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   Author  Topic: religion  (Read 16350 times)
Icarus
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Re: religion  
« Reply #50 on: Apr 15th, 2007, 3:29pm »
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on Apr 15th, 2007, 9:09am, towr wrote:
It's just a small matter of reinterpreting evidence. If you have no faith in the at-face-value of evidence, you can always take it as evidence of the opposite. Like some people think the world is out to get them; especially when things go their way the moment someone they want to proof this to is around.

 
If that was Ulkesh's meaning, I still don't see how it has anything to do with the things he was replying to.
 
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I can't speak for Ulkesh,

 
Actually, I should apologize for "speaking for Ulkesh". In my previous post (other than the first half of this one), I went too far and put my suppositions about the cause of his confusion in his mouth. I shouldn't have phrased it way I did.
 
I don't know that Ulkesh actually in any way thinks like I said he did. That was just a guess on my part based on his phrasing.
 
As for the rest, I pretty much agree with you. But recognizing that faith has a  basis in rational empirical deduction has significant positive consequences in how you view it. As does recognizing the difference between observation and theory in science.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #51 on: Apr 16th, 2007, 6:16am »
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"Faith and reason are the shoes on your feet! You can travel further with both than you can with just one." - Brother Alwyn, The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, Babylon 5 s4e22
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Re: religion  
« Reply #52 on: Apr 16th, 2007, 1:03pm »
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on Apr 15th, 2007, 3:03pm, Icarus wrote:
Then either you have not met anyone who has a real grasp of faith, or you have and have failed to recognize it and understand what they meant. Do you really mean to tell me that you would reject a clear definition because of the maunderings of someone who you admit has no real idea what they are talking about?
That's just a "real scotsman" fallacy. Your idea of faith being the only true one, and anything that deviates becomes "not really faith" by that definition.
And I don't recall saying they have absolutely no idea of what they're talking about. Having an idea of what faith is is not the same thing as being able to give a definition. The idea that you only know something if you can define it is mistaken, imo. Certainly philosophers through the centuries have been fond of the idea, but Wittgenstein adequately ruined the fun.
 
But fine, apparantly there are no religious people here. No real scotsmen either.
 
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As for comparing faith in God to belief in the sun rising. You are very much mistaken. This comparison does much favor to both.
I disagree; you can show me the sun rising, you cannot give me an experience of God (let's ignore that professor in Canada with his brain-stimulating machine for a minute). Comparing the two would make it a fair argument to say "So, you think god exist, well, then show him to me." But it's an intrisically personal experience (possibly aside from miracles).
 
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It may be that you don't consider it something less, but by your remarks, you have been making something less of it.
Meh, well, at the risk of repeating myself, I disagree. And if you still see it like that, I can only say I'm sorry you feel that way.
 


Quote:
It would be nice to have it be an actual science. But in order for it to become one, you need to be able to test hypotheses, and right now that is impossible. The only testing that is possible at this time is limited to the planets of our own solar system (and except for one, the testing is extremely difficult).
You can't test hypotheses like "is there life of type X on plant Y in solar system Z". However what you can test is hypotheses like "If we have N random chemical reactions, what is the probability we have a subsystem that is self-replicating and using resources" That's mostly covered by mathematical theories on dynamic networks. It turns out to be a quite probable occurence; just like the small-world phenomenon which is likewise a real-world problem that can be studied almost purely mathematically.
While it's not per se life, it's an important step towards it. It's a start. And as long as we can't get to the rest of the universe, we can at least work out the basics which we can get our hands on. And it certainly beats e.g. anthropocentric endeavours hallowing our earth's rarity (most of the arguments for which easily swing both ways: either life here was very lucky to survive the early earth, or it is so damn robust it's impossible to get rid of).
 
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That mathematics is the same is pretty much a given, as mathematics is strictly mental. That the overall structure of physics would differ is implausible, but cannot be entirely ruled out. That the values of the basic constants of physics are the same throughout space-time is mostly an assumption, also untestable at this time (some theories predict that all constants are constrained to particular values, but these theories have not been successfully tested, so far).
Given all the evidence for the main physical theories, I find it odd to say "it's just an assumption"; it's a rather well-supported assumption.  
We can see other stars out there, and some (big) planets; at the very least it doesn't fit with randomly varying fundamental constants.  
 
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But even given that physics behaves the same everywhere in the universe, I cannot see how they can have given any meaningful calculations, because we don't know the physics and chemistry here well enough yet!
Huh How likely do you consider it that a reaction we see here under given circumstances would be completely different elsewhere in the universe under the same circumstance?
 
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Theories about the origins of life on this planet are too unsupported for me to be willing to put any trust at all in predictions made from them about life on other planets!
Any theories about life on this planet could also only be used to predict something about similar life on other planets. While it's a nice thought (in some respects), chances are we're not living in a star-trek universe. There are other possibilities of life to consider.
But with regard to the theories about the origin of life on our planet, I'm more skeptical with respect to whether or not they are the right explanation for life here, than with the possibility they may account for life somewhere (still, preferably they ought just create some life as proof of concept). The origin of life on earth by all means needn't be the only kind. (Just like the kind of life here needn't be the only kind). And the more possible ways people find, the likelier the universe found some too.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #53 on: Apr 16th, 2007, 4:07pm »
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on Apr 16th, 2007, 1:03pm, towr wrote:
That's just a "real scotsman" fallacy. Your idea of faith being the only true one, and anything that deviates becomes "not really faith" by that definition.
And I don't recall saying they have absolutely no idea of what they're talking about. Having an idea of what faith is is not the same thing as being able to give a definition. The idea that you only know something if you can define it is mistaken, imo. Certainly philosophers through the centuries have been fond of the idea, but Wittgenstein adequately ruined the fun.
 
