Thursday, March 13, 2014

On religion and persecution

I guess that's the whole thing, the concept of accepting a liberal democratic system. Autocratic political systems usually seek religious, or anti-religious uniformity. Democratic ones don't, because you can't run a democracy in a religiously pluralistic culture without allowing religious freedom. Christianity doesn't mandate the development of a Christian state, although Christian autocrats have tried to have one. But all the Bible says about governing is "Render unto Caesar." Islam's a different story, it's a recipe for running a government, which is why America was foolish to try to force a Democratic Iraq. Communists were autocrats, and so they did some persecuting.
You do get fantasizing from Dennett about putting Baptists in cultural zoos, and you Jerry Coyne said this:
Somehow—and this will never happen, of course—it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief.
Rhetoric that treats religion as a delusion that is dangerous to society opens the possibility that someone using political power might try to wipe it out using that power. But such an attempt would be difficult within the framework of a democratic governmental system. But it might occur in subtle ways.
While this line of reasoning, to a large extent, lets atheists of the hook from the charge of wanting to force their lack of religion on others, it also goes a long way toward showing that blaming Christianity for religious persecutions is a misplaced charge. The cure for religious or anti-religious violence is not giving government the job of generating religious uniformity. That's why you have to go back a few centuries for cases of Christian based violence. The trick is to stop using the government to enforce religious belief, something that Christians have pretty much accepted for the last few centuries.

169 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Victor, you're making some sense to me on this. I think Russell Blackford in his book "Freedom of Religion and the Secular State," treats these issues in an academic way that everyone should consider. I haven't read it but it looks like I should. You should too.

John W. Loftus said...

I should say that I oppose any attempt to place believers in a mental institution, imprison them or kill them. I will stand up for your rights as I know you will stand up for mine. I think there will always be enough people like you and I to halt people who could harm each of us through the teeth of the law. We can look at Denmark and Sweden and know this has not taken place with growing numbers of atheists in those countries.

Crude said...

We can look at Denmark and Sweden and know this has not taken place with growing numbers of atheists in those countries.

Two unbelievably small countries, both historically linked with full blown state Christian churches, and which have more irreligious than 'atheists'.

I should say that I oppose any attempt to place believers in a mental institution, imprison them or kill them

How about having religious belief placed on the DSM-V?

Be a man and denounce Boghossian for his hate, or your words are so much straw, as usual.

Samwell Barnes said...

"Be a man and denounce Boghossian for his hate, or your words are so much straw, as usual."

Not happening.

http://www.amazon.com/Manual-Creating-Atheists-Peter-Boghossian/product-reviews/1939578094/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?showViewpoints=1

Papalinton said...

Victor
" .... and you Jerry Coyne said this: Somehow—and this will never happen, of course—it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief.
Rhetoric that treats religion as a delusion that is dangerous to society opens the possibility that someone using political power might try to wipe it out using that power. But such an attempt would be difficult within the framework of a democratic governmental system. But it might occur in subtle ways."


So are you claiming that it is acceptable to indoctrinate children with religious belief?

To be fair to Coyne it is not that religion as delusion is dangerous to society, but rather the appropriateness of it with regard to little children. I reiterate the quote: "Finally, I don’t consider religious people mentally ill, but there’s a case to be made that they are delusional—delusional in the same way that people are deluded about homeopathy, UFOs, or the Loch Ness Monster. All of those believers are victims of a delusion in the sense that the Oxford English Dictionary uses the word “delusion”:

a. Anything that deceives the mind with a false impression; a deception; a fixed false opinion or belief with regard to objecting things, esp. as a form of mental derangement

The part I agree with here is that religious teachings do give people false impressions (though not usually promulgated by others intending to deceive), and proffer fixed false opinions or beliefs with regard to obecting things. I wouldn’t go so far as to call religion a “mental derangement,” but it’s certainly a deviation from the kind of things that people accept as “true” in their daily life. It is accepting things of the greatest import for one’s life without sufficient evidence for so doing."


Now you are free to disagree with his perspective but one needs to ask why it is that religion is waning? I would suggest it has much to do with the amorphous agglomeration of and indistinct boundaries between fable, myth, history, superstition, folklore, part fact, part fiction, mostly contradiction,that characterises Christian belief and wholly captive to the vagaries and biases of hermeneutics to make sense of it. People are tired of it. There is no faction/fiction divide, no sense from nonsense disambiguated. The central foundations of christian belief in virgin births, rising dead bodies, bodily ascension, simply contradicts everything we know and understand of the natural world and does not accord with the observable reality of our daily lives. And the only time that such a disparate and distinctly anti-natural narrative can be instilled into a person with any prospect of sticking over the long-term is when it is promulgated at the most vulnerable period in a human life, the very early years of the forming and highly malleable brain of a young child. And it's stickiness is surely founded on something other than on the basis of reason and logic. I suspect, as every believer existentially knows to be true, without unfettered access to the child's mind at its most unconditionally receptive, religion as we know it would be a vastly different and significantly downsized phenomenon. Religion survives not because of its intrinsic truth value but because of sustained Inculcation at childhood. The numbers in early age recruiting exponentially dwarf the quantum of religious conversions in later stages in life when one can rightly and properly say they came to religion at one's own volition.

This is the substance of Coyne's consternation.

Crude said...

Samwell,

Not happening.

Oh, I know it's not. I ask to highlight, not out of a real expectation.

im-skeptical said...

I agree that this post sounds sensible. I think most people would be happy with a government that allows religious freedom to the maximum extent possible, consistent with the concept that people can't impose their religious beliefs and values on others who aren't willing to accept them. This is where government should play a role - to protect people from those who insist on forcing others to bend to imposition of their religious ideals (often claiming that they must impose those ideals in order to have their own religious freedom).

John W. Loftus said...

Those who call on me to denounce Boghossian means they have never read Boghossian's book to know what he said, or the reasons he specifics, which would not go against any first amendment rights. I support his position. Until you have read what he said you do not know what you're talking about.

I suppose the very people calling on me to denounce Boghossian based on pure ignorance are the same ones who claim to be Christians who have never read the Bible all the way through.

Sheesh

oozzielionel said...

"This is where government should play a role - to protect people from those who insist on forcing others to bend to imposition of their religious ideals (often claiming that they must impose those ideals in order to have their own religious freedom)."
1) Government imposes beliefs and values on the entire society.
2) Both religious people and others are invited to participate in the creation of laws.
3) Both religious people and others impose their beliefs and values on one another.

Crude said...

Those who call on me to denounce Boghossian means they have never read Boghossian's book to know what he said, or the reasons he specifics, which would not go against any first amendment rights.

Considering I've quoted the book directly in the past and own it, it seems your psychic-fu leaves a lot to be desired.

I support his position.

And this is why you can't even take John Loftus at his word - because his word means nothing. He'll say what he thinks sounds good temporarily for the right audience, but at the end of the day he's a craven individual who doesn't want to stand in opposition to even the most extreme of the Cultists of Gnu - as long as he thinks there's an outside possibility they have some coattails for him to possibly ride on.

But don't worry, John, it's not as if anyone is threatened by what positions you endorse. You're a marginal figure in atheism, and always will be.

planks length said...

Crude,

I've checked out John's blog, and after doing so I don't think anyone ought to be calling on him to denounce Boghossian's positions. He'd be better off denouncing most of his own first!

Crude said...

planks,

Agreed in a sense, with the difference that I don't think there's much point in asking a man to denounce a relative nobody. ;)

John W. Loftus said...

Speaking of "denouncing most of his own first!" I would think Victor should do that here. This used to be a higher level blog to debate the issues that separate us. With those who comment now it has gone to the dogs. Only he can fix this. I would think if he did, his blog could return to what it once was.

Cheers

planks length said...

John,

For once, you and I are in agreement. There is way too much "So's yer mother!" sort of back-and-forth - not just on DI, but all over the internet.

Crude said...

planks,

There is way too much "So's yer mother!" sort of back-and-forth - not just on DI, but all over the internet.

The problem here is that John doesn't mind that sort of thing - what he minds is getting the short end of that particular stick. He's defended treating people with religious belief as mentally infected people who need to be 'cured' by having their 'delusions' placed on the DSM-V, a la Boghossian.

I humbly suggest that when someone approves of treating people of mere religious belief, period, as 'mentally ill', they have placed themselves beyond the limits of civil conversation. John's a coward who cannot bring himself to so much as denounce that extremism and hate, because he sees coattails that he thinks he may be able to marginally get a lift off of.

By the by, here's a good quote from recent ex-atheist Erin Macdonald about Boghossian:

There seems to be a belief that theology must simply be delusional, because there is no objective supernatural existent corresponding to the word ‘god’ — or at least that no “slam-dunk” arguments can be produced for such an existent. Consequently, it has become fairly normative to believe that religion has to do with “confected” entities, and religious thought itself not only delusional but even pathological. (Boghossian — in his book on making atheists — repeats the accusation that faith is pathological in his book so often that one is reminded of the George Orwell’s 1984, or the common practice in the Soviet Union of placing dissidents in psychiatric hospitals. There is a deeply threatening aspect to the belief that those whose ideas you oppose are somehow mentally ill, or victims of pathological ways of thinking in need of a cure.)

John W. Loftus said...

Erin Macdonald mischaracterizes Boghossian.

Last time. There is nothing for me to denounce.

Before repeating this again you need to read what Boghossian actually said and the reason why he said it. I'll not spoon feed you.

im-skeptical said...

"You're a marginal figure in atheism, and always will be."

So says the great and awesome crude.

Crude said...

Skeppy,

So says the great and awesome crude.

I never present myself as great and awesome, little boy. In fact, I repeatedly mention how small-scale these conversations are. You, on the other hand, imagine you're a great warrior fighting for the atheist cause - rather than a mere bootlicker and sucker. ;)

Loftus,

Erin Macdonald mischaracterizes Boghossian.

Last time. There is nothing for me to denounce.


Of course there isn't. Because you're fine with treating people who disagree with you about God and religion as having a mental illness which should be placed on the DSM-V.

I've quoted directly from Boghossian's book in the past, John. Most of us have all read exactly what he has to say about 'mental illness' and 'religious belief'. Shall I do so again? After all, I have the book.

Why must you lie in the service of your idols? Have you finally become so used to dishonesty that you no longer bother to so much as try to tell the truth in your defense of them?

But wait, why am I asking this? If your fake blog attack incident showed anything, John, it's not only that you're quite incapable of being honest - it's also that you're too inept to know how to even spin very well.

Now quick, do what you always do and say you're abandoning this conversation now that your moral and intellectual worth have been put on display for all to see. Don't worry - you still have *snrrk* a fan or two.

Crude said...

It is crucial that the religious exemption for delusion be removed from the DSM. Once religious delusions are integrated into the DSM, entirely new categories of research and treatment into the problem of faith can be created. These will include removal of existing ethical barriers, changing treatments covered by insurance, including faith-based special education programs in schools, helping children who have been indoctrinated into a faith tradition, and legitimizing interventions designed to rid subjects of the faith affliction.

Removing the exemption that classifies a phenomenon as an officially recognized psychiatric disorder legitimizes research designed to cure the disorder. These classifications also enable researchers to assess their treatments and to continue to build upon what works. Of course there will be institutional and social barriers discouraging research into controversial areas, but with this one change THE major barrier - receiving approval from the IRB to disabuse human subjects of faith - would be INSTANTLY overcome.

There is perhaps no greater contribution one could make to contain and perhaps even cure faith than removing the exemption that prohibits classifying religious delusions as mental illness. The removal of religious exemptions from the DSM would enable academicians and clinicians to bring considerable resources to bear on the problem of treating faith, as well as on the ethical issues surrounding these faith-based interventions. In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research is refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.


Behold, a full quote from the book John dishonestly says I have not read. Behold, what hypocrite Loftus endorses.

planks length said...

Crude,

Youza! Pure North Korea. (Oh, but they're not real atheists. They can't be, because they're... they're meanies! Not like us, who would only lock up people who disagree with us, and cure them!)

John W. Loftus said...

Crude, from my perspective there is nothing to condemn here, per my claim that atheists are not proposing to put believers in mental institutions. There are many people who have mental problems who need our help if they seek it out, or if state mandated, or if someone with the power of attorney so declares.

He also says:

"There are serious ethical, constitutional, and free speech issues that prevent the development and institutionalization of large scale epistemological interventions. Given these constitutional and basic rights issues, instead of epistemologically sanitizing organizations, interventions need to be designed that counter the spread of these virulent epistemologies. Such interventions should promote and even glamorize reliable epistemologies."

"I want to be clear that I am not advocating making faith illegal, in the same way racism cannot be made illegal."

Now, I just wasted my time.

Crude said...

John,

Crude, from my perspective there is nothing to condemn here, per my claim that atheists are not proposing to put believers in mental institutions. There are many people who have mental problems who need our help if they seek it out, or if state mandated, or if someone with the power of attorney so declares.

Yeah, in other words, your stated 'opposition' is filled with so many holes that a hatemonger like Boghossian can slip through.

Treating 'faith' and 'religious belief' as a mental illness? Endorsement: check.

Using psychological 'treatments' to 'disabuse' people of their religious beliefs? Endorsement: check.

Oh, but that's okay, because you quoted Boghossian saying... uh... that there are currently legal barriers in the way. Rivetting.

But thanks, John. The next time someone tells me that atheism is a full-blown mental illness and that people who believe God doesn't exist should have interventions or be subjected to "treatments" that 'disabuse them of the atheism virus", apparently all someone has to do is ask them to say that they admit there are legal walls standing in the way of doing what they're doing, and that in their opinion 'treating the atheism virus' is not tantamount to 'making skepticism illegal' - and I know they're okay!

Wait, no, I don't. Because it would be insipid to believe that. But then again, I'm not interested in defending lunacy whenever a theist offers it - unlike how you'll try to ride the coattails of whatever atheist hate-monger happens to be the flavor of the month, if you wrongly think you can squeeze a drop of legitimacy out of the act.

John W. Loftus said...

Crude, methinks you protest too much. You seem worried because well, maybe you have mental problems? You sure write like you do. Fear and hate oozes out your veins. That's too bad. I represent a threat to you. I'm the "Other" - someone you can hate because you don't personally know me. Oh, you'll deny it, but then why the hate? If I am a nobody then why bother with me at all? Where is your God? Isn't he in control? Why do you write as if you are in control then? Your God won't be dethroned by me. Relax. Learn from everyone. Debate people as you see fit. But the hate is inexplicable apart from me threatening you. You don't need to hate when your God is in control. According to you revenge is God's, not yours to take. Be friendly as you watch me die in flames. There is no worry for anyone I might reach with my non-belief either. If you have faith in your God there should be no hate and no worries. Your fear and hate show you really do not believe in your God.

