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Why do you debate religion here and have you accomplished what you intended?


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Initial post: Nov 23, 2012 8:16:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 23, 2012 8:21:45 AM PST
Songbird says:
Debate, whether on campaign trails, in apologetics, in online discussion forums, at dinner parties, or in general, is less about persuading others that our views are right, says one analyst on the Argumentation Theory. He said debate surprisingly often leads to "epistemic distortions and poor decisions".

"Skilled arguers, however, are not after the truth but after arguments supporting their views."

His theory is that we argue simply to hone the skill of arguing.

Another article describes how debate tactics usually focus more on decreasing the validity of the opposing point than proving the validity of our own points. (The lesser of the two evils case.) Campaign ads use mudslinging, because it is successful.

Although we learn new things in debate, rarely do we change positions. In fact, the first article I mentioned stated that we actually cement our positions with confirmation bias.

Why are you here? Have you fulfilled your mission?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 8:37:05 AM PST
Astrocat says:
Songbird, good theme. I've never been a debater, could never see the reason for it or the good in it. So I don't debate religion, I give my ideas, perceptions, opinions and experiences concerning the spiritual life and the religious life, which are not necessarily synonymous.

What I would hope for, in a perfect world, would be people who would tell their own experiences, and not try to tell me mine are "false" or that I'm "deluded" to think such things might be true.

I've learned, through listening to friends and relatives talk about their experiences that there really are more things in this world (including the inner world) than science has, as yet, detected or subjected to its test tubes and controlled double blind studies. I'm fascinated, every day, by the connections that are made on some other level than the dense physical world, and that has convinced me that we live on many planes of consciousness simultaneously. This only makes every moment of the day more luminous and filled with enormously and endlessly marvelous possibilities. Thanks for the chance to say this.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 8:42:37 AM PST
Hi Songbird.

There is certainly a good deal of truth to these observations. However, if one were to accept this as a 'whole truth', then one would be distorting reality to make it conform to a worldview bias that views people who debate as simply trying to validate theirselves, at the expense of others. There are many who do this, I am sure.

However, let's not lose sight of the fact that the point of debate, for an honest debater, is to subject their own point of view to critical examination-- both critical self examination, as well as 'peer review'.

In reference to that, I would say that I am at least somewhat successful in achieving 'my mission'. Some of my ideas have not withstood critical scrutiny so well, while others have stood up to the test, very well. I have modified my worldview, somewhat. And I feel fairly certain that others have sometimes modified their worldview, in response to some of my reasoning. Note that I am not saying that it was necessarily the person or people that I was debating, who modified their views-- it could have been spectators, or it could be the people that I deal with, in my day to day life, who respond to things that I say or do, in response to my critically examined and modified worldview.

At the end of the day, it seems fairly certain that these never ending debates that we seem to be driven to engage in, as a species, are responsible for shifts in cultural values. And that is almost certainly why we do it. That some engage in these debates from a need to validate theirselves, at the expense of others, is simply an unfortunate by-product. Debate is likely to be very attractive to people with certain types of personality disorders and maladjustments. But if someone were to advance a proposal that the purpose of debate is to indulge in such disorders or social maladjustments, I might suspect that person is advancing a worldview that indicates that they have just exactly such a disorder, theirself. :)

I hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 8:44:52 AM PST
Pretty much everything that you have said, is not true.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 8:48:27 AM PST
Astrocat says:
Kenyon, could you be more specific? Remember that I'm not interested in debate, but in sharing perspectives. For me, truth is not some monolithic, cast in stone, edifice, but constantly changing and evolving.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 8:52:54 AM PST
"For me, truth is not some monolithic, cast in stone....."

Truth is monolithic, Nancy. It is not relative.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 8:56:50 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:01:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 23, 2012 9:06:10 AM PST
This is an interesting post, but your pondering in your last sentence is unrealistic : no-one would really say that.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:02:06 AM PST
Astrocat says:
That's where we'll differ, of course. For me, truth is always relative, everything is a work in progress. Thanks for your input.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:08:07 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:11:50 AM PST
Shakespeare sardonically wrote in his Sonnet 138 :

"When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies."

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:15:46 AM PST
Astrocat says:
Clarissa, you may not have read my post carefully. I'm saying there is no absolute truth, so, for me, someone else's truth is just as valid for her/him as mine is for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:21:07 AM PST
So you don't agree with me, but you don't want to talk about it, because you recognize the trap, right? If you were so averse to engaging people with whom you disagree, in other threads, then you probably wouldn't be such a regular poster, on Amazon.

In Hawaii, we had an idiom for people talking together, socially. We said that they were 'talking story'. I liked that idiom, because it implied that they were simply talking to amuse each other, and not arguing, or debating. In reality, people were frequently arguing passionately, but still described as 'talking story'.

Now, if we were to really do what you claim that you do, then our discussions would simply be 'talking story', with all participants suspending disbelief, concerning the things said by others. Someone's story about wresting matches that they enjoy having with polar bears, would be just as valid as someone's analysis of the deficit problem. Whatever it is that we were talking about, would simply be stories that we are telling to each other, without any critical analysis from anyone.

