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Letter to an Atheist by Michael Patrick Leahy
Posted: 04 May 2007 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 661 ]  
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My take on logic and reason:

The proto-IndoEuropean roots for reason and logic are:
Reason: ar—to fit together
Logic: leg—to collect, to speak
Based on that, my view is that reason, in the general sense, is a process of fitting thoughts together (this could be extended to material fitting together as well).  In doing this, it uses a logic which provides the criteria for collecting things into classes that can be fit together in speech (or the equivalent).  Different areas of activity have different logics.  Categorical discourse uses formal logic; music composition uses a different logic; poetry a different logic again; and certainly theology.  The tool is adapted to the conditions of the material to be worked with, not the other way round.  One conclusion I think follows from this has to do with mental freedom: when working is some area of endeavor, freedom of thought is constrained by the “logical” conditions for work in that area, but a person who sticks to those constraints outside of the work situation is not free.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 662 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]My take on logic and reason:

The proto-IndoEuropean roots for reason and logic are:
Reason: ar—to fit together
Logic: leg—to collect, to speak


I wonder if the deepest roots, even pre-human roots, might be:
Reason: to assemble, collect and connect
Logic: take apart, subtract, exclude
I have no idea what it would have sounded like.

The tool is adapted to the conditions of the material to be worked with, not the other way round.

What would the other way around look like?

One conclusion I think follows from this has to do with mental freedom: when working is some area of endeavor, freedom of thought is constrained by the “logical” conditions for work in that area,…

That is quite an understatement. Substitute living and life for working and work. It’s the price of admission to do the kind of “work” that most of us do. The mind has to put on a suit and tie, too.
Anyone who takes a short walk around downtown late at night will see plenty of examples of unconstrained mental freedom pushing a grocery cart. Their reason and logic is incredible and metaphorically useful at best.

We’re stuck here. The only way we know how to feed ourselves is by doing things that are far beyond the capabilities of our evolutionary design alone. Maintaining our place as “someone” in that work area requires surrendering our tool to the “pre-concluded logic” of the work-area. Just like surrendering your computer to Microsoft. We will be reasonable and logical within defined parameters. Relax, the truth has been shepherded here to where the sheep may safely graze. Don’t eat the darkness beyond the fence or your system may crash.

a person who sticks to those constraints outside of the work situation is not free.

That’s when religion or tribalism kicks in. If you want to participate, you gotta be running something or no one will know that you’re there.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 03:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 663 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“MDBeach”]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory

Proof that the illogical really does happen in real time.  Sometimes you have to step outside the theoretical and into the practical.  Anything can be shown to be illogical if framed correctly.

This is really a pathetic post.  I’m sorry, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.

I asked you what it would mean for the world to operate illogically and what it would mean for the world to operate logically.  But you didn’t answer those questions.  Instead you link to an (as far as I can tell) irrelevant article in wikipedia on Chaos Theory.

Why don’t you explain how Chaos theory is supposed to show that the illogical really does happen? While you’re at it, you should explain what the expression “the illogical really does happen” means.

Very crappy post.  My bad.  It made sense to me, at least.  Kinda. 

Chaos theory:

If you acknowledge that randon events do happen, then it it undermines the idea that the world is completely logical.  We can rationalize logic back into it the events that occur to explain things, but it doesn’t change the fact it was illogical to happen in the first place.  In example, weather.

The world is logical and illogical at the same time.  We choose what we believe are the motivating factors for any phenomena, but we are performing a subjective analysis based on our own admittedly limited knowledge.

On one hand, we argue that there are many many things that we do not know about the world around us, and in the next breath we claim that logic is universal.  But if logic is truly king, why do we need statistics?  And how do we account for the many shades of gray that are routinely produced?  What is the utility in denying that there is a middle at all?  Why force a categorization? 

Maybe this is way off, but I am personally not convinced that everything in the world happens according to logic.  Logic is just a tool.  Not a result.  How you frame any particular inquiry will dictate whether it will be amenable to logic. 

