Sunday, March 1, 2009

Debate over Religion and Supersition

I've developed a running dialgoue with Bill Ellis over two blogs, here and the CADRE blog. This is a great excuse to get material for new blog pieces, so I'm putting this up here as a new article.


My original stament to which Bill responded:
One mistake atheists make a lot is to assume that religion is stack and ancient. They assume that the same primitive understanding and impulses that animated most religions in the ancient world are still at work today. This just demonstrates that our understanding keeps pace with our times. God is timeless and our experiences of God are timeless, but experince is mediated by culture, and so we keep up with our times and are people of our times.



The original statement Bill made:

More rationally-inclined people sometimes underestimate just how deep-seated superstition is in the rest of their species.
That was the basic argument to which I responded. In this context this says to me that the pervasive nature of religion can be dismissed by just attributing to religion the epithet "superstition" and then writing off the basic human religious instinct as a falw in man which baises him toward supersition. In other words, as I said before, atheists think people are religious because they primiative and superstious.

These comments led to the question "what does bill mean by supersition." Here is his defition:


There are lots of ways you can define superstition. I typically use it as a label for a general family of beliefs with sets of similar often overlapping properties but not ones which necessarily have all the same set of properties as every other thing labelled superstitious (think Wittgenstein and the meaning of games here). In most cases I'm using it in regard to beliefs which are unwarranted and non-naturalistic in character. That seems to cover most of what we call superstitious. Though there could also be outliers that fit well with the rest of the things we call superstition but which don't necessarily have these two characteristics, homeopathy for example---whose proponents might claim a real but unknown natural principle as the basis of its (supposed) effectiveness. That is, one might include unwarranted paranormal beliefs as superstitions as well as unwarranted non-naturalistic beliefs.
The two major predications for what makes something supersitious are:

(1) that it be unwarranted

(2) that it not be naturalistic (or that it be supernatuarl).

I took issue with both predications for several reasons, only a small protion of those have been discussed.

Here is the lattest round from the comment section:


Meta: on the term "superstition" as applied to religion:
It's meaningless because the meaning is tautology. You are just saying religion is stupid becasue its' religion. Superstition means religious.

Bill:

You aren't even bothering to address the actual definition I gave. By my definition superstitions include beliefs which have the two features of being non-naturalistic and unwarranted.

Meta: I have actually said things about that (the non natural) idea and also the unwarranted part every time. You know I've argued that religion is warranted. You know I've argued that "non natural is a meaningless term. So Obviously I did address it.

On non natural

(1) The term is meaningless because we don't have a other universe to compare this one to to establish what is "natural" and what is not. Since God is not "unnatural" we have to by the origins of these definitions and the way they evolved.

(2) I have argued that by your definition many scientific Therine are superstition.

(3) I have argued that the term "supernatural" is miused in modern times by both sides, thus it is meaningless to say non natural things are supersitious when the concept benig discussed is actuallyt he wrong concept vis Chrsitian doctrine.



Bill

By that definition things that arent religious can be superstition (like palm reading, belief in vampires, etc). And religious beliefs can be nonsuperstitious---so long as the beliefs are warranted.

Meta: Yes that is true, but by that ("non natural") then God is superstition a priroi. Since that is begging the question, I am saying that the attirubution of non natuarl to superstiion is a false concept and wrong headed. In other words. I am disagreeing with your definition.


Bill:
If you wish to engage with the actual opinions I've expressed I'll be glad to carry on a discussion. If not I will waste no more time here.

Meta: by what stretch of the imagination do you feel that direct clash over the deiftion and correcting your misconceptions about super nature is not engagement?
I am sorry if you do not understand argumentation.


Meta:
what you seem to be saying is that I don't have the right to defend religion.

Bill

Please refrain from mischaracterizing my position when I explicitly and clearly said the opposite more than once. To quote what I said earlier:
Meta: Look when you called religions "superstition" you did not qualify it. that came after I challenged your inadequate definition.. You know it did. You know the original implication was that religion grows of a primitive superstitious mind. Surely you must be aware of the image that atheists have had since the enlightenment and you must know that saying what you did is going to leave that impression. You seem a lot more aware of what you are doing than to be in dark about that one.



