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Author Topic:   Immaterial "Evidence"
Rahvin
Member
Posts: 4046
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 61 of 154 (522209)
09-01-2009 7:26 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by Kitsune
09-01-2009 3:17 PM


Re: The human mind is not an accurate tool
Hi Rahvin,
Thanks for elucidating your position. Most people I talk with on this topic will not admit that subjective evidence can actually be correct.
That's the thing - it's usually not. It's provably, demosntrably, objectively inaccurate. The vast majority of "feelings," dreams, visions, hunches, intuitions, and such are absolutely no better than random guessing. The fact that sometimes a random guess is correct doesn't mean that subjective evidence is useful for drawing conclusions about objective reality.
Let me be even more specific: our rational, conscious minds are affected in an unbelievably huge way by subconscious instincts and assessments that we're never even aware of. Our brains evolved in a very specific environment to deal with a limited range of experiences, and the fact that we're adaptable doesn't make the brain any better at doing what it's not optimized for.
There is, however, a set of experiences for which our brains are highly optimized, and in these cases the subjective experiences of the unconscious mind (those "feelings" and hunches, dreams and intuitions, etc) are often accurate.
Unfortunately, we're not very good at recognizing which situations are which.
Let's take my example frommy previous post of a log floating in a river. Like me, you've likely seen nature programs showing how crocodiles and alligators float along, appearing to be bits of driftwood until they come upon a hapless victim who very soon becomes a meal. Our familiarity with this (the fact that we have "seen" it via television, in particular; but even our ancestors who were told vivid stories by their tribes would gain familiarity through their imaginations) gives us a general sense of unease when we look at a log floating down a river in an area you know to have crocodiles (and sometimes where you don't). You don't have to think about it, you don't analyze it, you simply have a feeling of unease about the log.
That subjective feeling has served our species very well...even though it's also woefully inaccurate, and most logs are just logs.
This same mental defect causes us to think that that which we are familiar with is more likely to affect us; vivid, emotional stories are regarded as more significant in terms of risk or reward, regardless of actual data. Quite literally, personal anecdotes are hardwired in the human mind to carry more significance than statistics and real data - when we know very well that this is the exact opposite of rationality. An eyewitness in a trial will carry more significance to the "feelings"of a jury than DNA evidence - even though eyewitnesses have been thoroughly proven to be the least reliable form of evidence because of faulty memories, mistaken conclusions, and a whole host of other issues. We're terrified of terrorists, even though only 3000 people died on 9/11, and more people are killed in everyday car accidents each year than terrorists have ever managed to do (restricting both automotive accidents and terrorism attacks to the US for an apples/apples comparison). Why? Because we're familiar with driving, and so we "feel" that it's harmless, even though driving to/from work is likely the most dangerous thing any of us ever does.
You cannot completely and utterly discount human "feelings" and subjective experiences. We have them for a reason - but that reason is not necessarily the reason we (would like to) think it is. We have to recognize that the human mind is terrible at differenciating between reality and fantasy, between real memories and false ones, between "feelings" and things that are actually true. Our "gut" is sometimes right...but it's very often not. The way we can determine whether our "gut" is accurate in any given circumstance is to test our conclusions against reality; we can test to see if that log is a cocodile, we can perform a statistical analysis to see whether your fear of spiders/snakes/terrorists/what have you is justified, or whether you shouldbe far more afraid of backing out of your driveway.
The problem is when we introduce the unfalsifiable to our gut - they get along really well, much to our misfortune. When we have no way to test the conclusions of our feelings, we have no idea whether our subconscious is feeding us a defensible conclusion, or if its snap judgements based on familiarity, ease of recall, and other factors that have absolutely nothing to do with the objective accuracy of an assertion are simply wrong. We feel that the conclusion is correct, even if we cannot describe why. Without the ability to test...well, you can see the problem.
Granted, you are distrustful of it to the point of dismissing it out of hand (or almost doing so),
I am extremely skeptical of subjective evidence, to the point that I demand correlation with objective evidence before I'll grant any conclusion drawn from it as having any greater accuracy than a random guess.
Theist: I think there's a higher being watching over us.
Me: Okay. Why? What makes you think so?
Theist: I can feel it.
Me: ...like indegestion?
Theist: Very funny. No, just a feeling, an intuition. I can feel a presence, and it feels benevolent.
Me: All kidding aside, is there any reason I should believe you? Do you have any evidence?
Theist: No, just my feeling. I'm certain it's true - you should open yourself to it. You'll feel it too, I'm sure.
Me: You're aware that imagining a feeling basically causes one to feel that feeling, right? That the brain is almost incapable of distinguishing between the two?
Theist: Okay, but I prayed to it, and my prayer was answered.
Me: That's more interesting. What did you pray for?
Theist: I had a headache, and I prayed for it to go away. It did!
Me: ...did you take Tylenol? Aspirin? Ibuprofin?
Theist: Well...yeah. But it didn't work! Then I prayed, and it did!
Me: Mmmhmmm. And have you prayed other times, and were those answered?
Theist: Well, I do pray often, and most of the time the prayers are unanswered. I mean, I didn't get that raise at work, it wasn't sunny last weekend, I didn't win the lottery...but my headache went away!
Me: So, statistically speaking...would you be able to show a difference between praying vs. not praying in terms of favorable outcomes?
Theist: Well...no.
Me: So why should I believe that your prayers have any effect at all, if there seems to be no statistical deviation caused by prayer?
Theist: Because my headache went away when I prayed! And I can feel it!
Me: You said eariler you prayed to win the lottery. Did you get most of the numbers right?
Theist: Well, once I got two of the numbers.
Me: How many times have you prayed about the lottery?
Theist: Oh, lots.
Me: And the best you've done is two correct numbers? Were they even in the right order?
Theist: Well...no. And I really, really felt like that last one was a winner, too. Bummer.
Me: So you could say that your lottery prayers in aprticular have demosntrably no greater accuracy than random guessing?
Theist: What are you implying? I'm not guessing, I can feel that the higher being is there! I must have done something wrong to throw off the prayers, or it must be outside of his plan.
Me: Didn't you say you had a "feeling" about that last one? Just like you do about your supreme being?
Theist: I'm not guessing!
Me: I didn't say you were. I just said that so far it seems like your subjective feeligns have proven to be no more accurate than a random guess. That's a very different statement.
Theist: Stop disrespecting my faith!
I'll stop there.
but I don't disagree with all of your reasons for this. I also hope it's clear that I accept that empiricism is the most accurate epistemology for us to learn about the physical world, e.g. the age of rocks or the chemical composition of benzene.
Obviously.
It obviously gets much murkier when you try to apply empiricism to places where it doesn't work so well, like faith.
I;m curious as to how you differenciate beliefs held on faith from facts about the physical world, when typically beliefs held on faith are beliefs about the physical world. For example, the beleif that god(s) existin reality. That's a claim about the real Universe.
I feel like I am back in the faith/delusion thread here with the way this conversation is headed, but I will try to keep a focus on so-called "immaterial evidence."
Considering the origins of this and the faith/delusion thread, that's hardly surprising.
quote:
The problem is that the validity of nonemipirical "evidence" cannot be determined.
I find myself wondering how you personally would define non-empirical evidence. In my previous post I listed the criteria I would go through to try to determine whether someone's vision of the IPU might warrant some (tentative) plausibility. Which of those criteria would you consider to be empirical? Because those criteria can be used by anybody having a religious experience, including me.
I found a great many of your criteria to be simple logical fallacies, or jsut irrelevant. That's why I didn't specifically respond to them. But I can do so now:
Does anyone else claim to have seen the IPU? No.
Appeal to popularity. Whether one person or 50,000 claim to have seen the IPU is irrelevant to the IPU actually existing. It could exist even if nobody saw it - especially since it's supposed to be invisible. Which opens up another can of worms - very few people claim to have seen the object of their faith (be it god, Allah, or leprechauns). They simply claim an undescribable certainty, a feeling, a gnosis, an intuition, a dream, a vision (Jesus' face on a grilled cheese sandwich, for example), a voice, etc.
Is belief in the IPU part of a mainstream religion? No. (Consensus gentium is obviously not infallible but sometimes it can be an indicator of truth; it needs to be considered along with other pieces of evidence.)
Needs to be considered, sure - but in that consideration remember that "mainstream religions" tend to be wrong. More mainstream religions have fallen out of favor and disappeared than currently exist today. Again, there's that "accuracy" problem - human beings are horrible at judging the accuracy of their own beliefs. Mainstream religions have, again, prven to have no greater accuracy than random guessing - less, in fact.