Nonetheless, you don't have any worries. No one will force you to take any treatments under Bogghossian's watch. This you refuse to understand. You didn't even quote all he said, which bespeaks of blindness. The faith virus has blinded you. You need help. Perhaps Victor will do you a service himself by banning you from mucking up his blog. I know I would.

Vic, if you want the code to ban people I have it. Just ask. It would do your blog and Crude some good.

Crude said...

John,

Crude, methinks you protest too much. You seem worried because well, maybe you have mental problems? You sure write like you do.

Why, because I point out your hypocrisy and the fact that you're an intellectually middling wannabe-Myers? I'm afraid, John, that when people point out your track record of dishonesty, it's got little to do with mental illness - but I understand why that would be a coping mechanism of yours.

I'm the "Other" - someone you can hate because you don't personally know me. Oh, you'll deny it, but then why the hate? If I am a nobody then why bother with me at all?

"Hate" you? John, John, John - when have I ever said I hate you? This is another weird obsession of yours - you are incapable of taking criticism, and you have thin skin when your failings are pointed out. Hence, when someone does it, it must be due to hatred, it must be due to this or that or the other thing.

It's never due to your dishonesty, or your getting issues wrong. When someone criticizes you, the problem must be always on their end - not yours. Not exactly encouraging from a mental health perspective, you know.

Your God won't be dethroned by me.

Er, that was never in the cards. You can't even dethrone mere humans, John.

Here is your problem: you were dishonest in this thread. I gave you an opportunity to simply disavow the hatred of Boghossian, to say no - it really isn't okay to treat people who have disagreements with you about God and religion as 'mentally ill' people whose 'virus' should be placed on the DSM-V. But you just couldn't bring yourself to do that, because really... at the end of the day? You need Boghossian. He's someone with coattails you imagine you can maybe someday ride, which means that if Boghossian says something foul, you must defend him.

And you're bearing as much out here.

See, John, I don't hate you. I mean really, I don't even hate Boghossian or Dawkins, people who are vastly more in the position to make an intellectual impact. But you need to treat people who disagree with you as those who hate - because if you stick to simply addressing the points they bring up against you? Well, that's just going to make you look quite petty and dishonest. Why, you may be forced to apologize to someone you despise someday - and we can't have that, can we?

Nonetheless, you don't have any worries. No one will force you to take any treatments under Bogghossian's watch.

I don't have to worry about Boghossian right now purely because he's far away from his goals. But, hatemongers who endorse his Soviet-styled dreams should be condemned for what they are. That is part of how people like that are kept away from their goals.

But I see, as usual, you're desperate to ban me from commenting here. John, you know, there's an easier way to deal with people who point out your dishonesty: simply stop being dishonest, stop endorsing hatemongers, and that way you won't be tarred with that brush anymore.

Then again, honesty never worked out for you in the past, so I suppose I understand why such a moral stance would be off-putting to you.

Crude said...

By the way.

Notice that throughout this entire conversation, the number of times I've referenced 'faith' or brought up God has been exactly nil. I've made no religious claims, and my criticism of Boghossian could (and frankly, should) be made even by religious non-believers.

But because I criticize Loftus and Boghossian - because I point out that, you know, branding the people you disagree with as mentally ill and in need of having their beliefs placed on the DSM-V - John's gone haywire.

In light of this, do you really think people like either John or Bog should be taken seriously when they start talking about who should and shouldn't be considered 'mentally ill'? Or is it all too obvious that these guys - John in particular - are simply so worked up over the inability to make their case that they regard such state support as crucial to buttress their otherwise sad reasoning abilities?

Not all atheists are like them, thankfully. The ones that aren't, should denounce them openly.

im-skeptical said...

"do you really think people like either John or Bog should be taken seriously when they start talking about who should and shouldn't be considered 'mentally ill'?"

What a laugh. crude has a lot to fear because as the chief warrior for the deluded, he thinks he'd be the top candidate for the funny farm.

Crude said...

What a laugh. crude has a lot to fear because as the chief warrior for the deluded,

Now this is some adorable stuff.

To Skep, I'm a "Chief Warrior" who "has a lot to fear" from Boghossian, etc. Whereas to anyone sane it's clear that I'm just some lone guy arguing in a combox. See the sorts of people enabled by this Gnu hate speech? Poor, deluded atheists like Skeppy, who think that anonymous combox conversations on a blog is the stuff of valiant conflict.

Notice, by the way, how Skep can't even keep the lie straight. To Skep, Bog is certainly talking about putting religious believers - or people who simply disagree with his Cultists - in mental institutions, etc. That's what gets him aroused and happy. Right on the heels of John trying, lamely, to deny this.

Keep it up, Skep. Macdonald and others have already washed their hands of your hate group. Surely you can scare others off in the name of ideological purity.

im-skeptical said...

"To Skep, I'm a "Chief Warrior" who "has a lot to fear" from Boghossian"

No, crude what you are is deluded.

Crude said...

No, crude what you are is deluded.

Whatever grants your wounded psyche a momentary band-aid, Skep my boy. I mean, that's precisely why you cling so desperately to a hate group like this, right? For a moment, it feels soothing!

Others have no need for the crutch of a hate-group. But you... well, you do what you must. ;)

Crude said...

Oh, speaking of mental illness.

Here comes Papalinton to remind everyone about his past lying and plagiarism, which I suppose is as good as evidence for mental unwellness as anything could be.

As always, I see fit to ignore Linton after pointing out his history of lies and plagiarism. But I do suggest others ask themselves - does joining a hate group that demands people with 'religious belief' and 'faith' be regarded as mentally ill and dealt with in the manner of the Soviets of the past (as Macdonald himself drew the comparison) regard people as the stuff of great mental health?

Perhaps next we'll hear testimonials about just how quickly they'd turn in their children and grandchildren to be "cured" if ever they came to believe in God. You know, show off their sterling mental credentials for us all. ;)

Papalinton said...

Loftus: Crude, you are in denial.
Crude: NO, I"M NOT!

Give over crude. You have a history of going over the top in fits of rage.
On one occasion, the advice from two 'friends:
Eduardo said...
"Whoa man, calm down. 

No need to curse the guy until you knock his hair black!


 Having a nervous breakdown helps no one including you Crude"

and from Yachov:

BenYachov said...
".................. 

Crude, 

I know I am the last person to say this. 

I understand how you feel. If someone made a crack about Autism and my kids I would say worst than you but roll it back please. 

dguller isn't likely saying this to be a punk. He really thinks he is trying to be just towards gays and fighting forces that treat gays unjustly.

He is a good guy and you know an Atheist who earns that respect from me likely deserves it."

In the interests of family and public safety have you considered divesting yourself of any firearms you might possess? You ought to seek professional counseling about that awful rage. You need help.

Crude said...

So, I await the answer to the following defenders of Boghossian in this thread:

Let's say your 15 year old daughter one day comes to you and tells you that, after looking at the evidence, she's come to believe in and have faith in Christ.

My question is: exactly how quickly would you have her taken away to an insane asylum to be "cured" by the state of her terrible mental affliction?

Inquiring minds want to know. ;)

John W. Loftus said...

Let me call on Vic one more time to ban Crude if he wants to return to to the higher level blog he once had.

This is pathetic Vic, and you know it.

As a former pastor there were people in my churches I wish I could kick out, but I couldn't. It's not that they weren't Christians or doctrinally correct and all of that. It's that by their speech and behavior they sent people away as fast as I could bring 'em in.

Crude is a cancer to a civil respectful discussion. Just look at how he treats us with ad hominems as a substitute for argumentation Vic.

Or, is it you don't want to deal with our objections so you like him?

Your choice, but I'm telling you this blog has gone to the dogs.

Papalinton said...

Crude, please seek counsel. Those who have befriended Crude I ask you to help out.

Crude said...

Loftus,

Crude is a cancer to a civil respectful discussion. Just look at how he treats us with ad hominems as a substitute for argumentation Vic.

I beg your pardon, John? My 'ad hom' to you has been to call you a man of middling talent and meager influence - verifiable truth, both claims. And, of course, I've criticized your past dishonesty, and inability to condemn Boghossian for his hate-speech. I've called Linton a liar and a plagiarist, and I've linked to his being caught red-handed lying and plagiarizing. I've made reference to your Fake Blog incident with Holding - do you think anyone around here is unaware of that?

The fact that you regard my questions and criticisms as a "cancer" that needs to be snuffed out by force, John, says a whole lot more - and far worse - about yourself than about me.

Now, I again ask those who defend Boghossian the same question I asked earlier:

Imagine you have a 15 year old daughter who comes to you saying that she now believes in and has faith in Christ. Exactly how quickly will you turn her into the imagined "authorities" in the hopes of "curing her" of her mental illness?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Crude said...

By the by, this is nothing new from John. Whenever I point out his illogic and inconsistencies he regularly flips out, shows a fragile psyche, and demands I be banned.

It's especially funny since the resident plagiarist quoted my telling someone 'Fuck you' as a supposed damning incident on my part - and yet in the above thread we can see Loftus slinging far, far worse.

All because I pointed out he was a middling atheist "thinker", and correctly predicted Randal Rauser would get the better of him in debate. Is it any wonder why this man has managed to be little more than an embarrassment to Internet Atheism, and little more than a footnote besides?

John W. Loftus said...

Ah yes, Crude, I remember that day. You had stalked me so often I told you off. That was also the day I decided to stop placing links to Christian sites in my sidebar, which included this one by Reppert because you frequented here as well.

So you really did stop some traffic to Vic's blog. I decided I was no longer going to prop us his blog with hits due to his lack of leadership with YOU!

You should be congratulated, or something!

Crude said...

John,

Ah yes, Crude, I remember that day. You had stalked me so often I told you off.

Yet more lies from a man with a history of dishonesty. I don't frequent your terrible little blog - I now and then have run into you on here, on Christ the Tao, and at Randal's. You had a meltdown and, of course, demanded I be banned - with Randal pointing out that I did nothing that was banworthy.

Apparently, you regard anyone who criticizes you as a terrible, vicious person who must be banned. And I happen to regard that as, well... yet another reason to brand you as Amateur Hour Atheism.

So you really did stop some traffic to Vic's blog. I decided I was no longer going to prop us his blog with hits due to his lack of leadership with YOU!

What a surprise - Loftus holds back links from sites he finds critical of himself. Yawn.

Will you be answering my question, John? 15 year old hypothetical daughter comes to have faith in Christ. Do you turn her into the authorities to 'cure' her of her 'mental illness'? How quickly do you do so?

Or perhaps instead you'll tell us about how successful Skeptink is lately. Oops, wait - that one didn't pan out so well, now did it?

John W. Loftus said...

About a month after I stopped linking here Vic's stats dropped significantly.

LINK.

And guess who Vic has to thank Crude?

Karl Grant said...

Crude,

Will you be answering my question, John? 15 year old hypothetical daughter comes to have faith in Christ. Do you turn her into the authorities to 'cure' her of her 'mental illness'? How quickly do you do so?

Oh he would probably do it right quick. In the Soviet Union they made heroes out of people, especially kids, that denounced their family members. Be labeled a Hero of Atheism would probably float Loftus's little boat. Of course, his marriage history indicates he ain't too loyal to family to begin with anyway. Besides, look at what he just linked to: Don't piss off the mighty Loftus! I just feel so good right now I could spit.

....

Yeah, this is the type of guy who would stand up in front of his town and go Little Rachel bad-mouthed and criticized me in public so I reported her to the KGB for subversive activities. Now I am Hero of the Soviet Union and she disappeared in the middle of the night! Don't piss off the mighty Hero Loftus! I just feel so good right now I could spit.

Crude said...

John,

Wow, no answer to my question about the 15 year old hypothetical daughter -or- your skeptical blog "project", eh?

Let me ask you another question. 10, 20 years ago, did you really think in 2014 you'd be angrily demanding a low-traffic blog ban a commenter whose main crime is pointing out your many and unremarkable failings? I somehow imagine you thought you'd be a bit more successful than that.

But alas, it didn't work out. Look on the bright side: at least you now have enough notoriety to warrant a wikipedia entry! I didn't know you were president of the Florida Holocaust Museum. ;)

Crude said...

Karl,

Yeah, this is the type of guy who would stand up in front of his town and go Little Rachel bad-mouthed and criticized me in public so I reported her to the KGB for subversive activities. Now I am Hero of the Soviet Union and she disappeared in the middle of the night! Don't piss off the mighty Hero Loftus! I just feel so good right now I could spit.

Or, lacking that, I suppose he'd yammer about how he *gasp* took her livejournal link off his blog site! And then sit patiently around, wondering when he'd get his medal.

Ephram said...

IF there exists any group out there that fully deserves the "mentally ill" characterization, it's those who constantly and aggressively seek to characterize the viewpoints of their opposition as a pathology, those who - out of one side of their mouth - describe their opponents as being afflicted with "The Faith Virus," while - out of the other - calling for and fully expecting "civil discussions" bereft of insults, and who then act surprised, whine, and refuse to learn when people like Crude proceed to point out the contradiction and lambaste them for their transparent bigotry.

What a bunch of odious man-children.

im-skeptical said...

Ephram,

crude doesn't have the sense to follow John's advice, and read and understand what Boghossian is saying. You really shouldn't follow in his footsteps.

Victor Reppert said...

John, do you want a list of people on your blog that I would like to see banned?

It's too easy to want someone banned who's on the other side from you. I get a rude response from some people when I go over to your site, and it's usually the same people. And others who are more reasonable and fair-minded.

Crude said...

Poor Boghossian is merely misunderstood. And best of all, this is alleged by Skeppy - who, last I checked, had serious trouble understanding... *Loftus himself*. :D

Loftus' problem here is identified properly by Ephram: the hypocritical demand to be treated with kid gloves on the one hand, yet on the other, to be as obnoxious and rude as he likes. Mister 'Why are Christians so dumb?' can't handle being merely, and rightly, called out as a mediocrity with consistency issues.

Papalinton said...

"Oh he would probably do it right quick. In the Soviet Union they made heroes out of people, especially kids, that denounced their family members. Be labeled a Hero of Atheism would probably float Loftus's little boat."

