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Are religious people reasonable?


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Showing 51-75 of 89 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 10:31:39 AM PDT
The universe is really really big. There could be an intelligent underwater species somewhere that is capable of telepathically controlling other underwater life.

Hmm, now that I think of it, why can't Aquaman control land animals? Silly comic books.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 10:38:24 AM PDT
Birds have bills or beaks.
Mammals have fur.

By definition, Platypi can't exist.

Or

The map is not the territory. Just because you don't know how to describe a thing, and previous attempts to describe a thing have failed, does not mean the thing does not exist.

Language creates an artificial layer of "reality" which makes it difficult to think of things for which we have no words.

Contrariwise, we invent words which do not apply to reality, such as should, deserve, justice, government, law, rights, country, regulation, money...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 11:19:43 AM PDT
Lj3d says:
Mark Hornberger says: In "if God exists," what does the "God" word mean?

God means so many things to so many people, it cannot be said with certainty, especially by me...as to what God means. However, my understanding is that God is seen by most people as omnipotent. This makes sense to me from a common sense level because it is a better explanation of how the Universe came to be than that is came to be through a God with only limited ability. The scientific explanation for how the Universe came to be also makes sense to me. And as I pointed out before, this is not about precise technical definitions on my part. Its just what I think.

MH: Could your 'omnipotent being' create a box he could not lift? Can God kill himself? Can God forget something, even if he wants to? The concept of omnipotence presents some logical difficulties, quite apart from whether this or that entity actually exists.

Lj3d: First off, hes not my omnipotent being. He is the collection of thoughts I have encountered over my lifetime. In addition, I most certainly agree it presents logical difficulties as far as creating boxes he cannot lift etc. But just because we find these questions illogical, does not mean they couldn't possibly occur. OTOH, when I look at both sides of other peoples positions such as yours here...I can see why the logical difficulties exist. If I were to conjure up an omnipotent being of my own, it only shows I have some imagination. Not that such a being actually exists, so I get the idea that just because some people think God is possible (Me), or that God is love (Others) and so on...does not make it true. But I also get that until someone can say with 100% certainty that there is no God, and can say so with more than just math, philosophy, limitations to being on a single planetary speck in a vast Universal sea...the question remains unknowable for me.

MH: This is me, doing the same. When you entertain the possibility that God exists, what are you talking about? What does "God" even mean? "X exists" is a hypothesis. It's entirely reasonable to ask "what do you mean by 'x'?" How would you know 'x' if you found it? If you found an entity that seemed really, really powerful, how would you know it was in fact God? Would you just take his say-so? "God exists" isn't the same sort of claim as saying "an organism larger than a blue whale exists, somewhere." It involves attributes that are quite literally superlative. You'd have to not only find the being, and not only find that he was powerful, but know that his power and knowledge were utterly without limit. How would you come by any of this knowledge?

Lj3d: I get this too. There is no way I could know if some supernatural entity showed up, that I could know 100% that he is God. I could only go by how convincing the entity in question is. I could describe this but I'd have to write a book to do it, and again, it would only prove I have imagination...not that it is real.

MH: Has someone asked you these questions before? I have tons of them. One I've never seen anyone even attempt to answer is this: how would you differentiate the supernatural from something you just didn't know the cause of? I'm sure philosophers have asked that before (probably Hume), but do you know of a response? Struggling with these ideas are the point of what we're doing. I'm not here to tell you "there is no God!" That really isn't my point. My point is that we can't even get to discussing existence of something if we don't know what we're even talking about, or how we'd know it if we found it.

Lj3d: Just as you are not trying to tell me there is no God...I'm not telling you there is. I'm trying to understand the psychology of people. I began when I realized I saw similarities to UFO proponents and religious people. The UFO cults look an awful lot like new religion being born. A process that could take anywhere from a couple decades to a century. I have seen and participated in debates like this in years past and the same questions with the same answers come up over and over. I just wanted to see if any new thinking had come about in recent years and so far, nothing beyond a few snippets here and there.

Example, as a teen, astronaut James Irwin was looking for Noahs Arc. I thought then that wow, maybe someone is going to prove God exists. Fast forward to now, I learned that finding Noahs Arc wouldn't prove that at all and of course, having learned that there is no way to precisely define God, it appeared to me to be more or less the stuff of endless intellectual debates. I'm no intellectual, so I usually avoid these debates.

