to an extreme, Christians used to burn people alive and Muslims still decapitate and stone people to death on a daily basis. They don't have debates either. If your version of Islam is a little different from mine, the correct thing for me to do is to murder you. :P

23yrold3yrold

But there's also the "La la can't hear you" kind of religious person who does accept or ignore evidence selectively.

I don't get where people keep inserting the word "religious" as a descriptor in sentences like these. Everyone is "La la can't hear you" about some things, from their political views, to social responsibilities, to whether their wife is cheating on them or not. Theists and atheists are no different in this regard; it's part of human nature. I do, you do it (yes you), everyone does it.

Stas B. said:

I don't care who this word is specific to according to pop cutlure. I gave you the correct definition. Even if you don't agree with it, it doesn't really matter as long as we both know what I'm talking about.

I know what you're talking about, I just don't see why it applies here, specifically, and so your point is lost on me.

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The Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions all specify severe punishments to those who question the foundations of the religion.

Question the foundations of anything and there will be punishment. According to this study, people are punished for leaving Atheism. But, we knew that. Right?

My original comment was people change their minds about big and small things all the time according to new evidence. People also dismiss evidence if it is irrelevant, inconventient, or some other reason. There are social pressures in all things and nothing about this is special to religion. The original study isn't even specific to religion. You could re-write it to say "Being a Hipster Screws Up you Hippocampus". Seems like a severe punishment to me.

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You must accept the parts that don't make sense to you by faith because they are all based on the word of god.

Seems like putting the cart before the horse. If someone is accepting the word of anyone/thing then they already have a reason that makes sense. Otherwise, how were they a part of that religion to begin with?

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It's perfectly clear they deny the possibility of there being evidence against their core teachings.

More like they're past that point of the discussion, as Matthew said. In the same way you don't ask your algebra teacher things like why 2 + 2 = 4. Unless you want to get kicked out of class (hey; punishment!)

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Why exactly do religions put such an emphasis on faith if it's perfectly valid to adjust things until they make sense and no faith is required?

Something can make sense and still require faith, like if you don't understand how something works or maybe feel like taking a risk (ie: leap of faith).

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If you are a Muslim who finds that Christianity makes more sense, you are no longer a Muslim.

But you're still religious, right?

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Are you trying to imply that they are actually willing to accept any evidence? The sole purpose of those debates is for the trained preachers to quell any valid arguments using skillful demagogy.

Who mentioned trained preachers? These are members of the congregation getting together after service for beers. Your bias is producing a awful lot of assumptions, dude. :) As already mentioned, being religious doesn't mean you're not open to new evidence. Some atheists seem to think that, since I suppose it makes sense to them in line with their own beliefs, but that doesn't mean it accurately reflects objective reality.

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The Christian Bible says that Jesus very literally promised that if you pray, you shall receive anything you wish for.

Unless you're thinking of a verse I'm not, the word used was "believe", not "pray". And (as a tongue-in-cheek aside) if you check the motivation speaker shelf at your local bookstore, you'll find this has become a secular belief in recent times, too. :)

Matthew Leverton
SiegeLord said:

but the point I'm making is that why don't those people who are religious use religion in a scientific context?

Because they aren't scientists. (Even atheists don't generally apply scientific methodologies on anything unless they are the academic type.)

But exactly what is supposed to be tested? How can you test if Jesus turned water into wine? The believer realizes that breaks the rules of science. I think it's fundamentally very difficult to test these things. Most of it is just historical events.

Regarding the comments about prayer: You cannot just start praying to see if your life gets better. At least from a Christian perspective, praying is something believers do ... not something unbelievers do as a test to see if they should believe. Even Jesus often qualified prayer as something that must be both believed and God's will in order to be effective.

Stas B. said:

And I'm curious to find out what in your opinion is the difference between religiosity and any other kind of delusion.

By the strictest definition, I would reserve delusions to be beliefs stemming from a mental illness that are easily proved to not be real. But I'm not really sure what you mean by the question.

I do think any belief in a god requires some suspension of reality, or at least the acceptance that certain things are impossible to comprehend with finite brains. I could easily engage a knowledgeable Christian in a discussion about a variety of things that he would ultimately say nobody can adequately explain.

But I wouldn't conclude that he is delusional, irrational, or insane because of that. It's very possible that his belief system is not self-contradicting, and serves to benefit him.

Stas B.

Question the foundations of anything and there will be punishment. According to this study, people are punished for leaving Atheism. But, we knew that. Right?

Are their punished with death, banished from society or promised eternal torture in the afterlife?

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If someone is accepting the word of anyone/thing then they already have a reason that makes sense.

Not necessarily. You may accept somebody's word for something even if you don't understand it or if your intuition is opposed to it. You just assume they know better. I know for sure religious people do that because they are often unable to justify aspects of their religion and point me to other sources instead.

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More like they're past that point of the discussion, as Matthew said. In the same way you don't ask your algebra teacher things like why 2 + 2 = 4. Unless you want to get kicked out of class (hey; punishment!)

"Past the point of discussion about the veracity of X" is equivalent to "unwilling to discuss any further evidence regarding the veracity of X". I could ask my algebra teacher why 2 + 2 = 4 and receive a rational proof rather than a punishment. The veracity of 2 + 2 = 4 is not open for discussion because it's objectively undisputable, unlike god or religion. Interestingly enough, challenging your math teacher to give you a rigorous proof of something so important and fundamental is valid and encouraged, in contrast to religion.

I don't even know what we're arguing about any more. If your original point was that some aspects of religion may change based on evidence, you are right and I recognize that. After all, Christians don't claim the world to be flat and the earth to be in the center of the universe like they used to. They still explain away evidence that makes them uncomfortable whenever possible and they are still willing to deny at all cost any evidence that undermines the veracity of their core beliefs.

By the strictest definition, I would reserve delusions to be beliefs stemming from a mental illness that are easily proved to not be real.

Delusion is defined as holding on to a belief despite strong evidence to the contrary. It's officially a mental illness. Lack of any valid evidence to support a belief is considered strong evidence against it.

If I told you I believe in Santa or the tooth fairy, you'd think that I'm delusional, even though I can counter any argument or evidence your bring up without using logical fallacies.

Specter Phoenix
Evert said:

That really has very little to do with being an atheist or not. There are Christians (for example) who "believe" those things and I'm sure there are atheists who don't. An atheist is someone who does not believe in God(s). No more, no less.

That in itself makes no sense. If you are Christian, you believe in God but you can't believe in the Big Bang Theory as the creation of everything is accredited to God. Religion is full of contradictions anyways.

"If you break any of the 10 things you shouldn't do, He will send you to Hell to burn, suffer, and be punished for all eternity, but He loves you." God is all knowing and all powerful, and against homosexuals, but if He is all knowing and all powerful, then why did he allow them to come into existence as he already knew what they would become?

I think if there is a God, He doesn't give a sh!t about what we do or don't do. The Bible and every religion is governed by what man says God commands. We have books that say Jesus lived, but how do we know those weren't all just created by the church a one great big bullsh!t story to feed the masses that want to believe.

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

Are their punished with death, banished from society or promised eternal torture in the afterlife?

Depends on the atheist, I suppose. Also depends on the religion. In both cases, these are extreme outliers anyway. Should we really be using this as our baseline for discussion?

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You may accept somebody's word for something even if you don't understand it or if your intuition is opposed to it. You just assume they know better.

Right. There's your reason, and it is completely divorced from religion. Of course, you may not assume they know better based on what they're telling you, as well. That's a likely possibly outcome as well, right?

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They still explain away evidence that makes them uncomfortable whenever possible and they are still willing to deny at all cost any evidence that undermines the veracity of their core beliefs.

If you don't know what we're arguing anymore, I'll try to make it clear: the meaning of the word "they" in that sentence. You seem to think it mean "religious people". I'm saying it means "the human race". Again, that includes me, that includes you.

Stas B.

A very important core belief in Christianity is god's omnipotence. Basically, god can do absolutely anything he wants. In that case, god should be able to create a rock so heavy he can't lift it. Omnipotence creates logical paradoxes. What stronger proof can you possibly have against an omnipotent god? So what does a Christian do when faced with this fact? "God is supernatural! Why would he be subject to the laws of nature?" If that's not mental deficiency, I don't know what is.

Depends on the atheist, I suppose. Also depends on the religion. In both cases, these are extreme outliers anyway. Should we really be using this as our baseline for discussion?

Yes, we should because the murder of dissenters happened in the past and is still happening as we speak. The religions involved are not fundamentally different from modern Christianity and the people involved are not fundamentally different from you and I. The difference is merely circumstential, so it's relevant to the discussion.

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If you don't know what we're arguing anymore, I'll try to make it clear: the meaning of the word "they" in that sentence. You seem to think it mean "religious people". I'm saying it means "the human race". Again, that includes me, that includes you.

It does not include me as far as I know. If it does, I admit to being delusional and mentally ill. How do you know it includes me?

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

A very important core belief in Christianity is god's omnipotence. Basically, god can do absolutely anything he wants.

According to the Bible, there are specific things God is listed as unable to do (like deny himself, for example). Therefore, God's omnipotence is not a core belief of Christianity. It does seem to be a core belief of athiests about Christianity for some reason though. Maybe you could explain that first.

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Stas B.

According to the Bible, there are specific things God is listed as unable to do

At the very same time, according to the Bible, god is omnipotent. That makes it all the more hillarious. :P

That's irrelevant. I'll take your word for it that not all Christians believe in the omnipotence of god, though I've met quite a few who do. Don't you think those were delusional?

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

At the very same time, according to the Bible, god is omnipotent. That makes it all the more hillarious. :P

That's irrelevant. I'll take your word for it that not all Christians believe in the omnipotence of god, though I've met quite a few who do. Don't you think those were delusional?

No, because the word "omnipotence" has caveats built into it that anybody can understand and brush over for the sake of basic understanding, ie: the rock thing. So unless I feel like being some insufferable Grammer Nazi in everyday conversation, if someone wants to tell me their God or whatever is omniopotent, I know they mean "as much as is practically possible", on account of I am not delusional. ::)

EDIT: Let's remove the religion again to break this down. I'm picturing a teenager telling their mom about Google Glasses or something, and their mom says "Wow, computers can do anything nowadays" in a somewhat awed voice. Do you leap from your chair, point at her Phoenix Wright-style and say "OBJECTION! Computers cannot create a rock so big they cannot lift it! Foolish, delusional old woman!", followed by their mom spontaneously compusting by the sheer force of how hard they just got owned? Do people actually do that in normal conversation or does this mode only trigger when someone mentions religion or the G-word?

Stas B.

No, because the word "omnipotence" has caveats built into it that anybody can understand and brush over for the sake of basic understanding, ie: the rock thing. So unless I feel like being some insufferable Grammer Nazi in everyday conversation, if someone wants to tell me their God or whatever is omniopotent, I know they mean "as much as is practically possible", on account of I am not delusional.

The Bible doesn't use the word "omnipotence" or say something vague that's open for interpretation. It basically says "God can do absolutely anything".

"For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. – Luke 1:37"

"But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God. – Matt. 19:26"

23yrold3yrold

Again, it's not a legal document, and pointing out these things just makes it look like you personally have no sense of embellishment, or are a small child trying to look clever to adults. I know neither of these are true, partly because that's common sense, but also because you say it yourself:

Stas B. said:

It basically says "God can do absolutely anything".

