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I think it's time to call religion a failure

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by LesCanadiens, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    Polymath: So if I understand what you mean with the “biological imperative” correctly it is that life simply replicates, nothing else. Hmm. In all honesty I find that answer somewhat of a letdown. :D If you don’t mind I would like to ask you two slightly personal questions. Please know that I don’t mean to be disrespectful in any way, but am just curious. :)

    You live with a belief that offers no meaning to keep on living. How do you handle that? I for one was never able to accept it. What kind of meaning do you fill your life with? What makes you get up from your bed in the morning, except the need to pay your bills if you are to die an a more comfortable way than starving on the street?

    As stated before no belief can be proved with hard fact, but one of them has to be true (or at least more true than the rest). If your belief turns out to be right, your life here is useless and you will simply cease to exist when you die. If it turns out to be wrong and some other religion is right, ceasing to exist is normally your best-case scenario. If you were to follow any other religion and it was right then you would be rewarded in some way - either with an in some way better life now or an some way better life later. If that other religion should turn out to be false, you are in the same position as when following atheism. What makes you put your bet into the only available option that will make you loose in all cases? I have never understood what makes people willfully do this.

    I agree with you on the process of life refinement being majestic. Small lumps of mathematical wave functions assembling into greater lumps of mathematical wave functions that develop systems of self-regulation, somehow evolves into lumps of self-regulating life, then after billions of years of assembly, development and refinement evolves into conscious life such as humans with the ability to for example speak, reason, explore the world around them, feel such things as love and joy, laugh at funny jokes, and much more – it’s amazing. Even though I too acknowledge humans as intelligent monkeys sharing the same heritage as the great apes, my perspective is a bit different from yours as I praise the beauty of what in my eyes is God’s work. :)
     
  2. gael

    gael Ard Ri

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    Religion helps us deal with the reality that we are going to die. We are the only species that is completly aware of our own mortality, and without religion the world would be a very depressing place.
    My own views tend to be more athiest. I have read alot about evolution and to me it makes perfect sense. Yet I still sometimes think to myself, what IS the point and purpose of life. Is it just to procreate or is there something else.
    Everything from Germs to plants, animals to us are all driven by the same instinctive drive to procreate. I just wonder has everything got a 'soul', or have we just appointed ourselves as the only ones fitting of a soul and a life after death. (?)
    Then again, just looking back on history has proved that when we know a little knowledge ,we become arrogant in our ignorance and assume the rest. So whos to really say whats true and untrue.
     
  3. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    As you probably know, a good climate of discussion requires all involved to stop trying to prove each other wrong and instead start sharing thoughts/ideas/comments in friendly coexistence. The rest of us had successfully established this by accepting our respective beliefs as equivalently dependent on faith and stop trying to prove our own belief as superior. It was working well, as you acknowledge when appointing this the best discussion about religion you have seen on this board. But first thing you do is trying to prove your own belief as the only reasonable alternative ending up in statements as the ones above. Surely you must have know that this is perceived a tiny bit patronizing by the people whose ability of logical reasoning you dismiss? You must have realized that by doing this you label yourself as wise and reasonable while labeling people who believe in God as superstitious fools. Surely you must have known that this would destroy the mutual sharing and replace it with the only too common “trying to win by bashing those who don’t agree with you”? Did it never cross your mind that placing yourself on top and your own belief as the only one possible for people able of logical thinking kills off the discussion? Why did you have to head back into this thread on steady collision course with all non-atheists, achieving nothing but picking an unnecessary fight? :confused: Now, I simply can’t let you get away with the flawed reasoning you display, so gloves are off.
    One basic lesson from chemistry lab and numerical analysis is that extrapolation of experimental results is always to be avoided. Curves calculated on experimental results are valid only for the area where there is sufficient data. Intrapolating works fine, but extrapolating to areas where no data is available fails badly more often than not. There is also no way to estimate the validity of the result of such an extrapolation, meaning that you could be (and often will be) very far off – and since you have already decided the “truth” you will never bother to find out the correct answer. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to assume that your observation about continental plate tectonics on Earth has the least thing to do with how the universe came to be – other than your own very personal opinion of this making sense. Extrapolating the way you do, without a single piece of experimental data supporting its validity, is a major nono. In research this is a well-known death trap and considered horrible science. Any scientist who insists on reasoning as you do wold soon be out of a job. :nono:

    Your statement that the existence of a god would somehow “break the chain” is only useless polemic until you first prove that such a chain exists, which you are nowhere near succeeding with. Also, if we are to stay true to good scientifical conduct we should try to evaluate all theories both thoroughly and individually. Here you violate this at least in the case of Christianity – and in the process display some obvious lack of knowledge about the theory you so easily dismiss. According to my religion God exists outside both universe and time and has created everything else that exists. Even if there was to be some kind of “chain of universes” the God of Christianity (if he exists, which I think he does) has never “broken” it – he existed before it and has created it.

    Then you add some suggested “logical impossibility about his/her/its abilities and behavior” to prove any god unlikely. Granted, at a quick glance Christianity seems to be overloaded with contradictions about God. And this impression will survive ever so many quick glances. But once you make a true and honest effort to understand it and sort it through, the vast majority of those contradictions disappear. A few remain, but I assure you that once you understand what Christianity really teaches it becomes quite coherent and especially that “logical impossibility about God’s ability and behavior” will vanish. As long as you insist on only proving my religion wrong instead of sincerely trying to learn everything there is to know about it, you will never see this though. (I can’t say much about logical impossibilities in other religion since I know too little about them.)