Had the viewer been taking drugs or anything else that would alter normal consciousness?
Some religions maintain that drug use can trigger religious experiences, allowing perception of a world that is otherwise inaccessible. Others would call those people loopy, and tell them to lay off the hallucinogens. In any case, drug use is irrelevant - it can distort reality, but seeing a cat while high on shrooms doesn't mean the cat wasn't there.
Could the IPU have been a mirage, or could the viewer be otherwise mistaken about what they thought they really saw?
All snsory input and memory is subject to human error. That's why eyewitnesses are such terrible influences in jury trials - they'll carry the most weight with the jury, and they're the most likely to be compeltely and utterly wrong. "I saw it" is actually horrible evidence that a thing exists, taken alone.
Could the viewer be lying for some reason? Maybe hoaxing?
When we consider that any eyewitness testimony can simply be mistaken from the getgo, anticipated deception can't make matters any better, only worse. The trustworthiness of a witness is irrelevant, because the witnesses brain is unreliable.
What was the nature of the vision? Was it silent, radiating peace? Or perhaps it told the viewer to pull his clothes off and run naked through the streets? The former has often been reported as a characteristic of religious experience; the latter seems to be more an indicator of mental instability.
As has been pointed out, many religions involve practices you may consider mad. Pentecostal Christians, a mainstream denomination, routinely practice "speaking in tongues," which to any objective observer is quite plainly just speaking jibberish and meaningless stringing together of random syllables. Your personal judgment of the sanity of a practice has literally nothing to do with whether a belief is accurate or not - it;s jsut an appeal to personal credulity.
What is the personality of the viewer? Is this a "salt of the earth" sort of person who is usually rational and has never reported anything like this before? Or do they already have a reputation as being eccentric? What would a psychologist say after an interview?
A devoted follower of Quetzalcoatl, the Winged Serpent of the Aztecs, would likely be regarded as "eccentric" today (what with the demand for human sacrifices), yet that particular faith dominated a sizeable region of SOuth America jsut a few hundred years ago.
How has the viewer reacted to the experience? Does it seem to have been a positive influence on their life? Or has it, for example, led them to commit acts of violence?
What if Satan really is the One True God, and we're commanded to commit evil acts?
This is an appeal to consequence - the consequence of an assertion has nothing to do with whether the assertion is accurate.
I said in the faith/delusion thread that the vast majority of people belonging to a religion believe in a deity that is peaceful and loving. I suppose it's conceivable that the IPU was a malevolent entity bent on getting people to do its will but I personally find it difficult to see any easy way of telling this apart from mental illness.
Why should we prefer benevolent gods over malevolent ones, in terms of accuracy? That's an obviously arbitrary judgment you're making.
Honestly LindaLou, your criteria are awful. Given those simple criteria, it would be painfully simple to con a person into believing...just about anything. Peter Popoff preaches about the Christian God, a being millions share belief in; nothing he says is technically outside of mainstream belief (except that miracles should be performed through him and on demand, but those are good things, so our brains judge them instinctively as more likely), he's not on drugs, he's not exceptionally eccentric amongst charismatic preachers, his teachings are widely regarded as positive in nature (faith healing, increasing wealth, etc), he certainly seems to be trustworthy (to his millions of followers, at least), etc...and he's a proven con man. Noen of your criteria establish any degree of accuracy. At all.
The criteria needed to establish the accuracy of an assertion are very simple:
Is it repeatable?
Can it be independently verified?
Is it falsifiable, and if so have attempts to falsify it failed?
If an assertion cannot be repeated, it cannot be verified independently, and/or is inherently unfalsifiable, you cannot assess the accuracy of that assertion. The number of people who hold it to be credulous is irrelevant. The mental state of believers is irrelevant. Drug usage is irrelevant.
You can consider all of your criteria... and they may help turn the direction of any investigation. But the only way to judge the accuracy of an assertion is to question whether it is repeatable, independently verifiable, and falsifiable.
When those criteria are impossible, then no judgment can be made regarding accuracy; any such assertion is no more accurate than random guessing. It could be right...but there is no reasonable reason to think so.
While doing someone's psychological profile isn't necessarily going to prove anything in and of itself, it can lead us to conclusions about that person, including how likely they are to be telling a truthful and accurate story. This is a point RAZD made a few times -- that non-empirical evidence can give us clues that head us in the right direction.
And I have not disputed that. The human subconscious mind, inaccurate as it is, sometimes gives us valuable insight. But "head us in the right direction" is a very different thing from a given assertion being accurate or inaccurate. In today's world, where we're bombarded with personal anecdotes, televised horrors that almost never occur, and surrounded by people who believe in mutually exclusive positions without a scrap of objective evidence between them, our primate brains are broken clocks - right twice a day, but mo more accurate than random guessing. That's why we developed the scientific method - it allows us to eliminate the irrational instincts of our evolutionary past and objectively assess the accuracy of our theories.
You're quite correct when you say that the scientific method is inapplicable to the unfalsifiable...but so is everything else. When dealing with assertions that are not repeatable or independently verifiable, that are not falsifiable, there is no way to determine the relative accuracy of a position (save internal logical consistency, but you could say that falls under falsifiability). None. When the scientific method is inapplicable, all conclusions are no more accurate than random guessing - which is all that Straggler and others have been saying from the getgo.
That makes having a gut feeling or a sudden inspiration valid in their ways too, if they lead to profitable actions. Which leads me to your next point:
I never said that subjective evidence had no value; simply that conclusions drawn exclusively from subjective evidence had no greater accuracy than random guessing.
quote:
. . . and so their accuracy is no better than random guessing.
I asked Straggler several times to explain what he meant by "random guessing" but he wouldn't. I think I see what you are both getting at now, after your example of the belief that angels have given the winning lottery number (though this seems a curious example to me because all you have to do is wait til the draw to have this belief empirically tested). It seems nonsensical to me to apply "random guessing" to a religious belief because what exactly are the probabilities involved? I seem to remember that Catholic Scientist also asked this. Some people believe that there is a heaven and a hell. Some believe to varying degrees that the eucharist host becomes the body of Christ at Communion. Some believe that God forgives sins through a priest. (Can you tell I was brought up Catholic.) I don't see how you could measure any of these beliefs against random guesses -- do you think you can calculate a probability that God is going to forgive my sins if I go to confession? Don't forget to work out the probability of God existing in the first place and of it being a celestial being who grants favours depending on how well we have pleased him. And what are the odds that it's even a "him" and not a "her" . . .
You're confusing the issue with specifics. Each of those specific beliefs is no more demonstrably accurate in terms of reality than a random guess. It's not about computing probabilities - we have an infinite number of infinite-sided dice we're rolling here. It's about determining whether there is any way to test for accuracy. Where there is not, then any random guess has just as much demonstrable accuracy as any specific unsupported belief.
quote:
It simply means that those who accept the subjective as evidence sacrifice their ability to determine the accuracy of their beliefs
There are degrees of this of course. How do you think I did with the IPU evidence? We may end up not knowing whether it was real or not, but we can build in safeguards to eliminate the more obvious rational explanations first (I'm sure there could be more than the ones I thought of). Interestingly, you didn't answer my question of why it's so important in such a case to draw the line between "real" and "delusion." If all rational explanations have been discounted, then the viewer is left with the choice to believe what they saw, or to dismiss it as their imagination or somesuch. Can you see a problem with them making the choice to believe?
If it doesn't harm anyone? Not really - being irrational is not in itself terrible, so long as the irrationality doesn't harm society. A belief that the IPU simply exists would be irrational, but irrelevant to daily life.
The reason we're discussing this isn't because it's "important." It's just an intellectual exercise. I find debate helps me challenge my own beliefs and weed out irrationalities and false impressions. It's one of the ways I try to fight off the mental defects the human brain is rife with. If you or anyone else wants to believe in tarot cards, god(s), ghosts, goblins, IPUs, sprites, or anything else, you go right ahead. I may challenge your rationality on a debate forum set up for the purpose of debating such questions, but I certainly won't suggest that you're a "bad person" for simply holding what I consider to be an irrational belief. Unless you hold a belief that is objectively disproven,I won't even reduce my opinion of your intelligence; RAZD and Percy are both deists, meaning they believe something I think is pretty irrational, but I also think they're a couple of the smartest people I've had the pleasure of conversing with.
