I haven't done one of these in a while. I swore to myself that I would stop arguing with crazy people. This is a response to three comments by concernedengineer in my last post. I’ve been working on it for the past three days in what time I could spare. It was just too much effort to hide it in the comments section, so here it is. Concernedengineer: I give you the last word. Rebut away without further commentary from me. May the comment section give you whatever you deseve. Please do not take personal offense at my insinuation that you are crazy. We are all crazy. It only varies in type and degree.
First, thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I find them objectionable.
“You must feel pretty good and pretty wise. Apparently, you have risen above the psychological trickery that is apparently belief in the divine. So few of us have risen to such heights. But you are confident that you have a grip on reality, and that it is inconceivable that you might be deceived yourself.”
Oh must I? This might have been a legitimate pot-shot at my self-esteem, excepting for a few things you should know before trying again.
As the former victim of a class-A manipulator, I recognize the tactic.
Your credibility with me is zero.
Nothing is inconceivable. Everything else is conceivable, no matter how absurd or fictitious.
“Why do you presuppose that what you can not sense empirically does not exist?”
I do no such thing.
“You have not proven that the supernatural does not exist, so is it not a possibility that it does?”
The burden of proof does not lie with me. I am not required to prove a negative. That said, I will say that things have happened to me that I cannot explain. I believe that there are causes for these occurrences. I believe that anything that affects the physical environment is ipso-facto measurable. (This includes hallucinatory neural activity in my brain.) I do not believe that mankind has reached the end of knowledge of all possible states or measuring devices. There are things that transcend our present understanding; they are natural by virtue of their existence in the universe. I reject the concept of “super-natural” as I reject the actual existence of comic book super-heroes. I calculate the odds of being mistaken about this to be approaching the logical limit of zero.
The “reality check” comment was not mine, however:
“Do you not see the problem with this? You would have to do away with all postulates!”
I do not see how you draw that conclusion. A postulate or a theorem is formulated on the basis of what a person thinks might be true. They then set about proving it. They do not, as a rule, attempt to prove it by baldly and incessantly asserting the belief, or worse yet, belief in the unproven assertions of someone else, or even worse, by asserting or creating dire consequences for not believing their assertions without proof.
“So, do away with geometry, because Euclid's postulates are not proven.”
How much repeatability do you need? That’s the problem with living in a cartoon universe; the four billionth time someone gets hit on the head with an anvil, maybe their head will pop back into shape. It’s a miracle!
“This is scary, because people like you vote and contend for positions of political power and authority.”
We have the same problem with people like you, or perhaps people a little more like George W. Bush, who do all of the above and believe in the concepts of Armageddon and “holy war”. I don’t know you well enough yet to know if you’re scary.
One more on this and then I’ll move on. This wasn’t my idea, remember.
“The advancement of your contradictory philosophical worldview would be an epistemological hegemony.”
The author was talking about one day here. How does that compare to thousands of years of shameless and ruthless competition between every bearded mystic bullshit artist to ever point a finger and scream “blasphemer!” or “Heathen!” or “Sinner!” or “Infidel!” or any other local equivalent to ostracize those that do not play their particular flavor of the grovel game?
“I do believe that we are imitators by nature - also that imitation is the highest form of flattery. So, we should be very careful who we imitate.”
Imitation is a form of learning. If the conclusions drawn from the research I’ve cited is accurate, then it is an even more effective form of learning than was previously suspected. It is so effective in fact, that it takes place in an automatic fashion independent of willful action or mimicry. All that is required is attention. If this was all that the human animal was in terms of learning, there would be no creativity. Once one rejects the idea of divine inspiration, then the source of all art, technology, literature, and bullshit becomes exactly what it appears to be, the human mind. The apparent fact that most of these minds have been willfully tampered with does not change the source, merely the attribution.
“I dare say some people are atheists because they have imitated other confident and intelligent atheists. They are attracted to the independence of rejecting faith in God, see other people do it, and then step out in disbelief.”