Bill:

The debate might, then, be more profitably focused on whether religious beliefs are warranted rather than on semantics...""
Meta:
Only if atheists stop trying to create derogatory impressions and take religion on it's own terms for the purpose of discussion.

and:

Bill
"Only unwarranted supernaturalistic beliefs would fall into the category of superstition. Again, you are free to argue that some or all religious beliefs are, contrary to my opinion, NOT unwarranted and therefore not superstitious."


Meta: any unwarranted argument is by definition, well you know, unwarranted. That comes under the heading of not logically justified. So by going to the trouble to also label it superstition when it's already been dismissed as unwarranted is just hurling an epithet. But you seem not to get the real point here. Ideas can be unwarranted without being superstitious (as you yourself point out), The only real difference that makes the grade, then, in terms of superstition is the non natural clause. That means that unless God is part of nature (which is untenable for any but a pantheist) then god is a priori out of the question.

so the epithet "superstitious" is just a cheap trick to win without argument or proof. I've explained several times now why that is (because it's based upon the false premise of Super nature).


Bill

If you continue to blatantly mischaracterize my views I must conclude that you do not intend to carry out a civil discussion and are unworthy of my time.
Meta; Really! why don't you try following my arguments? By Mischaractorizing I assume you mean expossing the flaws in your reasoning!

Meta:
Yes, so stop using epithets and insult terms and put up your rhetorical dukes and show me how religion is unwarranted.

Bill

It is my opinion that religious beliefs are unwarranted. To prove this would require showing the inadequacy of every argument for religion in every subtle variant for each of them.

It would be absurd to expect someone to do that in a blog discussion----such an undertaking would require thousands of pages of text.
Meta: Yes it would be absurd to expect that. But that doesn't mean the alternative is that I have to justify my views just because you doubt them. The alternative is that we should understand the view you express for what it is. It is based upon inadequate assumptions, a wrong headed definition which I have criticized on the basis of both of its predictions, and it is the outgrowth of a ideological assumption that itself cannot be justified. Thus your use of the epithetic is jut a gate keeping tactic that says "my view is the lionized truth regime it doesn't have to justify it itself, all other views must be filtered through it." That is merely the claim of ideology. I think it's pretty justifiable to reject ideologies on face value merely because they are ideological.


Bill
The alternative is obvious, though. Present one good solid argument for your religious beliefs and my contention that christianity is superstition will stand disproven.

Meta: But that is made unnecessary by the fact that I have disproved your definition as a valid definition. I have shown that both of the clauses of predication upon which it stands are unfair and wrong headed. Thus the original problem is undone because it is simply a prori not the case that religion is invalid in some why just because it may involve non naturalistic ideas.

Who says your ideology gets to keep the gate? Why should we assume that reality is limited to Naturalism?

Now you are using the term "superstition" as a way of short handing the unwarranted nature of religious belief. I think the problem above could be resolved if you would stop trying to make a blanket denunciation of all religious beliefs and just go claim by claim. you don't have to disprove all reilgous beliefs in one go, just do the one's being advanced at the moment. Don't try to rule out the existence of God based upon your view of the universe (which unless you are not really human is clearly limited to a very obscure sample of all that is). Perhaps you are Dr. Who writing this post from the Tardis, but I doubt it. In your aviator is real, you do not look like Tom Baker, or any of his other incarnations.

I've challenged the concept of superstition itself and certainly your definition of it. I did so on both grounds that you hold out as it's predication.

(1) unwarranted and

(2) not natural.

Granted you do allow for a category of Unwarranted but not superstition. But that's even more problematic because as I say above, that means really all religious belief could fall into that category so the only real definitive term that makes your definition clear is the one about naturalism. But you can't use that because you can't prove that there are no aspects of reality beyond "the natural." So without being able to prove that you have basis for calling ideas that are not naturalistic "superstitious."

I also showed that that predication can be used to call big bang singularity "superstition." It's pretty clear that is not an adequate defition.

I also spoke of my own categories that should make up the defition (if we want to use the term at all). They are (1) obessive/compulive (2) fear (3) magical thinking.

There is also a point to be made about confusing magical thinking (which is part of superstition) with religious ideas of miracles and super nature (which are not superstition and not magical thinking).

On balance you have offered no real reason to use "superstition" as a category for establishing the unwarranted nature of an idea as this would be totally recursive (It' s unwarranted becasue it's superstitious, but they is it superstitious?? because it's unwarranted).

The whole problem stems from the fact that the term is nothing but an insulting epithet used by the philosophes to dismiss clerical theology. I have not failed to piont this out before ether. I'm sorry you have not respond to most of my arguments.