But fine, apparantly there are no religious people here. No real scotsmen either.

 
I've been calling it "my" definition of faith simply to differentiate from Ulkesh's earlier definition. It did not originate with me, and further is widely used. I see it used all the time from numerous sources, some of high credentials. In particular, it aligns nicely with the comments to be found about faith in the New Testament.
 
Yet you tell me that you have never heard anyone use "faith" in this fashion. And then go on to say that the people you hear talking about faith don't have a clear concept of it.
 
Yet somehow I am wrong to think a clear definition widely used by people who have invested much thought into the its nature is superior to the conceptions of people who apparently have never considered the question well-enough to have a solid concept? And that if you have not seen this usage that I see all the time, then evidently you must not have any connection to the large audience I see use it?
 
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I disagree; you can show me the sun rising, you cannot give me an experience of God (let's ignore that professor in Canada with his brain-stimulating machine for a minute). Comparing the two would make it a fair argument to say "So, you think god exist, well, then show him to me." But it's an intrisically personal experience (possibly aside from miracles).

 
I can't show you now the sun rising tomorrow, which is the appropriate comparison, here. I only called the belief in future risings of the sun "faith". Belief in past or current risings is not faith.
 
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Meh, well, at the risk of repeating myself, I disagree. And if you still see it like that, I can only say I'm sorry you feel that way.

 
ditto!
 


Quote:
what you can test is hypotheses like "If we have N random chemical reactions, what is the probability we have a subsystem that is self-replicating and using resources" That's mostly covered by mathematical theories on dynamic networks. It turns out to be a quite probable occurence; just like the small-world phenomenon which is likewise a real-world problem that can be studied almost purely mathematically.
While it's not per se life, it's an important step towards it. It's a start.

 
Indeed. Just like climbing a step ladder is an important step towards landing on the moon. At least everything that has been demonstrated so far is about that far removed from what even the simplest life is. Any catalytic reaction satisfies the conditions you've described. But life is much, much, more than this. Until we've figured something out about the rest of the trip, we don't have enough to make meaningful predictions about it occurring elsewhere.
 
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Given all the evidence for the main physical theories, I find it odd to say "it's just an assumption"; it's a rather well-supported assumption.  
We can see other stars out there, and some (big) planets; at the very least it doesn't fit with randomly varying fundamental constants.

 
The main physical theories do not predict values for a number of basic physical constants. They could be perfectly supported, and we still would not know if the values we see here hold elsewhere in the universe. Observations put some limitations on possible values - that is why I said it was mostly assumption. But much of our interpretation of those observations is dependent on the assumption that these values are constant.
 
I am not suggesting that they do change, but only noting that evidence slim at this time.
 
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Huh How likely do you consider it that a reaction we see here under given circumstances would be completely different elsewhere in the universe under the same circumstance?

 
Huh My line that you quoted considers the case that there is no such difference! To repeat myself: the problem is: We have NOT seen the necessary reactions HERE! Until we know what they are here, the question of whether or not they occur elsewhere is unanswerable.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #54 on: Apr 17th, 2007, 1:01am »
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on Apr 16th, 2007, 4:07pm, Icarus wrote:
Yet you tell me that you have never heard anyone use "faith" in this fashion. And then go on to say that the people you hear talking about faith don't have a clear concept of it.
Not clear in the sense they have a clearcut definition. But certainly clear enough to disagree with you definition.
 
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I can't show you now the sun rising tomorrow
Sure you can, tomorrow is but a day away. And there is all the previous evidence which we share; whereas I share and cannot share, any of your experience of God; past or future.
 
Quote:
which is the appropriate comparison, here. I only called the belief in future risings of the sun "faith". Belief in past or current risings is not faith.
In as much as there is no evidence of it other than experience, it arguably is. However that's not the point. The point is in the case of the sun all evidence can be shared and discussed and be used to justify (to someone other than yourself) a belief in the rising of the sun; in the case of belief of God, you can't share the evidence as it's a personal experience and not objectively observable.
That's the whole thing that makes it faith, it's inherently personal.
 
[e]Come to think of it, faith also stand apart from many beliefs in that it is inherently non-falsifiable.[/e]
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Re: religion  
« Reply #55 on: Apr 17th, 2007, 4:12am »
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on Apr 15th, 2007, 3:29pm, Icarus wrote:
If that was Ulkesh's meaning, I still don't see how it has anything to do with the things he was replying to.

 
My point was that you initially pointed out that believing the ball will not fall is unreasoning. Then you said that belief in the sun rising tomorrow is faith. As I have said, these examples are equivalent with respect to making a prediction of the future based upon empirical evidence. Therefore, is belief that the sun will not rise tomorrow unreasoning?
 
