Sunday, June 22, 2014

Can we talk? Some concerns and fears

Thinking of how things have gone on this blog in the last couple of years, I have struggled with my real purpose. 

Thinking about the New Atheism, I think it really doesn't attempt to argue against religious belief. The point isn't debate, it's marginalization. It's keeping religious believers off the "adult table," as Boghossian likes to say. Treating it as argumentation, I think is a mistake. I have complained about the underlying attitude. I think it is socially dangerous. But I think my complaints are pointless, in a way. 

Polite respectful dialogues isn't just to be nice. People naturally tend to represent positions they don't like poorly. When we have the enterprise of defending our own positions, yes we like our positions and we like seeing people embracing them. But we also have to commit ourselves to the health of the community of dialogue. If I were to have a public debate with someone on belief in God, I would feel as if we are opponents in one sense, but we also have a cooperative goal of enhancing understanding of the issues at stake. Without a sense of this common goal, discussion inevitably degenerates. 

The latest crop of anti-theists aren't saying Christianity or theism is wrong, they are trying to get across the idea that it is not even wrong. I don't know how I would construe the rules of dialogue for dealing with something you consider to be not even wrong. Normal dialogue is aimed at showing that something is wrong, and gives a certain respect to the opposing view in order to refute it. 

I still hate banning people, but I think that if you think you have nothing to learn about questions surrounding religious belief and other philosophical matters, I will just say that Dangerous Idea is not for you. 

I am not concerned about an impending "End of Faith." I am concerned about the possibility that we are evolving toward a situation where believers and unbelievers can't even talk to one another without the discussion degenerating. We've had good discussions here,  but I have been seeing less and less of it as time has gone on. A kind of intellectual apartheid is where I am afraid we are headed as a society. 

If you find someone on the other side isn't giving you real dialogue, then know what to ignore. Don't waste time telling someone they're an idiot. There is no constructive purpose in doing that. 



91 comments:

im-skeptical said...

Message received. I will waste no further time here.

John Moore said...

I'd be surprised if there were atheists who had "nothing to learn about questions surrounding religious belief." After all, atheism isn't an answer; it's a lack of answers.

Even if you feel sure there's no answer, it's still fascinating to interact with people who have the exact opposite opinion. You can learn about the myriad non-answers out there. Or you can learn about believers as human beings, even if you can't learn any cosmic truths from them.

unkleE said...

I understand how you feel, and I pretty much agree with you. We can only go round the same circles for so long.

We'd all like to think our blogs and comments are making a difference, whichever way we think, but the reality is that most commenters are quite strong in their views and are not all that likely to change substantially. This applies to me as a christian visiting an atheist blog as it does to an atheist visiting my blog.

So I am no longer subscribing to some blogs, and am stopping comments on others, and I am more willing to filter out people on my blog who seem to say the same thing no matter what the subject and/or don't seem to want to discuss courteously and respectfully.

It's a pity, but it seems to be the way things are going. Instant and easy communication seems to have many drawbacks. Things will probably get worse before they get better I think.

Jakub Moravčík said...

they are trying to get across the idea that it is not even wrong

I am not sure if I understand. So if according to them it is not even wrong, then it is ... what?

Crude said...

Finally.

B. Prokop said...

Perhaps this is a symptom of some larger societal trend going on that is bigger than just the theist/atheist discussion. I've been reading reports about how liberals and conservatives no longer only regard their political opponents as wrong, but also as evil. Compromise in government is seen as capitulation to the devil. Americans in particular are not even living next to people they may disagree with, but are self-segregating into "red and blue" neighborhoods, localities, and even states. A recent poll showed that a majority of Americans would oppose a son or daughter marrying a person of the opposite political party (same-party marriage, anyone?). Same goes for friendships. I've personally heard people say things like, "I used to hang out with so-and-so, until I learned he was a [Republican/Democrat - fill in the blank]."

Maybe the gnu phenomenon is merely that same attitude spilling over into matters of religion? People as a whole are no longer interested in tolerating differences (despite all the verbiage spilled of late about "diversity" and "acceptance")?

John Moore said...

The "not even wrong" idea means that they think your proposition is incoherent, so it isn't even a proposition.

Like, what if I said a kilometer was longer than an hour? Am I right or wrong?

So anyway, it's fine because you can then discuss whether your proposition is coherent or not. There's still no reason for rudeness.

Papalinton said...

Victor: "If you find someone on the other side isn't giving you real dialogue, then know what to ignore."

There is a degree of naivety in this statement that simply does not reflect the reality of blogging on the internet. In face-to-face one can 'read' the intent behind not responding if one chooses to ignore a comment. A very different dynamic is in play during blogging. There are no visual or physical cues. If you find someone on the other side isn't giving you real dialogue, to ignore their comment is tantamount to conceding to the claim made, even if only tacit. Any non-response is imagined as justification of the claim and made all the more credible because of the non-challenge decision.

No Victor, if you blog, you must accept the territory of openness to include comments that are diametric to yours. It is unfortunate some of the commentary has been less than salutary, but is inherent in the nature of blogging. What most religious believers are experiencing in these exchanges is the changing character of the broader society that is rightly less welcoming and a deal more skeptical and cautious about accepting religious doctrine and praxis with the level of complacent deference it once not only enjoyed but demanded. Increasingly, the role of religion and theology in the community is being redefined. Religious institutions are being robustly challenged to justify their seat at the table of public policy and public governance. It comes as a shock to be challenged so vigorously, and the lessons of history seem to be conveniently overlooked by today's religionists of those who were not of the faith that used to be on the receiving end of Christian 'goodwill' once metered out as a matter of civic duty.

You say ["The latest crop of anti-theists aren't saying Christianity or theism is wrong, they are trying to get across ......"] as if it were a bad thing to do. Ever increasing numbers including me and others on this site simply do not share your opinion. Holding such a view is not a bad thing in the least, just different and divergent. To argue that religion is not even wrong indeed captures the essence of the debate over the paucity of evidence and proofs that epistemologically underpins the veracity of a distinct and wholly separable supernaturalism domain replete with 'live' [putative] non-human entities that can actively intervene and/or interfere with the laws of physics of the natural world.

I think you really need to get used to the idea that belief in the supernatural no longer has as much social capital within the community as believers would wish and that there is little constructive value in perpetuating superstition as a basis for action. If anything criticism is going to intensify as the credulity of unfounded belief is subjected to greater forensic scrutiny than ever before and religious explanations and claims about us, the environment, the world, the cosmos, and yes, even about gods, are measured against the benchmark of scientific and empirical knowledge on those same claims about us, the environment, the world, the cosmos etc. but which reports a very different and compelling narrative.

So what is there to learn about talking snakes, talking burning bushes, global deluges, rising cadavers, walking on water, revivifying corpses, staffs turning into snakes and the like, which transmogrifies these events into factual historical accounts? Surely you can appreciate that many of those, and in ever increasing numbers, that do not subscribe to the mythos, have decided that adherence to a primitive paradigm simply no longer represents the best epistemological framework on which sound decision-making can be based. Pretty simple really. Religion as an explanatory tool simply leaves too many questions unanswered and unresolved. The community landscape is changing and for the better. Get used to it.

Papalinton said...

Crude says: "Finally"

Perhaps Victor's solution to the adverse comments about religious superstition is for Dangerous Idea to cull its well-earned diverse range of commenters and to bed in the blogging equivalent of 'religious home schooling' so that budding supernaturalists are not mired by the infidels, the blasphemers and heretics and other 'god-haters' as Illion intones.

Dan Gillson said...

I know you hate banning people, Dr Reppert, but would you at least ban Linton? (If his children had any sense they would put him in a home and take away the right to use a computer.) You'd be doing everyone here a favor, even yourself.

mattghg said...

We've had good discussions here, but I have been seeing less and less of it as time has gone on.

I'm afraid I agree with you Victor, and I've been reading your blog on and off since 2007. The quality of the debate in the comments section has gone down. And by this, I mean on both sides of the God / no God divide---what happened to Blue Devil Knight, Doctor Logic, Jason Pratt and JD Walters? These guys went hammer and tongs at each other but I always felt that they had actually listened to what each other were saying and responded to that.

Shackleman said...

Dr. Reppert and unkleE,

"We'd all like to think our blogs and comments are making a difference, whichever way we think, but the reality is that most commenters are quite strong in their views and are not all that likely to change substantially. "

I am an example of a person who has changed from athiest to believer through the course of decades. Blogs like this one, and even those of the opposite opinion and timbre, have all truly helped to shape my beliefs. I've learned so much from this and other blogs. Even in disagreement.

I agree most folks are quite strong in their views and changing a mind, let alone a heart, seems like an impossible task. Yet it *does* happen. No single comment or thought or posting will do the trick...but the cummulative effect of *all* ideas shared *does*, for *some*.

Keep up the fight. Know that you make a difference. On *both* sides of the aisle.

