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Thread: Pseudo-religions?

  1. #1 Pseudo-religions? 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Slightly off the topic of mainstream religion. It has often occurred to me that a lot of current beliefs share something with religious belief, but are not classified as religions. I call them pseudo-religions.

    This happens when a system of belief, that has nothing to do with God or gods, becomes held to fervently as a result of a code of faith, instead of scientific or empirically based evidence. In these systems of belief, deviation from that set of ideas can be regarded as a form of "blasphemy". If not exactly responded to by head choppings, that "blasphemy" can still arouse an awful lot of hostility.

    Almost anything ending in 'ism' can become a pseudo-religion as a result of the attitudes and behaviour of its adherents.

    For example : I was once forced to sit at a table occupied by a bunch of radical feminists. While I kind of shrank back from them, as the only male at the table, I was treated to general hostility, even though I had no choice. That was the only table available at which to eat lunch. At one point, as part of that hostility, one fierce woman accused me of being a rapist. In vain I protested that I had never raped anyone, and never would - I was tarred with that image simply by virtue of being male. I consider those feminists to be members of a pseudo-religion. They hold to beliefs due to a decision to believe (faith), rather than due to evidence. This makes extreme feminism, in my opinion, a form of pseudo-religion.

    In a similar way, the more radical environmentalists have joined a pseudo-religion. Certain ideas are accepted as being true because it fits the tenets of faith, rather than because they are supported by evidence. For example : all industrial chemicals are evil. I work with industrial chemicals. Recently I met and started to talk with a guy who responded with great hostility when I told him so. Not a pleasant experience.

    Lots of political systems are pseudo-religious when adherents take the ideas to the extreme. Note that I am not having a go at moderate environmentalists or feminists etc. Just those that are too extreme.

    Have other people had similar experiences? What are your thoughts on the state of mind of those who take such belief systems too far?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Senior PhoenixG's Avatar
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    I'm afraid the criteria, as they have been presented here, would allow almost any strongly held belief to be categorized as a "pseudo-religion" (which invites the question, what is the criteria for a non "pseudo" religion?).

    While I think you provide some fine examples of how some people think dogmatically about non-religious things, I think it's quite a leap to then posit that any dogmatism qualifies for being a "pseudo-religion".


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Phoenix

    Maybe I did not explain very clearly. This is, admittedly, my own opinion, and others may feel differently. However, I think the thing in common with religion is using faith, or dogma, rather than evidence as the basis for a system of belief.

    For example : I have followed the genetic engineering argument quite closely, and it is clear to me that it is no more hazardous than other, widely accepted practices such as plant breeding. Yet, on the basis that it is 'unnatural', extreme environmentalists consider it to be some kind of terrible practice. The evidence is lacking, but dogma is sufficient to get the extremists in a frenzy.

    Am I justified in regarding extreme views based on dogma instead of evidence as being pseudo-religious?
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    Forum Senior PhoenixG's Avatar
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    It's an interesting question but again, if we're going to label those accused of using naturalistic fallacy as being members of a "pseudo-religion", then I think we're going to have to do the same for all fallacies.

    Not only that, but we're going to have to do the same for those that practice extreme brand loyalty (my father's utter contempt for Ford vehicles and Ford drivers springs to mind), etc.

    Perhaps the argument exists that this is correct (and I'm certainly open to hearing it), however I think you do so at the risk of diluting the meaning of "religion". I would argue that there is a spiritual component missing to "pseudo-religion" argument which is why I'm hesitant to climb on board. Therefore I'll simply repeat my earlier assertion that while religion can (and typically is) dogmatic, I don't think it's accurate to say that dogmatism is therefore religious (or in this case "pseudo-religious").

    Lastly, I'm still waiting to hear the difference between a religion and a "pseudo-religion".
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  6. #5  
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    Phoenix

    We could again be at risk of arguing semantics. I coined the phrase 'pseudo-religion', and it could be that a better word could be used. I am open to suggestions. However, I do see a similarity with religion, in that I am talking about firmly held beliefs that cannot be supported scientifically. In that sense, it is like religious faith.

    And, maybe. Your father's dogmatic aversion to Fords might qualify, if that aversion is not based on good evidence, but rather on some variety of dogma and faith. Is his aversion something that carries the same emotional baggage as a religous zeolot? However, I doubt that something could be called pseudo-religious unless it is a group belief, like radical feminism, or the like.

    I hate the word 'spiritual' - because it is not susceptible to clear definition, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what it means. So to say that the concept of pseudo-religion suffers from lack of spirituality is to say it suffers from lack of something that cannot be defined. In this branch of the forum, on other threads, I have read claims by non believers that they are spiritual. If an atheist can be spiritual, whatever that means, perhaps a pseudo-religion can be also?? Give me your definition of 'spiritual' and I will ponder whether that can fit in a pseudo-religion.

    Difference between religion and pseudo? I thought I explained that in my first post, by saying religions involve God or gods, and pseudo religions do not.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Phoenix

    We could again be at risk of arguing semantics.
    I find the general aversion to specificity and correctness that I've seen here fascinating.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I coined the phrase 'pseudo-religion', and it could be that a better word could be used. I am open to suggestions. However, I do see a similarity with religion, in that I am talking about firmly held beliefs that cannot be supported scientifically. In that sense, it is like religious faith.
    No doubt there is a correlation. I believe that I've tried to argue that the correlation is dogmatism. If "dogmatism" itself is lacking, then perhaps you would be willing to point out specifically what it is that I'm missing. It is your term, after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    And, maybe. Your father's dogmatic aversion to Fords might qualify, if that aversion is not based on good evidence, but rather on some variety of dogma and faith.
    Maybe it would, however please realize the implications of your argument. You are now suggesting that preferring Chevy over Ford is the exact same thing as accepting christianity over islam.

    I personally see religion as being much more pervasive that irrational beliefs about gender roles, genetically modified foods, or American-made vehicles. But again, I'm willing to be persuaded should a sufficient argument be presented.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Is his aversion something that carries the same emotional baggage as a religous zeolot? However, I doubt that something could be called pseudo-religious unless it is a group belief, like radical feminism, or the like.
    Okay, well now you're introducing a group variable that I don't recall being an explicit part of your earlier argument. The problem I see here is, are these people in a group because they all share a belief or do they share the belief because they are in the group? You're going to accuse me of arguing semantics, however I'm going to point out that if you took all the people that prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla and put them in a "chocolate ice cream lover's association" you would be in essence creating a chocolate ice cream pseudo-religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I hate the word 'spiritual' - because it is not susceptible to clear definition, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what it means.
    Yeah, I guess semantics are important.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    So to say that the concept of pseudo-religion suffers from lack of spirituality is to say it suffers from lack of something that cannot be defined.
    Define "red" without using the word "red". If you cannot, then does that mean it's impossible to recognize something as being red? I don't think we have to be able to define "spiritual" in order to recognize it. I also think it's pretty obvious the bone fide religions contain a "spiritual" element that your "pseudo-religions" do not.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    In this branch of the forum, on other threads, I have read claims by non believers that they are spiritual.
    This sounds like great fodder for a new thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    If an atheist can be spiritual, whatever that means, perhaps a pseudo-religion can be also??
    Okay and where does "spiritualism" fit in with hating Ford, having an irrational aversion to genetically modified foods, etc?

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Give me your definition of 'spiritual' and I will ponder whether that can fit in a pseudo-religion.
    Sir, I'm beginning to get the impression that you're peddling a solution in search of a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Difference between religion and pseudo? I thought I explained that in my first post, by saying religions involve God or gods, and pseudo religions do not.
    That doesn't tell me anything useful. If religion does these 5 things and "pseudo-religion" also does these 5 things, then how are they different.

    Here's an example: crypto-zoology. "Crypto-zoology" is the study of creatures not found in nature. Hopefully everyone sees the glaring problem here. If the creature exists (meaning we can find...in nature), then studying it, by definition, cannot be "crypto-zoology". Therefore, if your "pseudo-religion" is "just like religion", then it's "religion", not "pseudo-religion".

    If you're telling me that "pseudo-religion" is just like religion, but without god, then that's dogmatism and we don't need to invent a new term (i.e. my earlier "solution in search of a problem" comment). See?

    Thanks for reading.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I coined the phrase 'pseudo-religion', and it could be that a better word could be used. I am open to suggestions. However, I do see a similarity with religion, in that I am talking about firmly held beliefs that cannot be supported scientifically. In that sense, it is like religious faith.
    I think the term is meaningless. The term "pseudo-science" is meaningful because modern science has a definite methodology that works and which the scientific community agrees upon. So when someone makes a pretense of following that method but in reality does nothing of the kind, then that is pseudo-science. But there simply is no comparable methodology in religion and so I cannot see any way of attaching meaning to the term "pseudo-religion". Suppose I said that you don't have opinions, but only pseudo-opinions. What would that mean? What could that mean?

    The closest I can even get to any meaning for this term "pseudo-religon" would be when someone says they believe in the flying spagetti monster, because of course it is usually quite obvious from the context that they believe in no such thing.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    In this branch of the forum, on other threads, I have read claims by non believers that they are spiritual. If an atheist can be spiritual, whatever that means, perhaps a pseudo-religion can be also?? Give me your definition of 'spiritual'
    Nothing could be simpler. It means they believe in another aspect to reality other than the physical, typically that there is some kind of continuation to human life or existence when physical life/existence has ceased.

    There is a major religion in this category of spiritual atheism. It is called Buddhism.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    There is a major religion in this category of spiritual atheism. It is called Buddhism.
    I think it's safe to say that a vast majority of human being have profoundly moving experiences which we commonly describe as "spiritual". To arbitrarily label all atheists that acknowledge this as "buddhists" is both lazy and incorrect.
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    This discussion is not quite going the way I expected. Life is full of surprises. I did not expect a discussion of what 'pseudo-religion' means. As I said, it is a word I coined, and I have no problem with another being substituted. I was hoping to discuss the similarities between recognised religions and pseudo-religions.

    I see the main similarity being an attitude. Pseudo-religious people show the same dogmatic belief without supporting evidence, and the same over-reaction to those who hold alternative views.

    Could Buddhism be a pseudo-religion because it has no gods? Perhaps - but this depends on definition. The problem with that idea is that only some Buddhists have no gods. eg. Theravada Buddhists from Sri Lanka. A lot of Buddhism is different and involves superior beings of spirit, that could, by using a loose definition, be called gods. Perhaps some Buddhists are pseudo-religious and others are religious? I would see the Theravadans as more like people who attend psychological improvement sessions.

    MM's definition of spirituality is, no doubt, valid - but hard to reconcile with the supposed spirituality of some who term themselves non believers. However, if that definition is correct, then I would have to say that followers of pseudo-religions do not experience spirituality in relation to that belief.

    I struggle to see a difference between spirituality and certain emotions. I know that some people who take drugs such as LSD claim to experience spirituality while under the influence. We know that those drugs cause major changes in emotions. Perhaps the feeling of spirituality is just another emotion. I have to say that I sometimes get a deep sensation of wonder when looking at certain natural items, such as a high mountain, or a beautiful seascape. How is this different to spirituality?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I did not expect a discussion of what 'pseudo-religion' means.
    You wanted us to discuss a term that you made up, but you didn't think we would want to figure out what it means first?

    Okay, I'd like to officially derail the thread now. For this point forward, I would like for us to talk about "awdfrjhoeuwro". My expectation is that we won't waste any time discussing what that means.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I was hoping to discuss the similarities between recognised religions and pseudo-religions.
    Except that "pseudo-religion" doesn't mean anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I see the main similarity being an attitude. Pseudo-religious people show the same dogmatic belief without supporting evidence, and the same over-reaction to those who hold alternative views.
    This sentence is gobbledygook. Dogma is a belief held without adequate grounds. Therefore, the words "dogmatic belief without supporting evidence" don't mean anything. You can say "dogma" or you can say "belief without supporting evidence" but to invent "dogmatic belief without supporting evidence" is redundant.

