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Unbelief, the world’s third-largest religion

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#106    Mr Walker

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 09:32 PM

View PostSean93, on 30 December 2012 - 05:30 PM, said:

I don't see how an Agnostic can be called a fence sitter.

An Agnostic claims that they do not know if God exists and rightly so.
An Atheist knows there is no God...but how? If this information is out there, can I see it please? Same goes for the believer who says they know God exists, please show us all this proof so that we can put an end to these debates and get cracking on the interstellar space travel.

I personally don't believe in/ trust the Earthly religions or gods/ goddesses but that's not to say there isn't a creator of some sort out there, we're one planet, a grain of sand on a  thousand mile long beach, let's all reserve conclusions until the proof rears it's head and that it doesn't take the form of some book written thousands of years ago or by some Charlatan.

I think Agnostics are the one's who need to be applauded because at least they can say "I don't know yet" as opposed to the Staunch Believer/Atheists "I know" claim.
There's nothing wrong in saying that you aren't sure because in the end it all comes down to faith.  

In retrospect, we're all Agnostics because inside I guarantee the Believer and Atheist have thought "Have I got this wrong?" at least once in their lives.

(Of course I won't even bother with the holy book-bashing crazy religious nut jobs, they aren't worth the time of anyone)

Belief and non belief are two sides of the same coin. They are both actually forms of belief and are arrived at by a similar application of thought.

This can be understood via a study of the way human beliefs are constructed. A belief per se can only  rationally exist in the absence of knowledge. (So i cannot chose  rationally to believe the earth is flat.)

An agnostic is a person who says, "I chose neither belief nor disbelief i simply do not have enough facts to know and so i will wait until i can know."

A person who knows must have logical and basically incontrovertible proofs for their knowledge. BUT those proofs need only be personal experiences. (A person who cannot trust their own experiences via observation and logic has a real problem)

Transferrable evidences are not required for personal knolwedge, only to convince others without that personal knolwedge So the first white person to see a platypus KNEW it existed, but to convince others back in europe required considerable transferrable proofs. Even the first few stuffed examples were considered fakes by the scientific establishment, who claimed such an animal was biologically imposible.

Finally, second or third hand evidences or data; including words, oral or pictographic evidences, are not proof in them selves. They rely on the first person believing the source of the information. We are taught to trust the written word, to a lesser extent a person's word, and to a greater extent (until computers) pictorial evidences, but none offer transferrable proof without belief in them. Only personal experience is absolute  evidence for anything. And only then if one can trust ones physical senses of perception, and the operation of ones mnd.

Edited by Mr Walker, 30 December 2012 - 09:34 PM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#107    Sean93

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:33 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 30 December 2012 - 09:32 PM, said:

Belief and non belief are two sides of the same coin. They are both actually forms of belief and are arrived at by a similar application of thought.

This can be understood via a study of the way human beliefs are constructed. A belief per se can only  rationally exist in the absence of knowledge. (So i cannot chose  rationally to believe the earth is flat.)

An agnostic is a person who says, "I chose neither belief nor disbelief i simply do not have enough facts to know and so i will wait until i can know."

A person who knows must have logical and basically incontrovertible proofs for their knowledge. BUT those proofs need only be personal experiences. (A person who cannot trust their own experiences via observation and logic has a real problem)

Transferrable evidences are not required for personal knolwedge, only to convince others without that personal knolwedge So the first white person to see a platypus KNEW it existed, but to convince others back in europe required considerable transferrable proofs. Even the first few stuffed examples were considered fakes by the scientific establishment, who claimed such an animal was biologically imposible.

Finally, second or third hand evidences or data; including words, oral or pictographic evidences, are not proof in them selves. They rely on the first person believing the source of the information. We are taught to trust the written word, to a lesser extent a person's word, and to a greater extent (until computers) pictorial evidences, but none offer transferrable proof without belief in them. Only personal experience is absolute  evidence for anything. And only then if one can trust ones physical senses of perception, and the operation of ones mnd.

It's all well and good for someone to believe something because they have personal evidence and it's great when they can back it up (the platypus) but it does't always happen, such as in your own claims of meeting Angels and talking to god etc.

Sure, I understand it is real to you and if you really did have the experiences then they obviously are true but  to me it is just a claim without evidence, a story that I have the right to dismiss until evidence presents itself and of course, the same thing applies to all metaphysical and miraculous claims as well as scientific claims too, especially pseudo-science.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence"

I need to see the platypus.

Also, there is not very much difference between the written word and a person's word because they come from the same source: a human, who may have an agenda.

Edited by Sean93, 30 December 2012 - 11:34 PM.

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#108    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:26 AM

View Posteight bits, on 30 December 2012 - 08:33 PM, said:

LG

OK, it's probably best to recap a bit. As it happens, I wandered into a conversation between Arbenol68 and Seeker79, in which Arbie said:

Ha, thanks, it's doubly worse for me just wandering in also.