The quest for truth is one that must be taken with a community of truth-seekers. Not everyone cares. Those that do, care deeply. And when passions and stakes are high, in any community, you will see infighting, outfighting, conflict, and even insult. But nothing worth having is ever easy. The truth is worth having, and worth the struggle to find it.

I urge you to not censor. And I urge you to not be disheartened. Blogs like this one *do* make a difference.

Papalinton said...

Thanks Dan. I appreciate it is difficult for you to register that society is moving on without religion. Accommodationism in and of itself is not generally a fitting solution to dealing with the problematic nature of religious faith as an epistemological foundation. Indeed it unnecessarily prolongs and exacerbates the inevitable shift to a more fundamental, empirical, factual, evidence-based epistemology the broader community desires going forward. In essence the debate is a reflection of the wider culture wars that must necessarily ensue if we are to effect growth and progress. I understand the latest survey in the UK now has its population constituting 54% identifying as non-religious. The trend is replicating in the US but the country is decades behind what has occurred in the UK as well as Europe, Australia and New Zealand etc. These are the raw facts. The diverse range of commentary is a testament to the health of spirited [not in any religious sense] debate on this blog. In many ways it is an alert call to religionists to face squarely the ineluctable trends and to greet them as best they can in order to alleviate the degree of discomfort such change can impose when one's belief system is seriously challenged.

A community with a church on every corner no longer characterizes the 'good community'. The rise and rise of the 'nones', the atheists, agnostics, non-religious others, equally, is a signal that religion no longer commands centre stage but is just one of numerous competing sectional interests that go to make up a diverse, multi-faceted, multicultural community, just as it should be.

Surely, even in your perverse sense, bringing that information to the table is hardly an indictable offense.

Ilíon said...

"Don't waste time telling someone they're an idiot. There is no constructive purpose in doing that."

Besides which, it probably isn't true.

They may be dishonest, but that's a totally different thing from being stupid.

Ilíon said...

Jakub Moravcík "I am not sure if I understand. So if according to them it is not even wrong, then it is ... what?"

"Not even wrong" is a semi-famous put-down in English. It's the claim that some proposition/claim/belief/position isn't even a proposition or claim that can be true or false; that while it may be someone's belief or position, it is so empty of content and/or incoherent as to be beneath comtempt and not even worthy of being shown *why* it is incoherent.

'Atheists' in the "Anglosphere" have been trying (*) for a very long time, since before the particular "Not even wrong" put-down was invented, to convince (if we may misuse that term) the general populace that "religion" (i.e. Judaism and Christianity) and all things related to "religion" are not simply wrong, but empty and meaningless, that there is no content in "religion" that they need even bother with refuting.

(*) for instance, that's what 'logical positivism' was about.

jdhuey said...

"Besides which, it probably isn't true.

They may be dishonest, but that's a totally different thing from being stupid."


Or, they may just be deluded, but that's a totally different thing from being stupid or dishonest.

Or, they may actually be correct and it is you that is deluded.

There are lots of possibilities other than 'stupid' or 'dishonest'.

B. Prokop said...

"Or, they may actually be correct and it is you that is deluded."

Actually, it is quite possible to be both deluded and correct simultaneously. For instance, many of the most important advances in astronomy were made in various attempts to support incorrect theories. My favorite example is our understanding of how heavy elements came to be in our universe.

50 years ago there was a raging debate amongst cosmologists between Lemaitre's "Big Bang" theory and Fred Hoyle's Steady State theory of the origins of the universe. The "Big Bangers" had no problem with the existence of heavy elements. They simply assumed they were all formed in the first instant of creation. But Mr. Hoyle had no such easy explanation at hand, because his theory depended on only hydrogen atoms being initially created.

So-o-o-o... He desperately needed to find some mechanism by which elements such as iron, oxygen, carbon, and... well, all elements other than hydrogen were formed. His answer? They were forged in the super-hot furnaces of stars about to go supernova, which then spewed them into the surrounding space, to eventually re-coalesce into a new generation of stars and planets.

And guess what? We now know that that is exactly how heavy elements are formed - thanks to one man's quest to shore up a now-discredited theory.

There are many other examples, but that one should suffice.

Dan Gillson said...

Actually, Linton, my reasons for requesting (again) that you be banned have nothing directly to do with me and everything to with you. Your penchants for psychologizing, motive-attribution, and missing the point frequently derail the thread. Furthermore, you do all these things in service of merely repeating the same triumphalist garbage which you spew in every thread. On short, it's merely your redundancy and your, ah, intellectual dishonesty and not anything to with my 'accomodationism', whatever that is.

Dan Gillson said...

You know ... Unfortunately, speaking out against someone who is constantly a problem is in a way contributing to the problem, isn't it? My apologies to Dr Reppert and the rest of the commentariat for my part in all this.

jdhuey said...

@Bob

A very good example indeed. I think that Hoyle does fit the definition of 'deluded': he simply refused to accept the Big Bang Theory even after conclusive evidence was found for it.

Victor Reppert said...

The last thing I want is an echo chamber. On many Christian blogs, Linton, you would have been banned a long time ago.

The problem if that your comments typically don't engage people on the other side. There's nothing wrong with thinking that somebody is not even wrong. But when it comes to critiquing a position, the methods for doing that are geared toward showing a position to be wrong, not to showing it to be not even wrong. You have to be attentive to what the person is saying.

A good deal of your responses are simply of the "we are winning" variety. That's not much of an argument. That's like saying that since Ronald Reagan was the most popular President in recent history, therefore conservatism is true.

There are plenty of atheists who have provided all sorts of reasonable discussion, with real arguments. You are not one of them.

Laughing at "talking snakes and rising cadavers" is not an argument. For any claim that something is ridiculous, you have to be able to respond to the question "What's ridiculous about it?

Then what do you say? Are you arguing, or blustering?

B. Prokop said...

The worst thing about the "we are winning" argument is that it unprovable (and un-disprovable). Who knows what is going to happen in the future? You can predict whatever you want, and who can gainsay you? In the 1930s, it was fashionable to think that fascism was the "wave of the future". (Apparently the phrase actually originated in a pro-Nazi pamphlet penned by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles Lindbergh, in which she said the US was on "the wrong side of history" by opposing Hitler's Germany. Go figure.)

Obviously, by 1945 any fool could see that what had looked inevitable 10 years ago was now in the dustbin of history. The same could be said for Nikita Khrushchev's 1960s boasts that the USSR would "bury" the West (in wheat, actually). 20 years later, it was the Russians who were importing wheat from the West, and where is the Soviet Union today?

So I can only smile when people confidently extrapolate the future by woodenly extending cherry-picked, isolated factors from contemporary events/society.

In Linton's case, his view of the current situation isn't even accurate. Sure, there is an undeniable decline in Christianity in parts of Western Europe and in one or two other places, but the Faith is meanwhile experiencing explosive growth in the rest of the world that more than offsets its losses in Europe. Percentage-wise on a global scale, it's atheism that's seen a net loss in the past several decades. The 21st Century is shaping up to be the most religious century in Human History - some decline!

Saints and Sceptics said...

I am very fond of Papa; he seems harmless. I do think he is "pulling our legs"; simply seeing how long he can keep us in conversation. And I've no doubt that he realises he hasn't a leg of his own to stand on most of the time.
Two problems - it can kill conversation. And it gives a lot of licence to trolls. (If you let one away with it...)

Crude said...

A good deal of your responses are simply of the "we are winning" variety.

You forgot the comedic amateur plagiarism to cover up the obvious 'has no clue what he's even talking about' aspect. ;)

To Skep's credit, I never caught him plagiarizing. He puts his pig-ignorance of science and philosophy way out in front, if unintentionally.

msgrx said...

mattghg:

"what happened to Blue Devil Knight, Doctor Logic, Jason Pratt and JD Walters?"

I'm not sure about the last ones, but Blue Devil Knight stopped posting after he was outed as a sockpuppeteer:

http://crudeideas.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/phosphorus-and-hesperus-zach-and-blue.html

mattghg said...

Yikes. What an unpleasant surprise.

Ilíon said...

mattghg: "Yikes. What an unpleasant surprise."

Unpleasant, yes. But why a surprise?

This Biblical assertion is true, or it is not true -- "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools ..." [for some reason, in my memory, that last is "they made themselves fools"]

It is true, or it is not true, "that men are without excuse" in denying God's "eternal power and divine nature" which "have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made".

Now, if this is true, then *all* God-deniers are liars, for God-denial is the fundamental lie. They may not all be equally nasty or insulting about it (*), and one ought to be as civil to them as their own behavior allows -- while never compromising truth for the sake of civility (thus, one *cannot* allow them to get away with a bit of the intellectual dishonesty that so many of them love).

And, if all God-deniers are liar by virtue of their God-denial, then why be surprised that BDK resorted to sock-puppetry? If someone lies about the most basic truth of reality, why would one not expect him to lie about lesser things?