Btw if you want to discussion ideas about why is belief warranted just say so. I'll put one up on the CADRE soon.

13 comments:

David B. Ellis said...

Bill Ellis?

My name's David.

David B. Ellis said...

This whole post has focused on semantics. As I said before, I'm not going to waste much more time on debating semantics.

When you decide you want to discuss whether religious beliefs are warranted we can talk.


So by going to the trouble to also label it superstition when it's already been dismissed as unwarranted is just hurling an epithet.


Indeed. Its an expression of the low esteem in which I hold religion---I never denied that. I think religious belief (in nearly every form of it I've encountered) is irrational BS. I am frank about that and do not pretend otherwise. If you take offense at that, so be it. I'm not going to pretend I think religion is intellectually respectable out of mere politeness. I'll be polite to people. Not ideas.



Btw if you want to discussion ideas about why is belief warranted just say so. I'll put one up on the CADRE soon.


That would be welcome.

J.L. Hinman said...

sorry, you are seriously misguided to think this is only semantics. obviously the question of negating any other view point but your own based upon an aspect of reality that we cant' even be sure of is much more than mere semantics.

Essentially you want to ban any kind of thinking that doesn't accept materialist assertions as rock solid and continues thinking about what might be in reading reducing everything to the tiny little bit we really know.

that's way more than semantics.


David, not Bill. right.

I'm over 40

J.L. Hinman said...

Indeed. Its an expression of the low esteem in which I hold religion---I never denied that. I think religious belief (in nearly every form of it I've encountered) is irrational BS. I am frank about that and do not pretend otherwise. If you take offense at that, so be it. I'm not going to pretend I think religion is intellectually respectable out of mere politeness. I'll be polite to people. Not ideas.


trust me on this one, we get it. you are not fooling anyone. take my advice, never let them put you in charge of the welcome wagon. Your thinly disguised contempt is totally visible. It is not even a good fake polite.

But the thing is, you are apparently not aware of the vast body of great thought and splendid scholarship in the religious world. That tells me that you are not nearly the brilliant intellectual you think you are.

bigotry in all its' forms is always narrow minded.

It doesn't matter how deeply you hate religion that does not make you the orbiter of reason. You are not the intellectual gate keeper of the world of letters.

David B. Ellis said...


Essentially you want to ban any kind of thinking that doesn't accept materialist assertions .....


Nonsense. First, I'm not even a materialist. Stop assuming you know things about me which I haven't actually said.

Second, banning implies force. Nowhere have I even slightly implied a forcible ban on the expression of opinions.

Third, and most important, my definition doesn't even apply to beliefs which are warranted. So all that's necessary to show that my contempt for a religious belief is illegitimate is to show that I'm mistaken in thinking the belief unwarranted.


I'm over 40


OK. Don't know why that matters one way or the other.


Your thinly disguised contempt is totally visible.


It was never disguised. Its right out in the open. Exactly where I want it to be. But its a contempt for irrational, unwarranted IDEAS. Not for people.

Notice, for example, that I have not called you stupid for believing these things or made any other personal insults. And I won't even if my debating opponent starts tossing them at me.


But the thing is, you are apparently not aware of the vast body of great thought and splendid scholarship in the religious world.


I'm aware of the vast body of thought and scholarship and have studied an enormous amount of it with considerable care. I disagree with you, however, that it is either great or splendid.

It is sometimes ingenious in its sophistries. That's about as close to a compliment as I can honestly give it. And most of it doesn't even rise to that level.

You are, of course, free and welcome to think and argue otherwise.


bigotry in all its' forms is always narrow minded.


I'm a bigot for thinking your beliefs are unwarranted and irrational?

Is it still bigotry if I'm simply right?

It didn't take you long to start with the personal insults rather than what I've done: attack your opinions rather than your character.


It doesn't matter how deeply you hate religion that does not make you the arbiter of reason.


Indeed. I'm not the arbiter of what's rational. I do, however, have opinions, quite strong ones as you've seen, on the matter.

You are welcome to show how wrong I am by presenting kick-ass good arguments for your religious beliefs.

And, by the way, I don't hate religious ideas or supernaturalism. I'd be delighted to discover a strong case for religious beliefs (at least ones that aren't sadistic---I certainly wouldn't like finding out that the universe has a supernatural creator---but that he's a sadist that created life to see it suffer---that would hardly be a pleasant discovery).