    I'm skipping most of the rest of this post because it continues to discuss "pseudo-religion" as if the term means something, even though it's been repeatedly pointed out (by more than one person) that it doesn't actually mean anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I struggle to see a difference between spirituality and certain emotions.
    Perhaps because there is no difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I know that some people who take drugs such as LSD claim to experience spirituality while under the influence. We know that those drugs cause major changes in emotions. Perhaps the feeling of spirituality is just another emotion.
    Bingo.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I have to say that I sometimes get a deep sensation of wonder when looking at certain natural items, such as a high mountain, or a beautiful seascape. How is this different to spirituality?
    It isn't.

    "Spirituality" is a probably a crude term but it works. Again, I'll put forth that most people have profound emotional experiences we call "spiritual", however some of us add the extra step of attributing this to some metaphysical cause.

    You might find this both interesting and informative. Part 2.
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    Phoenix
    Your video references were interesting. Basically, they state that excessive activity in the temporal lobes of the brain, leading to epilepsy, also have the effect of making those people have deep religious experiences. Would you suspect that 'normal' religious people might just have temporal lobes a bit more active than in non religious types like me?

    I think you make too much of the term 'pseudo-religious'. I was pointing out that I have seen similarities in the way certain people think and behave, comparing religious ones with those who have an over-passionate zealotry in certain 'isms'. eg. Feminism, socialism, communism, fascism etc.

    Forget the term. Do you agree that over zealous followers of these other beliefs may have something in common with zealous religious people?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Phoenix
    Your video references were interesting. Basically, they state that excessive activity in the temporal lobes of the brain, leading to epilepsy, also have the effect of making those people have deep religious experiences. Would you suspect that 'normal' religious people might just have temporal lobes a bit more active than in non religious types like me?
    What I suspect is that early humans with conditions which may have overstimulated the frontal lobes (via epilepsy or what have you) probably had these "religious experiences". Being pre-scientific they slapped together the best possible explanation available and viola, we have early religion in modern humans.

    "Normal" people would also have similar stimulation, however not to the degree that these "blessed" individuals did, which further re-enforced the ideas being bandied about.

    Again, I posit that everyone has these experiences to some degree or another, but some people no longer attribute them to some outside, metaphysical source.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I think you make too much of the term 'pseudo-religious'.
    Says the person that thought enough of it to invent it in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I was pointing out that I have seen similarities in the way certain people think and behave, comparing religious ones with those who have an over-passionate zealotry in certain 'isms'. eg. Feminism, socialism, communism, fascism etc.
    Indeed. Many people have. That's why we have a term for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Forget the term. Do you agree that over zealous followers of these other beliefs may have something in common with zealous religious people?
    I conceded as much in my very first reply. Yes, I absolutely accept that people think dogmatically about things other than religion. That doesn't make those topics "religions" ("pseudo" or otherwise).
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    Some religious people have evidence, although it's not very empirical. Evidence doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    There is a major religion in this category of spiritual atheism. It is called Buddhism.
    I think it's safe to say that a vast majority of human being have profoundly moving experiences which we commonly describe as "spiritual". To arbitrarily label all atheists that acknowledge this as "buddhists" is both lazy and incorrect.
    MM did not say that atheists who have profound spiritual experiences are buddhists, he said that there is a major world religion, called buddhism, that is spiritualistic and atheist. To not even bother to read a short, two sentence segment of a post and then accuse the poster of generalizing is both lazy and incorrect.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    There is a major religion in this category of spiritual atheism. It is called Buddhism.
    I think it's safe to say that a vast majority of human being have profoundly moving experiences which we commonly describe as "spiritual". To arbitrarily label all atheists that acknowledge this as "buddhists" is both lazy and incorrect.
    Mitchell said no such thing, he just stated that Buddhist are a major group of spiritual atheist.

    It is hardly a relevation to say that there are radical believers in philosophical doctrine, just as there are radicals within any religious group. To label them as pseudo-religious is absurd. You might as well label all subjective beliefs as religions.

    This is just another thread that displays a clear bias towards the religious. To imply that solely the extremes of philosophical thought are religious, and thus should be labelled as religion, implies a negative connotation to the definition of religion. To merely label those you dislike, because of their radicalism, as pseudo-religious is remarkably arbitrary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Some religious people have evidence, although it's not very empirical. Evidence doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing.
    That isn't evidence. That is hearsay.

    If it's not objective, it's not evidence. And this is not rocket science.

    @MM: Apologies for my earlier post. It appears that I misread what you posted.

    @KR & tired/sleepy: yes, it appears that I did indeed misread MM's post. Thank you for pointing out my error.
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    May I suggest that we pay less attention to the word "pseudo-religion." I really do not care what we call it, and I will even change the thread title if that is requested, with a suitable alternative.

    What I was hoping to discuss was really about people, and the way people think and act. I see a similarity between those with strong religious beliefs and those with strong beliefs in other topics, usually ending with 'ism'. I think the 'isms' could be viewed as a kind of religious type belief, without a deity.

    For example : in the other thread KomradRed said :
    "Because you can indoctrinate anyone with anything. For example, the Great Cultural Revolution in China mobilized hundreds of thousands of young people who were indoctrinated with Maoist philosophy and marxist propaganda. These parties of Red Guardsmen patrolled the country, terrorizing the populace and committing many heinous acts including persecution of China's Muslim and Buddhist populations since Maoist thought was fundamentally opposed to the idea of religion."

    Is not this belief a kind of religious belief? It is based on faith rather than objective evidence - in this case, faith in a leader. It includes a kind of teaching of blasphemy, with the blasphemers punished. It certainly involves the zealotry of the True Believer, and the associated emotions. Is it not likely that a similar behaviour kicks in for this type of action compared to over enthusiasm in religion?
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    What I was hoping to discuss was really about people, and the way people think and act. I see a similarity between those with strong religious beliefs and those with strong beliefs in other topics, usually ending with 'ism'. I think the 'isms' could be viewed as a kind of religious type belief, without a deity.
    For what feels like the millionth time: dogmatism.

    What you are describing is dogmatism.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Is not this belief a kind of religious belief?
    No, because it contains no spiritual component.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    It is based on faith rather than objective evidence - in this case, faith in a leader. It includes a kind of teaching of blasphemy, with the blasphemers punished. It certainly involves the zealotry of the True Believer, and the associated emotions. Is it not likely that a similar behaviour kicks in for this type of action compared to over enthusiasm in religion?
    Dogmatism.

    Is there a reason that you keep ignoring this point?
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    How can any statement not be objective?

    For example "I feel good today" is objectifying me, my feelings, the specific feeling of goodness and the current day.

    Whether or not my feeling itself is an objective feeling doesn't make my statement any less an objectification of that feeling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    How can any statement not be objective?
    Chocolate ice cream is the best ice cream ever.

    This is a statement. Is it objective (fact) or subjective (opinion)?

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    For example "I feel good today" is objectifying me, my feelings, the specific feeling of goodness and the current day.
    "objectifying"??? What does that mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Whether or not my feeling itself is an objective feeling doesn't make my statement any less an objectification of that feeling.
    Feelings are subjective because they are localized to you and are subject to change. Because you feel good does not mean I do and vice versa. You can only make statements that are specific to you and are therefore not necessarily indicative of anyone other than you.

    This is why claims such as "well, I know god is real" are meaningless. You could be bat-shit crazy and doped to the tits on narcotics. So is your experience of god really god, the bat-shit crazy, the dope or something else entirely?
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Some religious people have evidence, although it's not very empirical. Evidence doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing.
    If you refer to hearsay and hand-waving as evidence, you shouldn't be berating others for your own misconceptions and misunderstandings.
    Religious Fundamentalist Club - Member #1.
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  23. #22  
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    ob⋅jec⋅ti⋅fy
      /əbˈdʒɛktəˌfaɪ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [uhb-jek-tuh-fahy] Show IPA
    Use objectify in a Sentence
    –verb (used with object), -fied, -fy⋅ing.
    to present as an object, esp. of sight, touch, or other physical sense; make objective; externalize.

    "Chocolate ice cream is the best ice cream ever. "

    You are objectifying(externalizing) the ideas of chocolate flavored ice cream and all other flavors, stating that it's the best.

    Experiencing the taste of ice cream is subjective since it's going on in the mind, but stating it is objective since your externalizing the idea in an attempt to convey it to others.

    You can't just think hard enough about a subjective experience and expect someone to understand what you mean. You have to say it and in saying it you have to objectify the idea.

    People are wrong all the time when they try to objectify things. On the other hand subjective experiences are never wrong. For example if you experienced something, and objectify the experience as God, your objectification of that experience may not be correct, but that doesn't mean the experience was wrong. Experience is never wrong but our interpretations of experiences are perpetually unreliable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Some religious people have evidence, although it's not very empirical. Evidence doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing.
    If you refer to hearsay and hand-waving as evidence, you shouldn't be berating others for your own misconceptions and misunderstandings.
    I refer only to experiences, not the explanation of those experiences.
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    MM

    Are you sure you are not a politician? That was a beautiful example of talking all around a point, with intent to mislead, and no effort to actually address the central point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    ob⋅jec⋅ti⋅fy
      /əbˈdʒɛktəˌfaɪ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [uhb-jek-tuh-fahy] Show IPA
    Use objectify in a Sentence
    –verb (used with object), -fied, -fy⋅ing.
    to present as an object, esp. of sight, touch, or other physical sense; make objective; externalize.
    I know the word (and it's meaning). Your usage of it is...interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    You are objectifying(externalizing) the ideas of chocolate flavored ice cream and all other flavors, stating that it's the best.
    I'm certainly making a statement. I'm not "objectifying" anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Experiencing the taste of ice cream is subjective since it's going on in the mind, but stating it is objective since your externalizing the idea in an attempt to convey it to others.
    That is quite the combination of word you threw together there. Kudos.

    You didn't answer my question though:

    Am I stating a fact or am I sharing an opinion?

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    You can't just think hard enough about a subjective experience and expect someone to understand what you mean. You have to say it and in saying it you have to objectify the idea.
    I'm picturing Miss South Carolina right now for some strange reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    People are wrong all the time when they try to objectify things. On the other hand subjective experiences are never wrong. For example if you experienced something, and objectify the experience as God, your objectification of that experience may not be correct, but that doesn't mean the experience was wrong. Experience is never wrong but our interpretations of experiences are perpetually unreliable.
    I saw something. My mind told me it was a monster. Then I turned on my light and saw that it was only a pile of clothes. Did I really see a monster or did I really see a pile of clothes?
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman

    I refer only to experiences, not the explanation of those experiences.
    Oh yes, I see now, very similar to the 'anal-probing-by-alien-visitors' experiences in which the explanation turns out to be swamp gas?
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    maybe I'm using the words wrong, if so sorry

    is objectification the same thing as considering something objectively, in the context that I am using them? or are they just near-homonyms?



    anyway, in your swamp gas example, the experience is swamp gas scrambling one's senses and thought patterns, where did one get the idea of aliens and probing? from a subjective experiential run in? no from an objectification of what aliens are and do to people.

    the subjective part of that experience is how it made you feel... your mind then rationalizes those feelings by implanting objective ideas of aliens and probing which you for some reason associate with those feelings

    one's explanation of an experience, even if your only explaining the experience to your self, even if your wrong, is objective
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    MM

    Are you sure you are not a politician? That was a beautiful example of talking all around a point, with intent to mislead, and no effort to actually address the central point.
    Please refer to me as MC as MM is commonly used for Mitch

    This sounds like a straw man and since you don't provide any examples of what "that" is a reference to or what "the central point" I failed to address was, there is not much I can do but consider this an attempt at saying something meaningful.
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    To MC (sorry about the MM. Slip of the keyboard. My apology. Names should be respected, and I slipped up.)

    The term 'objective' in this context is normally referring to something that has a real existence apart from what is in the mind of some human. Objective evidence is real evidence, rather than what might exist in the human mind. Objective evidence is the same for all people, whereas subjective varies with the individual.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    maybe I'm using the words wrong, if so sorry
    You're not necessarily using the word incorrectly. I just don't think that "objectifying" does what you think it does. Explaining or expressing something subjective does not make it objective. You're conveying something, but that something can be wrong or mistaken (per my "monster vs pile o' clothes" analogy in the previous post).

