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Old 12-05-2015, 02:08 AM   #26
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

I don't know how many religious people you know, but the ones I know are like this: they go to church on Sundays but they don't stop being religious during the week. My grandma barely read the bible, but she prayed to her pictures of saints every morning for an hour. That's a solitary exercise. Church and meetings are an external part of it, but most religious people would say they have a personal relationship with God. If you take that away, I believe it takes away a large part of their happiness and comfort. Happy, comfortable people don't do horrendous things, in general. In this country the number of people who believe in God versus the number who actually go to church is probably something like 80/20. Just a guess off the top of my head. Nobody goes to church anymore, but most people are religious. It then goes without saying that the internal aspect of relgion is what draws them to it more than the external aspect.


I'm talking about Aristotle in the Ethics. I think my characterization is pretty much the consensus among scholars, for that particular book. Anyway, I'm not biased against the communal aspect of religion. I'm saying that what religion appears to be to the outsider, and what religion is to the religious person, are two completely different things. It's the difference between the caricature of a politican and the politician himself. But I do think that mass organizations of people can lead to insanity. And I'll agree that religion is one example of that. I would not agree that trying to get rid of religion is at all the answer. The answer is probably in educating people to think for themselves.

Christians and many other religions have been shot in the name of the overall good (for atheistic states) for years, and history tends to repeat itself.
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Old 12-05-2015, 03:48 AM   #27
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I don't know how many religious people you know, but the ones I know are like this: they go to church on Sundays but they don't stop being religious during the week. My grandma barely read the bible, but she prayed to her pictures of saints every morning for an hour. That's a solitary exercise. Church and meetings are an external part of it, but most religious people would say they have a personal relationship with God. If you take that away, I believe it takes away a large part of their happiness and comfort. Happy, comfortable people don't do horrendous things, in general. In this country the number of people who believe in God versus the number who actually go to church is probably something like 80/20. Just a guess off the top of my head. Nobody goes to church anymore, but most people are religious. It then goes without saying that the internal aspect of relgion is what draws them to it more than the external aspect.
You need to learn how to construct an argument. You are trying to persuade me of the claim that the internal aspect more than the external aspect is what draws people to religion. But you give me no reason here to think your claim is true, instead just making up numbers, citing irrelevant anecdotes and assuming the evangelical Christian way of talking about religion is how most people understand religion.

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I'm talking about Aristotle in the Ethics. I think my characterization is pretty much the consensus among scholars, for that particular book.
<snip>
What is your basis for believing this is the scholarly consensus on Aristotle's approach to ethics?
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Old 12-05-2015, 12:09 PM   #28
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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What is your basis for believing this is the scholarly consensus on Aristotle's approach to ethics?
A graduate level course on Aristotle's ethics and I recently listened to a book on tape and the professor said the same thing.

I don't know where you got "evangelical Christian" from. My grandma was Catholic. Evangelical Christians don't pray to saints. You don't seem to have much experience with religion, but seem to think you know a lot about it. That's troubling and dangerous. I'm trying to tell you what religious people are actually like in their daily life.

Why are my anecdotes "irrelevant?" They seem very relevant. My only other recourse would be to fund a university study which polls a bunch of people, which would be inherently biased and almost certainly flawed, and I don't have the resources for that. You can choose to accept my anecdotes or not. Why not get to know some religious people if you want to understand their motivations, instead of just sitting in an ivory tower and caricaturing them? If you find out that they put more importance on the external aspect of their religion, then come back here and tell me that and I'll take your word for it. That would be much more convincing to me than citing a study because it would show that information has passed through a human skull, rather than just regurgitated from a university study. I'm arguing in good faith here. I'm not getting anything out of this so there's no reason for me to lie to push an agenda.
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Old 12-05-2015, 12:19 PM   #29
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Christians and many other religions have been shot in the name of the overall good (for atheistic states) for years, and history tends to repeat itself.
So have pagans and atheists and various "they" though.

History doesn't necessarily repeat itself as much as the older a religion gets the more they reinforce their structures. Both good and bad.

