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Ultimate Religious Debate; Sam Harris And Andrew Sullivan


Domarius
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I know what that thing is called - a "scam", or more precisely a "device for the purpose of obtaining money from an idiot".

From memory, I think he had a bunch of them and was giving them out. Who knows though, maybe he was paid at some point :)

 

 

Dom, did you buy such a thing? Maybe you can take a photo of it?

Haha... lost in the sands of time. That thing probably lasted only a few weeks before I lost it / forgot about it.

 

But I quickly drew a picture. The question mark ? is because I forgot what was there, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't just a crucifix. Something a bit more complicated looking.

post-10-1172025829_thumb.jpg

 

Even if you forget organised religion and go with the idea of a 'personal god', it's still ridiculous.

What people mean by 'personal god' is some pure fantasy they've created in their own head, akin to an imaginary friend, or a comfort blanket.

I call it a mental disorder. It may be a common one, but it's obviously something that not all of us suffer from.

If you were referring to me - I wouldn't say I fit into that category. I don't "pray" to this guiding force, or anything like that. I get on with my life in real terms. It's just more or less like what I was saying in that other thread - there's something I don't know, and leaving the question "what happens when you die?" to me is the same as assuming "nothing happens", because you're afraid of the nothing happening. So I just choose to beleive there is something. Cause I could be right. Nobody knows, so I may as well pick the more positive of the options. There's no harm in doing so.

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Even if you forget organised religion and go with the idea of a 'personal god', it's still ridiculous.

What people mean by 'personal god' is some pure fantasy they've created in their own head, akin to an imaginary friend, or a comfort blanket.

I call it a mental disorder. It may be a common one, but it's obviously something that not all of us suffer from.

In a world without underlying meaning, I think we need some kind of irrational drive based on something that can't logically be proven to have any sort of motivation at all. When you break down the motivations for why we do things, at some point I think you'll just run into a logical wall where we do things because they feel right to us personally, with no logical explanation. Otherwise, we'd pretty much just eat, sleep, reproduce and die.

 

I could say that I feel good about doing science because improvements in technology are the only thing that have increased long term standard of life for humans, but one could just as easily say who cares if the next generation lives better because of your effort, just get some hookers and drugs right now.

 

You could probably argue that all of our motivations to do things are misdirected reptile-brain instincts to reproduce and compete, or maybe just random activity in a brain that's no longer worked to its fullest figuring out how to survive on a day to day basis, but the end result is that each person has unique instincts about what they should do with their life. I don't much care if they claim it's because of a personal god or acknowledge that it's an unexplainable instinct, as long as they don't try to claim that their god/instinct is better than my god/instinct.

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I don't think it's just there though, this idea of god. It's not a natural instinct, it's learned and then if the person is conducive to it, it festers and grows, while others ignore it completely.

The rest of what you're saying there is just the way our brains work, coupled with the fact that it's based on reality, what we can perceive with our senses, but religion is not part of that, it's maybe a mild form of schizophrenia in caes where people actually sense an 'other' inside them.

People who think logically about things - and our logic and reasoning is a natural trait - come to the conclusion of 'there is no reason to think there is anything out there'.

It's only when someone is infected with the notion of god by a group of other, more powerful people (and the vast majority of people have it fed to them by adults when they're kids and follow the same religion as their parents) that they end up paying any attention to it.

It's nothing but a cankerous tradition, a tradition that some people are more conducive to than others, depending on their natural mental state.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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People who think logically about things - and our logic and reasoning is a natural trait - come to the conclusion of 'there is no reason to think there is anything out there'.

There's no reason to think there isn't anything out there either.

 

You can't draw a conclusion either way, so you may as well pick whatever makes you happiest and keep it to yourself.

 

Besides, good scientists keep an open mind. There's lots of stuff "out there" that we don't know about. They don't make assumptions just because they don't have evidence. They only draw conclusions when they have enough proof, and if they don't, then they don't draw conclusions.

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There's no reason to think there isn't anything out there either.