    Your argument along the line “universe is what it is, which proves my belief” which you later expand into an attempt to prove atheism as more likely that other religions, is seriously flawed. If you were a real scientist (but as a lawyer you are probably not) you would know that no theory can be scientifically proved from inside the system it tries to explain, making all such arguments complete nonsense despite sounding ever so well. The only true scientifical approach of applying logical reasoning on the theories “God/gods” and “no god” would be to look at our universe from the outside. This is of course impossible for us and attempting it is bound to be highly speculative. Still, if we necessarily are to stick to your approach of estimating the possibility of the theories being true, this is the best course of action and what any real scientist would do. I will try to use that approach to make a crude estimate of what theory is most likely to be true.

    During this exercise I will consider the two theories “universe was created by a god” and “universe exists on it’s own and was not created by anything”. From what I can understand these are the two only possible theories, so one of them has to be true and the other false. The best theory available today on how the universe came to exist is Big Bang. Now, to look at the universe from the outside we would have to try and picture the situation before Big Bang. Here science tells us only one thing: If the theory of Big Bang is to have any meaning at all, at least mathematics and physics must have existed before the Bang. This is what I will use as starting point when trying to evaluate each theory.

    The theory of “god”: According to this theory, the first thing to exist was an intelligent being. This being created the laws of nature and through them our universe, in Big Bang. The theory requires one thing to exist by coincidence and in a way that can’t be understood.

    The theory of “no god”: According to this theory, mathematics and physics were the first things to exist, then Big Bang happened as a result of them. All disciplines of science are built on one or more axioms. (To anyone who does not know what an axiom is, it’s a statement of fact that cannot be proved but is considered self-explanatory and simply assumed true despite the lack of hard evidence. From that statement more conclusions are drawn, building up for example physics. Should the axiom be proven false, everything deduced from it will be proven false. Science has so far been successful in choosing it’s axioms wisely and we have not yet made a single observation that would prove them wrong. One example of an axiom used in physics is the law of ever increasing entropy.) I don’t usually have to bother about those axioms and can’t remember how many they are, but think that for example thermodynamics has two. So I will simply assume that five axioms are required to make this theory work, until someone gives me the right number. The axioms are independent of each other, so for this theory to work they must have “come to be” independently and exist at the same time. Thus the theory of “no god” requires [insert correct number of axioms here] things that exist by coincidence, independently and at the same time - and in a way that can’t be understood.

    There is no way for us to estimate the probability of a god or one of the necessary axioms simply happening to be before universe came to exist. Neither do we have any clue of the possibility of any of them ceasing to exist. Science is of no help at all, since it breaks down in the moment of Big Bang. I will assume those events are equally likely and also very rare, in order to get any further. This makes the theory “god” 120 times more likely than “no god” since 5!=120. I am the first to admit that this whole exercise is highly speculative, based on assumptions that we don’t know the validity of, has a margin of error that we can’t estimate and proves really nothing. I would never use it as hard evidence for the existence of God. Still, this exercise is definitely more valid than the one offered by FredLC. For one thing it doesn’t break down already when choosing perspective, as Fred’s does. Fred's exercise is not only useless and proves nothing, but would also result in him being sacked. My exercise would at least let me keep the job.

    I could of course use the famous razor and paraphrase Fred in the conclusion “So, I think it makes clear how the acceptance of the absence of God is an element that multiply unnecessarily the complexity of the system, thus being unacceptable by a logical pattern of thinking”. :D But I won’t since there is no way to reasonably prove this conclusion reflecting reality. The only thing that is actually proved by this exercise is that things are far from as easy and obvious as Fred likes to think. There is no reasonably sure way to prove either theory as more likely than the other by using these sorts of quasi-scientifical arguments. Choosing world-view is still a matter of what we choose to put our faith in, despite certain atheists being ever so reluctant to accept this.

    Edit: Corrected some spelling mistakes.
     
  4. Righteous1

    Righteous1 Chieftain

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    Start a new thread! I would if I could come up with a thread title or first post that could compete with this one!

    Besides, we’re playing nice and having fun! :D

    Polymath

    "Of course, I have no real idea where the universe, and whatever was before the Big Bang, are from. But I find that a more intellectually palatable idea than the idea of a God creating this vast billions-of-light-years Universe just to put on some crazy morality play in an obscure corner of it. The stage is too big.
    So, the question was, why does everything else in the universe require a creator, yet God doesn't?"


    Polymath,

    That's a good question. And I don't know that I have an answer for you. All I can tell you is what I've come to conclude.

    I think the base problem is how do you conceive of God. I think most want to consider that God is contained somehow within time and the universe, as we know it. If you assume that God must be contained and subject to this universe, then you are absolutely right, the Christian God cannot exist. For me God exists beyond time and space. He created the universe. He created time. He is not subject to either. He created the laws of physics that govern the operation of this universe. Again he is not subject to them and hand in hand with that, he can start, stop, change, or end it all according to his will. If he does not have the ability to do that, then in my opinion he would not be God, just a bearded old guy that can do magic tricks!