quote:
insisting that beliefs are indeed accurate without any degree of testability is irrational.
No, it just means that you make a deliberate choice whether or not to have faith.
I fail to see the distinction.
People do this all the time.
Commonality does not mean rationality. I would, in fact, assert that the average person is in fact irrational to a degree that would shock all of us.
I think the manner in which the "insisting" is done can be a factor too. A creationist might insist to me that all scientists are liars in a giant conspiracy and that if I don't convert to their beliefs I will burn in hell forever. Another devout Christian might wait for me to have enough interest and open-mindedness to approach him and ask him for some teaching. Both of these people are convinced that their beliefs are accurate even though they are untestable, but one of them is forcefully trying to convince me while the other one is not.
Then perhaps "insist" was a poor choice of words. What I meant to convey with the word "insist" was "a heightened degree of confidence." Specifically, I am talking about those individuals who have an increased degree of confidence in the accuracy of their beliefs (whether those beliefs are expressed to others is irrelevant) when there is no available means to actually test that accuracy and thereby justify that increased confidence. Confidence without verifiability is, basically, irrational.
quote:
Only beliefs that are logically inconsistent or that directly contradict objective evidence are invalid - because there is a degree of testability to claims for which evidence (or contradictory evidence) exists, and logically contradictory arguments cannot be valid.
Most faith-based beliefs are not contradicted by objective evidence. Some are logically inconsistent, but most of those have rationalizations to explain away the inconsistencies (Paul says the OT Mosaic Law doesn't apply to Gentile Christians, etc).
I agree. It's interesting that you move from this to God of the Gaps. This is similar to Straggler saying that people invented gods to explain the irrational and to give comfort.
I think that's part of it. I also think that god(s) and other, similar beliefs are artifacts of the inherently irrational inner workings of the human mind when it is not constrained by rigorous objectivity.
You said,
quote:
the less specific a belief is, the less likely it is to be invalid.
It sounds to me like you are implying that people such as Deists keep shifting the goalposts so that they can keep their comfortable faith while not contradicting any existing evidence.
Your extrapolation is inaccurate. I don't think either Percy or RAZD have shifted any goalposts with regard to their deities. My statement was meant to be limited to exactly what it says, with no implications of intent: those beliefs that are extremely nonspecific and avoid being described in any meaningful way are less likely to be invalidated, because they have no specific claim to invalidate. It's hard to prove logical inconsistency in "I think there's something out there, but Im not sure what it is" (beyond the contradiction of being convinced of something you aren't sure of). It's impossible to prove a negative, and I see no mutually exclusive position I can attempt to prove that would eliminate the possibility of "something out there."
Having read posts by Percy and others, I think their reasoning might be that they want their faith to square with our knowledge of the world and so they won't tie themselves to details that are improbable; for example, there is no empirical evidence that a god has actively been participating in human affairs, so it would be irrational of them to adhere to this belief. To me this is a search for the truth rather than an avoidance of it. I do the same with my own beliefs; if for some reason they appear improbable, I shift them. I see no reason to dismiss them entirely.
I agree that this is indeed what Deists are generally doing - I don't think that RAZD, Percy, or others are so irrational as to actually believe in something that has been disproven.
However, your statement:
there is no empirical evidence that a god has actively been participating in human affairs, so it would be irrational of them to adhere to this belief.
can be changed just slightly to become my point in these threads:
quote:
there is no empirical evidence that a god exists, so it would be irrational of them to adhere to this belief.
Similarly to Straggler, you go on to explain why you think that psychology can explain away religious beliefs. While I wouldn't argue with anything you said about the possible inaccuracies of human experience and anecdotes, and you've made the point that this evidence is unreliable, we are also left with the fact you also acknowledged that it can be true. IMO it is can be worth pursuing the one true experience even if it is like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
The problem is, we're talking about a situation where you cannot see, touch, hear, taste, or smell the needle or the hay. You have no ability to test whether you've found the needle, or jsut grasped another bit of straw. It's always worthwhile to seek out The Truth(tm), but actually holding confidence in a given belief when you have no objective way of knowing whether you've grasped needle, straw, or even thin air is irrational.
Let's say that out of 100 people, 99 of them are mistaken about the objective truth of a religious experience. That leaves one with a genuine experience. You could use whatever numbers you want: one in 1000, one in a million. That one genuine experience could possibly lead us to new truths. From having spoken to people all my life and being an avid reader, I would hazard a guess that genuine experiences aren't quite as rare as that.
Well, there's the rub - you're hazarding a guess. Familiarization makes us intuitively "feel" that a proposition is more likely. This works fine in basic human experience - passing a fire hydrant on the way to work every day makes me intuitively "feel" that the fire hydrant actually exists, for example. But the same subconscious process that gives me that intuitive feeling can turn against us: hearing about honestly believed, emotional, vivid subjective experiences actually convinces our subconscious mind that subconscious experiences accurately reflect reality, when we have no objective reason to think so. Subjective experiences without the ability to be tested have no greater demonstrable accuracy than a random guess.
Having no way to know which experiences are "genuine" means that you have quite literally nothing upon which to base your guess. You've developed confidence in a conclusion with no more reason to thing your conclusion is likely beyond the fact that you're familiar with such experiences.
Let's phrase your statement a bit differently.
Given a thousand, even a trillion different assertions regarding the supernatural (some mutually exclusive, some not) relating to various subjective experiences that have no repeatability, no testability, and are unfalsifiable, how many are likely to be accurate?
1 in 100? 1 in 1000? 1 in a trillion?
Any at all?
Most importantly, how would you know?
Given that we have no way of knowing (particularly since I didn't give any details about our trillion assertions), any number you choose is completely arbitrary and is based wholly on your instinctual desire to rationalize your subconscious feelings. Those feelings are influenced by any number of things. For example - if I had said "1 in 10" instead of "1 in 100" first, you would almost certainly have thought of a lower number (and this higher probability) than you just did.
The only rational answer to the question is "I don't know; I don't have any reason to believe any of them are accurate at all."
I had one myself, though it wasn't anything grand. My parents made me continue to go to church with them when I was a teenager even though I no longer subscribed to their faith. I was standing rather resentfully in the pews, having listened to yet another homily that I did not agree with, and with no power to object. It them came time for everyone to hold hands while they recited a prayer. I dutifully took the hands of the people on either side of me and was surprised to feel energy moving through. It's difficult to describe but it was definitely there and it wasn't static electricity. I hadn't anticipated it, had never wished for it, and to be honest I wouldn't have thought it likely that I'd ever experience anything unusual during a seemingly soulless mass that everyone repeated the words for every Sunday even if their thoughts went somewhere else more interesting.
My interpretation was not that God was present and moving through us, but that we were sharing energy as we joined hands. Eastern philosophies would consider this to be perfectly normal. I can't prove anything about this to you or anyone else and for all you know I could be lying. I, however, have no reason to believe that my experience was not genuine.
I'm sure you experienced it. Of course, many of us have had similar experiences. I've had ones that range from feeling Jesus' presence in church, to feeling God's love, His attention when praying, answered prayers, startling coincidences...the list is rather long.
But the fact that you had an experience has nothing to do with whether your conclusions are accurate. In fact, given that you readily admit that your conclusion is not testable, and cannot be supported by reproduction or independent verification, I would have to say that I have absolutely no reason to think your conclusion is accurate at all. There is nothing, beyond your curious confidence, that suggests that your conclusion is anything more substantial than a random guess.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by Kitsune, posted 09-01-2009 3:17 PM Kitsune has not replied