If you base this upon my original defintion of faith as against the evidence, then belief in the sun not rising and belief that the ball will not fall are both examples of faith. By your definition you seem to be saying that you'd be foolish to believe either of these things, but belief in the opposite (sun rising and ball falling) require a leap of faith at the edge of the precipice of evidence!
 
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And here we come to the crux of the problem. Why are you confused by this? It is because faith is a religious term, and you like to think that religion has no empirical basis. And this is where you are completely wrong.

 
No, this isn't what I meant! With a clear definition it isn't a problem, but the use of the word 'faith' by people who consider it more of a notion of 'trust' will be confused.
 
In fact, thinking about it you can extend all of human experience into the realm of faith (by your definition). Anything not known a priori requires faith its belief. For example, I believe I'm sitting on a chair. There is current evidence this is true. But in the spirit of Descartes, you can never be sure.
 
This notion of faith I find unnecessary. To believe anything requires evidence pointing in a direction and then faith to span the gap. I prefer to simply say I'm using the evidence to make a prediction, and I believe this prediction is correct. You may call the last two setences equivalent in their meanings, Icarus, but I do not see the need for the first.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #56 on: Apr 17th, 2007, 7:50am »
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on Apr 16th, 2007, 4:07pm, Icarus wrote:
Any catalytic reaction satisfies the conditions you've described.
What sort of replicating reaction cycles do you have in catalytic reaction?!  
If I was being to vague again, I meant reactions where for example chemical B is formed from A, then chemical C is formed from B, and then chemical A is formed from B. And also at the end of each cycle you end up with more A,B,C's (Naturally other material has to eb involved in the reactions as well).  
Catalytic reaction are typically just A+Cat => B+Cat, no cycle or selfreplication.
 
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Observations put some limitations on possible values - that is why I said it was mostly assumption. But much of our interpretation of those observations is dependent on the assumption that these values are constant.
 
I am not suggesting that they do change, but only noting that evidence slim at this time.
But does that make both options equally likely? I'd still say that what we know heavily points to the universe being pretty much similar, physically, everywhere.
 
Quote:
To repeat myself: the problem is: We have NOT seen the necessary reactions HERE! Until we know what they are here, the question of whether or not they occur elsewhere is unanswerable.
There is a clear distinction between what does occur and what can occur. I'm not saying there is other life out there, I'm saying that based on the evidence I have been presented with it's very likely. That's a distinctly different and weaker claim.
It's rather hard to empirically verify a process that would take a million years, but that doesn't mean you can't make a sensible evaluation of the likelihood of it working. A lot is known about how molecules react and the effects of their concentration, temperature and other factors. Moreso, none of the paths people are exploring requires reactions that we don't know of or haven't examined.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #57 on: Apr 17th, 2007, 7:37pm »
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on Apr 17th, 2007, 1:01am, towr wrote:
Sure you can, tomorrow is but a day away. And there is all the previous evidence which we share; whereas I share and cannot share, any of your experience of God; past or future.

 
Admittedly, some of that past evidence you cannot share. However, some you are aware of and have chosen not to accept. Some others you don't currently know, you could learn of, and study for yourself, if you felt so inclined (I am not arguing that you should - though I personally think so - just pointing out that this option is available). As for future experience, your belief that you cannot or will not share in it is most definitely an article of faith on your part. My own belief is that you eventually will.
 
And this demonstrates again the connection between faith in God and faith in the sun rising tomorrow. You say they differ, because when tomorrow comes, everyone can see the sun rise, but not everyone will see God. But in fact, because I have faith in God, I believe and fully trust that a day is coming when everyone will see God, whether or not they wish it. This belief is no less certain to me than the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow.
 
This belief is founded on a large body of public evidence. It is confirmed to me first by a body of "semi-public" evidence - shared experiences of local believers that is not fully available to everyone, and confirmed even more by a body of private experiences. Because of the whole of this confirmation, I trust that not only the past experiences of God's intervention occurred, but also that future interventions will continue to occur, exactly as promised. That trust, in God and in his actions in this world, is what faith is all about.
 
And I challenge you to find an example of faith that is any deeper, or any more meaningful.
 
This same pattern fits believing that the sun will rise tomorrow. In particular, my faith in both confirms to me the opportunity to demonstrate the truth of both when the appropriate times come.
 
And yes, experience in God can and has been shared. There are a number of books on just that very subject. You may even have heard of one or two. Just because someone chooses to reject your evidence does not mean you had none. After all, someone could claim that the "sun rising" was all done with spotlights and mirrors.
 
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In as much as there is no evidence of it other than experience, it arguably is.

 
There is no evidence of anything, other than experience!
 
Quote:
Come to think of it, faith also stand apart from many beliefs in that it is inherently non-falsifiable.

 
Give me a belief that you think is falsifiable, and I will tell you how it can be believed in despite any falsification. People are quite inventive at coming up with excuses to ignore evidence that they don't like.
 


 
on Apr 17th, 2007, 7:50am, towr wrote:
What sort of replicating reaction cycles do you have in catalytic reaction?!