The involuntary reactive and irrational response of the desperate mind, flooded with Soviet conspiracy-fueled visions, vainly endeavoring to defend a religious worldview now ineluctably collapsing under its own inertia as humanity matures into adulthood, a maturing from its infancy that progressively eschews sustaining an old, contrived and thoroughly time-worn primitive paradigm grounded in ignorance, ancient superstition and shamanic ritual. It is the reactionary response of a mind made all the more desperate by the immense discomfort and the highly unsettling experience of the nature of change occurring in the contemporary world that it is unable to cope with as the society around him transits to a significantly more balanced, evidence- and empirically-based epistemology as the foundation for civil discourse on public policy and proper social governance going forward.

As R J Hollingdale, English scholar and translator of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, observed:
"[For demonstrating that God is dead] I admit that the generation that produced Stalin, Auschwitz and Hiroshima will take some beating; but the radical and universal consciousness of the death of god is still ahead of us; perhaps we shall have to colonize the stars before it is finally borne in upon us that God is not out there."

Most importantly, we have commenced that journey.

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

The involuntary reactive and irrational response of the desperate mind, flooded with Soviet conspiracy-fueled visions,

Nah, the irrational response of a desperate mind is a certain dumbass wearing out his thesaurus (or more likely just wearing out the Ctrl, C and V buttons on his keyboard) to write a purple prose paragraph calling the other guy dumb because he thinks it is going to impress and/or intimidate his opponents despite years of experience to the contrary.

[For demonstrating that God is dead] I admit that the generation that produced Stalin, Auschwitz and Hiroshima will take some beating; but the radical and universal consciousness of the death of god is still ahead of us; perhaps we shall have to colonize the stars before it is finally borne in upon us that God is not out there.

In other words, Things are bad now, but keep the faith brothers! Salvation is just around the corner! You going to start snake-handling next? And of course God is not out there in deep space; traditional theism views God as standing outside the universe, time, etc.... It is down right amazing of many atheists never advanced their understanding of theology past the kindergarten level.

planks length said...

Thinking about Karl's latest comment, there are several big problems with atheists washing their hands of atrocities done in their name (as listed in this conversation and the one immediately below), as opposed to Christians repenting of past crimes done in theirs (such as the Inquisition):

a. Note that, due to their disavowal of said acts, there has yet to be any repentance shown on the atheist side. This shows that no lesson has been learned, and the possibility of history repeating itself is therefore very much a real threat.

b. Scale. As has been pointed out many times (although even a single victim is too much and totally inexcusable), there remains a vast difference between the thousands of victims of the Inquisition, and the tens (and possibly even hundreds) of millions under atheistic regimes.

c. We must never forget that, even as they were being committed, every last crime committed "in the name of" Christianity was done in the very teeth of doctrine condemning such acts. The people carrying out such evil deeds were acting contrary to the very faith they claimed to be defending.

c and a half. No such thing can be said by the atheists. They, after all, cheerfully trumpet their belief that human beings are mere "meat machines", that personal identity (and by some, even consciousness itself) is an illusion, that there is no objective morality, that pragmatism is the highest good (a.k.a., "the ends justify the means"). What is stopping them from committing the worst atrocities, as long as they can justify them by being "on the right side of history" or by punting to some imaginary (and unprovable) idyllic humanist future?

c and three quarters. All that is stopping them is the memory of the shreds of moral guidance they either picked up as children or soaked in by osmosis from the nominally religious societies they live in. All that keeps contemporary Europe from once again slipping into yet another murderous bloodbath like we saw repeatedly in the last century is the residual influence of two thousand years of Christianity. If the "prophets of gnu" are correct (God help us!) about the further decline of Christianity in Europe, then even that fading brake against the next apocalyptic horror will grow yet weaker as time passes.

grodrigues said...

@planks length:

"As has been pointed out many times (although even a single victim is too much and totally inexcusable), there remains a vast difference between the thousands of victims of the Inquisition, and the tens (and possibly even hundreds) of millions under atheistic regimes."

Emphatically, the difference is *not* just one of scale -- although it is that too. Start with Anne Applebaum's the "The Gulag: A History" and proceed to Orlando Figes' "The Whisperers".

David Brightly said...

Planks,

I bat neither for team theism nor for team anti-theism. I speak only for myself. I say that the crimes of the Inquisition were not done in your name and you have nothing of which to repent or to apologise. Likewise, the crimes of Stalin, etc, were not done in my name and I have no need to repent of them or apologise for them. One does not have to be historically guilty in order to draw lessons from history. The lesson I draw is this. Contrary to your implied claim that the best guarantee of decent behaviour is the belief in divine sanction, I have come to think that our best hope is in worldly power. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, all took advantage of revolutionary chaos and the collapse of civil institutions to establish power structures that served their own ends. There will always be great criminals like these, just as there will always be lesser criminals who feel no compunction in freeloading on the rest of us, and deluded individuals who can persuade themselves that wrong is right. This is the human predicament. The best way of preventing all of these from doing harm is the establishment of robust civil institutions that attract the loyalty of everyone. Likewise, at the level of states, international institutions of trade and governance that bind nations together. One hundred years ago the commercial empires of Europe fell into the catastrophe of the Great War. The Ottomans aside, each was led by a nominally Christian governing class. Everyone thought they had much to gain and little to lose. What prevents bloody internecine strife in Europe today, is not I think a diminished Christianity, which after all failed us when rather stronger in 1914, but rather the now widely shared view that we have an awful lot to lose. Plus the increasing sense that more joins us together than separates us. Foremost in this is our shared, if fractious, two thousand year old common Christian culture.

A personal note. I was brought up in the Church of England. One of the great things about the historic compromise that created the CofE is that you are not required to believe too much. No 'windows into mens souls' as Gloriana said. I am comfortable with its liturgy (though I prefer the language of my youth), its music (especially that), its buildings (mostly!) and its people. But from an early age I had doubts about its doctrine, such as it was. I remember thinking, age six or seven, that Thomas was a sensible fellow. I used to share your worry that the decline of Christianity will precipitate some sort of moral collapse. Today I think that religious teaching serves to draw out and reinforce our innate moral sentiments. Provided we continue to do this by other means we can largely decouple the metaphysical from the moral. Christianity works through a story and through its art and we can continue to use literature, biography, history and music. These days I worry more about the corrosive nature of some popular culture.

Finally, let me score myself on your atheism test: Yes, I think we are 'meat machines', but 'persons' says a whole lot more; No, personal identity is not an illusion; nor is consciousness, though I can explain neither; yes, there is objective morality, though I suspect we differ as to what this means; not sure what you imply with 'pragmatism is the highest good' but I certainly reject 'the end justifies the means'. One issue I definitely pass on is this: you seem to be asking non-believers to take up Christianity for the moral benefits this will bring to civil society. In the end this is impossible. To be sincere one would have to accept the metaphysical doctrines, and this, for me at least, is not a matter of will power. And I'm not sure the moral benefits are the unique gift of Christianity.

Papalinton said...

Plank: "If the "prophets of gnu" are correct (God help us!) about the further decline of Christianity in Europe, then even that fading brake against the next apocalyptic horror will grow yet weaker as time passes."

The self-fulfilling prophecy. It will only take a Dubbya-like bible basher in a position of power to take on Plank's rhetoric, and there are so many god-fearing christians out there that are keen to get their thumb on the armageddon button; and should they confirm Plank's vision by listening 'to the inner witness of the Holy Spirit', God's wish will doubtless be carried out.

It has been known and feared for some time now that in the pathologically deranged delusion of Christian apocalyptic eschatology as set out in the Revelation of John, Christianity is divinely 'blessed' with the seeds of its own and humanity's destruction. It is unfortunate that John's revelation also expresses depraved indifference to the welfare and concern of all humanity should we to a person not kow to the Christian god. And I have no doubt the Christian mind is sufficiently primed to precipitate that event should push come to shove. There is no rational argument against the Revelation of John unless Christians themselves make that decision not to hold a gun to the head of humanity in perpetuity.

I do not see any positive move to that effect, as exemplified by Plank's externalizing the problem, a problem largely of Christianity's own making by an imagined truth about observing its wholly misguided and its universally anti-humanitarian eschatological doctrine. Of all belief systems around the world It is only the aggressive and malignant Abrahamic religions that prophesy the wholesale destruction of humanity. Neither Buddhism nor Hinduism, the other significant religious traditions seeks an end game of utter destruction. Humanity's destruction will be borne from within Christianity or Islam. Of the non-religious traditions, Communism equally cannot be overlooked in this equation, although Communism does not embody a global destruction strategy within its doctrines. The intellectually erudite observation by researcher and British psychologist, Margaret Knight, which led to her writing the book, Morals Without Religion, which was also the cornerstone for a widely acknowledged and engaging radio talk show on the BBC:

"The fundamental opposition is between dogma and the scientific outlook. On the one side, Christianity and Communism, the two great rival dogmatic systems; on the other Scientific Humanism"

underscores the precarious nature of human existence on this planet and on which side of the ledger destruction will in all likelihood emanate. It will not be or from Humanism. It will not be or from atheism. It will assuredly be a conflagration between Christianity and Communism, the rival worldviews extant, both forms of totalitarianism that I revile.

Cont.

Papalinton said...

Cont.
Knight's insight, along with many other's, discerningly accords with and confirms the words and sentiments of H B Bonner [1858-1934] peace activist, death penalty opponent and principal Justice of the Peace for London (1922-1934), a person who suffered great personal privation during and following World War I, as indeed others did:

"Before August 1914, it was the correct thing to proclaim Christ as the Prince of Peace and Christianity as the religion of love .... Lip service was paid to Peace from thousands of pulpits. After August, 1914, these same pulpits resounded with praises of the Lord as a man of war [Exodus, xv. 3] and declarations that the great European War as a Christian war, sent directly by Almighty God himself"

It is well to remember the 'evil' Germans also prayed to the very same Christ, as they blew themselves to bits, Christians against Christians, British Catholics and Protestants against German Catholics and Protestants both claiming to fight is a just war. The hypocrisy of Christianity cannot be more roundly illustrated than through the utter obscenity and savagery of knowing that on either side of the trenches the opposing forces were simultaneously praying to the very same God of War, Jesus Christ.

Christianity is not a stabilizing force for good. It is a wind-sock, its direction fluttering in concert with the vagaries and perturbations of the winds.

Papalinton said...

David Brightly
You comment captures my perspective pretty much in toto although one would not infer that from my rhetoric. It is the clearest and most perceptive comment I have had the pleasure of reading for quite some time.

It was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise fetid threadfeed to which I ashamedly confess I have contributed to.

Papalinton said...

Victor
Somewhat off-topic but blindingly funny, and true. As the old adage notes: many a true word said in jest.

It will put a smile on your face. It did for me.

Karl Grant said...

Hey Paps,

Since you love Bill Maher so much why don't you show your granddaughter the video where he states women and children are lesser lifeforms.

Sensitivity is more important than truth. Feelings are more important than facts. Commitment is more important than individuality. Children are more important than PEOPLE!

I am sure that will bring a smile to her face (along with her mother's). While you are at it, make sure she don't get a flu shot either. Because, you know, Bill Maher says flu shots are for idiots.

planks length said...

Karl,

I learned a long time ago that people who rely on ridicule and snarkiness to communicate (or attempt to do so) really have nothing of significance to say. Who ever wins an argument by saying "You're a dope!"? (Hint: No one)

More to the point, I've watched Bill Maher on occasion, and honestly don't find him the least bit funny. He's so cruel to the butts of his "jokes" that one feels dreadfully guilty at any laughs his schtick may involuntarily force out of you. How anyone can ever truly enjoy his supposed humor, all done at the expense of our fellow human beings, I cannot fathom.

Interesting thought experiment here: These are the same people who characterize religious faith as a mental disorder. But these same people then cheerfully ridicule people of faith. Huh? Would they also make fun of a child with Down's Syndrome? Or humiliate an adult with dyslexia? Food for thought here. They either do not honestly believe their statements about faith being a mental disorder, or else they are truly despicable human beings worthy only of our scorn and condemnation. There's no third option.

Karl Grant said...

Planks Length

More to the point, I've watched Bill Maher on occasion, and honestly don't find him the least bit funny. He's so cruel to the butts of his "jokes" that one feels dreadfully guilty at any laughs his schtick may involuntarily force out of you. How anyone can ever truly enjoy his supposed humor, all done at the expense of our fellow human beings, I cannot fathom.

Oh I agree with that assessment of Bill Maher, I found that video on article that was critical of him. I just find it funny that atheists who say they are for science and usually say they hold progressive values hold up a flu-shot crank who has views of women and children that would have been considered obsolete in the 1950s as a public spokesman. Kind of ironic, in my opinion.

Interesting thought experiment here: These are the same people who characterize religious faith as a mental disorder. But these same people then cheerfully ridicule people of faith. Huh? Would they also make fun of a child with Down's Syndrome? Or humiliate an adult with dyslexia? Food for thought here.

Yeah, the thought had crossed my mind as well.

Papalinton said...

"These are the same people who characterize religious faith as a mental disorder."

Yes, it is an aberrant functioning of the brain that has been trained to think in that manner. Religious faith is learned behaviour inculcated by indoctrination over many years. It is a mental disorder in the same way that jihardists can be trained to blow themselves up in the belief that they are doing God's bidding under the false claim the act will send them straight to heaven and 72 virgins. It is a mental disorder in the same way, and trained for in the same manner, that Mormons have utter faith in the belief in the existence and reality of the golden tablets and the Angel Moroni and no amount of rational and reasoned argument can talk them out of it. Religious faith is a mental disorder in the same way that a child can be trained to have unequivocal faith that Xenu, a Galactic Overlord, and other disembodied alien beings, seeded humans on Earth. It is aberrant in the same way that people believe without a shadow of doubt that a putrescent three-day old cadaver magically resuscitated and drifted into the atmosphere. It is aberrant in the same way that a billion people believe without a shadow of doubt that Ganesha, an anthropoid god with an elephant head truly exists.

Yes religious faith is malware onto and through which the brain can be trained to act upon, particularly if believed as fact.

I don't think there is any argument on this matter. The facts are not in dispute. Only the terms aberration and malware might be a question of differing interpretation.