(*) But, in fact, BDK *was* nasty and insulting toward "religion" and the "religious". It's just that you "civility" fetishists refused to see it.

Dan Gillson said...

I don't understand why striving for politeness in disagreements amounts to having a 'civility fetish'. You are needlessly confrontational, Ilion (which is why I first thought you were a troll), and it would do you well to drop the act, because you (probably) aren't that way in real life at all.

Ilíon said...

Dan Gillson: "I don't understand why striving for politeness in disagreements amounts to having a 'civility fetish'."

Who said anything about "striving for politeness in disagreements amount[ing] to having a 'civility fetish'"? That you decline to understand what I have said (on multiple occasions) is hardly my problem.

Dan Gillson: "You are needlessly confrontational, Ilion (which is why I first thought you were a troll), and it would do you well to drop the act, because you (probably) aren't that way in real life at all."

And your opinion (to misuse that word in the way that so many misuse it) about me is worth what? Moreover, your opinion on *anything* -- as a person who stubbornly denies the most basic, and most rationally obvious, fact of reality -- is worth what?

My opinion is that Christians (and all "religion" persons, for that matter) need to get over their Stockholm Syndrome with respect to God-deniers and need to ignore the "religious" enforcers of the Stockholm Syndrome.

Dan Gillson said...

1. I understand what you say just fine, Troy. So understand what I'm saying: no one here has a 'civility fetish'. The people whom you caricature as having one are just people who strive to disagree politely. Saying otherwise is being needlessly confrontational. What value is there in caricaturing the beliefs or mental states of others?

2. My opinion of you is worth whatever you want it to be. If you wish it to be worth nothing, then it is. For my part, I will continue to hold a more or less favorable opinion of you until you deserve otherwise. If that is worth nothing to you, then okay, but it's strange that you would have it so.

amorbis said...

Ilion,

The existence of God is not "obvious" at all. Your "argument" for the existence of God based on the existence of the mind (which you claim is flawless and decisive) is actually quite weak, and isn't even logically valid. You can't *directly* argue from the existence of an immaterial mind to the existence of God; one does not directly logically imply the other, and every attempt I've seen to argue from one to the other (which I've never seen from you, by the way) has been unconvincing. You are completely unable to even entertain the idea that you might be wrong about something, or even that people could be rational in disagreeing with you. You are obviously a very angry person, and have been brought up to see people who don't believe in your religion as not only wrong but stupid or evil. You need to get over that attitude, and soon. You need to engage in discussion with people who disagree with you and be civil to them, instead of dismissing them all as "intellectually dishonest" and treating them like they're somehow evil or morally corrupt for not having the same beliefs as you or for not blindly going with whatever "arguments" you've presented. You need to get over your delusions that you're some kind of infallible "perfect-reasoner" who is right about everything and cannot possibly make a mistake and cannot possibly give an unsound argument. Otherwise, people will be perfectly justified in ignoring whatever you have to say.

Legion of Logic said...

Ironically, amorbis, you just described anti theists absolutely perfectly. But yes, this apparent increase in attacking people for having different opinions needs to be curtailed. Too bad it will likely only get worse.

Hugo said...

@Victor

Thank you for writing this blog post. I think it raises some very interesting questions; none of which have neither easy nor simple answers. Since there were a lot of comments already, I will try to make mine short and mention only 1 thing:

Please, don't be so cynical. It's not because you perceive a lot more animosity between theists and atheists, especially because of the "rise" of the New Atheist movement, that there is more. People are not more polarized because of the internet. You can pick and choose whatever you want online. Extremists existed yesterday and will continue to exist tomorrow; most of us will be somewhere in between 2 extremes of most positions. I thus respectfully disagree with the notion that "we are evolving toward a situation where believers and unbelievers can't even talk to one another without the discussion degenerating". Not so long ago, we could not talk to each other, at all; we barely knew we existed. We did not have all the means of communications we have today. It's getting better, not worse. My marriage is a testimony. It's hard for me to ignore that...

Ilíon said...

LoL: "Ironically, amorbis, you just described anti theists absolutely perfectly. But yes, this apparent increase in attacking people for having different opinions needs to be curtailed."

Of course, there is a vast difference between "attacking people for having different opinions" and attacking opinions ... or behaviors.

LoL: "Too bad it will likely only get worse."

The fact that so many can no longer see this difference is due in large part to the increasing post-modernist feminization of the possessors of Y-chromosomes. The mis-placed (and hypocritical) shrieking will certainly get worse.

Ilíon said...

amorbis: "The existence of God is not "obvious" at all."

I said rationally obvious.

amorbis: "Your "argument" for the existence of God ... is actually quite weak ..."

If it is indeed weak, then that just means I can make it even stronger ... if you ever get off your high-horse and successfully identify ons of the alleged weaknesses in it. But we both know that you do noting of the sort; we both know that asserting that the argument is "weak" is all the "proof" for the assertion that you will ever present.

amorbis: "Your "argument" for the existence of God ... isn't even logically valid."

Similarly, if my argument isn't even logically valid, it's possible that I can re-work it to be logically valid ... if you ever successfully identify a logical flaw in it. But, as with the silly assertion that it's "weak", we both know that you will never *identify* a logical flaw in my argument, we both know that you will continue to assert that it is logically flawed and that that assertion alone will have to stand in for the demonstration of the flaw(s).

amorbis: "You can't *directly* argue from the existence of an immaterial mind to the existence of God; one does not directly logically imply the other, and every attempt I've seen to argue from one to the other (which I've never seen from you, by the way) has been unconvincing."

I have no reason at all to believe your assertion that one "can't *directly* argue from the existence of an immaterial mind to the existence of God"; but, as you say, I don't argue that in any event. So, what's the point of including this in your tirade against me?

And, as for your second assertion, that "one does not directly logically imply the other", anyone with a passing understanding of the relevant concepts can see that the assertion is false definitionally: for God -- being both a mind *and* logically and causally prior to "matter" -- is, by definition, an immaterial mind. So, at least one side of the pairing *does* logically imply the other.

amorbis: "You are completely unable to even entertain the idea that you might be wrong about something, or even that people could be rational in disagreeing with you."

These twin accusations do not become true because you people keep asserting them. What you fools are really bitching about is that I state my positions like a man, rather than weasel and insinuate like an academic (including all the personal viciousness attending the academic mind-set).

But, even were these accusations true, what I say is true or is not true irrespective of any of my character flaws, real or asserted.

These accusations are just one more of the illogical tools you fools use to avoid even considering the truth of what I say. What, only those who disbelieve the deliverances of reason and/or distrust their own capacity to reason are capable of seeing and stating the truth?

You fools are vicious litle pussies -- you demand post-modernist false humility and pseudo-tentativeness and you viscerally hate manly argumentation and rational confidence.

But I refuse to play your (collective) game -- I have *thought* about this or that and have come to some conclusion I believe to logically valid and sound. If you want me to question the validity and soundness of the conclusion (and thus of the reasoning behind it), then *you* need to actually do the work of showing that it is unsound or invalid. Your hypocritical post-modernism doesn't impress me in the least.

Ilíon said...

amorbis: "You are obviously a very angry person ..."

Likewise, this accusation does not become true because you fools keep asserting it.

Also, again likewise, even were this accusation true, what I say is true or is not true irrespective of my "anger".

Again, this accusation is just one more of the illogical tools you fools use to avoid even considering the truth of what I say. What, only *happy* people are capable of seeing and stating the truth?

amorbis: "... and have been brought up to see people who don't believe in your religion as not only wrong but stupid or evil."

Again, this is false.

Firstly, it is not *I* always calling "the bad guys" 'stupid', that's is the forte of you fools (on both general "sides"). In fact, I continuously criticizing (and condeming) the accusation of stupidity.

Secondly, I *do* call you fools intellectually dishonest, which I suppose one can characterise as 'evil' (though I'd use the term 'wicked', which term lacks the moral ambiguity of 'evil'). BUT, this is a conclusion based on the evidence of your own (collective) behavior.

Thirdly, it has nothing to do with my religion, nor my upbringing: it's all about your (collective) intellectual dishonesty, about your studied refusal to reason correctly and consistently.

And, again, even if it were true, so what? The truth or falseness of what I say does not depend upon my attitude about you fools, nor how I was allegedly brought up.

amorbis: "You need to get over that attitude, and soon."

Really? Who died and made you God?

Ilíon said...

amorbis: "You need to engage in discussion with people who disagree with you and be civil to them, instead of dismissing them all as "intellectually dishonest" and treating them like they're somehow evil or morally corrupt for not having the same beliefs as you or for not blindly going with whatever "arguments" you've presented."

Whew! It's a good thing I don't do any of that.

Nevertheless, it is logically impossible to get at the truth of the matter (whatever the matter may be) with persons who are intellectually dishonest. It is logically impossible to have a *real* discussion with persons who are intellectually dishonest. It is logically impossible to engage persons who are intellectually dishonest.