 

You can't draw a conclusion either way, so you may as well pick whatever makes you happiest and keep it to yourself.

 

Besides, good scientists keep an open mind. There's lots of stuff "out there" that we don't know about. They don't make assumptions just because they don't have evidence. They only draw conclusions when they have enough proof, and if they don't, then they don't draw conclusions.

 

That's the most ridiculous and childish argument of them all.

Most people seem to have a very warped idea of what 'keeping an open mind' means.

A good example of keeping an open mind, is the idea that aliens exist. Even though we have zero evidence to show that they exist, logic points to the idea that there is a very good chance that they do.

A bad example of keeping an open mind is god existence. Not only do we have zero evidence for it, but logic does NOT lead us to the conclusion either, and therefore you are left with zero reasons for even considering it.

You may as well be open minded that an invisible green giraffe hovers above the Eiffel Tower, or that the planets are actually being rotating by invisible wires attached to an invisible merry-go-round..

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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You can't draw a conclusion either way, so you may as well pick whatever makes you happiest and keep it to yourself.
While I don't have a problem with you having your own personal belief, I don't entirely agree with being unable to draw a conclusion either way. Consider the argument of Russel's Teapot; you cannot disprove it and it's even physically possible, but the only sensible conclusion is that it doesn't exist unless given reason to assume otherwise. This is especially true in the case of a classical perfectly-moral omniscient omnipotent god (though I'm not suggesting whether you believe in a classical god). The fact that so much evil exists in the world and prayers and such seem to have no effect beyond the placebo, and a wide range of other things, gives good reason to believe there is no god, and theologists have to do all sorts of silly philosophical gymnastics to dance around the inconsistencies between the bible and the real world, not to mention holes in its plot, when the simple obvious answer to so many theological conundrums is that the bible is just plain wrong.
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That essentially stems from the fact that people generally refuse to change their beliefs. Once they have decided to believe something, they'll go through all sorts of intellectual flaming hoops just to maintain it. Nota bene: this applies to atheists just as much to theists--it's any belief.

 

Thanks, I prefer popcorn for the show. And a good glass of cold coke, while we are at it. :)

DO NOT MOCK THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER!!! :angry: THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER IS REAL, AND HIS NOODLY APPENDAGE TOUCHES US ALL!!! IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER, THEN YOU ARE GOING TO HELL, YOU FUCKING ATHEIST!!! RAmen.

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, that was kind of fun. That must be it! Theists are religious because it gives them an excuse to hate others! :P

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Most people seem to have a very warped idea of what 'keeping an open mind' means.
Actually I said pretty much what you did. Scientists don't draw a conclusion if they don't have enough evidence.

 

I haven't drawn any conclusion either - what I have is more like "hope" or a "beleif" that could be wrong, but I like to think it's true, and sometimes I see things that seem to support it. Things that appear to be more than coincidence. That's all.

 

Its like - I don't know if I'm going to get to have sex with this girl I just started dating, but I like to "hope" I will, and that makes me happy. And sometimes I see things that might support it, and that makes me happy too.

 

And in the end, if I didn't get to have sex - well I just spent all that time before it feeling happy, so I'm better off overall.

 

(For the record - no I'm not dating, that was just an example situation)

 

 

The fact that so much evil exists in the world ... gives good reason to believe there is no god,

OrbWeaver said something like this before. I don't agree, I think there's a lot of good in the world, I see it on a daily basis. But I think as beings that want to "fix things", we actively look out for and make a big deal about the bad things.

 

And no I don't belieive in a "god" as most religions put it.

 

 

 

@Everyone else - if that popcorn is in anticipation for some vicious flamewar, I'm sorry, but you're going to be dissapointed :)

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Nota bene: this applies to atheists just as much to theists--it's any belief.

 

No it doesn't. Atheism is not a belief, it is the lack of belief, despite what the bleevers tell you. There are no "hoops" that you have to jump through to NOT believe in god, because there is no evidence to support his existence and therefore nothing you need to "avoid".