"Would they also make fun of a child with Down's Syndrome? Or humiliate an adult with dyslexia? "

No. Not in a million years. These are the results of dreadfully unfortunate genetic and evolutionary biological happenstance. Such physiological damage and/or impairment can never be a matter of choice in the same way that inculcation of religious belief is a matter of choice of parents in the case of little children. One chooses to be a religious believer. Parents choose to inculcate their children. One does not chose to be a Downs Syndrome child. Parents do not choose to have Downs Syndrome children.

David Brightly said...

One chooses to be a religious believer.

I'm not at all sure about this. I tend to the view that we have no direct control over what we believe, in any sphere. Some indirect control perhaps. I'd be interested to hear what others think.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

David, how so?
On what basis do we not choose to be religious? Or, in my case having lived half my life a christian believer and chosen in the latter half to be not religious?

Are you looking at it from the perspective of a deterministic universe? That is, determinism as opposed to the doctrine of free will?

It has often been of interest and quiet musing by researchers and social scientists whether deferring the introduction of religion and religious education to the later years of juveniles would result in any significant effect on the numbers of children that go on to become dedicated religious believers. And as is rightly acknowledged there can be no testing this proposition while concurrently protecting human rights concerns.

Anecdotal evidence though pretty much indicates that partisan religious belief in later life is largely a function of systemic and systematic early childhood inculcation rather than any veridical nature of the belief systems' claims made.

David Brightly said...

Well, it's strange. Some people believe (!) they can volunteer belief. Others, like me, that they cannot. It's almost as if they applied the word 'belief' to different concepts. This may not be too far off because, unlike with physical objects, a mentor can't lay a belief on the table, point to it, and say, Look, thats's what we call a belief.

But we do use the word 'compelling' of evidence and arguments, and this fits with the thought that at least in some cases, we are forced into belief. This is not like choosing between tea or coffee, which could be decided by the toss of a coin. Having seen a proof of, say, Pythagoras theorem, for me to say that I don't believe it reeks of insincerity. But others, unversed in geometry perhaps, may well be sincere.

planks length said...

"It's almost as if they applied the word 'belief' to different concepts."

It's not "almost if", David. That is exactly the case. The gnus invent imaginary definitions of the word Faith, and then insist on their interpretation and no one else's. If you sincerely want to know what the word means in truth, then I know of no better place to find out than the encyclical Lumen Fidei. You can buy a copy from Amazon, or read it for free HERE.

Papalinton said...

David, I see your point. But how would you define 'belief'? And is belief in the concept of supernaturalism akin to belief in Pythagoras's Theorem? As is generally understood Pythagoras's theorem is replicable, consistent, provable and strongly supported in demonstrable fact, whereas religious belief is highly problematic and its hermeneutics indiscriminately subject to the vagaries of a vast interpretive spectrum, as no doubt one only need read the plethora of Christian Apologetical literature to gauge the diverse, inconsistent and in most cases conflicting interpretations, with little prospect of establishing whether that belief is based in fact or simply governed by an emotive reaction to the fit of that belief to one's own psychological and emotional needs.

Contrary to Plank's direction to the Lumen Fidei, though interesting in itself, it does not provide an answer and doesn't really contribute to the debate because there are many presuppositions one must accede to, presuppositions themselves which are simply taken as given, untested. In the main it is theological in content. And as we know theologies are notoriously ambiguous.

Have you purposefully sidestep my question about how you would define faith, and whether the idea that one doesn't choose their faith is from a determinist perspective as opposed to the doctrine of free will?

im-skeptical said...

David,

I agree that religious belief is for the most part inculcated during childhood, and thus becomes part of a person's psyche, and can be difficult to overcome. However, if one makes a deliberate and honest effort to investigate the facts of what he has always assumed to be true, and to be guided not by his indoctrination but by objective evaluation of facts that he can learn for himself, then it is possible for him to overcome that deeply-instilled religious mentality, and decide for himself what is worthy of belief.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

I agree that religious belief is for the most part inculcated during childhood, and thus becomes part of a person's psyche, and can be difficult to overcome. However, if one makes a deliberate and honest effort to investigate the facts of what he has always assumed to be true, and to be guided not by his indoctrination but by objective evaluation of facts that he can learn for himself, then it is possible for him to overcome that deeply-instilled religious mentality, and decide for himself what is worthy of belief.

Not-so-minor problem Skeppy, you have been arguing repeatedly on this website for materialistic determinism. Under said framework the degree to which a person is capable of making a "deliberate and honest effort" (on a related note, is it only deliberate and honest when it ends up agreeing with your worldview?) is determined by their genetic make-up, among other things. There is no real choice.

im-skeptical said...

"Under said framework the degree to which a person is capable of making a "deliberate and honest effort" ... is determined by their genetic make-up"

It is determined by many things, including genetic makeup. For some people, there really isn't much hope. But determinism doesn't imply what you seem to think.

planks length said...

"However, if one makes a deliberate and honest effort to investigate the facts of what he has always assumed to be true, and to be guided not by his indoctrination but by objective evaluation of facts that he can learn for himself, then it is possible for him to ... decide for himself what is worthy of belief."

I agree (with the exception of the non-objective, biased clause that I have edited out). I have done said investigation, and as a result am convinced of the truth of the teachings of the Catholic Church, and believe in the literal, physical Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, on the basis of the evidence that we have.

If im-skeptical is honest about his respect of objectivity, then he must respect the conclusions I have come to, because they were objectively arrived at.

Karl Grant said...

It is determined by many things, including genetic makeup.

Did you not notice the phrase among among other things that immediately followed determined by their genetic make-up. Is there some reason you felt the need to mindlessly repeat what I already stated?

For some people, there really isn't much hope.

Define hope in this context. After all, these people are the product of an unguided evolutionary process in a naturalistic world with no overarching purpose. Saying "there isn't much hope" implies that there is some universal standard they are failing to meet; who imposed it? Unless, of course, you mean they are failing to meet your personal standards; in which case, under materialist determinism, why should we follow them?

But determinism doesn't imply what you seem to think.

Really? I am working from the basis of what you, frances and a few others of your ilk have said in previous posts. Maybe you would like to provide a clear-cut definition of determinism right now? Preferably one that does not overlap with the definition of free-will.

Karl Grant said...

Planks Length,

If im-skeptical is honest about his respect of objectivity, then he must respect the conclusions I have come to, because they were objectively arrived at.

Not going to happen.

im-skeptical said...

"then he must respect the conclusions I have come to, because they were objectively arrived at."

Right. You "investigated" and found that it is quite reasonable that a three-day-dead corpse would get up and talk to people. Your indoctrination had nothing to do with it. Right.

planks length said...

"it is quite reasonable that a three-day-dead corpse would get up and talk to people"

It is unreasonable only to an intransigent, closed-minded person who has decided in advance of the evidence that the miraculous is impossible.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

"It is unreasonable only to an intransigent, closed-minded person who has decided in advance of the evidence that the miraculous is impossible."

Both of us were taught the same things from birth. One of us was open-minded enough to objectively re-examine those beliefs.

planks length said...

So, do you deny that the miraculous is possible?

Simple yes or no response should suffice:

Yes = possible
No = impossible

No need to elaborate. I just want to see how open-minded you are.

im-skeptical said...

Any thing is possible. Miracles don't ever happen.

planks length said...

"Any thing is possible."

Then you have no grounds for saying belief in the Resurrection is "unreasonable".

David Brightly said...

I'm not going to try to define 'belief', 'knowledge', 'faith', etc. I think we can have a useful conversation within our unreflective understandings of what these words mean. What I am interested in doing is getting people to accept that they do not arrive at their beliefs by choosing or deciding. This takes much of the moral wind, and hence much of the acrimony, out of the discussion. People cannot then be 'blamed' for making 'morally wrong' decisions as to what to believe. It does leave us open to the thought that some of us may have 'defective' belief formation, in some way. This idea has already been put forward, but I'd like to cross that bridge when we come to it. And anyway, I can only try to persuade you of what I myself think is the case.

So, Do people choose their belief? I'm not referring specifically to religious belief here, but to belief in general. It seems to me that we are immersed in a sea of information from books and other media, that we meet and converse with other people, that we experience the world, and that we reflect on all this not necessarily in any deep philosophical way, and seem to arrive at some conclusions. Along the way our interest may be sparked by individual ideas or people and we may decide (yes, choose) to follow up certain leads rather than others. We can't study everything and it's human nature to 'follow our noses' and seek out material that meets our current predilections. This produces a 'garden of forking paths' effect. We all start in pretty much the same place---ignorance---but can end up in widely separated places. But we didn't choose to get to those places. We made lots of small decisons along the way without the benefit of a map of the overall terrain. My question is, Do people agree that this somewhat metaphorical picture is broadly what happens to us?

im-skeptical said...

David,

"it's human nature to 'follow our noses' and seek out material that meets our current predilections"

I think that's the key. This typically results in confirmation bias, but not necessarily. Our predilections might include a desire to seek understanding. What child chooses to disbelieve in Santa? It eventually comes down to a choice between understanding the world we live in, or believing something that violates that understanding. In the case of religion, the allure of belief is much stronger, and deeply ingrained. A person can place his desire to understand above the deeply ingrained belief, or he can stick with what is comfortable. In either case, he's following a path that is probably determined beforehand.

Papalinton said...

David
Yes, your overview of 'belief' is a reasonable description of it, You description is analogous to, as it were, an existential pin-ball game, with you, the ball, rolling down the slanted surface of life having obstacles and targets, often equipped with flippers to keep you [the ball] in play against pins and bumpers and through channels that flash or ring and electronically record the score of your life, bounding and bouncing from one belief to the next.

And yes this is the nature of indiscriminate belief. What you choose to believe does not make that belief true. For seventeen hundred years religious belief, Christian religious belief, was without exception, accepted as truth. Those that did not were promptly apprised of their folly in no uncertain manner. History is filled with testimony such as the Albigensian dilemma on a large scale and Bruno and Galileo at an individual scale. Three hundred years ago the scientific revolution realized a seismic shift towards an explanatory tool that contested the notion that religious explanations were the only truth. Despite the rhetoric of most Sophisticated™ Christian scholars wherever religious truth has collided with scientific truth, it is religious truth that invariably and necessarily reformed and revised to account for the new paradigm, without exception.

Yes religious belief is still useful for those that live in that cul-de-sac. It provides a level of surety and safety of direction but which ultimately, at the end of the drive, must turn around. There is no through road. To rejoin the highway of human progress the religious believer must retrace their steps and leave that cul-de-sac the same way they entered. I think it is clear in contemporary society religion for the most part has reached its zenith and is subsiding as the pre-eminent explanatory tool about us, about the environment, about us, about the world, about the cosmos.



Papalinton said...

David
An article published in the New Scientist provided some insight on the structure of belief.
There has been some truly exciting and substantive research of late on the evolutionary determinants predisposing us all, including atheists, to religious belief that indicates such belief is the ‘path of least resistance’ while disbelief requires effort, training and education. In part the article recounts: It seems that during the Great Depression one form of institution did very well while most others collapsed; at the worst of times the strictest and most authoritarian churches were party to huge surges in the number of people attending. It seems people have a natural tendency towards religious belief, especially during tough times. The more insecure we are the harder it is to resist the pull of the supernatural. Recent research is beginning to clarify that religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes people more likely to pass on their genes through improved survival rates by forming tightly knit groups. This idea is not shared by all. The other perspective gaining solid support is that religion is a natural by-product of the way the human mind works. This view is most significant in the study of children, who are seen as revealing a ‘default state’ of the mind that persists even into adulthood. This view posits that there are two systems in the mind that work autonomously in which people make the assumption that mind and matter are distinct ‘common-sense dualism’. There is plenty of evidence that thinking about disembodied minds comes naturally. People readily form relationships with non-existent others. Indeed religion is replete with such entities. Research by Dr Justin Barrett at Oxford University discovered that roughly half of all 4 rear-olds have had an imaginary friend, and adults often form and maintain relationships with dead relatives, fictional characters and fantasy partners. As Barrett points out, this an evolutionary useful skill, without which we would be unable to maintain large social hierarchies and alliances or anticipate what an unseen enemy might be planning.

Useful as it is, Dr Jesse Bering of Queen’s University Belfast, found that 'common-sense dualism' also appears to prime the brain for supernatural concepts such as life after death.

To paraphrase, Paul Bloom, from Yale University, posits that religion is an inescapable artefact of the wiring of the brain; all humans possess the brain circuitry and that never goes away. Scott Atran, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, puts forward a clue that the fact that trauma is so often responsible for why adults find it so difficult to jettison their innate belief in gods is what he calls ‘the tragedy of cognition’. Take for example the recent Sandy Creek school massacre and subsequent outpouring of grief. Humans can anticipate future events, remember the past and conceive of how things could go wrong - including their own death, which is hard to deal with. Atran says, “You’ve got to figure out a solution, otherwise you’re overwhelmed. When natural brain processes gives us a get-out-of-jail card, we take it.”

Cont.

Papalinton said...

CONT
Researchers generally now think that the religion-as-adaptation argument is not mutually exclusive of the idea that religion-co-opts-brain-circuits that evolved for something else, and that both are working propositions.

Based on current research and experiments, Bering considers a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in the body to be the default setting of the human brain. Pascal Boyer, Washington University, St Louis, says from here there is only a short step to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods. Boyer points out that people expect their gods’ minds to work very much like human minds, suggesting they spring from the same brain system that enables people to think about absent or non-existent people.

More importantly, and the key to knowledge and understanding, it is only education and experience teaches us to override it, but it never truly leaves us. You descriptive passage about belief formation is fairly accurate, but the one standard by which we can determine whether that belief is properly true is to ground it in evidence and fact. As earlier inferred religious belief is the ‘path of least resistance’ while disbelief requires effort.

David Brightly said...

Just a couple of points in reply:

If you say that humans have an evolved tendency towards religious belief and that such beliefs are false you open yourself to Plantinga-inspired arguments that cast doubt on the reliability of our belief formation in general.

Speaking for myself, I'd prefer to avoid psychologistic 'argument' on the lines of 'You believe X because you want to or need to', or worse, 'because your brain makes you'. In my view, it's rather insulting to be told this, hence some of the anger one sees in some quarters in these discussions. One might believe this of one's opponents, of course, but it's best not said. Besides, the tables can so easily be turned, and conversation stops there. And the latter just takes us towards Plantinga's abyss.