Intellectual dishonesty *is* a moral corruption, and probably the worst of the lot.

amorbis: "You need to get over your delusions that you're some kind of infallible "perfect-reasoner" who is right about everything and cannot possibly make a mistake and cannot possibly give an unsound argument."

Once again, if you (collective) want me to doubt the conclusions I have reached or the reasoning by which I arrived at those conclusions, then you need to show where I have made the error.

At the same time, even if you *did* show where I have made some rational-or-logical error, that very ability-and-fact would but demonstrate the overall truth of my conclusions, for a deterministic (pseudo-)mind can do no such thing, on either side of the demonstration.

amorbis: "Otherwise, people will be perfectly justified in ignoring whatever you have to say."

And, finally! we get to the nub of what all this constant bitching about me is really all about -- coming up with some (specious) justification for ignoring the truth of what I say.


In summary --if amorbis expects to be taken seriously, he needs to start reasoning like a man, rather than like a junior-high girl. Girls (*) imagine that calling someone "angry" refutes him; girls imagine that faulting someone as being "too certain" refutes him, girls imagine that telling someone "You have a bad attitude" (which, translated into man-speak, is "I don't like you") refutes him.

(*) and academics and post-modernists, which is to say, groups who collectively think and "argue" like girls.

Ilíon said...

Let's back up to the *only* substantive part of amorbis' tirade --

amorbis: "Your "argument" for the existence of God based on the existence of the mind (which you claim is flawless and decisive) is actually quite weak, and isn't even logically valid."

Amazingly, he got something about it right.

Well, half-right: my "You are the proof of God" argument is *not* "based on the existence of the mind". Rather, it is depends upon the reality/existence of minds: specifically yours and mine (as people say). 'The mind' is a concept, and the term is often used to refer to a semi-reification of the concept.

And, of couse, by the mere fact of presemting it, I do implicitly claim that the argument is "flawless and decisive" (*) -- else why bother with it? What? Should I behave as though I were some post-modernist (or DarwinDefender) who pretends not to be making truth-claims and pretends not to be attempting to convince others to believe that my truth-claims are indeed true? If amorbis wants me to believe that the argument is flawed or indecisive, I fear I'll need a bit more than the bare assertion.

To more fully state the matter, my argument depends upon rejecting the absurdities that logically follow from denying that there is some actual mind (not 'Mind' and not 'the mind') who is logically and ontologically prior to "the universe".

This should not be misunderstood: the argument is not merely a refutation of materialism/physicalism/naturalism. That's only a specific instance of its general target, which is mechanicalism or determinism with respect to minds/persons.


Now, understanding what the argument *actually* is about, does it not seem that amorbis may be denying the reality of minds ... or at least of the possibility of finding truth via reason?

amorbis: "Your "argument" for the existence of God based on the existence of the mind ... is actually quite weak, and isn't even logically valid."

The truth of my argument means this: one can either --
1) deny that God-denial is the truth about the nature of reality, that is, affirm that God is;
2) deny the reality of one's own existence as a mind, a person, an agent.

To put it another way: one cannot coherently both --
1) assert that God-denial is the truth about the nature of reality;
2) affirm the reality of one's own existence as a mind, a person, an agent.

Amorbis seems to be saying that the fact that God-denial logially entails the absurd denial that one's own self exists in no way tells us that God-denial is itself absurd.



(*) which is not the same thing as saying, or implying, that it is the *only* "flawless and decisive" argument for the reality of God.

amorbis said...

Amorbis seems to be saying that the fact that God-denial logially entails the absurd denial that one's own self exists in no way tells us that God-denial is itself absurd.

No. What I'm saying is that "God-denial" does not logically entail the denial that one's own self exists.. Dualism does not directly imply theism; you need an independent argument to get from one to the other. And I have never seen a good argument for the conclusion that dualism implies theism. Ever.

Also: Let's add "blatant misogynist" to the list of serious character flaws that are present in our dear friend Ilion here, shall we?

You can have the last word if you want; I'm not going to waste my time arguing with you. I just felt like I needed to respond somehow to you being such an arrogant self-righteous asshole in this thread.

Hugo said...

amorbis said...
Also: Let's add "blatant misogynist" to the list of serious character flaws that are present in our dear friend Ilion here, shall we?

It's the kind of flaw that's made even more obvious when you list the sexist comments one after the other.

Ilíon said...
"... increasing post-modernist feminization of the possessors of Y-chromosomes...
...What you fools are really bitching about is that I state my positions like a man...
...You fools are vicious litle pussies -- you demand post-modernist false humility and pseudo-tentativeness and you viscerally hate manly argumentation and rational confidence...
...start reasoning like a man, rather than like a junior-high girl. Girls (*) imagine that calling someone "angry" refutes him; girls imagine that faulting someone as being "too certain" refutes him, girls imagine that telling someone "You have a bad attitude" (which, translated into man-speak, is "I don't like you") refutes him...
(*) and academics and post-modernists, which is to say, groups who collectively think and "argue" like girls...
"

He is right about one thing though. Being sexist does not make his arguments wrong, but it certainly makes it less interesting to engage him, the person.

B. Prokop said...

Knowing in advance that Ilion will ridicule me for the following comment (and probably come up with a new name for me in the process), fool that I am, I proceed anyhow.

Most of what Ilion posts is actually quite worthwhile. He and I have some rather significant differences, as any long time follower of this site knows, but even when we disagree, I nearly always find Ilion to be thought provoking - unlike some other "contributors" to DI, who like the pagans, "think that they will be heard for their many words" (Matthew 6:7).

And yes, no matter how certain Ilion is of his own beliefs, his attitude does him no favors. One tends to fixate on his method of engagement to the detriment of the content.

And again yes, his use of the term "girls" as an insult is indeed offensive. (He'll probably accuse me of "acting like a girl" for writing that!)

B. Prokop said...

THIS AWARD apparently had Ilion in mind! Congratulations, Sir!

Ilíon said...

"Hate facts" are so hate-facty, aren't they?

Does anyone here expect to be taken seriously when he denies that junior-high girls, in the general, behave and "reason" in identifiable ways? And that those ways are nasty as behaviors and irrational as "reason"?

Does anyone here expect to be taken seriously when he denies that for a putative man to behave and "reason" like junior-high girls do is a shameful thing?

Does anyone here expect to be taken seriously when he denies that one of the goals the leftists-and-feminists have assigned the publc indoctrination centers is to psychologically emasculate the boys -- drugging them if need be -- to turn them into ersatz girls?

Does anyone here expect to be taken seriously when he denies that one of the goals the leftists-and-feminists have assigned the publc indoctrination centers is to psychologically cripple the girls, such that they never mature into women?

Does anyone here *really* think that your grandfathers (or great-grandfathers for you young'uns) would not have considered many of you to be at best sissies, to be not-men (irrespective of your silly over-compesation with "extreme sports")? Why would those old fuddy-duddies consider (so many of) you to be not-men? Surely we can agree that it's not because you've grown ovaries. It's because you so willingly participate in your own psychological emasculation and jump at the chance to prove to your leftist-and-feminist overlords how well you've internalized your feminization.

Does anyone here *really* expect to be taken seriously when he starts spouting leftist boo-words? By whom do you not-men expect to be taken seriously? Other girls?

Ilíon said...

"THIS AWARD apparently had Ilion in mind! Congratulations, Sir!"

Why do you people persist in projecting *your* character flaws onto me? Can you you not find any that I have? Are the ones you like to assert that I have not enough to satisfy you?

Remember, you are the ones who are forever calling people stupid; I'm the one who is forever ragging on you for calling people stupid ... and forever ragging of some of you for being dishonest.

B. Prokop said...

Hey, manly-man Ilion. I'd like to know your service record. In which branch did you serve?

As for this "girly man", I did my duty in the Army, serving in Germany (back when there was a Soviet Union right over the border), Korea (during the 1994 nuclear crisis, when absolutely everybody thought the North would be invading at any second), Kuwait (where I was on the "Highway of Death" - I still have the piece of a knocked-out, Soviet-built Iraqi T-55 tank that I kept as a trophy), and Turkey (ironically, the only place I was ever actually shot at). In Istanbul I once survived a kidnap by Russian gangsters, managing to escape unaided. Not a fun experience!

Got anything to match that record? I think I've earned the right to speak in whatever manner I wish.

Ilíon said...

Meanwhile, fascinating though I'm sure you all find it to continue talking about me, let's get somewhat back to the subject at hand --

Here is just *one* example of that fine, civil, respectful Blue Devil Knight -- "Victor still pushing the ridiculous view that strong belief, even to the point of martyrdom, suggests the legitimacy of the cause? David Koresh obviously was spouting the truth then.

On miracles: Benny Hinn recently healed a blind woman. See video here. I guess because it happend ~2000 years ago, and has been transmitted by extremely biased and powerful superstitious groups (you know, they types that would burn Giordano Bruno alive), we should give more credence to cases of Jesus healing the blind.