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    one's explanation of an experience, even if your only explaining the experience to your self, even if your wrong, is objective
    No, it's subjective. If you go to a movie with a friend, you both watch the same movie (objective), but you could both enjoy it differently (subjective). If you tell your friend how much you liked the action, you're not making the movie objectively good. Other people can still dislike the action, or even the whole movie, or like the movie but for a different reason.

    Same thing applies to religion. I may have a deeply emotional experience that I attribute to jesus because I grew up in a society that acculturates christianity (similarly, I would attribute the experience to allah if I lived in a society that acculturated for islam, etc), but that doesn't mean that jesus caused the experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    To MC (sorry about the MM. Slip of the keyboard. My apology. Names should be respected, and I slipped up.)
    Too late. I was already composing a response to this when I read MC's correction and your apology. But since my response is not anger I shall post it anyway. You can just take this as an illustration of how I would respond IF you had said something like this to me. :wink:


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    MM

    Are you sure you are not a politician? That was a beautiful example of talking all around a point, with intent to mislead, and no effort to actually address the central point.
    I spoke to the point I was interested in. I saw no meaning in the term pseudo-religion and so I explained why. But in an effort to understand what point you think that I was talking around I shall take a second look at your OP.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Slightly off the topic of mainstream religion. It has often occurred to me that a lot of current beliefs share something with religious belief, but are not classified as religions. I call them pseudo-religions.
    I don't see that religion is all that well defined. The best we can do is contrast it with science and in doing that I would conclude that its defining feature is subjectivity.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    This happens when a system of belief, that has nothing to do with God or gods, becomes held to fervently as a result of a code of faith, instead of scientific or empirically based evidence. In these systems of belief, deviation from that set of ideas can be regarded as a form of "blasphemy". If not exactly responded to by head choppings, that "blasphemy" can still arouse an awful lot of hostility.
    Indeed I have noticed quite a few things that display such features. One for example are the dogmas of the gay rights movement and they way they will tend to declare that anyone, who disagrees with them or challenges the logic of their dogmas, homophobes. This very much reminds me of the behavior of muslims yelling "infidel" at those who disagree with them.

    The sort of atheist with fundamentalist like behaviors, which are perhaps better identified as anti-theists, has more recently been becoming a more prominent example. Right to life groups would qualify as well if there wasn't such a strong tie to fundamentalist "christian" groups which makes it hard to distinguish one from the other. There was a discussion of Darwinian fundamentalists in video I watched, and I do think there are those who try to make survival of the fittest into a theory of everything, but these are kind of behind the times scientifically speaking.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Almost anything ending in 'ism' can become a pseudo-religion as a result of the attitudes and behaviour of its adherents.
    I have seen an intentional effort to turn christianity into an ideology in a video presentation series and I was pretty disgusted to say the least.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I consider those feminists to be members of a pseudo-religion. They hold to beliefs due to a decision to believe (faith), rather than due to evidence. This makes extreme feminism, in my opinion, a form of pseudo-religion.
    Your experience in this case is quite a shock to me. I certainly have never encountered anything like it.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Have other people had similar experiences?
    Well I guess my only similar experience is with regards to the gay rights movement for I have seen some pretty shocking extremes from that quarter.


    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    What are your thoughts on the state of mind of those who take such belief systems too far?
    Human beings are relgious animals. Attempts to pretend otherwise will only have the same result as psychological repression. This is not to say that atheism is not viable for some people. But then I consider to atheism to be neccessarily of a religious nature despite protestations to the contrary. Indeed I see a great deal of merit in the analysis of Scott Peck which sees atheism or rather skepticism as a product of spiritual growth and generally on a higher spiritual level than institutional religion.

    But I also observe that any philosophical outlook can adopt the outward philosophical forms (dogmas and/or practices) of something and make it into something that is just as spiritually primitive as the worst of institutional religion. I see that happening in atheism.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Human beings are relgious animals.
    I would certainly agree that human being are animals capable of religion. To say that we are "religious animals" would seem to rule out even the possibility for such a thing as an atheist or anti-theist, wouldn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Attempts to pretend otherwise will only have the same result as psychological repression.
    Thanks for sharing your insights, Dr. Freud.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    This is not to say that atheism is not viable for some people. But then I consider to atheism to be neccessarily of a religious nature despite protestations to the contrary.
    "Protestations" are good enough to establish your argument, but not good enough to refute it, eh? Nicely done.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Indeed I see a great deal of merit in the analysis of Scott Peck which sees atheism or rather skepticism as a product of spiritual growth and generally on a higher spiritual level than institutional religion.
    Which is it; atheism or skepticism? They are separate things (one can be skeptical and religious and while atheists tend to be skeptics, it is not always the case).

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But I also observe that any philosophical outlook can adopt the outward philosophical forms (dogmas and/or practices) of something and make it into something that is just as spiritually primitive as the worst of institutional religion. I see that happening in atheism.
    Atheism has no dogmas so your argument would seem to collapse under it's own weight.
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    I have to say I was impressed with Mitchell's post, and I agree with him on most points. I certainly agree that atheism has an element of religious faith about it, though this could lead to another argument about the semantics of the word 'atheist', and I think we have seen enough of that, thank you!

    I regard myself as agnostic - sitting on the fence - and please do not dispute that definition. I know what I mean, and if your definition of agnostic is different, that is your problem.

    I agree that humans are religious animals (except me of course). There has been a lot of scientific work recently, trying to nail down why this is so. Maybe there is a gene (or genes) directing the human mind that way. If so, we need to know why? What is the evolutionary selective advantage of a religious gene? One possibility is to generate social togetherness. Old style tribes and villages tended to share a religious belief - an element of unity?

    I am ging to have to sign off here. I am off on a business trip overseas and may not see my beloved computer for another 12 days or so. Please carry on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I have to say I was impressed with Mitchell's post, and I agree with him on most points. I certainly agree that atheism has an element of religious faith about it, though this could lead to another argument about the semantics of the word 'atheist', and I think we have seen enough of that, thank you!
    Yet you bring it up anyway. That doesn't seem very smart.

    Faith requires that you accept a belief without evidence. Atheism does not contain belief, therefore I'm not sure what your "element of religious faith" would be.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I regard myself as agnostic - sitting on the fence - and please do not dispute that definition. I know what I mean, and if your definition of agnostic is different, that is your problem.
    Indeed you have the right to misuse terms whenever you'd like. Unfortunately that comes with other baggage as well, but apparently that does not phase you.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I agree that humans are religious animals (except me of course).
    Deductive Logic 101

    Humans are religious animals.
    I am not religious.
    Therefore, I am not human.

    Well done.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    What is the evolutionary selective advantage of a religious gene?
    Try any one of the numerous books by Richard Dawkins or Breaking the Spell by Dan Dennett.

    The short answer is that social animals benefit from social controls.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    One possibility is to generate social togetherness. Old style tribes and villages tended to share a religious belief - an element of unity?
    Indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I am ging to have to sign off here. I am off on a business trip overseas and may not see my beloved computer for another 12 days or so. Please carry on.
    Enjoy your trip.
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    PhoenixG:

    Using sceptic's coined term; it would appear that you are pseudo-religious as far as your self-belief goes. Why your first interpretation of other people's views, when not in line with yours, are nearly always negative is beyond me. Try and consider other alternatives to your first impressions before accusing people of absurdities. What sceptic meant, and how the rest of us no doubt understood it, is that people are religious animals because we seem to have an in-build predilection for religious, superstitious or dogmatic thinking. This does not imply anything close to the absurdities you reduced his point to. A large proportion of your posts are needlessly adversarial and this tone is not appreciated. This thread has been nearly derailed by this attitude, while it has had the makings of a very interesting one.

    As far as your reference to Dawkins and Dennett in relation to this, I agree. As social animals we are born into a world with a mostly blank slate and the mechanisms necessary to survive in it. This includes learning what is needed to survive in the social group and it would appear that the capacity to learn an attitude towards something that is more rooted than usual can have an evolutionary benefit. While we develop we continually define ourselves in terms of areas that we find might be beneficial to us. As we evolved the interplay between emotions and intellect has become more blurred, interlinked and generally more complicated. Our efforts at linking cause and effect (intellectual) with desires (intellectual + emotional) have produced a host of superstitions and examples of communal knowledge that do not stand up to close critical scrutiny. Furthermore, claiming to be free of such delusions and firmly held beliefs is a delusion in itself.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Human beings are relgious animals.
    What sceptic meant, and how the rest of us no doubt understood it, is that people are religious animals because we seem to have an in-build predilection for religious, superstitious or dogmatic thinking. This does not imply anything close to the absurdities you reduced his point to.
    Well skeptic was agreeing with what I said in this, but what you say applies, by and large, to what I meant as well. Objective observations of human beings in anthropology for example must include that they are religious among quite a few other attributes. It is not like religion is some unique thing found among humans in one place, we find it everywere there is human beings. But it is a social phenomenon to a large degree and thus it is an observation of human en masse and not an anatomical feature of the individual.

    But to be more accurate in my case, I really have said more than just the fact that human being are historically religious. I am saying that it is part of his nature. But I mean this with a broad definition of religion, which does not necessarily imply a belief in the supernatural. I see religion in these broad terms to be a manifestation of our being self-conscious. We reflect on who and what we are and construct an identity for ourselves, and this process is necessarily creative to some degree because the whole phenomenon of life is a self-organizing one.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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    "Deductive Logic 101

    Humans are religious animals.
    I am not religious.
    Therefore, I am not human. "

    This is a little off topic, but isn't this an example of induction, not deduction?

    Deduction would better be expressed

    Most humans are religious animals
    I am not religious
    Therefore, I am in a minority

    or whatever is apropriate
    __________________________________________________ __

    On the topic of objectifying subjective experiences when sharing them, none of you have given an example of how you would keep something subjective free of objectivity. Saying that you enjoy a movie is objectifying your experience of the movie.

    If expereinces cannot be objectified how do psychological surveys work where they will give people "death" primers or "happy" primers and ask them questions about their cultural views. These things are subjective so long as they remain in the mind and unjustified. The moment you describe them or explain them, even to yourself in the form of visual and audio imagining you are objectifying them.

    Your feelings that you associate with Jesus, or would be associating with Allah are real feelings, and as you said, the object of your association is culture, but according to your theory the subject of your feeling crosses cultural boundaries and is thus universal.

    So to elucidate subjective experiences are universal but the objective explanation is not always.

    I think what you mean by objective is "empirical" and what you mean by subjective is "relative."

    Although they are related and often used synonymously, they are not the same, and in this discussion it might help to clarify the meaning of words. Again, I could be wrong and I bet that I am, but so far it seems to be a disagreement on the definition of terms, which I don't think are being used properly.

    on that note

    doesn't agnostic mean without logic?
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    I forgot you were the original one that said it.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Well skeptic was agreeing with what I said in this, but what you say applies, by and large, to what I meant as well. Objective observations of human beings in anthropology for example must include that they are religious among quite a few other attributes. It is not like religion is some unique thing found among humans in one place, we find it everywere there is human beings. But it is a social phenomenon to a large degree and thus it is an observation of human en masse and not an anatomical feature of the individual.

    But to be more accurate in my case, I really have said more than just the fact that human being are historically relgious. I am saying that it is part of his nature. But I mean this with a broad definition of relgion, which does not necessarily imply a belief in the supernatural. I see religion in these broad terms to be a manifestation of our being self-conscious. We reflect on who and what we are and construct an identity for ourselves, and this process is necessarily creative to some degree because the whole phenomenon of life is a self-organizing one.
    The non-bolded bits are more or less what I meant as well, but have not presented it clearly enough.