Belief and understanding are two sides of the one coin. As children the facts we learn seem brute because we lack a body of well-developed belief that helps us understand. Hence all the Why? questions of childhood. By adulthood most new experience can be accommodated within a largely coherent and self-supporting system with few loose ends. We just live with the loose ends until, perhaps, something seismic occurs to us that cannot be accommodated. Only we can say whether we are happy within ourselves. And it's no use your denying some fact because your system can't accommodate it, when I say mine can. Or vice versa.

As a metaphor for change of belief the 'backing out of a cul-de-sac' image is the wrong picture. For it implies a highly selective forgetting of particular facts or experiences, and this we just cannot do. The road goes ever on. We just build new stuff further down the street and quietly let the old decay away.

im-skeptical said...

David,

"If you say that humans have an evolved tendency towards religious belief and that such beliefs are false you open yourself to Plantinga-inspired arguments that cast doubt on the reliability of our belief formation in general."

I think Plantinga is correct about that point. But that argument is much more destructive to religious beliefs than to scientific-based beliefs. Any belief that is based on empirical evidence can be tested for its consistency with observed reality. That's why science is more than just a system of beliefs. It is always subject to testing and verification.

Papalinton said...

David
"If you say that humans have an evolved tendency towards religious belief and that such beliefs are false you open yourself to Plantinga-inspired arguments that cast doubt on the reliability of our belief formation in general."

To say this is to fall into the miasma of the Apologetical rationale of the Plantingas. And it clearly does not reconcile with the body of evidence coming out of the socio-neurological research that I directed to. To characterise this area of research as 'psychologistic' is itself a somewhat unschooled and ill-informed reactio
towards this area of investigation. It is to misread the research. Because research has shown that humans have an evolved tendency towards religious belief does not automatically imply [as Plantinga imagines. And you?] that such beliefs are false. What it clearly demonstrates is very different to this rather polemical stretch of Plantinga's. It shows such beliefs have no more possibility or probability of being right than being wrong. And indeed what it does indicate is there is significant doubt, or one should be sufficiently skeptical, about the reliability of belief formation in general. Belief formation is a problematic and unreliable process by which humans can form any belief, dependent on the circumstances [social and environmental] in which the belief was formed. regardless of epistemological foundation. What the research is telling us is that beliefs can just as easily form with or without substantive epistemic foundation. Religious belief seems to be no more reliable than intuition particularly when that belief precipitates one to socially engage with spirits, dead ancestors and gods. And intuition is itself notoriously unreliable and indiscriminate.

What the research is pointing to is that, if belief formation is to be properly basic it must be substantively grounded in fact, evidence, proofs, and in the absence of these, with caution and skepticism. To ensure the likelihood of increased reliability of belief formation it must be trained for, nurtured and developed. Otherwise what humans chose to believe is simply open range.

I take issue with your claim: "Belief and understanding are two sides of the one coin." How so? I think it more likely that 'knowledge' is the obverse of the 'understanding' coin, and that 'belief' and 'intuition' stem from the same source.

David, you say:" As a metaphor for change of belief the 'backing out of a cul-de-sac' image is the wrong picture. For it implies a highly selective forgetting of particular facts or experiences, and this we just cannot do. The road goes ever on. We just build new stuff further down the street and quietly let the old decay away."

At first reading I was going to disagree. But your revised analogy is defensible and good. It is somewhat unfortunate that there are some that simply will not let old ideas fade [die?] gracefully.

What is of great interest is THIS LATEST RESEARCH FROM PEW. It is interesting to see how close a relationship the US has with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines in their religiosity. And significantly untypical of their 'natural allies'.

HERE is an interesting take from Prof Coyne's perspective.

David Brightly said...

I may be wrong but I think I may be misunderstood. By 'belief' I mean any mundane proposition one holds to be true, not just, say, religious belief. This is the stuff you and I use to navigate the world and go about our daily lives. To argue that evolution favours belief formation mechanisms that are adaptive as opposed to truth preserving seems to me to be making the same mistake that Plantinga makes in his EAAN. For a belief formation organ adaptiveness just is truth preservation, surely? One could try to constrain the contagion to just religious belief, perhaps, but the fear is that it infects our ordinary beliefs too, and then the EAAN is up and running. So this line of thought is a double-edged sword best kept sheathed. But in any case, even if such psychological or statistical research regarding religious belief were conclusive, it hardly addresses theistic thought head on. The theist is entitled to shrug his shoulders. Rather it serves to bolster the anti-theist's self-confidence. For it seems to justify not taking his opponent's thought seriously. Best kept for team anti-theism's locker room pep talks, perhaps.

Again, in 'we just build new stuff', by 'we' I don't mean us humans socially and collectively. I'm not saying that certain ideas have a social inertia, so that they hang around in Dawkins's meme-pool. Rather I mean you and I and all of us individually. We have each walked our own forking path and can't go back. This is all of a piece with my doxastic involuntarism.

im-skeptical said...

"One could try to constrain the contagion to just religious belief, perhaps, but the fear is that it infects our ordinary beliefs too, and then the EAAN is up and running."

I'm sorry, but I don't get the logic. My comment was not limited to religious belief at all. We humans believe all kinds of things that aren't true. And religion is part of that. So how does this give Plantinga's argument any force?

If N is the proposition that naturalism is true,
B is the belief that God is the source of rationality,
and R is the proposition that our cognitive facilities are reliable.

then P(R|N&B), is low (indeed).

This is exactly Plantinga's argument with belief in God substituted for belief in naturally evolved rationality.

David Brightly said...

Im, I have looked only at accounts of the EAAN in the popular press so I may well have misunderstood Plantinga. Roughly, I think he says this. (1) If purely naturalistic evolution were true our belief-making organ (BMO) would be unreliable. (2) It isn't unreliable. On the whole our beliefs are true. Hence (3) naturalistic evolution is false. So if we accept evolution then (4) we have to reject naturalism. Plantinga's justification for (1), as far as I can tell, relies on driving a wedge between the 'adaptiveness' of the BMO and its 'world-faithfulness'. I'm not convinced, so I reject (1). If, however, you accept (1) on the grounds that the BMO produces clearly false religious belief, then to avoid the EAAN's conclusion wrt naturalism, and still keep evolution, you must reject (2). I think this is untenable. The vast majority of our beliefs, assuming it makes sense to count them or measure them, aren't metaphysical. They are mundane, like remembering where I put the axe, and true.

Papalinton said...

David
It is unlikely Plantinga's EAAN ripples much effect in the broader reaches of philosophy outside the theological sphere.

Michael Ruse, Stephen Law and others, including James Bielby, have deconstructed Plantinga's argument and have found it to not be as robust as Plantinga claims. And THIS ONE from Russell Blackford captures some of weakness of Plantinga's argument.

No. For the chap who also subscribes to Calvin's 'sensus divinitatis' as reality, there is little need for one to be concerned about the reality of the EAAN.

David you say: "Rather I mean you and I and all of us individually. We have each walked our own forking path and can't go back. This is all of a piece with my doxastic involuntarism."

i certainly hope that your "doxastic involuntarism" is not a euphemism for doxastic closure. Because if it is, then someone thinks that belief formation is locked in and cannot be worked on, improved and better guided by learning, education, and training of one's BMO. I don't subscribe to the notion that our BMO is immutable, even in a deterministic world.

im-skeptical said...

David,

I do reject 2. People believe all kinds of things that aren't true. This is not a statement about metaphysical beliefs, although metaphysical beliefs are certainly part of the equation.

People believe that Obama wasn't born in the USA. Children believe that there's a monster living under their bed. People believe that government spending doesn't stimulate the economy. People believe they left the axe in the woodshed, when in fact it is out on the stump.

The common thread among these mistaken beliefs is that they are unverified by observation (at least by the believer). Observation is what either changes a belief into factual knowledge, or dispels the belief.

planks length said...

"Observation is what either changes a belief into factual knowledge"

That can be quite true, im-skeptical! It's precisely what happened when the Apostles did not believe the report of the three women until they saw the Risen Lord for themselves. Or when Thomas needed to place his finger into the nail holes in Christ's hands before he would believe.

We are fortunate indeed to have such trustworthy and skeptical eyewitnesses!

im-skeptical said...

"We are fortunate indeed to have such trustworthy and skeptical eyewitnesses!"

Having an ancient manuscript that was written by an unknown person who wasn't there, and subsequently re-written to comply with the beliefs of the scribe or his boss, doesn't qualify as observation.

Show me the risen body.

planks length said...

Show me the body, period.

David Brightly said...

Well, Nagel is hardly a theist but he seems to take the EAAN seriously. It features in Mind and Cosmos. More to the point, if we want a conversation with Christians (else why be here?) the EAAN is the kind of argument they will bring up, and it's only polite to respond to what is said directly.

In my view 'doxastic closure' is not a useful phrase. No one is 'doxastically closed'---they will form new beliefs just watching the evening news. I've been with my BMO for several decades now, it has served me well and we are very happy together. I don't want it trained or enhanced in any way. My problem now is remembering the beliefs I've already formed!

Im, I think you are picking out a few salient falsehoods among an ocean of invisible truths. Just looking around your room generates heaps of truth 'by acquaintance' that is so mundane that we forget it is there. The problem comes, I think, with our knowledge 'by description', the stuff we get from other people, the written and spoken word, and the media generally.

im-skeptical said...

David,

"Just looking around your room generates heaps of truth 'by acquaintance' that is so mundane that we forget it is there."

This is not seriously in question. We have good reason to believe what is directly observable.

"The problem comes, I think, with our knowledge 'by description', the stuff we get from other people, the written and spoken word, and the media generally."

Or things that are the product of a process of reasoning. Our powers of reasoning are notoriously bad. I'm not saying that logic is not to be trusted. But with so many logical arguments that arrive at different conclusions, it is clear that the way we apply logic is suspect. It is a rare person who never makes any faulty arguments. Plantinga is no exception.

The basic problem with Plantinga's argument is that he assumes his God-given powers of reasoning are sound and trustworthy. And they may indeed be pretty good. But the reality is that his naturally evolved powers of reasoning aren't as great as he supposes.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"We have good reason to believe what is directly observable."

We? You have rejected this much in March 20, 2014 9:22 AM when:

"I do reject 2. People believe all kinds of things that aren't true."

Which (2) refers to (in March 20, 2014 3:42 AM):

"Roughly, I think he says this. (1) If purely naturalistic evolution were true our belief-making organ (BMO) would be unreliable. (2) It isn't unreliable. On the whole our beliefs are true."

"The basic problem with Plantinga's argument is that he assumes his God-given powers of reasoning are sound and trustworthy. "

Since Plantinga *nowhere* mentions God or appeals to "God-given powers of reasoning" in the body of the argument, and in fact you even *concede* the major premise in his argument and so its soundness, it is utterly baffling how an irrelevant consideration to a sound argument can be a "basic problem". Oh wait, it is not baffling, it is just your usual you failing to even have a grasp of the logical structure of the arguments. Understandable as well, given that

"Our powers of reasoning are notoriously bad."

By the way, you should not project your own limitations on everybody else.

David Brightly said...

Sorry, Im, but I disagree once more. I think we are pretty good at logic. We have great swathes of mathematical proof which are exercises in logic atop a few axioms. Building a 747 or a computer chip involves acres of careful reasoning. Just going about our daily lives, preparing food, being effective at work, understanding the news, demands reasoning. Maybe I'm getting the wrong impression from you but I can't reconcile your claim that our powers of reasoning are 'notoriously bad' with the fact that all this stuff works! We must be doing something right, surely?

Your attack on our reasoning is much too broad brush. You need to refine it more in order to say where and why we sometimes go wrong. In the end I agree with you, but being precise about this is very difficult, and of course, very much open to argument!

im-skeptical said...

"You need to refine it more in order to say where and why we sometimes go wrong."

That's exactly what I did. I said that when we are able to verify our reasoning by means of observation, and correct our thinking where it doesn't agree with reality, then we get things right. That's what science does. That's the case with every example you gave in your last post, with the exception of understanding the news. And that's the one case where we most often don't get it right. I know what goes into the design of a computer chip, and I can tell you that it takes testing and verification to make sure that the design is right. Where we go wrong is in pure armchair reasoning.

You could say that mathematics is a case in point where pure reasoning works. That's true, but the logic involved in mathematics is somewhat different - it is not subject to interpretation the way other forms of logical reasoning are. We can do pure logic, and so can machines. In mathematics, there's generally no disagreement about the meaning of statements or whether the premises are factual.

But that's the problem with armchair reasoning. You might think Putin is trying to re-establish the Russian empire. That may or may not be true, and you don't know without additional information, but you interpret the news based on unverified beliefs (in some cases), and your interpretation might be wrong. This is the case with all kinds of reasoning that are not based on verified facts.

David Brightly said...

I have a couple of quibbles, Im. (a) I don't distinguish the logic of mathematics from the logic used in other subject domains, so I'm at a loss to understand what you mean by 'interpretation', if that is what distinguishes the logics. (b) Reasoning moves from premises to conclusions. The reasoning may be valid, ie, no logical fallacies are committed, but if one or more premise is false the truth of the conclusions isn't guaranteed. Is your final para saying any more than this?. (c) You use the word 'pure' a lot: 'pure armchair reasoning', 'pure reasoning', 'pure logic'. What are you trying to convey with 'pure'?

Papalinton said...

"Since Plantinga *nowhere* mentions God or appeals to "God-given powers of reasoning" in the body of the argument, and in ..............."

This is scurrilous revisionism, a rather pathetic and weary Apologetical-style attempt to obscure the truth. Christian history is built on the agglomeration and marshaling of these lies right from first days of its inception. We know as historical fact that followers of Judaism, out of which the mutant Christian mythos grew, never for one moment bought into the lie. Six hundred years later, even after Christianity had reached pandemic proportions throughout the Middle East [I properly use the word pandemic as so many people suffered and died as a result of its chronic pathology], and with the benefit of those 600 years in hindsight Muslims never for one moment thought there was any substantive truth or worth behind the Christian fable. There were no lessons to be learned from Christian folklore that Muslims envisaged as central or of value, apart from a few platitudes about jesus at the margins of history. They chose to develop their own make-believe story because they knew at base that Christianity was a made-up story and wrong-headed.

Plantinga's feeble attempt to resurrect the primacy of the Christian God into the consciousness of contemporary society, a society slowly growing up maturing and ever increasingly realizing all too well that the evidence for any God[s] is a specious wish-listing argument at best.

Indeed grodrigues's statement is the epitome of a Christian 'speaking in tongue', speaking with forked-tongue, that is.