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Yes, it's only when some mental case comes up to you in the street and says 'xyz exists' that you then have to take a position on it. Prior to that you weren't even thinking about it at all, but if someone says to you 'xyz exists, then you have to ask 'do we have any evidence' and does logical deduction lead us to the conclusion that it's likely'. and if the answer to both of those is no, then anyone who isn't wearing a straitjacket has no choice but to take the position of not believing it, since there is no reason to do so.

It's not a case of keeping an open mind about it either, keeping an open mind only applies to situations where there is no evidecne, but logical deduction leads you to the conclusion that it's a likely.

In the above case, you can only come to the conclusion 'I have no reason to believe it, and therefore I don't'

Exactly the same applies to any form of god.

 

Its like - I don't know if I'm going to get to have sex with this girl I just started dating, but I like to "hope" I will, and that makes me happy. And sometimes I see things that might support it, and that makes me happy too.

 

And in the end, if I didn't get to have sex - well I just spent all that time before it feeling happy, so I'm better off overall.

Again, all analogies are useless when you're talking about 'god'.

IF you're dating a girl, then she obviously fancies you, so the chances you'll have sex with her are quite high, at least 50/50, and almost always more than than that.

You're hoping for something realistic that has a very good chance of coming true, and what's more, something you have within your own control to make true, because it largely depends on how you treat her as to whether you'll have sex with her.

This all falls extremely short of 'hoping' that some cosmic entity exists.

The chances of that, from you perspective, are infinitely small, since we have no idea about how or why the universe began, any option is pure guesswork, and therefore there are an infinite number of possibilities. A god doing it is just one of that infinite number, and is no more or less likely than any of the rest.

Why don't you just dream up one that will make you REALLY happy, instead of this vague one about some formless spirit of some kind.

Just think of the best possible thing that could possibly happen when you die, and dream that as your fantasy, because it has just as much chance of being true as anything else you imagine.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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Yes, it's only when some mental case comes up to you in the street and says 'xyz exists' that you then have to take a position on it. Prior to that you weren't even thinking about it at all, but if someone says to you 'xyz exists, then you have to ask 'do we have any evidence' and does logical deduction lead us to the conclusion that it's likely'. and if the answer to both of those is no, then anyone who isn't wearing a straitjacket has no choice but to take the position of not believing it, since there is no reason to do so.

 

I think you are making it to easy for yourself. Of course there is a reason why religions exist and the quesiton why is quite simple. That doesn't mean that they are right with their views, which they most likley are not, but that doesn't mean that the question that brought religions into existence is invalid.

 

Obviously, as soon as you can give a definite answer how the universe came into existence and why we exist, you can probably discard most religions. Of course they wouldn't cease to exist because people might not be satisfied with the truth.

 

The major question that raised religions is "Why does any exist at all and not nothing?"

Gerhard

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Well, that's pretty simple. It started as a way of trying to control the uncontrollable nature of the world.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that these early humans amongst which the first glimmers or religion started, had virtually no knowledge at all about how the world worked, and so their beliefs could only end up being naive in the extreme, the same beliefs that a small child might have.

A perfect description of religion.

The first religions imagined spirits that inhabited volcanoes, or made the sun rise or made the rains come, or dwelt in hurricanes etc. That way, they could fool themselves into thinking that they had some control over the rains. For example, they would make sacrifices to the rain god and do things to please it, and so if there was good rain that year, they'd be convinced it was because of their actions, and if there was bad rains, they'd be equally convinced it was because they had done something wrong and angered the rain god.

This is a self perpetuating myth of course, which is why it works so well amongst those primitive people.

It's easy to see how the various kind of religion, pantheism, polytheism, and te most destructive and successful of all, ethical monotheism, developed from there.

THE main point to remember is, that all of these religions developd in a time when people's knowledge was very very limited.