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So you can see that he disagrees with Dawkins about the existence of "7's" but does agree with Dawkins that believers (many believers) can experience certainty in their opinion.

I guess I don't see that he disagrees, and actually I agree with what you quoted from him.  He said that no atheist can 'logically' argue that they are as certain that no god exists, not that '7's don't exist; I'd say 7's do exist but they are indeed being illogical.  And technically, I'm not sure that Dawkins does say things about other's mental states.  From wiki, emphasis mine, "Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that would place themselves as "1" due to the strictness of religious doctrine against doubt, most atheists do not consider themselves "7" because atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person's mind."  And believers, from what I've seen and feel free to contradict me, express certainty in their opinion, regardless of your doubts concerning their actual experience, more so than atheists.  Partly for the reasons Dawkins says; being certain and not expressing doubt is part of some people's religion.

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The significance I find in spontaneous verbal self-reports is that they do not impart enough inforamtion about internal private mental experience for anybody - not Arbie, not me, and not Richard Dawkins - to compare the quality or intensity of these experiences between different people.

It may well be that people who hold one kind of opinion will characteristically choose different words to describe themselves and their experiences than people who hold an incomaptible kind of opinion. But whether they do or not, No spontaneous free-text verbal self-report, or collection of them, will validly support the kind of interpersonal comparisons that either Arbie or Dawkins proposes.

Again, I'm not sure that Dawkins' point relies fully on the accuracy of ascertaining other's mental states, we do have people's assessments of their own mental states to go on, and his spectrum is a fleshing out of questions concerning where we draw the line between belief, agnosticism, and atheism.  If no one can ever accurately know their true mental states and beliefs about things, let alone anyone else's, doesn't that render all discussions having to do with the categories 'believers' and 'atheists' moot?  We could of course put the words, 'those who call themselves', before 'believers' and 'atheists' every time we use them if we really require that level of specificity.

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I am unsure whether any people learning academic subjects have that kind of experience or not. I agree that learning is a kind of opinion formation, but I just don't know if it has the same qualities as abstracting an opinion about God from a lifetime of personal experiences.

Sure, sometimes, with some granularity, and about some mental states. That's what they do every business day on Wall Street, or in the sports book shops in Vegas or London.

Some people are also gifted or trained in expressing their confidence within some standardized formal system, like probability. Unfortunately, the people who are really good at that tend not to be prominent atheists or believers. And prominent or not, what with all that unusual attention to articulating their interior mental states rigorously, they may be atypical in their belief or disbelief.

I am reluctant to call anybody's consistent personal beliefs "unreasonable."

I don't know that I'm really buying this, I find that believers are entirely capable of understanding and expressing with specificity gradients of certainty on a whole host of other topics.  There really isn't much wiggle room anyway as far as what words mean in the statement, 'even if some one tried to provide (evidence that my beliefs are likely wrong) I would reject it".  I don't know for what values of 'reason' you would not find that position 'unreasonable'.

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The latter sounds quite reasonable and routine: it's a prediction about the future state of the evidence, and making such predictions is a function of belief. The other may or may not be reasonable, depending on what the speaker meant by that "would ... absolutely ... could" sequence. Is that also a prediction, or is it a claim of logical necessity - or what? I get that the chosen believers have more bluster than selected atheists might have, but the question was whether they had more confidence. And that question stands unanswered from these snippets, IMO.

"There would be absolutely no PROOF that can be shown to me" indeed may be a prediction or a logical claim, that is unclear, but what seems more clear is that the speaker has at the very least prejudged all possible future evidence and has stated before even seeing it that it will not convince him otherwise.

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First, Jung disagrees with you about what 99% of the population means by 'God.' Maybe he's right, maybe you're right, but obviously, Jung's beliefs will be what drives Jung's testimony about his own beliefs. Otherwise, we can stop right there and say that Jung's testimony is uninformative about his beliefs, and so Dawkins erred to use Jung's testimony at all.

Uh no, there is no 'maybe he's right'; if what Jung means by 'God' is 'not any external object of religious worship' and are private experiences, then he is not using the word correctly in context, especially when asked the banal 'how certain are you that God exists?', you can't honestly say that he didn't know what was being referred to.

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If some internet blogger can find them, then how could Dawkins, an Oxford professor, miss them? There was no compelling reason for Dawkins to mention Jung's religious opinions. Jung is not a "7." Jung is, however, a recognized expert in psychology. Dawkins introduced him solely because some words that Jung uttered, three times no less, could be divorced from their context, also three times, and made to appear to lend elite expert support to Dawkins' otherwise speculative and unsupported point about the existence of "7's."

I call them as I see them. That's what quote mining looks like.