The first THIRTY SECONDS of the clip spells precisely what the intent of the EAAN is. The man himself links naturalism with a disbelief in God and thereby sought to refute naturalism as a way of inveigling the existence of a 3-in-1 God into the equation, no matter how improbable.

Of course, the resulting EAAN schema has been a less than spectacular phenomenon in philosophy circles outside Notre Dame.

im-skeptical said...

grod,

Papalinton got it right. Forked-tongue to be sure. What do you suppose Plantigna attributes his rationality to, given his explicit denial of naturalism?

The argument that I make is: given the fact that the reliability of our cognitive facilities is indeed low, that's a defeater for supernaturalism (or theism, if you prefer). How do I know? Because so many people believe in God, which is patently false. That's proof enough that your beliefs are unreliable. But I know you don't buy that (despite all the evidence). So consider this: in every area of philosophy, there are numerous different positions, numerous ideas and beliefs about what is correct. If our beliefs were reliable, shouldn't we have consensus on most of these things? The fact that we don't agree is proof that our reasoning isn't reliable.

im-skeptical said...

David,

I'm sorry if I'm not being clear enough. My thesis is that our reasoning is unreliable *when we don't have empirical observation to back up our assumptions*. We need observed facts to verify the things we believe, and as long as we have that, we can be much more confident in believing something than we could if we merely believe without the evidence to verify it.

When I say "pure armchair reasoning", I mean the latter case - reasoning to some belief without evidence to support the belief or the assumptions it is based on. In my observation, this kind of reasoning is not to be trusted.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"The argument that I make is: given the fact that the reliability of our cognitive facilities is indeed low, that's a defeater for supernaturalism (or theism, if you prefer)."

Huh? If the reliability of our cognitive faculties is low, it is a defeater for *any* belief at all, including *any* argument you make for any proposition whatsoever -- there is *nothing* special about theism here.

It really is amazing. You concede *everything* that Plantinga could ever want without even breaking a sweat, without even he having to argue for the major premise, and then you somehow turn it around as an *argument* against theism -- an *argument* of all things! for someone who cannot recognize one even if it bits his nose off and who is always decrying "armchair philosophy", the codeword for "All the Things I Do Not Agree With".

"Because so many people believe in God, which is patently false."

Yes, this is a predicament for *you*. Since you believe it is patently false, you now have to explain how the vast majority of humanity has fallen victim to this alleged error. So not only you have to explain away the empirical evidence (e.g. that the vast majority of mankind has always believed in God), along the way, you throw away to the trash bin our cognitive faculties and rationality.

"The fact that we don't agree is proof that our reasoning isn't reliable."

It is proof alright, but not of what you think. But I have no wish to waste my time in another protracted discussion to disabuse you on this score. Consider only this (I am making the same point as above): by the exact same token, since *your* atheism is considered false by many, your reasoning to it is equally unreliable. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

im-skeptical said...

"by the exact same token, since *your* atheism is considered false by many, your reasoning to it is equally unreliable."

The major difference between my belief and yours is that all the evidence points to naturalism, not theism.

David Brightly said...

Im, I and all logicians, I am sure, would want to distinguish reliability of reasoning from truth of assumptions. We would say that a piece of reasoning, ie an argument, is reliable in so far as it is truth-preserving. The technical term for this in logic is validity. A valid argument guarantees a true conclusion provided its premises are true. A valid argument commits no logical fallacies. Validity of argument is independent of truth of premises. How we judge the truth of premises, ie, whether we believe in them, is a wholly different matter, and may well involve empirical observations. The validity of the argument, in contrast, can be checked in the armchair. We need to get this stuff straight before going on.

im-skeptical said...

David,

I agree completely with what you say, but that's a huge problem. Most people don't recognize or are unwilling to admit when their assumptions are unfounded. So they make their logical arguments with supreme confidence that their conclusion is correct.

David Brightly said...

Well, that's a rather bold claim that I'd be unwilling to make without evidence. We would have to examine individual cases. And we shouldn't overlook the fact that there can be disagreement as to the validity of an argument---does it really compel the conclusion, given the premises?

planks length said...

"The major difference between my belief and yours"

Well, grodridues, at least you got him to acknowledge that atheism is a "belief". Congrats for that!

im-skeptical said...

"Well, that's a rather bold claim that I'd be unwilling to make without evidence."

Theism.

"Well, grodridues, at least you got him to acknowledge that atheism is a "belief"."

Atheists can have various different beliefs. Atheism is not one of them.

David Brightly said...

You'll have to spell this out for me, Im. The bold claim is Most people don't recognize or are unwilling to admit when their assumptions are unfounded. So they make their logical arguments with supreme confidence that their conclusion is correct.

im-skeptical said...

David,

"You'll have to spell this out for me, Im."

This is a big topic, and I have addressed it before, especially with regard to Thomistic arguments, which I don't care to re-hash now. But one of the clearest examples is the AFR, which assumes without any justification whatsoever that rationality can't arise from "non-rational" things. This is something that theists are adamant about, and when I object that their assumption is unfounded, they simply shrug it off.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"This is something that theists are adamant about, and when I object that their assumption is unfounded, they simply shrug it off."

No one "shrugs it off". What happens is that people either have no patience for your intellectual dishonesty or your dumbassery, or both, and have no patience to explain for the umpteenth time that it is not "an assumption", but rather an argued for conclusion.

im-skeptical said...

It's a circular argument.

Brains reason. Brains are made of matter, and nothing more, regardless of whatever superstitions you have. Period.

im-skeptical said...

In case you never heard Lewis' AFR, here's how it begins:



[from Wikipedia] 1. No belief is rationally inferred if it can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes.

Support: Reasoning requires insight into logical relations. A process of reasoning (P therefore Q) is rational only if the reasoner sees that Q follows from, or is supported by, P, and accepts Q on that basis. Thus, reasoning is trustworthy (or "valid", as Lewis sometimes says) only if it involves a special kind of causality, namely, rational insight into logical implication or evidential support. If a bit of reasoning can be fully explained by nonrational causes, such as fibers firing in the brain or a bump on the head, then the reasoning is not reliable, and cannot yield knowledge.


As you can easily see, the very first premise of his argument assumes the conclusion, and it is not supported by any empirical evidence.

planks length said...

Im-skeptical,

You're mistaking Lewis's defining the terms for the first premise of the argument. We've gone over this before. It is nonsensical to ask for "empirical evidence" for a definition. This holds true whether we're talking about logic, mathematics, physics, sociology, whatever. You start by defining your terms, and only then do you move on to argument, evidence, reasoning, etc. Your continued insistence on "evidence" for definitions indicates you do not understand the most basic fundamentals of a logical argument.

im-skeptical said...

What definition? Lewis clearly states that rational thought does not come from "non-rational" matter. This is not a matter of definition. It is an assertion. And it is unsupported by empirical evidence.

David Brightly said...

I take it we are working from the Wikipedia article? I'm afraid I can't see premise (1) as a definition (of what?) Rather it expresses a common intuition as to the nature of belief and rational inference and thought in general, that in some sense it 'floats free' of material considerations. This idea has a long tradition in human thought and, as grodrigues suggests, has been independently argued for.

im-skeptical said...

David,

Sure, you can argue for the immaterial nature of the rational mind, but that doesn't make it true. And that's the point I've been trying to make. Lewis assumes it's true, and things like this are the lynchpins of theistic arguments. They are assertions that have no backing in empirical evidence. But only when we make arguments that are backed by observation can we be reasonably sure that those arguments are actually true. As you point out, the logic may be valid, but the argument is no better than the premises it rests upon.

David Brightly said...

Im, What I think irks your opponents is your insistence that (1) is plainly false. Let's take (1) as saying

There is no belief that is both fully explained in terms of non-rational causes and is rationally inferred.

If this is plainly false then presumably its negation is plainly true. So you are claiming that

There is some belief that is both fully explained in terms of non-rational causes and is rationally inferred.

Your opponents are entitled to ask you what evidence you have for this. They will want you to furnish such a belief. How are you going to convince them that the belief you come up with is fully explained in terms of non-rational causes? It looks as if you will need a well-developed materialistic theory of mind. You believe that (1) is false, and so do I on weekdays, but neither of us is in a good position to convince Victor and friends.

im-skeptical said...

David,

I know you're trying to be even-handed, but your re-wording of Lewis' assertion changes its meaning. What he's saying is: IF a belief is explained in terms of non-rational causes, THEN it is not rationally inferred. It's up to him to provide evidence for what he asserts.

Now, I understand that my attitude may seem irksome. I say that it's patently false because they insist that it's true, and they're not willing to listen to any evidence or arguments to the contrary. Yet we have mountains of evidence showing that brains and cognitive function have developed naturally. What evidence do they have for their immaterial rationality?

planks length said...

"Yet we have mountains of evidence showing that brains and cognitive function have developed naturally."

Even were that true, it would not be grounds for concluding that such a brain is capable of rational thought. All that might legitimately be concluded from such "evidence" is that some sort of process is occurring, but there is no guarantee of rationality.

im-skeptical said...

"but there is no guarantee of rationality."

No guarantee, true, there is only what we observe.

David Brightly said...

I haven't changed the meaning, Im, I do assure you. Let X be the set of beliefs explainable in terms of non-rational causes. And let R be the set of rationally inferable beliefs. (1) says that if an arbitrarily chosen belief is in X then it's not in R. And that says that X and R don't overlap. No belief is in both X and R.

You say I say that it's patently false because they insist that it's true, and they're not willing to listen to any evidence or arguments to the contrary. Do you really mean this? If I say that Obama is president and reject all evidence and arguments otherwise, will you deny that Obama is president?

From inside the naturalistic world-view (1) just has to be false, doesn't it? There's just no 'room' for it to be true. But equally, from inside the theistic world-view (1) just has to be true. I think it's important to grasp the symmetry of this situation. For you the gap between the material and the mental just has to be bridgeable, and the more the research evidence piles up the more convinced one becomes of this. For Victor and friends the lack of an explanatory bridge is absolutely crucial, I suspect. The evidence just piles up at the edge, as it were, and never makes it across. Enough psychologising. As for myself, I have mysterian leanings.

planks length said...

"there is only what we observe"

But with no guarantee of rationality, there is no reason to trust either the validity of what you observe or of any conclusions you may draw from them, making your "empirical evidence" worthless.

The best a strict materialist can hope for is a circular argument: "I validate my reasoning by my observations, and I validate my observations by my reasoning."

planks length said...

By the way, im-skeptical, since you were so enamored of the first installment of the new Cosmos, you really ought to watch THIS as well (just to set the record straight).

grodrigues said...

@David Brightly:

"For Victor and friends the lack of an explanatory bridge is absolutely crucial, I suspect."

I can only speak for myself: it is not.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

"But with no guarantee of rationality, there is no reason to trust either the validity of what you observe or of any conclusions you may draw from them, making your "empirical evidence" worthless."

The astounding success and the unsurpassed explanatory power of the sciences puts a lie to this pernicious humbuggery.

One could not express a more anti-science, un-evidenced and ludicrous sentiment if one tried.
It convinces no-one of sound mind.

David Brightly said...

Planks, I agree, though I see it not so much as a circular argument as a consistency requirement. Is anything more possible, do you think?

Grodrigues, Thank you. I'd be interested to hear a little more, but appreciate that this may not be the place.

planks length said...

"Is anything more possible, do you think?"

If one confines himself to materialism, I can't see how. Believe me, I've tried to think of a way out of the dilemma. It's actually worse than a circular argument - it's more like a spiral (going inward). You keep shedding uncertainties right and left until you're staring into the abyss of solipsism.

No, thank you!

im-skeptical said...

David,

Once again, Lewis makes the assertion that no beliefs are rational if they arise from natural causes. I haven't made the assertion there are such beliefs. I have denied the assertion that it couldn't be the case. There's a difference.

"For you the gap between the material and the mental just has to be bridgeable"

Sorry. There is no gap. That's just something that dualists want you to believe, because it is essential for their worldview. What we observe is brains that have cognitive function without the aid of souls. Show me evidence of a soul, and I'll have some reason to believe. My worldview depends on evidence.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

"But with no guarantee of rationality, there is no reason to trust either the validity of what you observe or of any conclusions you may draw from them"

You haven't been listening. Observation, to the extent that is agrees with reasoning, gives us reason to trust that reasoning.

"I validate my reasoning by my observations, and I validate my observations by my reasoning."

Nice try, but we do not validate observations by our reasoning unless we are willing to abandon scientific method.

David Brightly said...

Have you come across intuitionistic logic, Im? You seem to find a distinction between denying P and asserting ~P.

In so far as I can't explain to myself how my thoughts relate to my brain there is an explanatory gap for me. I will continue to wonder about it for the time being, no doubt!

David Brightly said...

Nice try, but we do not validate observations by our reasoning unless we are willing to abandon scientific method.Tachyonic neutrinos?

im-skeptical said...

David,

"You seem to find a distinction between denying P and asserting ~P."

In this argument, I do not assert ~P. I am merely saying that the assertion "if A then P" is not a valid assertion. That makes no implication about whether P is true. You seem to have some training in the logic of syllogisms, so you should be able to recognize the distinction.

"Tachyonic neutrinos?"

In what manner does that dispute what I say? We develop hypotheses to explain what we see, and we make prediction of what we expect to see. But in no case do we reject observed evidence because our hypotheses don't agree with it (that is, unless we are motivated by religion or some other ideology). Scientific logic is not circular, as you might want to claim. We do not validate our observations by reasoning. We do explain our observations by reasoning.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

I finally watched your video. I must say that the church claims way too much credit for the advancement of science. Everybody knows there have been priests who were scientists. That doesn't change the fact that the church has traditionally resisted the advance of science, especially during the dark ages. They have reluctantly accepted scientific understanding when the rest of the world has already accepted this understanding, and they continue to reject advances in modern science, particularly when they see it as a threat to the theistic worldview (for example, the scientific understanding of mind and cognition).

planks length said...

"especially during the dark ages"

Are you even aware of what "Dark Ages" refers to? It is a technical term used by historians to indicate that there is a relative lack of documentation from those years, compared to the centuries immediately prior to and following them. Thus they are "dark" to our researches. In the same manner, geographers of the 19th Century referred to unexplored Africa as "Darkest Africa", meaning that part which was least known. Or astronomers used to call the far side of the Moon its "Dark Side", even though it receives as much light as the side facing us. We just didn't know anything about it.