Still, that leaves lots of room for good stuff that any sensible person would be happy to find out is true.

Don't assume that an idea is hated because a person thinks believing it is irrational to the point of being contemptible.

For example, I think its silly that 50+% of Icelanders believe in fairies and other "little folk".

But that doesn't imply a hatred of fairies. On the contrary, I think it would be amazingly wonderful to find out the the fey is a reality.

Not holding my breath on that one though.

J.L. Hinman said...

Essentially you want to ban any kind of thinking that doesn't accept materialist assertions .....


Nonsense. First, I'm not even a materialist. Stop assuming you know things about me which I haven't actually said.


Is that because you are sticker for the exact definition, so you are really a "physicalist" (which for my money is the same thing--although I understand the distinction). Or do you allow for ideas of spirit? If so, how do you square that with your dictum of no non naturalism?

If someone says "ideas that are not naturalistit are supersition it is not a bad guess that they are materialist. that's a valid assumption. But I'm using the term in s loose sense to include naturalists and physicalists. I guess in this day and age that i is not done, but in my day that was understood.


Second, banning implies force. Nowhere have I even slightly implied a forcible ban on the expression of opinions.


I understand. that was a hyperbole. probaly bad choice of words.

Third, and most important, my definition doesn't even apply to beliefs which are warranted. So all that's necessary to show that my contempt for a religious belief is illegitimate is to show that I'm mistaken in thinking the belief unwarranted.


I am going to get around to showing that soon enoughon CADRE. I'm doing that just for you. but first there's another disucussion we have to have, I'm working on the post now.

Although I must the very idea that I have to do any sort of justifying just because you can attach an epithet which I've shown to be rather meaningless is philosophically repugnant. But I'm willing to wave that object due to the fun of arguing about the existence of God.



I'm over 40


OK. Don't know why that matters one way or the other.


apparently you are not or you would know. Over 40 you start forgetting names overlooking little things like using the right the name, going blank on words you use to use at the drop of a hat and so forth.


Your thinly disguised contempt is totally visible.


It was never disguised. Its right out in the open. Exactly where I want it to be. But its a contempt for irrational, unwarranted IDEAS. Not for people.


ahahahaahah, in that case, it's piss poor! I could be a lot more contemptuous than that! ;-)

Notice, for example, that I have not called you stupid for believing these things or made any other personal insults. And I won't even if my debating opponent starts tossing them at me.


I realize you did not use such a word, but why try to hide the fact that that word is lurking behind the use of the term superstition ? Don't try to deny that. when you use that word you are conjuring up images of guys with no front teeth taking naps in front of stills and watching for revenuers. Guys who say "well doggies uncle Jed" and stuff like that.

I did not call you stupid either. I called you a bigot. Anyone who is prejudiced against a world view and group of people because he has not tried to understand them is a bigot.

If you had tried to understand religious people you would understand why it's rationally warranted to believe.



But the thing is, you are apparently not aware of the vast body of great thought and splendid scholarship in the religious world.


I'm aware of the vast body of thought and scholarship and have studied an enormous amount of it with considerable care. I disagree with you, however, that it is either great or splendid.


there's no way anyone could really study it deeply and be fair minded and not understand that it's great, at least not in its own context. that's people who tell me "i've seen that seventh seal movie and I just think it stinks." I think 'maybe you did see it but you are no judge of cinema.'

It is sometimes ingenious in its sophistries. That's about as close to a compliment as I can honestly give it. And most of it doesn't even rise to that level.


who are you talking about. it kind of matters which theologians you mean. Now are talking about Kierkegaard as a sophist or Jerry Falwell, or Craig? Being an atheist on the net I'm willing to bet your comments are confined to Craig and Plantinga and Moreland and Swinburne?

Have you read Newton's Optics? Have you read Basil Wylie? Have you read Jacques Ellul? Hermon Dewywired? Schubert Ogden? William Abraham (Canon and Criterion, or Crossing the Threshold of the Divine?) or even Augustine?


You are, of course, free and welcome to think and argue otherwise.


How could one argue that the Seventh Seal is a great film with someone who doesn't like it because it doesn't have any explosions?

I'm assuming your major criticits revolve around the lack of empircal scientific proof right?



bigotry in all its' forms is always narrow minded.