Yeah. Basically. Not literally, since that's a logical impossibility. The writers of the Bible understand, the people being spoken/written to understand, people nowadays understand, I understand, I'm pretty sure you understand and are trying to fool me into thinking you don't but I'm not sure why.

Stas B.

Again, it's not a legal document, and pointing out these things just makes it look like you personally have no sense of embellishment, or are a small child trying to look clever to adults. I know neither of these are true, partly because that's common sense,

Yeah, well, I guess I'm just trolling at this point because I'm tired of this discussion. If your strongest argument is "yeah, Christians do that but so do you and everybody else", what else is there to discuss? Why would you even assume such a thing? That's kind of delusional in itself.

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

Yeah, well, I guess I'm just trolling at this point because I'm tired of this discussion. If your strongest argument is "yeah, Christians do that but so you and everybody else", what else there is to discuss? Why would you even assume such a thing? That's kind of delusional in itself.

Therapy training and research into how the mind works in general. For all everyone thinks they're some kind of special flower in their opinions and thoughts, like Matthew said, we're all surprisingly shallow (and good at fooling ourselves into thinking we aren't and everyone not like us is). But that's a whole other rabbit hole.

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Stas B.

Therapy training and research into how the mind works in general.

Says what? That everybody is delusional? Oh, please.
Everybody has some irrational beliefs, but not everybody fiercly holds on to irrational beliefs that have huge impact on their life, against all evidence.

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For all everyone thinks they're some kind of special flower in their opinions and thoughts, like Matthew said, we're all surprisingly shallow

And you make that assumption based on what? I don't have such conscious thoughts and more importantly, I don't feel that way. Moreover, I know that I'm shallow. I don't expect people to accept what I say based on my deep insight or my uniqueness. I merely expect people to actually consider what I say. I even try to keep it simple and concise enough for them to do so instead of offering some vague, "deep" insight. If they find a logical flaw in it, I would love them to inform me about it. If they don't, maybe they should consider the possibility of it being true regardless of my shallowness.

Dizzy Egg

I'm an Atheist thank God.

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

Says what? That everybody is delusional? Oh, please.

There you go with that word again ... if it's the label you want to apply in lieu of what I actually said, go nuts, but you're just trolling again.

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Everybody has some irrational beliefs, but not everybody fiercly holds on to irrational beliefs that have huge impact on their life, against all evidence.

I would actually wager that almost everyone does. In fact, your subconscious is hardwired to do it.

Quote:

And you make that assumption based on what? I don't have such conscious thoughts and more importantly, I don't feel that way.

You don't feel like you're special in your thoughts and opinions? I think I've made this comment to you in a past thread, but assuming at least 90% of your posts aren't trolls, your arrogance in your own opinion comes across as pretty phenomenal. Maybe that's not conscious on your part either. Maybe it's just the text medium and I shouldn't pick on it. Maybe I should pick on it the same way you pick on people who say "omnipotent" or think everyone who doesn't think like you is "delusional" (or however you're applying that word). But whatever; we can agree to disagree. I was pretty sure we were done here anyway.

Stas B.

There you go with that word again ... if it's the label you want to apply in lieu of what I actually said, go nuts, but you're just trolling again.

Holding on to an irrational belief despite strong evidence to the contrary is what delusion is defined to mean. I don't understand what we're disagreeing about.

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I would actually wager that almost everyone does. In fact, your subconscious is hardwired to do it.

I'm not trying to say that the discussed behaviour is unique to religion. People act very "religiously" about many things, mostly ideological in nature, and those people are delusional. The people I bother to keep associating with simply don't act that way. You can wager on anything you like but where's your evidence?

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your arrogance in your own opinion comes across as pretty phenomenal. Maybe that's not conscious on your part either.

Don't you think that you are yourself rather arrogant to make general statements about what everybody THINKS? Or to think that your interpretation of what I say is more representative of what I actually think than my explicit statement? Or to think that the incomprehensibly intelligent being that planned the whole universe could love you personally and care about what you do in your tiny, insignificant life? Do you have the slightest idea what kind of arrogance and self-importance that requires?

I don't call people who disagree with me "delusional". If the question at hand is objective, I simply call them "wrong", until they prove me wrong. I only call you delusional because you fit the definition perfectly.

People tell me that I'm arrogant a lot. I don't understand what that means in the context of a logical discussion. What's the difference between a logical statement and an arrogant logical statement? I don't believe that my logic is infalliable. How could I, when people prove me wrong all the time? That would make me delusional like you. If you can't prove that my statement is false, it's either because it's true or because you reject it without positively spotting the logical flaw in it.

Matthew Leverton
Stas B. said:

People tell me that I'm arrogant a lot.

You're always right ... so of course those people are all wrong.

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

The people I bother to keep associating with simply don't act that way.

Now imagine religious people saying the same thing about the people they associate with.

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You can wager on anything you like but where's your evidence?

In several books on my shelf and about a bazillion case studies and research papers. But I assume this question was rhetorical ...

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Don't you think that you are yourself rather arrogant to make general statements about what everybody THINKS?

I didn't. I made a general statement about HOW everyone thinks, which isn't exactly a new scientific discovery ...

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Or to think that your interpretation of what I say is more representative of what I actually think than my explicit statement?

Not sure what you're saying or refering to here. If this is about your arrogance, it is explicit.

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Or to think that the incomprehensibly intelligent being that planned the whole universe could love you personally and care about what you do in your tiny, insignificant life?

No one said this anywhere. EDIT: I take that back; maybe someone else did. It's a big thread.

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Do you have the slightest idea what kind of arrogance and self-importance that requires?

As it turns out, I don't. Maybe we can find someone here who thinks this and ask them?

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I only call you delusional because you fit the definition perfectly.

I wasn't even aware you called me delusional personally, but cool.

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People tell me that I'm arrogant a lot. I don't understand what that means in the context of a logical discussion. What's the difference between a logical statement and an arrogant logical statement?

Well if you can't make the logical statement without the arrogance slipping through, maybe that's a sign that you know it's not logical and you're trying to front a bit to cover that up. I'm not saying that's fact, or even necessarily likely in your case, but as a fun experiment try not being arrogant in your statements and see if they are as logically compelling.

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I don't believe that my logic is infalliable.

I hope not, after this thread. ;D

Stas B.

You're always right ... so of course those people are all wrong.

You know, people keep telling me that too and I have no idea why. :o
I admitted you were right in this very thread and I admitted I was wrong in quite a few different occasions in this forum. Sometimes I am wrong. I could be wrong about everything I said in this thread. I don't deny this possibility. Anyone can go right ahead and prove it and I will admit that I'm wrong. I seriously think it's not fair to claim that I can't accept being wrong. ???

[EDIT]

Now imagine religious people saying the same thing about the people they associate with.

On its own, this can only imply one of two things:

A. Some people are incapable of recognizing delusion at all.
B. Some people are only capable of recognizing delusion when they don't share it.

If that's supposed to be an analogy, which of the two options is supposed to apply to me and my associates?

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In several books on my shelf and about a bazillion case studies and research papers. But I assume this question was rhetorical ...

Let's get this clear. Countless books and studies prove that everybody thinks they are "special"? Special in what way, exactly? What does it mean, to think that you are special?

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I didn't. I made a general statement about HOW everyone thinks, which isn't exactly a new scientific discovery ...

You basically said everybody thinks they're special. That could be interpreted both ways but it doesn't matter. I take any claim of knowing exactly HOW EVERYONE THINKS with a grain of salt. For all I know, you may be just misinterpreting actual scientific studies.

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Not sure what you're saying or refering to here. If this is about your arrogance, it is explicit.

I was referring to your implication that you can tell that I think I'm somehow "special" by my perceived arrogance even though I explicitly state that I do not actually think I'm special.

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No one said this anywhere. EDIT: I take that back; maybe someone else did. It's a big thread.

Alright. I take that back. I'm sorry. Christians think that and you gave the impression of a Christian.

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I wasn't even aware you called me delusional personally, but cool.

If you believe in god, I will call you delusional and I can back up that claim.

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Well if you can't make the logical statement without the arrogance slipping through, maybe that's a sign that you know it's not logical and you're trying to front a bit to cover that up. I'm not saying that's fact, or even necessarily likely in your case, but as a fun experiment try not being arrogant in your statements and see if they are as logically compelling.

No. I honestly believe that what I say is logical. I may be mistaken. Please, show me my mistake. You just keep discussing my personality instead.

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I hope not, after this thread

You're all pointless talk and no valid points whatsoever.
To demonstrate what I mean, clearly, you do not share my opinion that theists are delusional. The definition of "delusional" is "a person who holds on to irrational beliefs despite strong evidence against them". If you think that I'm wrong, you can do simply prove it by either of the following:

A. Proving that the definition is wrong
B. Proving that theists dont have an irrational belief
C. Proving that theists dont hold on to that belief
D. Proving that there is no strong evidence

Instead of doing that, you go on about how your book says everybody has what is defined to be delusions, how I call people who disagree with me delusional and how I'm an arrogant dumbass. You are an idiot. Period.

SiegeLord

Because they aren't scientists. (Even atheists don't generally apply scientific methodologies on anything unless they are the academic type.)

But why aren't they scientists? To me it's obvious that the reason is because religion has nothing to do with the real world... but what's their excuse? And I disagree about the scientific methodologies not being used by non-scientists. Your beliefs about the world must reflect the actual probabilities of the world, otherwise people wouldn't be able to drive cars, to talk, to be in relationships etc. Whether consciously or subconsciously you use beliefs that are adjusted by evidence in most things in life.

Religion is an exception that, and it is an exception because it's presumed effects are tiny (falling into placebo effect territory or mis-interpreted random noise). Any religion which predicts obviously measurable events (e.g. apocalypse) will be discredited immediately because it just wouldn't work and it'll be obvious that it doesn't work. Religion is perhaps the world's first pseudo-science in this sense.

Quote:

But exactly what is supposed to be tested?

By construction there's nothing in enduring religions that can be tested, because if there were, they'd be immediately discredited. Religion has "evolved" to predict very little in order to survive. The stuff in the bible is irrelevant for the most part, it's happened (if it happened at all) conveniently too long ago and at a time with limited means of video/sound recording for science to do anything useful at it.

Seriously... if we ever invent a time machine and examine what happened during the ministry of Jesus and find nothing like that in the Bible the religion will adapt by claiming the Jesus stories to be allegorical too.

Quote:

Even Jesus often qualified prayer as something that must be both believed and God's will in order to be effective.

But surely people should be able to observe the effects of prayer on a believer. The true believer would pray, truly believe and should receive blessings that others would look at and become believers if it actually worked. The fact that this doesn't happen on a grand scale supports my point. You don't need to involve science in this at all... if prayer had an observable impact, everybody would believe and pray.

To reiterate... sure, people might be irrational about some things... but they are approximately rational about things that actually matter (things that actually have a large effect on their life). If they are not rational about things that actually matter they become criminals, insane, or die.

Derezo
Evert said:

At a stretch, Atheism is a blief system (it's more the lack of one, but ok). It is in no way or form a religion. The first clue should be that there is no single common set of beliefs that atheists share.