To paraphrase Clarke: Education is not necessarily intelligence, and will usually camouflage the lack of simply by parroting truisms. Aristotle would be one of the oldest examples.

I prefer Sidney Deane: You either listen to or hear Jimi.

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My only other recourse would be to fund a university study which polls a bunch of people, which would be inherently biased and almost certainly flawed, and I don't have the resources for that.
There are over a billion Catholics and you insist a population sample is flawed and yet point to your local religious relevant family figures as more or less a tautological example?

Is it that you have already run the study and did not like the results?
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Old 12-05-2015, 01:23 PM   #30
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Do people actually believe this?
There is no question that heretics have almost always been treated far more harshly and violently than heathens. This said, religious persecution of non-believers should not be understated either.
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Old 12-05-2015, 01:47 PM   #31
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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You need to learn how to construct an argument. You are trying to persuade me of the claim that the internal aspect more than the external aspect is what draws people to religion.
This is like trying to explain to a bigot what being black is like in 1950s. The bigot thinks being black is about playing music and dancing. The bigot is saying "all I see is a bunch of singing and dancing! You need to convince me that you're more than that!"
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Old 12-05-2015, 03:02 PM   #32
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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A graduate level course on Aristotle's ethics and I recently listened to a book on tape and the professor said the same thing.
Okay. I don't really want to get too sidetracked here, so I'll just say that I suspect you misunderstand what they are saying. Aristotle believed that to be virtuous we need practical wisdom, but this wasn't in opposition to the scientific study of human psychology.

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I don't know where you got "evangelical Christian" from. My grandma was Catholic. Evangelical Christians don't pray to saints. You don't seem to have much experience with religion, but seem to think you know a lot about it. That's troubling and dangerous. I'm trying to tell you what religious people are actually like in their daily life.
The phrase "personal relationship with God" is typically a Protestant and especially Evangelical way of talking about religion. It is meant to contrast with Catholic views on the role of the Church as an intermediary between God and individual believers and to emphasize the Protestant doctrine of the "priesthood of believers." It is especially popular among Evangelical Christians who focus on the importance of having a conversion experience and the more experiential aspects of religion.

In fact it is exactly at this point where many Evangelical Christians will claim that Catholics aren't true Christians. They will say that in order to be a Christian you must be "born-again," to have had a conversion experience, and thus to have a personal unmediated relationship with God. They believe that while some Catholics have had this kind of experience, many of them haven't and instead think that the way to be a Christian is to do good works and engage in the rituals of the Church (eg the Eucharist, confession, baptism, etc).

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Why are my anecdotes "irrelevant?" They seem very relevant. My only other recourse would be to fund a university study which polls a bunch of people, which would be inherently biased and almost certainly flawed, and I don't have the resources for that. You can choose to accept my anecdotes or not. Why not get to know some religious people if you want to understand their motivations, instead of just sitting in an ivory tower and caricaturing them? If you find out that they put more importance on the external aspect of their religion, then come back here and tell me that and I'll take your word for it. That would be much more convincing to me than citing a study because it would show that information has passed through a human skull, rather than just regurgitated from a university study. I'm arguing in good faith here. I'm not getting anything out of this so there's no reason for me to lie to push an agenda.
Your anecdote is irrelevant because the fact that your grandmother prayed to the saints everyday gives us no evidence one way or the other to the claim that the internal (really should be solitary) aspects of religion is what primarily attracts people to religion.

As for the rest of what you say, I am not saying that you are lying, just that you don't seem to know how to deal with evidence in a useful way. More generally, the problem with relying on anecdotes is that we don't know if an anecdote is representative of the broader experience of some phenomena. So here no one is doubting that for some people the solitary experience of religion is what is most important to them. So giving me an example of someone for whom this is true isn't helpful. But you are making a claim about religious people as a whole.