Actually to clarify, Jung was being referred to as a '1' - certain theist; '7' is certain atheist.  I've already shown above that '1's do exist and I always thought it was obvious. I personally don't find the claim that believers say they are certain to be speculative, and was what I though Arbie was getting at with his 'just ask a believer' comment.  But I think the main difference is whether we are talking about things that require knowing other's mental states, which is I think the context within which you are looking at this, or whether we are talking about how people consider themselves, so to some extent I think we're talking past each other.  I also have not delved into the angle with which you and Arbie were discussing this which sounds like was from a 'mental state' standpoint that seems different than Dawkins spectrum.  Interesting stuff regardless.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into"
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#109    eight bits

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 12:10 PM

In asserting the existence of "7" people, Dawkins, so far as I know, made no objection to their logical consistency. So, if Arbie's statement is best to be interpreted as allowing the existence of "7's" after all, but at the cost of their being illogical, then Arbie would seem to remain in disagreement with Dawkins' expressed view.

That would also mean, however, that Arbie and I are in even deeper disagreement than what caused me to ask him a question about his method for interpersonal comparison. I think it is possible for a logcially consistent someone to be a "1" or a "7," my questions were about whether the possibilities were realized, more one than the other, and how you'd know.

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If no one can ever accurately know their true mental states and beliefs about things, let alone anyone else's, doesn't that render all discussions having to do with the categories 'believers' and 'atheists' moot?  We could of course put the words, 'those who call themselves', before 'believers' and 'atheists' every time we use them if we really require that level of specificity.

Not at all. "What do you believe about God?" and "How confidently do you believe it?" are two separate questions. With respect to the first, we have wonderful discussions, right here at UM. With respect to the second, we can take the reports for what they are, warts and all. Historically, that has contributed to the development of human understanding of uncertain belief - which is not the same as believing the reports to be literally accurate or reliable.

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I find that believers are entirely capable of understanding and expressing with specificity gradients of certainty on a whole host of other topics.

I don't have a problem with anybody's capacity to understand these concepts. On the other hand, it isn't something most people study in enough depth to set themselves up as practitioners. Folk practice based on introspection predictably will combine the shortcomings of both.

For example,

Quote

There really isn't much wiggle room anyway as far as what words mean in the statement, 'even if some one tried to provide (evidence that my beliefs are likely wrong) I would reject it".  I don't know for what values of 'reason' you would not find that position 'unreasonable'.

Really not? Is the person saying: "I predict that opinion-changing evidence will not in fact be produced," or, is the person saying "I resolve to adhere to my view regardless even of evidence which I agree should suffice to discredit my view"?

If the first is unreasonable, then all uncertain belief is unreasonable. I can only hold a reasonable belief that uncertain X is so by also believing that it is correspondingly unlikely that X will be shown not to be so. The second, and only the second, is unreasonable.

Is the second what the person is saying? How the hell would I know? How the hell do you know? And the kicker is, I'd be willing to bet that the person has never spent as much as an hour in his or her life sweating the difference between rational expectations about future evidence based on present belief, and categorical rejection of the possibility of adequate contrary evidence (as is rational for things like 2 + 2, or that I exist, or that I am not the only thing that does exist, ... , but unreasonable for things that are only resolvable by evidence).

So, even if the person "meant" the second, that person (in my opinion, that in all likelihood) doesn't know what they're talking about. Since what they're talking about is their own level of confidence, and they don't know about it, then how the hell am I supposed to know it? And then knowing it, compare that with someone else's confidence, based on that someone else's personal theory of how best to express their own private confidence?

It is not that the task is strictly impossible, but just asking somebody isn't going to cut it. And what might cut it doesn't appear ever to have been done.

Quote

Uh no, there is no 'maybe he's right'; if what Jung means by 'God' is 'not any external object of religious worship' and are private experiences, then he is not using the word correctly in context, especially when asked the banal 'how certain are you that God exists?', you can't honestly say that he didn't know what was being referred to.

Oh, I am sorry, I didn't realize that you are a psychiatrist, speaking in a context where exploring your personal views about human thought and behavior, which are sought because you are internationally famous for psychiatry, is an announced purpose of this conversation. My bad.

Jung, however, was in exactly that situation on all three occasions where he said what interests us. He was perfectly entitled on those occasions to state his view about what the term God actually refers to when people use that term, even if their own understanding of their speech behavior differs from his. That's among the things that psychiatrists are paid for.

That you or I might have expressed the same thought differently doesn't help Dawkins. Dawkins didn't choose to quote either of us, he chose to quote Jung. When Dawkins did so, without checking or without disclosing the context in which Jung spoke, Dawkins quote mined.

Edited by eight bits, 31 December 2012 - 12:11 PM.

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#110    Mr Walker

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:10 AM

View PostSean93, on 30 December 2012 - 11:33 PM, said:

It's all well and good for someone to believe something because they have personal evidence and it's great when they can back it up (the platypus) but it does't always happen, such as in your own claims of meeting Angels and talking to god etc.

Sure, I understand it is real to you and if you really did have the experiences then they obviously are true but  to me it is just a claim without evidence, a story that I have the right to dismiss until evidence presents itself and of course, the same thing applies to all metaphysical and miraculous claims as well as scientific claims too, especially pseudo-science.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence"

I need to see the platypus.