I'm a bigot for thinking your beliefs are unwarranted and irrational?


Yes! you don't know my beliefs. You are going by buzz words and labels. you have concept of what I think about anything. Maybe if you have read Doxa you might have some idea but I doubt that you have.

Is it still bigotry if I'm simply right?


that's what my neighbor used to say when we told him he was a bigot for calling MLK "Martin Luther Koon." Yes, if you think you know that a whole body of work is stupid and irrational and you haven't read it, or your reading of it contingent upon demanding some irrationally high bar that it should meet (like being scientific when it's not science) then yes that is bigoted.

I will cover all of this in my preliminary post on the CADRE--preliminary to the presentation of the rational warrant arguments.


It didn't take you long to start with the personal insults rather than what I've done: attack your opinions rather than your character.


I don't think I did insult you personally. I didn't say you are stupid or no good. "Bigoted" means prejudice, pre judge, you juge things before you know them. that's just what you are doing, becasue Christianity is far too diverse to know all about it. You have no read every major thinker in the Christian tradition.

Its' also prejudice to set up impossibly standards that are not valid for the subject matter then hold a work to that standard when it has nothing to do with it.

for example, an example of impossible standards. I had a prof once who said "I don't like Dante because he wasn't scientific. There's no scientific basis for any kind of great stock of ice int he center of the earth." So he cloud not understand the Divine Comedy as poetry he could not appreciate poetry for what it is, he could only appreciate science.

or not being fair in your assessment.

for example Kant was a Christian. I would put Kant up as a represenative of the Chrsitian trardtion. I'm sure you have read Kant, but do you say that he was superstious and that his works were of no value?

I'm betting you try to coopt them and make them useful for atheism and define Kant as secular thinker he wasn't really a Christain and so on.

Or what about Berkeley? You Hume right? Hume liked Berkeley, the was an influence on Hume. But I am betting you like Hume but think Berkeley was stupid and superstitious right?



It doesn't matter how deeply you hate religion that does not make you the arbiter of reason.


Indeed. I'm not the arbiter of what's rational. I do, however, have opinions, quite strong ones as you've seen, on the matter.


yes, and you have a nose. I have a nose My nose is as good as your nose. I don't have to call nose superstitious and criticize it. I'm willing to let you have your nose and I have mine.

You are welcome to show how wrong I am by presenting kick-ass good arguments for your religious beliefs.


I have found over 10 years of sad disappointment that most atheists are incapble or understanding when their asses have been kicked. This is because we have two different sets of criteria by which we judge. I think it's more productive to talk about the criteria rather than just proceed along the lines of a preconceived outcome where by I spend hours developing a brilliant idea and you poo poo it because it doesn't meet your expectations which are governed an ideology.

And, by the way, I don't hate religious ideas or supernaturalism.

Yea sure, that' what they all say. My neighbor who called King a Koon would say "I don't hate N_____s."


I'd be delighted to discover a strong case for religious beliefs (at least ones that aren't sadistic---I certainly wouldn't like finding out that the universe has a supernatural creator---but that he's a sadist that created life to see it suffer---that would hardly be a pleasant discovery).


before that ever happens you are first going to have to open your eyes to the ideological nature of your current set of assumptions, then you have to stretch enough to be able to understand other asskumptions.

It doesn't bode well that you speak of "ass kicking." I was a college debater for four years. I learned to look at both sides of an issue dispassionately, but I also wanted to "win" so I was not seeking truth. I don't wanting to win an argument is any way to find truth. The need to win the argument just gets in the way.


Still, that leaves lots of room for good stuff that any sensible person would be happy to find out is true.


I'm happy to discuss these things. I have no animosity toward you as a person. I am totally willing to become your friend.

Don't assume that an idea is hated because a person thinks believing it is irrational to the point of being contemptible.

Ok

For example, I think its silly that 50+% of Icelanders believe in fairies and other "little folk".

But that doesn't imply a hatred of fairies. On the contrary, I think it would be amazingly wonderful to find out the the fey is a reality.


ahaha, I think so too. It's loony to believe that, but it's a pleasant loonyness.

Not holding my breath on that one though.

LOL

I am going to try to get that preliminary post up on CADRE tonight.

David B. Ellis said...


Is that because you are stickler for the exact definition, so you are really a "physicalist" (which for my money is the same thing--although I understand the distinction).


No. I'm not a physicalist either. If I might make a suggestion, if you want to know my views on a subject: ASK!