To truly answer this question we would have to ask all religious people whether it is the solitary or communal aspects of religion that draw them in. Obviously that isn't practical, so instead we use statistical sampling principles to ask a smaller representative sample of religious people that question and then generalize from that sample (with some degree of certainty below 100%) to the whole population of religious people. The problem with relying on anecdotes is that they are generally not a representative sample of the population and so the generalization from them to the entire population is without value. For instance, maybe people in different social classes, or different ethnic backgrounds, or different ages, etc. are attracted to different things about religion. Since most people are not going to have a broad enough experience of all these different groups to accurately generalize from their anecdotal experience to the population as a whole, we rely on surveys instead.
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Old 12-05-2015, 03:18 PM   #33
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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This is like trying to explain to a bigot what being black is like in 1950s. The bigot thinks being black is about playing music and dancing. The bigot is saying "all I see is a bunch of singing and dancing! You need to convince me that you're more than that!"
Yes, and the way to talk to the bigot is to use real evidence, i.e. surveys and sociological studies to demonstrate the actual facts about black life in the 1950's, things like, how much money they made, what kinds of jobs were available to them, how they were discriminated against, what their family life was like, how African-American communities were structured and so on.

As I said, you need to learn how to construct such arguments. You can argue with bigots using real evidence and persuade them that they are wrong.

As for your attempts to insult me, look, I grew up intensely religious and the member of an intensely religious family (my father was a pastor, my brother is a missionary). I went to a religious college, where I studied philosophy with a focus on philosophy of religion. I then went to graduate school in philosophy with an AOC in philosophy of religion. I've read widely in the history of religion and theology and the sociology and psychology of religion. I've also been going to religious services my whole life, both Christian and Jewish, with dabblings in Buddhism both as a participant and as an interested observer.

Furthermore, I been talking both online and offline with religious people my entire life about these topics. Almost all of my posts here on 2p2 over the last 6 years have been here in RGT. I think I have a pretty good exposure to religious people (at least, Christians and Jews) and how they think about their religion.
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:02 PM   #34
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Okay. I don't really want to get too sidetracked here, so I'll just say that I suspect you misunderstand what they are saying. Aristotle believed that to be virtuous we need practical wisdom, but this wasn't in opposition to the scientific study of human psychology.



The phrase "personal relationship with God" is typically a Protestant and especially Evangelical way of talking about religion. It is meant to contrast with Catholic views on the role of the Church as an intermediary between God and individual believers and to emphasize the Protestant doctrine of the "priesthood of believers." It is especially popular among Evangelical Christians who focus on the importance of having a conversion experience and the more experiential aspects of religion.

In fact it is exactly at this point where many Evangelical Christians will claim that Catholics aren't true Christians. They will say that in order to be a Christian you must be "born-again," to have had a conversion experience, and thus to have a personal unmediated relationship with God. They believe that while some Catholics have had this kind of experience, many of them haven't and instead think that the way to be a Christian is to do good works and engage in the rituals of the Church (eg the Eucharist, confession, baptism, etc).



Your anecdote is irrelevant because the fact that your grandmother prayed to the saints everyday gives us no evidence one way or the other to the claim that the internal (really should be solitary) aspects of religion is what primarily attracts people to religion.

As for the rest of what you say, I am not saying that you are lying, just that you don't seem to know how to deal with evidence in a useful way. More generally, the problem with relying on anecdotes is that we don't know if an anecdote is representative of the broader experience of some phenomena. So here no one is doubting that for some people the solitary experience of religion is what is most important to them. So giving me an example of someone for whom this is true isn't helpful. But you are making a claim about religious people as a whole.

To truly answer this question we would have to ask all religious people whether it is the solitary or communal aspects of religion that draw them in. Obviously that isn't practical, so instead we use statistical sampling principles to ask a smaller representative sample of religious people that question and then generalize from that sample (with some degree of certainty below 100%) to the whole population of religious people. The problem with relying on anecdotes is that they are generally not a representative sample of the population and so the generalization from them to the entire population is without value. For instance, maybe people in different social classes, or different ethnic backgrounds, or different ages, etc. are attracted to different things about religion. Since most people are not going to have a broad enough experience of all these different groups to accurately generalize from their anecdotal experience to the population as a whole, we rely on surveys instead.