    But it is a social phenomenon to a large degree and thus it is an observation of human en masse and not an anatomical feature of the individual.
    It is in part social (i.e. memes, cultural knowledge, cultural ethics), but each individual has the physical attributes to make this possible. Our emotions have developed some, but, as I see it, our greatest leap was in terms of intellectual ability and the vast array of novel dynamic combinations possible with this interplay between intellect and emotion. There are indications of religion even among Neanderthals, though this has been contested.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    PhoenixG:

    Using sceptic's coined term; it would appear that you are pseudo-religious as far as your self-belief goes. Why your first interpretation of other people's views, when not in line with yours, are nearly always negative is beyond me.
    It's rather simple. If I question someone's belief it's because their belief doesn't make any sense. It's not grounded in reason and therefore dangerous (even in "liberal" or "moderate" forms, which provide safe haven for fundies).

    I hope that helps to clarify.

    With that said, would your consistent opposition to child abuse or molestation make your "self-belief" "pseudo-religion"? If not, then I'm afraid your accusation is something of a double standard.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Try and consider other alternatives to your first impressions before accusing people of absurdities.
    Firstly, I've studied religion/mythology for nearly 20 years. I'm aware of the claims. I've researched, pondered, discussed, debated, at length. I don't need to "consider" a claim every time it's presented to me in order to know confirm that it's bunk. If it the exact same claim that I've heard/seen a million times before (and reality has not changed since the last time I heard/saw it), then there really isn't much to "consider".

    Secondly, anyone is free to correct me at any time. If someone would like to show how their beliefs are not absurd, they are more than welcome to do so. Just because I have not yet been introduced to a rational argument for religious belief (per my first point) does not mean that one does not exist. Unfortunately though, theist tend to be shockingly uniform in their arguments.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    What sceptic meant, and how the rest of us no doubt understood it, is that people are religious animals because we seem to have an in-build predilection for religious, superstitious or dogmatic thinking.
    You feel comfortable assuming much about other people's positions. I do not. If someone says "X", they say "X". If "X" doesn't make sense, then I either want to know more about it (so that I can see what I'm missing), or I want to point out that it doesn't make sense so that the person making the statement can learn something instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    This does not imply anything close to the absurdities you reduced his point to.
    If there are absurdities in his statement, then that is his doing not mine. If you would like to posit otherwise, please point out where logic was flawed. If you're upset that I did not jump to the same conclusion (in spite of the very specific thing that he said to the contrary), then that is your bag, sir, not mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    A large proportion of your posts are needlessly adversarial and this tone is not appreciated.
    I promise that my feeling will not be hurt if you add me to your ignore list.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    This thread has been nearly derailed by this attitude, while it has had the makings of a very interesting one.
    Skeptic has had more than ample opportunity to defend his new term. If he has been unable to do so, then I don't think the term serves much purpose. If you're upset with me because I didn't mindlessly add a new collection of letters to my vocabulary and instead decided to find out more about what exactly it was he was trying to convey (which I ultimately rejected because it made no sense), then I'm afraid the one being intolerant to other viewpoints is not me.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    As far as your reference to Dawkins and Dennett in relation to this, I agree.
    I'm glad to hear it. I much prefer agreeing with people to disagreeing with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Furthermore, claiming to be free of such delusions and firmly held beliefs is a delusion in itself.
    While I don't agree with everything implied there, some of your argument has merit. Indeed, even people who are categorically skeptical of religion might not think twice about invoking luck or show an aversion to spending a night in a graveyard. With that said, I don't think being a rational human being is someone devoid of fuzzy thinking, rather a person who has become very good at recognizing it and being able to override such impulses with "better software".

    If you have not already, might I recommend checking out SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable by Bruce Hood. I think it might be something you would enjoy.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    This is a little off topic, but isn't this an example of induction, not deduction?
    Indeed that is probably the case. Regardless of which label I used, the argument is the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Deduction would better be expressed

    Most humans are religious animals
    I am not religious
    Therefore, I am in a minority

    or whatever is apropriate
    Indeed. And had either MM or MC used the qualifier "most", I probably wouldn't have had a problem with it. Unfortunately, both tone and message convey that they are quite clearly speaking of all human beings.

    In this MM is flatly wrong and MC is both wrong and hypocritical. Luckily , a simple acknowledge that the argument is flawed or evidence that the claim is undeniable will clear this up. Whether or not either gentlemen is interested in doing one of these two things is yet to be seen.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    On the topic of objectifying subjective experiences when sharing them, none of you have given an example of how you would keep something subjective free of objectivity. Saying that you enjoy a movie is objectifying your experience of the movie.
    Let me try it this way: saying that you enjoy a movie is sharing your perspective on the subjective experience of the movie (which is itself objective). You are not making the movie objectively good (which would mean that everyone would have to concede that the movie was indeed good for the reasons that you presented).

    Case in point, some people really hate "jerky-cam" (filmmakers use of hand held camera work to convey action or realism), while some people really like it. I can express (objectify) why I do like it, but that doesn't mean that people that find it distracting or even literally nauseating have to suddenly abandon their dislike for it and agree that it's really cool.

    Now to come full circle and apply this to the topic:

    Sharing your reasons for being religious does not make them good. Just because you "experience" something doesn't mean that the cause you assume is the actual cause. No one is going to question that most humans have profoundly emotional experiences which we label as "spiritual", but evidence of that experience is only evidence of the experience, not evidence for all the cultural baggage we tack onto it.

    Great, you saw a frozen waterfall and it was really beautiful and it took your breath away and gave you goosebumps. Fantastic. Sounds amazing. It's not evidence that some invisible man in the sky whipped up the whole of creation in 6 days.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    If expereinces cannot be objectified how do psychological surveys work where they will give people "death" primers or "happy" primers and ask them questions about their cultural views. These things are subjective so long as they remain in the mind and unjustified. The moment you describe them or explain them, even to yourself in the form of visual and audio imagining you are objectifying them.
    Firstly, yes, you are "objectifying" them in the sense that you are expressing your reaction. You are not "objectifying" in the sense that you are changing it from subjective to objective.

    Second, such experiments tend to show how most people react. Because you give voice to something does not magically make it objective.

    An slightly different example of surveys: The survey that PEW releases every few years shows how various religious groups tend to be represented in society. There is always a margin of error. Furthermore, because the survey shows that a vast majority of people are religious, that doesn't mean that a vast majority of people are right (see: early acceptance of round-earthism if you need an example of how this fallacy works).

    Surveys are a good way to find out how subjects will respond to stimuli, but that only shows how the organism operates. It says nothing about the validity of the cultural programming involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Your feelings that you associate with Jesus, or would be associating with Allah are real feelings, and as you said, the object of your association is culture, but according to your theory the subject of your feeling crosses cultural boundaries and is thus universal.
    Yes, the feeling is fairly universal (I continue to feel as though I have to qualify this because I don't want someone to derail the argument by throwing up a mentally or emotionally impaired person as an example). That doesn't mean that jesus or allah are real. It just means that normal humans sometimes have that feeling.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    So to elucidate subjective experiences are universal
    Not at all. Again, some people might not be wired for certain experiences (sociopaths, etc). Yes, we can probably safely say that pleasure and pain are fairly universal, however since they are both subjective, they are going to mean different things for different people (i.e. my threshold for pain may be higher or lower than yours, therefore something that I find painful you might not, and so on).

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    but the objective explanation is not always.
    I guess I'm not clear on what this means.

    Going back to the earlier example of the monster vs. pile of clothes. Either there really was a monster there at some point, or it was just a pile of clothes the whole time.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I think what you mean by objective is "empirical" and what you mean by subjective is "relative."
    Not necessarily, but for the most part, the terms are synonymous. Your earlier example of the survey is one example of how one could collect empirical data on subjective experiences.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Although they are related and often used synonymously, they are not the same, and in this discussion it might help to clarify the meaning of words. Again, I could be wrong and I bet that I am, but so far it seems to be a disagreement on the definition of terms, which I don't think are being used properly.
    Okay, fair enough.

    Let's start over.

    Objective: perceptible to persons other than the affected individual and/or expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.

    Subjective: characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind and/or modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background.

    Agreed?

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    on that note

    doesn't agnostic mean without logic?
    "without divine knowledge" or simply "without knowledge". Basically, it's the position that one cannot know whether god is real or not, which is not the same thing as saying that his/her/its/their existence is equally likely and unlikely.
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    "Objective: perceptible to persons other than the affected individual and/or expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations."

    Is this last part about feelings and prejudices possible? Every bit of data, no matter how devoid of emotion it seems, makes us feel a certain way. By not paying attention to things that obviously make us feel, we are really only ignoring things that make us feel specific feelings, and considering all the rest of our feelings non-feelings, which is dangerous to say the least. Using "distortion" is means of framing these things negatively but research in emotional intelligence shows us that our emotions are very helpful in thinking objectively. When you think about it however it makes perfect sense. What can be better practice of objective reasoning than to objectify your subjective experiences? it helps in two ways, both to understand and "rise above" the influence of subjective experiences, but also to objectify complex things. So if one person chooses the objective idea of God to express a subjective feeling that many people share and have different words for, what is the source of baggage? To me not trying to express something would bring more baggage than expressing something poorly.

    "Subjective: characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind and/or modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background."

    this is a bit jumbled, please insert some punctuation to clarify what you mean.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Is this last part about feelings and prejudices possible? Every bit of data, no matter how devoid of emotion it seems, makes us feel a certain way.
    Pick an item in your house (preferably something consistent in color like a green blanket or an easily recognizable shape like a rectangular ottoman). Ask each member of your family to go observe that object and report back which color/shape/etc it is.

    If you really want to ask them how they feel about the blanket being green or what prejudices are being invoked by the rectangularness of the ottoman you can, however I don't think that will change the color or the shape of the object you selected.

    Now perhaps you think that my example is overly simplistic, but I think you're way over analyzing this whole "feelings and prejudices" thing. And in case you think "feelings and prejudices" are a major factor in science, I want to remind you that science has peer review to account for this whereas other human endeavors typically do not.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "Subjective: characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind and/or modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background."

    this is a bit jumbled, please insert some punctuation to clarify what you mean.
    Here's what it looks like with two additional commas...

    Subjective: characteristic of, or belonging to, reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind and/or modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background.

    ...but I'm not entirely sure that's grammatically correct.
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    I don't think it is, I'm confused, this can mean two maybe three different things, and I can't gather from the context what you mean

    "Subjective: characteristic of, or belonging to, reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind and/or modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background. "

    what does "rather than as independent of mind" mean?

    and is "and/or" a reference to what is characteristic of reality or what is independent of mind, or both?


    Excuse me for over analyzing, but I sometimes wonder if under analyzing is not what paves the way for short sighted prejudices and wrong interpretations.


    I'm not implying that our subjective feelings influence reality, but I am implying that reality influences our subjective feelings. We then try to objectify our experiences, which leads to wrong interpretations and prejudices.

    I doubt there's a KKK member out there that will go around saying "I don't like Jews, blacks, gays, Catholics, Irish, Mexicans..." etc, wherever they goes in an effort to convince people to not like them. They will objectify the fact that they don't like them and say "I don't like them because they degrade the purity of our god given white land" or whatever.

    If you say "I like the blanket" you usually have a reason like "It's green, soft and warm" three attributes that are somewhat objectified.

    You don't just think and say "I like this, I don't like that" for the hell of it. You like/dislike something for very specific objective reasons, whether or not the reasons are always going through your conscious thought, they exist, just like the greenness of the blanket, even if a blind person can't see.

    of course, people are capable of lying and deceiving themselves. Some people "like" things for reasons that have nothing to do with what they like. Maybe it's associated with something they like. Maybe they don't "like" it, but they say they like it for social reasons, which is just a different type of association.

    What I'm getting at is that there are objective reasons people believe in the objective idea of God. Somewhere in between- A: discovering these reasons and B: developing this idea- there is a subjective experience of the idea in response to those reasons. The subjective experience doesn't create the reasons or the idea, but they are merely how someone feels about the reasons and the idea.

    If I'm researching the big bang and have an epiphany, I can associate it with "God." Why I associate with God, I may not be aware of, but subjectively it feels like the thing to do. This doesn't mean that there are not reasons that I did it, just that I'm not aware of those reasons.