A religion is a shared belief system, and Atheists do have one. It is vague, and decentralized, but it is what it is. Not all atheists believe there is no god, and not all atheists do not believe in god. Sorry for the double negative, but it's a difficult topic of course.

I don't believe in god, but I'm not convinced that makes me an atheist. I don't even know what god is, aside from a concept... but it is a concept I have little personal affiliation with, either for or against (anymore).

Stas B. said:

As I'm sure you know, "supernatural" literally means "above nature", as in, something that is not constrained by the natural laws.

Sadly, you don't get to define what terms actually mean. As I'm sure you know, "natural" literally means "Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.", as in, something that is not constrained by human laws.

My implication was that supernatural is to natural as fiction is to factual.

I'd say that some people want to take some things too far, even atheism, resulting in a lot of silly rules. Fundies do it too, with their hatred and protests based on the slimmest of reasons from the bible.

This is how I feel as well, and I feel like you almost can't even discuss atheism or theism in public without fundamentalists from both sides slinging mud at one another and their brother... but we all know that from past experience ;)

Specter Phoenix

Supernatural is defined as:

adjective
1.
of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
2.
of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to God or a deity.
3.
of a superlative degree; preternatural: a missile of supernatural speed.
4.
of, pertaining to, or attributed to ghosts, goblins, or other unearthly beings; eerie; occult.

noun
5.
a being, place, object, occurrence, etc., considered as supernatural or of supernatural origin; that which is supernatural, or outside the natural order.
6.
behavior supposedly caused by the intervention of supernatural beings.
7.
direct influence or action of a deity on earthly affairs.
8.
the supernatural,
a.
supernatural beings, behavior, and occurrences collectively.
b.
supernatural forces and the supernatural plane of existence: a deep fear of the supernatural.

If you don't believe in God(s) then you are atheist. If you believe in God, then you get to decide which God you believe in (Jew, Muslim, Christian, Greek, Roman, etc.). Or just worship Joe Pesci like George Carlin says.

Religion is Bullsh!t

video

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

On its own, this can only imply one of two things:

A. Some people are incapable of recognizing delusion at all.
B. Some people are only capable of recognizing delusion when they don't share it.

If that's supposed to be an analogy, which of the two options is supposed to apply to me and my associates?

No, the implication is that the statement is meaningless because it's not delusion. You hang out with people who mirror you in certain respects. Like attracts like. So when you say the people you associate aren't like that, guess what? No one associates with people like that. But everyone likes to think their group is the non-delusional one, and strictly speaking, they are not incorrect ...

Quote:

Let's get this clear. Countless books and studies prove that everybody thinks they are "special"? Special in what way, exactly?

You tell me. This was in response to your comment "If your strongest argument is "yeah, Christians do that but so you and everybody else", what else there is to discuss? Why would you even assume such a thing?" Simple; last I checked, your brain worked the same as mine, unless you've had surgery or something.

Quote:

You basically said everybody thinks they're special. That could be interpreted both ways but it doesn't matter. I take any claim of knowing exactly HOW EVERYONE THINKS with a grain of salt. For all I know, you may be just misinterpreting actual scientific studies.

And that would be a very reasonable and logical opinion. :)

Quote:

I was referring to your implication that you can tell that I think I'm somehow "special" by my perceived arrogance even though I explicitly state that I do not actually think I'm special.

I think the "special" comment was your constant tossing around of the word "delusional" to describe people who arrived at the idea of God or some other supernatural concept existing, and the pie chart posted earlier. If you think 80% of the world is delusional and you think you fall in the 20%, I believe I can safely assume that you think you're somehow special in how you think, even if you do not agree. :)

Quote:

The definition of "delusional" is "a person who holds on to irrational beliefs despite strong evidence against them". If you think that I'm wrong, you can do simply prove it by either of the following:

A. Proving that the definition is wrong
B. Proving that theists dont have an irrational belief
C. Proving that theists dont hold on to that belief
D. Proving that there is no strong evidence

I would say that the definition is correct, but highly subjective. What constitutes irrational? By what measure do we call evidence strong?

B I'm willing to take at face value as true because if it was irrational, 80% of the world wouldn't be a theist in some form or another. If you want to go with Derezo's idea of atheism as a religion in as much as it is a belief system (and I agree with him), that number climbs to 100%. In any case, there are strong logical arguments for a lot of religions, and I would say yes, most people have rational reasons for believing in religious things, even if I personally think what they believe in is nuttier than squirrel poop. That doesn't mean they're irrational or delusional, that just means they have their own opinion that differs from mine.

C is obviously false since if they didn't hold these beliefs, they wouldn't be theists, and D is unprovable since you can't prove a negative.

weapon_S

I like it how other people write in one sentence that for which I need a wall of text. I keep hoping my rantings give somebody some insight.

SiegeLord said:

Dunno if that helps, I spent like an hour crafting this terrible explanation

Yes, it does. Thank you. Especially the "key info".

Stas B. said:

not everybody fiercly holds on to irrational beliefs that have huge impact on their life

The actual impacts of religion on peoples life is quite small, if you ask me.

23yrold3yrold made a nice observation about (perhaps) being punished by the atheist community. All religions seem to do harm once a majority forms. Perhaps "Atheism" will do too. Spelled with a capital to signify these beliefs: there is no god; the development of mankind comes by a search for a more logical truth, governed by empiricism; people who believe in any deity or supernatural are to are large extent unwilling to do develop that way; those people live in a mental state that prevents them from reaching their full potential, and to a large extent thinking rationally(you can help them by converting them).
I wonder whether these Atheists are a majority. If this truly consists a religion, it would raise a lot more questions; the first being: do we/most of us need a religion? An other being: is this the 'religion'[1] that is taught at secular schools?
One of the core beliefs of Atheism, keeping your perspective flexible, is also one of the core beliefs of some forms of Buddhism.

Stas B. said:

Christians think that and you gave the impression of a Christian.

That certainly suggests some prejudice.

References

  1. A set of unquestionable beliefs(?)
Evert
weapon_S said:

For a farmer to overthink a unified field theory or a widow to wonder what has happened to their spouse; it is a futile effort. In the same way your understanding of how crops grow might end with cell division, photo-synthesis and basic plant anatomy, while a primitive[1] farmer's "hands on" knowledge makes him better at growing crops, even if at some point he believes God does something. The 'biological knowledge' is a way to understand crops that grow. Most people will not question the matter any further, and it would be unproductive if they did.

Yes. Which is irrelevant to what I said. That the question is not relevant to a certain group of people doesn't mean that the question doesn't exist, just that it's not relevant for them.

My take is that Jesus might actually have gotten quite a few things right, but then the Bible authors did a horrible job in writing it down.

Yup, I tend to think so too. I'm sure Jesus would be spinning in his grave if he hadn't risen from it. :P

That in itself makes no sense.

Don't ask me how people do it, but they do.

Quote:

If you are Christian, you believe in God but you can't believe in the Big Bang Theory as the creation of everything is accredited to God.

So?
You can say it makes no sense, it does not alter the fact that there are people who believe both these things. God created everything and the Big Bang is how he did it? Creative reading and a sufficient dose of metaphore allows you to at least read Genesis 1 as a re-telling of Big-Bang cosmology complete with baryogenesis, nucleosynthesis, recombination and re-ionisation.

Quote:

I think if there is a God, He doesn't give a sh!t about what we do or don't do.

I can never get past the enormous arrogance inherent in the idea that the being that created the entire universe, with the almost uncountable number of galaxies within them and the enormous number of stars in those galaxies and the planets around them, some fraction of which may well support life of which the Earth is only one with a population in excess of 7 billion people, that that creature gives a shit about what you ate for breakfast.

Quote:

The Bible and every religion is governed by what man says God commands.

Religion is very clearly a human construct, as should be obvious by the fact that religion correlates with the geographic distribution of cultures. That in itself says nothing about whether a god or gods may exist or not.

According to this study, people are punished for leaving Atheism. But, we knew that. Right?

Not exactly. In a sufficiently large group of people, there are punishments (either direct or indirect) for having a belief that differs from the dominant one. In other words, there are punishments for not "fitting in" with the rest of society. Of course religion is not the only variable that determines that (does tend to be something that people tend to be very passionate about though).

Derezo said:

A religion is a shared belief system, and Atheists do have one. It is vague, and decentralized, but it is what it is.

A religion is a bit more than that, but even so: atheists don't have a common shared set of beliefs. There is no "church of atheism", no "holy book of atheist do's and don'ts". In fact...

Quote:

Not all atheists believe there is no god, and not all atheists do not believe in god.

That tells you right there that there is no single shared belief among all atheists.

weapon_S said:

All religions seem to do harm once a majority forms.

Nah.
I agree, it sometimes seems that way. I think religion is actually irrelevant to any perceived harm that may come from it. Take religious conflict: I don't think it tends to be about religion at all. It's usually "group A" vs "group B" over land, money or prestige. Religion is just a convenient way to establish group identity, but "Ajax" and "Feyenoord" work just as well. ;)

Stas B.

I would say that the definition is correct, but highly subjective. What constitutes irrational? By what measure do we call evidence strong?

You're trying to dodge the issue by forcing me to define extremely broad and complicated concepts. Let's just define them in the context of this discussion. Selective application of Occam's razor leads to irrational beliefs. If you deny it, consider this:

I come back home and find out the door isn't locked. Possible explanations include:

A. I forgot to lock it
B. Government agents broke into my house while I was away

I pick B, even though all the concrete evidence I have is the door not being locked. (Note that this is not meant as a direct analogy to theism.) Is that a rational belief? Don't say that this is a bad example because B is "more ridiculous" than the option of god. "Ridiculous" is a subjective matter that involves lots of bias. This example demonstrates nothing more than the irrationality of failing to apply Occam's razor. If it's irrational in this case, it's logical to assume that it's irrational in any other case, unless you can prove otherwise.

If X exists, X should have scientifically measurable effects on reality. Absence of any measurable effects, while not an indisputable proof, is strong evidence against the existence of X. Such evidence is strong in the sense that it is logically valid and any unbiased person will accept it without hesitation.

If you deny this, it logically follows that there exists no strong evidence that I don't have a supernatural, invisible pink pony sitting on my head right now and that there is no valid reason to reject this possibility. This is absurd.

Theists hold an irrational belief since they refuse to apply Occam's razor when discussing the origin of the universe. There is strong evidence against their belief, yet they refuse to let it go. They are delusional.

Quote:

B I'm willing to take at face value as true because if it was irrational, 80% of the world wouldn't be a theist in some form or another.

That's a blatant logical fallacy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum
Why couldn't 80% of the world be irrational about something?

Quote:

C is obviously false since if they didn't hold these beliefs, they wouldn't be theists

Very good, then you can't use it to disprove my assertion.

Quote:

and D is unprovable since you can't prove a negative.

Excuse me for the bad wording. I meant, prove that the provided evidence is either invalid or not strong. You can see the provided evidence right above, in bold letters, along with an explanation of why it's strong. All you need to do is to demonstrate why it's flawed.

As it stands now, I have provided evidence to back up my claim that theist are delusional and you have not provided valid counter-arguments.

gnolam

The point that I think escapes you is that these core beliefs of religions have already stood the test of time. They have already gone through rigorous scientific examination in the minds of the believers. So when somebody comes by and says "I have scientific proof that praying doesn't work," it's something that has already been heard before and already refuted.