 
That Cat in Cat+B is usually not the same Cat as in the Cat+A. The catalyst is destroyed in the intervening reactions and then recreated. While usually the amount of catalyst itself does not increase, the amount of B does (A is the raw materials). Your described cycle is just 3 chemicals acting as mutual catalysts for each other.
 
While it is more specific than a general catalytic reaction, it still is a very long way from any thing that could be called life. How the rest of that trip goes is still a much debated topic.
 


 
Quote:
But does that make both options equally likely?

 
No. What that means is that we have no information to base an estimate of likelihood on. The values of the fundamental constants of nature could vary continuously in space-time, and by the mathematics we would see no difference here, at least for some of them. It is merely an assumption that they are the same everywhere.
 
Many modern theories of particle physics predict that all constants have set values (though they are not very good about predicting exactly what those values are). If any of these theories could garner substantial evidence, then we could consider it likely that "constants" are constant. But the Standard Model makes no such prediction. Until its fall, the best we can do is assume that what we see here also applies billions of light-years away.
 
Quote:
There is a clear distinction between what does occur and what can occur. I'm not saying there is other life out there, I'm saying that based on the evidence I have been presented with it's very likely. That's a distinctly different and weaker claim.

 
And I am saying that this evidence is untested supposition stacked upon untested supposition. By the time you get down to actual experiments, you are far removed from life.  
 
It is fine and worthy speculation, and I do not dispute its value as such. But I find it far from convincing, much like you find my evidence for God unconvincing.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #58 on: Apr 17th, 2007, 8:28pm »
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on Apr 17th, 2007, 4:12am, Ulkesh wrote:
My point was that you initially pointed out that believing the ball will not fall is unreasoning. Then you said that belief in the sun rising tomorrow is faith. As I have said, these examples are equivalent with respect to making a prediction of the future based upon empirical evidence. Therefore, is belief that the sun will not rise tomorrow unreasoning?

 
How is predicting that the ball will NOT fall "making a prediction of the future based upon empirical evidence"?? Predicting the ball will not fall is making a prediction that is entirely contrary to empirical evidence! As is belief that the sun will NOT rise tomorrow. Both are unreasoning (unless there is some other evidence available that make the next repetition different from all the previous ones - such as a table under the ball, or giant ships in the sky broadcasting bad poetry).
 
Quote:
If you base this upon my original defintion of faith as against the evidence, then belief in the sun not rising and belief that the ball will not fall are both examples of faith. By your definition you seem to be saying that you'd be foolish to believe either of these things, but belief in the opposite (sun rising and ball falling) require a leap of faith at the edge of the precipice of evidence!

 
Belief in the sun rising tomorrow and the ball falling next time, and anything else that extrapolates beyond current evidence (and recall that to extrapolate merely means to follow the already established trend, not go off in other directions) does not "require faith". Rather it is faith in and of itself.
 
It does not require great exercise of your "faith muscle" to believe either of these. These are pinky-weights, not 100 Kg weights. But they are examples of faith none-the-less.
 
Quote:
No, this isn't what I meant!

 
I apologize again for stating it like I did, claiming that I knew what exactly you were thinking and why. That was arrogant, and I shouldn't have done it. I don't apologize for coming up with the interpretation, as it was the best reason I could think of for your question. But when forming my reply, I should have given more credence to the difficulties of communication and less to my own reasoning power.
 
Quote:
With a clear definition it isn't a problem, but the use of the word 'faith' by people who consider it more of a notion of 'trust' will be confused.

 
The notion of trust in faith is in no way absent from my comments and examples. I have not emphasized this aspect of faith because my concern was countering the concept of faith being "against the evidence". However, it is implicit in every example I gave. I don't just believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, I trust that it will. If I didn't, I would have made preparations to get me through the dark and cold, just in case the sun didn't rise (hoping of course for some future rising Tongue).
 
Quote:
This notion of faith I find unnecessary. To believe anything requires evidence pointing in a direction and then faith to span the gap. I prefer to simply say I'm using the evidence to make a prediction, and I believe this prediction is correct. You may call the last two setences equivalent in their meanings, Icarus, but I do not see the need for the first.

 
If you will look carefully over my comments, you will see that I never said that faith was the same thing as belief.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #59 on: Apr 18th, 2007, 1:20am »
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on Jan 19th, 2004, 9:07am, usdragonfly wrote:
i mean aren't we all praying to the same person/thing?

on Jan 19th, 2004, 7:07pm, Icarus wrote:
3) Differing interpretations of what a particular biblical or other teaching actually means.

on Apr 9th, 2007, 2:48pm, Ulkesh wrote:
I mean 'faith' here in the philisopical sense....

on Apr 9th, 2007, 5:43pm, Icarus wrote:
...which means that they are also useless...

on Apr 10th, 2007, 3:40pm, Icarus wrote:
I didn't mean to suggest that the prophecies had no other interpretation.

on Apr 9th, 2007, 5:46pm, Icarus wrote:
It means demanding "why do you believe that", not "what an idiot you are to believe that".

on Apr 15th, 2007, 3:29pm, Icarus wrote:
If that was Ulkesh's meaning, I still don't see how it has anything to do with the things he was replying to.

on Apr 17th, 2007, 4:12am, Ulkesh wrote:

No, this isn't what I meant!

on Apr 17th, 2007, 7:37pm, Icarus wrote:
No. What that means is that we have no information to base an estimate of likelihood on.

on Apr 17th, 2007, 8:28pm, Icarus wrote:
...and recall that to extrapolate merely means to follow the already established trend...

