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.
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.
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.
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.
what you seem to be saying is that I don't have the right to defend religion.
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.
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.
"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).
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!
Yes, so stop using epithets and insult terms and put up your rhetorical dukes and show me how religion is unwarranted.
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.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.
It would be absurd to expect someone to do that in a blog discussion----such an undertaking would require thousands of pages of text.
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.