    The Bible says God has always been here. Assume for a second the amino acids are capable of cognitive thought. From the amino acids perspective, the scientists would have always existed. They would have no way of knowing otherwise unless the scientists told them differently. At to whether God was created, I can only take the Bibles word for it that he existed from the beginning whenever that was.

    As for the morality play, I don't think God intended it to be that way. It became that when Adam sinned. He's the one who screwed it up for the rest of us not God. All the rest of it is what God came up with to provide us a way out of the mess Adam left us in. As for the rest of the universe, that was meant to be our playground. It's a shame that we may never get to go play in it!

    FredLC,

    "Anyway, following the idea you gave, there is no reason why amoebas can't prove the existence of scientists, except that they lack the intellectual capacity. After all, we, unlike the description of God, are made of flesh and blood, materials that are detectable and measurable. The proof, than, would be very simple; all what would be needed would be some sort of machinery that performs like a telescope."

    I concur. But what would the scientists look like from an amoebas perspective? Would they even recognize them for what they were? Second, we are no where near scientifically advanced enough nor do we know enough about the universe we live in to even begin to even attempt such a search for God. Much less conclude now that he does not exist. We can only 'see' a very small band of light. God could very easily exist or be visible on some wavelength that we have not even begun to study or even have the instruments with which to detect!

    "We, unlike amoebas, are sentient beings. Even to those who believe that we would never be capable of understanding God, there is no denying that humanity would have the capacity to acknowledge him."

    For the sake of argument, I'm saying the amoebas or amino acids are capable sentient thought and are capable of studying their environment even though in reality they are not as far as we know. Personally, I don't believe it would do God any good to reveal himself to us. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, they were all eyewitnesses to columns of fire, parting seas, and Gods voice from a mountaintop. Yet within a few weeks or months of seeing all of this came to doubt and wanted to return to Egypt. When Jesus walked the earth, he performed all kinds of wonderful miracles, yet only a few believed. Including only a few that were eyewitnesses of him raising Lazarus from the dead.

    As for the baby, I guess I wasn't clear, the second baby refuses to leave the nice warm safe womb its come to know. As you say the baby would have to leave the womb to see for itself. No experimentation from within the womb is going to reveal what is outside. And all the baby on the outside can do is tell the other what its like to try to convince it to come out. Even then, the baby on the inside will probably not believe. All I can do is tell you the sky is blue and the grass green! :)

    "See, reality has this way of smashing whatever tries to ignore it. Just pretend that there is no wall in front of you, and what will you accomplish? Move forward, as you wish, or break your nose in the concrete? And it will happen, even if I do not have an open mind to the existence of walls."

    I agree 100%. But with your wall, its pretty easy to experiment with your fist before breaking your nose. With the wall of death, and what's beyond, that's another thing altogether. When you get to that wall, and find you are wrong, you won't get a second run at it and a bandage is not going to fix it...according to the Bible.


    "I have to say that this perception is way too simplistic."

    Extreme, yes. But I submit to you that its not too simplistic. The atheistic view is becoming more and more prevalent in society today. Just pick up a newspaper. Kids shooting one another for their shoes or jacket, or shooting someone to steal their car. Killing a 3yr old in a restaurant for no apparent reason. Just driving by and shooting up someone’s apartment building. And don't blame guns, if there were no guns, they'd be using baseball bats, or something else. Others are willing run a multi-billion dollar company into the ground leaving the employees with nothing while pocketing the proceeds (Ref. Enron amongst others). These people don't give a rats arse about 'social education' or being humane to anyone around them. Their targets are only random collections of atoms, they are too and so have nothing to lose. They have certainly lost any fear of legal consequences. Besides, a good lawyer can get them off! (That was a Joke! That was a Joke!!! :D) These types of things have been occurring more and more frequently and its only going to get worse.

    As for a sense of accomplishment that logic may work for some but not most. Of all the people who have lived, very very few have made a lasting mark. A few were remembered for no more than a generation or two. Most, not even that. The vast majority of us will suffer the same fate, live, die and maybe be remembered for a generation. So my question remains, why bother if all you do is only going to last at most a generation? And once you are dead, what difference does it make what you did? I work at my job to get money to feed my family. Very little that I am doing is going to matter one bit a hundred years from now. Except for seeing that my kids and neighbors come to know Christ. Now that will last forever is and is worth sticking around for whatever time God gives me. For if the Bible is true, then they will be there in heaven with me.

    "The beneficial behaviors, once identified, were exhaustively repeated until they became the very famous law of the land, a inherent set of rules that are instinctively followed by the members of the community, disregard of what they believe."

    The problem I have with this is we are capable of cognitive reason. Another problem is I can argue that most of our ‘laws of the land’ are derived from our respective religious beliefs. You are making a case that religious belief is invalid therefore the laws based on those beliefs should be called into question as well. We are capable of overriding our intincts. We are not subject to our instincts. The law of the land is nothing more than brainwashing by a misguided society that is out to control me. If I am only going to live a short amount of time then I am not going to waste my effort working at a job I hate no matter how beneficial to society it happens to be. If I find myself in a position that will never get me the things I want, then I'm left with no other choice than to take them. No matter the consequences. The consequences are not going to matter once I'm gone.

    "Science acknowledge this by enunciating the parsimony principle, more known as The Occan Razor, that dictates that given two scenarios of equal value, the simpler tends to be the true."