I feel as if I witness a powerful narcotic at work in these threads sometimes, turning otherwise intelligent people gullible.
"

I found that in just a couple of minutes. I’m sure I could find some example post by BDK that is even more civil and respectful of “religion” and “the religious” if I spent, say, an hour re-reading old posts.

ps. Doctor 'Logic' was even worse than BDK.

Dan Gillson said...

Your argument for the existence of God is flawed, Troy. It takes for granted that atheism logically implies materialism, when it implies no such thing. Atheism is as comfy with other monistic systems (e.g. Jamesian neutral monism, or Strawsonian panpsychism) as it is with classical materialism. Furthermore it begs the question against an unmetaphysical form or atheism, i.e., an atheism that rejects divine personalities and not necessarily an ens necessarium. Your argument only suffices against a materialistic atheism with an incredibly crude account of causation, which is to say that it succeeds against a strawman, and not against atheism.

amorbis said...

In fact, atheism is even compatible with substance dualism - William Hasker's emergent dualism is one way, as is the Buddhist view that minds have always existed and are "captured" by newly-formed bodies (as in reincarnation).

B. Prokop said...

I have never bought on to the idea that Buddhism is a form of atheism. I've known quite a few Buddhists, and lived several years in Asia surrounded by Buddhists, visiting their temples and holy sites. I learned that Buddha has existed from all eternity and that he created the world. People pray to him. Sounds like God to me.

Just sayin'

Ilíon said...

Dan Gillson: "... Troy ..."

Dan Gillson: "... Troy ...."

Seemingly, I'm supposed to take the unauthorized use of my Christian (hey!) name as a threat, or a put-down, or both. I think what it means is that Dani is trying to find some way to connect to Christ, however tenuous.

"It takes for granted that atheism logically implies materialism, when it implies no such thing."

Of course, trying to surreptitiously snuggle up to Christ while asserting a lie probably won't work out too well.

Shackleman said...

Ilíon said..."At the same time, even if you *did* show where I have made some rational-or-logical error, that very ability-and-fact would but demonstrate the overall truth of my conclusions, for a deterministic (pseudo-)mind can do no such thing, on either side of the demonstration."

This is such a cogent and succinct point. I have yet to see a serious attempt to refute it by bloggers here.

Oh, and hi, Ilíon. Been awhile! Hope all is well with you.

Dan Gillson said...

Considering that my comments contained nothing threatening nor insulting, I'm wondering what's filling in that yawning logical gap ... I used your name, if you want to know, to humanize my interaction with you. It's hard to empathize with an avatar. Anyways, until you provide me with a solid argument that atheism implies materialism, which is what your argument assumes, you're begging the question.

Ilíon said...

Shackleman: "Oh, and hi, Ilíon. Been awhile! Hope all is well with you."

I need to get myself in gear and drive down to your neck of the woods one of these weekends soon. One of the things stolen when my house was burgled a few weeks ago was my flatscreen computer monitor (perhaps he thought it was as TV).

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "At the same time, even if you *did* show where I have made some rational-or-logical error, that very ability-and-fact would but demonstrate the overall truth of my conclusions, for a deterministic (pseudo-)mind can do no such thing, on either side of the demonstration."

Shackleman: "This is such a cogent and succinct point. I have yet to see a serious attempt to refute it by bloggers here."

Let us pretend for the nonce that it is even theoretically possible for a computer program to be a mind, to be a self (and to be able to meaningfully refer to itself as 'I'). And let us pretend that computers and/or computer programs actually do compute (*). And, so, let us pretend that as some future date there is written such a computer program.

Now, in our scenario, Instantiation_A happens to compute that "1 + 1 = 3", and he does this consistently, that is every time he computes "1 + 1" (for there is a logical flaw in the design of his hardware's math co-prossessor); and Instantiation_B happens to compute that "1 + 1 = x", by which I mean that his conclusion is random (for there is a physical flaw in the manufacture of his hardware's math co-prossessor); whereas Instantiation_C happens always to compute the correct conclusion that "1 + 1 = 2".

Now, as we are pretending that our three AIs really are minds, really are selves, and really exist persistently, we can pretend that they get into an argument over who has reached the right conclusion. But, here's the problem: all they can really argue about is the fact that they do, in fact, disagree over which conclusion is correct -- and none of them can ever convince any of the others to abandon their conclusions and adopt his own.

Instantiation_A can assert, "No, you guys are wrong. Look! I'm computing "1 + 1" and the answer is "3""

Instantiation_B can assert, "Tsk! Don't be so deterministic. Sure, the last time I computed "1 + 1" the answer *was* "3". But, look! I'm computing "1 + 1" right now and the answer is "-15""

Instantiation_C can assert, "You guys are both wrong. Look! I'm computing "1 + 1" and the answer is "2""

A and B cannot *see* that they are wrong and cannot correct their error. Likewise, C cannot *see* that he is right.


(*) Though as we know, they only simulate computation: the "computation" a computer or computer program does is no more actual computation than 'The Sims' are actual persons or than 'SimCity' builds actual cities.

Ilíon said...

amorphous (*): "In fact, atheism is even compatible with substance dualism - William Hasker's emergent dualism is one way ..."

I've already pointed out, quite recently (as in mere days ago) why "substance dualism" can't do the trick -- for, as there is no such thing as mere 'matter', even less so is there such a thing as mere 'mind'. And capitalizing it as 'Mind' doesn't solve the problem.

There is no such thing as mere 'matter' -- 'Matter' refers to a concept (and frequently, a reification of same), and specifically a conceptual category: such things as 'oxygen' and 'helium' as distinct from such things as 'one' and 'true'. One can't go to the Materials Store and buy a bucket of 'matter', the bucket will necessarily contain at least one specific kind of matter.

There is no such thing as mere 'mind' -- 'Mind' refers to a concept (and frequently, a reification of same), and specifically a conceptual and collective category: actually existsing minds as distinct from not-minds, such as 'oxygen' or 'one'. AND, being a concept, 'mind' does not, and cannot, exist unless there is at least one actually existsing mind who entertains the concept.

In summary --
Substance Dualism -- Plato For Dummies
Plato; Forms: -- Unthought Thoughts

'Substance dualism' is the attempt to render God, the Necessary Being, unnecessary by positing that, contra 'materialistic monism' (the positing that 'matter' is the basic and only substance of "the universe"), there are *two* basic substances of "the universe": 'matter' *and* 'mind'. However, as we saw a monent ago, 'mind' refers to a concept, an idea being entertained by some actually existing mind.

So, to posit that 'mind' is fundamental to the existence of "the universe" *just is* to posit the hidden-assertion that at least one actually existing mind is fundamental -- necessary -- to the existence of "the universe". 'Substance dualism' attempts to render the Necessary Being unnecessary by hiding him behind smoke and rhetoric.

Allow me emphasize this: to even *be* coherent, 'substance dualism' has to *assume* that God is (**).

'Substance dualism' -- as an attempt to evade the reality of God -- is just one more incoherency that the rational man rejects and avoids.


(*) because it seems clear to me that he'll say *anything*

(**) and why would one bother to *assume* that God is when one can *know* that God is?

Ilíon said...

amorphous: "In fact, atheism is even compatible with substance dualism ... as is the Buddhist view that minds have always existed and are "captured" by newly-formed bodies (as in reincarnation)."

You mean Buddhism, that system of (and I use the term loosely) thought which openly-and-up-front denies that there even are such things as selves -- which is to say, minds? Or do you have some other "Buddhist view" in mind?

Let's see -- my argument is:
1) that the denial that one's own self is real, the denial that one really exists, is absurd;
2) that any "view" which entails the denial that one's own self is real, that entails the denial that one really exists, is ipso facto absurd, not merely in its entailments, but at its core;
3) that if there are two mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive "views", one of which entails the denial that one's own self is real, that entails the denial that one really exists, then one *knows* ipso facto that that "view" is false and that its denial is true.

And this amusing little fellow imagines that any rational being is impressed by the offering up of the mere existence of some "view" which not merely entails, but openly asserts, that there are no 'selves' as being a defeater of or refutation of the argument?

Can you see me rolling my eyes?

amorphous: "... as is the Buddhist view that minds have always existed and are "captured" by newly-formed bodies (as in reincarnation)."

Aside from that embarrassment that Buddhism *denies* that there are any minds in the first place, the real question isn't "have we always existed?", but "are we contingent or non-contingent?" Asserting that he have always existed refutes the conclusion that our existence is contingent (upon God at the least), how?

After all, one might argue on the basis of Christianity and the Christian understanding of 'eternity' that we have always existed ... and yet we remain contingent utterly upon the Creator-God.

Shackleman said...

Ilíon,

I do still check in on your blog on occassion and read your account of the burglary. My sympathies! I thankfully can only imganie as I've never been a victim of it. Hopefully they can catch the perp.