"Scientific"? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

According to the Bible, there are specific things God is listed as unable to do (like deny himself, for example). Therefore, God's omnipotence is not a core belief of Christianity. It does seem to be a core belief of athiests about Christianity for some reason though. Maybe you could explain that first.

Each denomination of Christianity has its own interpretation of what is and what is not "according to the Bible", and quite a few of them believe in God's omnipotence.

Matthew Leverton
gnolam said:

and quite a few of them believe in God's omnipotence.

Can you name one major denomination that believes God can do contradictory things against His nature (particularly under the concept of omnipotence)? Source pleases.

You are not allowed to provide your own definition of the word omnipotence or provide your own interpretation of some text (scripture).

I'll start you off with what Catholics believes about omnipotence:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11251c.htm

Arthur Kalliokoski

God can do pretty much anything we can imagine.

I checked a few of these with a text file I have of kjv12.zip.

Matthew Leverton

Those quotes are irrelevant to the discussion. I'm asking for applied theology, not your personal interpretation of what those verses mean. We're all intelligent here; let's not play stupid with out of context quotes.

Gnolam specifically said quite a few denominations "believe in God's omnipotence" as if it meant being able to do contradictory things (using Chris' definition, who is just using the definition that the atheists are keen to use). So he should be able to supply "quite a few" confessions of faith that define omnipotence as God being able to lie, square a circle, perform logical inconsistent tasks, and cause the Cubs to win a World Series.

Denominations are very open about what they believe ... after all, that's what makes them a denomination. So it should be trivial to find the ones that believe that those verses you quoted mean God can literally do any contradictory task. And maybe those denominations are out there. I don't know; I'm not the one making that claim.

A separate argument is that Christians abuse the term "omnipotence," but a linguistic error is nothing compared to a theological contradiction.

Arthur Kalliokoski

I'm asking for applied theology, not your personal interpretation of what those verses mean. We're all intelligent here; let's not play stupid with out of context quotes.

I don't know any theologists, and I'd imagine that they disagree at least as much as economists. Why not take the words at face value? Otherwise you can twist them around to mean whatever you want, like so many do. Are the words not clear? Are you going to be like Bill Gates, who argued over the definition of words such as "compete", "concerned", "ask", and " we".

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

You're trying to dodge the issue by forcing me to define extremely broad and complicated concepts.

That the concept is extremely broad and complicated is the issue. It leaves enough leeway to basically declare an unfair discussion, which is why I'm not taking it seriously.

Quote:

That's a blatant logical fallacy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum
Why couldn't 80% of the world be irrational about something?

Argumentum ad populum isn't about being rational, it's about being right. Clearly the majority can't be right in the pie chart because no one group holds anything close to a majority. Again, if you want to call 80% to 100% of the world delusional based on your own belief system, go nuts.

Quote:

I meant, prove that the provided evidence is either invalid or not strong. You can see the provided evidence right above, in bold letters, along with an explanation of why it's strong.

What evidence? You've said "strong evidence" about 50 times and all you've mentioned is the heavy rock bit, which got taken apart in half a second. Anything else you post will probably get similar treatment, since as mentioned, these arguments aren't exactly fresh, which is why I haven't bothered calling you on it.

Evert said:

Not exactly. In a sufficiently large group of people, there are punishments (either direct or indirect) for having a belief that differs from the dominant one. In other words, there are punishments for not "fitting in" with the rest of society. Of course religion is not the only variable that determines that (does tend to be something that people tend to be very passionate about though).

Essentially what I was saying, yes ...

Arthur Kalliokoski

all you've mentioned is the heavy rock bit, which got taken apart in half a second.

What? The cartoon? All that did was distract you from the "fact" that god couldn't hold up a rock with the slapstick flattening of the protagonist. He couldn't hold up a rock, period.

Specter Phoenix

Religion to me is just a fiction created by man to make them feel better about death.

Matthew Leverton

Why not take the words at face value? Otherwise you can twist them around to mean whatever you want, like so many do.

Why not take words at face value? Because not everything is literal. Not everything makes sense pulled out of context. This is true of any book.

But that's a totally different topic. You can disagree with the Catholic church's interpretation of the Bible. You are free to believe that the Bible should be taken literally and that people should not be given the chance to harmonize it.

But you cannot project your own interpretations and definitions onto other people and claim that's what they believe.

Arthur Kalliokoski

a fiction created by man to make them feel better about death.

It also makes them feel better that supposedly someone's looking out for them (aka "guardian angel") and offloading personal responsibility to a mythical being.

[EDIT]

Not everything makes sense pulled out of context.

video

Stas B.

That the concept is extremely broad and complicated is the issue. It leaves enough leeway to basically declare an unfair discussion, which is why I'm not taking it seriously.

The context of this discussion narrows it down. I actually gave you a concrete definition of what I mean when I say such and such thing in the context of this discussion. Given that information, nothing precludes you from analyzing what I said and proving it's falsity, unless you agree with it.

Quote:

Argumentum ad populum isn't about being rational, it's about being right. Clearly the majority can't be right in the pie chart because no one group holds anything close to a majority. Again, if you want to call 80% to 100% of the world delusional based on your own belief system, go nuts.

You clearly stated that theists can't be irrational because 80% of the population are theists. That's a textbook example of the logical fallacy called "argumentum ad populum". There isn't a definition of "rational" that is somehow related to popular belief. In principle, every single person on the face of the earth could be completely irrational without making the standard definition of "rational" somehow less valid.

Quote:

What evidence? You've said "strong evidence" about 50 times and all you've mentioned is the heavy rock bit, which got taken apart in half a second.

Are you fucking high? I explained exactly what I mean by "evidence". I made it bold and mentioned where exactly to look for it, so even a person like you could understand what evidence I'm referring to.

Specter Phoenix

Not everything makes sense pulled out of context.

That isn't entirely true. It makes perfect sense to the person that pulls it out of context, after all it has to for them to make the argument using the out of context remarks ;).

It also makes them feel better that supposedly someone's looking out for them (aka "guardian angel") and offloading personal responsibility to a mythical being.

Yeah, I call that dumb luck.

Dizzy Egg

God would have replied to this himself but he's busy in Africa giving AIDs to babies.

Derezo

If you don't believe in God(s) then you are atheist.

It is not as clear cut as that. The definition of "God" is subject to so much interpretation, and I personally fall much closer to the definition of Agnostic.

... and thanks for the definition of supernatural -- my fictional/factional analogy seems to be quite accurate ;D

Evert said:

That tells you right there that there is no single shared belief among all atheists.

Perhaps not <em>all</em> atheists, in the same manner that it applies to theists, but there are many groups that are the functional equivalent of religious groups across both systems.

Arthur Kalliokoski

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23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

You clearly stated that theists can't be irrational because 80% of the population are theists.

I said I'm going to accept it as highly likely as an alternative to a) running around interviewing them all or b) making baseless assumptions.

Quote:

Are you fucking high? I explained exactly what I mean by "evidence".

You mean just in that one post finally? Smacks more of trying to have your cake and eat it too; we just determined you can't prove a negative. Even if you want to accept that there's no evidence for religions (most of the existing objective evidence I can think of off the top of my head being historical or archaeological, not scientific; sorry if that's not convenient), lack of evidence is not evidence. ::)

EDIT: You also can't argue "no evidence" because you can't be aware of all evidence. I think I applied this to myself earlier in the thread ...

Stas B.

I said I'm going to accept it as highly likely as an alternative to a) running around interviewing them all or b) making baseless assumptions.

So here's what you're saying:
"Since I can't run around and do a world-wide sanity check, I'll just assume that 80% of the population can't possibly be irrational. After all, we don't want to make baseless assumptions, do we?"

You made a logical fallacy and now you're just talking pure crap. You fail to address any of the actual points I made, specifically that:

- It is entirely possible that 80% of the population shares an irrational belief.
- Failing to apply Occam's razor leads to beliefs that can only be classified as irrational.
- Theists fail to apply Occam's razor when dealing with the question of the origin of the universe.

Untill you refute either of these points, this in itself is enough to prove that 80% of the population is indeed irrational.

Quote:

You mean just in that one post finally? Smacks more of trying to have your cake and eat it too; we just determined you can't prove a negative.

I never tried to imply that you must prove a negative. You pointed out that it sounds that way and I explained what I actually meant.

Quote:

Even if you want to accept that there's no evidence for religions (most of the existing objective evidence being historical or archaeological, not scientific; sorry if that's not convenient),

Historical evidence by definition can't be objective. That's asinine. Archeological evidence is tangible. What tangible evidence do you have that leaves you with "god" as an explanation after applying Occam's razor?

Quote:

lack of evidence is not evidence

I explained in my post why in this case it is. You don't get to simply deny it. If you disagree, prove that what I said is false.

You are obsolutely incapable of applying logic or having a valid discussion. You make blatant logical fallacies and then deny it, you either completely ignore my points or just assert they're wrong, you spend half of your effort on ad-hominem attacks...

SiegeLord

we just determined you can't prove a negative.

You can't prove anything about the real world, positive OR negative. Proofs are the realm of math and logic. Uncertainty and probability are the realm of the real world.

Quote:

most of the existing objective evidence I can think of off the top of my head being historical or archaeological, not scientific; sorry if that's not convenient

If that evidence is true, it just proves that god existed at some point, and stopped existing as soon as better recording equipment starter appearing.

Quote:

lack of evidence is not evidence

Yes it is, and I explained how.

Quote:

You also can't argue "no evidence" because you can't be aware of all evidence.

Yes you can. People make judgments from limited evidence all the time, and often times those judgments are right because the world has certain regularities to it. When you ate breakfast this morning did you hesitate grabbing the utensil because you weren't aware of the evidence that it was a three dimensional object? It's just a two dimensional image on your retina, after all.

Delve into some introspection and note how many times in your day you act on things (or fail to act on things) despite there being very little evidence for them. Why are you not checking whether your computer has a virus despite there being no evidence for it? Surely you can't be aware of all the evidence in this case either.

If you considered the existence of god in the same manner as you considered everything else in your life you'd reject it right off the bat. The only reason you're applying these ridiculous requirements to the god hypothesis is because it doesn't matter whether it exists or not. If god's existence or non-existence actually mattered, e.g. affected what treatment choice to a life-threatening condition, you'd not be so preposterous about it.

If you used this ridiculous "lack of evidence is not evidence" statement in the scientific world you'd be laughed at.

Specter Phoenix
Derezo said:

It is not as clear cut as that. The definition of "God" is subject to so much interpretation, and I personally fall much closer to the definition of Agnostic [en.wikipedia.org].... and thanks for the definition of supernatural -- my fictional/factional analogy seems to be quite accurate ;D

Not a problem with supernatural. Though, the definition of atheism is clear cut:

Quote:

noun the belief that there is no God

You can't say you're atheist and practice atheism then you believe that there is a God. If you believe there is a God then you can't be atheist. Same way you can't say you are Christian or Catholic and practice Satanism. You can be undecided, but if you believe there is no God you are atheist (per the definition). Anything out of that is just man playing semantics.

Matthew Leverton
Stas B. said:

- Failing to apply Occam's razor leads to beliefs that can only be classified as irrational.