Now that we so have so much knowledge about the world and beyond, we have absolutely no need for such religious myths any more, yet they persist through sheer tradition alone, and will unfortunately do so for some time to come.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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No it doesn't. Atheism is not a belief, it is the lack of belief, despite what the bleevers tell you. There are no "hoops" that you have to jump through to NOT believe in god, because there is no evidence to support his existence and therefore nothing you need to "avoid".

 

 

This is an important point, I think. I have argued about religious belief with individuals who have shot back at me "Prove God doesn't exist!" You may as well demand "Prove Santa doesn't exist!" No one could, ever, conclusively +prove+ that Santa does not exist somewhere in the Universe. But this is not a good reason to then start believing in Santa, there is no circumstantial evidence to support the idea that a bearded old man who buggers reindeer brings kids their Christmas presents.

 

This is why I often say that I am not the kind of athiest who does not believe in God, I'm the kind of athiest who doesn't bother to ask such questions anymore because there is no apparent reason to do so. In the same vein, I don't tell people "I don't believe in gnomes in my closet.", I simply don't think of such things as being pertinent questions.

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Well, that's pretty simple. It started as a way of trying to control the uncontrollable nature of the world.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that these early humans amongst which the first glimmers or religion started, had virtually no knowledge at all about how the world worked, and so their beliefs could only end up being naive in the extreme, the same beliefs that a small child might have.

 

Of course. I agree there. I also think that our understanding of the world, may be a little bit better, then before, but is still not really THAT advanced either. Especially when I see that anthropocentric view coming around again in modern science in the disguise of educated opinion.

 

The first religions imagined spirits that inhabited volcanoes, or made the sun rise or made the rains come, or dwelt in hurricanes etc. That way, they could fool themselves into thinking that they had some control over the rains. For example, they would make sacrifices to the rain god and do things to please it, and so if there was good rain that year, they'd be convinced it was because of their actions, and if there was bad rains, they'd be equally convinced it was because they had done something wrong and angered the rain god.

 

I don't think that it started this way. I'm pretty sure that the first relegions didn't start with control in mind. IMO this was a logical consequence of how religions evolved. I think that religions got started because people became aware of themselves and started to wonder how it all started in the first place. Since they knew that babies get born by mothers in an endless chain, the logical conclusion would be that there has to be some ultimate mother down the road somewhere - which would be good. The simple experience is that every action has a cause, so logically it follows that somehwere there must be something tha got it started unless you accept an infinite regress. And once you followed down that road, you came to the conlusion that something must have created all these things that we see, because we know that everythign has to be created at some point. And from this it follows also easily, that there might be some things how to communicate with this supposed creator in order to make him do something ones own favour.

 

THE main point to remember is, that all of these religions developd in a time when people's knowledge was very very limited.

 

And it's not really surprising either that religions have much more power in regions wheer there is less education. With religions power I don't mean the monetary power that they have almost everywhere, but the number of believers and how strong they believe.

Gerhard

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I don't think that it started this way. I'm pretty sure that the first relegions didn't start with control in mind. IMO this was a logical consequence of how religions evolved. I think that religions got started because people became aware of themselves and started to wonder how it all started in the first place. Since they knew that babies get born by mothers in an endless chain, the logical conclusion would be that there has to be some ultimate mother down the road somewhere - which would be good. The simple experience is that every action has a cause, so logically it follows that somehwere there must be something tha got it started unless you accept an infinite regress. And once you followed down that road, you came to the conlusion that something must have created all these things that we see, because we know that everythign has to be created at some point. And from this it follows also easily, that there might be some things how to communicate with this supposed creator in order to make him do something ones own favour.

 

 

No, you're making it too complicated for these people. The explanation I gave is a lot simpler than that.

Occam's razor - don't give something more of an explanation than is necessary.

It's simply ignorant people trying to make sense of a world they know nothing about, so they attribute the same principles to nature as to themselves, give everything a spirit and a personality ,and then try to interact with it.

It's the most direct and obvious way to explain something for them.

If they did the logical thinking that you say, then they would simply have extrapolated the chain back to two gods, a father and a mother, and of course, a father and mother god for every other species of plant and animal, but this doesn't happen in any religion.