    The key word here is 'tends'. It by no means implies 'always'. It's here where this argument fails for me. If what you are searching for falls on the other side of the 'tends' chances are you'll miss it altogether and you are guaranteed to come to the wrong conclusion.

    "So, I think it makes clear how the acceptance of God is a element that multiply unnecessarily the complexity of the system, thus being unacceptable by a logical pattern of thinking."

    From my view, the acceptance of God is a necessary complication and therefore acceptable but that's just me. On the other hand, it also depends on the system you are examining. If the system is our universe as we know it, then of course the inclusion of God is an unnecessary complication. He's not part of the system. He created it!

    "Second, for most of humanity, even religious people, there is a sense of accomplishment that exists within this life. I'd say that people, who do not have the slightest worry about this realm, but just for his reward in heaven, are actually quite a few."

    Unfortunately, I must agree with you here. I suspect Christians would not have the reputation they have today if more them had their eyes on their final goal rather than the things in this life.

    "See, let's assume that when the four first things came to live, one of them had both an instinct of survival and an instinct of reproduction; the next one, just of survival; the next one, just of reproduction; and the last one, none of them."

    You say the first would be the only to survive. I submit that none would. Tell me of one species that is not dependent in some way on another? Each species and form of life on this planet serves some deeper purpose that they may not even be aware of. Even the inanimate objects of this world have some purpose and helps sustain other life forms on this planet. Your last species would die because it was dependent in some way on the other three. Once they died, it would die too. Perhaps the plants stopped producing some key element years ago, the plant eating dinosaurs soon died, the meat eaters soon thereafter. It's only after we disturb that balance that we come to understand the dependencies in some cases we have discovered it too late. The instinct of survival and the instinct of reproduction are not enough to guarantee a species permanence. The interdependencies of all the millions of species on one another serves as evidence to me that there is a 'design' to life on this planet and that there is a deeper meaning and purpose to life. We just are not aware of it in most cases. There is a design at work that has kept everything in balance for billions of years. In fact that design extends to a universal scale. It is not possible for me to accept that all this just happened by accident.

    "Nonetheless, rightous1, rest assured, I also can respect your position. We both preach love and tolerance, even if we get there from different paths. That is, by far, the most important thing."

    Glad to hear that. I'm really enjoying the discussion. Though for me love and tolerance is not the most important goal. If the Bible turns out to be right, I think it's far more important for you to join me on the other side of death where life really begins! :D (I hope you will take that in the spirit it was meant!)
     
  5. polymath

    polymath Tleilaxu Mentat

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    "You live with a belief that offers no meaning to keep on living. How do you handle that? I for one was never able to accept it. What kind of meaning do you fill your life with? What makes you get up from your bed in the morning, except the need to pay your bills if you are to die an a more comfortable way than starving on the street?" - Mr Spice.

    It's built in to our nature. Any organism without a bit of get-up-and-go wouldn't last too long in this world. A creature that stayed in bed all day wouldn't get to pass on its genes, or would get picked out by predators while it was asleep. Having said that, I would prefer to stay in bed an hour or two longer in the morning.
    So, yeah, and also that we have society, which I want to be a part of most of the time, and we have to conform to the rules of society if we want to play an active part in it - I mean rules like don't steal, don't kill, don't sit on the street corner with your cap in your hand asking for money if you can go out and earn it.
    But the full answer is, I don't particularly require a meaning because I don't think there is one. I think our existence is a fluke, and if there is a meaning, that's it.

    "What makes you put your bet into the only available option that will make you lose in all cases?" - Mr Spice

    Because I can prove that religious people are generally plain wrong. And I think I have a winning bet. i.e. one that leads me to correct decisions about what to do in this life, and not to waste my time with IMHO irrelevances.
    There are hundreds of religions - most of them completely contradictory. Nonetheless, no matter what religion we talk of, the followers believe them wholeheartedly. But they cannot all be right. I have two thought experiments to prove that belief in religion (or 'betting on' religion, like Pascal's Wager) is a foolhardy exercise.
    Let's look at a mental exercise:
    It is fairly obvious that only one religion can be right. So, all the other religions with their extremely devoted believers are wrong. From this we learn that no matter how strong your belief, it actually means nothing - literally, your belief has absolutely no weight or relevance, because if religion A is right, then no matter how strong your belief in religion B you are still wrong. Your belief has brought you nothing but false consolation followed by crushing disappointment. So, this proves the general uselessness of mere belief as a decision making tool. And this proof does not derive from 'belief' or 'looking for meaning' - it derives from logical analysis of the situation. There are no flaws in this argument. Or if there are, I have never met a single person who can find them.

    The same example also proves something else - namely that if you are a religious person of any denomination, the overwhelming likelihood is actually that you are just plain wrong in your beliefs. There are as I said hundreds of religions, and only one can be totally right, although some share certain facets such as prophets, pantheons, and so on. Therefore, it is a logically demonstrable fact that a religious person taken at random will most likely be wrong.
    Now some will say that if Christianity or Islam is right, then that means hundreds of millions are right, but this incorrect. In Christianity you have Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Lutherans, Calvinists etc. etc. Protestants are by no means the same as Catholics, so if Catholics are right, Protestants, Mormons etc are all wrong.
    Therefore, the fact of the matter is, take a religious person at random and the betting odds are that they are just plain wrong. It's logically necessary and undeniable. Is that something you would bet on?