This is an oversimplification. It is nice to see you acknowledge that there are intelligent and confident atheists. It is true that there is an independence that results from the rejecting of the idea that certain aspects of our “fate” and intellect are external to ourselves, and require fealty-by-proxy to priest-class handlers. You leave out the intellectual assessment that takes place in the decision process. To borrow a phrase, religion is weighed in the balance and found so very wanting as to appear hollow. On the other side of the fence, how many people “step out” in belief because of the feelings of freedom derived from not having to think for yourself?
“Once choosing their worldview, they then rationalize that worldview. Their empirical senses deceive them because their minds have become biased. "Statistics lie, and liars use statistics." It is way too easy for your presuppositions to govern your research. "Facts" become nebulous things. People become deceived and entrenched in their deception. Finally, they think they know everything, but they really don't know which way is up. But they have deceived themselves to the point of confidence.”
I suspect you know that I could make the same argument about religion and faith by simply replacing “empirical senses” with “emotions” and “research” with “belief”. Good statistics do not lie, although liars can attempt to draw the conclusions they desire. If there is a college near you, I highly recommend a statistics course. It’s a lot of work, but you will learn about sample sizes and degrees of confidence, and biased sampling, and the whole numeric valuation process will make a lot more sense. Facts are never nebulous. The idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old is total bullshit. That’s a fact. The whole reason my site is called “confusion of ideas” is that opinions and degrees of confidence in facts differ widely. You are correct in your assertion that people become entrenched in their deception. We happen to disagree as to the population of the deceived. You are told that there is an invisible anti-god that is crapping all over “creation” and deceiving everyone. Note the plug for creation neatly tucked into that ideation. I prefer to believe that the sophomoric hucksters that profit from expounding this belief are the deceivers. To me, they are the obvious choice. I absolutely do not know everything, and anyone who has been off this planet can tell you that “up” is relative to one’s own orientation. As to deceiving one’s self to the point of confidence, I think it is more like accepting a large, but less-than 100% probability as a sufficient degree of confidence. Faith, on the other hand and by definition, requires you to accept zero proof as a sufficient degree of confidence.
“We are utterly dependent on divine revelation to get a grip on epistemology.”
Oh really? Then tell me: how do you know that there are not space aliens with brain-wave radio equipment feeding you those “divine revelations?” How do you know?
“How can we elect someone into high office when the Bible says that such a person is a fool, incapable of wisdom, incapable of understanding justice, and incapable of establishing justice? It is not personal. It is simply that we believe the promises of God.”
What would the “bible” say? Don’t you really mean what the profiteering priest-class with soft, pudgy hands says to protect this grand scam? These assertions are far from proved, merely asserted. Justice is a moral concept; the alleged Jehovamagod does not act in a moral fashion. How can one possibly derive from the other? Justice is a social concept based on fairness and equality. It requires no God. Does the idea that eating oatmeal is healthier than eating sausage require a god to tell me so? Mankind defines justice, mankind makes laws. The two are not the same. Putting the god stamp on a law might have worked for the primitives, but it’s just silly now. That’s why we have secular law. To your bible quotes, I say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” “Big Brother is watching you.” "Simon says." Simon (or Simeon), in this case is the great invisible alpha-monkey in the sky. So say His Faithful Servants, the priest-monkeys. Bah, humbug.
“That's not to say that I support Bush. I think that Bush has duped many in the Christian community. (I also think that many in the Christian community are not Christian).”
Nebulous definition is the foundation of deniability.
“But the point remains that many of us believe the Founding Fathers got it right when they implied in the Declaration of Independence that governing authorities ought to value and respect ‘the laws of nature and nature's God.’”
That’s a point I can agree with completely. Many of you do believe that. If that was your only point, you took a roundabout way to state it. I have dear friends whose faith and religious affiliation are such an important part of their lives that I would not dream of attempting to argue with them. They also do not attempt to evangelize me. They do not attempt to impose their beliefs on others either, as far as I can tell, nor do they judge and condemn on the basis of differing beliefs. They tell me about their activities in the church community, and I say, “That’s nice.”
PS: Drunken tune: I just caught your comment. Thanks! Don’t change a thing on your web site unless you have changed your mind. Political Correctness is the first step toward shame.