Also, there is not very much difference between the written word and a person's word because they come from the same source: a human, who may have an agenda.

I dont expect you to believe me, but your belief or disbelief is as irrelevant to the reality of an angel or god as it is to the reality of a platypus. Gods and angels, ghosts and many other things exist in this world, no matter what they are or how we chose to name them  I empathise with your need to see the platypus I have seen one once at the healseville sanctuary tha twas more convincing evidence to me than any picture, video or encyclopedia reference to its existence.  
However i suspect you do NOT need to see the platpus. You  more likely allow the cumulative evidence and experience of others to convince you to believe that platypi exist, despite never having seen one.

This is not true for paranormal things because their existence is not so commonly accepted and there remains debate about their existence. Therefore belief and disbelief are equally logical and accpetable alternatives.

If you told someone you didn't believe in platypi because you had never seen one, the y would look at you askance, but if you say you dont believe in gods because you have never met one, most people think "Oh well, that makes sense."

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#111    Sean93

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:35 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 01 January 2013 - 12:10 AM, said:

I dont expect you to believe me, but your belief or disbelief is as irrelevant to the reality of an angel or god as it is to the reality of a platypus. Gods and angels, ghosts and many other things exist in this world, no matter what they are or how we chose to name them  I empathise with your need to see the platypus I have seen one once at the healseville sanctuary tha twas more convincing evidence to me than any picture, video or encyclopedia reference to its existence.  
However i suspect you do NOT need to see the platpus. You  more likely allow the cumulative evidence and experience of others to convince you to believe that platypi exist, despite never having seen one.

This is not true for paranormal things because their existence is not so commonly accepted and there remains debate about their existence. Therefore belief and disbelief are equally logical and accpetable alternatives.

If you told someone you didn't believe in platypi because you had never seen one, the y would look at you askance, but if you say you dont believe in gods because you have never met one, most people think "Oh well, that makes sense."

Well obviously, if you've never seen a platypus, someone can say with confidence, well let's go and see one then but that does not happen with a god, the most you'll get is testimonies or second rate miracles like that of the Ganesha milk miracle. No priest or monk will say, "Come on, I'll show you god" and mean that they can physically show you it.

Of course seeing is believing but I have to ask: what would you say you believe in more, an Aardvark or a Yeti?

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#112    Mr Walker

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:42 AM

View PostSean93, on 01 January 2013 - 12:35 AM, said:

Well obviously, if you've never seen a platypus, someone can say with confidence, well let's go and see one then but that does not happen with a god, the most you'll get is testimonies or second rate miracles like that of the Ganesha milk miracle. No priest or monk will say, "Come on, I'll show you god" and mean that they can physically show you it.

Of course seeing is believing but I have to ask: what would you say you believe in more, an Aardvark or a Yeti?

To be honest I have no belief or disbelief in either.  I chose not to believe/disbelieve in anything unless i have a reason to invest such belief. eg i believ in my wife's loyalty, honesty, love and fidelity.

I have the same personal evidences for both  aardvark and yeti, ie none, and so i can not be sure with certainty that either exists. Rather than a measure based on belief, I establish a measure of probability. I would say that the probabilty that ardvarks exist is over 90% on available second/third hand evidences.Ii would say that the probabilty a yeti exists is less than 20% based on the same type of evidences, but it depends on the nature  of, or how we categorise a yeti.

An aardvark has a hard and fast scientific classification. Not enough is known about yetis to give them such a classification.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#113    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:50 PM

First off, Happy New Year, eight!

View Posteight bits, on 31 December 2012 - 12:10 PM, said:

In asserting the existence of "7" people, Dawkins, so far as I know, made no objection to their logical consistency. So, if Arbie's statement is best to be interpreted as allowing the existence of "7's" after all, but at the cost of their being illogical, then Arbie would seem to remain in disagreement with Dawkins' expressed view.

This doesn't seem logical to me.  If Dawkins made no objection to their logical consistency then it sounds like we do not know based on that what he actually thought about their logical consistency.  Thus if it's unknown, we don't know if it conflicts with Arbie.

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That would also mean, however, that Arbie and I are in even deeper disagreement than what caused me to ask him a question about his method for interpersonal comparison. I think it is possible for a logcially consistent someone to be a "1" or a "7," my questions were about whether the possibilities were realized, more one than the other, and how you'd know.

That may very well be, I think based on your overall reply here that I've caused a lot of confusion by jumping into your conversation.

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Not at all. "What do you believe about God?" and "How confidently do you believe it?" are two separate questions. With respect to the first, we have wonderful discussions, right here at UM. With respect to the second, we can take the reports for what they are, warts and all. Historically, that has contributed to the development of human understanding of uncertain belief - which is not the same as believing the reports to be literally accurate or reliable.