    I'm not claiming that there are reasons for believing in God, but I'm saying there could be. Your claiming that there are no reasons, and so the burden of proof is on you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    maybe I'm using the words wrong, if so sorry
    Don't be sorry, there simply are no words to use when describing a "religious" experience, other than what can be demonstrated by the brain's imagination as they are indistinguishable.

    one's explanation of an experience, even if your only explaining the experience to your self, even if your wrong, is objective
    Nonsense. That would belie the very definition of objective.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain

    The sort of atheist with fundamentalist like behaviors, which are perhaps better identified as anti-theists, has more recently been becoming a more prominent example.
    Once again, Mitch refers to those who aren't interested in accepting the god delusions of others. Based on Mitch's logic, he too would be an anti-theist to all other cults, including many sects of Christianity. Of course, Mitchianity has little to fear from those other sects.


    Human beings are relgious animals. Attempts to pretend otherwise will only have the same result as psychological repression. This is not to say that atheism is not viable for some people.
    But, atheism would seem utterly impossible by your definition of humans.

    Indeed I have noticed quite a few things that display such features. One for example are the dogmas of the gay rights movement and they way they will tend to declare that anyone, who disagrees with them or challenges the logic of their dogmas, homophobes.
    That isn't entirely correct, Mitch. Challenging or disagreeing with homosexuality is not the same as hating homosexuals, which is the correct definition of homophobes, one who hates or fears homosexuals.

    When will you stop making up your own definitions to clearly defined words, Mitch?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But I mean this with a broad definition of religion, which does not necessarily imply a belief in the supernatural.
    Oh, but it does include the supernatural, Mitch. In fact, religion would be utterly pointless without the injection of the supernatural.

    I see religion in these broad terms to be a manifestation of our being self-conscious. We reflect on who and what we are and construct an identity for ourselves, and this process is necessarily creative to some degree because the whole phenomenon of life is a self-organizing one.
    That's called, "delusion," Mitch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    what does "rather than as independent of mind" mean?
    "rather than objective"

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    and is "and/or" a reference to what is characteristic of reality or what is independent of mind, or both?
    the bolded "and/or" is separating one possible usage of the term from another.

    Subjective:

    characteristic of, or belonging to, reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind

    and/or

    Subjective:

    modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Excuse me for over analyzing, but I sometimes wonder if under analyzing is not what paves the way for short sighted prejudices and wrong interpretations.
    I have absolutely no problem with wanting to be thorough and I applaud your desire to do so. I simply think that perhaps the question went to an extreme I did not see a benefit for.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I'm not implying that our subjective feelings influence reality
    Fair enough. That's where it seemed you were going with that. Glad to hear I simply misunderstood.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    but I am implying that reality influences our subjective feelings. We then try to objectify our experiences, which leads to wrong interpretations and prejudices.
    And depending on the scenario, you're probably correct. But if you know this can happen, you can account for it. Keep in mind that for my part of the discussion, this is still very much a "science vs non-science" discussion and so I'm framing this discussion within the context of the scientific method.

    If your methodology does not account for subjectivity, then it will fail and peer review will catch that. Science is self-correcting.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    You don't just think and say "I like this, I don't like that" for the hell of it.
    Some people would seem to.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    You like/dislike something for very specific objective reasons, whether or not the reasons are always going through your conscious thought, they exist, just like the greenness of the blanket, even if a blind person can't see.
    I disagree with this. People's reasons are not always objective. Go back and look at how we identified objective above

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    What I'm getting at is that there are objective reasons people believe in the objective idea of God.
    Again, I think we're playing fast and loose with the word "objective". Because there is no evidence for god, any idea about god is purely subjective. I'm not entirely sure I know what "objective reasons" are. I know what "good reasons" are and I've seen "bad reasons", but "objective reasons" sound odd to me. Could you please help me understand what that means?

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    If I'm researching the big bang and have an epiphany, I can associate it with "God." Why I associate with God, I may not be aware of, but subjectively it feels like the thing to do. This doesn't mean that there are not reasons that I did it, just that I'm not aware of those reasons.
    Assuming that you're a scientist doing the research, you'll probably quickly realize that there is no way to account for god in an experiment and that your while epiphany might change something in your thinking, it's not going to do much to advance your research.

    If you're a non-scientist doing the research, you'll have the option to say "I had an epiphany that god did it, therefore I believe god did it". Since the hypothesis can't be tested (same as the other scenario), you'll have to decide what to do with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I'm not claiming that there are reasons for believing in God, but I'm saying there could be. Your claiming that there are no reasons, and so the burden of proof is on you.
    I'm not 100% of where I posted my comment, therefore I'm going to have to paraphrase myself rather than quote my exact words. I believe what I said was: "I've yet to see an argument for god that makes sense"

    I think I've been quite emphatic in pointing out that proving a negative is impossible. I cannot prove that god does not exist. I cannot prove that no argument exists.

    I can certainly point out that we have no evidence for god. I feel very comfortable stating any argument that I have seen for god is very easily countered.

    To wrap up: yes, people have reasons for believing in god. I've just yet to meet anyone that had good reasons.

    I hope this helps.
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    "People's reasons are not always objective."

    Peoples reasons are not always conscious. That sums up my entire point and I'm done debating it. It deserves it's own thread if anyone wants to discuss it further.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "People's reasons are not always objective."

    Peoples reasons are not always conscious. That sums up my entire point and I'm done debating it. It deserves it's own thread if anyone wants to discuss it further.
    If you would like to start a new topic, I would be more than happy to join you there. However I will point out that I was responding to your point which was:

    "You like/dislike something for very specific objective reasons"

    We can talk about conscious vs non-conscious if you would like, but you made a very specific claim about objectivity (a claim that baffles me because I'm not sure how a reason is both specific and objective yet non-conscious at the same time. Perhaps an example would help.).
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    The objective reason(explanation, not intelligence) is the actual cause, which may or may not be conscious.

    For example. If you jump out from around a corner and I say "AHHH GHOST" and you say "No, just me! LOL"(including the acronym of course)

    The subjective reason why I said "AHHHH GHOST" is that I thought you were a ghost.
    But why did I think you were a ghost? The answer to that is objective.

    Certain nervous impulses were translated by the brain according to associations with previous experiences, all influenced/determined by the current state of one's nervous system, which can be simplified(I think) as nervous health and neural-transmitter levels.

    So to elucidate, again. The cause of a feeling is objective, the explanation of a feeling is objective. The explination is not necissarily the same as the cause, but this doesn't make it wrong. It just shows that you are not aware of everything. I'm aware that I thought you were a ghost, and I can say "You looked like a ghost" but that's not true because it wouldn't take very long to see that you are not a ghost, and what doesn't look like a ghost in the right lighting? Why I thought you were a ghost has more to do with the my nervous state at the time, but I'm not aware of my nervous health and presence of neural transmitters.

    And just because the thought of you being a ghost is something that only exists inside of me doesn't make it not a fact. The fact is that you are not a ghost, and that part was missing from my thought, but the fact that I thought you were a ghost is unquestionably accurate.
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    I'd like to change your analogy just a little so that we can continue the discussion without getting off track with a debate about why the analogy makes sense or does not make sense.

    With your permission, I'd like to change it to where we both came around a corner and you were startled.

    When you say, "The cause of a feeling is objective, the explanation of a feeling is objective." we're mostly in agreement. Your thinking "Man, you startled me" is completely reasonable. There was a stimulus. You reacted to the stimulus and anyone observing us walking purposefully toward the same corner would be able to observe that something was indeed about to happen. I'm not questioning the objectivity of the stimulus.

    Your reaction to the stimulus though was subjective (and I'm pretty sure you acknowledged that in your previous post). Some people startle easily and some not at all. I may have been spooked coming around the corner, whereas you might have thought, "whoops, someone there. Change course." and gone along your way without a second glance.

    Where I think we part ways is here:

    "And just because the thought of you being a ghost is something that only exists inside of me doesn't make it not a fact. The fact is that you are not a ghost, and that part was missing from my thought, but the fact that I thought you were a ghost is unquestionably accurate."

    I'm going to reframe, just so I can be sure I'm understanding the argument correctly and then I'm going to respond.

    Reframe:

    "Just because you aren't a ghost doesn't mean that I didn't really think you were a ghost."

    Response:

    Okay, but bring this back to topic, why should anyone rational take your experience of thinking you saw a ghost as there being evidence for actual ghosts?

    Way back on the first page you said:

    "Some religious people have evidence, although it's not very empirical. Evidence doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing."

    I pointed out that in order to be evidence it had to be objective and from there we began a long back and forth on what objective means.

    So would if you were to put forth your ghost story as evidence for the existence of ghosts, should anyone seriously consider that ghost are real? You've "objectified" your (subjective) experience. So people should consider that to be evidence for ghosts, right?

    If you consider that your thinking that you saw a ghost should not be considered evidence for the actual existence of actual ghosts, then you will (hopefully) understand the point I tried to make on page 2. People who think they have experienced god have had a subjective response to an objective stimulus and no one should accept their story as evidence ("yes, I know what you think you saw, but there are other possible explanations that are less fantastic that cannot be ruled out").

    Which seems to be in perfect agreement with your comment which I quoted earlier:

    "The fact is that you are not a ghost, and that part was missing from my thought, but the fact that I thought you were a ghost is unquestionably accurate."

    Thanks for reading.
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    indeed, elementary, but does't hurt to clerify it. Some people think that "You believe in God, your insane or suffering from some sort of dementia" that might be the case, but it doesn't mean "I don't believe in God, so I am free from insanity and dementia" it just means we haven't had something jump out from around the corner lately.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    indeed, elementary, but does't hurt to clerify it. Some people think that "You believe in God, your insane or suffering from some sort of dementia" that might be the case, but it doesn't mean "I don't believe in God, so I am free from insanity and dementia" it just means we haven't had something jump out from around the corner lately.
    And while that's fine, that's completely separate from the point we were discussing. It seems as though you've backed off your original position of "theists have good reasons for believing in god" which was all I was hoping to clarify.

    I have very much enjoyed our discussion. Thank you for taking the time to debate with me.
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    AH-HA

    That is the mixup, I never said they have "good reasons" I merely said "reasons"

    this includes but is not limited to what any of us may consider good or bad.


    And it is not off topic... the topic is "psudo religion" and to the best of my recollection it is about people who don't have objective reasons for their views. The way some atheists describe it is that if I am greatly misinformed and develop wrong objective reasons, this is good, at least I'm trying to be empirical. But if I do what comes naturally, this is bad, because it's subjective and my motivations are more difficult to discern.

    There is a point when rationality is non-adaptive, so to say someone doesn't have a reason for being irrational is short sighted and taking the very complex human being for face value.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    AH-HA

    That is the mixup, I never said they have "good reasons" I merely said "reasons"

    this includes but is not limited to what any of us may consider good or bad.
    Reasons are either good or bad. If you concede that they aren't good reasons, then that only leaves one other option.

    "People believe for bad reasons" I would not have questioned other than to ask why people should believe things for bad reasons (and consider it to be a good thing)

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    And it is not off topic... the topic is "psudo religion" and to the best of my recollection it is about people who don't have objective reasons for their views.
    Per my earlier post, I don't know what you mean by "objective reasons". There are "good reasons" and "bad reasons". Any other adjective seems unnecessary (i.e. your use of "objective" seems to imply "good", but we recently established that subjective experiences can be based on faulty reactions to objective stimuli)

    P.S. I'm removing "objective" from your quotes from now on, since your arbitrary use of the word makes it difficult for me to figure out what it is you're trying to convey. Hopefully it will help the other people reading our exchange as well. If you feel that I've changed the fundamentals of your argument, let me know and we'll circle back.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    The way some atheists describe it is that if I am greatly misinformed and develop wrong reasons, this is good, at least I'm trying to be empirical. But if I do what comes naturally, this is bad, because it's subjective and my motivations are more difficult to discern.
    Yes and no. When you were learning arithmetic, you probably made several mistakes, but you eventually got the hang of it. I don't think anyone would trust you with cash register duty at McDonald's had you decided that writing down which ever number you felt like was going to be good enough.