The so-called "Dark Ages" were a time when practically the only institution (at least in Western Europe) interested in preserving and expanding human knowledge was the Church - the complete opposite of what you wrote in your last comment.

Far from "rejecting advances" in science, the Church invented science - along with universities, Gothic architecture (just try to do that without innovative, sophisticated mathematics and engineering), and some of the most brilliant music and literature ever produced.

You really need to stop believing in non evidence based mythologies and learn some genuine history!

im-skeptical said...

"The so-called "Dark Ages" were a time when practically the only institution (at least in Western Europe) interested in preserving and expanding human knowledge was the Church"

It was a dark time indeed, when science, history, and all manner of non-religious knowledge was at a virtual standstill - under the thumb of the church.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

It was a dark time indeed, when science, history, and all manner of non-religious knowledge was at a virtual standstill - under the thumb of the church.

Let's see what an atheist historian thinks of this:

One of the occupational hazards of being an atheist and secular humanist who hangs around on discussion boards is to encounter a staggering level of historical illiteracy. I like to console myself that many of the people on such boards have come to their atheism via the study of science and so, even if they are quite learned in things like geology and biology, usually have a grasp of history stunted at about high school level. I generally do this because the alternative is to admit that the average person's grasp of history and how history is studied is so utterly feeble as to be totally depressing.

So, alongside the regular airings of the hoary old myth that the Bible was collated at the Council of Nicea, the tedious internet-based "Jesus never existed!" nonsense, or otherwise intelligent people spouting pseudo historical claims that would make even Dan Brown snort in derision, the myth that the Catholic Church caused the Dark Ages and the Medieval Period was a scientific wasteland is regularly wheeled, creaking, into the sunlight for another trundle around the arena.

The myth goes that the Greeks and Romans were wise and rational types who loved science and were on the brink of doing all kinds of marvelous things (inventing full-scale steam engines is one example that is usually, rather fancifully, invoked) until Christianity came along. Christianity then banned all learning and rational thought and ushered in the Dark Ages. Then an iron-fisted theocracy, backed by a Gestapo-style Inquisition, prevented any science or questioning inquiry from happening until Leonardo da Vinci invented intelligence and the wondrous Renaissance saved us all from Medieval darkness.

The online manifestations of this curiously quaint but seemingly indefatigable idea range from the touchingly clumsy to the utterly shocking, but it remains one of those things that "everybody knows" and permeates modern culture. A recent episode of Family Guy had Stewie and Brian enter a futuristic alternative world where, it was explained, things were so advanced because Christianity didn't destroy learning, usher in the Dark Ages and stifle science. The writers didn't see the need to explain what Stewie meant - they assumed everyone understood.


It's not hard to kick this nonsense to pieces, especially since the people presenting it know next to nothing about history and have simply picked up these strange ideas from websites and popular books. The assertions collapse as soon as you hit them with hard evidence. I love to totally stump these propagators by asking them to present me with the name of one - just one - scientist burned, persecuted, or oppressed for their science in the Middle Ages. They always fail to come up with any. They usually try to crowbar Galileo back into the Middle Ages, which is amusing considering he was a contemporary of Descartes. When asked why they have failed to produce any such scientists given the Church was apparently so busily oppressing them, they often resort to claiming that the Evil Old Church did such a good job of oppression that everyone was too scared to practice science. By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists - like Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa - and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents usually scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong.

planks length said...

Thanks, Karl. Couldn't have said it better.

Im-skeptical,

How about you taking up Tim O'Neill's challenge? Give us one, just one, concrete example of science being suppressed during the "Dark Ages" (which, by the way, are approximately the years A.D. 410-800, or from the sack of Rome to Charlemagne). Let's not hear some unsubstantiated assertion like "Well, it just was!", but rather specifics - names, dates, subject matter.

im-skeptical said...

Please feel free to expound on all the great scientific advances of the dark ages.

http://nobeliefs.com/comments10.htm

"and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church"

They made some modest advances, as long as they were not seen by the church as threatening to the religious order.

Wikipedia on Albertus magnus:
"Albert respected authority and tradition so many of his investigations or experiments were unpublished. Albert would often keep silent about many issues such as astronomy, physics and such because he felt that his theories were too advanced for the time he was living in."

David Brightly said...

I am merely saying that the assertion "if A then P" is not a valid assertion. I don't understand what you mean by 'valid assertion'. I take it we are still with classical logic, yes? The textbooks talk about valid and invalid arguments and true and false statements, propositions, or assertions. Nobody here can understand you because you are speaking your own private language, I'm afraid!

But in no case do we reject observed evidence because our hypotheses don't agree with it. That is exactly what the OPERA collaboration recently did, so we have a counter-example to your claim.

planks length said...

"as long as they were not seen by the church as threatening to the religious order"

You have evidence for this? I looked up your Wikipedia article on Albertus Magnus (who by the way is a Doctor of the Church, and one of its greatest thinkers, as well as being one of the earliest inventors of the scientific method). It says nothing about Albertus's scientific ideas being threatening to the Church - not even a syllable. Rather they were potentially unsettling to society at large and the secular rulers of his time.

Do you even read the stuff you link to? I find that your sources rarely agree with your positions, and indeed usually contradict them.

im-skeptical said...

"That is exactly what the OPERA collaboration recently did, so we have a counter-example to your claim."

That's absurd. What they did was discover errors in the observed data. If they had confirmed that these neutrinos actually move faster than light, they would have been forced to revise the general theory of relativity. What they don't do is revise observed data to agree with their beliefs. Save that for the theists.

"Nobody here can understand you because you are speaking your own private language, I'm afraid!"

Now this conversation is getting pretty ridiculous. I said quite clearly from the beginning that the premise used in AFR was unsupported be observed facts. It should be perfectly clear what I'm saying, but you have tried to turn the table to place the burden of proof on me. If I say the assertion isn't true, you object that I'm being "irksome". If I say that the assertion isn't valid, you complain that I'm not using the correct technical jargon.

OK, I'm not a trained philosopher. But I still know bullshit when I see it.

grodrigues said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Grant trots out:
Tim O'Neill: "By the time I produce a laundry list of Medieval scientists - like Albertus Magnus, R........ and ask why these men were happily pursuing science in the Middle Ages without molestation from the Church, my opponents usually scratch their heads in puzzlement at what just went wrong."

Such triumphalism rounding out this polemic from O'Neill isn't really a seminal treatise on the historical nature of the relationship between religion and science in the middle ages. It is one view, a review of a book, in which O'Neill overpaints a seemingly cozy téte-a-téte between science and religion. Such a view is only a Pyrrhic victory as religion, theology to be precise, certainly was the predominant metric against which all other endeavours, including science, was measured. To be sure Magus, Duns Scotus etc etc explored aspects of 'natural philosophy' but it was always in context of the prevailing theological paradigm. Even O'neill admits himself that these 'scientists' of the Middle Ages were: " I use the word "scientist" here, as I said, as a shorthand for "proto-scientific natural philosopher"" Hardly a ringing endorsement of science. But rather a quasi-science more in keeping with philosophical musings than the empirical and observational nature of the discipline as we know it today, and always, always ruminated upon within the dictats of contemporaneous theological thought. He goes on: "Most physics in the Middle Ages was like the physics of Aristotle - thought experiments and induction about principles like motion, dynamics, mass, space and the nature of time." And we must never forget that 'proto-scientific natural philosophy' also took astrology and alchemy very seriously.

Of course, as a counter, there are many other scholars of history that offer a different slant. So it is by no means a slam dunk. Indeed, when one surveys the contemporary landscape, anti-science is predominantly a religious motivated reaction, palpably and obviously manifested through the response of religionists on the matter of biological evolution, just one of so many examples. To claim that Catholic doctrine is in accord with biological evolution is a rhetorical furphy in the most underhanded and devious way. In fact it is as Daniel Dennett would call, a 'deepity' - something that is trivially true but fundamentally false. It is true up to a point, so long as that point does not transgress beyond the boundary of the profane, that is, encroach onto theologically sacred territory, in very much the same way science would not have been allowed to do during the Middle Ages. The Catholic doctrine does not support the absolutely central and fundamental tenet of biological evolution; that it is natural and unguided. Catholic doctrine pays lip service, a pretense towards embracing science, but it does not for one moment subscribe to unguided natural evolution. The closest that Catholics can abide with science is to accept 'guided' evolution, a view that is unscientific. Why? Because unguided natural evolution transgresses into the sacred domain; the totally unfounded claim that God created humans.

So I wouldn't be trotting out this piece too often, its only value being a piece written by an atheist. Even atheists [I shudder to imagine] can be wrong.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

Please feel free to expound on all the great scientific advances of the dark ages.

http://nobeliefs.com/comments10.htm


Oh, that sorry ass site again. It didn't impress us the first time why do you think it will do so this time? In fact, O'Neill actually has the graph at bottom of your link in his article. This is what he says about it:

And, almost without fail, someone digs up a graphic (see below), which I have come to dub "The Most Wrong Thing On the Internet Ever", and to flourish it triumphantly as though it is proof of something other than the fact that most people are utterly ignorant of history and unable to see that something called "Scientific Advancement" can't be measured, let alone plotted on a graph.

Well, you are astonishingly predictable. Here is what I think of your graph. List of stuff invented during that flat black line:

Heavy plough, Horse collar, Horseshoes, Wine press, Artesian well, Central heating, Chimney, Treadwheel crane, Harbor crane, Floating crane, Wheelbarrow, Oil paint, Hourglass, Mechanical clocks, Compound crank, Blast furnace, Paper mill, Rolling mill, Tidal mills, Vertical windmills, Water hammer, Dry compass, Astronomical compass, paper, spectacles, water mark, printing press, buttons, silk, spinning wheel, grindstones, magnets, mirrors, rat traps, soap, saddles, spurs, stirrups, gunpowder, cannon, handguns....

Lots of technological inventions for a time period supposed to be bereft of technological advancement. All of these things were invented before 1500 but after the fall of the Roman Empire, right where that black mark is on your graph.


Karl Grant said...

Paps,

Even O'neill admits himself that these 'scientists' of the Middle Ages were: " I use the word "scientist" here, as I said, as a shorthand for "proto-scientific natural philosopher""

Pray tell, what do you think the Ancient Greeks and Romans that came before them where? Quantum theorists?

"Most physics in the Middle Ages was like the physics of Aristotle - thought experiments and induction about principles like motion, dynamics, mass, space and the nature of time." And we must never forget that 'proto-scientific natural philosophy' also took astrology and alchemy very seriously.

So your response is to throw all scientific work, including pre-Christian work (when do you think Aristotle lived), before the Great Dawkins under the bus? Just when I think you have said the dumbest thing possible you keep typing. Oh and it's a good thing they practiced alchemy. Since Skeppy no longer dislikes Wikipedia:

It is recognized as a protoscience that contributed to the development of modern chemistry and medicine. Alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory, terminology, and experimental method, some of which are still in use today.

So people in the Middle Ages spending time on something that gave birth to modern medicine, and modern chemistry, was a bad thing, am I right? Between this and your love of the anti-flu-shot crank Bill Maher, I am starting think you don't like modern medicine. Is that because they want to put you in nursing home? But hey if you want to mock Alchemy go ahead; oh by the way, congratulations. By doing so you have just admitted Skeppy is full of shit to try and make yourself look good. From his precious little No Beliefs site: The Church also frowned on the practice of alchemy thus chemistry, without which the understanding of matter could not have happened.

Hey Skeppy, how does it feel to have Paps tell everybody your precious link is bullshit?

Even atheists [I shudder to imagine] can be wrong.

Speaking from personal experience here? After all, you were wrong when you thought you could try your hand at plagiarism and we wouldn't notice.

im-skeptical said...

"Heavy plough, Horse collar, Horseshoes, Wine press, Artesian well, Central heating, Chimney, Treadwheel crane, Harbor crane, Floating crane, Wheelbarrow, Oil paint, Hourglass, Mechanical clocks, Compound crank, Blast furnace, Paper mill, Rolling mill, Tidal mills, Vertical windmills, Water hammer, Dry compass, Astronomical compass, paper, spectacles, water mark, printing press, buttons, silk, spinning wheel, grindstones, magnets, mirrors, rat traps, soap, saddles, spurs, stirrups, gunpowder, cannon, handguns...."

So the totality of "scientific" and technological advancement during a millennium of church suppression fits in a short paragraph (even shorter if you remove the things that were developed outside the church's sphere of domination, or before the dark ages began). Karl, you're a dolt.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

So the totality of "scientific" and technological advancement during a millennium of church suppression fits in a short paragraph (even shorter if you remove the things that were developed outside the church's sphere of domination, or before the dark ages began).

One, that is only a partial list. For example, algebra was developed during this time period and I didn't list that.

Two, all of these things were developed after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire which historically is considered the start of the fucking "Dark Ages". Your little graph on your little link posits the black mark heralding the Dark Ages at around 4th century AD and ending at the around the middle 15th, early 16th century. All the things listed in were invented from 6th to early 15th century, within your little black bracket. Not before. Not after. Somebody ain't paying attention but that's normal.

Three, I bet if I asked you to name all the major inventions of the Renaissance period you wouldn't be able name half number of things I listed. Because I am willing to bet your knowledge of history is about the same as your knowledge of physics. Tell me, read up any on thermodynamics lately? But I will do you one better. List all major technological advances of the 20th century. Let's see how long that list is.

im-skeptical said...

"For example, algebra was developed during this time period and I didn't list that."

The 16th century is hardly the Dark Ages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algebra

"Two, all of these things were developed after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire"

http://www.ipst.gatech.edu/amp/collection/museum_invention_paper.htm

By thy way, did you take note of all the things on your list that were invented in China? Is the Catholic church taking credit for them?

Karl, you're a dolt.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

The 16th century is hardly the Dark Ages.

Oh, it came into being much earlier than that:

but by medieval times Islamic mathematicians were able to talk about arbitrarily high powers of the unknown x, and work out the basic algebra of polynomials (without yet using modern symbolism). This included the ability to multiply, divide, and find square roots of polynomials as well as a knowledge of the binomial theorem. The Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet Omar Khayyam showed how to express roots of cubic equations by line segments obtained by intersecting conic sections, but he could not find a formula for the roots. A Latin translation of Al-Khwarizmi's Algebra appeared in the 12th century. In the early 13th century, the great Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci achieved a close approximation to the solution of the cubic equation x3 + 2x2 + cx = d. Because Fibonacci had traveled in Islamic lands, he probably used an Arabic method of successive approximations.