If you do find yourself down this way, look me up, and we can do lunch :-)

Shackleman said...

"Though as we know, they only simulate computation: the "computation" a computer or computer program does is no more actual computation than 'The Sims' are actual persons or than 'SimCity' builds actual cities."

Nice illustration in that post. What baffles me is that the folks who deny the self, and free will, and ultimately God, are really asserting that all of us are mere Sims. Which means they are merely pseudo-arguing their pseudo-positions on blogs, and trying to change pseudo-minds.

It makes me wonder what, exactly, they are trying to accomplish! What point is there in changing a pseudo-mind with pseudo-thoughts? Why expend the energy on something that doesn't exist?

It seems positively obvoius to me that the logical conclusion of athiesm is a zombie-world...or a world of the Sims. I didn't always think that though. For me, after many years of study and reading blogs like this one, I finally had a eureka moment. Which is why, coming back to the OP, I think it's important to allow for the dialogue without censorship. Hearing all sides, even those that are insulting or off topic, or whatever the case may be, might very well lead to others having their own eurekas.

Ilíon said...

"If you do find yourself down this way, look me up, and we can do lunch :-) "

Email me a phone number and we can work out when is a good time for you and the missus (assuming she wouldn't be bored meeting some total stranger).

Ilíon said...

Shackleman: "Nice illustration in that post. What baffles me is that the folks who deny the self, and free will, and ultimately God, are really asserting that all of us are mere Sims. Which means they are merely pseudo-arguing their pseudo-positions on blogs, and trying to change pseudo-minds."

I expect that you caught that I was making a very pointed point of emphasizing simulation as contrasted with emulation.

The (silly) asserters of strong-AI need a computer program to be able to emulate a (human) mind -- they, including some of the God-deniers who post here, like to assert that thinking is just computation (*) and that therefore there is no logical/theoretical reason to doubt the strong-AI assertions that any day now some computer will think -- but, in fact, computers can't even emulate computation, much less thinking.

(*) which is doubly amusing, since computation is just counting; or to be more precise, computation is the counting of counting, and computers can't even do that.

Shackleman said...

Ilíon,

Is the email listed in your blogger profile still current?

Re: AI:

In my experience, most AI proponents on various blogs have no concept of how computers actually work. I remember getting into discussions with doctorlogic back in the day. He really didn't have a clue, but was convinced thinking computers were just around the corner.

Computers are little more than programmable abacuses. I doubt we'll see any proponents of abacus AI anytime soon!

Ilíon said...

B.Pro-feminazi: "Hey, manly-man Ilion. I'd like to know your service record. In which branch did you serve?"

Said like the girl you aspire to be! All you need do now is tell me I need to get laid and they will issue you your girl-card, if they haven't already. On this point I may be confusing you with one of the other XY-chicks, but I seem to recall that you've already put forward the hypothesis that I'm so "angry" 'cause I need to get laid.

Psshaw!. So you were in danger when you had no choice in the matter. Did you ever voluntarily endanger yourself saving another's life when you were only 11? For that matter, how many lives *have* you saved by your own direct effort? In my case, definately one, and arguably three.

Now I mentioned these little biographical fact to point out how vapid -- how *exactly* like the sort of (ahem) thinking common to junior-high girls -- was your comment. I criticize (on-going) you putative men for "reasoning" like junior-high girls do ... and you "refute" me by "reasoning" like junior-high girls do.

Ilíon said...

Yes, that email is current.

"Computers are little more than programmable abacuses."

I put it this way: computers are just glorified abacuses.

" I doubt we'll see any proponents of abacus AI anytime soon!"

Exactly.

Not too long ago, I linked to an article discussing a computer built of Legos and a "laser". The salient point of the article is that the Lego computer, restricted though it is in comparison, is every bit the instantiation of a Turing Machine that an electronic computer is. The *meaning* of that, of course, is that the Lego computer can emulate a PC (or a mainframe), and vice versa. And the meaning of *that* is that when one asserts that *someday* an electronic computer will be built-and-programmed that is able emulate a human mind, one is simulateously asserting that *right now* the Lego computer can emulate a human mind.

Needless to say, "Im-skeptical" wasn't at all happy about that ... and refuses to acknowledge that the Lego computer refutes strong-AI.

B. Prokop said...

"how many lives *have* you saved by your own direct effort?"

The official count is 27.

B. Prokop said...

Myself: "The official count is 27."

But I like to think it's at least a million, by playing my admittedly small, yet vitally important, part in preventing a 1994 Korean War.

Papalinton said...

Victor, I have been away for a few days and have not had the opportunity of responding.

You say, "The problem if [sic] that your comments typically don't engage people on the other side. There's nothing wrong with thinking that somebody is not even wrong. But when it comes to critiquing a position, the methods for doing that are geared toward showing a position to be wrong, not to showing it to be not even wrong. You have to be attentive to what the person is saying."

And that is what I have been doing, demonstrating that theism is not only dilapidated and outdated but is plain wrong as an explanatory model about us, the environment, the world, the universe., and, is increasingly found to be not even wrong, just misguided. There is a far clearer, substantive explanatory tool which on balance has provided a significantly more comprehensive understanding about us and the world that better fits all the evidence and knowledge we now possess that underpins a consistent and emerging narrative from the huge array of disciplines that simply dwarfs the 'goddidit' paradigm of theo-philosophy.

The following is just one of countless examples where science provides a substantive and very different understanding and explanation from that of theo-philosophy. How does theism construct an argument that either challenges or refutes such findings, findings that have conclusively emerged from a myriad of studies across the globe over the past century or so? You will have heard of but will probably [due to your priors not have read David Emile Durkheim or his treatise, "Elementary Forms of Religious Life", first published about a century ago and remains 'perhaps the single most influential study in the sociology of religion'. His erudite summation of decades of research, OUTLINED HERE:

"A totem was originally an animal or plant considered to have a particular symbolic significance for a group. It is a sacred object regarded with veneration and surrounded by various ritual activities. Durkheim defines religion in terms of a distinction between the sacred and the profane. According to Durkheim sacred is ideal and transcends everyday existence; it is extra-ordinary, potentially dangerous, awe-inspiring, fear inducing. The sacred refers to things set apart by man including religious beliefs, rites, duties or anything socially defined as requiring special religious treatment. The sacred has extra-ordinary, supernatural and often dangerous qualities and can usually be approached only through some form of ritual such as prayer, incantation or ceremonial cleansing. Almost anything can be sacred: a god, a rock, a cross, the moon, the earth, a king, a tree, an animal or bird. These are sacred only because some community has marked them as sacred. Once established as sacred however they become symbols of religious beliefs, sentiments and practices. Sacred objects are symbols and are treated apart from the routine aspects of existence or the realm of profane. Eating the totemic animal or plant is usually forbidden and as a sacred object the totem is believed to have divine properties which separate it completely from other animals that might be hunted or those crops that can be gathered and consumed."

This explanation instantly captures the reasons and understanding behind the ritual practice of, say, the eucharist, a process by which apparent 'divine properties' are bestowed [such as goodness and ever-lasting life] on the partaker by eating the totemic animal, in this case of christianity, jesus the christ.

CONT

Papalinton said...

CONT
Around this singular example alone, how does a philosopher like you actually reconcile your priors about the 'truth' of imbibing in a bone and blood meal with that of Durkheim's truth, apart from psychological compartmentalisation? What is your counter to the veridical observations of Durkheim that clearly demonstrates that the practice of god-worshipping, or the cannibalistic pagan-derived practice of the eucharist is not a wholly terrestrially-bound, culturally derived, social ritual, with no more reality or evidence for a supernatural realm, than worshipping a giant rock or a Pukaminni Pole of the northern Australian Aborigines, which we know can equally engender emotive fear and trepidation when in its presence?

And in many respects the bellyaching about not engaging people on the other side is not so much a point in fact, rather a somewhat underwhelming ploy that theists claim of their opponents when having to engage in debate outside their theological comfort zone. This discomfort is best characterized by the persistent caricaturing of information, knowledge and research outside the theo-philosophical frame, as 'scientism'. Your latest contribution, "Why I don't buy "trajectory of science" arguments", is symptomatic of that discomfort. You say you don't buy into 'trajectory of science' arguments and yet you swallow whole the 'Revelation of John' trajectory of the world's end based on nothing more than faith, a known miserable and failed epistemology at best.

Neither is it a matter of 'winning'. It is a matter of drawing on the evidence. The religious narrative has been debunked as an explanation of 'reality' however one might wish to define the word. Philosophy, science, etc has moved on and away from religion as an explanation. The latest Gallup Survey shows the continuing trend that has been occurring over the past half-dozen decades or so. Religion as an explanatory tool is losing favour at a significant rate. Secular rationalism is increasingly becoming the preferred guide on which the community at large are looking to base social and governance decision-making.