    So, my return question is kind of the same as Mr Spice's but reversed:
    If it so easily proven that religious people are generally speaking misguided and wrong (and correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm 100% certain I have just proved it), why do people place their bets on religion?
     
  6. polymath

    polymath Tleilaxu Mentat

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    Of course, my last post is not to say that one religion cannot be right - just that all the others must therefore be wrong.
     
  7. vonork

    vonork Emperor

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    Well, they don't... or shall I say, in Sweden our head of the church has raised doubts about how correct the bible is, if Jesus rely was the son of god, or if he did walk on water... There is a few down the rope that don't like his thoughts, kind of undermined what they preach. Not that he say that god don't exist, merely that a lot in the bible might not be entirely correct.

    I feel it's refreshing to have an archbishop that is willing to philosophies around the subject. Secular countries get secular priests perhaps.
     
  8. redtom

    redtom Proudhonist

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    To further your point that science is wrong:
    Am I the only who's done a science project at school that got an erroneous result in a graph, like the example shown below and told to ignore such results. Because they don't fit into the scientific theory.

    One example was that we measured repeatably that water boiled at 97.8 degrees using various thermometers, both electronic, mercury and alcohol ones. Roughly the same result came out each time, it was never higher than 98 degrees celsuis. My old school is situated in a low lying flood plain, so it couldn't have been the altitude. We asked are teacher why, and she said we should just ignore it. Since then I've had a deep suspicion of science.

    The unfortunate thing, this happens all too often in proper science, according to the Fortean Times. Scientist choose to ignore such results, make science no longer objective but subjective. This could lead one to say all science is a fraud and invalid, it certainly makes suspicious and more likely question scientific theory.
     
  9. Cecasander

    Cecasander King

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    Both scienca and religion are based on faith, but at least most things can be proven by science. It can also oppose religion (ex; Galileo Galilei)
     
  10. vonork

    vonork Emperor

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    The boiling temprature depends on pressure, so an good techer would have looked into that acording to your enviorment.
     
  11. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    Mr. Spice:

    As I have said, I have written the previous text without the time to measure my words as carefully as I normally do, especially in religious discussions, where no objective truth can be granted. So, when I read your first paragraph, I thought “shoot, that’s why I hate writing in in-between breaks; I must have accidentally written something offensive”.

    So I went to check it my text. Well, I must say that I don’t think I did it at all. Really, there are some things that could use some clarification, but I saw nothing that specifically justified your claim that I was being provocative or trying to pick fights, specially considering the many times I explicitly stated that I respect religious people and their views, that I didn’t mean to patronize at all and that we agree on how humans should behave to make this a better world, even if we get there from different paths.

    You gave us your perspective of the average atheist you know, and I was ok with it. Anyway, now you have acted like the theist stereotype that I know; people that behaves defensively, that gets upset from the exposition of a set of ideas that differs from theirs, and that see offense where there is none.

    Nonetheless, I’ll comment on your reply, refuting what I happen to disagree with, but also, and very importantly, aiming to clear out the interpretation errors that led you to think that I was on the offense, because, really, I wasn’t.

    I whole heartened disagree with this.

    A few months ago, I have read a book called (at least in the Brazilian edition) “The Believes of Those Who Don’t Believe”. It wasn’t really a book, but actually a compilation of public letters exchanged between the famous Italian writer (and atheist) Umberto Eco, and the Bishop of Milan, a certain Mr. Carlo Maria Martini. The theme, of course, was some controversial aspects of atheism and religion.

    I won’t get in the discussed themes… I just wanted to say that those two highly recognizable authorities have both committed the same mistake; they were so worried in paying homage to each other perspective, that the discussion lost it’s spice. None of them dared to get really controversial, and it all ended superficially.

    I think the same problem could be witnessed here. If we both were to start concurring with each other, to be excessively worried in not sounding one bit confrontational, the debate would than be pointless and unsatisfying.

    So, my take on how a “good climate debate” should be dealt has nothing to do with “not trying to prove the other wrong” – the whole idea of a debate is that of trying to make your idea succeed – but actually in doing so with respect, civility and consideration.

    That is what I tried to do, pal. So, no problem at all with you taking off the gloves… just as long as you hit above the waistline ;). Anyway, I’ll keep my gloves on, if you don’t mind.

    This whole sentence shows just how much you missed my real points. In fact, I think I know from where you got that Idea in my text… correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t it from the ideas that culminated in the following quotation?

    I assume you understood that I meant that “there can be no comparison between the faith necessary to accept it, and the reasoning required to acknowledge atheism because the latter is SO superior”. That is not the case AT ALL. What I meant is that “there can be no comparison between the faith necessary to accept it, and the reasoning required to acknowledge atheism because they are SO different that there is NO common ground to be compared.

    To elaborate, I’ll give you an example out of my life. A month ago, during my grandmother’s 87th birthday, my cousin, that happens to be a doctor and a catholic, and me, were having this conversation about “alternative medicine”… chromo-therapy, iridology, things of that sort. Refuting one after another of many pseudo-sciences to each other, we ended up debating which of us would be more likely to believe in any of them. During that particular discussion, he said to me: “Fred, except when it comes to religion, I’m 10 times as skeptical as you”.

    See, not for a moment I doubt my cousin’s capacity for think logically. But also, he himself acknowledges that logic is not what he is using when he deals with his religion. He bases himself on faith, there is, the believing on something without having palpable reasons for doing so.