But to save you the trouble: I'm a metaphysical agnostic. Idealism, panpsychism, neutral monism, various varieties of dualism, and a host of other views are all consistent with the world I observe and I have no particular preference for any of the various theories about the fundamental nature of the "stuff(s)" of which reality is made.


Or do you allow for ideas of spirit? If so, how do you square that with your dictum of no non naturalism?


I have no non-naturalism dictum. I lack belief in such phenomena simply because I have no credible evidence that suggests to me that they are likely to be real.

And, to be clear, I refer to myself as a naturalist only in a very limited sense---as a nonbeliever in the set of things normally labelled supernatural.


I could be a lot more contemptuous than that!


I'm all too aware of that.

Long ago we had several encounters in discussion forums I used to frequent where you used the internet handle Metacrock. I probably went by either Stargazer or Otherness at the time---those where the two handles I used the most. These days I just use my actual name.


I realize you did not use such a word, but why try to hide the fact that that word is lurking behind the use of the term superstition ?


Because I think highly intelligent people are perfectly capable of thinking superstitiously. After all, it would be silly of me to say I think people are stupid who could believe in religion when I used to be one of those people myself.


I called you a bigot. Anyone who is prejudiced against a world view and group of people because he has not tried to understand them is a bigot.


Not tried to understand them? I not only used to be of a religious worldview I also have studied it extensively for years---both before and after my deconversion.


Yes! you don't know my beliefs.


I know the one's you've stated. I've read some of your articles and blog posts. I do not attribute to you any beliefs other than the ones you've stated.


that's just what you are doing, becasue Christianity is far too diverse to know all about it. You have no read every major thinker in the Christian tradition.

Its' also prejudice to set up impossibly standards.....


I have to read EVERY major christian thinker to have the right to an opinion about the reasonableness of belief in christianity?

And you think its me that's presenting an unrealistic standard?


Its' also prejudice to set up impossibly standards that are not valid for the subject matter then hold a work to that standard when it has nothing to do with it.


I'm not judging religion by an unreasonable standard. But the issue hasn't even been discussed yet.

By what standard do you think we should judge religious claims?

Lets take a religious claim that is (probably) not held by either of us so that predisposition to belief is not influencing either of us. Reincarnation, for example.

What do you think it should take to have a rationally warranted, reasonable belief in reincarnation and why?

Or, if you believe in reincarnation, pick something else.


I'm sure you have read Kant, but do you say that he was superstious and that his works were of no value?


To say that a person holds superstitious beliefs is not to say they are incapable of any ideas that have value.

I neither said nor implied anything of the sort. Please respond to the opinions I actually state rather than ones you guess that I have. So far you have a poor record at guessing what beliefs I hold but haven't actually stated.


I'm betting you try to coopt them and make them useful for atheism and define Kant as secular thinker he wasn't really a Christain and so on.


Another bad guess. Again, please quit attributing to me opinions I haven't expressed. There's quite enough for you to disagree with in the things I HAVE said.


But I am betting you like Hume but think Berkeley was stupid and superstitious right?


I do like Hume (though don't necessarily always agree with him---even though he does think a lot like I do). Finally you guessed one correctly.

But, as stated earlier, I'm not a physicalist. I have no particular problem with many varieties of idealist metaphysics. Berkeley is a very interesting thinker. I disagree with him on religion. But, again, as stated before, that doesn't mean I think he's stupid or that he necessarily had nothing of value to say.


yes, and you have a nose. I have a nose My nose is as good as your nose. I don't have to call nose superstitious and criticize it. I'm willing to let you have your nose and I have mine.


Wonderful. We both have noses.

Moving on now:


I have found over 10 years of sad disappointment that most atheists are incapble or understanding when their asses have been kicked.


And, quite possibly, your atheist debate opponents think the same of you.

Who cares?

Can we move on from this posturing and have an actual discussion of the issues?


This is because we have two different sets of criteria by which we judge. I think it's more productive to talk about the criteria.....


Finally, something we agree on.

That's why I brought up reincarnation and what it would take to make belief in it reasonable as a neutral test case (one probably neither of us currently subscribes to).

What would it take to convince you reincarnation was true and why do you think the criteria you're proposing to decide by is a good one?

We can each give our responses to this question and compare and criticize.

That's just one suggestion for how to approach the question. Feel free to propose another.