I hope this is better. 

I am struggling to explain this.  I readily admit this is a subjective analysis.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 664 ]  
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[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”][quote author=“burt”]My take on logic and reason:

The proto-IndoEuropean roots for reason and logic are:
Reason: ar—to fit together
Logic: leg—to collect, to speak


I wonder if the deepest roots, even pre-human roots, might be:
Reason: to assemble, collect and connect
Logic: take apart, subtract, exclude
I have no idea what it would have sounded like.

This would come more under the heading of synthesis and analysis.

“First the taking in of scattered patriculars under a single Idea, so that everybody knows what is being talked about.  Then division of the Idea at the joints, not breaking any bone in half as a bad carver might.”  Plato

[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]

The tool is adapted to the conditions of the material to be worked with, not the other way round.

What would the other way around look like?

The Procrustian bed.  To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. 

[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]

One conclusion I think follows from this has to do with mental freedom: when working is some area of endeavor, freedom of thought is constrained by the “logical” conditions for work in that area,…

That is quite an understatement. Substitute living and life for working and work. It’s the price of admission to do the kind of “work” that most of us do. The mind has to put on a suit and tie, too.
Anyone who takes a short walk around downtown late at night will see plenty of examples of unconstrained mental freedom pushing a grocery cart. Their reason and logic is incredible and metaphorically useful at best.

We’re stuck here. The only way we know how to feed ourselves is by doing things that are far beyond the capabilities of our evolutionary design alone. Maintaining our place as “someone” in that work area requires surrendering our tool to the “pre-concluded logic” of the work-area. Just like surrendering your computer to Microsoft. We will be reasonable and logical within defined parameters. Relax, the truth has been shepherded here to where the sheep may safely graze. Don’t eat the darkness beyond the fence or your system may crash.

a person who sticks to those constraints outside of the work situation is not free.

That’s when religion or tribalism kicks in. If you want to participate, you gotta be running something or no one will know that you’re there.

Not clear on the intended meaning of this last.  The world always imposes conditions on us.  We don’t have to accept them, but trying to go against them can get one in trouble.  The fatalistic Stoics used the image of a dog tied to a chariot: it will go along whether it likes it or not, but if it trots along willingly it suffers less.  But one can still stay mentally free—there is a difference between believing that one is the role one plays, and playing the role out of choice.  The latter case leaves openings for new possibilities.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 665 ]  
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Waltercat says that a logical contradiction cannot possibly be true. 

Definition: Free - without necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.

Logical contradiction:  God is free and God is not free (at the same time and in the same circumstance).

Expanded statement of logical contradiction: God is without necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action AND God has necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action (at the same time and in the same circumstance).

God is free because he chooses and acts without necessity, coercion or constraint. And yet, when God chooses or acts, HE MUST DO IT IN FREEDOM (He MUST be free when he acts or chooses).  There is necessity (he must choose and act in freedom) and constraint (he is constrained to act freely).  Therefore, he is both free and not free at the same time and in the same circumstance.  You cannot say that he is not, therefore, truly free, because he MUST act and choose in freedom. The logical contradiction is proven. God is free and God is not free (at the same time and in the same circumstance).

This is probably logically false, but I thought it would be interesting to see Waltercat explain why. I enjoy his primers on logic.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 666 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”] Not clear on the intended meaning of this last.

Me either, now that I see it. It’s really quite a stretch from your idea to mine. It was my first visit in a week and it gets my log-in fire started when I read something that concisely states a notion that I think needs to be taken much farther down the garden path. My job is on Korea time, and I should have gone to bed.

I didn’t even know I was here at Holiday Inn of all threads.

[quote author=“burt”]The world always imposes conditions on us. We don’t have to accept them, but trying to go against them can get one in trouble.