    That sort of compartmented mindset is not at all uncommon in religious people. Many of you are entirely capable of thinking with absolute rationality. You just decided not doing so about that specific aspect of your lives.

    Really, I don’t consider myself superior a bit, and most certainly, I don’t consider you as fools. I just happen to disagree with the concept of believing in anything that lacks a logical reason. Now, I don’t think you are going to argue on me that religion follows a precise logic.

    Anyway, all of this point has another origin, which is the concept, that you considered quite undeniable, that Atheism is also a religion. This is again something I cannot agree with. The idea that atheism is also a religion comes from religious people that, when feel annoyed exactly like you did now, urge to show atheists that they are “not any different”.

    Well, speaking in pure humanistic terms, we certainly aren’t. But let’s elaborate the mandatory principle of spirituality that you are attributing to the entire human race: I have already made my case about Atheism being a passive posture of “not believing that God exists”, and not a active posture of “believing that God does not exists”.

    Well, once you establish that a negative posture, for lacking a proof of absolute virtue and definitive value, became instantly a religion, than I have to say that all religious people have a lot more religions than they think. Because, when I ask a catholic if he believes in Vishnu, or in Odin, or in any deity you care to name, I won’t hear from them “I believe they don’t exist”, but actually, I’ll here “I don’t believe they exist”.

    The negation of each and every form of alternative religiosity would be, in itself, a new religion that would encompass any person in the world that does not believe in it. So, you, while being catholic, would also be automatically a member of the “no-Muslin” faith, the “no-Buddhism” faith, the “no-Wicca” faith, and on and on until you had a passive religion to each and every for of cult in the face of the planet.

    So, you see, being religious require an ACTIVE posture, an actual BELIEVE in something… a believe in the existence or in the non-existence, but a believe.

    Now, as I said, atheism comes from a logical conclusion. The logical can be flawed and failed, that is for sure. But it does not change its nature of being logical thinking. See, logic fails sometimes. I perhaps would be really patronizing you, as you imagined, IF I actually considered that my logic IS undoubtedly right and IS flawless. But I don’t think so.

    So there you have it. My sentence was not an affirmation that my posture is superior, but actually a positioning against an idea that you defended that just seemed wrong to me. Atheism is NOT a religion. Saying so does not change it.

    Hope you understood me now.

    The thing here, spice, is that you are preaching to the converted in this matter. Sure extrapolation can be failed. Well, extrapolation’s rate of failures is not as large and that of plain guessing, but still, it’s many times passed the status of unreliable.

    You will notice, however, that my stance, as I explained above, was to demonstrate the difference of the mindset of an atheist and that of a theist. A theist relies on pure faith, there is, I say again, believing in something without having reason to do so. An atheist will stick to reason, as thin as it can be. That is why my description of how I imagine the universe came to be is just a sketch, like “I think it’s the result of the blind interaction of elements resulting in cosmic events that shaped reality in what we know”.

    But trust me on this, should a scientist come up with a detailed description based only on extrapolation, he would be fired from any lab I happened to manage as well.

    As I said, my cousin is a Catholic. He is no exception in my family. About 90% of my relatives ARE Catholics, and the rate amount my friends does not differ a bit. And I myself was raised a Catholic, to the point that I experienced the first communion. And you know what, I acknowledge my atheism exactly when my mother put me in religious classes in her church. Because, unlike you said, the more I learned about it, the more the contradictions and the impossibilities piled up. Nonetheless, I’ve read the bible (fully only once, but there are many pieces that I have read several times).

    Now, I say this because it’s not uncommon an argument in the lines of “you just say this because you don’t understand my religion”. Well, as you see, turn out that I DO understand it.

    I won’t mention such incoherencies here, as I don’t want to challenge you (but I can and will do so if you require). All I wanted to say is that perhaps your perspective about them disappearing can have much to do with the thing that I already mentioned with the compartmented mindset of religious people; one, as effective as any, that judge information based on logic; another devoted to religion, that will believe in arks that has all animals of earth, seas opening up and people resurrecting. When you see things with an slice of your mind that accepts the affirmative “God can do anything”, than certainly most contradictions will disappear... after all, he is God, so HE can make those weird things.

    It’s just that I, personally, cannot have compartments in my head.

    One more time so there can be no doubt: My argument was not that. I just described what is the process that lined up my take on the universe, and why it’s different from the religious approach.

    My take has great chances of being wrong too. However, it’s more logical. That logic CAN be flawed, but it does not stop being logic because of that.

    I never claimed to be a scientist (at least, not a natural scientist, as there is a debate on legal communities about the nature of law studying and it’s a virtual consensus that it’s a human science, but this matter is irrelevant here). If I were, perhaps I’d better understand the reasoning you offered here.

    First of all, I think that you are wrong about science speculating that physics and mathematics are prior to the big bang. What I know about this is whatever is prior to the big bang is dealt as a singularity, meaning, a situation over which what we know about the universe does not apply. Not few thing that our most basic standards of logic, such as the rules of physics that we know, or the cause-consequence paradigm didn’t exist until that event.

    Anyway, you offered the number 5 as an arbitrary proposition for the number of universal axioms. I’m fine until here. Than, you said that given the fact that we cannot speculate about the odds for any of those paradigms showing up, or about God showing up (as what is prior to the big bang cannot be studied), than the chances of God existing can be described by the equation 5!=120.