  
Woodsy
Member (Idle past 3492 days)
Posts: 301
From: Burlington, Canada
Joined: 08-30-2006


Message 62 of 154 (522254)
09-02-2009 6:35 AM


what if it is a con game?
A possibility I haven't noticed being examined in this thread is the idea that notions of the supernatural are just a big confidence game.
Considering religion, one can easily see how it could arise in the first place from mere ignorance of the workings of the physical world and the insecurity that that ignorance would give, together with certain tendencies of the human mind. One can just as easily see how it could be later seized on as a means to give power to priests and rulers.
Once there are powerful people dependant on the populace believing in the supernatural for their power, one would expect those powerful people to see to it that belief in the supernatural is perpetuated. Added to this is, of course, routine deception for gain. So we get churches and inquisitions and merchants of new-age nonsense and death threats for apostasy: the whole disgusting farrago.
These purveyors of the supernatural promote the idea that it is all right to believe things without any rational basis for doing so.
Seen from this point of view, religion is a rather curious con game. Even many of the perpetrators are victims themselves.

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 63 of 154 (522326)
09-02-2009 2:01 PM
Reply to: Message 48 by Straggler
08-27-2009 3:12 PM


Re: So Be It
Nobody is asking you to believe in the IPU. Nobody ever has.
The argument goes that if I believe in my god without evidence then I should also believe in the IPU. Even so, the IPU was actually brought about to make a point about believing in unfalisifyable entities that are self contradictory (ie being both pink and invisible)
My question is, and in fact always has been throughout this extended discussion (with you, RAZD and others): Why should I give any more credence to the objects of your respective beliefs than I do the IPU?
And how many times have I said that if you don't have any reason to believe it then don't?
The answer in previous threads was "subjective evidence".
The answer was never that our subjective evidence should be used to convince you, yourself. It was that our subjective evidence convinces us and that you'd have to find your own subjective evidence.
We have now established that with respect to immaterial gods this form of evidence requires:
A) That an immaterial "sixth sense" exist.
B) That we accept a form of evidence that is indistinguishable in terms of reliability to simply and unconsciously making things up.
That the evidence is subjective presupposes the reliability (ahem... your favorite tautology), besides that you never answered how we'd measure the reliability of my belief in god in order to distinguish it from a made up belief.
C) That to accept this form of evidence at all requires as much faith as the object it is supposed to be evidencing.
I think the object would still require more faith than the evidence, but oh well, I don't want to get into that.
So remind me again - Why is agnosticism, rather than a degree of atheism, the rational and logical conclusion for me when all of the objective material evidence suggests that such experiences are the product of the human mind?
The purely logical default state is agnosticim. If you have evidence to suggest atheism then so be it, or you could certainly rationalize atheism too, that's fine. But that's different than the anti-IPU argument.
Lets come at it from the other side...
If you look at the evidence with a blank slate, you can see for yourself that populations evolve and that can account for the diversity of species on this planet (assuming some Flying Spaghetti Monster isn't mucking with the lab equipment, so to speak). But we can't know that there isn't something mucking around, we just have to assume that there isn't. That we cannot tell if there is or is not, means that it has to remain unknown. Now, if you want to go further and say that some specific entities can be shown to be non-existant and therefore we should not be agnostic towards them, then that is moving into a different argument.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Straggler, posted 08-27-2009 3:12 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by Straggler, posted 09-02-2009 3:28 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 64 of 154 (522327)
09-02-2009 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by Rahvin
08-27-2009 1:44 PM


Re: Would it kill you to respond to my entire post rather than one sentence?
Would it kill you to respond to my entire post rather than one sentence?
Kill me? No.
Bore the living shit out of me? Yes.
So again, CS, King of Evaders and Ignorer of Nearly Everything in a Post, Responder to Single Lines in Multi-Page Debates...
More like: Person with limited time that doesn't want to waste reading 1000s of words of a tangential discussion that they're not very interested in.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by Rahvin, posted 08-27-2009 1:44 PM Rahvin has not replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 183 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
(1)
Message 65 of 154 (522335)
09-02-2009 3:28 PM
Reply to: Message 63 by New Cat's Eye
09-02-2009 2:01 PM