Yeah, but what do you mean by 'mean'?
 
As usual towr (I like your sig) cuts to the chase:
 
on Apr 16th, 2007, 1:03pm, towr wrote:
The origin of life on earth by all means needn't be the only kind.

 Grin
 
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Re: religion  
« Reply #60 on: Apr 18th, 2007, 5:21am »
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T&B: you're mean!
 
on Apr 17th, 2007, 8:28pm, Icarus wrote:
I apologize again for stating it like I did, claiming that I knew what exactly you were thinking and why. That was arrogant, and I shouldn't have done it. I don't apologize for coming up with the interpretation, as it was the best reason I could think of for your question. But when forming my reply, I should have given more credence to the difficulties of communication and less to my own reasoning power.

 
No problem whatsoever. It's very easy to have a point in mind and not communicate it properly. I'm as much to blame as anyone in this sense!
 
Quote:
It does not require great exercise of your "faith muscle" to believe either of these. These are pinky-weights, not 100 Kg weights. But they are examples of faith none-the-less.

 
I find this comment interesting. You make it sound like a conscious decision to have faith in a particular prediction. From my point of view the decision is made for me by the strength of the evidence and where it points--I cannot choose what to believe. So, believing the ball will fall when I drop it is a small act of faith. Let's say that belief in alien life is a larger act of faith (I'm hoping you agree!). However, the size of the act of faith depends upon the amount of evidence and where it points (as long as it points roughly in the right direction).
 
This seems to imply that you have freedom to have faith in a range of predictions in the vicinity of where the evidence points; the range increases the weaker the evidence is. To me, this amounts to arbitrariness and justification in believing what suits you. Simply evaluate the evidence (as thoroughly and objectively as possible) and the most sensible belief will automatically instill itself into you.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #61 on: Apr 18th, 2007, 6:46pm »
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on Apr 18th, 2007, 1:20am, ThudanBlunder wrote:
As usual towr (I like your sig) cuts to the chase:

 
Curious. What is it about "new formula generator (stuck in beta) [old version (permanently out of order)]" that you find so likable?
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Re: religion  
« Reply #62 on: Apr 18th, 2007, 7:26pm »
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on Apr 18th, 2007, 5:21am, Ulkesh wrote:
It's very easy to have a point in mind and not communicate it properly.

 
To tell you the truth, I suspect our positions on this are not as far apart as it seems, but we've all done a poor job at working towards understanding each other.
 
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I find this comment interesting. You make it sound like a conscious decision to have faith in a particular prediction.

 
For Augustinians, faith in God comes from supernatural intervention. For those of us of an Armenian persuasion, however, faith is very much a personal choice. For it to be anything else would deny us our free will. This applies to secular faith as well as it does to religious faith. (The difference between these two is only what our faith is in, not in the nature of faith itself.)
 
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From my point of view the decision is made for me by the strength of the evidence and where it points--I cannot choose what to believe.

 
Sure you can. You can choose instead to ignore all the evidence and believe the converse instead. Just because that choice is foolish doesn't mean that it isn't there.  
 
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This seems to imply that you have freedom to have faith in a range of predictions in the vicinity of where the evidence points; the range increases the weaker the evidence is.

 
You have freedom to have faith in anything you want. Contrary to the point I've been pontificating on, it is possible to have faith in something that is totally contrary to all the evidence you have. However, I do not see how such a faith could arise, unless it is by either insanity or supernatural activity.
 
The fallacy in your description, though, is that the evidence arrives at a single well-defined conclusion. The river of evidence flows out in a wide estuary, not a well-defined channel. Some of the channels in the estuary obviously lead nowhere, but others seem broad and strong for a long time before you finally discover that they too are a dead-end.
 
I have chosen one channel, you have chosen another. Both of us have made our choice based on what we have seen before. It remains to be seen if either is the true channel. But I'm already taking my boat down mine. That is faith.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #63 on: Apr 19th, 2007, 12:36pm »
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on Apr 18th, 2007, 7:26pm, Icarus wrote:
I have chosen one channel, you have chosen another. Both of us have made our choice based on what we have seen before. It remains to be seen if either is the true channel. But I'm already taking my boat down mine. That is faith.

 
I'd say that I haven't chosen a channel; rather I've split different proportions of my belief down all streams waiting to see what appears. If pushed beyond saying 'I don't know', I'd pick the one the largest proportion of my belief is down at the moment. But I reserve the right to row back upstream and take a different route if I'm proven wrong!
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Re: religion  
« Reply #64 on: Apr 20th, 2007, 3:03pm »
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Meh. The advantage of having ignored this thread for a few days is that it really cut down on my mental anguish. The disadvantage of course, is that it's neigh impossible to adequately respond on everything; or anything, really.
 
Maybe I'll give it a try after the weekend. Perhaps collect my thoughts into some clearer summary of my views; god knows I've adjusted them throughtout the thread often enough -- but then, it takes me a lot of time to let a deep-seated intuition crystalize into anything like a clearly worded concept.
 
