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I'm sorry I didn't do any reading of the thread, I just wanted to make a quick comment.

Someone who truly wants to be confident would be honest enough to pursue the truth wherever it leads.

What if this person said to themselves: Look, whether I, via some delusion, believe that I am some Oil-rich sultan in the Middle East, or pursue truth ever-so diligently, I notice, as an atheist, that we end up the same way. It may not be clear to her why truth mattered in the first place. Maybe she figured, in a world of blue skies driven by Raleigh scattering, and love driven by endorphin levels and mammalian procreation, that maybe she doesn't see any reason to live for, including truth. So she subjectively decided to live for god, in the same way that you (subjectively?) find value in blue skies, love and truth, she finds value in god. Sure, in the end she could be wrong, she could be incredibly wrong, and in saying that she could very well be right. But either way, it doesn't really matter.

Ok, so maybe I've been toying around with these ideas :pimp:.

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So she subjectively decided to live for god, in the same way that you (subjectively?) find value in blue skies, love and truth, she finds value in god.

Ok, so maybe I've been toying around with these ideas.

Well, there is a distinction between "I find value in (thinking of) god" and "I shall live for god" The former may be wrong on psychological grounds and on the potentially implicit acceptance of a particular arbitrary, inconsequential statement as fact.

But "living for god" would be even worse (if living for god means acting on some faith-substantiated virtues), wouldn't you agree?

*Welcomes tigerstripedcat to forum*

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So she subjectively decided to live for god, in the same way that you (subjectively?) find value in blue skies, love and truth, she finds value in god.

The fact that you have to put a ? after the second "subjectively" indicates the fragility of your argument. Aside from that, two people, instead of one, living by subjective, irrational beliefs does not justify either of them living by subjective, irrational beliefs.

It would probably be better if you did read through the thread before jumping into the middle of it with "a quick comment". There are other arguments in the thread already that would have addressed the ideas you are toying with.

But either way, it doesn't really matter.

Reality has a way of demonstrating that it is important that it be correctly identified, at least to those who value life. To say it doesn't matter is to say, there is no right or wrong so why bother trying to identify anything.

[Edit - Clarified "does not" in first paragraph - RB]

Edited by RationalBiker
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How would this way of thinking not be to my benefit?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/3...nyt&emc=rss

Here is one concret example of a way that religious belief might be detrimental.

"Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.

And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested. "

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The fact that you have to put a ? after the second "subjectively" indicates the fragility of your argument. Aside from that, two people, instead of one, living by subjective, irrational beliefs does not justify either of them living by subjective, irrational beliefs.

You are absolutely right. But read what I wrote again. I'm not justifying either of them. I'm asking you to justify the rationality of your beliefs. Or, if I read that sentence above, maybe you admitted to them being irrational.

It would probably be better if you did read through the thread before jumping into the middle of it with "a quick comment".
Sorry. Read.

*snip*

Reality has a way of demonstrating that it is important that it be correctly identified, at least to those who value life.

This is one of the most philosophically dense yet unsupported ideas in this entire thread. A completely rational way of thinking (although I'm sure you'll say not) is: There is no objective value to life: the search for truth, rainbows, love, family; I would be lying to myself if I believed that these things (essentially movements of fundamental particles) give meaning to EVERYONE'S life. Now it may give you/I meaning (subjectively) to MY/YOUR life, but then there is no difference between you--a la Camus--pushing your rock up the hill in the form of truth (or whatever you CHOOSE to give meaning to your life) and this other person choosing belief in god. You, in essence, live for "truth"--this gives your meaning to life. (Although I would argue (and I think almost every epistemologist would back me up that) this is called "belief" and not truth. So you live for your beliefs, your Objectivism, what have you, this is what you live and die for. But other people simply can't find any meaning from your beliefs, so they turn to the improbability of the existence of god; they can't live for movements of fundamental particles or simple ideas (like you can) they still need something more.

And they understand that even if they are wrong, then they aren't really out much. They lived, they died, and that's it--same as you.

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Or, if I read that sentence above, maybe you admitted to them being irrational.

No, not really.

I can see that sending the PM suggesting that you read the rules and learn the purpose of this forum was to no avail. Your posts are evidence that you want to work outside of the forum's rules and purpose. That being the case, I'll explain two more issues that arise in this post to which I respond.