But sometimes it becomes necessary to clarify a point or idea.

So I see this threads title and know that I know plenty of reasonable religious people. I also know plenty of people claiming to see UFOs who are also reasonable and intelligent. I know and agree with what your saying as to logical problems etc. What I'm after, is why would somebody seemingly much smarter than me...believe in Biblical accounts of creation, Biblical accounts of God...without tangible evidence. I know I leave a door open to the possibility. And it is open just in case the day comes when someone like Irwin, does somehow manage to find evidence of a creator...but in the classic be careful what one wishes for, the religious in particular, how will they really know God is what he says he is? Maybe its possible there is a way a God gets around the problem. A way no human can yet concieve, or not.

I'm sure you must think I'm a flake...or one of those believe in nothing fall for everything people. But I was just looking to find what I already know is impossible to see. And doing so to attempt to find out if there is more than just "Religious people are unreasonable" type answers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 11:26:46 AM PDT
"Are people who call themselves scientists reasonable to deny the latest findings of physical theory and its philosophical implications?"

*Which* scientists, *which* findings, *which* implications, and why the "who call themselves" modifier?

If you have something to say, then just come out and say it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 11:31:17 AM PDT
Lj3d says:
Clarissa says: You said "... we can't even get to discussing existence of something if we don't know what we're even talking about."

We know enough about God from the Bible. That is all believers need.

Lj3d: This is a reasonable response from a religious person far as I'm concerned. I don't believe in God, I simple don't know if a God exists and I'm not able to demonstrate there is no God. Like you, most religious people I know admit that its a matter of faith. Just as I admit I'm a person more geared to facts than faith. I've asked questions of both religious and non religious people in an effort to understand something else. I ponder it from time to time though I don't know exactly why but I guess its related to other things that didn't work out for me that I don't wish to elaborate on. It was originally to be something for writing a book about but I'm pretty much done with attempts at writing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:02:12 PM PDT
Nova137 says:
OK.

How about Victor J. Stenger, for instance. See http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Quantum/QuantumConsciousness.pdf

The *findings* of the Aspect experiment suggesting that the universe is a conscious whole.

The *implication* that reality-in-itself is not visualizable viz-a-vis quantum reality (generally, but specifically the statistical nature of reality at the microscopic or building-block level of all reality).

The modifier would indicate I don't consider someone a "scientist" who denies the findings of the Aspect experiment. Victor fails to mention it, in fact, he pulls out the lack of an aether as proof holism is dead.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:10:59 PM PDT
Re OP: In a sense, yes. They can (and often do) take correct conclusions from premises. The problem is that the premises are not only wrong -- they are silly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:11:51 PM PDT
Nonlocality is a far cry from "a conscious whole."

Failing to mention something does not constitute a denial of it.

There is also a big difference between quantum physics and quantum crap.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:14:09 PM PDT
Re Lufer, 5-31 11:52 PM: They are probably reasonable in some respects -- but, clearly, not in ALL respects.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:16:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2012 12:17:45 PM PDT
Your post reads to me that you wouldn't mind being a believer. If you read Jesus's words to his disciples
in the gospel of Luke, you could find yourself believing. It is worth a go.

Posted on Jun 2, 2012 12:16:52 PM PDT
Maybe when they are not being religious....

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:18:03 PM PDT
Re Lj3d, 6-1 1:12 AM: "I probably should say there is a 50% chance God exists..." You can't assign any sort of probability to this: it involves 0/0, which (for reasons that should be obvious) is undefined.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:22:20 PM PDT
Lj3d says:
Clarissa says:
Your post reads to me that you wouldn't mind being a believer. If you read Jesus's words to his disciples
in the gospel of Luke, you could find yourself believing. It is worth a go.

Lj3d: I'm sure I seem that way but I've already treaded that route...back in my teens. It works for some, not for others and it didn't work for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:30:22 PM PDT
You won't read it as a teenager now, though. Read Jesus's words slowly. They have impact.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 12:39:42 PM PDT
Lj3d says:
I have read them since my teens. I sometimes read the Bible even these days while researching anything I might have to say about it. I agree Jesus words have impact, but the same might be said by followers of Buddhism, Islam. Solely believing in something is simply not enough for me. I like verifiable facts whenever possible. I even like that from science which means I sometimes have issues with cosmology because it sometimes borders on solely relying on belief as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 1:42:21 PM PDT
Lj3d - "But just because we find these questions illogical, does not mean they couldn't possibly occur."