So -- just to let you know I haven't relented or am ignoring you Wink
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Re: religion  
« Reply #65 on: Apr 23rd, 2007, 1:02pm »
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I find it hard to adequately describe what the concept 'faith' means; not in the last place because it has various uses. But let's start at the more general 'belief'.
There are a number of sides to belief: for example, the (nature of the) subject you believe something of; what you believe of that subject and the evidence you have for that belief. But also the strength of the belief (which is not solely a consequence of evidence) and expectations those beliefs lead to (also the latter can be said to be just beliefs in themselves; just like you might say knowledge includes everything that can be deduced from known facts).
Any of those sides could have an essay dedicated to them; but you'll never have to worry about that from me Wink  
Seeing as faith is a type of belief (or rather the types of faith are types of belief), we can see if considering any of those aspects will give any insight.
 
So let's consider first the nature of the subject of a belief. For example, I might believe a clock shows the right time; likewise I might believe a person has told me the right time. Obviously if I believe a person has told me the right time (and I didn't already knew what the time is), it means I have faith in that person (with regard to telling time); while I know he might, in principle, choose to lie or otherwise deceive, I trust him not to. With the clock, I feel, the situation is slightly different; a clock has no choice whether to be sincere or not, it just does what it does. In as much as I would say I have faith in the clock, it would sooner mean I have faith in the person that manufactored it.
A different example might be an essay, giving some sort of argumentation. It seems more appropriate here to not only have (or not) faith in the writer, but also in the argumentation; on the other hand you could say the latter is rather faith in your own judgement (i.e. you trust yourself to detect bad argumentation).
In relation to a belief about God vs a belief about the workings of the world, that is one possible argument why I feel uncomfortable with applying faith to the latter. By all means it's not a clear cut division, but I tend to see faith as a judgement of character. Like a clock doesn't choose what time it tells, the rising of the sun isn't a voluntary action (well, assumedly not. Apologies to any believers in Ra or Phoebus or other sun gods.)
Of course, anyone that knows me sufficiently well, would also know I do hold it possible that AI (in the sense of intelligent artificial machines) is possible (or rather, not a priori impossible); and it's easy to see that if that is so, there must be a grey area. These AI would be mechanical but also have a character (but the same could be said for people, of course, if you're a physicalist. For the non-physicalist there needn't be a problem in either case, although many might find attaching a mental substance to an artificial creature a bit of a stretch).
Perhaps a better way to look at it is from the view of your own understanding about the inner workings (mechanical or mental) of the subject. The less faith you have in your understanding the more faith can apply to the subject (which immediately opens the door to millions of people that can reasonably be said to have faith in their computer, and a lot of misplaced faith in their VCR). The amount of faith (which is a seperate issue) would depend on your experiences and character.
 
 
I think I'll leave the other 4 aspects for another day; this has been enough writing for me for one day.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #66 on: Apr 24th, 2007, 6:13am »
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I will note that I did have faith in my watch until a couple of weeks ago when I mentally downgraded it to "unreliable", and then, a couple of days later, to "stopped". You can argue about whether the faith was in the watch itself or in its designers. Personally, I feel that my trust was in the known quantity - the specific watch - for instance I wouldn't trust another seemingly identical watch to the same extent until I've had it several months, while I will trust this one again as soon as I get around to replacing the battery...
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Re: religion  
« Reply #67 on: Apr 24th, 2007, 6:32pm »
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Like most words, there are actually several meanings to "faith". To be clear, the meaning I have been talking about refers to "a quality of belief". Faith is belief that you are willing to rely on. Another common usage of "faith" is to refer to a set of doctrines that one believes in. Thus we speak of someone's "religious faith" when we mean his religion. This is a fairly common construction in English - using an attribute to refer to the object the attribute applies to. "Belief" is another example. We use it not only to describe the idea of considering a statement to be true, but we also use it to mean the statement that is the object of the belief: "I believe that the world is round" vs "It is my belief that the world is round."
 
My point is this: When speaking of faith as a quality of belief, I don't feel that the concept of faith itself should be tied to the object of that faith or the origins of that faith. If my belief in the sun rising tomorrow and my belief in God have the same general characteristics - in particular, that I am willing to wholeheartedly rely on both - why should I have one word, "faith", to describe that belief in God, but not have a word to describe that similar belief in the sun rising?
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Re: religion  
« Reply #68 on: Apr 25th, 2007, 9:09am »
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Because it confuses me Tongue
 
And because in general it isn't immediately clear which meaning of faith is intended; unless like just now you state unambiguously what meaning you use.
In regards to the strength of belief, a belief in the sun rising can be equivalent to the belief in God, or the belief in greek gods*), or a belief in Santa Claus (if you're young enough not to have been desillusioned), or even a belief in Harry Potter**).
But when it's not clear which notion of faith is meant, comparing these can easily be taken in the wrong way, because they differ in other respects. And it may be confusing that the beliefs you have that faith in are left unspecified.
 