1) Nihilism is not tolerated here. Not even a tiny bit. You can deny that to yourself if you wish.

2) You are committing the fallacy of the "stolen concept". You are claiming that the truth is that there is no truth or that it cannot be known; people can only "believe" (and you throw in a little argument from authority about how most epistemologists would agree with you). Logical fallacies are discouraged here as well.

If you "truly" seek justification for the philosophy of Objectivism, I would use that time you will have available to you not posting in this forum to read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff and/or any of Ayn Rand's non-fiction books on her philosophy. Addtionally, Tara Smith has a good book called Viable Values that may help you.

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What harm is there in believing in a race of hyper-intelligent purple space goats? There's just as much evidence to support believing in them (none). To what end do you seek to believe in that for which there is no reason or evidence to believe?

If you can ask me all those questions, then I can suffice to ask you just one... Why believe there is no such thing as the surpreme being?

If you think it is irrational to believe in a God (aside from the question whether it is good for your self-confidence or nto), then a little suggestion from my side would be to at least try to dig some of the argument's that have been given in favour of God, especially the ontological arguments given by Anselm, Descartes and then the argument's update to modern logic by Hartshorne. You might find the belief in God is not necessarily irrational, in fact, I'd say it is more rational than strict atheism.

Then as to the topic of self-confidence, I think that in life one needs to make a seperation, like the ancient stoic Epictetus did, between things that are within one's power, and things that are not. We should derive our strenght and self-confidence from achievements we made that were within our power. There are just those people that study really hard for a test to get a good grade and then go like 'Oh, well, I was just lucky'. This is self-defeating; one should be proud of one's achievements, as long as these were within one's power. Now, there's tons of things that aren't in one's power, but are simply matters of luck. Meeting a very important person out of the blue, being a beautiful/intelligent person, happening to have stumbled across the works of Ayn Rand online or in the bookstore, etc, etc. Now, it would make no sense here to be pride of having done that, as it was just a matter of luck. But then when, after having stumbled on Ayn Rand's works, you actually read them yourself, you can say that you have really done something that was done by you and yourself only. This would be a good instant to be proud and to gain self-confidence from such an achievement.

But then, what of the other matters that were part of plain luck?

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If you can ask me all those questions, then I can suffice to ask you just one...

Yes, but if my asking questions of you justifies your asking a question of me, it would help if actually answered my questions before you had any reasonable expectation that I would answer yours. :)

None the less, I'll answer your question anyway.

Why believe there is no such thing as the surpreme being?
Because there is no evidence to prompt such a belief, particularly so when one tries to pick a particular supreme being. Faith in a religious context is a claim to "know" that which is admittedly unknowable. If a person wants to believe in the arbitrary, then believing in the Giant Purple Space Goat is just as valid (or rather invalid) as believing in God (with a big christian G). Any 'argument' for a supreme being ultimately relies on a leap of faith, an abandonment of reason and throwing aside what is known of the laws of physics.

I'd say it is more rational than strict atheism.

Based on the available evidence, none, the 'negative' is the rational conclusion so I'm not concerned with what you would say, only what you can prove if you are asserting the positive. This is your opportunity present the case for god (big G or little g). What's your evidence?

We should derive our strenght and self-confidence from achievements we made that were within our power.
Now that's a rational statement, though it would be more accurate if describe what you mean by 'strength' (since you seem to distinguish it from self-confidence) as I assume you are not talking about physical strength.

But then, what of the other matters that were part of plain luck?

Define how you are using the term 'plain luck'? What is 'plain luck'? The answer to your question depends on your definition and the specific context of those 'other matters'. Perhaps you can provide a concrete 'other matter'. Without further clarification or specificity, your question is unanswerable and of dubious value. I can tell you that the answer to some specific instances of your question would be, I don't know. This is where the 'faithful' feel the need to insert something, anything so that they can have an answer because they have a harder time coping with not having an answer.

And this time, if you expect me to answer any more questions you have, I'll expect you will have at least tried to answer mine first. :D

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If you think it is irrational to believe in a God ...
If belief means faith based on zero sensory evidence -- neither your own, nor that of others -- then the objection is not to belief in God, as such. The objection is to belief as such.