    So, yes, if you made a personal commitment to only accepting things for which you had good reasons for accepting, you might make some mistakes. You might come to faulty conclusions or be led astray by bad evidence pandering itself as good evidence, but there are ways around that (just as finishing your math homework allows you to be able to do simply addition and subtraction in your head now). Critical thinking is a skill. Just like any skill, there is a learning curve and mastery is possible with practice.

    And, yes, opting to believe what ever sounds good or makes you feel warm and fuzzy isn't going to win you a whole lot of respect from people who see such thinking as either lazy or dangerous (or both).

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    There is a point when rationality is non-adaptive, so to say someone doesn't have a reason for being irrational is short sighted and taking the very complex human being for face value.
    I'm not sure what this means.
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    Since I'm now forced to go way off topic to explain myself, I'm going to start a couple new threads to discuss this in it's multiple parts.
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    I look forward to seeing them.
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    Dick, be Frank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I wish you the best of luck with the psychological aspect of the new thread you have started.

    With regards to the religious part of it (which probably should have stayed here)....

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Just because someone gives a few "bad" reasons for believing in God, doesn't mean that those are their reasons. Maybe they are hiding their real reasons as an adaption to remaining unpredictable.
    I've been debating True Believers for years. I've been reading debates between believers and non-believers for much longer.

    I have a very difficult time accepting that the (bad) reasons presented are not the actual reasons that are used to justify belief to one's self. If these are the "bad" reasons, please tell me what the "good" ones are.
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    For some reason I think your using the term "true believer" liberally.

    I'm not a true believer nor have I studied any, so I'm not going to make believe I can give you any reasons why they prefer religious groups over non-religious social groups.

    I've shared my thoughts and my reasoning behind those thoughts. If you have any questions about my thoughts, feel free to PM me, but I'm not going to explain myself over and over again. Either one of us, or maybe both, are failing in communication, and frankly, I don't care. I just don't think you know, and I'm not claiming to know. But as you say, my reasons are "bad" soooooo, you'd like that to think my reasons are invalid in a scientific sense, but what reason does a particle have? How many scientific principles guide your daily life? Or is science just your tool, sort of like religious people and religion.

    You say your tool has less baggage, but for some reason I think we are all carrying an equal proportion of the weight of the world. If you don't want to carry your weight, I have no problem carrying more.

    less baggage is not my ultimate goal in life
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    For some reason I think your using the term "true believer" liberally.
    Probably. In all fairness, I don't know what else to call someone who has been shown every flaw in their argument, yet still continues on with, "well, that's what I believe and nothing is going to change my mind".

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I've shared my thoughts and my reasoning behind those thoughts. If you have any questions about my thoughts, feel free to PM me, but I'm not going to explain myself over and over again.
    Honestly, sir, you haven't explained yourself at all. Repeating yourself (or more accurately, changing the topic slightly ever few posts) is not "explaining yourself". Ignoring my counter-arguments is not refuting them.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Either one of us, or maybe both, are failing in communication, and frankly, I don't care.
    I concur.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I just don't think you know, and I'm not claiming to know.
    "Know" what? What the heck are you talking about?

    The whole point of this is "evidence for belief". Either there is some or there is not.

    Not reasons (or "objective reasons", whatever the hell that means). Evidence. Bad reasons are not evidence. If you don't "know" if there is any evidence, then you shouldn't accept the claim. If you don't "know" if there are good reasons, then you should automatically accept the bad ones as being good enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    But as you say, my reasons are "bad" soooooo, you'd like that to think my reasons are invalid in a scientific sense, but what reason does a particle have?
    I don't think I've said anything about your reasons. The claim was that theists had "reasons" for what they believed. I've conceded that. Repeatedly. What I have argued is that they don't have good reasons and that we should not accept bad reasons.

    The meaningless concoction of words I quoted above tells me that at some point, I completely failed to connect with you (despite the fact that I've made this point in several posts in this thread). You aren't hearing me. Either intentionally or unintentionally, you're missing my point.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    How many scientific principles guide your daily life?
    Off topic. The topical question is how many superstitious beliefs guide my daily life (the answer is "none").

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Or is science just your tool, sort of like religious people and religion.
    Science is a tool.

    That aside, tool for what?

    Science: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method.

    In other words, science: a way of figuring out which stuff is real instead of made up.

    Religion: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

    In other words, religion: a bunch of stuff that you can make up or someone else can make up for you.

    If you want to be taken seriously and to be able to count yourself amongst the intellectually honest, which horse do you hitch your wagon to, sir?

    Better question: Why is the dichotomy "science or religion"? I'm pretty sure "reason or religion" or even "critical thinking vs non-critical" thinking are even more accurate descriptions of what we're up against.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    You say your tool has less baggage, but for some reason I think we are all carrying an equal proportion of the weight of the world. If you don't want to carry your weight, I have no problem carrying more.
    I don't even know what this means. You're going to not step on cracks for me? You're going to keep an extra pair of lucky underwear? You're going to sit on Santa's lap twice? You get two wishes when you blow out your birthday candles? You get twice the amount of gold from the leprechaun at the end of the rainbow? What exactly are you going to carry and how are you going to carry it?

    Yes, thinking critically and only accepting things that makes sense means I don't have to waste a lot of time figuring out whether I should be following this made up religion or that made up religion. It means that I don't have to expend a lot of energy trying to do the necessary gymnastics in order to reconcile how the earth can be 4.7 billion years old and 6,000 years old at the same time. It means I don't have to stay awake late into the night trying to figure out once and for all exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    less baggage is not my ultimate goal in life
    Good for you.
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    "If you want to be taken seriously and to be able to count yourself amongst the intellectually honest, which horse do you hitch your wagon to, sir?"

    I'm too heavy for one horse. I don't have doubts in objectivity, but I do have doubts that objectivity can help us understand everything.

    "Better question: Why is the dichotomy "science or religion"? I'm pretty sure "reason or religion" or even "critical thinking vs non-critical" thinking are even more accurate descriptions of what we're up against."

    Why not call it "good" and "evil" then we can start our religion
    Dick, be Frank.

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    See what I mean about changing the subject every few posts?

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    I'm too heavy for one horse. I don't have doubts in objectivity, but I do have doubts that objectivity can help us understand everything.
    Okay. Still don't know what that has to do with good reasons vs bad reason for believing things.

    I don't care whether the reason are objective (i.e. direct observation of god) or subjective (i.e. the argument for god makes sense because...). It only has to be logically consistent and based on evidence.

    I will once again draw your attention back to your original post:

    "Some religious people have evidence, although it's not very empirical. Evidence doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing."

    You're still saying that so long as someone is convinced they saw god or jesus or whatever, then those things are real. I'm saying we either need to have direct evidence for these things or logically consistent arguments for why we should believe that they exists.

    Accepting claims on someone else's say-so isn't good enough.

    P.S. you originally posted that on the first page of this thread. We're now on page 5. Please address my argument. Thanks.
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    "See what I mean about changing the subject every few posts? "

    That's the nature of discussion, don't take it as an attempt to avoid the issue. Sorry if my answers are not clear enough. I will try better, but don't pull out these ignorant tactics to belittle the conversation. This is a give and take sort of thing, and I'm not talking to myself here, but then again, there are only bad reasons to believe that.

    "You're still saying that so long as someone is convinced they saw god or jesus or whatever, then those things are real."

    I never said this. Did I?
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    That's the nature of discussion, don't take it as an attempt to avoid the issue.
    Except you are avoiding the issue. Please show me one post where you have responded to one of my counter arguments or answered all of my questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Sorry if my answers are not clear enough. I will try better, but don't pull out these ignorant tactics to belittle the conversation.
    One of us is belittling the conversation, yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    This is a give and take sort of thing, and I'm not talking to myself here, but then again, there are only bad reasons to believe that.
    Truer that you probably care to admit.

    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    "You're still saying that so long as someone is convinced they saw god or jesus or whatever, then those things are real."
    I never said this. Did I?
    Man, how many times now have I quoted your original post back to you? 6? 7? More?

    "Some religious people have evidence, although it's not very empirical. Evidence doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing."

    THESE ARE YOUR WORDS!!! Yes, you are absolutely saying this!

    Evidence: something that furnishes proof. Saying that religious people have evidence, then you are saying that religious people have proof.

    Let's try this sentence again. Tell me if anything sounds odd.

    "Proof doesn't have to be irrefutable as long as it's convincing."

    Proof doesn't have to be irrefutable?! Then how can we call it "proof"? Please do not even bother replying to this post unless you can answer these questions.
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    Technically he's right, Proof doesn't HAVE to be irrefutable, otherwise you are claiming all proof for past theories in physics aren't really proof. Granted, the theories may not have been completely right, the proof they had were pretty close to right, and definitely appeared to be right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Technically he's right, Proof doesn't HAVE to be irrefutable, otherwise you are claiming all proof for past theories in physics aren't really proof.
    Hmmm. You're going to have to talk me through this one.

    First, all science is tentative. Theories are established with the understanding that they are very much subject to different evidence latter (i.e. the black swan).

    Second, science is generally pretty good about recognizing that you can't prove anything ("proof" is something mathematicians deal with).

    Third, in order to be a Theory, the explanation has to fit the evidence, which kinda makes the argument circular (it couldn't have been a Theory if there wasn't proof. It may have been that more evidence modified the Theory, but it didn't abolish it altogether).

    To summarize, no one would accept the Theory of Evolution if descent with modification, etc couldn't be observed. Observation comes first and is the foundation of everything that follows.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Granted, the theories may not have been completely right, the proof they had were pretty close to right, and definitely appeared to be right.
    I can't help but feel that you're going Newton vs Einstein on me here

    Newton's work was not a precise as Einstein's. Einstein's explanation works better, but Newton's still work nonetheless. It's not as though Newton's formulas failed every time after Einstein got published.

    Bringing this back to topic, theists either have evidence for their claims regarding their gods or they do not.
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    I understand your point on the first bit, and I won't refute you there. Science is in general good with that and respects that there is no "Absolute Truth" which is what makes it such a more rational pursuit than theocracy.

    Even on the theists side, if you regard the inception of the universe, Occam's razor goes both ways. While I will accept that there is no empirical evidence for a God, there is likewise no evidence that gives randomness nor any other theory regarding the "beginning" any merit. It's truly a complete split, which is why I don't usually bother to think about it. However, I'd love to see some contradictory evidence to my conjecture.

    Oh, and even in math, proof is occasionally (VERY rarely, actually) accepted as being a "very probably true, so let's just call it true" type thing. I can't remember the name, but it's something like 'proof by example'. Doc Rocket in the Math section has an example, I forget what it is. The only other that isn't a "concrete" proof that is proven true is the Reductio Ad Absurdum, where if the answer becomes ridiculous (i.e. 0 or depending on the case) then it must not be true.



    Oh, and it wasn't a Newton Einstein thing, it was actually more an "In general" thing. You can see the same dissents among many lesser known physicists. Volta, Galvani, Ampere and Faraday, for example. The former two had thought electricity to be separate, and in turn treated it as such, from magnetism, where Ampere and Faraday sought to prove they were the same, which Faraday's successor, Maxwell, did. Orsted provided the first electric motor, and served as a great help to the initial starts of the research and mathematical modeling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Even on the theists side, if you regard the inception of the universe, Occam's razor goes both ways.
    I guess I would have to know what you meant before I could comment. It has been my experience that Occam's Razor is very easy to misinterpret. My knee-jerk reaction is it's being invoked incorrectly here, but I'll let you clarify before I jump to a conclusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    While I will accept that there is no empirical evidence for a God, there is likewise no evidence that gives randomness nor any other theory regarding the "beginning" any merit.
    I think we have to be cautious of false dichotomies here. You are correct that all of our work on the origins of the universe is lower-cast "t" theoretical. However that doesn't mean that "the god explanation" wins by default.