Re: So Be It
I didn't know whether you wanted a long and full point by point response or a shorter "pick the main points" response. Given our recent history I went for the safer former option. I hope I don't "bore you shitless".
The argument goes that if I believe in my god without evidence then I should also believe in the IPU.
That has never been my argument. My argument has been (and remains) that there is rationally no more reason for me to be agnostic about your gods than there is for either of us to be agnostic rather than atheistic about the Immaterial Pink Unicorn (IPU).
And how many times have I said that if you don't have any reason to believe it then don't?
And as I keep telling you based on any evidence that is demonstrably superior to biased guessing the rational conclusion is not to believe in the IPU. Or any other deity.
All of the objective evidence suggests that the visions, voices, feelings etc. you cite as evidence are products of the internal human mind. We know as objectively evidenced fact that the mind is capable of producing these sorts of experiences. Yet you prefer to stick your head in the sand regarding this objectively evidenced fact and instead believe that these experiences are reliable indicators of some materially undetectable reality that cannot be sensed by any known form of sensory perception. How on Earth can you claim that this not denial of objective evidence? Denial of evidence in order to maintain a preconceived irrational worldview?
The answer was never that our subjective evidence should be used to convince you, yourself. It was that our subjective evidence convinces us and that you'd have to find your own subjective evidence.
If you find forms of evidence (visions, feelings etc.) that have been shown to be equivalent in terms of reliability to guessing convincing then that is up to you. But don't ask me to give any more credence to the objects of your belief based on such evidence than you would expect me to give to the IPU. The objective evidence suggests that both are ultimately products of human invention. Whether intentional inventions or otherwise.
That the evidence is subjective presupposes the reliability (ahem... your favorite tautology), besides that you never answered how we'd measure the reliability of my belief in god in order to distinguish it from a made up belief.
Ahem. There is no tautology. There is simply the very obvious fact that having any confidence at all in a form of evidence that in practise is unable to be distinguished in terms of reliability to randomly guessing is irrational. Do you really not see that?
I think the object would still require more faith than the evidence, but oh well, I don't want to get into that.
I still don't understand why you consider some wholly subjective experiences as superior indicators of immaterial reality than others (e.g. waking visions as compared to normal daydreams) given that no one such experience is able to be demonstrated as any more or less reliable than any other. It seems that you hold personal conviction as more important than demonstrable reliability when considering forms of evidence. This is also irrational.
The purely logical default state is agnosticim.
In a complete vacuum of objective evidence, a complete absence of evidence either for or against, you may well be right. But there is no such thing as a vacuum of all objective evidence.
If you have evidence to suggest atheism then so be it, or you could certainly rationalize atheism too, that's fine. But that's different than the anti-IPU argument.
No it's not. The objective evidence suggests that the IPU is a human invention rather than a real entity. The objective evidence also suggests that any experience attributed to any immaterial deity is more than likely a product of the human mind. Humans have needs and desires and they have a proven track record of inventing false supernatural explanations to meet these needs and desires. Humans invent gods. This is a fact. The IPU is just one example of such a creation.
Now, if you want to go further and say that some specific entities can be shown to be non-existant and therefore we should not be agnostic towards them, then that is moving into a different argument.
That some specific god concepts have been falsified is all but indisputable. That humans invent gods is all but indisputable. That humans are very prone to creating such concepts is all but indisputable. That the default rational position regarding any immaterial god claimed by humanity should be a degree of atheism as opposed to belief in a sixth sense that has allowed the chosen few to experience some aspect of an otherwise unknowable supernatural entity, is all but indisputable.
The "evolution" of god concepts to become less and less falsifiable does not detract from this argument. In some senses it enhances it by demonstrating yet another human need. The need to make ones cherished beliefs immune from refutation. The ultimate god of the ultimate gap argument.
Lets come at it from the other side...
OK
If you look at the evidence with a blank slate
Hmmmm. If you look at the evidence with a blank slate then you must also include evidence in favour of the mutually exclusive alternatives. Namely the possibility that gods are human inventions. Are you willing to include evidence for that possibility in your blank slate assessment?
you can see for yourself that populations evolve and that can account for the diversity of species on this planet (assuming some Flying Spaghetti Monster isn't mucking with the lab equipment, so to speak). But we can't know that there isn't something mucking around, we just have to assume that there isn't. That we cannot tell if there is or is not, means that it has to remain unknown.
There is no certainty. We don't know. I agree with that. I don't believe anyone on the atheist side of the debate has ever declared certainty in anything. Not even the non-existance of the IPU. But there is evidence and there is likelihood.
CS - Given that there is no objective evidence in favour of gods and given that there is a great deal of objective evidence to suggest that humans are prone to inventing god concepts for various reasons which is the more rational conclusion?
1) 50-50 "I just do not know" agnosticism OR
2) A degree of atheism
We can go over this endlessly. And given our track record very probably will. But I just do not understand how if you weigh up the objective evidence in favour of gods as human inventions as compared to the subejctive evidence in favour of gods as sixth sense detected entities, how you can possibly rationally come up with anything other than a degree of atheistic disbelief regarding any given god concept.
As frustrating as you will no doubt find this post I remain genuinely bewildered by your attitude to this.
Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.
Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.
Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 63 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-02-2009 2:01 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 66 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 10:04 AM Straggler has replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 66 of 154 (522426)
09-03-2009 10:04 AM
Reply to: Message 65 by Straggler
09-02-2009 3:28 PM


Re: So Be It
That has never been my argument. My argument has been (and remains) that there is rationally no more reason for me to be agnostic about your gods than there is for either of us to be agnostic rather than atheistic about the Immaterial Pink Unicorn (IPU).
But weren't you arguing in the IPU thread that, with a lack of evidence, choosing to believe in god and not the IPU is special pleading? Isn't that a round-about way of saying that you should believe in both?
And as I keep telling you based on any evidence that is demonstrably superior to biased guessing the rational conclusion is not to believe in the IPU. Or any other deity.
And I keep asking you how you are demonstrating that that the evidence is equal to guessing. And I think this is one of the flaws in your argument. You say that because we cannot show that it is better than random guessing then it must be equivalent to it, but that is an illogical leap.
Allow me to bring up another example that I ran across last night on TV. It was a show about lottery winners. A woman said that she wrote the number 112,000,000 on a piece of paper and put it under her pillow before she went to sleep. The next day she bought a lottery ticket and won a $112,000,000 jackpot. She said that this time she knew that she was going to manifest it.
So, do you believe her or not? The default position would be agnosticism but I'm guessing that you do not believe her.
Now, how can we demonstrate that her ability is no better than random guessing? Putting her in a lab and trying to get her to make predictions and then watching her fail doesn't prove that she doesn't have the ability (maybe she has poor control, or could only do it once, etc.) But your saying that because we cant show that she is better than random guessing then it must be equal to random guessing and that because we know that people make shit up like that, then the rational position would be disbelief. I disagree.
Another flaw in your argument is that because we've shown some gods to false (or some of these kinds of abilities), then we can argue that we've shown all of them to be false, which just isn't true.
So, because some is not all, and because not demonstrating something is better than random guessing doesn't mean that its equal to random guessing, is why your argument is wrong.
All of the objective evidence suggests that the visions, voices, feelings etc. you cite as evidence are products of the internal human mind.
Correction: All of the objective evidence suggests that some of the visions, voices, feelings etc. you cite as evidence are products of the internal human mind.
The answer was never that our subjective evidence should be used to convince you, yourself. It was that our subjective evidence convinces us and that you'd have to find your own subjective evidence.
If you find forms of evidence (visions, feelings etc.) that have been shown to be equivalent in terms of reliability to guessing convincing then that is up to you.
They haven't been shown to be equivalent in terms of reliability to guessing.
There is simply the very obvious fact that having any confidence at all in a form of evidence that in practise is unable to be distinguished in terms of reliability to randomly guessing is irrational.
This is phrased better at least. But, using my new example above, how have we demonstrated that this lady's ability is unable to be distinguished in terms of reliability to randomly guessing?
The purely logical default state is agnosticim.
In a complete vacuum of objective evidence, a complete absence of evidence either for or against, you may well be right.
You mean like the kind of evidence we have for the IPU?
Just kidding. But yeah, that's the default. But it doesn't require a complete absence, it just where we start without enough evidence to suggest one way or the other.
But there is no such thing as a vacuum of all objective evidence.
What objective evidence do we have for my new example above? We can see that she did, in fact, win the lottery. And that's about it.
If you have evidence to suggest atheism then so be it, or you could certainly rationalize atheism too, that's fine. But that's different than the anti-IPU argument.
No it's not. The objective evidence suggests that the IPU is a human invention rather than a real entity. The objective evidence also suggests that any experience attributed to any immaterial deity is more than likely a product of the human mind.
I don't think so. This is where you start making that leap from some to all.
That some specific god concepts have been falsified is all but indisputable. That humans invent gods is all but indisputable. That humans are very prone to creating such concepts is all but indisputable. That the default rational position regarding any immaterial god claimed by humanity should be a degree of atheism as opposed to belief in a sixth sense that has allowed the chosen few to experience some aspect of an otherwise unknowable supernatural entity, is all but indisputable.
There, right there. You jump from some to all.
If you look at the evidence with a blank slate
Hmmmm. If you look at the evidence with a blank slate then you must also include evidence in favour of the mutually exclusive alternatives. Namely the possibility that gods are human inventions. Are you willing to include evidence for that possibility in your blank slate assessment?
Yes, of course.
CS - Given that there is no objective evidence in favour of gods and given that there is a great deal of objective evidence to suggest that humans are prone to inventing god concepts for various reasons which is the more rational conclusion?
1) 50-50 "I just do not know" agnosticism OR
2) A degree of atheism
When you get into specific god concepts that can be shown to be false then a degree of atheism is the more rational conclusion. But some kind of god in general, or my new example above, without a sufficient amount of objective evidence, we resort to the default of agnosticism.
I didn't know whether you wanted a long and full point by point response or a shorter "pick the main points" response. Given our recent history I went for the safer former option. I hope I don't "bore you shitless".
I don't expect a point by point responce, but I don't want to waste my time if your just going to ignore the main point and repeat your position (which you didn't this time). I get bored when people go on and on and on about the same point.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 65 by Straggler, posted 09-02-2009 3:28 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 67 by Straggler, posted 09-03-2009 10:53 AM New Cat's Eye has replied
 Message 68 by Rahvin, posted 09-03-2009 12:45 PM New Cat's Eye has not replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 183 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
(1)
Message 67 of 154 (522429)
09-03-2009 10:53 AM
Reply to: Message 66 by New Cat's Eye
09-03-2009 10:04 AM