    Well, I don’t know what that punctuation sign is doing in that equation (I’m not a scientist, please explain it to me). Nonetheless, I fail to see how you manage to relate those two values. What is the logic behind that comparison? “We cannot speculate how the (insert universal paradigms) or that God game to exist, thus (paragdigms)!=God(120)”? What is that, exactly?

    Also, the assumption that God and/or universal paradigms are beyond the possibility of study (what is the consequence that you expect from the already questionable decision of positioning them prior to the big bang) sound to me like an appeal to ignorance: “we don’t know and we never will understand the universe, thus it’s impossible that any theory has more validity than mine).

    The inescapable ignorance scenario already set, of course that no one can prove and/or disprove your conclusion. There is where it lacks viability as a logical argumentation. I, in any moment, argued the impossibility of mine idea being subject of scrutinizing, an thus being possible that one day’s knowledge will prove it wrong (or even right, why not ;)).

    Anyway, Mr. Spice, I hope you don’t get angry at me again. As I said, I don’t mean to underestimate your perspective on reality at all. I was just trying to make my case the best I could. Trying to prove you wrong does not mean I think down of you, as I’m sure that you trying to prove me wrong didn’t mean that you think down of me.

    After all, Even people Like Aristoteles, DaVince and Newton had their share of errors ;).

    Regards :).
     
  12. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    I'll also reply to you later, righteous, it's that last post took more time than I expected...
     
  13. redtom

    redtom Proudhonist

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    Pressure is affected by altitude, as I have mentioned the altitude I took the results from was near enough sea-level.
     
  14. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    Well, Redtom, certainly the posture of your teacher was not commendable. However, before considering that you have witnessed an exception to the rules of nature as they were described by current knowledge, a few tests would be completely mandatory;

    First, it would have to be tried with other thermomethers that were certified as accurate, to see if it would repeat. Also, the ones you used would have to be tried in a different place to check out if they would still have unusual readings, or if they would behave as expect.

    And also again, the quality of their readings should be addressed (mening, it should be checked if the thermomethers you used were not malfunctional in any way).

    Finnally, there should be an evaluation of the environment to verify if there were not the presence of any obscure factor that could affect the expected results, despite unnoticeable by the common expectator.

    Of corse, all those tests would have to be performed by skilled and neutral personnel.

    Only after those reasonable measures were taken the claim that one scientifically enunciated and largely demonstrated principle was broken would enjoy the slightest credibility before a neutral observer.

    Regards :).
     
  15. Illustrious

    Illustrious Becoming Colonel Blimp

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    Yes, but don't forget that it's also influenced by weather - before dismissing the readings as an exception to the laws of nature, you should have checked the barometer.

    If you were in the middle of a low-pressure area ("depression"), the local boiling point at sea level should have been slightly lower than 100 degrees C.

    In addition, the 100 degrees C figure only applies as an exact figure to pure (eg distilled) water. Impurities in the water or contaminants from the glassware can have a significant (and entirely predictable) effect on boiling point.
     
  16. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    Answer to Fred

    I should have followed my instinct and let that post settle over night, that gets pretty obvious when reading it again… Please forgive me for the outburst. I (wrongly) perceived the quoted portions of your posts as a way to state “my view is the only possible for someone who can think”, but when reading it again that was an obvious overreaction. I misunderstood your intentions about some things you wrote and read more into the rest than what was there. For what it’s worth I had a bad day when writing that post. And the loud construction site outside my window with people working around the clock sometimes gets on my nerves… It’s no excuse for my bad behavior (I should have been able to control myself), but perhaps an explanation that makes it easier to understand. Sometimes I fail ever so badly at living out my religion. Please accept my most sincere apologies. :)

    For the record, I have no problem with you (or anyone else) pointing out contradictions or odd things in my faith. After all, that’s the foundation of any discussion. What I meant with “trying to prove me wrong” is best explain by a line you write in your post, “ I perhaps would be really patronizing you, as you imagined, IF I actually considered that my logic IS undoubtedly right and IS flawless.” I misunderstood you and am very sorry. This is really no excuse either, since what I should have done is to ask you to clarify instead of starting to attack you. Again, please accept my apologies. I hope you won’t continue to see me as the stereotype of an ignorant fundamentalist. By the way, my hat is off to you for handling my aggressive and offensive outburst in the best possible way. :thumbsup:

    About whether atheism is a religion or not – I tend to agree with that it’s not. It definitely lacks certain things that are usually critical for a religion, like a god and a code of behavior. But I have found it useful to call it "religion” in order to point out the fact that it does very much depend on faith, namely the faith that something that can’t be proven is nevertheless true.

    So you left Christianity because you thought it was illogical? If you don’t mind I would like to accept your offer to tell me about it. I promise not to be challenged or offended, but will keep calm this time. :) If you have plenty of examples, it might be a good idea to start only with a few though. Recent posts have been long enough already…

    You wanted me to clarify the reasoning in my calculation. I’ll give it a try. 5! means 1*2*3*4*5 and is used in the calculation of the possibility of 5 independent and equally likely events happening at the same time. (The result is 1/120.) There’s no way for us to know if the events are equally likely, at least not with current knowledge. But I assume they are, since otherwise no calculations can be carried out. I then compare that result with the possibility of one equally likely event happening at the same time, namely God. (Again, I can’t say if that event actually is equally likely, but assume it is since otherwise no comparison can be made.) I don’t know the absolute value of that possibility, but under the assumption of all events being equally likely I can still compare the results from the two different theories by simple division. The possibility of one event happening is 1. 1/(1/120) = 120 meaning that “god” is 120 times more likely than “no god”, if all those assumptions really can be made.