*) The reason I mention the greek gods is of course that even if you believe in them, I somehow doubt you would have faith in them (beyond existing). You can rely on them being there (somewhere), and you'd have to deal with them; but faith in the sense of relying on them to behave appropriately, nah; they're a bunch of soap-opera rejects.
**) In the case of Harry Potter, it would be unlikely you actually believe he exists, however you can have faith in (beliefs about) his character, his role in the story. For example you can rely on him not dying (permanently) untill at least the last book.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #69 on: May 1st, 2007, 9:49am »
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From the thread about the number 153:
 
on Apr 30th, 2007, 6:42pm, Icarus wrote:
So jews, christians, and muslims must trust in God that the versions of the Old Testament we have now are sufficient underpinnings for our beliefs.

Is this not circular reasoning?
 
And what is one to make of the claim that the genealogy of Jesus (born about 2000 years ago) can be traced back through 77 generations to Adam (born on the sixth day of Creation), making the world about 6000 years old? Or does this come from a bastardized version?
 
If, as seems statistically likely, it turns out that the cosmos is teeming with intelligent life, could there be any Klingon bibles out there? And as writing bad poetry is insufficient reason to be shunned, surely a Vogon bible is not completely out of the question? Or have we been singled out for preferential treatment?  
 
 Wink
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Re: religion  
« Reply #70 on: May 1st, 2007, 4:31pm »
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No that is not circular reasoning. First of all, I was only referring to the belief that the version we have today is a reasonably accurate representation of the original. It has nothing to do at all with the question of whether or not the original is what it claims to be.
 
Second, my faith in the Bible comes from my faith in God, not the other way around. The two go hand in hand, but ultimately, I believe in God - the God portrayed in the Bible - because of His actions in my life and in the lives of those around me. Because I believe in Him, I believe in His word.
 
As for the genealogy of Jesus, it actually the chronology associated with the genealogy of Abraham, along with the ability to associate Abraham with a particular time in history, that gives the 6000 year date. However, this calculation depends on a number of assumptions, including that the genealogy is complete, and that the "days" of creation really were days, and not more general periods of time. And of course your side assumes that the evidence has been interpreted correctly and the earth really isn't 6000 years old.
 
As for the statistical likelihood of life elsewhere, even leaving aside my comments earlier in this thread about the flimsy scientific backing for these calculations, they are made in the absence of any consideration for an active and involved God in control of every aspect of this universe. Am I really supposed to accept such a calculation, and then modify my beliefs about such a God because of it? THAT is circular reasoning!
 
But suppose there are intelligences elsewhere in the universe. There has been christian speculation about this concept for many decades. In C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, other planets are inhabited by innocent beings like Adam and Eve before the Fall. Only Earth's ruling angel (Satan) has rebelled and taken mankind down with him.
 
Two other christian viewpoints assume that people have fallen on other planets. One says that Jesus has repeated his sacrifice on each planet. The other says that Jesus' sacrifice here is sufficient for all, but just like isolated peoples here, we must eventually carry the message to them.
 
I say that until we have evidence of such life, speculation is pointless.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #71 on: May 2nd, 2007, 5:51pm »
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on May 1st, 2007, 4:31pm, Icarus wrote:
Second, my faith in the Bible comes from my faith in God, not the other way around.

But surely when you were a young boy you were first introduced to the teachings of the bible as a way of knowing, understanding, and loving God? Hence your faith in God must have sprang from your faith in the bible.  
 
on May 1st, 2007, 4:31pm, Icarus wrote:

As for the genealogy of Jesus, it actually the chronology associated with the genealogy of Abraham, along with the ability to associate Abraham with a particular time in history, that gives the 6000 year date. However, this calculation depends on a number of assumptions, including that the genealogy is complete, and that the "days" of creation really were days, and not more general periods of time. And of course your side assumes that the evidence has been interpreted correctly and the earth really isn't 6000 years old.

When presented with scientific evidence supporting the Old Testament how many caveats and assumptions do you come up with?
 
on May 1st, 2007, 4:31pm, Icarus wrote:
As for the statistical likelihood of life elsewhere, even leaving aside my comments earlier in this thread about the flimsy scientific backing for these calculations, they are made in the absence of any consideration for an active and involved God in control of every aspect of this universe.

Why is an a priori belief in a pantheistic God necessary in order to objectively investigate the question of  ETI?
 
on May 1st, 2007, 4:31pm, Icarus wrote:
Am I really supposed to accept such a calculation, and then modify my beliefs about such a God because of it?

Straw man. Consider or take into account, not accept. I don’t see why new evidence, if valid, should clash with religious beliefs. Provided they are correct.
 
on May 1st, 2007, 4:31pm, Icarus wrote:
But suppose there are intelligences elsewhere in the universe....I say that until we have evidence of such life, speculation is pointless.

Isn't that like saying, "Until we know whether or not the Riemann Hypothesis is true, it is pointless to consider its implications"?
 
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Re: religion  
« Reply #72 on: May 2nd, 2007, 6:55pm »
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on May 2nd, 2007, 5:51pm, ThudanBlunder wrote:
But surely when you were a young boy you were first introduced to the teachings of the bible as a way of knowing, understanding, and loving God? Hence your faith in God must have sprang from your faith in the bible.