Inventing Gods?
But weren't you arguing in the IPU thread that, with a lack of evidence, choosing to believe in god and not the IPU is special pleading? Isn't that a round-about way of saying that you should believe in both?
No. It is a direct way of saying rationally there is no reason to believe in either. Belief in gods is irrational yes? We agree on that? The difference between us is that I say a degree of atheism is the rational and evidentially consistent response and you say that agnosticism is. If you tell me that I should be agnostic about a particular god whilst accepting my atheism as justified towards the IPU then you are special pleading one over the other. Why would I be agnostic to one and atheistic to the other when the objective evidence suggests that both are human inventions?
And I keep asking you how you are demonstrating that that the evidence is equal to guessing. And I think this is one of the flaws in your argument. You say that because we cannot show that it is better than random guessing then it must be equivalent to it, but that is an illogical leap.
No. I am saying that unless you can distinguish a form of evidence as being superior to randomly guessing in practise then having any confidence at all in such "evidence" is irrational. It relies entirely on personal conviction. Faith by any other name.
Another flaw in your argument is that because we've shown some gods to false (or some of these kinds of abilities), then we can argue that we've shown all of them to be false, which just isn't true.
No. I am not making an illogical IF SOME THEN ALL statement as you imply. I am making an evidence and reliability based statement. I am pointing out that if you have someone who after thousands of proclamations on a particular subject has a 100% failure record then you would be an idiot to put money on them making an accurate statement regarding that subject any time soon. Especially if you have other objectively evidenced reasons to think that they will continue to make such inaccurate but sincere proclamations for reasons that have nothing to do with external reality and everything to do with their own innate and internal needs. Especially if with every proclamation the claim in question gets ever more sophisticatedly undefinable and immune from refutation.
This is phrased better at least. But, using my new example above, how have we demonstrated that this lady's ability is unable to be distinguished in terms of reliability to randomly guessing?
Dude if you can show that visions, voices, feelings etc. etc. lead to conclusions that are demonstrably more reliable than guessing with regard to the material world then I would be much more open to you claiming that they should be given some sort of consideration with regard to less refutable things. To my knowledge the forms of evidence you are citing lead to results that are no more reliable than guessing in the material world. Thus your assumption that they are any more reliable with regard to the immaterial is a question of personal conviction alone. Faith by any other name.
But some kind of god in general, or my new example above, without a sufficient amount of objective evidence, we resort to the default of agnosticism.
Why? Why is "some kind of god in general" immune from the objectively evidenced fact that humans keep inventing gods to fulfil their need for explanation, higher purpose and the feeling that there is "something" else out there?
Is the claim that humans have invented gods, are deeply prone to inventing gods and will continue to invent gods better evidenced than the actual existence of gods?
That is the question here.
Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 66 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 10:04 AM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 69 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 1:04 PM Straggler has replied

  
Rahvin
Member
Posts: 4046
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 68 of 154 (522443)
09-03-2009 12:45 PM
Reply to: Message 66 by New Cat's Eye
09-03-2009 10:04 AM


Re: So Be It
Hi CS,
It seems we're all still experiencing a degree of miscommunication. Let's try to clear that up.
And I keep asking you how you are demonstrating that that the evidence is equal to guessing. And I think this is one of the flaws in your argument. You say that because we cannot show that it is better than random guessing then it must be equivalent to it, but that is an illogical leap.
"Equal to guessing" is not the same as saying "not demonstrably more accurate than a random guess."
Given a predictive model, to ascertain that model's predictive accuracy we would typically compare the results of the predictions to reality. This requires repeatability, independent confirmation, and falsifiability - if a predictive model states that the Sun will rise in the West tomorrow, the prediction would be falsified if the Sun rose in the East as usual.
When a predictive model cannot be reproduced, cannot be independently verified, and is unfalsifiable (as with the majority of religious claims), we have a conundrum. How do we know the accuracy of a given prediction? How can we?
The answer is that we don't, and we can't. The predictive model now appears to be equivalent in terms of demonstrable accuracy to a random guess.
Take for example delving - the act of detecting water/metal/anything you want via two rods held in the hands that presumably close together by themselves when the desired object is directly below. Theories for the mechanism vary - the rods could be the detectors, or the subconscious human mind may tap into some information unavailable to the conscious mind and subtly move the hands, causing the rods to close, etc. The mechanism is irrelevant; what is relevant is the accuracy.
There have been many attempts to demonstrate delving. When in double-blind studies, delvers have consistently demonstrated a rate of accuracy that is no better than chance. Given 10 containers with one container holding water, a delver will typically be able to find the water 1 in every 10 tries - the same as a person taking a random guess, or rolling a 10-sided die.
We cannot falsify the delving mechanism - you cannot prove a negative. But we can say that the delver has demonstrated no greater degree of accuracy than a random guess. Successful delving cannot be reliably repeated on demand; it is not independently verifiable; its mechanism is unfalsifiable.
Remember, though, that 1 in 10 tries will be successful for the delver. Success with only a 10% chance is improbable, but still possible. The improbable happens every day...and unfortunately, the human brain is hardwired to remember successes over failures. When you have a dream that coincides with an event the next day, you remember your "predictive" dream...and disregard the thousands of dreams you've had previously that had no predictive qualities.
Allow me to bring up another example that I ran across last night on TV. It was a show about lottery winners. A woman said that she wrote the number 112,000,000 on a piece of paper and put it under her pillow before she went to sleep. The next day she bought a lottery ticket and won a $112,000,000 jackpot. She said that this time she knew that she was going to manifest it.
The problem, CS, is that a sample size of 1 is insignificant, and too small by far to draw a conclusion. Even given her complete honesty and believing that she did indeed have exactly the experience you've reported, she still hasn't demonstrated greater accuracy than random guessing. Is her accuracy precisely equal to random guessing? How can we possibly know with a sample size of 1?
The improbable happens every day. The human population is approaching 7 billion - by pure statistics, we should expect 1-in-a-million events to happen 7000 times in their predicted time periods.
To demonstrate a higher degree of accuracy than random guessing, accurate predictions must be repeatable, independently verifiable, and falsifiable. In your lotto winner's example, how many times has she been "sure" that she would win and been wrong?
Her story is completely unfalsifiable - we cannot say whether her success was actually the result of not-yet-understood predictive abilities, a truly random guess, or a nonrandom guess with random success (for example, choosing birthdays as lotto numbers is a nonrandom guess, but will be successful to the same statistical degree as random guessing). It's not repeatable - she cannot reproduce the event on demand or given specific circumstances (presumably, if she could she would not have stopped at winning once). It is not independently verifiable - we cannot have an independent party perform the same procedures and arrive at the same results.
We can say, then, that while we are unable to determine the actual validity of her claim, she is in fact unable to display a greater degree of accuracy than random guessing.
We can also say with absolute certainty that her personal story will mean more to your subconscious mind than a thousand statistics. Personal anecdote is worthless precisely because the improbable happens every single day.
So, do you believe her or not? The default position would be agnosticism but I'm guessing that you do not believe her.
I believe that she had the experience she reported (possibly with minor additions, subtractions, or alterations from the actual events - human memory is pretty shoddy that way).
Do I believe that she has the ability to predict lottery numbers? I see no reason to believe so. With a sample size of 1, the most rational opinion is that she was extremely lucky, and experienced a singular, incredibly improbable sequence of events.
The flaw with your reasoning, CS, is that you are demanding falsification rather than providing supporting evidence. More to the point, you're demanding falsification of inherently unfalsifiable positions - you require that we prove that her ability is not more accurate than random guessing (proving a negative is impossible, and a determination of accuracy is impossible from a sample size of 1), instead of providing evidence that she has greater accuracy than random guessing.
Another flaw in your argument is that because we've shown some gods to false (or some of these kinds of abilities), then we can argue that we've shown all of them to be false, which just isn't true.
So, because some is not all, and because not demonstrating something is better than random guessing doesn't mean that its equal to random guessing, is why your argument is wrong.
Who says all "supernatural" abilities and entities are false?
I say that they are more likely, given the evidence, to be constructs of the human mind, unless evidence can be presented that they actually exist.
The evidence is absolutely overwhealming that subjective evidence is the result of the irrational human mind. See my post here. The factors that cause you to recognize false patterns, to judge things as more or less likely despite a lack of available statistics or even directly contradicting those presented to you, to rationalize imagined events as having actually happened, to distort memories, are well understood. That which a person is familiar with will be "felt" to be more likely - which means that we have a disproportionate assessment of risk for incredibly unlikely events that we are regularly presented with on television, for example. The same mechanism causes those who imagine something, or who are told about something repeatedly, to judge that something as more likely to actually exist - despite having no actual reason to think so.
That said, supernatural abilities and god(s) are still possible. We cannot prove negatives. But with a lack of evidence supporting them, and significant evidence that they are the result of human mental failings, the evidence clearly leans in one direction - that any given story or belief unsupported by evidence is unlikely to accurately represent reality. Tentative atheism is most definitely the most rational conclusion from an objective standpoint - a perspective difficult to achieve if you actually experience subjective evidence. We're hardwired to trust our guts. Subconscious evaluation affects our conscious minds without us ever beign aware of it - that's why the human mind is such a horrible tool for accurately describing reality unless it is paired with rigorous adherence to objectivity.
One-off anecdotes are within the statistically expected range of events. If you can show a pattern that significantly exceeds random chance, that's a different story. Without a pattern of success, it is absolutely true that a degree of accuracy exceeding random guessing has not been demonstrated. While we cannot falsify such claims (as you said, some is not all), for similar reasons we cannot assume accuracy when accuracy cannot be tested.
When someone expresses confidence in a position with no supporting evidence and with no way to test the accuracy of that position, the accuracy of that position is demonstrablyno better than a random guess.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 66 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 10:04 AM New Cat's Eye has not replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 69 of 154 (522449)
09-03-2009 1:04 PM
Reply to: Message 67 by Straggler
09-03-2009 10:53 AM