    Just because A is unknown, B doesn't get to be automatically true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It's truly a complete split, which is why I don't usually bother to think about it. However, I'd love to see some contradictory evidence to my conjecture.
    I'm not sure if what I've posted above succeeds in that or not. You'll have to let me know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Oh, and even in math, proof is occasionally (VERY rarely, actually) accepted as being a "very probably true, so let's just call it true" type thing. I can't remember the name, but it's something like 'proof by example'. Doc Rocket in the Math section has an example, I forget what it is. The only other that isn't a "concrete" proof that is proven true is the Reductio Ad Absurdum, where if the answer becomes ridiculous (i.e. 0 or depending on the case) then it must not be true.
    Yeah, this one is all you. Math is definitely not my strong suit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Even on the theists side, if you regard the inception of the universe, Occam's razor goes both ways.
    I guess I would have to know what you meant before I could comment. It has been my experience that Occam's Razor is very easy to misinterpret. My knee-jerk reaction is it's being invoked incorrectly here, but I'll let you clarify before I jump to a conclusion.
    Occam's razor basically states that if there is no evidence for something to be true, there is then no reason to believe it to be true, right? The whole "if you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebra" thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    While I will accept that there is no empirical evidence for a God, there is likewise no evidence that gives randomness nor any other theory regarding the "beginning" any merit.
    I think we have to be cautious of false dichotomies here. You are correct that all of our work on the origins of the universe is lower-cast "t" theoretical. However that doesn't mean that "the god explanation" wins by default.

    Just because A is unknown, B doesn't get to be automatically true.
    there is no winning here, its more since A and B are unknowns, they both have relatively equal legitimacy. I know in our case we have a bias towards the 'without God' explanation, as God is then not necessary, but that is just for us. A given theist may look at the situation and decide that God seems the logical choice, as something must have created this universe, and being that we have no idea how it all began, that is just as logical a conclusion as It all randomly pooped into existence, or, my personal favorite, Ptah Masturbated everything into existence.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It's truly a complete split, which is why I don't usually bother to think about it. However, I'd love to see some contradictory evidence to my conjecture.
    I'm not sure if what I've posted above succeeds in that or not. You'll have to let me know.
    it shows the inherent bias we have, not so much refuting the legitimacy of the choice some theists make. Good point though, I must say.
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    Even on the theists side, if you regard the inception of the universe, Occam's razor goes both ways. While I will accept that there is no empirical evidence for a God, there is likewise no evidence that gives randomness nor any other theory regarding the "beginning" any merit. It's truly a complete split, which is why I don't usually bother to think about it. However, I'd love to see some contradictory evidence to my conjecture.
    With this I am quite happy with the Anthropic principle. This does not mean that the universe exists the way it does so that we can exist, but rather that the universe can only exist within certain bounds for us to have any hope of existing (if that makes sense).
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Even on the theists side, if you regard the inception of the universe, Occam's razor goes both ways. While I will accept that there is no empirical evidence for a God, there is likewise no evidence that gives randomness nor any other theory regarding the "beginning" any merit. It's truly a complete split, which is why I don't usually bother to think about it. However, I'd love to see some contradictory evidence to my conjecture.
    With this I am quite happy with the Anthropic principle. This does not mean that the universe exists the way it does so that we can exist, but rather that the universe can only exist within certain bounds for us to have any hope of existing (if that makes sense).
    That doesn't actually say anything about the beginnings, just that the universe happens to be in a certain condition that allowed the human species to evolve. Go figure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Occam's razor basically states that if there is no evidence for something to be true, there is then no reason to believe it to be true, right? The whole "if you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebra" thing.
    Occam's Razor says that when you are faced with more than one answer to a question, you accept the one that makes the fewest assumptions possible.

    Some people mistake Occam's Razor to say that you take the simplest answer, and then say "goddidit" is simpler than the scientific explanation which they don't understand

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    there is no winning here, its more since A and B are unknowns, they both have relatively equal legitimacy.
    Nope. If you're wandering down the street and you see a penny lying face up directly in your path, which of these is more likely.

    A) An magical purple monkey which poops pennies just did his business there, or...

    B) You secret admirer, knowing that you were walking down that sidewalk, purposely put it there for you to find moments later.

    Both of these are unknown and equally non-disprovable. Therefore they are both equally likely right? They both have an equal chance of being correct, don't they?

    Or would you argue that C) someone, also traveling that same sidewalk, dropped the penny? They may have dropped it while counting change in their hand, they may have tossed it aside purposely because they don't like to keep small change, it could have slipped through a hole in their pocket, or something else entirely.

    The reality is that we have lots and lots of "unknown" answers that could all explain how that penny got there. However if we're honest, we would say something to effect of, "While these are all equally unknowable and cannot be disproven empirically, C is most likely, B is possible but doesn't make a whole lot of sense (I didn't even know that I had a secret admirer), and A is just too fantastic to accept without a lot of evidence"

    Per the example above, I find the argument that equally unknowable hypothesis have equal legitimacy to have some pretty serious flaws.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I know in our case we have a bias towards the 'without God' explanation, as God is then not necessary, but that is just for us. A given theist may look at the situation and decide that God seems the logical choice, as something must have created this universe, and being that we have no idea how it all began, that is just as logical a conclusion as It all randomly pooped into existence, or, my personal favorite, Ptah Masturbated everything into existence.
    I hope this is something that I addressed above. Hundreds or thousands of years ago, before we had the means to learn very much about our universe, I would be willing to accept this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    it shows the inherent bias we have, not so much refuting the legitimacy of the choice some theists make. Good point though, I must say.
    Meh, I think I have to kinda sorta disagree here. If theists say that they know something but cannot provide any evidence for what they claim to be true, how does that have anything to do with any biases I may or may not have. That claim can exist in a microcosm of it's own without ever having to come into contact with me.

    Or am I misunderstanding the point?
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    the way the makes the fewest assumptions, even in this instance, can't really be determined. Goddidit makes one assumptionand one assumption alone, really, and with all we know about the universe, we can't really come up with a more... assumptionless? Method for which the universe could have been created. Either route you go, as long as you don't take it to God is in our lives crap, and just stick to 'God created the universe' it has massively more legitimacy than the judeo-christian concept, in accordance with Occam's Razor.

    And with your example, we have the choices contained in c (there were more than one), each of those is equally likely for how the penny happened to get there, and each one would be a legitimate assumption to make.

    I think you get the point, but I think you taking it a little more extreme from where I'm at.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    the way the makes the fewest assumptions, even in this instance, can't really be determined.
    Possibly, yes. You seem to ruling out the possibility that the technology might exist someday to allow us to test our some of our scientific hypothesis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Goddidit makes one assumptionand one assumption alone,
    Don't make the common mistake of forgetting to include all the assumptions that go into supporting the existence of such a being. You're saying "okay, 99, 100!" and forgetting about 1-98.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    ...really, and with all we know about the universe, we can't really come up with a more... assumptionless? Method for which the universe could have been created.
    Of course you can: "we don't know yet".

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Either route you go, as long as you don't take it to God is in our lives crap, and just stick to 'God created the universe' it has massively more legitimacy than the judeo-christian concept, in accordance with Occam's Razor.
    But Occam's Razor still gets to chew on the 1-98 stuff I mentioned before. You're still making assumptions about a being and those assumptions still have to be accounted for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    And with your example, we have the choices contained in c (there were more than one), each of those is equally likely for how the penny happened to get there, and each one would be a legitimate assumption to make.
    Don't change the argument, please. Between A, B, and the list of options for C, they were not all "equally legitimate" were they? I think my point stands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I think you get the point, but I think you taking it a little more extreme from where I'm at.
    Since I'm not sure where you're at, it's difficult for me to say.
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    While the "we don't know yet" is the ideal answer, and I am in no way barring our future developments on testing our current and future hypotheses on the origins of the universe, I don't think it's a very pertinent endeavor. It is unknown, and will remain unknown. All we can ever do is come up with a likely true answer and little more. Even if we are right, there is no way to know for sure if we are right. All of the assumptions we make are based on our current comprehension, we can't take into account what we will have, in similar fashion to the scientists of old. With the technology and scientific understanding of the early 21st century, we have a few options that are all relatively rational conclusions to come to.

    And what would be that 1-98 in the assumption of a higher being? I am making the assumption that there could be a being that exists in a higher dimension. I am assuming it has the ability to manipulate matter and energy into existence. I assume it is the cause for the creation of the universe. All of those points meld together and are part of the same assumption, what else must be considered? Again, I'm not taking about any set religion with a massive fairy tale of the origins of the universe and the role God plays in our lives.

    And with the AB question, yes, you have a point, but the simple fact that there are equally likely choices, even if they are not A nor B, is my point. The choices that are c are what I'm trying to get at, there a slew of events that have near equal probability in happening, such that any one of those few could have been what really happened; clearly not a magical purple monkey nor (barring a rather weird circumstance with a stalker) the secret admirer. Walking down the street, finding a penny, there are several choices you could make about how that penny got there that ARE rational conclusions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    While the "we don't know yet" is the ideal answer, and I am in no way barring our future developments on testing our current and future hypotheses on the origins of the universe, I don't think it's a very pertinent endeavor.
    And you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Once upon a time people thought that no one would use personal computers even if they existed (so why bother discussing whether or not personal computer technology is possible?).

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It is unknown, and will remain unknown.
    Unless we figure it out. Then it won't be unknown anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    All we can ever do is come up with a likely true answer and little more.
    Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Even if we are right, there is no way to know for sure if we are right. All of the assumptions we make are based on our current comprehension, we can't take into account what we will have, in similar fashion to the scientists of old. With the technology and scientific understanding of the early 21st century, we have a few options that are all relatively rational conclusions to come to.
    It sounds as though you're assuming there is no more progress to be made. I think we've been shown time and time again that there is always more to be discovered.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    And what would be that 1-98 in the assumption of a higher being?
    There are the critical assumption and the non-critical assumptions.

    Critical assumptions include things such as the conditions for god to exist, actually do. That god does exist. That god is all-powerful. And so on.

    We don't just start at the assumption that god exists and then progress to the assumption that "he" did it.

    Think about brushing your teeth. You don't just wake up in the morning and brush your teeth. You wake up, put your feet on the floor, stand, walk to the bathroom, turn on the light, locate your toothbrush, locate your toothpaste, pick up your tooth brush, pick up the toothpaste, remove the cap from the toothpaste, place the cap on the counter, squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush, and so on.

    You're saying "there's only one assumption about god creating the universe" and ignoring all the other assumptions that we have to make in order for that to be true, just as we don't think about all the steps that go into "waking up and brushing our teeth".

    You may think I'm making it unnecessarily complicated, but if you try to apply Occam's Razor to a scenario which you are not accessing correctly, you're going to get the wrong answer.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I am making the assumption that there could be a being that exists in a higher dimension. I am assuming it has the ability to manipulate matter and energy into existence. I assume it is the cause for the creation of the universe. All of those points meld together and are part of the same assumption, what else must be considered?
    No, you don't get to "meld" assumptions. And don't forget that in order for Occam's Razor to apply the answer left has to fit the evidence. So be sure to add the whole "god would create a universe that would appear to have explanations other than design" to your list of assumptions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    And with the AB question, yes, you have a point, but the simple fact that there are equally likely choices, even if they are not A nor B, is my point.
    Indeed there are, but that's not where this started. You and I both recognize that all the scenarios I listed under C are pretty likely. But your original statement was (and I'm paraphrasing), "god can either exist or not exist so the odds are 50/50". Per the example I provided would you say that A and any of the options under C are 50/50? Why or why not?

    That's my point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    The choices that are c are what I'm trying to get at, there a slew of events that have near equal probability in happening,
    I hate to do it, but I think I'm going to have to call shenanigans here. Here is your comment again for clarity:

    "there is no winning here, its more since A and B are unknowns, they both have relatively equal legitimacy."

    If you're backing off that position, then I'm ok with that, but changing the argument and then telling me that I'm missing the point isn't fighting fair.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Walking down the street, finding a penny, there are several choices you could make about how that penny got there that ARE rational conclusions.
    Indeed there are. Hence why I'm content to accept "I don't know" as an answer when I ask where the universe came from and why I'm not content to invest in the false comfort of a completely BS answer (i.e. "goddidit"). To your earlier point, we might never know and if that's the case, then that's the case. I think there is much to be gained if we do find the answer, but I can't see how there is anything to be gained in deluding ourselves into accepting a completely fabricated answer.