Yes, our assessment of logic could be wrong. But I still can't entertain the question of whether something can exist if the something doesn't make sense. Can you think of any other area of human thought where we overcome logical absurdities by chucking logic? I can't very well go down the road of epistemic nihilism just to salvage a little nominal room for religion, and then go back to my normal life and pretend that I haven't just jettisoned the need for logical coherence.

"But I also get that until someone can say with 100% certainty that there is no God"

I didn't say that. I asked for clarity on what you meant by God. If you can't explain what you mean, then your ostensible open-mindedness isn't of much value. Basically you seem to be saying that *everything* is possible, even the logically absurd.

"I'm trying to understand the psychology of people."

I suspect that the psychology of belief is an entirely different subject from whether or not God actually exists.

"I just wanted to see if any new thinking had come about in recent years and so far, nothing beyond a few snippets here and there."

New thinking in what realm? Arguments for religion haven't changed much since Aristotle.

"What I'm after, is why would somebody seemingly much smarter than me...believe in Biblical accounts of creation, Biblical accounts of God...without tangible evidence. "

Fear of death, fear of this being 'all there is,' fear of not seeing their loved ones again. Keeping the approval of their parents, friends, spouses. Social pressure to conform. A lifetime spent in a culture that tells them that questioning religion is rude, intolerant, hateful, etc. And let's not forget that non-believers are destined for an eternity of torture. Balanced against an eternity of torment, logic and evidence are pretty weak tea. Any non-zero probability, when multiplied by an infinity of torment, would leave you to avoid questioning, even if only out of fear.

"I'm sure you must think I'm a flake"

No, I don't. As I said, I too am only fleshing out my own ideas. If I'm insistent its only because I think clarity matters. And that's not just so I can 'pin you down' or whatever in a debate. I feel that a lot of religion is emotion. Everyone is of course entitled to their emotion, but emotion cannot be the subject of debate. Emotion should not be taken as a hypothesis about this or that entity actually existing, much less about what qualities that entity is supposed to have.

Regarding omnipotence and the origin of the universe, I don't think omnipotence is necessary. A shotgun approach would work as well, with all the (finite) permutations running themselves out an infinite number of times. Or, we could be in a simulation, running in the computer of a finite and mortal scientist/programmer. And if all "God" is is a fig-leaf to obscure our ignorance over the origin of the universe, I prefer honest ignorance to feigned knowledge.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 1:57:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2012 1:58:20 PM PDT
Nova137 says:
ERW: Nonlocality is a far cry from "a conscious whole."
N137: Not when you add it to a universe as already classically conceived as unitary (whole and complete) with each of its constituent parts seamlessly integrated into its fabric.

ERW: Failing to mention something does not constitute a denial of it.
N137: True.

ERW: There is also a big difference between quantum physics and quantum crap.
N137: This is evident mainly when quantum physics is still investigated from within the hidden ontology of classical epistemology. This is actually one of the main reasons the philosophical implications of quantum reality are rejected. Einstein couldn't accept the implications of quantum theory philosophically because he believed, unscientifically, that reality-in-itself is still penetrable by his rational mind.

Part of quantum crap comes from people having strange experiences that are not explained by classical physics.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 2:13:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2012 2:19:25 PM PDT
"Part of quantum crap comes from people having strange experiences that are not explained by classical physics."

It comes from people who *don't* understand the physics involved, and who have had experiences they can't account for, and who then proceed to engage in all sorts of unjustified flights of fancy, all while under the mistaken impression that *real* physics is backing them up, when in reality *it is doing nothing of the kind*.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 2:35:18 PM PDT
Conceiving or imagining the universe "as unitary (whole and complete)..." does not make it so, nor imply consciousness. [That might not necessarily rule it out, but proper evidence would be needed.]