Your problem is that you are a nonreligious person attempting to understand what it means to be religious, and your method of doing that is to go by the dogma of a particular sect. That's kind of like a foreigner to America saying he understands what it means to be an American because he read the constitution. You don't have any understanding of the religious experience, and you are willfully ignoring the testimony of someone who does. This is the problem with using objective data to understand subjective experience. Aristotle was a scientist, but when it came to the subject of human happiness (in the ethics) he relied almost exclusively on everyday experience.

Yes, evangelicals talk of the personal relationship with God. And Catholics preach works-based salvation. But underneath the outline of the differences in religious sects is the experience of being religious. In the Hindu Vedas there is a story where Vishnu says he does not care what a person worships. He says that whatever idol you worship, it doesn't bother him, because there is one God with many forms. If you worship the vase on your mantle, it is my light shining through that vase that you are really seeing. A skeptic might call this person delusional. A simple religious person is trying to get through his day. He is limited by his own religious sect, so he believes that his vase is God and it gives him happiness. A seeker of wisdom sees all religions as equal, and sees that the vase and all other forms of worship are pointing to the same phenomena.

Most religious people fall into the second category. They are just normal people you see everyday, trying to get by, and every once in a while they try to get a glimpse of light from their vase.
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:47 PM   #35
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Your problem is that you are a nonreligious person attempting to understand what it means to be religious, and your method of doing that is to go by the dogma of a particular sect. That's kind of like a foreigner to America saying he understands what it means to be an American because he read the constitution.
This is false as a description of how I attempt to understand what it means to be religious. You can ask around here, but I am the biggest opponent on this forum of attempts to understand religion primarily through its dogma.

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You don't have any understanding of the religious experience, and you are willfully ignoring the testimony of someone who does.
This is false. I have personal experience of religious experience, both when I was a Christian and since then. Furthermore, it is false that I am ignoring the testimony of others who have had religious experiences.

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This is the problem with using objective data to understand subjective experience. Aristotle was a scientist, but when it came to the subject of human happiness (in the ethics) he relied almost exclusively on everyday experience.
This is false as a description of Aristotle's method. Also, Aristotle was wrong in many of his conclusions about human happiness. Also, we are talking about religion, not human happiness.

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Yes, evangelicals talk of the personal relationship with God. And Catholics preach works-based salvation. But underneath the outline of the differences in religious sects is the experience of being religious. In the Hindu Vedas there is a story where Vishnu says he does not care what a person worships. He says that whatever idol you worship, it doesn't bother him, because there is one God with many forms. If you worship the vase on your mantle, it is my light shining through that vase that you are really seeing. A skeptic might call this person delusional. A simple religious person is trying to get through his day. He is limited by his own religious sect, so he believes that his vase is God and it gives him happiness. A seeker of wisdom sees all religions as equal, and sees that the vase and all other forms of worship are pointing to the same phenomena.
<snip>
Okay? What does this have to do with the relative importance of the solitary vs. communal parts of religion?

Also, you shouldn't make so many false assumptions.
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Old 12-05-2015, 05:19 PM   #36
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

We seem to have fundamental epistemological differences. By the way, I'm not insulting you in any way, I like arguing with people I don't agree with.

But it's almost like we're too far apart to even have a conversation. But you said you were a Christian before, so I'm curious what happened and why you aren't religious anymore. I went through a similar transition so we can probably relate there.

I value human experience more highly than objective tests. You seem to value objective tests more. It's the difference between the quale and the description of the quale.


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Okay? What does this have to do with the relative importance of the solitary vs. communal parts of religion?
You are focusing on the communal aspects because that's what you can see and talk about. You don't see what the person and the vase see. That's the solitary part of religion.

I'm not making false assumptions as much as I'm making claims based on my own experience. If I don't make some basic assumptions, I can't start a discussion. You might be the smartest person in the world, but you might not know what a monk knows who has been in a cloister for the last twenty years knows about God. I'm trying to get you to a place where you admit there are things you don't know. There are things I don't know, That's why we are here arguing, to learn.
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Old 12-05-2015, 05:42 PM   #37
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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There is no question that heretics have almost always been treated far more harshly and violently than heathens. This said, religious persecution of non-believers should not be understated either.
No True heathen has harmed a believer. Must of had other motivations and reasons.
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Old 12-05-2015, 07:41 PM   #38
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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No True heathen has harmed a believer. Must of had other motivations and reasons.
I now you jest, and I also think the implied point is valid. Still, we shouldn't discount that from a theological perspective the question of whether some practice is "correct" is valid.