We have to accept at least a bare minimum of those conditions in order to participate in society. To reject them entirely will reduce one to foraging near the bus station. Many fellow internet ranters all make a similar point, if for very different reasons, that urges a closer look at those imposed conditions. The list includes a lot of subtlety and items that simply hide behind their obviousness. They can’t be rejected until they are spotted. Sorry, there I go again. They have an affect on how we see the world.

The fatalistic Stoics used the image of a dog tied to a chariot:

It’s worse than that. The dog is not tied. The dog believes it is holding the rope in its teeth.

But one can still stay mentally free… openings for new possibilities.

Many of us have the isolation and leisure time to think what we want and where we want to think we’re thinking it. Thank our lucky charms.
Idle neurons are the Devil’s… work situation. I’ll punch out now and good night.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 667 ]  
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It’s funny that this “author” wannabe talks about Sam’s being honest.  Are you being honest about your purpose?  You say you are not trying to convert atheists to Christians.  That is a blatant lie….the pot calling the kettle black.  Tell us, are you a Christian or not?  If you are, doesn’t your good book say you have an obligation to do so?  What you’re really doing is trying to make money on the shirt tales of Sam Harris.  The only way anything you have to say has a snowball’s chance in hell of being published is to parrot Sam’s title.  If anyone is being dishonest about his reasons here, it is you!

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Posted: 06 May 2007 09:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 668 ]  
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Waltercat,

You apparently feel compelled to show me every possible verse in the Bible that refers to slavery, and throw it out as “evidence” that the Bible endorses the type of chattel slavery legally recognized in America until 1865, triumphantly claiming such “evidence” shows the moral failings of the Bible. This is a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to undermine the core values of Christian faith, and leaves me marvelling at the depths to which you and other dogmatic true believers of atheism will go to make themselves feel intellectually and morally superior to those of us who profess our Christian faith.

One passage from the Old Testament causes you to exult:

Exodus, Chapter 20, Verses 20-21 reads as follows:

“When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.”

“See, see !” you cry. “Your God endorses slavery, because he clearly recognizes that the slave is the property of the master.”

Such an approach to the Bible is simply a fishing expedition to find that evidence of holy immorality, and use it to justify the atheist’s world view, or perhaps lack of world view.

You are just one of many atheists who suffer from what I call “the Logic of the Lonely Mind.” For you, the Bible is simply a set of logical rules, to be understood in the black and white letter of the law spelled out in the English words of the translation of the Bible currently in posession of its owner. Not a thought is given to the original meaning of the original language in which the passage was written, nor to the true meaning of the terms used, nor to the context of the passage. Hence, the lonely mind of the atheist cannot see, does not wish to see, all the factual evidence that does not support his or her religion of “non-belief”, a religion that ultimately is rooted in the atheist’s narcissitic elevation of his own moral and intellectual superiority over that of all believers.

Applying any of these basic tools of analysis to the passage in question yields a completely different conclusion for the rational person who is a seeker of truth.

Consider first the preceeding passages of the same chapter.

Exodus 21, Verses 2-3 states:

“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing.”

This verse leads us to the next obvious difference in Old Testament and American slavery of the 17th through 19th centuries. American slavery was permanent and racially based. Old Testament slavery, though it could in certain circumstances be permanent, was often not, and was most definitely not racially based.

But perhaps the simplest and most powerful response to you as you look for Biblical endorsement of slavery is this—the new covenant between Man and God made with Christ’s sacrifice is described in the words of the New Testament, not the old. Christians look at the Old Testament as a collection of stories that set the stage for the coming of Christ, not as an irrefutable guideline for life. That the Old Testament acknowledged slavery is true. That it endorsed slavery in a few passages is an argument that can be made, but not with a great deal of strength. But even if such an endorsement were to be conceded, it would be irrelevant. Any thinking Christian, reading the life of Christ, and following the Golden Rule, knew that the Bible and the teaching of Jesus were completely opposed to slaver

In your post, you state:

“Mr. Leahy, your post on Exodus 21:20 left me very disturbed. I am left with the impression that

you are little bothered by the idea that human beings can be property.”