As for the rational arguments for God, that's a different topic. It's probably been addressed in other threads. Similarly, the idea that atheism requires an impossible certainity and therefore some belief or at least agnosticism is more rational, has been addressed elsewhere on the forum [search for agnosticism].

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Yes, but if my asking questions of you justifies your asking a question of me, it would help if actually answered my questions before you had any reasonable expectation that I would answer yours. smile.gif
Well, I consider your questions to be a form of a red herring. What use would it be to consider the existence of tea pots around Mars (as Dawkin famously put it)? We're not considering that, at all. By appealing to such questions, you are suggesting that the case of God can be just reduced to something absurd. I don't think this is the case. There is absolutely nothing absurd about people thinking that this world was somehow designed. They observe everything has been caused by something else, so they assume that this world was caused too. Or they see that everything has been designed, so they assume this world has a designer. This is just as 'absurd' as assuming that you will come back to the ground when you jump. You can never 'know' you will come back to the ground which each jump, you can only form a judgment about that based on what you have experienced in the past. You have no true available evidence to 'know' anything for a fact, you can only believe. This form of skepticism is probably what has been bugging us ever since the dawn of the modern age, without anybody being able to really resolve it. And nowadays, this skepticism has evolved into relativism. Although I believe Ayn Rand is not a relativist, her epistemology is seriously flawed (which is a shame, because I consider her politics and ethics brilliant). She completely ignores the skeptical views that have marked our past, and that we will have to deal with. Any appeal to the absolute will be easily refuted by the relativist, and the relativist himself is flawed too, since his view is absolute in itself. Who is right, is a tough problem.

As Descartes pointed out in his works, there is no more reason for believing that your body exists, than there is for believing in God. These both seem things that are simply outside the realm of our knowledge.

On top of this, there is no use to make a claim about something based on the fact that there is no evidence. If there's a dead body, and the police arrives, do you think they just discard the case as being suicide just because there's no visible evidence of a murder?

Because there is no evidence to prompt such a belief, particularly so when one tries to pick a particular supreme being. Faith in a religious context is a claim to "know" that which is admittedly unknowable. If a person wants to believe in the arbitrary, then believing in the Giant Purple Space Goat is just as valid (or rather invalid) as believing in God (with a big christian G). Any 'argument' for a supreme being ultimately relies on a leap of faith, an abandonment of reason and throwing aside what is known of the laws of physics.

What have the laws of physics to do with God? On top of that, who says it requires an abandonment of reason to believe in God? It might as well require an abandonment of reason not to believe in God. Who is to be the judge on such a thing? I think it is an abandonment of reason to just reduce God to the absurd. But does this prove anything in itself? It's just a meaningless statement, because we have no standard by which to measure the truth of such a statement.

Now, to clear any possible presumptions you have of me, I'm not a religious person. I used to be an atheist myself, but when I became interested into theology, particularly Deism (which is the rational approach to the big G question, which doesnt rely on scriptures such as the bible and such), I found that I could not hold on to my atheism very much longer. It would require an 'abandonment of reason' to remain atheist. I'm not interested one bit in heavens, hells, Jesus, I know what else the Christian faith requires you to believe. I think that Christianity doesn't have the monopoly on God, and that we should all simply at least consider just the idea of God existing, as an entity on itself.

Based on the available evidence, none, the 'negative' is the rational conclusion so I'm not concerned with what you would say, only what you can prove if you are asserting the positive. This is your opportunity present the case for god (big G or little g). What's your evidence?
Evidence? Well, as I said before, I don't like to rely on knowledge based from experience. As such, I'm what people would consider a rationalist. I try to rely on knowledge that is based on reason. Now, I found that most of the 'evidence' for God is quite... Weak. The kosmological argument (Everything has a cause, so the universe has too), for example, can be refuted on the grounds that there is no reason that God should be behind the universe. It might as well have been your space goats. The teleological argument (Everything has a purpose) is just circular, and proves little. Anthropological arguments (The earth has been designed for us to live in) proves nothing, I mean, it could've been space goats that made our planet habitable.

One form of evidence I particularly like myself, though, is the ontological argument, especially because it holds in modern logic, and because it is a-priori-, i.e. not based on experience. The idea of that evidence is that we can imagine a perfect being (one that is all-knowing, omnipresent, all-good, etc), and as such, this perfect being must exist, since existence itself is a perfection. You can find a lot of information (and objections, which you are prolly more interested in anyway) here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/

Now that's a rational statement, though it would be more accurate if describe what you mean by 'strength' (since you seem to distinguish it from self-confidence) as I assume you are not talking about physical strength.