Re: Inventing Gods?
Belief in gods is irrational yes? We agree on that?
I don't think that it has to be, no.
The difference between us is that I say a degree of atheism is the rational and evidentially consistent response and you say that agnosticism is.
Well, I think that one degree of atheism is practically the same as agnosticism, that being simply a lack of belief in gods. Without evidence to believe, a lack of belief would be the same default as saying that you don't know if they exist or not (i.e. "I don't know, but without any reason I don't believe"). Now, to go further to say that you believe that they do not exist would require some kind of reason/evidence to sway that way.
If you tell me that I should be agnostic about a particular god whilst accepting my atheism as justified towards the IPU then you are special pleading one over the other. Why would I be agnostic to one and atheistic to the other when the objective evidence suggests that both are human inventions?
Because there isn't objective evidence to suggest that all gods are human invention. Some particular gods, like the one that pulls the sun across the sky with a chariot, have been shown to be an invention but a non-descript high-power type god has not.
No. I am saying that unless you can distinguish a form of evidence as being superior to randomly guessing in practise then having any confidence at all in such "evidence" is irrational. It relies entirely on personal conviction. Faith by any other name.
Not necessarily. I don't have any way of showing that the women who manifested the lottery winning is superior to random guessing but she seemed sincere with her story and I don't have any reason to think she's lying about it so I can believe her without the need for faith.
Another flaw in your argument is that because we've shown some gods to false (or some of these kinds of abilities), then we can argue that we've shown all of them to be false, which just isn't true.
No. I am not making an illogical IF SOME THEN ALL statement as you imply. I am making an evidence and reliability based statement. I am pointing out that if you have someone who after thousands of proclamations on a particular subject has a 100% failure record then you would be an idiot to put money on them making an accurate statement regarding that subject any time soon. Especially if you have other objectively evidenced reasons to think that they will continue to make such inaccurate but sincere proclamations for reasons that have nothing to do with external reality and everything to do with their own innate and internal needs. Especially if with every proclamation the claim in question gets ever more sophisticatedly undefinable and immune from refutation.
Well that's different than saying that all the subjective evidence has been shown to be a product of the human mind.
Dude if you can show that visions, voices, feelings etc. etc. lead to conclusions that are demonstrably more reliable than guessing with regard to the material world then I would be much more open to you claiming that they should be given some sort of consideration with regard to less refutable things. To my knowledge the forms of evidence you are citing lead to results that are no more reliable than guessing in the material world.
So you are assuming that if we can't show a difference then they must be the same.
Thus your assumption that they are any more reliable with regard to the immaterial is a question of personal conviction alone. Faith by any other name.
I'm not assuming that they are more reliable, I'm saying that you having shown that they are not. You're assuming it because it hasn't been shown otherwise.
Why? Why is "some kind of god in general" immune from the objectively evidenced fact that humans keep inventing gods to fulfil their need for explanation, higher purpose and the feeling that there is "something" else out there?
Because those gods have not been shown to be the product of human invention like specific particular gods have been.
Is the claim that humans have invented gods, are deeply prone to inventing gods and will continue to invent gods better evidenced than the actual existence of gods?
That is the question here.
and my answer is I don't know, it hasn't been shown either way. But taking into account my subjective evidence, I'd say that the actual existence of gods is better evidence.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 67 by Straggler, posted 09-03-2009 10:53 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 70 by Straggler, posted 09-03-2009 1:39 PM New Cat's Eye has replied
 Message 78 by Hyroglyphx, posted 09-04-2009 9:31 AM New Cat's Eye has replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 183 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
(1)
Message 70 of 154 (522456)
09-03-2009 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 69 by New Cat's Eye
09-03-2009 1:04 PM


Re: Inventing Gods?
Straggler writes:
Belief in gods is irrational yes? We agree on that?
I don't think that it has to be, no.
I thought you said that you believed agnosticism to be the rational conclusion? Now you seem to be saying that belief in gods is rational. I thought belief in gods was based on faith. If we cannot even agree on the irrationality of faith I think I am going to just stop here. We are back at square one all over again.
Well that's different than saying that all the subjective evidence has been shown to be a product of the human mind.
Which would be why I never said that. Stop arguing against proclamations of certainty when the position of your opponents is evidence based likelihood.
So you are assuming that if we can't show a difference then they must be the same.
No. I am saying that unless you can show a difference assuming that there is one is irrational.
Because those gods have not been shown to be the product of human invention like specific particular gods have been.
So which gods exactly do you think the evidence in favour of human invention does not apply to? And why are they immune? Remember we are talking likelihood not certainty here.
Straggler writes:
Is the claim that humans have invented gods, are deeply prone to inventing gods and will continue to invent gods better evidenced than the actual existence of gods?
That is the question here.
and my answer is I don't know, it hasn't been shown either way. But taking into account my subjective evidence, I'd say that the actual existence of gods is better evidence.
Well given that I don't share your faith in your subjective evidence and given that there is overwhelming and undeniable objective evidence in favour of the fact that humans are prone to inventing supernatural answers can you explain why a degree of atheism rather than "It's 50-50 I just don't know" agnosticism is not rationally justified on my part?
And please remember when answering that I am talking about likelihood rather than certainty here.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 69 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 1:04 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 71 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 2:29 PM Straggler has replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 71 of 154 (522462)
09-03-2009 2:29 PM
Reply to: Message 70 by Straggler
09-03-2009 1:39 PM