Where is the proof Occam's razor is always correct?

If it's not always correct, then your statement is not absolute.

Even if it is always correct, then why does it mean the slightly more complex answer must be irrational?

Anyway, statements like the one I quoted are arrogant, in case you are still wondering why you come across as such. ("But how can a statement be arrogant? :o" is the arrogant reply. "But how can a reply be arrogant?" follows the arrogant reply.)

Stas B.

Where is the proof Occam's razor is always correct?

If it's not always correct, then your statement is not absolute.

Even if it is always correct, then why does it mean the slightly more complex answer must be irrational?

Applying Occam's razor means picking the explanation that gives you the most useful insight based on the least amount of assumptions. Are you trying to imply that doing so may sometimes be "incorrect"? In what sense? Are you going to argue that it's rational to pick an explanation that gives you less useful insight with more baseless assumptions just so you could keep your predetermined belief? Are you going to argue that's not the reason why they do it? Then what is the reason? Do they have a different brain structure?

Quote:

Anyway, statements like the one I quoted are arrogant, in case you are still wondering why you come across as such.

I don't give a rat shit. Its arrogance has no effect on its validity.
By the way, I still don't understand why it's arrogant. I swear. Maybe I'm a retard.

Matthew Leverton

One could easily argue that the supernatural (god) has far fewer assumptions and complexities than, say, the Big Bang theory. For example, this is pretty simple:

A super powerful being created the Earth.

Personally, I think it's a misuse Occam's razor to assume that supernatural things are invalid or irrational or too complex. I don't really think that's the point of it.

I don't really care to explain what I mean, but a quick Google search revealed this: http://www.weburbia.com/physics/occam.html

SiegeLord

Where is the proof Occam's razor is always correct?

Let me give you a basic outline of it. Say we have a data set that consists of a single, one dimensional observation, e.g. you measure a length of something. You have two hypotheses: first one predicts that the length has to be 1 meter; second one predicts that the length could be 1 meter or 2 meters. It should be obvious that first hypothesis is simpler (it's more precise). Now, let's say you make the measurement and it's 1 meter. Given that data, which hypothesis is more likely?

Now we have to use Bayes theorem (it's easy to derive, but I won't be doing it here). It allows us to compute the probability of a hypothesis given the data. It looks like this:

<math>P(Hypothesis|Data) = \frac{P(Data|Hypothesis) P(Hypothesis)}{\sum_{Hypothesis' \in AllHypothesis}{P(Data|Hypothesis') P(Hypothesis')}}</math>

It reads (for others who don't read math as well): probability of a given hypothesis given the data is the product of probability of the data given that hypothesis and the prior probability of the hypothesis. All that is divided by a sum of the numerator evaluated for all the hypotheses you are interested in.

So, for our example we have two hypotheses A and B. Let us set <math>P(A)</math> and <math>P(B)</math> to be 0.5 each, because we have no prior preference for one hypothesis over the other. Then:

<math>P(A|Data) = \frac{P(Data|A) P(A)}{P(Data|A) P(A) + P(Data|B) P(B)}</math>
<math>P(B|Data) = \frac{P(Data|B) P(A)}{P(Data|A) P(A) + P(Data|B) P(B)}</math>
Let us compute the numerators (and the denominators). Remember that Data is 1 meter.

<math>P(Data|A) P(A) = (1)(0.5) = 0.5</math>

<math>P(Data|B) P(B) = (0.5)(0.5) = 0.25</math>

<math>P(Data|A) P(A) + P(Data|B) P(B) = 0.75</math>

<math>P(Data|B)</math> is 0.5 because hypothesis B predicts 1 meter or 2 meters equally likely.

Now, to finish the calculation:

<math>P(A|Data) = 0.5 / 0.75 = 2/3</math>
<math>P(B|Data) = 0.25 / 0.75 = 1/3</math>

So you see, despite both hypotheses predicting the observed data, the simpler hypothesis is more likely. You can extend this proof to multiple dimensions, continous variables, anything really... it always works. When two hypotheses predict the same data, the simpler one is more probable.

I.e.:

A super powerful being created the Earth.

Yes, but he also could have created a different Earth. <math>P(Earth|God)</math> will be low because the probability of him creating a very specific Earth is very low (it is, because the god hypothesis donesn't specifically describe the Earth. If it did, it wouldn't be that simple statement anymore :P).

gnolam

Even if you want to accept that there's no evidence for religions (most of the existing objective evidence being historical or archaeological, not scientific; sorry if that's not convenient)

I don't think anyone disputes that there's plenty of evidence for the existence of religion. ;)
As for "evidence of $religion having a basis in fact", then... no, not really. If you take the Bible as an example, archaeology has not been kind to it. Like many myths, legends and folk stories, the Bible has bits that have been inspired by real events - and plenty that are pure inventions (e.g. the Exodus).

One could easily argue that the supernatural (god) has far fewer assumptions and complexities than, say, the Big Bang theory. For example, this is pretty simple: A super powerful being created the Earth.

Sure, that bit's simple. But now that you've introduced a super powerful being, you have to explain how it itself came into being and why it decided to create the Earth.
And that's where Occam's razor comes in, in Big Bang VS Magic Man Done It: one hypothesis is a synthesis of already well-evidenced scientific theories, and the other needs the invention of a non-falsifiable magic being.

_Kronk_

Holy crap! I look away for a day and the thread explodes :o

Must be a religion thread.

Stas B.

One could easily argue that the supernatural (god) has far fewer assumptions and complexities than, say, the Big Bang theory.

The general theory that god created the universe gives you exactly zero insight into the nature of the universe or into the nature of god and makes exactly one assumption.

The theory that the Christian god created the universe gives you zero insight into the nature of the universe and any insight it gives you into the nature of god corresponds to an assumption and not to actual evidence.

While a particular theory of god may or may not make less assumptions (the Bible gives you about a thousand pages worth of assumptions, if you ask me), it gives you no real insight.

Quote:

Personally, I think it's a misuse Occam's razor to assume that supernatural things are invalid or irrational or too complex. I don't really think that's the point of it.

That's an hillarious statement because that is precisely the point of it! If it wasn't for Occam's razor, you could explain anything by appeal to the supernatural. You use Occam's razor in everyday life. Refusing to use it in the context of religion is a logical fallacy called special pleading.

While it is possible that Occam's razor may leave you with an oversimplified explanation that fails in light of new evidence, it substantially increases your chances of picking the correct explanation because while every explanation has a finite number of alternatives that are simpler but false, it has an infinite number of alternatives that are more complex and also false.

Matthew Leverton
Stas B. said:

That's an hillarious statement because that is precisely the point of it!

I disagree. I don't think the first thing you do is invoke Occam's razor. First you apply the scientific method, reason, logic, etc, and you are left with a bunch of things that may all give a reasonable explanation. From there, pick the "simplest" solution. To me, the supernatural is automatically disqualified before you even get to Occam's razor.

Stas B.

First you apply the scientific method, reason, logic, etc, and you are left with a bunch of things that may all give a reasonable explanation.

But how do you eliminate explanations that are technically possible but not scientific? If it wasn't for Occam's razor, you would have no rational reason to give scientific explanations more weight.

What about everyday situations where you don't apply actual science to devise explanations? You still apply Occam's razor. If you come back home and find that the door isn't locked, it could be either because you forgot to lock it or because government agents broke into your house. You'll pick the first one even though there's no actual science invovled.

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To me, the supernatural is automatically disqualified before you even get to Occam's razor.

That's because as a rational person, you know that the supernatural is never the explanation that gives you the most insight based on the least number of assumptions. If not, the why is it automatically disqualified? "Just because"? That's not exactly rational.

Arthur Kalliokoski

After reading Laplace's Mécanique céleste, Napoleon is said to have questioned the author on his failure to mention God. Laplace famously replied: "I have no need for such a hypothesis".

Tobias Dammers
Stas B. said:

That's because as a rational person, you know that the supernatural is never the explanation that gives you the most insight based on the least number of assumptions. If not, the why is it automatically disqualified? "Just because"? That's not exactly rational.

Even without science, the supernatural is still out way before Occam's razor comes in, because there isn't even a decent definition of "supernatural" - either it is defined as "inexplicable", in which case it is utterly useless (calling something "supernatural" by this definition is just a fancy way of saying "I don't know"); or it draws an arbitrary line between "mundane" and "divine", just for the sake of supporting some deity hypothesis.

You need Occam's Razor to decide between two competing hypotheses, neither of which can be directly proven wrong.

Evert

practice atheism

How does one "practice atheism"?

Even if you want to accept that there's no evidence for religions [...], lack of evidence is not evidence.

Not entirely accurate. That's why people build huge expensive accelerators to look for sub-atomic particles: to get so many events that you can put a statistical likelyhood on the existence or non-existence of a particle. Sure, it's possible that you simply didn't detect the particle, but if you are 99.99999% certain that you would have seen it if it existed, then it is rather likely that it doesn't exist. You can in principle keep doing experiments and get that probability arbitrarily close to 100%.
In principle one could do the same with "proof for religions", the thing is you need solid verifiable predictions for that first and most religions are (predictably!) vague.

But you'd think that people would have realised it's a waste of time to pay serious attention to end-of-the-world predictions (given the number that are passed their deadline by now), but they still do because they belief (or want to belief) that the next one won't go the same way as all the previous ones.

Stas B. said:

You made a logical fallacy and now you're just talking pure crap. You fail to address any of the actual points I made

You're new to this, aren't you? It's a recurrent theme, just look up older threads.

Stas B.

Even without science, the supernatural is still out way before Occam's razor comes in, because there isn't even a decent definition of "supernatural"

We were referring to a pretty specific class of things and used "supernatural" for the sake of convenience.

Quote:

You need Occam's Razor to decide between two competing hypotheses, neither of which can be directly proven wrong.

Exactly. "God" is a competing hypothesis for the origin of the universe that can't be proven wrong in its general form. To avoid the fallacy of special pleading, you can't reject it automatically on the basis that it's unscientific on the one hand, but you can't choose not to apply Occam's razor on the other hand. If you do so anyway, you act irrationally. That's the point I'm trying to make.

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

You made a logical fallacy and now you're just talking pure crap. You fail to address any of the actual points I made, specifically that:- It is entirely possible that 80% of the population shares an irrational belief.

I didn't say it was impossible. I said it was unlikely, and sounds more like an excuse than anything.

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- Failing to apply Occam's razor leads to beliefs that can only be classified as irrational.

They can and they can't. Going with your example, I actually have come home to an unlocked door because people broke into my apartment.

Quote:

- Theists fail to apply Occam's razor when dealing with the question of the origin of the universe.

Again, I don't know every theist. You also mention much later that you can't apply Ocam's Razor here, so I don't know why you keep trying to ...

gnolam said:

I don't think anyone disputes that there's plenty of evidence for the existence of religion. ;)

We seem to be reading different threads ...

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As for "evidence of $religion having a basis in fact", then... no, not really.

This is up for debate, but it's a different debate. I'm saying that evidence exists, accept it or not, and some people do. That they accept evidence Stas doesn't like doesn't make them irrational.

SiegeLord said:

If you used this ridiculous "lack of evidence is not evidence" statement in the scientific world you'd be laughed at.

And if I were doing formal science in a lab setting I wouldn't use it, either.