I agree, there have been wonderful discussions here, but if we're being consistent than these discussions really didn't lead anywhere further than the 'how confidently do you believe it' question.  If you think that people cannot accurately ascertain their own beliefs and mental states and cannot accurately use words concerning certainty, then that is likely even worse when discussing far more ineffable subjects such as 'God', those discussions should be even more wart-covered.  What development of human understanding of uncertain belief, beyond the simple what people claim to be, can be had when what is meant by 'uncertain' and 'belief' is not reliable nor accurate?

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I don't have a problem with anybody's capacity to understand these concepts. On the other hand, it isn't something most people study in enough depth to set themselves up as practitioners. Folk practice based on introspection predictably will combine the shortcomings of both.

I think we're blending two different questions here, again my fault.  I fully agree with what you said earlier for example concerning requiring expertise in order to place much value on what laymen conclude that may based on their evaluation of probabilities, it's pretty much already been shown that non-experts often make mistakes in determining and applying those.  But I think the statements 'what do you believe about 'x'' is different than 'is what you believe reasonably founded'.  As far as I can tell, Dawkins is only talking about the former with his spectrum.

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Really not? Is the person saying: "I predict that opinion-changing evidence will not in fact be produced," or, is the person saying "I resolve to adhere to my view regardless even of evidence which I agree should suffice to discredit my view"?

I'd say it's closer to the latter; the former does not acknowledge or reflect at all the clause "I would reject it".

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Is the second what the person is saying? How the hell would I know? How the hell do you know? And the kicker is, I'd be willing to bet that the person has never spent as much as an hour in his or her life sweating the difference between rational expectations about future evidence based on present belief, and categorical rejection of the possibility of adequate contrary evidence (as is rational for things like 2 + 2, or that I exist, or that I am not the only thing that does exist, ... , but unreasonable for things that are only resolvable by evidence).

As I said above, the question of whether what you believe is valid or reasonable is a separate question from simply, what do you believe.  I'd be willing to bet that many people who state "I don't believe in evolution" have never cracked a biology textbook and can't even accurately describe evolution in the first place.  This does not mean that evolution is validly challenged in anyway by their disbelief, but I don't think it follows that it has no information content at all, it tells us something about what the person thinks they believe (depending on where we draw the line with the idea that people don't accurately know some of their mental states).

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So, even if the person "meant" the second, that person (in my opinion, that in all likelihood) doesn't know what they're talking about. Since what they're talking about is their own level of confidence, and they don't know about it, then how the hell am I supposed to know it? And then knowing it, compare that with someone else's confidence, based on that someone else's personal theory of how best to express their own private confidence?

How can you possibly know any likelihood about whether the person 'doesn't know what they're talking about' with the given that they, and therefore you, cannot know if they are correct since they may not be accurately communicating their own mental state?  I think people do 'know about' their level of confidence, they are the only one who really has access to the data.  That doesn't mean that what they think they know, or that they are 'certain' about it, is 100% accurate, nor does it mean that they have communicated it 100% clearly, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's worthless either.  I don't think there's any special unknowability about 'confidence' versus any other mental state or idea; if you want to pull the rug out from under confidence that's okay I guess, but I see no reason to stop there.  We definitely can't trust anyone's statements concerning their emotions either I'd guess; the concept of 'certainty' is easier to get a handle on and easier to communicate and interpret than emotions.  But despite that, when someone says "I'm deathly afraid of spiders" and another says "I'm not afraid of flying", I think there is some grounds for comparison there.

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It is not that the task is strictly impossible, but just asking somebody isn't going to cut it. And what might cut it doesn't appear ever to have been done.

I'm unaware of how to determine if someone is actually determining their own mental state and communicating it correctly short of telepathy.

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Oh, I am sorry, I didn't realize that you are a psychiatrist, speaking in a context where exploring your personal views about human thought and behavior, which are sought because you are internationally famous for psychiatry, is an announced purpose of this conversation. My bad.

This really makes me think we're having two different conversations, I have no idea where on earth this is coming from.  I don't need to be a psychiatrist, I just need to understand English.

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Jung, however, was in exactly that situation on all three occasions where he said what interests us. He was perfectly entitled on those occasions to state his view about what the term God actually refers to when people use that term, even if their own understanding of their speech behavior differs from his. That's among the things that psychiatrists are paid for.

I disagree that he is 'perfectly entitled'.  Here's what I'm basing this on, from your link:

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Freeman asked whether Jung still believed in God. Jung answered,
"Now? (Pause) Difficult to answer. I know. I needn’t, I don’t need to believe. I know."
After receiving many letters about his answer, Jung wrote to the BBC’s weekly magazine, The Listener, to amplify, if not necessarily clarify, his remarks.