This of course is a ludicrous claim on your part, one which is completely unsupported by any facts, and consistent with your need to create the silly “straw man” of Christian faith.

Continuing in your “straw man” need to attribute statements to me which are exclusively in the nether parts of your own mind, you state:

“So you believe that God inspired a passage that endorses the notion that a person can be the

property of another? Think about that!! Why would a good God endorse such a vile notion?”

Like Spence before you, you seem to set forward yet another repetitive unfounded allegation. This has been asked and answered dozens of times previously. There is something in the lonely minded logic of your own particular atheism that somehow cannot process all the previous facts I have presented on this topic.

Continuing along the line of your need to invent a world in which your own brand of atheism sets you apart as morally and intellectually superior to all the rest of us foolish believers, you once more declare your own belief in yourself.


” I cannot fathom how anyone could believe that Ex 21:20 is sacred. IT IS NOT. IT IS MORALLY REPUGNANT.”

Continuing along your self annointed path to atheistic sainthood, you say:

” To my mind, the most disgusting thing about slavery is the very idea that one human being can own another human being. PEOPLE ARE NOT PROPERTY. BUT GOD EXPLICITLY ALLOWS PEOPLE TO BECOME PROPERTY. THE BIBLE GIVES US A GOD WHO EXPLICITLY ENDORSES THE IDEA THAT A PERSON CAN BE THE PROPERTY OF ANOTHER.

That is morally disgusting.”

Once again, you falsely assert God’s endorsement of slavery, then declare it morally repugnant. In your lonely logic, therefore, you congratulate yourself on “proving” that God is morally repugnant. The notion is simply in your mind alone, and supported by no facts.

Continuing to display your ignorance of the historical conditions of slavery, you state:

“And thus the distinction you make between different types of slavery, while of historical

importance, really have no moral significance. It appears to be nothing more than an attempt to obfuscate the issue on your part.”

Like many atheists, your argument is simply this: When the facts are not consistent with my argument, I simply ignore the facts, and declare a great moral principle is more important than the facts.

If and when true logic and reasoning capability comes to you, you will see that such arguments are completely and totally circular.

Get over your deep seated needed to “prove” God is wrong, and simply look at the facts honestly. Once the prism of acolytic atheism is removed from your mind, you might find that you come to quite different conclusions about what Christian faith and the Bible actually say.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 669 ]  
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Mr. god servant, why don’t you take out a psychology book and look up the term Freud used, “projection.”  What you say here is a perfect example of that.  You’re using this forum to try to get people to buy your stupid book, so you can make money off Sam’s earned fame.  I wouldn’t buy your book and support you or any of your fanatical friends, and I doubt anyone else here would either.  Your nastiness is anything but christian kindness.  As usual for christians, you need to practice what you preach.  You’re name calling and obvious feelings of intellectual insecurity become more obvious with every post.  You want to challenge Sam to a debate to gain your own fame with the hopes of making a few bucks off it.  Have you pledged the money you hope to make to some worthy cause?  Will you give 10% to your church?  People like you give me the determination to spread sam’s word.  Really, stop riding on the coat tails of Sam Harris.  If you’re so smart and such a great writer, invent your own titles and see if they sell based upon their merits, not someone else’s.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 670 ]  
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I think we should ignore this nutcase completely.  He clearly is delusional, and he is only using this forum to get people to buy his lame book.  Christianity is a billion dollar business, and he is clearly looking to cash in on it by writing a book with a title that speaks to one that is a NY Times bestseller.  On his own, he couldn’t get a letter to the editor published, i’m sure.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 671 ]  
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msdiver,

Please do not confuse a logical, factually based argument with nastiness.