It's the nature of everything to start off simple and become more complex, including religion.

You're trying to start it off way too complex.

Civillisation will not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest.

- Emil Zola

 

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It's the most direct and obvious way to explain something for them.

 

That's only the case if you ignore the history of religion.

 

If they did the logical thinking that you say, then they would simply have extrapolated the chain back to two gods, a father and a mother, and of course, a father and mother god for every other species of plant and animal, but this doesn't happen in any religion.

 

Which is pretty much what happened in pagan religions.

 

It's the nature of everything to start off simple and become more complex, including religion.

You're trying to start it off way too complex.

 

Religion started with observations of people, not the other way around. People tried to understand the world on the basis of their experience. The experience was that everything had a cause, so the easiest conclusion is that the world and everything also must have a cause. The easiest and "logical" conclusion is one or more gods. Of course if you really think about it, then you realize that a god doesn't solve the problem at all, but that's where religion usually provides the answer that the god(s) are omnipowerfull, or that they were cfreated when the universe was borne or some other nonsense. The bucket has to stop somewhere and religion doesn't know where, but they provide an answer. That this answer is most likely wrong doesn't really matter to most people.

Gerhard

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No it doesn't. Atheism is not a belief, it is the lack of belief, despite what the bleevers tell you. There are no "hoops" that you have to jump through to NOT believe in god, because there is no evidence to support his existence and therefore nothing you need to "avoid".

Three points:

1. Good spelling makes your arguments actually seem intelligent, even if they're not. "Bleever" sounds like yet another idiotic curse word invented by Larry Niven. How about I jinxtapocise my tasp up your tanj-hole, scrith-herder?

2. Disbelief is a another form of belief--only knowledge can transcend belief.

3. You completely missed the point--I was talking about the irrationality of beliefs, and that everyone, especially those claim to be above belief, harbor them.

4.

5. There is no four.

 

No, you're making it too complicated for these people. The explanation I gave is a lot simpler than that.

Occam's razor - don't give something more of an explanation than is necessary.

It's simply ignorant people trying to make sense of a world they know nothing about, so they attribute the same principles to nature as to themselves, give everything a spirit and a personality ,and then try to interact with it.

It's the most direct and obvious way to explain something for them.

If they did the logical thinking that you say, then they would simply have extrapolated the chain back to two gods, a father and a mother, and of course, a father and mother god for every other species of plant and animal, but this doesn't happen in any religion.

It's the nature of everything to start off simple and become more complex, including religion.

You're trying to start it off way too complex.

Because of Occam's razor, atheism is essentially the default viewpoint. A lot of "atheists" and theists alike seem to forget that atheism stems from a lack of proof of deities, rather than "denying god." If that last statement didn't make sense to you, that's because it doesn't.

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1. Good spelling makes your arguments actually seem intelligent, even if they're not. "Bleever" sounds like yet another idiotic curse word invented by Larry Niven. How about I jinxtapocise my tasp up your tanj-hole, scrith-herder?

 

It's a common slang term for an ignorant and credulous person, you'll find it used commonly on any sceptical discussion board.

 

2. Disbelief is a another form of belief--only knowledge can transcend belief.

 

Wrong. A lack of something is NOT the same as having something. Unless of course you are defining "atheist" to mean "somebody who is 100% certain that god does not exist", but that does not describe most atheists.

 

Because of Occam's razor, atheism is essentially the default viewpoint. A lot of "atheists" and theists alike seem to forget that atheism stems from a lack of proof of deities, rather than "denying god."

 

It seems we do agree after all.

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Why don't you just dream up one that will make you REALLY happy, instead of this vague one about some formless spirit of some kind.
You don't really know what I'm dreaming! It's not a forest faerie :P
Just think of the best possible thing that could possibly happen when you die, and dream that as your fantasy, because it has just as much chance of being true as anything else you imagine.
I am! :P So do you understand now?
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