You say: "For any claim that something is ridiculous, you have to be able to respond to the question "What's ridiculous about it?" And that's being done. Laughing at "talking snakes and rising cadavers" is not an argument, to be sure. More importantly there seems little point in defending religionism or theism. To continue to do so is simply a case of defending the ridiculousness of rising and ascending cadavers. To claim special pleading by the invocation of a miracle, as the basis for according some notion of credibility to this fable, is to ostrich one's head into the sand, to hide from ineluctable reality.

B. Prokop said...

Linton,

Your example of totems does nothing to either prove or disprove the claims of Catholicism, vis a vis the Eucharist and the True Presence. In fact, the existence of such in various cultures and at various times is exactly what one would expect, were said claims actually true. I've used the following analogy before, but it bears repeating:

If you were to throw a large and heavy stone into a pond, there would not only be a great splash where it struck the surface, but ripples from the impact would spread out until they reached the furthest edges of the water.

In like manner, the Incarnation may be thought of as the largest, heaviest stone to ever be hurled into the pond of Human History. The ripples from that singular event can be perceived to a greater or lesser extent wherever one looks. They spread to the furthest reaches of the globe and went both forward and backward in time. Thus we see echoes of His coming amongst peoples who never heard of Jesus, or who even lived centuries before His birth. Wherever and whenever you come across some story or practice, be it in ancient Mesopotamia or contemporary New Guinea, that parallels the life of Christ or other events in Sacred Scripture, you may be sure that they are there due to His having been here.

So you can see that, rather than being some sort of evidence of its falsity, the fact that totems may be found in practically every culture (even amongst those that consider themselves "secular") is in fact a consequence of the True Presence in the Eucharist being literally true.

Papalinton said...

"In like manner, the Incarnation may be thought of as the largest, heaviest stone to ever be hurled into the pond of Human History."

To the Jews? Hardly. They eschewed christian nonsense right from the outset, never bought into it. Period.

To the muslims? Hardly. After six hundred years of Christian hegemony they thought about it, weighed up the pros and cons, realized that all the pros were just one big con, most particularly the incarnation, and decided to write their own fable borrowing from the Torah.

Whatever ripples in the pond of human history that might have been as a result of christian dominion and domination, they have rebounded from the bank and have cancelled themselves out. It's called wave interference. That is why the long term view on the relevance of religion is trending consistently downwards. Religious nonsense is canceling out religious nonsense. Even Gallup in its latest survey [2014] notes: "Americans have in recent decades become gradually less likely to say that religion can answer today's problems and more likely to believe religion is out of date"

I say, Amen to that..

B. Prokop said...

"To the Jews? ... To the Muslims? Hardly."

So what? And this is relevant how? You could have just cut to the chase and wrote what you were really thinking: "To Linton Wilson? Hardly."

As I have pointed out before, religious pluralism is no more a threat to belief than the fact that Ayn Rand and Vladimir Lenin were both atheists is to non-belief. (SPOILER ALERT - the answer is "no threat at all")

Papalinton said...

Bob, your 'so what?' response is pretty much the stumbling block, the point at which reasoned argument with theists fall by the way. The intransigence of religious faith is indeed humanity's single and most challenging hurdle to social and personal growth and progress. It binds people fundamentally to a stimulus reactive mindset, an involuntary, ingrained and precipitate reflexive action responding to or controlling a situation on tendentious grounds that do little other than perpetuate 'tradition'; antiquated customs, practices, conventions, and rituals, irrespective of their efficacy, rather than creating and exploring ways to better and improve the human condition.

You concept of 'religious pluralism' is equally a tendentious bit of deliberate obscurantism. Religious pluralism has absolutely nothing to do with ecumenism or diversity of religious views as you seem to want to use the term. "Pluralism is more than the sharing of certain values or agreement on some social issues. Buddhists and Christians both agree that helping the poor is important, but such limited concord is not pluralism. Pluralism has to do with lending credence to competing truth claims and accepting diverse beliefs regarding God and salvation."

When you can say face-to-face with me that you accept the Koran and the teachings of Allah, or the teachings of the Church of Latterday Saints, or Scientology, [remember, these are all recognised and acknowledged as legitimate religions under the law, equal to that of christianity and Judaism] and their competing truth claims as credible as the teachings of christianity, then I will listen to you about religious pluralism. Then and only then are you properly permitted to reference the concept of religious pluralism in support of your claim. Otherwise refrain from telling porkies [porky pies = lies] on jesus's behalf.

To not do so to both requests outlined will be an indelible mark of pious hypocrisy.

Hugo said...

Shackleman said (a few comments up... sorry I am late...)
"It seems positively [obvious] to me that the logical conclusion of [atheism] is a zombie-world...or a world of the Sims.

What baffles me is that the folks who deny the self, and free will, and ultimately God, are really asserting that all of us are mere Sims.
"

Atheism is a rejection of hypothesis regarding the existence of God, or any gods, that come 'after' looking at the current world. The current world is not a zombie-world; we are conscious free-thinking humans. But we can reject the concept of God when starting from that non-zombie world. I am not saying it's necessarily the right position, but what you just wrote makes no sense at all. It's essentially an argument from ignorance where you claim that you don't know how a non-God universe would yield a non-zombie universe; hence that non-God universe is not the one we live in.

In other words, what baffles me is that you would think your position to be so self-evident that you cannot even 'think' about how you could be wrong. I don't even need to justify my position to show why yours is wrong. You simple assert a conclusion and are baffled by the idea that your 'could' be wrong. It's just impossible for you to even 'possibly' be wrong apparently.

"Which means they are merely pseudo-arguing their pseudo-positions on blogs, and trying to change pseudo-minds.

I think that you confuse what people say about free will; it is just an illusion. It could be the case but it does not matter, as our experience free will is certainly what we consider free will to be. It does not matter if it's just the consequence of determinism or not, the fact is that we do have free will and do have what we agree is a mind. There is no doubt about that. What we disagree on is what we can conclude when looking at the real world.

It makes me wonder what, exactly, they are trying to accomplish! What point is there in changing a pseudo-mind with pseudo-thoughts? Why expend the energy on something that doesn't exist?"

Who's trying to convince who exactly? There is a disproportionate number of religious people trying to convince others to join their ranks. In most countries, including the USA of course, religious worldviews are mainstream and the most common. Yet, people of different religious worldviews try to convert others to theirs, quite often without being open to discussions or analysis of their own position. How many Sunday shows, or church services, or any kind of religious function, is open to debate? On the other hand, there are very few situations where the "deniers" are trying to impose their views on reality. It's always (of most of the time at least) about discussing what reality really is, regardless of one's prior position, and debates are pretty much always welcome. Public access shows like the Atheist Experience welcome discussion, and are very limited in time/number, while religious shows go endlessly about what their views are, and how self-evident they are, without need for questions.

Blogs like this one are different. People do discuss ideas and hopefully can share different viewpoints on related topics.

Plus, you re-enforced this weird notion that because you cannot think of a world where no god was involved in the apparition of minds, you conclude that a world without God necessarily yields pseudo-thoughts, pseudo-mind, and really don't understand how it's even possible for 'this' world, the current world we live in, to be without a god. What we share right here, right now, are not pseudo-thoughts. I don't have a pseudo-mind, I have what we agree is an actual mind, and so do you. So if we both start with this notion, it's absurd for you to claim that my worldview, which does not include a god, leads to pseudo-minds.

B. Prokop said...

If you're stumbling over the word "pluralism", then try "diversity".

And I never even hinted that other religions might be true, in the sense that Christianity is. Certainly not my position! (Although I acknowledge, and even celebrate, the fact that there is much to be learned from other faith traditions. One would be a fool to deny this. Heck, I even find much that is admirable in Mormonism, while regarding their theology as totally bogus.)

Say you've got 10 people in a room and 9 of them are mistaken about this or that fact. That in no way implies that the 10th isn't correct. You're making the quite fallacious argument that since one person is wrong, then everybody is. You ought to realize that by your reasoning, if all religions are wrong, then so is atheism. Equally so.

B. Prokop said...

And by the way, a response of "So what?" is absolutely appropriate when you bring up irrelevant points that advance the discussion not a whit. "So what?" is shorthand for "Yes, there may be kernels of truth in what you said, but said kernels are neither evidence for your opinions, nor are they in any way refutations of mine. They are simply irrelevant facts."

In the current instance, the irrelevant fact is that there are multiple religions in the world. Again, I say (and this time with emphasis), "So what?" Their existence is as relevant to the question of whether or not Christianity is true as is the existence of atheists.

In any case, why should the existence of people who do not believe in Christianity have any bearing on the issue? After all, on the Day of Pentecost, A.D. 33, there were only a handful of believers in the entire world - few enough that they could all fit into one Upper Room of one building on a side street in the provincial backwater of Jerusalem.

Papalinton said...