    I can’t prove those assumptions valid or even likely, making the calculation practically useless. I only did it as a way to counter what I perceived to be a statement “this is how it is” and to show that there are other ways of reasoning. You ask why I choose a position prior to Big Bang. When trying to prove anything about how the universe came to be, you should “be” outside of it. Proving something with itself is circular evidence (or whatever the correct English term is, I could not find it in my dictionary).

    Apart from that, you should always look at the respective theory from its starting point. In the alternative “god”, the starting point is obviously before Big Bang. About the “no god” theory… well, I am admittedly only a chemist, not a physicist, and no expert of the Big Bang theory. But anyway… It’s true that just about everything we know does not apply on the moment of Big Bang. Still people who study it use physics and mathematics when trying to understand and explain it. When speaking to people who know a lot more about it than I do, they state things like “Big Bang is allowed according to [this and that branch of physics]” or “it’s possible for something to emerge from nothing since physics allows it”. From this I conclude that the theory of Big Bang depends on physics (and mathematics since that’s used heavily in physics) to exist before the Bang. Otherwise we are trying to prove an event with things that were not available at the event, which is logically forbidden. If both physics and mathematics “came to be” in the Bang it’s impossible for them to “allow it to happen”. Some might argue along the line “it all came to be in the same moment, thus nothing needs to exist before the other”, but then they are trying to prove something with itself, which is circular evidence.

    I was a bit unfair in the exercise though. :blush: One could easily choose to believe in something like “universe and everything in it, including the laws of science, came to exist at the same moment and from nothing”. That would be “one event”, equal to the one event of God. We still end up with the same result though, two theories that can’t be proved and can’t be said to be more likely than the other.

    Regarding the “inescapable ignorance scenario”, you were talking about my belief in God, right? Because if you were talking about that attempted reasoning, I think I made it clear that it’s not a very good one. Anyway, I won’t say it’s impossible for another religion (or lack thereof :) ) to be more valid than mine. This can be checked by trying to live all religions and see how well they fit. (It has to be done by living the religion though, not by trying to validify it from another point of view. Yes, that goes against what I stated earlier about not proving things from inside themselves, but religion is not science and “proved” in a completely different way.) I do honestly believe we will never be able to prove these things with science, but might of course be wrong. :D

    Edit: Added a missing word in one sentence. And corrected some embarrasing grammatical errors.
     
  17. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    Answer to polymath

    You post is interesting and at the end you raise a good question. I will gladly answer to the best of my ability, but it might take some time. Trying to repair the damage from my last not-so-wise post directed at Fred took a few hours… I‘ll have to return to you in a day or two, but promise not to forget it. :)
     
  18. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    Answer to Mr. Spice

    Hey, don't worry, pal. Apologies accepted. ;)

    And trust me, Just one single outburst would never make me see you as a personification of the stereotype.

    I'll show you the contradictions you requested, but it will take some time. Not only because I am still busy (turn out that I'll have pretty busy days for the next two weeks), so it's not all nights that I'll have the patience to write things instead of sticking to my TV, but also because there are others that I have to answer first, AND because whatever I have that is already made is in portuguese, so it will also have to be translated, as well as the biblical references that I'll provide for you to check.

    It will inevitably take some time.

    Nonetheless, there is one thing I can put in now; a debate I have had here on CIVfanatics that addressed one of them. Check this link. I don’t think the tone I used is great (there are some words I used that perhaps I should have rephrased, as they can sound a little arrogant, specially in the very begining – despite, again, it not being my intention), but I think that the merits of the reasoning still go.

    When I get something else ready, I’ll post here.

    Regards :).
     
  19. Archbob

    Archbob Ancient CFC Guardian

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    The one problem with aethists is that we are not really united under anything, because we don't really believe in anything to be united under. This goes for agnostics like myself. We all have our own theories. Religion is there to give people faith, its good and bad. As long as you don't try to force your religion on other people its fine with me.

    Like I said, all religions have about the same amount of plausibility.

    And water boiling at 97.8C is nothing spectaculor, The atmosphereic pressure that day and impurities in the water could have easily cause that. I could never get water to boil at 100C excatly myself. But its always within 4 degrees of 100C.


    And hey, maybe we do live just to live like all the other animals do. Humans are of the animal kingdom too. The only thing is we are aware of our mortality, doesn't mean there any more point to our life than other animals.
     
  20. The Troquelet

    The Troquelet Conscious

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    Tell me, for Santa Claus, does the burden of proof rest on those who say he DOES exist or those who say he does NOT?

    "George Bush is an alien". Does it rest with me to prove this or with you to disprove this?

    Unicorns. Must I prove their existence or must you prove their nonexistance?

    A NEW IDEA IS ONLY VALID WHEN PROVED IN REALITY.

    If we have no proof of the existance of God, it is safer to assume that there is NOTHING than that there is SOMETHING; we believe NOTHING until we are proved SOMETHING.

    You apply this law in real life every day. Why the exception? Because you believe what you want to believe.
     

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