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reason vs superstition
Posted: 30 November 2006 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Sam Harris wants to use reason to cure superstition. A case can be made that superstition is preserved by natural selection, so it may be incurable. Superstitious people hold unreasonable beliefs because they want to. If you don't want to believe something that is supported by neither evidence nor plausibility, then you won't. Some people hold reasonable beliefs even if they don't want to. If you don't want to believe that a moving particle can follow several paths at once and interfere with itself on the way, the evidence for it may compel you to believe it anyway. If you don't want to believe that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, its plausibility, through the Drake equation and similar computations, may compel you to believe it anyway.

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Posted: 05 December 2006 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Quite poetic SeanK. One of the best posts I’ve seen in a while. Well done.  :D

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Posted: 05 December 2006 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“SeanK”]
I am a Deist…. meaning I believe in nature’s God and first cause.  Still, very little that Sam says do I find incorrect.  A lot of atheists also find very little that Sam says as incorrect.  Don’t confuse arguments against atheism as arguments for religion.

This also makes you a believer in the supernatural.  According to Sam Harris, this taints all of your critical thinking capacities to the extent that you just might strap a bomb to yourself and kill a bunch of innocent people.  Don’t bother with such claptrap as “my God won’t ask me to blow stuff up, and I wouldn’t listen even if He did”—that’s merely the cherry-picking of a moderate.  All moderates facilitate extremism—so even if you don’t blow stuff up yourself, your shared belief in God encourages extremists in their actions.

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Posted: 05 December 2006 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“mudfoot”][quote author=“SeanK”]
I am a Deist…. meaning I believe in nature’s God and first cause.  Still, very little that Sam says do I find incorrect.  A lot of atheists also find very little that Sam says as incorrect.  Don’t confuse arguments against atheism as arguments for religion.

This also makes you a believer in the supernatural.  According to Sam Harris, this taints all of your critical thinking capacities to the extent that you just might strap a bomb to yourself and kill a bunch of innocent people.  Don’t bother with such claptrap as “my God won’t ask me to blow stuff up, and I wouldn’t listen even if He did”—that’s merely the cherry-picking of a moderate.  All moderates facilitate extremism—so even if you don’t blow stuff up yourself, your shared belief in God encourages extremists in their actions.

Hi Mudfoot,

I don’t think you are on the mark here.
I think SeanK has actually proven you wrong by stating that he finds no objections to Sam’s thoughts.
Deism and Theism are intrinsically different in that the former is open to argument and the latter isn’t.

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Posted: 06 December 2006 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Maybe some “supernatural"things are natural things that science hasn’t discovered or figured out the laws for yet. 

I don’t agree that moderates enable fanatical extremists.  I believe they provide them with a possible way out of their extremism.

I see order and patterns and laws of nature as evidence of intelligent design, but I do not believe in a personal god.  I believe in patterns and order and laws of nature, and the forces that rule them.  My “spirituality” consists of trying to attune my energies to the energies of the universe. 

I believe that superstition can be pernicious, but I still believe there are phenomena which exist in nature that we don’t understand yet.  Is that superstition?

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Posted: 06 December 2006 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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According to Sam Harris, this taints all of your critical thinking capacities to the extent that you just might strap a bomb to yourself and kill a bunch of innocent people.

Is that a strawman attack against Sam Harris?  Or are you joking?  I’ve never heard such hyperbole from him. 

To paraphrase what I’ve read of his writting: The reason moderate Christianity makes no sense is because it has no scriptural bone fides.  We can see this is true when we read the Bible.  Islam and Christianity are dangerous because of what their scripture says and the worldviews they promote. 

Can you cite me where Harris has said such things?  Maybe I’ve missed something.

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Posted: 02 January 2007 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“dinkum”]Sam Harris wants to use reason to cure superstition. A case can be made that superstition is preserved by natural selection, so it may be incurable. Superstitious people hold unreasonable beliefs because they want to. If you don’t want to believe something that is supported by neither evidence nor plausibility, then you won’t. Some people hold reasonable beliefs even if they don’t want to. If you don’t want to believe that a moving particle can follow several paths at once and interfere with itself on the way, the evidence for it may compel you to believe it anyway. If you don’t want to believe that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, its plausibility, through the Drake equation and similar computations, may compel you to believe it anyway.

IMPORTANT:
People do not simply hold superstitions because they “want” to, but because they are carefully trained into wanting to believe them.
Have you ever seen the open eyes of a baby, full of curiosity about the things it sees?
Do you at all think that baby has any inclinations towards the SUPER-natural, isn’t it evident that it is the natural world it is oriented towards?

Sadly, though, the trust a tiny child has in adults being there to tutor him is very often abused into teaching the child nonsense rather than truths about the world.

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Posted: 02 January 2007 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Human Beings are naturally superstitous. Just look at all the Major League Baseball players who do things like not change their socks when they are on a hitting streak. Every time you say or think that someone is ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ you are acting on a superstition.

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Posted: 02 January 2007 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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And clearly, you believe a National Athlete is somehow a “natural man”, do you?  LOL

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Posted: 02 January 2007 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Superstitions are not a matter of choice, elimination of superstitions is—as well as involving a good deal of work.  I suggest that everybody do a google search on the term “Cognitive Illusions.”  You will find references to over 40 years of research in psychology and cognitive psychology indicating the ways that our mind can fall into error and, even when this is pointed out, continue to persist in that error.