Do I really believe that you merely express your point of view, and don't attempt to defend it, and that you don't critically examine the point of view of others? No, I don't believe that.

I have no idea why you don't like people expressing their disagreement with you. In fact, you can't object to them expressing their disagreement with you, without expressing your disagreement with them, for thinking that it is acceptable to express their disagreement with you. So you are claiming to hold to a value that is inherently self-refuting.

Please note that I merely disagree with you. I'm not angry at you. You haven't offended me. I'm not 'putting you down'. I respect you, and your right to express your point of view. I just don't agree with you, and have explained why.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:29:04 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:33:07 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 23, 2012 9:37:35 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:42:04 AM PST
I felt that it was sort of implied, in the OP. I believe that we probably do do a lot of 'practice arguing' in which the point is to hone our argumentative skills. However, one of the best 'argumentative skills' to have, is the skill of analysis. And it is sort of hard to have that skill, without being self analytical, as well as having the ability to analyze the reasoning of others. So the strongest debaters are usually going to be those who are honestly self analytical.

However, the OP then goes on to say that one of the most common debate tactics, is to diminish the validity of the opposing point. I can see validity in diminishing the opposing point, and I can see it being done as 'mudslinging'. When diminishing the opposing point is done validly, it is not mudslinging.

An example would be when I express a point of view, that doesn't have any discernible faults. But someone who disagrees with me, advances a point of view that is ridden with faults. They might attempt to diminish my point of view, by simply pretending that it is morally inferior to their own, in a substanceless sort of way. That would be mudslinging. Since they haven't attacked my point of view in any substantial way, then I don't respond by defending my point of view. I respond by diminishing their point of view, by going after the faults in it. That would not be mudslinging. That would be an honest attempt at explaining to them, and to others, what is wrong with their point of view.

I would not have simply diminished my opponent's pov, simply for the sake of diminishing their pov-- which is what seems to be implied by the OP, and by one of the respondents to the OP.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:43:18 AM PST
Songbird says:
Thanks for sharing your perspective, Nancy.

Posted on Nov 23, 2012 9:48:21 AM PST
Incidentally, one thing that I do like about this discussion, so far, is that everyone has received 'yes' votes. There has been no vindictive 'no' voting. No votes-- now that is an example of people simply wanting to diminish opposing points of view. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:51:07 AM PST
Songbird says:
"However, let's not lose sight of the fact that the point of debate, for an honest debater, is to subject their own point of view to critical examination-- both critical self examination, as well as 'peer review'."

The results of debates indicate that isn't so. It's remarkable the information available that shows how little we change our minds from debating.

"That some engage in these debates from a need to validate theirselves, at the expense of others, is simply an unfortunate by-product."

I rather think it's the main thrust, not the byproduct. I doubt we're largely aware of our motivation - or that we have the guts to be honest with ourselves about our motivations.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:51:43 AM PST
Songbird says:
Haha, agreed.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:57:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 23, 2012 9:58:21 AM PST
Songbird says:
"I felt that it was sort of implied, in the OP. I believe that we probably do do a lot of 'practice arguing' in which the point is to hone our argumentative skills. However, one of the best 'argumentative skills' to have, is the skill of analysis. And it is sort of hard to have that skill, without being self analytical, as well as having the ability to analyze the reasoning of others. So the strongest debaters are usually going to be those who are honestly self analytical."

The exact point of the articles I read were that debates are actually not about issues at all. Being a strong debater is irrelevant and doesn't deter "weak" debaters from debating or thinking they've lost an argument. The point was that we argue to argue, and the more we argue, the more entrenched in our views we become regardless of any proof demonstrated to the contrary.

Interesting observation of our psychology.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:57:49 AM PST
Astrocat says:
Kenyon, really, you just want to debate, and I'm not interested in that. If you've set a trap, then I guess you'll just have to wait for someone else to fall in because I won't. You can disagree with me all you like, it doesn't bother me at all. My truth is my truth and your truth is yours, I see no problem with that. And if you were offended I guess you'd just have to deal with it.

And a "talking story" sounds divine to me. let's do that.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:59:28 AM PST
Astrocat says:
Clarissa, of course I would, and I'd probably love it, because it would indicate that that person is thinking for her/himself. I'd probably want to know why, and then we could have a discussion (not a debate) about our differing perspectives. This happens all the time and it enhances our own understandings, and, if we're open to other people's points of view, helps us see the wider world through other people's eyes.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 9:59:38 AM PST
Kenyon,

Your third paragraph is particularly interesting. The diminishing of the other's point of view by going after the faults in it would need to be done in a detached way, which might be difficult after a lot of mudslinging aimed at you. There might then be a tendency not to bother, to put the person on ignore, and have a cup of coffee instead.

Clarissa

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2012 10:02:10 AM PST
No, no, no, it's the byproduct. We are not prancing horses.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  44
Total posts:  735
Initial post:  Nov 23, 2012
Latest post:  Sep 18, 2013

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