Re: Inventing Gods?
I thought you said that you believed agnosticism to be the rational conclusion? Now you seem to be saying that belief in gods is rational. I thought belief in gods was based on faith. If we cannot even agree on the irrationality of faith I think I am going to just stop here. We are back at square one all over again.
Yes, by default agnosticim is the rational conclusion but this does not preclude theism, or atheism, from being rational too. It depends on the evidence. Belief in gods could be based on evidence and not faith, although not for some specific gods like the IPU and possible the deistic god (depending on the belief structure) just like disbelief in some gods can be based on evidence (like us know there isn't a chariot pulling the sun).
Well that's different than saying that all the subjective evidence has been shown to be a product of the human mind.
Which would be why I never said that. Stop arguing against proclamations of certainty when the position of your opponents is evidence based likelihood.
If its only based on likelyhood then you cannot say that it has been demonstrated that subjective evidence is no better than random guessing.
So you are assuming that if we can't show a difference then they must be the same.
No. I am saying that unless you can show a difference assuming that there is one is irrational.
I've never assumed that there is a difference but you have said that there isn't.
Because those gods have not been shown to be the product of human invention like specific particular gods have been.
So which gods exactly do you think the evidence in favour of human invention does not apply to? And why are they immune? Remember we are talking likelihood not certainty here.
Heh, once I start specifying gods then we're getting into particulars. But using my lottery winner example I don't think we can say anything confidently about whether or not she invented her claim, we just don't know. You can't use your argument that its probably an invention and justify the disbelief with that because we can't be confident in your probabilities.
Well given that I don't share your faith in your subjective evidence and given that there is overwhelming and undeniable objective evidence in favour of the fact that humans are prone to inventing supernatural answers can you explain why a degree of atheism rather than "It's 50-50 I just don't know" agnosticism is not rationally justified on my part?
If your degree of atheism is simply witholding belief because of a lack of positive evidece, then it is a rational answer much like the I don't know one, but to jump to active disbelief based on faulty probabilities would be irrational because the jump is unjustified.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 70 by Straggler, posted 09-03-2009 1:39 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 72 by Straggler, posted 09-03-2009 5:17 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 183 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
(1)
Message 72 of 154 (522495)
09-03-2009 5:17 PM
Reply to: Message 71 by New Cat's Eye
09-03-2009 2:29 PM


Re: Inventing Gods?
If its only based on likelyhood then you cannot say that it has been demonstrated that subjective evidence is no better than random guessing.
I didn't say it had. I said that immaterial subjective evidence is indistiguishable to randomly guessing in terms of reliability in any practical sense. Thus it is irrational to assume that it is superior in terms of reliability in any practical sense. To do so relies on personal conviction rather than reason. Faith by any other name.
I've never assumed that there is a difference but you have said that there isn't.
By citing subjective evidence as a reason to think something actually exists as superior to simply guessing that it exists you must be be assuming a difference between the two in terms of reliability. Otherwise you might as well call guessing evidence.
Straggler writes:
Well given that I don't share your faith in your subjective evidence and given that there is overwhelming and undeniable objective evidence in favour of the fact that humans are prone to inventing supernatural answers can you explain why a degree of atheism rather than "It's 50-50 I just don't know" agnosticism is not rationally justified on my part?
If your degree of atheism is simply witholding belief because of a lack of positive evidece, then it is a rational answer much like the I don't know one, but to jump to active disbelief based on faulty probabilities would be irrational because the jump is unjustified.
I don't understand. Are you denying that there is evidence to suggest that humans are prone to inventing supernatural answers? I previously said the following with regard to my reasons for considering human invention as more likely than the actual existence of gods. You did not seem to dispute this reasoning at the time.
Straggler previously writes:
No. I am not making an illogical IF SOME THEN ALL statement as you imply. I am making an evidence and reliability based statement. I am pointing out that if you have someone who after thousands of proclamations on a particular subject has a 100% failure record then you would be an idiot to put money on them making an accurate statement regarding that subject any time soon. Especially if you have other objectively evidenced reasons to think that they will continue to make such inaccurate but sincere proclamations for reasons that have nothing to do with external reality and everything to do with their own innate and internal needs. Especially if with every proclamation the claim in question gets ever more sophisticatedly undefinable and immune from refutation.
So does the evidence available to me rationally result in "50-50 I just don't know" agnosticism or a does it rationally result in a degree of "the evidence suggests human invention as the most likely answer" atheism on my part?
That is ultimately my question. This ultimately has always been my question.
Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.
Edited by Straggler, : Spelling

This message is a reply to:
 Message 71 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 2:29 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 73 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 5:31 PM Straggler has replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 73 of 154 (522499)
09-03-2009 5:31 PM
Reply to: Message 72 by Straggler
09-03-2009 5:17 PM


Re: Inventing Gods?
I said that immaterial subjective evidence is indistiguishable to randomly guessing in terms of reliability in any practical sense.
And I asked how you're measuring the reliability to determine if its better than random guessing.
By citing subjective evidence as a reason to think something actually exists as superior to simply guessing that it exists you must be be assuming a difference between the two in terms of reliability. Otherwise you might as well call guessing evidence.
How do I measure the reliability to determine if its superior?
Are you denying that there is evidence to suggest that humans are prone to inventing supernatural answers?
I'm denying that you can know enough about which answers are invented in order to make the leap that some specific one probably is invented.
So does the evidence available to me rationally result in "50-50 I just don't know" agosticism or a does it rationally result in a degree of "the evidence suggests human invention as the most likely answer" atheism on my part?
If the fact that some gods are known to be invented is enough to convince you that all gods are invented then you can certainly rationalize your atheism that way, I just think that its an irrational leap because we don't have a way to measure the reliability of the answers to determine the probability of them being invented.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 72 by Straggler, posted 09-03-2009 5:17 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 74 by Perdition, posted 09-03-2009 5:50 PM New Cat's Eye has replied
 Message 77 by Straggler, posted 09-03-2009 6:04 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

  
Perdition
Member (Idle past 3356 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 74 of 154 (522505)
09-03-2009 5:50 PM
Reply to: Message 73 by New Cat's Eye
09-03-2009 5:31 PM


Re: Inventing Gods?
And I asked how you're measuring the reliability to determine if its better than random guessing.
You take the process by which you are determining this specific belief and apply it to another situation in which you can compare it to the expected outcome of a guess and see if it results in a statistically different outcome.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 73 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 5:31 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 75 by New Cat's Eye, posted 09-03-2009 5:56 PM Perdition has replied

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 75 of 154 (522506)
09-03-2009 5:56 PM
Reply to: Message 74 by Perdition
09-03-2009 5:50 PM


Re: Inventing Gods?
And I asked how you're measuring the reliability to determine if its better than random guessing.
You take the process by which you are determining this specific belief and apply it to another situation in which you can compare it to the expected outcome of a guess and see if it results in a statistically different outcome.
And for processes that can't be repeated or replicated or that might yield varying outcomes?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 74 by Perdition, posted 09-03-2009 5:50 PM Perdition has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 76 by Perdition, posted 09-03-2009 5:59 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

  
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