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Posted: 07 January 2007 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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... Deists? It’s just a Sophists way of saying yes i believe in god. Nonsense to the core. An absurdity of shakespearian proportions.

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Posted: 08 January 2007 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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14. If everything must be created, is it logical to assume that something must have created God?

This question is best answered by first understanding the difference between contingent and necessary beings.  And to best understand the differrence between contingent and necessary beings you must also understand the framework of possible worlds.

Given the nature of possible worlds (i.e. that necessary beings are present in all possible worlds whereas contingent beings are not) the question of whether God was “created” as such becomes somewhat irrelevant if you don’t limit the discussion to space and time.  As a necessary being, God is and has always existed in every possible world.  The notion of God is not the only thing that is necessary.  Other things, such as ideas, are necessary in every possible world.  But as created, or contingent beings, humans can only exist in a limited number of possible worlds.  The same is true for any “created” thing.

I oversimplified for sake of brevity but that is the short version of how I would respond to that question.

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Posted: 08 January 2007 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Superstitious people hold unreasonable beliefs because they want to. If you don’t want to believe something that is supported by neither evidence nor plausibility, then you won’t.

Ironically enough, the Bible teaches the exact same thing about those who disbelieve.  In other words, you hold unreasonable beliefs because you don’t want to accept that which has been made evident to you through a variety of evidential forums.  You don’t want to believe in something that is supported by evidence and plausability (the Bible) because you don’t want to submit to any God that does not conform to your self-authored notions of truth.

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Posted: 08 January 2007 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“JGrice02”]14. If everything must be created, is it logical to assume that something must have created God?

This question is best answered by first understanding the difference between contingent and necessary beings.  And to best understand the differrence between contingent and necessary beings you must also understand the framework of possible worlds.

Given the nature of possible worlds (i.e. that necessary beings are present in all possible worlds whereas contingent beings are not) the question of whether God was “created” as such becomes somewhat irrelevant if you don’t limit the discussion to space and time.  As a necessary being, God is and has always existed in every possible world.  The notion of God is not the only thing that is necessary.  Other things, such as ideas, are necessary in every possible world.  But as created, or contingent beings, humans can only exist in a limited number of possible worlds.  The same is true for any “created” thing.

I oversimplified for sake of brevity but that is the short version of how I would respond to that question.

You make a good case as to why something necessary does not require a creator but you make absolutely no case as to why God should be considered a necessary being. Wouldn’t it be far simpler to believe that matter and energy are necessary and have always existed?

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Posted: 08 January 2007 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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You are correct, I did not make the case that God is a necessary being.  Most who follow possible worlds closely would agree that if there is a God then, by definition, he is a necessary being.  Of course that gets into what is defined as God which is no short discussion.

But in my estimation, the question is not whether God is necessary as much as it is whether a being such as God is even possible.  Assuming he is a necessary being, if God exists in a possible world then he exists in all possible worlds.

Whether (1) it is possible that he exists in some possible world and whether (2) he is a necessary being are two separate issues, both worthy of debate and further study.  In the end, neither necessitate that God be the God of Christianity, but they do make for an interesting and powerful argument for the rational belief in God.

And to answer your question, I don’t think matter an energy would qualify as necessary things.  But I have not read Plantinga in a while so I can’t remember exactly how he spells out that argument.  There are certain characteristics of necessary beings/things and most anything that we identify as physical, perhaps everything we identify as physical, cannot be considered necessary.  Matter an energy would fall into such a category.  Conversely, something like “ideas” is a necessary thing which must exist in all possible worlds.

Regardless of whether someone is there to suppose the thought, if in another possible world there exists only one planet then the “idea of one” still exists in that possible world.  And there is no possible world in which “ideas” cannot exists, thus they are necessary.  Again, I forget how Plantinga argues that God fits into such a category so I apologize for not having that argument handy.  Perhaps I will pick up one of his books again to refresh.

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Posted: 08 January 2007 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“JGrice02”]You are correct, I did not make the case that God is a necessary being.  Most who follow possible worlds closely would agree that if there is a God then, by definition, he is a necessary being.  Of course that gets into what is defined as God which is no short discussion.

But in my estimation, the question is not whether God is necessary as much as it is whether a being such as God is even possible.  Assuming he is a necessary being, if God exists in a possible world then he exists in all possible worlds.

Whether (1) it is possible that he exists in some possible world and whether (2) he is a necessary being are two separate issues, both worthy of debate and further study.  In the end, neither necessitate that God be the God of Christianity, but they do make for an interesting and powerful argument for the rational belief in God.

And to answer your question, I don’t think matter an energy would qualify as necessary things.  But I have not read Plantinga in a while so I can’t remember exactly how he spells out that argument.  There are certain characteristics of necessary beings/things and most anything that we identify as physical, perhaps everything we identify as physical, cannot be considered necessary.  Matter an energy would fall into such a category.  Conversely, something like “ideas” is a necessary thing which must exist in all possible worlds.

Regardless of whether someone is there to suppose the thought, if in another possible world there exists only one planet then the “idea of one” still exists in that possible world.  And there is no possible world in which “ideas” cannot exists, thus they are necessary.  Again, I forget how Plantinga argues that God fits into such a category so I apologize for not having that argument handy.  Perhaps I will pick up one of his books again to refresh.

Well, is God a being at all, necessary or otherwise?  Perhaps it is a matter of neither being nor not-being.  Or, perhaps one could argue that if there is a possible world then that very possibility is evidence of God (although not necessarily the Christian, Jewish, or Moslem God).  wink

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