He was not asked what his personal conceptualization of 'God' was; he was asked if he believed in 'God', and is not entitled to forge ahead and use an extremely non-standard definition.  Feel free to find anywhere where 'one's conscience' is a valid, acceptable definition for 'God' in English.  Would you give him a pass likewise if he was asked, 'Do you believe in Allah?', and said yes and we then found out that he just meant 'conscience' by 'Allah'?  In the other extreme, would you give him a pass if he knows God exists, but months later clarifies that he considers his cat to be God?  I would assume so since you are putting the onus on Dawkins to apparently review all of Jung's writings prior to quoting him to see if he later clarified his non-standard use of English vocabulary.

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That you or I might have expressed the same thought differently doesn't help Dawkins. Dawkins didn't choose to quote either of us, he chose to quote Jung. When Dawkins did so, without checking or without disclosing the context in which Jung spoke, Dawkins quote mined.

And as I've explained, quoting Jung is irrelevant to his argument.  Here again is what we are talking about:  "1 - Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: "I do not believe, I know.".  Jung's words are clearly being used as an example here of his point, not as the point itself; as I explained we can substitute the Pope or leave out any example altogether and the point does not change.  Some theists claim absolute certainty that God exists, that is a fact.  I strongly suspect that it is a fact that the number of theists who claim absolute certainty are relatively greater than the atheists on the other end of the spectrum stating absolute certainty, which was part of Dawkins' point.

The more I find out about this, the more I disagree with your quote-mining charge.  Here was your synopsis from earlier:

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The only time there was any widespread confusion reported was after the TV interview.

The source of that confusion, IMO, was the sequence of questions (over which Jung had no control) that made it appear that Jung could be saying something we know that he didn't intend. Jung truthfully answered each question as it was presented to him, without an on camera opportunity to reconcile the individual answers. That was the source of the confusion, not anything that Jung did personally and could have done otherwise.

Which is all fine, that is a reasonable answer as to why Jung came off as confusing if you were just to go by the TV interview, which as far as I know, is all Dawkins was going from likewise; Jung didn't have time to provide further information on what he specifically meant by 'God', I'm not really trying to bad-mouth Jung and have no reason to think that he himself would have liked to have provided that elaboration at the time.  What I don't understand is why your acceptance that this was simple miscommunication does not extend to Dawkins, do you have some evidence that Dawkins was aware of the other interview and clarifying letter?  I simply don't agree with you that one must be aware of everything someone has written on a subject or risk 'quote-mining', that is not what the term refers to.  First off both Jung and Dawkins have enormous amounts of output.  Quote-mining is also referred to as 'contextomy' and from the all-revered wiki, emphasis mine:  "Contextomy refers to the selective excerpting of words from their original linguistic context in a way that distorts the source’s intended meaning, a practice commonly referred to as "quoting out of context". The problem here is not the removal of a quote from its original context (as all quotes are) per se, but to the quoter's decision to exclude from the excerpt certain nearby phrases or sentences (which become "context" by virtue of the exclusion) that serve to clarify the intentions behind the selected words. "  If what Dawkins is going on is the TV interview, under no condition are clarifications provided more than two months later considered 'nearby'.  Taken with the fact that 'Jung' is only mentioned as a superfluous example of what he's talking about with his '1's, the quote-mine charge seems even weaker.  All we know so far, based on the evidence here, is that Dawkins was mistaken about the side subject of what Jung believed, a mistake that is entirely understandable if he went by what Jung said in the interview.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into"
"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" - C. Hitchens
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman

#114    eight bits

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:53 PM

Happy New Year, LG.

Arbie has been shrewdly content for you and me to duke it out over what he meant. I can only report what I understood him to mean, and compare that with what I understood Dawkins to mean. Maybe Arbie'll come back and clarify, and while he's here, he can comment directly on the Dawkins "scale."

I'm not as worried as you seem to be about how confident people I meet in discussions are with their beliefs. I think what develops the discussions around here are explanations of why folks believe what they do, at least for me. If they've noticed something that I haven't, and they point it out to me, then I've learned something.

(*) Just to be clear, though, it isn't that I think that people can't reliably report their mental states, but rather that it isn't a skill that many people invest the time and effort to learn to do well.

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I'd be willing to bet that many people who state "I don't believe in evolution" have never cracked a biology textbook and can't even accurately describe evolution in the first place.

Well, of course, that's a whole 'nother problem. I don't often visit the evolution threads, except to read what Copasetic (speaking of learning things) and maybe a few others have to say.

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How can you possibly know any likelihood about whether the person 'doesn't know what they're talking about' with the given that they, and therefore you, cannot know if they are correct since they may not be accurately communicating their own mental state?

The hypothesis was that many folks who tell me about what they'd do in the face of strong, but as yet unseen evidence haven't ever seriously addressed a crucial distinction between two possible predictions of the bearing of future evidence. If the hypothesis is met, then they don't what they are talking about.

(*) I'd repeat that earlier "starred" comment here, too.

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I'm unaware of how to determine if someone is actually determining their own mental state and communicating it correctly short of telepathy.