For explaining strange experiences, physics is not the best tool; psychology is better.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 2:35:32 PM PDT
Lj3d says:
MH: Yes, our assessment of logic could be wrong. But I still can't entertain the question of whether something can exist if the something doesn't make sense. Can you think of any other area of human thought where we overcome logical absurdities by chucking logic? I can't very well go down the road of epistemic nihilism just to salvage a little nominal room for religion, and then go back to my normal life and pretend that I haven't just jettisoned the need for logical coherence.

Lj3d: I'd like to think our assessment of logic is simply incomplete rather than wrong. The difference in our approaches is that you say you cannot entertain ideas that make no sense. I try to entertain ideas that seem sensless and take them to some kind of conclusion but in the case of God...I cannot conclude and you even say you cannot conclude God does not exist. And I think its safe to say neither of us actually believe in God or deities or supreme beings of any kind.

MH: I didn't say that. I asked for clarity on what you meant by God. If you can't explain what you mean, then your ostensible open-mindedness isn't of much value. Basically you seem to be saying that *everything* is possible, even the logically absurd.

Lj3d: Inability to explain what I mean does not necessarily mean I don't know what I mean or anything goes, its just a matter of not being able to convey my thought skillfully enough for others to understand. In addition, I suspected I could have said what I thought God was and you might not be satisfied with my answer so I was generalizing as best I could in order to get it across.

MH: I suspect that the psychology of belief is an entirely different subject from whether or not God actually exists.

Lj3d: What I'm looking at is belief in a broader scope and looking at some of the known common elements and seeing if there is a tie in. I focus on two specific ideas, religion and UFOlogy because they have a lot of similar belief driven ideas.

MH: New thinking in what realm? Arguments for religion haven't changed much since Aristotle.

Lj3d: And therein lies the quandry. Nothing really has changed much for religious arguments since Aristotle. I have even found this evident in UFO circles. Not much has changed in support of UFOs as ETs either, but the belief, absent of evidence persists. If there were a way to establish a causal link between them, we might be able to advance beyond these endless debates. Otherwise, I'm left wondering how we can possibly think were going to be advanced enough to leave earth when the sun goes bang. Not that this is a problem for me since I'll be long gone by then. But it does have implications for far future ideas. I also doubt seriously I'm going to find a causal link on my own and on a forum. The best I can hope for is stimulating the discussion until someone else possibly hits on something.

MH: Fear of death, fear of this being 'all there is,' fear of not seeing their loved ones again. Keeping the approval of their parents, friends, spouses. Social pressure to conform. A lifetime spent in a culture that tells them that questioning religion is rude, intolerant, hateful, etc. And let's not forget that non-believers are destined for an eternity of torture. Balanced against an eternity of torment, logic and evidence are pretty weak tea. Any non-zero probability, when multiplied by an infinity of torment, would leave you to avoid questioning, even if only out of fear.

Lj3d: And of course, these are the responses I've been accustomed to hearing for years. Nothing new there. Of course, this does not invalidate them in any way. I happen to completely agree that fear of death is a huge motivator. Even the idea of eternal torture makes no sense to me. If there was a God, at least an omnipotent one...I do not see how there could even be a devil or how original sin as its called, got introduced into the world etc. I guess I just haven't been able to see what I've been looking for the past few weeks. But I knew I probably wouldn't so its not that big a deal.

No, I don't. As I said, I too am only fleshing out my own ideas. If I'm insistent its only because I think clarity matters. And that's not just so I can 'pin you down' or whatever in a debate. I feel that a lot of religion is emotion. Everyone is of course entitled to their emotion, but emotion cannot be the subject of debate. Emotion should not be taken as a hypothesis about this or that entity actually existing, much less about what qualities that entity is supposed to have.

Lj3d: I'd say were pretty much on the same path with some differences in ideas and reasons for pondering the question. My idea of simply leaving the door open to an entity, God or whatever...is not based on an emotional response on my part. I recognize clearly that just because I might think a possibility exists, it does not mean that such a possibility is true. I also agree that emotion cannot be part of debating but, we are human and its not something most people can set aside, so we have to deal as best we can with emotional components in a debate...and thanks for thinking I'm not flakey eh.

MH:: And if all "God" is is a fig-leaf to obscure our ignorance over the origin of the universe, I prefer honest ignorance to feigned knowledge.