12th and 13th century, that's towards the tail end of the Middle Ages.

By thy way, did you take note of all the things on your list that were invented in China? Is the Catholic church taking credit for them?

I never said the Catholic Church was taking credit for them, now did I? I said they were invented in the Middle Ages. Now if the Church were suppressing scientific research and technological innovation, like you claim, during this time period on grounds of heresy then they definitely would also be suppressing inventions that came from heretical or pagan lands outside the borders of Christendom. But if these inventions from heretical / pagan lands flowed freely across the borders and underwent widespread adoption in Christendom than the idea that the Church was suppressing scientific and technological innovation takes a major hit. Understand, genius, or do I have draw you a picture?

As to the Chinese question: paper, gunpowder, cannons. Now paper may have been invented in China earlier but it was introduced in Europe in the Middle Ages (which is the time period we are talking about). But let's say I give you that one; congratulations, you managed to remove one invention from the list. Like I said, the list is partial, I can find something to replace it. But I would be real careful about playing this game Skeppy, because you ain't good at it. And I'll give you a hint as to why you ain't good at it. Name all major inventions from the Renaissance invented in a secular state.

Papalinton said...

Karl Grant, you are an embarrassment in your cheap and misconstrued use of history. Your three sites show absolutely nothing of any significance that the Christian age of darkness during the European Middle Ages realized an invention or product as a direct result of Christian thought. Your List of stuff invented during that flat black line: makes it abundantly clear "European technical advancements from the 12th to 14th centuries were either built on long-established techniques in medieval Europe, originating from Roman and Byzantine antecedents, or adapted from cross-cultural exchanges through trading networks with the Islamic world, China, and India. Often, the revolutionary aspect lay not in the act of invention itself, but in its technological refinement and application to political and economic power. Though gunpowder had long been known to the Chinese, it was the Europeans who developed and perfected its military potential, precipitating European expansion and eventual imperialism in the Modern Era".

My bolding highlights the acknowledgement for these discoveries and inventions to the rightful owners, and. they. were. not. christian. in. origin. Period. Even gunpowder was not invented by Christians. But to be sure, and true to its pathological form and under God's divine will, it were Christians that perfected gunpowder to become the clinical, efficient, deadly and devastating weapon of mass destruction; and they had no compunction in using it in God's name. Why should we be surprised that the followers of the Christian God would even consider imagining the perfection of killing machines as anything other than the fulfillment of divine will? And of course, history records this Catholic psychotypal obsession with the instruments of torture gleefully used throughout its period of hegemonic domination in Europe during the Middle Ages, happy in its commitment to execute divine retribution on the heretics, blasphemers and people of other faiths [especially Jews].

And your algebra nonsense can only be characterized as the scuttlebutt of an ignoramus even at the most generous interpretation. You are wantonly derelict in the use of whatever intellect you may possess. Illiteracy writ large.

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

European technical advancements from the 12th to 14th centuries were either built on long-established techniques in medieval Europe

The Middle Ages lasted from 5th to 15th, so guess what time period those long-established techniques in medieval Europe came into being. Why the so called "Dark Ages".

originating from Roman and Byzantine antecedents

Oh this rich, hey Paps Byzantine (aka the Eastern Roman Empire) was Christian lands. In fact, the Crusades were originally called to reclaim its lost territory from invading Muslim armies. So you are saying that inventions and scientific research from Christian lands is not proof of scientific and technological progress from Christian lands? I suppose 2 + 2 = 5 in your little mind too, don't they?

adapted from cross-cultural exchanges through trading networks with the Islamic world, China, and India.

Like I told Skeppy earlier:

Now if the Church were suppressing scientific research and technological innovation, like you claim, during this time period on grounds of heresy then they definitely would also be suppressing inventions that came from heretical or pagan lands outside the borders of Christendom. But if these inventions from heretical / pagan lands flowed freely across the borders and underwent widespread adoption in Christendom than the idea that the Church was suppressing scientific and technological innovation takes a major hit.

You have done jack-shit to damage that point.

it were Christians that perfected gunpowder to become the clinical, efficient, deadly and devastating weapon of mass destruction

So you admit that not only did Christian rulers adopt technology from non-Christian lands they improved upon it, and incremental improvements to existing technology make up the bulk technological progress. And you shouldn't be bitching about the military applications of technological development; after all, didn't you cite three articles or so talking about the military applications of transhumanism to show its wonderful future? Should we link to that discussion to show another double standard of yours?

And your algebra nonsense can only be characterized as the scuttlebutt of an ignoramus even at the most generous interpretation. You are wantonly derelict in the use of whatever intellect you may possess. Illiteracy writ large.

In other words you can't find any sources to contradict it so you are following the Argument weak, insult opponent strategy. Now answer me something, both you and Skeppy claim (not that you actually do) follow evidence and logic; how come you and him have such a radically different view of Alchemy?

planks length said...

All of you are badly misconstruing the term "Dark Ages". They are not synonymous with the Middle Ages (a much longer period, which also covers a broader geographical area). The Dark Ages began with Alaric's Sack of Rome in AD 410, and ended with the crowning of Charlemagne and the founding of the Holy Roman Empire in AD 800. And the so-called Dark Ages were confined to Western and Northern Europe, but excluded the Eastern Mediterranean, in which the Byzantine Empire was flourishing.

For instance, the magnificent (and still standing) Hagia Sophia was built during the reign of the Emperor Justinian (AD 526-565), and the Corpus Juris Civilis was codified in the same period. No "Dark Ages" there! (By the way, Im-skeptical, these are examples, not an exhaustive list!)

In any case, the undeniably miserable conditions in the West were neither caused nor sustained by Christendom, but rather by the Volkswanderung, a.k.a., the "Barbarian Invasions". The Catholic Church and its individual members were not guilty party here, but instead very much the victims. So attributing any unpleasantries which occurred during the time period in question to the Church is no different than blaming a rape victim for being assaulted. Are all you atheists out there also in the habit of doing that? Because that is exactly what you are doing here.

Karl Grant said...

Planks Length,

The Dark Ages began with Alaric's Sack of Rome in AD 410, and ended with the crowning of Charlemagne and the founding of the Holy Roman Empire in AD 800.

I know that, but Skeppy's little link posits the Dark Ages as being from 5th Century (Alaric's Sacking) till the 15th Century. It's hard enough to get him to admit that technological and scientific progress wasn't dead during this time period; getting him to admit that the Dark Ages only occurred for less than half the time he said it did ain't going to happen.

And the so-called Dark Ages were confined to Western and Northern Europe, but excluded the Eastern Mediterranean, in which the Byzantine Empire was flourishing.

I seriously doubt either Paps or Skeppy heard of the Byzantine Empire before this discussion. Which is why we have Paps laughably claiming technology originating from it didn't come from Christian lands.

planks length said...

Karl,

I intend to hammer home my last point (of my previous comment) in all future discussions on this subject. Any decline in learning, culture, or technology that may have occurred in the Dark Ages was not due to Christianity, but was rather strenuously resisted by it. The sole reason that the "Dark Ages" existed at all was the collapse of the Roman Empire (vigorously defended by its Christian citizens) in the face of the Germanic migrations.

Without the monastic orders, the Papacy, and the Orthodox Church, far more of classical culture would have been lost to us than actually was. And as for the old canard about Islam somehow preserving this knowledge - utter rot. The only reason they possessed any of it to begin with was because of their plundering of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire in the 8th Century. The knowledge was there for Islam to plunder solely due to the centuries of effort on the part of the Christian Byzantine Empire and the Orthodox Church to preserve it.

(Now watch this entire discussion go off the rails in a debate over the role of Medieval Islam. Any bets?)

Karl Grant said...

Planks Length,

Now watch this entire discussion go off the rails in a debate over the role of Medieval Islam. Any bets?

Nah, that's a sucker's bet. Besides we already have the two 'geniuses' proclaiming that technological and scientific inventions from Byzantine don't count because Byzantine wasn't Christian (epic fail there) to improvements upon foreign inventions and technology don't count as technological progress if it has military applications. And the best Skeppy can come up with for a persecuted scientist in the Middle Ages is Albertus Magnus personally keeping quiet about some stuff because he personally thought it would upset society at large, not because forced to under pain of death or threat of torture. The rationalizations and evasions are just going to get worse.

im-skeptical said...

I repeat my invitation: please feel free to expound on the great scientific advances of the Dark Ages. Of course, we were talking about areas under the domination of the Catholic church, which did in fact suppress scientific advancement, not other parts of the world, which were not subject to domination by the church, Karl. Also, the Dark Ages has been variously defined, most commonly as as the Early Middle Ages (400 - 1000) or the Early and High Middle Ages (1000 - 1300). Clearly, the article I linked uses the latter. So we have nine centuries when expressing ideas that were seen by the church as a threat to their theology was likely to get you killed. The church didn't suppress the invention of tools and weapons, or borrowing technology from other lands. They had no problem with implements of torture and death, as we have seen, but they did suppress science. This suppression extended into the Renaissance, but eventually eased.

So go ahead. Tell us about all the wonderful scientific advances of the Dark Ages.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

Of course, we were talking about areas under the domination of the Catholic church, which did in fact suppress scientific advancement

So you keep repeating but have yet to prove. You have yet to give us even one name of a scientist suppressed by the Church during this time period for his scientific work. In fact, you have yet to actually name one scientific idea that was actually suppressed during the Middle Ages.

Clearly, the article I linked uses the latter.

Yes, and it is hardly an academic site now isn't it? O'Neill goes into some detail about its faults and you have yet to address any of his arguments.

The church didn't suppress the invention of tools and weapons, or borrowing technology from other lands. They had no problem with implements of torture and death, as we have seen, but they did suppress science.

Now do I have dredge up your previous posts where you claimed engineering was a subset of science? Are you now abandoning that claim? Isn't it ironic that you tout modern technology all the damn time as proof that scientific thought is superior to religious thought but when it comes to showing religion suppressed science suddenly technological progress and science are two separate things? Funny how that works. So how about you define what you consider to be scientific work and I am going to hold you to that definition.

Hell, I don't even have to ask that. You already admitted on your post on March 24, 2014 11:06 AM there were "modest" advances in science during the time period. Now define what distinguishes a modest scientific advance from a great one.

This suppression extended into the Renaissance, but eventually eased.

In other words, you can't name one scientific invention in a secular state during the Renaissance. About what I figured

planks length said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
planks length said...

Karl,

Before you get too frustrated in this conversation, keep in mind that these guys have failed to learn from Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), who wrote "Facts don't cease to exist because they are ignored."

Im-skeptical's stubborn refusal to acknowledge that there was no suppression of science during the so-called "Dark Ages" does not make his imagined history any more real. What there was during those roughly 400 years was a bitter struggle simply to stay alive - hardly a propitious time for far-reaching scientific advancement. (And yet, amazingly, it continued nevertheless.)

im-skeptical said...

planks,

"Without the monastic orders, the Papacy, and the Orthodox Church, far more of classical culture would have been lost to us than actually was."

You almost make it seem like the church was the only thing making life bearable for the people of the Dark Ages. Actually, the church was complicit in keeping people poor and uneducated, while they and their aristocratic partners grew wealthy. They made life a struggle for the ordinary people.

http://library.thinkquest.org/10949/fief/hifeudal.html

While the church did preserve some literature from the classical era, they also destroyed vast treasures of literature and knowledge that they didn't approve of. I shudder to think of all the knowledge that was lost during that time.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

You almost make it seem like the church was the only thing making life bearable for the people of the Dark Ages. Actually, the church was complicit in keeping people poor and uneducated, while they and their aristocratic partners grew wealthy. They made life a struggle for the ordinary people.

http://library.thinkquest.org/10949/fief/hifeudal.html


Your link's dead and has been for some time. Plus you have a known tendency to cite sources that say the exact opposite of what you think they say and actually undermine your position. Got anything else?

While the church did preserve some literature from the classical era, they also destroyed vast treasures of literature and knowledge that they didn't approve of. I shudder to think of all the knowledge that was lost during that time.

Really? Show us an instance of them destroying vast treasures of literature. I am pretty sure you can name at least one major book burning ceremony, right? Also is engineering and technological progress a part of science or is it not?

planks length said...

"You almost make it seem like the church was the only thing making life bearable for the people of the Dark Ages."

Take out the "almost", and you'd be right. Because for the most part, it was.

im-skeptical said...

"Your link's dead and has been for some time. Plus you have a known tendency to cite sources that say the exact opposite of what you think they say and actually undermine your position. Got anything else?"

That's a shame. The site worked for me. It describes the church's involvement in keeping the people poor and uneducated. And it says exactly what I describe.

As for linking things that don't say what you think, that's really rich coming from you. I've pointed out numerous cases where you've done exactly that.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

That's a shame. The site worked for me.

I find that difficult to believe since Oracle discontinued ThinkQuest in July, 2013. That site hasn't been operational for the better part of a year.

It describes the church's involvement in keeping the people poor and uneducated. And it says exactly what I describe.

Let me sum this up in one word: bullshit. I had to dig through the frigging way back archive to find that damn article. It is a rather basic overview of the feudal class structure, the kind you find in a First-Grade textbook. Here is what it says about the Church:

The church leaders often also held a great power over the people, much like the lords of the manor. Many church leaders were active in politics and government. For example, the Archbishop of Canterbury was also Chancellor of England in 1381. In fact the church was really the only universal European governing force. It was divided into spheres of influence, much like fiefs. Each "fief" was a diocese headed by a bishop. In addition to spiritual fiefs, many bishops were given real manors to govern. In this way, the church was firmly entrenched in the spiritual and practical lives of the medieval peasant. The church had a great influence over many of the common folk. The peasants believed that the harder they worked, the more of their money they gave to the church, and the more they served the church, the better the after-life would be for them. The church also paid the lord to use the land, and this sort of symbiosis between the church and the lord keep them both with an exceptional amount of money, while the peasant sometimes starved to death from overwork and exploitation.

In other words lower classes got hit hard with taxes, which has about much to do with this discussion as does the price of tea in China. There is nothing in that article that says the Church opposed education, suppressed knowledge or destroyed scientific progress. So no, it is not exactly as you say.

As for linking things that don't say what you think, that's really rich coming from you. I've pointed out numerous cases where you've done exactly that.

Really? Let's see your examples of this.