If people learn how to do it, and they're honest about it, then they can do it well. I'm confident that when the the weather forecaster says "There's an 80% chance of rain today," that I have adequately understood her confidence in the proposition. But, that's something she went to school for, right along with learning about how the atmosphere works.

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He was not asked what his personal conceptualization of 'God' was; he was asked if he believed in 'God', and is not entitled to forge ahead and use an extremely non-standard definition.

In English, God is used to refer to many conceptions of the highest supernatural entity, from everywhere in the world and at all times for which we have records. We see that diversity right here at UM. It is a cliche. A believer will say "You should thank God for your good fortune." An admirer of Dawkins will reply "Which one?"

If Dawkins' admirers are aware that the word God refers to a variety of conceptions, then how come Dawkins isn't? Easy. He is aware of it. He just didn't bother to check in this case.

ETA: Dawkins himself is quoted giving a version of the cliche in an interview:

http://shadowtolight...kins-meets-god/

As to the idea that Dawkins just liked the words "I don't believe - I know" and wasn't seeking to bolster his "scale" proposal by attaching Jung's reputation and authority as a psychologist to both of his most disputed categories: Sure, I believe that.

Can I still get in on that Brooklyn Bridge deal?

Edited by eight bits, 01 January 2013 - 10:50 PM.

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#115    Arbenol

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 03:10 AM

View Posteight bits, on 01 January 2013 - 09:53 PM, said:

Arbie has been shrewdly content for you and me to duke it out over what he meant. I can only report what I understood him to mean, and compare that with what I understood Dawkins to mean. Maybe Arbie'll come back and clarify, and while he's here, he can comment directly on the Dawkins "scale."

Ha ha! Oh,OK then. I must admit, this has been entertaining and a little bemusing. I really didn't think what I wrote was that controversial.

I'll try to clarify what I meant. First of all, I vaguely remember reading Dawkins and how he scales belief, but I can't recall it too well. That had no bearing on what I wrote and I have no idea whether I would agree with him or not.

I don't believe that any atheist can logically make the statement "God does not exist". This is because it is impossible to exclude the possibility, no matter how small it may be. An atheist can make statements describing the existence of a god as unlikely, implausible or unnecessary. But not impossible.

For a believer it's different. They can logically make statements of certainty. I can't remember who posted it, but another member here put in some quotes from believers that sum this position up. I've spoken to many believers - in person, on the internet and read books - and have come across statements of certainty in god's existence many times. The reasons can vary. I've heard people say that they are certain of God's existence because "he speaks to me", "I feel his presence" or that they have actually met God (you don't have to spend too long on these boards before seeing that). The accuracy of these statements is irrelevant. People who claim to be in direct communication with god may be mistaken, but it's their subjective certainty that I was referring to.

In summary, if a believer states that they know beyond any doubt that god exists, this is not necessarily an illogical statement. However, an atheist cannot logically say that they know for certain that a god does not exist. In fact, I don't know any that have. Certainly not Dawkins.

Edited by Arbenol68, 02 January 2013 - 03:49 AM.


#116    Likely Guy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 04:54 AM

Quote: An agnostic is a person who says, "I chose neither belief nor disbelief i simply do not have enough facts to know and so i will wait until i can know."

No, no, no. (Though by official definition, you may be correct.) Agnostics, by and large, don't care who's wrong or right, in the whole 'God Thing'.

If it was proved one way or the other tomorrow, it would make 'diddlysquat' in my lifestyle.

I renounce the Theist/Atheist construct. :)


#117    Mr Walker

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:33 AM

View PostArbenol68, on 02 January 2013 - 03:10 AM, said:

Ha ha! Oh,OK then. I must admit, this has been entertaining and a little bemusing. I really didn't think what I wrote was that controversial.

I'll try to clarify what I meant. First of all, I vaguely remember reading Dawkins and how he scales belief, but I can't recall it too well. That had no bearing on what I wrote and I have no idea whether I would agree with him or not.

I don't believe that any atheist can logically make the statement "God does not exist". This is because it is impossible to exclude the possibility, no matter how small it may be. An atheist can make statements describing the existence of a god as unlikely, implausible or unnecessary. But not impossible.

For a believer it's different. They can logically make statements of certainty. I can't remember who posted it, but another member here put in some quotes from believers that sum this position up. I've spoken to many believers - in person, on the internet and read books - and have come across statements of certainty in god's existence many times. The reasons can vary. I've heard people say that they are certain of God's existence because "he speaks to me", "I feel his presence" or that they have actually met God (you don't have to spend too long on these boards before seeing that). The accuracy of these statements is irrelevant. People who claim to be in direct communication with god may be mistaken, but it's their subjective certainty that I was referring to.

In summary, if a believer states that they know beyond any doubt that god exists, this is not necessarily an illogical statement. However, an atheist cannot logically say that they know for certain that a god does not exist. In fact, I don't know any that have. Certainly not Dawkins.

