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Author Topic:   The Nature of Scepticism
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 105 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 16 of 271 (690851)
02-16-2013 9:54 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Straggler
02-16-2013 12:59 PM


Belief in anything always rests on some sort of evidence
Yes. I know. But presumably those with a more 'blessed are those who believe but do not see' approach to discerning what is real and what is not have a different take. It is they who the 'paradoxical and subversive' question was aimed at.

There is no such thing as a type of person who discerns "'what is real and what is not" on the basis of the Biblical "blessed are those who believe but do not see' approach" as you put it.* That refers to the specific instance of believing what one is told about Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead. Jesus chided Thomas for refusing to believe what the other disciples told him about seeing Jesus risen from the dead, which he ought to have regarded as ample grounds for belief in the resurrection. He was told this by many trusted friends. That's grounds, that's not an absence of grounds. By extension the entire Biblical record is also to be believed, which in the opinion of believers is soundly evidenced in hundreds of ways. There are LOTS of grounds for believing it.

{*ABE I should have said that "Blessed are those who believed but didn't see" merely describes the sort of evidence or grounds for belief that comes through the testimony of trustworthy witnesses. Some huge proportion of the things we know or think we know we know only through the testimony of others.}

You may or may not have grounds for believing what someone tells you. That's something you have to ascertain. Jesus thought Thomas should have had the good sense to believe such trustworthy witnesses.

Russell thought that there wasn't any basis for believing the Bible himself and included it among those things for which there were no grounds for believing it, but there ARE grounds for believing the Bible, Russell was just a wooden-headed literalist who required physical evidence where such evidence is irrelevant.

You reiterate your point in your post 10 to Phat:

Phat writes:

Ask me a question or two to get me going..

Is skepticism the approach taken by science? Is it paradoxical and subversive?

If we accept skepticism as an approach to considering claims, assertions etc. etc. where does that leave claims of the mystical and supernatural?

The mystical and supernatural generally involve internal experiences or one-time events that require you to believe those who claim to have experienced or witnessed them. There is nothing in principle faulty about this sort of evidence. You believe it or you don't according to various criteria you use to assess the credibility of the witness. Unfortunately there are those who refuse to believe anything they haven't themselves witnessed, especially if it involves something "supernatural."

Skepticism is always warranted when you have insufficient grounds for proof meaning also when you don't YET have them. The problem with Russell and others of his mindset is that they a priori decide to reject evidence of a certain sort or for a certain sort of phenomena based on bias. This is a misuse of skepticism.

We all need evidence for whatever we believe.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


He who surrenders the first page of his Bible surrenders all. --John William Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, Sermon II.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Straggler, posted 02-16-2013 12:59 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by Straggler, posted 02-17-2013 5:31 AM Faith has responded

  
Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 105 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 22 of 271 (690872)
02-17-2013 7:38 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by Straggler
02-17-2013 5:31 AM


Re: Belief in anything always rests on some sort of evidence
Faith writes:

The mystical and supernatural generally involve internal experiences or one-time events that require you to believe those who claim to have experienced or witnessed them.

I do accept that people have these experiences. But skeptically speaking there is absolutely no reason to believe or even accept the causal link that people make between these experiences and the thing that they are supposedly evidence of.

Why is some internal experience deemed to be evidence of Satan (for example) rather than evidence of undetectable telepathic beams emanating from the moon?

I can't respond to such a hypothetical example. WHAT experience are you aware of that has been presented as evidence of Satan?

My point was pretty simple, you either have cause/grounds/evidence to believe what a person tells you or you don't, much of it having to do with your assessment of the witness's personal credibility. If you don't give an actual example I have no way of judging your assessment of the validity of the evidence available.

Faith writes:

There is nothing in principle faulty about this sort of evidence.

Well of course there is. If we ask people to pick lottery numbers (for example) on the basis of 'internal experiences' (gut feelings, hallucinations etc. etc. etc.) we can see that the results are indistinguishable from blind random chance.