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Posted: 06 May 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 672 ]  
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Mr. Leahy:

Please don’t confuse a logical argument for one that starts out with a faulty premise.  Especially when you start with a premise that you can’t prove.

Regardless of your rationalizations and projections, you have made no sustainable argument that logically, there is a god, much less your own personal variety.

Save the sleight of hand for your sheeple.

M. D. Beach

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Posted: 06 May 2007 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 673 ]  
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Mr. Beach,

I have made it quite clear from the beginning of this thread that my purpose is not to persuade you of the existence of God.

You and I may can our own choices on that subject, based on our life experiences and rational thought.

My purpose from the beginning has been to challenge Sam Harris to stop telling lies about my faith.

My response to waltercat addresses the false statements that have been made by Mr. Harris and by many on this forum concerning the role of Christian faith in abolishing the institution of slavery in the United States.

Why do you and others on this forum continually insist on ignoring the central point of my challenge, replacing it with the Existence of God debate which is apparently the only one you feel comfortable engaging ?

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Posted: 06 May 2007 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 674 ]  
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Mr. Beach,

I have made it quite clear from the beginning of this thread that my purpose is not to persuade you of the existence of God.

You and I make our own choices on that subject, based on our life experiences and rational thought.

My purpose from the beginning has been to challenge Sam Harris to stop telling lies about my faith.

My response to waltercat addresses the false statements that have been made by Mr. Harris and by many on this forum concerning the role of Christian faith in abolishing the institution of slavery in the United States.

Why do you and others on this forum continually insist on ignoring the central point of my challenge, replacing it with the Existence of God debate which is apparently the only one you feel comfortable engaging ?

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Posted: 06 May 2007 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 675 ]  
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Mr. Leahy:

Obviously, you haven’t bothered to read the debate going on in your absence.  My interest isn’t to persuade you, or anyone else, either. 

“We” (although I and many others continue to tell you there is no “we versus them paradigm on this board) could really care less what your mission is, especially since you have brought a knife to a gun fight.  You made your point about Sam’s supposed misuse of statistics when you posted about it the first time.  Repeating it over and over doesn’t make it any truer, or any more relevant.  We simply don’t care.  Sam Harris is his own man.  (By the way, Richard Dawkins actually posts on his site.  You wouldn’t need to pretend to be pining for a debate).

For some reason, you have some sort of false insecurity in your faith.  Good for you.  Honestly, I am happy for you.  But you really shouldn’t be so surprised when people who are capable of comprehending the concepts you speak of don’t run to their local chapter of cult.  Most all of has have already been there, done that, and have the emotional scarring to show for it.  You insult each and every one of us with your assumptions. 

When this thread was young, I openly challenged you to weigh in on other subjects within this board.  You want our respect, but you have refused to earn it.  Instead, you have remained inside this thread, while pertinent topics have been debated, asking for a Christian response in other sections.  You have shied away.  Why is that?

Rather than take up the fight, you have sat silent.  Rather than debate, you prostelitize.  You are a microcosm of why many of us have left the closedminded ranks of your own religion.  You are no more of an authority on your religion as I or anyone else.  At least I have been baptized in Baptist and Catholic sects.  Currently I am studying atheism and Buddhism.  What diverse religions have you explored?  Any besides the one your parents and family chose for you?

The existence of god debate is the only debate worth having on this matter.  If you can’t prove god, you can’t set your religion above and apart from any other mythology created by man.  Without the foundation, what is the point in debating the merits?  Once a proposition falls victim to requiring faith to accept the premise, it does not deserve further explanation.

In truth, it is just as logically possible, or I would argue more likely, that aliens really did intervene in the fate of humans.  At least that coincides with the physical evidence better than some cockamamie parable about naked neanderthals having conversations with snakes.

Establish why your religion is to revered above all, then we’ll start from there. 

M. D. Beach

p.s. Clever jab with the remedial comment.  Please remove your aura of superiority from your comments.  It is blinding me.  I have a high definition screen.

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