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Jimbean

Improving my debate performance

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I need more practice.  If anyone can critique my reasoning I would appreciate it.

 

Me:  It is never in the interest of any conscious being to hold untrue beliefs. It brings one into conflict with reality and in conflict with one's own life.

Him: That premise isn't obviously true. It depends how you specify 'in the interest of'. For instance studies show that religiousity, a set of false beliefs, correlates with greater wellbeing (happiness contentment etc).

Me: correlation does not equal causation. Perhaps in those religious beliefs there are habits that are healthy and are moral to practice. So those religious people would be right for the wrong reasons, and they would be even happier if the continued to practice healthy habits, as well as discarding their mystical beliefs.

Him: "and they would be even happier if the continued to practice healthy habits, as well as discarding their mystical beliefs." Those mystical beliefs are comforting to many (life after death), so again this isn't obviously true. Your claim "It is never in the interest of any conscious being to hold untrue beliefs." sounds like unfalsifiable dogma.

Me: 

Premise 1: A living thing requires values to sustain its own life.

Premise 2: Existence exists and there is only one reality.

Premise 3: A value is something that a living organism seeks to gain and keep.

Premise 4: All values exist in reality.

Premise 5: Conscious beings can hold untrue beliefs.

Premise 6: Conscious beings can attempt to attain perceived values that do not exist in realty.

Premise 7: Unlike reason, emotions are automatic reactions and are not abstract enough to perceive the abstractions that are inherent in reality.

Premise 8: A living thing must expend resources (value) to gain a value.

Premise 9: Conscious beings can expend values to seek to gain a non-value.

Conclusion: The automatic emotional response of happiness can be subject to a non-value; and therefore, one’s gainful condition metaphysically contradict reality.

 

Him: P7 isn't clear to me, the 2nd clause. The conclusion isn't clear to me either. Can't follow that wording.

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It would have been useful for you to know that most of the studies on religiosity and happiness have been done in the United States, which is a predominantly religious country where atheists are often discriminated against.

That's the concrete-bound, empiricist rebuttal. I feel like there should be a more principled rebuttal here, but I can't see it. Maybe check out Branden's essay on religion and self esteem in The Virtue of Selfishness.

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I could say that a drug addict would be as happy when he has his drugs as a mystic when his false premises are reinforced.  That's not an argument, but it is a metaphor to guide in the understanding of epistemology.  Rand would have put it more eloquently than that.  

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Neither one of you seem to understand that such religious beliefs are not true or false. They are arbitrary. When someone says they believe in life after death, they aren't talking about something that can be proven correct or incorrect. They're talking about the supernatural, which is arbitrarily asserted and taken on faith.

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31 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Neither one of you seem to understand that such religious beliefs are not true or false. They are arbitrary. When someone says they believe in life after death, they aren't talking about something that can be proven correct or incorrect. They're talking about the supernatural, which is arbitrarily asserted and taken on faith.

In which case the method of cognition is false.  This goes back to my premise 7; faith is an emotion, emotions are automatic and are not fit for the formation of principles because reality is abstract by definition.   

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Some religious people do believe in some kind of evidence. A Christian would think that there is evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Having faith does not necessarily mean acting against any evidence.

The problem is that you identify a belief, but claim that it is not a value. By your standard of value, this is true, but in general, even beliefs that turn out to be false reflect values. Basically, you argued against "ignorance is bliss" by simply denying that the person actually feels fine. 

You have to get into why someone should live their life to the fullest. The argument would be something like you want to talk about the well-being of the entire person, not just how they feel on the inside for a few hours a day.

 

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On 2/19/2020 at 12:15 PM, Jimbean said:

faith is an emotion

It's a loyalty or fidelity to a person or thing. In the religious context it typically refers to a trust one has in the existence of god or in the truth of a sacred text, despite evidence to the contrary. So it might be based on a positive feeling for the person or thing trusted, but faith itself is a kind of religious virtue. It is loyalty to that which is trusted.

Before logicians and scientists exposed much of the nonsense of religious texts, people could have faith in the stories and prophets of religions without much hypocrisy. But now, with all our knowledge of objective reality, it's hard to accept the pure nonsense of mythology as history, and dogma as truth. People now have faith in their feelings toward such nonsense. They know the stories and prophets conflict with logic and science, but they desire them to be true in some important way. And so they trust their feelings instead of their facts. This is how many people selectively reject objectivity in favor of subjectivity.

Edited by MisterSwig

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