By strenght I mean the ability to make rational decisions based on one's own judgements, instead of following the directions of others.

Define how you are using the term 'plain luck'? What is 'plain luck'? The answer to your question depends on your definition and the specific context of those 'other matters'. Perhaps you can provide a concrete 'other matter'. Without further clarification or specificity, your question is unanswerable and of dubious value. I can tell you that the answer to some specific instances of your question would be, I don't know. This is where the 'faithful' feel the need to insert something, anything so that they can have an answer because they have a harder time coping with not having an answer.

Well, I thought I'd just play with the question. My own answer to it is that nothing is 'plain luck', because everything has been caused, so that everything makes sense when the big picture is taken into consideration. There's no room for luck when physical determinism holds true! But then, who or what are we to thank for causality? The answer to this question is irrelevant, the only thing I'd like to point out is that we can't thank ourselves for that causality, because we never caused it. We're in the hands of it, and need to play by its rules. We should be proud of our achievements, but there is a line that can be drawn between our achievements, and the achievements of the laws of the universe.

Long post, hope it was worth it! :thumbsup:

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By appealing to such questions, you are suggesting that the case of God can be just reduced to something absurd.

Well, I would use the word irrational.

This is just as 'absurd' as assuming that you will come back to the ground when you jump.
Not really. What you call 'experience' is evidence. When I jump, I come back down due to the scientifically verified phenomena known as 'gravity'.

You have no true available evidence to 'know' anything for a fact, you can only believe.

As Descartes pointed out in his works, there is no more reason for believing that your body exists, than there is for believing in God.
Please note the comment I made above about 'nihilism'. If actually subscribe to these ideas and use them as arguments on this forum, your stay here will be short-lived.

On top of this, there is no use to make a claim about something based on the fact that there is no evidence.

Unless of course one is a rational person.

If there's a dead body, and the police arrives, do you think they just discard the case as being suicide just because there's no visible evidence of a murder?
It's ironic that you use this example since that is what I do. First, it may neither be a suicide or a homicide as the person may have died by natural causes. What they do is 'investigate' the death to look for evidence as to how the person died. If they find evidence, they can know how the person died. If they don't find evidence, they cannot know how they died. But either way, they know the person died (just as man can know he and his body exists) But the investigation, their ability to draw accurate conclusions from the evidence they find comes from a foundation of knowledge established by past investigations and scientific techniques. Is that a perfect foundation of knowledge? No, it is continually evolving base of knowledge which improves as we use our senses to take in evidence and our capacity for rational thought to determine what that evidence means. In some investigations they can know exactly what happened and in some investigations they cannot know what happened. In the case of the latter, all they can know is that someone died. For them to formulate a case and take it to court without the use of evidence and reason is absurd. Such is the 'case' for god. Man has evidence to know he exists, but no evidence to make a case about the causation of that existence.

What have the laws of physics to do with God?

If you search the forum for this topic, other threads will come up to explain this. I will not reiterate what has already been said before by persons more capable of the explanation than myself.

Who is to be the judge on such a thing?

Man is to be the judge of such things because he is the only species known to exist to possess the tools necessary to make such judgement for himself.

I have to leave for the moment, but I will address the rest of your post later.

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Please note the comment I made above about 'nihilism'. If actually subscribe to these ideas and use them as arguments on this forum, your stay here will be short-lived.

So it is. I won't be replying any further here, this is just absurd. I don't talk with people when they poke the muzzle of a gun in my side. Goodbye.

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So supposing one wanted to learn more about these hyper-intelligent purple space goats, where would one go?

( just kidding )

To purple space. They are so intelligent they just blend in. You don't know if you're surrounded by goats or just space. They don't know, either, but that doesn't stop them. They thrive on the unknowable, they grow on unknowing. It won't be long before they conquer nothing!! And time marches on!

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  • 2 weeks later...
To expound on what DavidOdden said: it is never in your self-interest to act irrationally.

To the extent that your friend acts rationally she lives, to the extent that she acts irrationally she dies.