Quote:

People make judgments from limited evidence all the time

Of course they do. I'm not following what that has to do with a lack of evidence being evidence for something. For all you wrote, I'm basically in agreement ...

Evert said:

How does one "practice atheism"?

How does one practice any religion? Adhere to its tenants.

Arthur Kalliokoski

How does one practice any religion? Adhere to its tenants.

That assertion has no bounds. I don't believe there's a teapot orbiting Saturn, I don't believe there's a monster under my bed, I don't believe there's a CIA microphone in my house...

23yrold3yrold

That assertion has no bounds.

And the fact it has no bounds is going to impact your behavior, is it not?

Arthur Kalliokoski

I couldn't possibly adhere to all those tenants, even if I did nothing else all day.

23yrold3yrold

I couldn't possibly adhere to all those tenants, even if I did nothing else all day.

Doing nothing all day would actually be a good way to adhere ...

Arthur Kalliokoski

{"name":"turtel.gif","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/e\/f\/ef90c030d0e91ca5c40e55ad3ccd1f14.gif","w":287,"h":239,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/e\/f\/ef90c030d0e91ca5c40e55ad3ccd1f14"}turtel.gif

Give it up.

23yrold3yrold

You're done trolling?

Arthur Kalliokoski

{"name":"Pr8ul.gif","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/5\/0\/501497f8f369815aecd48a11386cff69.gif","w":318,"h":218,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/5\/0\/501497f8f369815aecd48a11386cff69"}Pr8ul.gif

Stas B.

I didn't say it was impossible. I said it was unlikely, and sounds more like an excuse than anything.

If you can't disprove my claim, it still stands. It doesn't matter what seems likely to you.

Quote:

They can and they can't. Going with your example, I actually have come home to an unlocked door because people broke into my apartment.

You can't just assert that. I based this point on a logical premise. You must prove it to be flawed.

Quote:

Again, I don't know every theist.

You don't need to know every theist to see the logical contradiction in the idea of a theist that applies Occam's razor to the question of origin of the universe (which leads to the rejection of the god hypothesis) and remains a theist.

Quote:

This is up for debate, but it's a different debate. I'm saying that evidence exists, accept it or not, and some people do. That they accept evidence Stas doesn't like doesn't make them irrational.

It's not up for debate. Evidence exists but it's unscientific. They accept it because they are all, without exception, extremely biased to do so. Atheists don't accept it even though they are not all biased in such extreme levels.

Quote:

How does one practice any religion? Adhere to its tenants.

There are no authorities to adhere to.

In any case, you are incapable of having an intelligent discussion and I'm getting really tired of it. Don't bother making any more posts in my address if you're not going to discuss directly the logical premises upon which my points are based. I will simply ignore you. :-/

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

If you can't disprove my claim, it still stands. It doesn't matter what seems likely to you.

I'll allow that's it's possible but improbable if you like ...

Quote:

You can't just assert that.

... of course I can. It was my apartment. In this case it wasn't flawed, it was wrong.

Quote:

You don't need to know every theist to see the logical contradiction in the idea of a theist that applies Occam's razor to the question of origin of the universe (which leads to the rejection of the god hypothesis) and remains a theist.

I guess I just can't stretch myself to make that kind of generalization. People think something different than me, they must have their reasons. For someone complaining that he thought I was telling him what he thought earlier in the thread, I assert that I'm not real big on that. There has been a lot of educated discussions on all forms of religion and its validity by people far more educated than you or I. For me to dismiss it out of hand seems, well, arrogant. I don not have enough information to make that kind of determination.

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It's not up for debate. Evidence exists but it's unscientific.

I didn't dispute this either. Not all evidence or valid modes of inquiry are scientific, though. I have a lot of respect for science but it's a tool like any other.

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There are no authorities to adhere to.

Does a religion require authorities?

Johan Halmén
Evert said:

How does one "practice atheism"?

By ridiculing everything that any religious texts ever said about anything related to explaining the outer world. By totally denying that being religious can be anything else than having a mythical viewpoint on how the world was created and believing that science is wrong on this point. By believing that one can achieve happiness or one can be a better person (or achieve any goal similar to what religious people aim for[1]) by accepting the truth that science has revealed. It's the "knowing the truth leads to happiness" thing, no matter whether you are practicing theism or atheism.

Yes, that was totally black & white. As it has been said before, most atheists probably don't practice atheism.

References

  1. Well, not the after-death stuff
Stas B.

I'll allow that's it's possible but improbable if you like ...

Okaaaaay. Dude, look, we could keep this up all day. This type of arguing is simply fruitless. If I make a claim, I base it on a logical premise that can be demonstrated to be either true or false. If you want to dispute that claim, you must not simply assert that it's wrong. You must demonstrate the falsity of the relevant logical premise using your own logical premise. I, in turn, may attempt to disprove your counter-argument in the same manner. We must keep doing that untill we reach an agreement and move on to some other claim made by either one of us. That's how civilized discussion works. Do you understand? You're just not doing that and I'm tired of asking you to. :-/

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

If I make a claim, I base it on a logical premise that can be demonstrated to be either true or false.

You claimed that something is possible. I agreed, on the basis that anything is possible, though I don't think it's probable. Maybe I'm just not cut out for formal debate (this is NOT "civilized discussion" unless you're incredibly anal) ... am I not playing your game correctly?

LennyLen
Evert said:

How does one "practice atheism"?

You keep trying until you get it right.

Stas B.

Maybe I'm just not cut out for formal debate (this is NOT "civilized discussion" unless you're incredibly anal)

You're right. That is formal debate rather than civilized discussion. Do you want to have a formal debate? Civilized discussion does not appear to work in our case.

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

Do you want to have a formal debate?

I could think of nothing more utterly pointless.

Arthur Kalliokoski

OK, if it's pointless, drop it.

Stas B.

I could think of nothing more utterly pointless.

Great, then we have no reason to continue talking to eachother.

Elias

By believing that one can achieve happiness or one can be a better person (or achieve any goal similar to what religious people aim for[1]) by accepting the truth that science has revealed.

I don't think for atheists it has anything to do with happiness. However on the other side if someone can only achieve happiness by building a phantasy world and believing in lies - that sounds troublesome to me.

Arthur Kalliokoski
Elias said:

I don't think for atheists it has anything to do with happiness.

Pascal's Wager supposedly doesn't have any drawbacks to believing in ghod, but OTOH, you're constantly worried about breaking some obscure rule or other that'll keep you from heaven instead of enjoying life now, which is all we really have.

Stas B.

Pascal's Wager supposedly doesn't have any drawbacks to believing in ghod, but OTOH, you're constantly worried about breaking some obscure rule or other that'll keep you from heaven instead of enjoying life now, which is all we really have.

The problem with Pascal's Wager is that it doesn't take into account the large number of other gods who have different rules and might get mad at you, so you're not really on the safe side by wagering on any particular god. I really think he was just being a smartass when he proposed it. ::)

Derezo
Elias said:

However on the other side if someone can only achieve happiness by building a phantasy world and believing in lies - that sounds troublesome to me.

Synthetic happiness is more betterer than real happiness anyway.

Arthur Kalliokoski

Burn one for me!

Matthew Leverton
Stas B. said:

If I make a claim, I base it on a logical premise that can be demonstrated to be either true or false. If you want to dispute that claim, you must not simply assert that it's wrong. You must demonstrate the falsity of the relevant logical premise using your own logical premise.

It seems like what you really do is make simple logical statements that are either a) so basic that nobody would actually disagree with what they say at surface value or b) based on some opinion that is impossible to verify. Then you inject your own meaning and jump to a wild conclusion (e.g., all religious people are insane).

When asked to defend your conclusions, you just rant about how illogical people are and dare them to poke holes at your logic. You don't allow people to reject your conclusions, because after all, you based them on logic.

For example, "Failing to apply Occam's razor leads to beliefs that can only be classified as irrational."

Perhaps true. I surely cannot conclusively reject it, especially because you can supply definitions to suit yourself, yet keeping your conclusions intact.

In retrospect, people have looked back at data and realized that by applying Occam's razor, they went down the wrong path. So I guess those people were rational at the time but at the expense of being right. Had those people went down the more complex path, they would have been irrational (per your logic and terminology), yet correct.

Now that we agree that it is irrational using a very mild meaning of the word, you want to then in your conclusions use a very strong meaning of the word. So let's say the concept god is irrational. So what? That doesn't imply that religion must be dismissed. I think love is irrational. That doesn't mean I think everybody who says they are in love should be sent to the loony bin.

And I wouldn't grant you: "Theists fail to apply Occam's razor when dealing with the question of the origin of the universe."

They do apply it. Perhaps you disagree with their interpretation (you definitely do), but then you would have to prove that you are right. But in the context of this discussion, we're essentially back where we started in a circular fashion.

I don't expect you to accept my rejection of your claims. I'm not trying to be thorough, as I do not care enough to be. My greater point is simply that you present these claims with hardly any proof, but yet demand they be disqualified only by the surest of axioms. With such rules, there's really no way you would ever have to admit being wrong even if you are entirely incorrect.

Dizzy Egg

With such rules, there's really no way you would ever have to admit being wrong even if you are entirely incorrect.

...and therein the maester suggests a perfect sig for Stas.B., reflecting immaculately on his posts in general, and altogether hitting the said nail on the said head.

You're never wrong Stas.B., and any Allegroids who post to differ are, in your words, an idiot.

Joint anyone?

Stas B.

It seems like what you really do is make simple logical statements that are either a) so basic that nobody would actually disagree with what they say at surface value or b) based on some opinion that is impossible to verify.

I made statements based on some opinion that is impossible to verify? Show me any statement that I made that is not accompanied by a falsifiable logical premise and I will retract it. If I actually did that, it was accidental.

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When asked to defend your conclusions, you just rant about how illogical people are and dare them to poke holes at your logic. You don't allow people to reject your conclusions, because after all, you based them on logic.

When asked to defend my conclusions against what? Against people simply asserting that I'm wrong? I don't need to defend them against that. I need to defend them against people poking holes at my logic. Can't we even agree on this?

Quote:

For example, "Failing to apply Occam's razor leads to beliefs that can only be classified as irrational."

Perhaps true. I surely cannot conclusively reject it, especially because you can supply definitions to suit yourself, yet keeping your conclusions intact.

I thought it was clear to both of us what we mean by "irrational". You could have asked me to be more specific. It's not my fault that you did not bother.

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In retrospect, people have looked back at data and realized that by applying Occam's razor, they went down the wrong path. So I guess those people were rational at the time but at the expense of being right. Had those people went down the more complex path, they would have been irrational (per your logic and terminology), yet correct.

Yes. That's exactly what I said. So let's get this clear. Per your logic and terminology, as opposed to mine, it's rational to sometimes go down the complex path. If it's rational, mustn't there be a valid rationale behind it?

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Now that we agree that it is irrational using a very mild meaning of the word, you want to then in your conclusions use a very strong meaning of the word.

How exactly does the term "mild" apply to irrationality? What's a mild irrationality and how is it opposed to a "severe" one? Is there a principal difference between the irrationality of a person who believes that little demons move stuff around his house every time he can't find something and the irrationality of person who believes that god created the universe? If so, explain it to me.