 
No. I went to church for a while as a young child, but stopped at about the age of 7. After that, I never thought about God at all until I was 13. At that point, because of the influence of the books I was reading (most particularly, I was a big Heinlein fan - the adult stuff, not his teen books), I came to the conclusion that it was very unlikely a God existed. And if one did exist somehow, it certainly wasn't the God of Christianity. I was fully convinced of this and grew in this belief for about 4 years, often considering how foolish christians were. However, God contrived that I should come in contact with a group of real dedicated christians. After watching them for some time, it became apparent that they were different from everything that I had thought christians were, and from what I saw in society in general. Most particularly, they demonstrated real, unselfish, unconditional, active love for other people.  It was because of this disjunction between what I had thought was true and what I was witnessing that I started to re-examine the reasons I had rejected God, and found them wanting. After I turned to God, and experienced his power and love myself, I turned to the Bible to get to know him better. So my faith in the Bible derives from an earlier faith in God, not vice versa. Further, though their path was different, I believe the same can be said of those I know who grew up christian.
 
For the christian, the Bible is the path to greater knowledge of God, but we follow that path because we already have a relationship with God and want it to become deeper.
 
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When presented with scientific evidence supporting the Old Testament, how many caveats and assumptions do you come up with?

 
As many as I can. It doesn't matter what the object is, every theory should be challenged. And as I've indicated repeatedly in this thread, I don't consider a faith that is not questioned to be true faith at all. If you really believe something, why are you afraid to question it?
 
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Why is an a priori belief in a pantheistic God necessary in order to objectively investigate the question of  ETI?

 
I didn't in any way hint that it was. But if the calculation is made in the assumption that God does not exist, why should I consider it applicable to a universe where God is in control?
 
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Straw man. Consider or take into account, not accept. I don’t see why new evidence, if valid, should clash with religious beliefs. Provided they are correct.

 
If the calculation was made in the assumption that God does not exist, then any conclusions from it do not necessarily apply if God does exist. Such calculations and arguments based on them are fundamentally unable to shed light on the question of God's existence or his relation to this universe. They can only logically address the situation described by their assumptions.
 
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Isn't that like saying, "Until we know whether or not the Riemann Hypothesis is true, it is pointless to consider its implications."

 
No. With the Riemann Hypothesis, there are only three possibilities: it is true or it is false or it is undecidable. Each of these three has solid implications that can be tracked to useful conclusions. If we track those implications, then some effort may be lost when the truth is discovered, but at least we know what the road looks like a ways down each of the three tracks.
 
But with the implications of other intelligent life in the universe, we don't have 3 tracks. We don't have 30 tracks. We have thousands of different tracks which lead off in every direction. Do you have an a priori position you would like? Well guess what, if you play your assumptions right, you can get there! I have seen people come up with the craziest ideas when thinking about this sort of stuff. They become absolutely convinced of them, and angry that others don't arrive at the same conclusion. Always it boils down to things they just assumed were obviously true - though to other they were not obvious at all.
 
When a situation is so wide-open in possibilities, speculation is acceptable, but should always be recognized as only speculation, and not as evidence of anything.
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Re: religion  
« Reply #73 on: May 2nd, 2007, 11:21pm »
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on May 2nd, 2007, 6:55pm, Icarus wrote:
However, God contrived that I should come in contact with a group of real dedicated christians. After watching them for some time, it became apparent that they were different from everything that I had thought christians were, and from what I saw in society in general. Most particularly, they demonstrated real, unselfish, unconditional, active love for other people.  It was because of this disjunction between what I had thought was true and what I was witnessing that I started to re-examine the reasons I had rejected God… <snipped>

 
With you permission, Icarus, I'd like to pick your brain about this particular point.
 
I can definitely understand why meeting a group of dedicated, loving, caring people at a point in life when a person is still in the molding can have great influence on that person's life. But let me ask you this: if those people were Hindus instead of Christians, is it possible you would have been a Hindu yourself today? Or, alternatively, if you would have met a group of nasty Christians (then or now) – say some guys teleported here from the Spanish Inquisition – would that change your mind about the nature of god?
 
What I'm trying to ask* is this: why should an anecdotal experience determine your overall view of the nature of thing in general, and the presence of god in particular?
 
 
* I don't think I'm successful in conveying my thoughts here. In addition to the inherited difficulty of putting such thoughts into writing, I am further bounded by my flimsy knowledge of the English language. I apologize for that.  
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Re: religion  
« Reply #74 on: May 3rd, 2007, 7:25am »
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on May 2nd, 2007, 11:21pm, BNC wrote:
I can definitely understand why meeting a group of dedicated, loving, caring people at a point in life when a person is still in the molding can have great influence on that person's life. But let me ask you this: if those people were Hindus instead of Christians, is it possible you would have been a Hindu yourself today? Or, alternatively, if you would have met a group of nasty Christians (then or now) – say some guys teleported here from the Spanish Inquisition – would that change your mind about the nature of god?

There's an implicit assumption in that hypothetical (meeting Hindus instead of Christians) that Hindus can be like that group of Christians were. If the Christians were like that because of the direct intervention of a deity, it seems unlikely that any Hindus could be the same (unless they also experienced divine intervention)
 
Encountering equivalent evidence of the existence of a given deity should give rise to equivalent belief in that deity. In much the same way, if I let go of a stone and it drifted upwards, I would have different beliefs about the nature of gravity. I assume Icarus would too.
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