The problem of course is that the bad guys will probably see their practice as valid. And since religious arguments can often appeal to divine authority, it is hard to argue against with reason.
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Old 12-05-2015, 10:22 PM   #39
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

Figure as an outsider i shouldn't tell religious people what their religious views are and let them tell me what they are.

I can read the books and listen to the opinions and have my own and agree with one or the other side or both when the bible well... But in the end i dont think it should be my place to essentially determine what religious beliefs someone can hold.

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Old 12-05-2015, 11:40 PM   #40
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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We seem to have fundamental epistemological differences. By the way, I'm not insulting you in any way, I like arguing with people I don't agree with.
I'm glad you weren't trying to insult me; I was a bit disconcerted by the comparison to 1950s racists.

But yeah, I agree that we do have fundamental epistemological differences. This is why I'm pointing out where I think you are making false statements as I think your epistemology is flawed and it is leading you to these false statements.

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But it's almost like we're too far apart to even have a conversation. But you said you were a Christian before, so I'm curious what happened and why you aren't religious anymore. I went through a similar transition so we can probably relate there.
Sure we can have a conversation! As for what happened, in my late teens I went through a period where I tried to rationally justify the Christian views with which I was raised through a study of apologetics, history, biblical criticism, and philosophy. After a year and a half I decided that the intellectual grounding was insufficient to justify my evangelical Christian beliefs and so gave them up..

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I value human experience more highly than objective tests. You seem to value objective tests more. It's the difference between the quale and the description of the quale.
I don't think this is accurate--I am strongly empirical in my approach to religion and philosophy. What I reject is an overreliance on using just your own personal experience. I think that cognitive science, psychology, and comparative religions show us that (a) our personal experience is often misleading and untrustworthy and (b) our cognitive and emotional biases often make false conclusions and generalizations seem like common sense or intuitively correct and (c) the range and variety of personal experience is greater than many of us realize.

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You are focusing on the communal aspects because that's what you can see and talk about. You don't see what the person and the vase see. That's the solitary part of religion.
I think you've misunderstood my view. I'm not claiming that communal aspects of religion are more important than the solitary. Rather, I am questioning your assertion that the solitary is more important or even the central part of people's religious practice. I've given examples of people and religions where it is not. I don't know which is more important, but you claim to, so I want to see your evidence for this claim.

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I'm not making false assumptions as much as I'm making claims based on my own experience. If I don't make some basic assumptions, I can't start a discussion. You might be the smartest person in the world, but you might not know what a monk knows who has been in a cloister for the last twenty years knows about God. I'm trying to get you to a place where you admit there are things you don't know. There are things I don't know, That's why we are here arguing, to learn.
The problem (and here is a central criticism I would make of your epistemology) is that you have never presented evidence either for your claim or against the claim you've thought I was making. Instead, you immediately moved to an ad hominem argument, where you argue that I am wrong because I don't understand religion. It can be useful to try to figure out why someone has some false beliefs. But you've jumped right past what should be the starting point of showing that those beliefs are actually false. This is why you've made a bunch of false assumptions about my history and views, because you're focused on engaging with the person making the argument and what is wrong with them rather than showing what is wrong with the argument itself.
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Old 12-06-2015, 04:55 PM   #41
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I'm glad you weren't trying to insult me; I was a bit disconcerted by the comparison to 1950s racists.

But yeah, I agree that we do have fundamental epistemological differences. This is why I'm pointing out where I think you are making false statements as I think your epistemology is flawed and it is leading you to these false statements.



Sure we can have a conversation! As for what happened, in my late teens I went through a period where I tried to rationally justify the Christian views with which I was raised through a study of apologetics, history, biblical criticism, and philosophy. After a year and a half I decided that the intellectual grounding was insufficient to justify my evangelical Christian beliefs and so gave them up..