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So what? That doesn't imply that religion must be dismissed. I think love is irrational. That doesn't mean I think everybody who says they are in love should be sent to the loony bin.

I never listed that as a reason why religion should be dismissed. It should be dismissed for entirely different reasons. I don't understand your love analogy either. Finally, I don't actually think that religious people should all be sent to the loony bin. I said that once but only jokingly. I did say that they are delusional but then again, I did not base that claim solely on the premise that they hold an irrational belief. Many people hold some irrational beliefs for many different reasons.

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And I wouldn't grant you: "Theists fail to apply Occam's razor when dealing with the question of the origin of the universe."

They do apply it.

Can you apply it in such way that leaves the god hypothesis for the origin of the universe as the one that gives you the most insight about the universe with the least number of assumptions?

Quote:

I'm not trying to be thorough, as I do not care enough to be. My greater point is simply that you present these claims with hardly any proof, but yet demand they be disqualified only by the surest of axioms. With such rules, there's really no way you would ever have to admit being wrong even if you are entirely incorrect.

By simply asserting that the opponent's proof is "hardly any proof at all" and therefore doesn't require any proper debunking and by implying that you could probably debunk it if only you cared enough to do so, there's really no way you would ever have to admit being wrong even if you are entirely incorrect. I bet all the people here who claim that I'm simply unwilling to change my position no matter what are going through the thousandth reiteration of this stupid thread not having changed their own position one bit since the first, but that's obviously because you were right all along! You are fucking ridiculous.

Specter Phoenix

F*cking christ Stas B. people don't have to prove anything contrary to what you say. You could say elephants fly and I could say they don't. Those are our opinions whether they are wrong or right. If someone thinks you are wrong in what you say, they don't have to prove to you that fact because even if they prove you right they will still think you are wrong in some way. Ranting about it for multiple posts is starting to make you look childish for basically saying over and over "Prove me wrong, show your logic/evidence." Same with people saying Obama is doing a great job as President, they don't have to prove that he is, they just think he is according to their point of view. 23yrold3yrold thinks you are a little wrong in your remark, he doesn't have to give you chapter and verse as to why he thinks that as you have shown in post after post you wouldn't believe him if he did post exactly where you were wrong. You have two different opinions on the subject, leave it at that and drop it already.

SiegeLord

In retrospect, people have looked back at data and realized that by applying Occam's razor, they went down the wrong path. So I guess those people were rational at the time but at the expense of being right. Had those people went down the more complex path, they would have been irrational (per your logic and terminology), yet correct.

Sure, people play the lottery and occasionally win, but would you say that playing the lottery was the right thing to do just because they won? It's nice to look at the winners in the news, but nobody mentions the thousands that lost. It's nice to say "they applied the Occam's razor and lost" but on average that does not happen, because on average given some fundamental properties about our world, Occam's razor (specifically the probabilistic treatment I outlined) actually describes how the world works.

We consciously and unconsciously use Occam's razor in every aspect of our life, and yet we are asked to make a singular exception for one thing, religion. What's so special about it? Why does it deserve this exceptional treatment? We make fun of the UFO believers, conspiracy theorists, cryptozoologists. Why shouldn't we make fun of the religious either for the same exact reasons?

It's the doublethink that bothers me the most, which is why I can't stand religious scientists.

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So let's say the concept god is irrational. So what?

I'd be very much satisfied if the religious admitted this much. Most don't even go far enough to this first step.

23yrold3yrold
SiegeLord said:

We consciously and unconsciously use Occam's razor in every aspect of our life, and yet we are asked to make a singular exception for one thing, religion.

I still don't get this. Besides the fact no one asked you for anything, am I officially alone in thinking that assuming other people's reasons and thought processes is insanely presumptuous? Stas seems to have elevated it to an art form, but SiegeLord, you're pretty good at it too ... if you all weren't atheists I'd swear this was some fundie defense mechanism.

If you're assured of your position, maybe you ahould answer your own question: what's so special about it? I don't think there's anything special about it personally, but to anyone who doesn't assume people selectively choose not to apply Occam's Razor to religion, this isn't an issue ... so maybe they are applying it? Maybe you just don't like their conclusions? Is people having different opinions that much of a problem that we have to keep creating excuses for it?

Arthur Kalliokoski

Those Rube Goldberg gadgets are amusing simply because they don't take an Occam's Razor viewpoint into design. Elegant arguments don't have any unnecessary detours. Old folk remedies such as putting foxglove into stumpwater by the light of the full moon could ease chest pains, but it was only the foxglove that did it.

SiegeLord

I still don't get this. Besides the fact no one asked you for anything, am I officially alone in thinking that assuming other people's reasons and thought processes is insanely presumptuous?

Umm, the fact that you are alive and typing this means that you are a functioning member of society and are not insane. Those things need rationality and rationality implies Occam's razor (the precise definition I use).

I've already spoke of this in my previous posts, but let me summarize it again.

1. The real world is a predictable system where we can use past events to reasonably predict the future. This is a fact that explains why scientific method works so amazingly well. You are insane if you don't agree with this point.

2. Now, given that the real world is predictable it is a mathematical fact that the optimal way of making decisions in this world is to use probabilistic reasoning: choosing hypotheses with the highest probability as computed by the math I showed in my math post. People who are rational survive longer, pass on their genes, make more money... etc etc because they make decisions that are most likely to turn out good for them. Decisions that turn out good more of than not are rational by the very definition of probability. You might be able to say people are not perfectly rational, but the more rational you are the more successful you are.

Feel free to argue those points but they have so much mathematical and empirical backing, it's futile. The second point specifically allows me to make this statement:

SiegeLord said:

We consciously and unconsciously use Occam's razor in every aspect of our life

Now, moving on:

maybe you ahould answer your own question: what's so special about it?

Because it works. Because using this position our understanding of the universe increased exponentially since the development of the modern scientific method. Occam's razor is a commonly accepted creed of scientists and they definitely use it in some form or another. I'd like to see someone argue that scientists don't use Occam's razor. The alternative, on the other hand, doesn't work (the alternative being what I think ML described: "sometimes Occam's razor is wrong, so there's no good reason to use it or not use it").

Quote:

anyone who doesn't assume people selectively choose not to apply Occam's Razor to religion, this isn't an issue

I hope you're not including yourself amongst those people, after saying things like:

lack of evidence is not evidence

Quote:

You also can't argue "no evidence" because you can't be aware of all evidence.

Those statements are inconsistent with Occam's razor. I kind of hinted at it in my math post, but I can prove it explicitly true in a new math post if this thread isn't closed by tomorrow noon.

If people used Occam's razor with religion they'd be really worried how there's no modern evidence for it (with the sole exception of some historical bits in the Bible). Nothing in the Bible seems to describe how the world works (I'm specifically referring to the creation story(ies) and how they mesh with human evolution and cosmic evolution).

Stas B.

F*cking christ Stas B. people don't have to prove anything contrary to what you say. You could say elephants fly and I could say they don't. Those are our opinions whether they are wrong or right.

I really can't comprehend this point of view. Of couse they don't have to prove anything. They don't owe me anything. But what's the point of a discussion involving a bunch of people plugging their ears and shouting out their opinions? What could anybody possibly gain from that? When you have a real discussion, at best you may learn something and reconsider your own point of view. At worst, you may just have some intellectual excersice analyzing other people's logic. What's going on here is group masturbation and you seem to be mad at me for interrupting.

Quote:

If someone thinks you are wrong in what you say, they don't have to prove to you that fact because even if they prove you right they will still think you are wrong in some way.

If they try to prove me wrong, they may prove me right instead but still think I'm wrong in some way? That's crazy. :P

Quote:

Ranting about it for multiple posts is starting to make you look childish for basically saying over and over "Prove me wrong, show your logic/evidence."

I'm childish for telling people over and over that asserting things is pointless and to provide logic/evidence? You know what, maybe you're right. It's clearly not working with you people. I guess it is kind of pointless.

Quote:

23yrold3yrold thinks you are a little wrong in your remark, he doesn't have to give you chapter and verse as to why he thinks that as you have shown in post after post you wouldn't believe him if he did post exactly where you were wrong.

You guys are hillarious. Since you can't easily prove me wrong, you just go ahead and assume that I'm wrong anyway and that I either never admit being wrong or that this time it's something very special and personal for me so I'll just keep denying it. Do you realize how asinine this is? I couldn't care less if it turns out religious people can't be classified as delusional. I couldn't care less if it turns out that I'm wrong in front of some crowd of random people on the internet that I don't even know. What motivation could I possibly have to fiercely deny that I'm wrong? 23yrold3yrold has some motivation to fiercely deny that he's delusional. Matthew has some motivation to fiercely deny that his religious fiends and family members are delusional. I don't have any motivation to fiercely deny that they're not. ::)

[EDIT]

A person is considered delusional when they hold an irrational belief despite being presented with strong evidence against it.
An irrational belief is any belief that is not based on a valid logical rationale.
Strong evidence is evidence that is scientifically valid and is convincing on its own to a rational, unbiased person.

The belief in the god hypothesis of the origin of the universe is irrational because:

1. There are alternatives that make less assumptions and give more insight about the nature of the universe.
2. Given #1, there is no valid logical rationale for choosing the god hypothesis.

These two points do not require further proof here because they are self-evident for most people and have been proven a countless number of times elsewhere. If you reject #1, try making a comparison between any religious hypothesis and any generally accepted scientific hypothesis about the origin of the universe. If you reject #2, go read about Occam's razor as many times as you need untill you understand it and see why #2 is true. If you still reject these points, you are in denial and it's impossible in principle to prove them to you.

There is strong scientific evidence against the god hypothesis:

1. God does not have scientifically measurable effects on the universe.
2. Logic and everyday experience prove that theories that can be eliminated by Occam's razor are much less likely to be true.

Evidence of this type is used in science routinely, therefore it is scientific. Evidence of this type must also apply to the god hypothesis since claiming otherwise is a logical fallacy called special pleading. To see why it is strong, let's suppose it's not and then apply reductio ad absurdum:

Ex. 1: I claim there's an immaterial, invisible pony sitting on my head. If evidence of type #1 isn't strong, it is not enough on its own to convince a rational, unbiased person of the absence of said pony. That's absurd. If you accepted the initial definitions, you must accept that #1 is strong evidence.

Ex. 2: I claim that government agents broke into my house on sole basis of the door not being locked when I came back. If evidence of type #2 isn't strong, it is not enough on its own to convince a rational, unbiased person that government agents did not, in fact, broke into my house. That's absurd. If you accepted the initial definitions, you must accept that #2 is strong evidence.

To conclude, I have proven that theists hold an irrational belief despite being presented with strong evidence against it. They are delusional per definition. You can claim that being delusional is not so bad and not grounds for sending someone to the loony bin, but this is irrelevant. I do not like living in a society where people's delusions have very direct effects on my life. In the country I live in, I can't get married without accepting the local religion and I can't go out on saturday because I don't have a car and there's no public transportation, to give a few examples. These laws were passed due to delusional theists having the right to vote. If you think that's all right because you have theist friends and they're cool, fuck you and fuck your delusional theist friends. Delusional people in general and theists in particular should not be allowed anywhere near the steering wheel of a fucking country. I'm not saying theists should be denied the right to vote. Theists just shouldn't have representatives of their delusional interests in the government. They should not be allowed in parliament on the grouds that they are simply delusional.