    Thanks for your post.
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    I concede the point on assumptions, you definitely trumped me there.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    While the "we don't know yet" is the ideal answer, and I am in no way barring our future developments on testing our current and future hypotheses on the origins of the universe, I don't think it's a very pertinent endeavor.
    And you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Once upon a time people thought that no one would use personal computers even if they existed (so why bother discussing whether or not personal computer technology is possible?).
    There's a big difference in examples here, What use does that computer have in practical application? Massive use. What use is the knowledge of the history of the universe in practical application? None. Plus, how do we determine how past events unfolded without some record of those events observable to us? As far as I know, it's impossible to be ABSOLUTELY certain on it, akin to the theories of physics.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    The choices that are c are what I'm trying to get at, there a slew of events that have near equal probability in happening,
    I hate to do it, but I think I'm going to have to call shenanigans here. Here is your comment again for clarity:

    "there is no winning here, its more since A and B are unknowns, they both have relatively equal legitimacy."

    If you're backing off that position, then I'm ok with that, but changing the argument and then telling me that I'm missing the point isn't fighting fair.
    I think it was you who changed the argument, you went on a tangent where you took two completely irrational thoughts and applied them, when our original discussion was about something at least slightly more rational. I may be getting ahead of myself though. I do make the assumption that some being creating this universe (not designing it, but simply providing the initial spark and allowing quantum randomness to take over after that) is as rational as the idea that it all spontaneously came into existence.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    All we can ever do is come up with a likely true answer and little more.
    Why?
    Because we can't observe the event. In similar fashion to your reply to my last statement, we may and most likely will never know the answer. It's simply because all we can do is speculate, and test out a theory that, rightly, can only be a possible beginning.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    There's a big difference in examples here, What use does that computer have in practical application? Massive use.
    Indeed, however it wasn't until we had them that we realized it. And that's my point.

    We have no way of knowing what will come from such discoveries until after we have them. Tell me how many people looked at the first car and thought "fast food industry" or "automated car washes".

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    What use is the knowledge of the history of the universe in practical application? None.
    With all due respect, I don't know how you could possibly know that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Plus, how do we determine how past events unfolded without some record of those events observable to us? As far as I know, it's impossible to be ABSOLUTELY certain on it, akin to the theories of physics.
    You lost me here. What was this in regard to?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I think it was you who changed the argument, you went on a tangent where you took two completely irrational thoughts and applied them, when our original discussion was about something at least slightly more rational.
    I'm more than happy to entertain that with you, however I think if you go back and look, there isn't much support for that.

    You said: "there is no winning here, its more since A and B are unknowns, they both have relatively equal legitimacy."

    I provided an example of two things (technically I added a third to drive home the point I was making) that were both equally unknown, but both also highly "illegitimate" (to put it into your context).

    You seemed to agree with my point that they were both pretty unlikely, therefore you seemed to concede that two unknown things are not necessarily equally likely.

    To bring this all the way back to topic: if we can neither know god nor disprove god, that does not make the god hypothesis a 50/50 question. Just like with the penny, some possible explanations are far less likely than others, even though we can never know for sure which of our options is the actual one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I may be getting ahead of myself though. I do make the assumption that some being creating this universe (not designing it, but simply providing the initial spark and allowing quantum randomness to take over after that) is as rational as the idea that it all spontaneously came into existence.
    Right. I can tell that you do. And your acknowledging your own assumptions is a good thing.

    However as I've hopefully clarified by now, these are not your only two options and even if they were, they are not both equally likely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Because we can't observe the event. In similar fashion to your reply to my last statement, we may and most likely will never know the answer. It's simply because all we can do is speculate, and test out a theory that, rightly, can only be a possible beginning.
    Okay. I see your point and you are right. Thanks for clarifying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    What use is the knowledge of the history of the universe in practical application? None.
    With all due respect, I don't know how you could possibly know that.
    I guess a better question is, how do you apply the knowledge of history? What practical application does history have beyond expanding the knowledge of those who learn it? Granted, studying history to not repeat it is one thing, but put on the universal scale, it's not really applicable to that mode of thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Plus, how do we determine how past events unfolded without some record of those events observable to us? As far as I know, it's impossible to be ABSOLUTELY certain on it, akin to the theories of physics.
    You lost me here. What was this in regard to?
    in regard to my last point.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I think it was you who changed the argument, you went on a tangent where you took two completely irrational thoughts and applied them, when our original discussion was about something at least slightly more rational.
    I'm more than happy to entertain that with you, however I think if you go back and look, there isn't much support for that.

    You said: "there is no winning here, its more since A and B are unknowns, they both have relatively equal legitimacy."

    I provided an example of two things (technically I added a third to drive home the point I was making) that were both equally unknown, but both also highly "illegitimate" (to put it into your context).

    You seemed to agree with my point that they were both pretty unlikely, therefore you seemed to concede that two unknown things are not necessarily equally likely.

    To bring this all the way back to topic: if we can neither know god nor disprove god, that does not make the god hypothesis a 50/50 question. Just like with the penny, some possible explanations are far less likely than others, even though we can never know for sure which of our options is the actual one.
    Point conceded.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I may be getting ahead of myself though. I do make the assumption that some being creating this universe (not designing it, but simply providing the initial spark and allowing quantum randomness to take over after that) is as rational as the idea that it all spontaneously came into existence.
    Right. I can tell that you do. And your acknowledging your own assumptions is a good thing.

    However as I've hopefully clarified by now, these are not your only two options and even if they were, they are not both equally likely.
    You are right, they aren't the only two options, and all the options aren't equally likely. BUT, at the same time, it is rather hard to determine which options are the more likely, being that the assumptions we have to make aren't always clear, nor critical, and we can't always see the difference between what is the more likely event than what is a slightly less likely event, in general.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I guess a better question is, how do you apply the knowledge of history? What practical application does history have beyond expanding the knowledge of those who learn it? Granted, studying history to not repeat it is one thing, but put on the universal scale, it's not really applicable to that mode of thought.
    I get the feeling that we'll be taking this over to the Astronomy & Cosmology subforum very shortly

    Suffice it to say that studying the big bang and how it came to be does not only tell us about our past.

    The problem with your argument is that you're assuming that this is a historical endeavor which is only good for answering historical questions. The reality is that being able to finally crack the big questions about the big bang will tell us a lot about the nature of our universe and could potentially lead to all kinds of stuff that we can't even imagine. Or maybe it would lead to nothing. Either way, we won't know for certain if we don't answer the questions first.

    If you really want to dig in on this topic, I highly (highly!) recommend The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. You might also want to see if you can find the Elegant Universe documentary on DVD (I'm sure the book is great too, but I've only seen the documentary).

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    You are right, they aren't the only two options, and all the options aren't equally likely. BUT, at the same time, it is rather hard to determine which options are the more likely, being that the assumptions we have to make aren't always clear, nor critical, and we can't always see the difference between what is the more likely event than what is a slightly less likely event, in general.
    And it's a very valid point that you're making. And again, if we wanted to take this over to the Astronomy & Cosmology subforum, we could spend a lot of time kicking around what assumptions, if any, we could make about the various hypothesis for naturalistic causes for the universe.

    However, since we're currently in the religion part, I'd like to ask you how many assumptions we make about god. Then I'd like to ask you to provide a short sentence outlining what good reasons we have for accepting those assumptions (i.e. why do we commonly attribute maleness to god, etc?).

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can't tell you that god doesn't exist. But when I look at what I'm asked to accept and I look at the reasons provided for why I should accept them, there isn't anything there to hang my hat on. It's all smoke and mirrors.

    Science might not have all the answers, but at least with science I'm not being asked to blindly trust in "answers" that don't make any sense and don't actually answer anything.
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    I've actually read The Elegant Universe, It is a fantastic read, the man is a great writer (I was very surprised, usually theoretical physicists have issues with coherence in their writings) and a GREAT physicist. I'll look into Fabric of the Cosmos.

    Going as far as to attribute sex to a God is something that I find ridiculous. I'd make as few assumptions about the God as possible, limiting it to only whats necessary for it to incite the universe into being, and not adding in the 'design' part.

    I'm really not sold on the idea that learning about the beginning of the universe can further our understanding of the nature of the universe, being that our observations right now give us a pretty good image on that.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Going as far as to attribute sex to a God is something that I find ridiculous. I'd make as few assumptions about the God as possible, limiting it to only whats necessary for it to incite the universe into being, and not adding in the 'design' part.
    But you'd still just be making stuff up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I'm really not sold on the idea that learning about the beginning of the universe can further our understanding of the nature of the universe, being that our observations right now give us a pretty good image on that.
    The big bang and circumstances that allowed the big bang to happen are not the same thing. I agree that we have quite a bit with regards the former, but this discussion is about the latter.

    We have "goddidit" and "we're still trying to figure that out". I don't think either of those qualify as "a pretty good image".
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    fair enough, but my comment was in regards to the workings of the universe at present, not the circumstances of the Big Bang, which is again, something we will only be able to speculate about. In terms of the Razor, if we could produce a "white hole", something I've always thought of as the ultimate beginning of the universe, a single point of energy and matter that is expanding in all directions at a critical speed (fast enough to overcome gravity's attraction to recreate it all into a black hole) it would put a definite dent in the ideal of a god, but until then, it's still as much a fantasy as gods are.

    In regards to God being made up, you are absolutely right. God is a manifestation by the human mind. But, so is the Big Bang. Every theory on the origin of the universe is, in general, is a construct of the human mind, albeit in several cases supported by evidence, and a couple cases by a LOT of evidence. My point being that just because it's made up, doesn't mean anything in this respect, simply because it's ALL made up, some just less... imaginative... than others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    fair enough, but my comment was in regards to the workings of the universe at present, not the circumstances of the Big Bang,
    Well then hopefully my confusion with regards to the constant references to "history" seem justified. Thank you for clarifying none the less.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    which is again, something we will only be able to speculate about.
    Perhaps you are right. Per my earlier posts, I suppose that only time will tell.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    In terms of the Razor, if we could produce a "white hole", something I've always thought of as the ultimate beginning of the universe, a single point of energy and matter that is expanding in all directions at a critical speed (fast enough to overcome gravity's attraction to recreate it all into a black hole) it would put a definite dent in the ideal of a god, but until then, it's still as much a fantasy as gods are.
    Actually, it appears that you've been mis-informed regarding the nature of white holes. They are completely devoid of matter and would instantly pop out of existence if they were ever to come into contact with the slightest amount of matter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    In regards to God being made up, you are absolutely right. God is a manifestation by the human mind. But, so is the Big Bang.
    Not so. We have evidence for the big bang. Good hypothesis produce predictions and when those predictions are confirmed, our confidence in those hypothesis increase. A great number of the things we should hope to find if the big bang did in fact occur have been found. I think that's pretty telling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Every theory on the origin of the universe is, in general, is a construct of the human mind, albeit in several cases supported by evidence, and a couple cases by a LOT of evidence.
    This would seem to either fail to account for or generally forget to mention all of the mathematics that go into such work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    My point being that just because it's made up, doesn't mean anything in this respect, simply because it's ALL made up, some just less... imaginative... than others.
    I suppose it might be best to simply acknowledge that you and I disagree on what it means to make something up.

    As always, thanks for your post.
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    As I remember a white hole would be the opposite of a black hole, and would essentially pop out of existence the moment it's created. But, it would be the instantaneous creation of both matter and energy, which would cause the white hole to cease to exist.

    Wiki says it's essentially a black hole that has it's event horizon recede inwards at the speed of light, and upon reaching the center and dying, the hole pushes all matter out and away. This is how I've always envisioned the Big Bang, a Black Hole becoming a White Hole, collapsing into nothingness and spewing forth the matter of the universe.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    A_M,

    If you'd like to continue on this track, perhaps we should take the discussion over the the Astronomy and Cosmology sub-forum.

    Since you didn't address any of the other points I've raised, I'm assuming that our discussion here has probably run it's course. Thanks again for the discussion.
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