I don't think this is accurate--I am strongly empirical in my approach to religion and philosophy. What I reject is an overreliance on using just your own personal experience. I think that cognitive science, psychology, and comparative religions show us that (a) our personal experience is often misleading and untrustworthy and (b) our cognitive and emotional biases often make false conclusions and generalizations seem like common sense or intuitively correct and (c) the range and variety of personal experience is greater than many of us realize.



I think you've misunderstood my view. I'm not claiming that communal aspects of religion are more important than the solitary. Rather, I am questioning your assertion that the solitary is more important or even the central part of people's religious practice. I've given examples of people and religions where it is not. I don't know which is more important, but you claim to, so I want to see your evidence for this claim.



The problem (and here is a central criticism I would make of your epistemology) is that you have never presented evidence either for your claim or against the claim you've thought I was making. Instead, you immediately moved to an ad hominem argument, where you argue that I am wrong because I don't understand religion. It can be useful to try to figure out why someone has some false beliefs. But you've jumped right past what should be the starting point of showing that those beliefs are actually false. This is why you've made a bunch of false assumptions about my history and views, because you're focused on engaging with the person making the argument and what is wrong with them rather than showing what is wrong with the argument itself.
You sound like me. I went through an identical process and I tried to justify religion intellectually. Eventually I decided atheism made more sense logically. I still do actually, I don't think you can get to religion from intellectualizing. But I'm a student of life first, books second, and experience has brought me back to religion.

I'm not really making ad hominem attacks. I'm attacking any line of argument that says that religion is harmful based on caricatures of what religion is. The most important thing for a thinker to do, in my opinion, is to define and understand the concept one is talking about. When you or Sam Harris or any atheist talks about religion, I'm just sitting here going "nope, that's not religion." That's why I'm comparing you to a bigot (hypothetically of course), in the terms of lack of understanding of the subject matter. As a nonreligious person, you might know everything about religion, but you can't know what religion is. The inherent limitation of words make what I'm trying to say almost impossible, but I think you can get my meaning.

Here's a quote from Tolstoy: "Every person feels that there is something great inside him or her. In life, that something - that which cannot be understood - is the most important thing of all. A person's attitude towards that thing is religion."

That is a quote that one can meditate on for a week and find new layers of meaning. The key is "that which cannot be understood." You want me to prove to you with evidence something which cannot fundamentally be understood. I can't do it. I can keep giving you examples for why religion is fundamentally solitary, but you will never be satisfied with the "proof." I can think of a million reasons, but you would really have to be religious yourself in order to grasp them.
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:01 PM   #42
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

He was religious...
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:04 PM   #43
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

Also bringing up the Catholic Church...idk. Not that Catholicism is not partly solitary. But the Church required communal aspects of worship and study. At least to get though confirmation.

Also to be a good one you are supposed to go to Church and worship in a group. Your grandma would tell you this.

here just a quick goggle.

Private Worship Is Not Enough

"From the earliest days of the Church, Christians have understood that being a Christian isn’t a private matter. We are called to be Christians together; while we can and should engage in the private worship of God throughout the week, our primary form of worship is public and communal, which is why Sunday Mass is so important."

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Old 12-06-2015, 07:31 PM   #44
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Figure as an outsider i shouldn't tell religious people what their religious views are and let them tell me what they are.

I can read the books and listen to the opinions and have my own and agree with one or the other side or both when the bible well... But in the end i dont think it should be my place to essentially determine what religious beliefs someone can hold.
I'll take such a debate if the person seems up for it, which can happen. Many Christians I have met enjoy discussing their theology. I wouldn't do it if I felt the person would be insulted by this.

Other than I agree with you. It's just that if we discuss "Christianity" and "Islam", these are obviously broad concepts, and we should note that we discuss trends more so than something we can generalize to all believers.