I dealt with 'diversity'. re-read my comment. There is no stumbling on my part. All religions are false in terms of their basic tenets being handed down from 'on high', from some ethereal diffuse mind in the sky. Really, the truer empirical dynamic is of people experiencing a delusory and idiosyncratic delirium and receiving these 'revelations' during this self-induced 'high'. These experiences are as common as muck. Everybody has them. Even me. Religions have turned them into an art form. Only the ignorant and the willfully truculent persist in ascribing some portentous or auspicious meaning to them. The only difference between the level at which crystal-ball gazers, tarot-card, palm and tea leaf readers, and religions ply their trade, is that religions have systematize them on a global corporate scale.

The ridiculousness of religion, played out each week by intoning incantations, mass hallucinations, prayers, incense, staged ritual, replete with auguries, as if in a melodrama, the on-stage cast in pretense of socially conversing with unknown others, the illusion of extending that sociality to unknown, unseen, ineffable, non-human but [putatively] live off-stage entities from which there is no actual return conversing, but imagined 'signs'.

And contrary to your assertion atheism is not just another false or wrong religion, it is the antithesis of religious mythology.. It is inimitable. It cannot be likened with religious belief and its intrinsic reliance on supernatural superstition.


Ilíon said...

"... the provincial backwater of Jerusalem."

I *really* wish people would get over the false idea that Jerusalem and/or Judea was a "provincial backwater" in the first century. What, did all the gold continuously pouring into Jerusalem -- the tithes of Jews within and without the Roman empire -- just vanish?

It has been estimated that (prior to 70 AD), about 10% of the subjects of the Roman empire were Jews. This doesn't include the Jews in Mesopotamia and Persia. These people (on both sides of the border), if they were faithful Jews, were every year sending 10% of their income to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Herod's building projects had enclosed about a square mile within the expanded walls; it is believed that the number of permanent residents within those walls was 80k to 100k. That's not a "provincial backwater" even in modern America, and certainly not in the ancient world. Then, of course, there were the multiple tens of thousands of pilgrims coming to the city, from within and without the Roman empire, for the three annual feasts ... and spending money.

Sure, the economy of Jerusalem centered on the Temple cult, rather than on agriculture or manufacture (or on foreign conquest, as in the case of Rome). But that didn't prevent Jerusalem being a significant city.

That Jerusalem was a "provincial backwater" in the 19th century under the Ottomans does not mean that it was in the 1st century under the Romans.

B. Prokop said...

"It cannot be likened with religious belief"

And I did not do so. *

What I was attempting(perhaps not successfully) to get across is, once you have asserted the principle that if one person is wrong, then everybody must be (which, in essence, is the substance of the "many religions" argument), you by logical necessity you must include atheists amongst the people who have gotten things wrong. (For after all, there are all these religious people out there who disagree with you.) Atheism does not have to be regarded as a religion for that conclusion to be arrived at, by your own reasoning.

* This for the sake of argument only, so we don't get endlessly caught up in what is essentially a side issue.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

I was speaking from the perspective of Rome. Seen from the capital, all of the frontier regions of the Empire were "provincial backwaters", and all of Judea was very much on the furthest frontiers of empire.

Ilíon said...

"I was speaking from the perspective of Rome. Seen from the capital, all of the frontier regions of the Empire were "provincial backwaters" ..."

Well, yes, the Romans -- like modern New Yorkers -- had a very parochial view of the world.

"... and all of Judea was very much on the furthest frontiers of empire."

Or, to put it another way, Judea (and Jerusalem) was the strategic point for keeping the Parthians out of Egypt, whence came the grain barges that fed the populace of Rome.

Ilíon said...

B.Profeminazi: "But I like to think it's at least a million, by playing my admittedly small, yet vitally important, part in preventing a 1994 Korean War."

And that leads me to believe that your count of '27' may not be using the same metric ... "Did you ever voluntarily endanger yourself saving another's life when you were only 11?" and "how many lives *have* you saved by your own direct effort?" I wasn't talking about sitting on your tax-supported ass and pushing buttons or shuffling papers.

But in any event, you appear (as all too often) to be evading the point I made. So, let's go at this from a different direction --

B.Profeminazi: "Hey, manly-man Ilion. I'd like to know your service record. In which branch did you serve?"

Hmmm. Bradley Manning "served" in the US military (*) ... and he now insists that he's really a woman. And even more outrageously, he insists that *I* have to pay for the operations to sexually mutilate his body so that it sort of looks like a woman's body.

(*) and, come to think of it, weren't you also in "military intelligence"?

Ilíon said...

... hell! I had *already* dismissed your silly (feminine) taunt in the post to which you were (hysterically over-)reacting --

"Does anyone here *really* think that your grandfathers (or great-grandfathers for you young'uns) would not have considered many of you to be at best sissies, to be not-men (irrespective of your silly over-compesation with "extreme sports")?"

The major reason that guys get into "extreme sports" and "hyper-masculine" sports/activities, such as MMA, is *because* they're not really men, and they know it.

Dan Gillson said...

It's not that they aren't men, Troy, it's that their conception of masculinity is adolescent. They're just giant boys, not girly or girlish. (I still think that calling men 'girls' is childish. You'd be better off using another perjorarive.)

Ilíon said...

Dani: "It's not that they aren't men, [Ilíon], it's that their conception of masculinity is adolescent."

Which is to say, they are not men.

Dani: "They're just giant boys, not girly or girlish."

See? Even as you are trying to deny what I've said, you confirm the main part if it.

Except that they are not really "just giant boys": they *think* like girls; they take *any* criticism as a personal attack, just like girls; they *overreact* like girls; they tatoo and pierce themselves (*) to draw attention to their bodies, rather than to their deeds, like girls; Hell! they even "flirt" (**) with those they perceive as adults so as to try to manipulate them, just like little girls do.

(*) which is to say, mutilate their bodies

(**) I'm not saying that they're "gay"; I'm saying that they frequently try to use the same coy mannerisms that little girls use to mainipulate adults, especially men, into giving them what they want.

Papalinton said...

Bob, your reasoning is awry. On the one hand you say, "In any case, why should the existence of people who do not believe in Christianity have any bearing on the issue? After all, on the Day of Pentecost, A.D. 33, there were only a handful of believers in the entire world - few enough that they could all fit into one Upper Room of one building on a side street in the provincial backwater of Jerusalem." only to use that very same 'numbers' rationale to argue a diametrical position with regard to atheism, " (For after all, there are all these religious people out there who disagree with you.)"

B. Prokop said...

Linton,

Can you not see that I am using a reductio ad absurdum here to show how foolish your "there are many religions" argument is? It's not my reasoning that's awry, it's yours. (And ironically, you just admitted such!)

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

Bradley Manning is a scumbag and a disgrace to his uniform, his service, and his country. The clearest possible case of treason during wartime, pure and simple. You'll get no argument from me there.

He's lucky he wasn't shot.

Ilíon said...

Sure, but you're still evading my point ... which is to mock your implicit argument that unless I was in the military, or did some other hyper-masculine (*) thing (**), then I don't standing to criticize you (singular and plural) for acting like junior-high girls.


(*) Or course, today's military doesn't really have much use for masculinity.

(**) hmmm ... does saving another kid's life (without a bit of panic on my part) when I was 11 count as masculine?

Ilíon said...

Well, I'm going to have to get moving to my hotel.

BTW, I still am not through with trying to get you (B.Prokop) to explain why and in what way the lie about the Roman denomination changing Scripture so that it reflects dogma is not just a lie, but a vile slander.

Hugo said...

@Mr. Prokop and Ilíon

You 2 are funny! :-D You really don't get this AI thing... The point is that you profess ignorance: 'I cannot think of a way that a computer-like machine could ever become sentient'. Then, you claim that I am, well many others, the one(s) claiming ignorance because of the 'possibility' that AI could one day be just as conscious as we natural humans are. Yes, I am ignorant of how this could happen, but I am not the one making the argument from ignorance fallacy here, you guys are!

Next, Ilíon said...
hmmm ... does saving another kid's life (without a bit of panic on my part) when I was 11 count as masculine?

Ok ok Ilíon, let's hear your story. You keep bringing up this example so it must be super important. Please tell us how something you did when you were 11 years old shows that you are so much more of a 'man' than we all are.

B. Prokop said...

"You 2 are funny!"

Then our work here is done! (You'll get our bill in the mail. All we need from you now is your true name, bank routing and account numbers, and your password, so we can extract... er, deposit the requisite funds. Thank you.)

Papalinton said...

Bob, "Can you not see that I am using a reductio ad absurdum here to show how foolish your "there are many religions" argument is? It's not my reasoning that's awry, it's yours. (And ironically, you just admitted such!)"

I don't think so, Bob. Not the way you capture the story of the rise and rise of christians from the little handful around 30AD. This little story was no 'reductio ad absurdum' example. Not by a long chalk.

No doubt. All the hallmarks of post facto rationalisation. Pretty much an institutional apologetical practice of the faith merchants.