If someone has met god, conversed with him, or seen him, then they do not BELIEVE in the existence of god, they KNOW of gods existence. Of course their knowledge may be incomplete, inaccurate, or based on a false premise about the nature of what they experience, but it is no longer in the realm of belief.

And they can correctly, even if it turns out, inaccurately, claim to know that god exists. But no one can know that something postulated is non existent unless they have knowledge illustrating why this is corrrect. So, one can know that father christmas and the easter bunny do not exist because we know how their existence was constructed, and their historical background. There are a number of contributors on this forum who claim to know that god does not and cannot exist But in reality it is a sound and very embedded belief not knowledge.

Of course all of this debate hinges on how we define god as an entity. I do not believe that an omnipotent and omniscient god exists because it is a logical impossibility, even though i know a  real, physical, powerful and interventionist god does have physical reality in this local universe. Others would argue that as it is not ominiscient and omnipotent it cannot be god  My answer is that there is no reason why a god has to be ominscient and omnipotent. That is only one view of the god described in the books of christians jews and islam.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#118    Mr Walker

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:44 AM

View PostLikely Guy, on 02 January 2013 - 04:54 AM, said:

Quote: An agnostic is a person who says, "I chose neither belief nor disbelief i simply do not have enough facts to know and so i will wait until i can know."

No, no, no. (Though by official definition, you may be correct.) Agnostics, by and large, don't care who's wrong or right, in the whole 'God Thing'.

If it was proved one way or the other tomorrow, it would make 'diddlysquat' in my lifestyle.

I renounce the Theist/Atheist construct. :)
No, an agnostic, like a theist or an atheist, is an active position. It cannot be held by default. I am not sure what the word is for a person who never thinks/has thought about about the existence of god, or has never formed an opinon on god's existence. I have never encountered such a human being.
Theists atheist and agnostics may chose their position casually and almost by default, but they can only be one of those three positions as a choice. A new born child is none of the three.  A person who has never encountered the concept of a god is none of the three. All positions involve the consideration of the possibility of gods existence, and thus require first an understanding of the term god, and the theoretical nature of a god.  Eg if i ask you if you believe in quolls; before you can answer, you have to know what a quoll is. Saying," I dont care if quolls exist or not." is not answering the question of belief.
If the reality of god was proven or disproven it WOULD make a very big difference in your life because the whole earth, including your nation, neighbourhood, and  personal social structures would be totally altered by the nature of the evidences and proofs provided.

It might be legitimate to say. "I am an agnostic because i do not care enough to make a choice/ weigh the evidences for and against god." Which is I guess what you are saying. That is still an active, thought through choice to suspend belief and disbelief, but based on laziness rather than relative evidences.

Edited by Mr Walker, 02 January 2013 - 05:52 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#119    Arbenol

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:53 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 02 January 2013 - 05:33 AM, said:

If someone has met god, conversed with him, or seen him, then they do not BELIEVE in the existence of god, they KNOW of gods existence. Of course their knowledge may be incomplete, inaccurate, or based on a false premise about the nature of what they experience, but it is no longer in the realm of belief.

And they can correctly, even if it turns out, inaccurately, claim to know that god exists. But no one can know that something postulated is non existent unless they have knowledge illustrating why this is corrrect. So, one can know that father christmas and the easter bunny do not exist because we know how their existence was constructed, and their historical background. There are a number of contributors on this forum who claim to know that god does not and cannot exist But in reality it is a sound and very embedded belief not knowledge.

Of course all of this debate hinges on how we define god as an entity. I do not believe that an omnipotent and omniscient god exists because it is a logical impossibility, even though i know a  real, physical, powerful and interventionist god does have physical reality in this local universe. Others would argue that as it is not ominiscient and omnipotent it cannot be god  My answer is that there is no reason why a god has to be ominscient and omnipotent. That is only one view of the god described in the books of christians jews and islam.

I'm not talking about BELIEF


#120    Likely Guy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:02 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 02 January 2013 - 05:44 AM, said:

No, an agnostic, like a theist or an atheist, is an active position. It cannot be held by default. I am not sure what the word is for a person who never thinks/has thought about about the existence of god, or has never formed an opinon on god's existence. I have never encountered such a human being...

It might be legitimate to say. "I am an agnostic because i do not care enough to make a choice/ weigh the evidences for and against god." Which is I guess what you are saying. That is still an active, thought through choice to suspend belief and disbelief, but based on laziness rather than relative evidences.

On the first point, I defy your constructs.

On the second point, I have actively weighed the differences in my own soul, and neither of your camps make sense. There cannot be any evidence one way or the other.

'If' (for the sake of argument) there is a God, maybe an all inclusive consciousness of some kind, I don't think that there is a theist that could understand it, and an atheist that would accept it.

I'm not 'lazy' in this regard. :)

Mr. W., you raised, "relative evidences". I'm curious what you mean by that.

Edited by Likely Guy, 02 January 2013 - 06:07 AM.





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