If your friend was standing in the road and a bus was speeding toward her: acting rationally saves her life, acting irrationally kills her.

The only possible world in which believing irrational things is tantamount to acting irrationally for survival is one in which people have only conscious, emotionally detached minds. It is a fact that we evolved from... animals!

In conclusion, this would be fine, but this simply isn't how our brains work. I can understand the position that "people ought to behave entirely rationally" in the sense that their whole should behave in a way that embraces life and acts rationally, but it is an absurd leap of logic (and it defies modern neuroscience) to conclude that all such 'rational processes' must be dissectable by our own conscious mind in a way that appears 'rational' to it. That would be an aggregious equivocation of the meaning of 'rational' and given the fact that we do have emotions, the two concepts would be put at odds: surely one, or the other, is meant, and not both.

Edited by Arkanin
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I can understand the position that "people ought to behave entirely rationally" in the sense that their whole should behave in a way that embraces life and acts rationally, but it is an absurd leap of logic (and it defies modern neuroscience) to conclude that all such 'rational processes' must be dissectable by our own conscious mind in a way that appears 'rational' to it. That would be an aggregious equivocation of the meaning of 'rational' and given the fact that we do have emotions, the two concepts would be put at odds: surely one, or the other, is meant, and not both.

I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say here. Are you saying that emotions are not rational? Can you provide an example of a 'rational process' that is not dissectable by a conscious mind? Although I don't know much about modern neuroscience, I don't believe that thorough, rational introspection defies it. Am I wrong, or is that not what you are saying?

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  • 4 weeks later...
You have no true available evidence to 'know' anything for a fact, you can only believe.

I say, THERE IS NO SUCH THINGS AS BELIEFS!

There are only DESIRES and WANTS.

Things are or aren't..Whether you want it that way or not.

To say "I believe" is to say "I want"

Some Examples:

Billy believes that God exists. = Billy wants God to exist.

Sarah believes that Man in inhierently good. = Sarah wants Man to be inhierently good.

Paul believes the world is flat. = All his life Paul was told the world was flat by people that raised and loved him...Paul doesn't want to betray them and risk being an outcast..So Paul wants the world to be flat so that he can be happy with his family.

(or, my favorite)

Chuck believes the next roll on the dice will be seven. = Damn! does Chuck want that next roll to be seven! B)

You can argue about the benefits of irrational thinking until you're blue in the face.

But that won't change the fact that your friend "WANTS" God to exist.

The Muslims "WANT" Allah to exist.

The Christians "WANT" Jesus to be the son of God.

The list goes on......

I WANT AN ANSWER FROM YOUR FRIEND TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTION:

WHAT'S THE WORST CASE SENERIO, IF SHE STOPPED WANTING GOD TO EXIST?

Edited by chuckster
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To purple space. They are so intelligent they just blend in. You don't know if you're surrounded by goats or just space. They don't know, either, but that doesn't stop them. They thrive on the unknowable, they grow on unknowing. It won't be long before they conquer nothing!! And time marches on!

That was freaking awesome - I almost fell out of my chair. :)

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I say, THERE IS NO SUCH THINGS AS BELIEFS!

There are only DESIRES and WANTS.

So, what you're really saying is: You want there to be no such things as beliefs. But, in reality, you have no f'ing clue whether they exist or not. Right?

Or, do you believe that there are no beliefs? In which case your statement refutes itself.

Either you're clueless or self-refuting. Which is it?

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  • 4 months later...
Some beliefs are not wants though... for example someone may believe they are dying of cancer, even though they don't want to.

OK, OK, it's symantics...

They don't "want" to die of cancer, but they "know" they're dying of cancer. And if it's factual knowledge, then it's not a belief. it's a fact.

But if they suffer from a phsycosematic disorder, then it's not true, but they "want" it to be true. Because they are "ignorant" of the "truth".

Beliefs = Ignorance of the truth.

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I think "belief" would be more aptly described as "not being sure of something, but thinking it is likely." For example:

I believe it is noon, it was 10 o'clock about 2 hrs ago

I believe she told me that she was going to the bathroom, although maybe she said she had just come from the bathroom

I believe it will be a full moon tonight, i looked at the lunar calendar a few days ago and I think it said it would be full in a few days

I believe in God, although I've never seen him, but it doesn't make sense to me that the universe doesn't have a creator

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