Lj3d: I think this says it best. I agree with it as well. And, it states much of my overall position. Which I reclarify here...I don't know if God exists, but I don't believe in all the various human constructs or ideas of God. Even those I sometimes leave open the possibility.

Wished I'd have thought of this yesterday, but a note on God vs dragons and fairies. I don't ponder dragons and fairies because society has for the most part, long abandoned such ideas. Nobody debates the tooth fairies existence in these forums...but just look at the religious threads. Even the science forum is largely a religious debating club. Flat Earth, dragons and fairies, leprechauns and snigliputzes...long gone. The idea of God however, persists.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 5:59:14 PM PDT
Lufer, I was a delegate to the state Democratic convention this weekend - had an awesome time! - and as I'm driving back, my thoughts sort of wandering, I had this moment of... ohhhh.... did I...? And yeah, I just saw my response to you, and realized that I confused "birthers" with "quiverfulls"... I'm embarrassed. You are, of course, right about birthers. "Unreasonable" is the perfect word to describe this group.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 7:13:36 PM PDT
Bubba says:
Perhaps he's a POE.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 7:20:54 PM PDT
Bubba says:
There are reasonable people who suspect that Bigfoot is a misidentified wild animal, perhaps a type bear. There are also reasonable people who suspect that the Yeti was/is a misidentified wild animal.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 8:09:31 PM PDT
Nova137 says:
Perhaps many people involved in quantum leaps of imagination are as you've described. There are some who are not. I've met them. They are from every walk of life and are often rational to the core, some of whom were trained in the scientific method. Those who have received university level science training are being contacted by many from the group you've imagined. They are all human beings seeking answers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 8:15:41 PM PDT
Nova137 says:
ERW: For explaining strange experiences, physics is not the best tool; psychology is better.
N: Agreed.

ERW: Conceiving or imagining the universe "as unitary (whole and complete)..." does not make it so, nor imply consciousness. [That might not necessarily rule it out, but proper evidence would be needed.]
N: If the universe is "conscious" in this way, it doesn't infer human consciousness.

The "conscious" part is only inferred by the Aspect experiment. In modern physical theory it would be unscientific to not realize this inference more than just mildly. Again, the origins of the fact that the inference doesn't gain any traction scientifically appear to stem from psychological biases tied to a philosophical preference to keep the base of reality "visualizable" and "causally closed." That is, "classical".

This classical (deterministic and mechanistic) physical theory of Sir Isaac Newton and other proponents rightfully took over the mind-set of our universities, our governments and eventually our medical practices. Let me just note emphatically that the scientific discoveries from the late 18th century to present helped much, much, much more than they hurt. What hurts however is the way in which the mechanical universe marginalizes consciousness, esp., the human kind. In classical physics, the subject is divorced from the universe it studies. This is a product of the currently recognized scientific method. It is a necessary component in the study of the material universe.

With the advent of quantum theory and quantum reality, a shift away from a strictly reductionistic and mechanistic mind-set should begin to replace our psychological underpinnings as to the nature of reality-in-itself and, given our participation in reality-in-itself, a new human mind-set should similarly begin to take hold in mankind. The scientific method as it is today would be modified little, but the changes that would be made would be significant and alter the way we approach the science of our own psychology profoundly. Then we can begin to debate how to implement this new mind-set into our universities (which would be part-in-parcel of the development of what this mind-set will evolve into), our government and medical practices(much of our medicine is sound and wouldn't change one bit).

The reason this isn't happening more rapidly is due to the resistance of scientists to accept the philosophical ramifications of quantum mechanics in the same way scientists accepted the philosophical ramifications of classical mechanics. Other reasons it isn't accepted more readily is the rejection of the spiritualist notions so ripe in the philosophy of quantum reality.

["Quantum consciousness" as Stenger paints it isn't actually the central problem. We don't have to leave physical theory for spiritual dialogue. We need to integrate modern cognitive and neurological sciences and their findings.]

It is a grand psychological problem which will take patience and care from proponents of the philosophy of quantum physics who embrace this mind-set to cross-pollinate and cross-train classical psychologists and neurologists in the meaning of quantum reality. Much of this is already happening world-wide. It's still grass-roots, but gaining traction.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  27
Total posts:  89
Initial post:  May 31, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 6, 2012

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