Evert

How does one practice any religion? Adhere to its tenants.

I know it's hard for you reli-types to fully appreciate this, but I'll just spell it out again: at a stretch, atheism is a belief. It is not a religion.

Arthur Kalliokoski

Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told.
Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.
H L Mencken

[EDIT]

Maybe religion substitutes for some sort of parental figure, since the original parents were seen to be fallible and putting their pants on one leg at a time etc. If they'd just accept that some people want to run their own lives instead of some pope or something it'd work much better.

video

[EDIT2]

Upon further reflection, that song is hopelessly idealistic in other ways...

Matthew Leverton
SiegeLord said:

the alternative being what I think ML described: "sometimes Occam's razor is wrong, so there's no good reason to use it or not use it"

That's not my perspective.

Put simply, I think the usage of Occam's razor in this thread is no more powerful than the usage of the KISS theory. Yes it sounds more authoritative to invoke some cute phrase every few sentences, but it doesn't actually make an argument any more impressive.

Because we have different interpretations of precisely what Occam's razor is, arguing whether or not there's a good reason to use it would be pointless.

23yrold3yrold
Stas B. said:

What motivation could I possibly have to fiercely deny that I'm wrong? 23yrold3yrold has some motivation to fiercely deny that he's delusional. Matthew has some motivation to fiercely deny that his religious fiends and family members are delusional. I don't have any motivation to fiercely deny that they're not. ::)

You have the same motivation as everyone else; your comfortable beliefs are threatened and you go on the defensive. Atheists do this as much as anyone else, and everyone does it in various areas of their lives. I've said it before, I'll say it again; this behavior is particular to humans, not theists. This is that arrogance again; you seem to honestly believe that you are somehow special in this regard. I'm pretty sure you're the delusional one at this point, and the bold type and swearing isn't making you look any smarter. Remember that little experiment I proposed a while back? :)

Evert said:

I know it's hard for you reli-types to fully appreciate this, but I'll just spell it out again: at a stretch, atheism is a belief. It is not a religion.

And since religion is just beliefs ... yeah.

SiegeLord: You apparently completely misread my post, so never mind. ::)

Arthur Kalliokoski

And since religion is just beliefs ... yeah.

I believe that's vastly oversimplified.

23yrold3yrold

I believe that's vastly oversimplified.

Well keep up the good work then.

EDIT: I've equated religion to mere opinion in past threads ...

Arthur Kalliokoski

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23yrold3yrold

And I tend to chew out Christians for doing exactly that. Does that image mean that Dan Barker assumes all theists do this?

SiegeLord

SiegeLord: You apparently completely misread my post, so never mind. ::)

Umm, how did I do that? I think I read it correctly and provided such a strong refutation that you are just at a loss of words 8-). Now... I know the entire post was an ad hominem attack at me, but I ignored that bit... perhaps that's my misreading of it? The fact that I tried to extract some coherent argument out of it?

Seriously, help me out, of the quotes that I quoted, which quote did I misread?

Because we have different interpretations of precisely what Occam's razor is, arguing whether or not there's a good reason to use it would be pointless.

Well, my definition is pretty precise and I have argued for the method following that exact definition to be selectively ignored when people examine religious beliefs.

I mean, I start using precise definitions using math, and everybody's eyes glaze over. I start using imprecise words like "Occam's razor" and everybody throws a hissy fit over exactly what that means.

23yrold3yrold
SiegeLord said:

Umm, how did I do that?

Well, you apparently thought my question "what's so special about it?" was in regards to Occam's Razor. Is that what the question was referring to in your own post?

SiegeLord

Well, you apparently thought my question "what's so special about it?" was in regards to Occam's Razor. Is that what the question was referring to in your own post?

In my post it referred to religion. What does it refer to in your post?

23yrold3yrold

Religion. Same question back at'cha, like I said.

SiegeLord

Oh. I don't know the answer to that question, otherwise I wouldn't ask it :P.

23yrold3yrold

But you said you're asked to make an exception for it. I have no idea what you mean by that. I don't believe religion is special in this regard at all, or that it's held to any special exception, but apparently you do. So I'm curious why. Maybe if I were caught up on yours and Matthew's posts I'd have more context, in which case my bad.

Arthur Kalliokoski

But you said you're asked to make an exception for it. I have no idea what you mean by that. I don't believe religion is special in this regard at all, or that it's held to any special exception, but apparently you do.

SiegeLord said:

it is an exception because it's presumed effects are tiny (falling into placebo effect territory or mis-interpreted random noise). Any religion which predicts obviously measurable events (e.g. apocalypse) will be discredited immediately because it just wouldn't work and it'll be obvious that it doesn't work.

I became an atheist when prayer didn't work.

And to those who'd say "You didn't have enough faith" or "God works in mysterious ways" I say BULLSHIT!

[EDIT]

I just tried this experiment again just now

{"name":"606136","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/4\/4\/44676acc3a702d1e36be5d738534bb46.png","w":674,"h":189,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/4\/4\/44676acc3a702d1e36be5d738534bb46"}606136

{"name":"606137","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/a\/3\/a305111ace29859d2ab90e962fdd6c5a.png","w":640,"h":217,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/a\/3\/a305111ace29859d2ab90e962fdd6c5a"}606137

Evert

And since religion is just beliefs ... yeah.

Unfortunately for you you don't get to define words to mean what you want them to mean. Religion is not just belief.

Maybe religion substitutes for some sort of parental figure, since the original parents were seen to be fallible and putting their pants on one leg at a time etc.

I'm sure it does that for at least some people.

23yrold3yrold
Evert said:

Unfortunately for you you don't get to define words to mean what you want them to mean. Religion is not just belief.

So I guess I'm not religious ...

Arthur Kalliokoski

My parents claimed they believed in god, although you'd never know it from their actions. Dad took me to sunday school most Sundays, partly because it's what was done, partly because he'd go to his buddies house and drink enough I'd have to drive home sitting on a pillow to see over the dash.

Specter Phoenix
Stas B. said:

But what's the point of a discussion involving a bunch of people plugging their ears and shouting out their opinions?

;D Discussion? We post our opinions, we don't discuss anything around here. You have been here four years and still haven't figured that out?! ;D :P

Derezo

My parents claimed they believed in god, although you'd never know it from their actions.

My situation was the same growing up, but primarily just my mother. Even today if I ask her if she believes in God, she takes the cigarette out of her mouth, looks away from the television for a moment, says yes, then looks back and starts puffing away. She's doing God's work.

After reading a bunch more of this god awful thread, I think I can summarize the whole thing in one image:

{"name":"that-word-inigo-montoya-word-think-.jpg","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/7\/e\/7ec9cc417dbd3959a22f72dd0dfc6030.jpg","w":331,"h":333,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/7\/e\/7ec9cc417dbd3959a22f72dd0dfc6030"}that-word-inigo-montoya-word-think-.jpg

weapon_S

I just tried this experiment again just now

Heh, I tried it too. Not to get the most common opinion, but rather to see in which opinion Google has clustered me.
{"name":"606138","src":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/9\/9\/99281a29e28975b7ddde9a83495988c4.png","w":575,"h":330,"tn":"\/\/djungxnpq2nug.cloudfront.net\/image\/cache\/9\/9\/99281a29e28975b7ddde9a83495988c4"}606138

Discussion? We post our opinions, we don't discuss anything around here.

True. This made me wonder whether trying to edit a Wiki page with each other would yield better results. But then again, what would be the topic? The stupidity of Christianity? Rational reasoning? :P

Yes it sounds more authoritative to invoke some cute phrase every few sentences, but it doesn't actually make an argument any more impressive.

QFT. Well, actually it's an opinion I like.

Arthur Kalliokoski

And this opinion is so important, it's posted twice!

AMCerasoli

Oh my GOD! Double posting! WOOOOOW! This is so incredible! two post of the same person! WTF is happening!

Dario ff

Your posts will look silly when ML actually removes the double-post. Quick, get some opinions in there! >:(

bamccaig

The only reason I'm not in this fight is because I have been stressed out with a project at j0rb and can't find the time to catch up. I'm probably not even half way and it keeps growing. >:(

SiegeLord

I'm really not sure who's arguing for what anymore... so I'll stop for now :P. I'm glad I don't have to argue about this everyday, that's for sure.

Derezo
SiegeLord said:

I'm really not sure who's arguing for what anymore... so I'll stop for now

What do you mean by 'Stop'? You're posting in this thread, so doesn't that mean you're continuing your argument? I don't think Stop means the same to me as it does to you.

;)

Dizzy Egg

Just stop it.

Derezo
SiegeLord

Fushta!

relay01

Hi everybody!

23yrold3yrold

Amusingly, a professional colleague was mentioning a book to me just recently called "You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself". Naturally, I immediately thought of this thread. :) Maybe we actually are all delusional (except Stas B., natch).

verthex

Naturally, I immediately thought of this thread. :)

Thats good, your brain cells are functioning properly.

Specter Phoenix

Naturally, I immediately thought of this thread. :)

Of course, can't let one of the dumbest and most active threads on the forum go silent ;).

23yrold3yrold

relay01 ressed it, not me. :)

Arthur Kalliokoski

That was his first post in about a year :-X

relay01

I've intermittently lurked around this forum for a while (Oh allegro... I can't quit you... :-* ) and this thread reminded me of some of the threads I often took part in. I'm amazed to see 23yrold3yrold still trying to defend the born-agains from being assumed as ignorant. Part of why I stopped posting and rarely visiting was because of threads like these. :-/

Specter Phoenix
relay01 said:

Part of why I stopped posting and rarely visiting was because of threads like these. :-/

Really? I've been here for a long time and I remember a few, but not enough to make me leave over it :-/.

Evert

So I guess I'm not religious ...

Please tell me you're not one of those people who "have a personal relationship with God" but "are not religious"?

Either way, invest in a better dictionary.

23yrold3yrold
Evert said:

Please tell me you're not one of those people who "have a personal relationship with God" but "are not religious"?

Either way, invest in a better dictionary.

I'm going by the definition you gave me. Nothing more, nothing less. If I fit your definition of religious then I'm religious to you, if I don't, then I'm not. You tell me. Or don't. Whatever.

NiteHackr

Interesting experiment... :)

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Arthur Kalliokoski

Think of who's asking. I was playing an abandonware game "Street Rod" last night and was once again struck by the actors cruising by, afraid to race you, calling you a "loser" and a "nerd", as if you were beneath them instead of ready to snap up their car with a bet on pink slips.

23yrold3yrold

Think of who's asking.

I think it's just a response to the earlier "experiment". In either case, it doesn't say much. Googling "Why is XYZ so wicked-awesome and cool" is probably as common as me getting a call in tech support because the customer is happy with service and wants to tell us we're doing a really good job. This is a thing that does not happen.

Arthur Kalliokoski

This is a thing that does not happen.

The existence of fanboys (I'm a proud (and in my mind, justified) Linux fanboy) demolishes your argument.

NiteHackr

I think it's just a response to the earlier "experiment".

It was. :)

weapon_S

The existence of fanboys (I'm a proud (and in my mind, justified) Linux fanboy) demolishes your argument.

Good point: most of the highest ranking search queries/results haven't come about the intended "natural" way :P

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