No, there is NOT anything IN PRINCIPLE wrong with this sort of evidence. IN PRINCIPLE. It depends on what exactly is described, what is claimed for it, etc. etc. etc.

{Gut feelings about lottery tickets are probably in the category of very unreliable indicators, and if you impose your own criteria on them you'll probably never get anything better than randomness, although there are some pretty striking examples where such gut feelings have been remarkably good indicators, even when the person who had them didn't know whether to trust them or not. I know of two people who had such experiences, one who won a big California lottery some thirty years ago and my own brother who had this strange feeling, about that many years ago as well. who had this strange feeling while walking through a Nevada casino that if he went and bet such and such on one of the games there he'd win. He did and he won $700. Can I prove it, no, but he was as amazed as anyone else that he had such a feeling and it led to a win, and what can I say, I believe him. He normally doesn't gamble at all, as I don't either, that was a one-time event. I don't think it was God who led him though. This was before he himself became a Christian but I don't think God would lead someone this way anyway. Whether it was some sort of "soul power" or psychic power or the devil I have no idea, but I have no reason not to believe him. Or the other person who won the California lottery, someone I'd met but didn't really know, who just "knew" after he chose his numbers that he was going to win. Of course this doesn't happen very often, and most of the time people have hunches that don't pan out, and how to tell the difference is probably untestable because the feelings involved are so nebulous in themselves.}

Again, there is nothing IN PRINCIPLE wrong with this sort of witness evidence to internal events. It's no more faulty in principle than somebody's telling you they have such and such a pain in such and such part of the body. There are no doubt more reliable ways of testing such claims than gut feelings about lottery tickets, but the principle is pretty much the same.

Sure, the person's interpretation of such experiences can turn out to be wrong, but you can't just dismiss the report of the experience itself, you have no reason to do that.

Take UFO abductions. There are quite a few reports of such experiences by now. Some of them have similar elements, which in itself ought to be some kind of evidence that such experiences have occurred whether the interpretation that UFOs are involved is reliable or not. Something about disc-like flying objects, bright lights, strange beings that fiddle with bodily organs. I've never studied these reports myself so I don't know how good the evidence is but if many people report similar occurrences I'm inclined to believe there is SOMETHING of an objective nature going on there even if I might come to a different interpretation of WHAT is going on than the prevailing view of them, and who knows. I'd be very wary of dismissing them as mere hallucinations, however.

I went through a period just before I became a Christian when I was open to hearing about such experiences and when you are open to them boy do you hear about them! The appearance of a being half angel and half devil in the bedroom of a follower of the guru Rajneesh, an experience of being saved from being hit by a car by an invisible hand, a Zen Buddhist meditator whose hand became a dragon's claw during a meditation, a frightening "vision" she couldn't get rid of for hours or something like that, the appearance of her teacher who had recently died sitting on her bed during the night. Were all these hallucinations? How do you know one way or the other? At the time I simply believed the people that these were qualitatively extraordinarily real experiences myself, though now now that I'm a Christian I also have explanations for them that you probably wouldn't take seriously either. During that same period I personally had an apparition appear in my room threatening to kill me, while I was in that twilight period just before sleep. Calling on the name of Jesus Christ made it suddenly vanish. That was the realest "dream" I've ever had it if was a dream and I don't think it was.

But maybe none of this is of any importance in this discussion anyway.

I mostly wanted to dispute any idea that there are no grounds for believing the Bible and now I'm disputing how the testimony of anything experiential or "mystical" is so easily dismissed.

Oh well.

Edited by Faith, : sick of having my careful posts answered with irrelevant nonsense

Edited by Faith, : restore post


He who surrenders the first page of his Bible surrenders all. --John William Burgon, Inspiration and Interpretation, Sermon II.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by Straggler, posted 02-17-2013 5:31 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 28 by Straggler, posted 02-17-2013 9:25 AM Faith has not yet responded

  
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