J.L. Hinman said...

I remember you. You are fairly intelligent person. I don't see any point in hashing out the same stuff we already disagreed on before.

But if you are up for I'm willing to discuss the criteria, the assumptions, the preliminary things that make decisions about belief go one way or the other.

I didn't say I never got my ass kicked. I said atheists never know when they get theirs kicked.

David B. Ellis said...


But if you are up for I'm willing to discuss the criteria, the assumptions, the preliminary things that make decisions about belief go one way or the other.


Good. I think that's worthwhile.

I'm particularly interested in hearing what you take as assumptions and your views on their rational status.

I suspect that the primary difference in regard to our assumptions is less that we make different ones than that I just make far fewer of them. But we'll see.

I also think it worthwhile to discuss particular claims to see how our criteria and assumptions play out in actual practice.

Like the question of what it would take for you or me to be convinced of:

the literal truth of reincarnation

or:

the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence

or:

the truth of pantheism

or:

the effectiveness of homeopathy

or:

whether farmer X's cow died because his neighbor put a curse on it

or:

my wife is not a p-zombie

or whatever else you might think of that would be interesting.

J.L. Hinman said...

Good. I think that's worthwhile.

I'm particularly interested in hearing what you take as assumptions and your views on their rational status.

Ok we can discuss here or at the new message board (Doxa forums). The comment box is really not the place for it. But its ok if you want to stay here.

I suspect that the primary difference in regard to our assumptions is less that we make different ones than that I just make far fewer of them. But we'll see.


that might depend upon how you look at it, what you count as independent assumptions. All my assumptions basic follow out of belief in God. So you can multiply them by all the religious doctrines or just count those are part of the package.

I also think it worthwhile to discuss particular claims to see how our criteria and assumptions play out in actual practice.

right ok that's a good idea

Like the question of what it would take for you or me to be convinced of:

the literal truth of reincarnation


I would have to have a way to really verify a past life. I am not alarmed by reincarnation. It seems unnecessary.


or:

the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence

see one, meet one, or some official government figure announce they exist. Not becasue government figures know the truth and certainly because they always tell the truth, but it doesn't have to be "government" per se. But the more people who verify the same thing the more it becomes part of the agreed upon realm of data from which we draw "facts."

Shappin argued there is an assumption of authority in all truth claims. That applies to science as well.


or:

the truth of pantheism


not much. I'm not alarmed by Pantheism like many Christians are. You never really understood my view point I think. you never did understand what it means when I say "I'm a liberal."

There are problems with pantheism but I've been my view of God seems pantheistic. Pantheism doesn't bother me.

I am not alarmed by pantheism. what do you think of it?


or:

the effectiveness of homeopathy


these are just issues. these are not getting at the basic assumptions that make for truth claims.

do you think alternative medicine is some wild wacy thing that indites something about people who believe it?


or:

whether farmer X's cow died because his neighbor put a curse on it

why does that interest you? why do you equate with religious thinking?

or:

my wife is not a p-zombie

or whatever else you might think of that would be interesting.

what is that?

these are not really the sort of thing I had in mind. Those are just issues. it strikes me that your basing your view of religious upon the fallacy of guilt by association. Like you are saying "is Christianity as wacky as this?" or probably you think if I don't find pantheism valid then it's an inconstancy?

The kind of criteria I had in mind are like this:

(1) what is the nature of truth, define it.

(2) Are there limits to scientific observation? do we know everything? Is our ability to understand reality scientifically limited in any sense? is there a limit on what we can know?

(3) Is all experience mediated or is there such a thing as unmediated experince?

(4) If atheists fear subjectivity how do they cope with the epistemologist's fallacy?

(5) what are the basic assumptions that we tend to make when we make basic epistemic judgements about reality? Do we find the limits on these judgments debilitating, if not why not?

(6) how can we resolve the epistemologist's fallacy?

stuff like that.

J.L. Hinman said...

here's the new boards just in case you want to use them.

here: Doxa forums

but I don't do it like I used to. I mean I don't put out arguments and "kick ass." I enjoy discussing. I think the other get's in the way of real understanding. I enjoy debate and I was a fine debater in some way sif I say so myself. There's a guy on my boards form my old debate days now.

But I think it's more important to achieve understanding than to "win" (or think you win).

grene said...

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Alanna

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J.L. Hinman said...

thank Alanna. I'll look forward to further contributions.