When it comes to violent expressions of religion, we can safely assume we're talking about a very small minority in almost any religion when it comes to perpetrators. Still, I hold that often these views can stem from a larger picture, and it can indeed sometimes be relevant to hold the larger picture as relevant. All Abrahamic religions have fairly violent holy texts, for example - perhaps barring a few very obscure denominations that only use the texts as "somewhat inspired".
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:37 AM   #45
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I'm not really making ad hominem attacks. I'm attacking any line of argument that says that religion is harmful based on caricatures of what religion is. The most important thing for a thinker to do, in my opinion, is to define and understand the concept one is talking about. When you or Sam Harris or any atheist talks about religion, I'm just sitting here going "nope, that's not religion." That's why I'm comparing you to a bigot (hypothetically of course), in the terms of lack of understanding of the subject matter. As a nonreligious person, you might know everything about religion, but you can't know what religion is. The inherent limitation of words make what I'm trying to say almost impossible, but I think you can get my meaning.
A couple comments.

1) First, your protests aside, you are indeed making an ad hominem argument. You are attacking the claim that religion is harmful by claiming that the people making the claim are in some way deficient. Textbook ad hominem argument.

2) You have made many false assumptions about my views and experiences and have tried to claim a special epistemic status for your claims because you are religious and I am not. However, let's look at what has actually gone on here. You have a particular theory about religion--that it is about a solitary engagement with some ineffable thing we find within. I have challenged this claim based on my own experience of different religious traditions, including both Shinto and Judaism, where that is not an accurate description. Your response has been to claim that I just don't understand because I haven't experienced religion.

That's BS. Sure, I've read about these religious traditions, but I've also talked with many Jews and Japanese people about their religion, what it means to them and how they experience it. I've also participated at some length in these (and other) religious communities, including engaging in their rituals, meditations, prayer and worship, and so on. You are being arrogant in assuming that you don't need to listen to other people's experience of religion just because it differs from your own.

I have no problem with acknowledging that Tolstoy describes how some people approach religion. But before I claim that this is how most people, or everyone, experiences religion, I'd want to know more about how people in different traditions describe their own experiences, I'd want to experiment with what it is like to engage in those different kind of experiences. Maybe you have. Fine. But you haven't appealed to that breadth of experience in this conversation.

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Here's a quote from Tolstoy: "Every person feels that there is something great inside him or her. In life, that something - that which cannot be understood - is the most important thing of all. A person's attitude towards that thing is religion."

That is a quote that one can meditate on for a week and find new layers of meaning. The key is "that which cannot be understood." You want me to prove to you with evidence something which cannot fundamentally be understood. I can't do it. I can keep giving you examples for why religion is fundamentally solitary, but you will never be satisfied with the "proof." I can think of a million reasons, but you would really have to be religious yourself in order to grasp them.
This gets frustrating. I feel like you are just plugging in standard responses without bothering to read what I say. So, I've never asked for "proof." I asked for evidence. You assert that I won't be satisfied with your "proof," but you don't know me at all, you are just assuming I'm some caricature of an atheist with unreasonable epistemic demands you have in your brain. You claim that you can think of a "million reasons" that you are right, but you haven't given a single one. You claim that religion can't be understood, but then also claim that you can understand its fundamental nature. Why should I take what you say seriously if you don't take me seriously?
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:07 PM   #46
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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A couple comments.

1) First, your protests aside, you are indeed making an ad hominem argument. You are attacking the claim that religion is harmful by claiming that the people making the claim are in some way deficient. Textbook ad hominem argument.

2) You have made many false assumptions about my views and experiences and have tried to claim a special epistemic status for your claims because you are religious and I am not. However, let's look at what has actually gone on here. You have a particular theory about religion--that it is about a solitary engagement with some ineffable thing we find within. I have challenged this claim based on my own experience of different religious traditions, including both Shinto and Judaism, where that is not an accurate description. Your response has been to claim that I just don't understand because I haven't experienced religion.

That's BS. Sure, I've read about these religious traditions, but I've also talked with many Jews and Japanese people about their religion, what it means to them and how they experience it. I've also participated at some length in these (and other) religious communities, including engaging in their rituals, meditations, prayer and worship, and so on. You are being arrogant in assuming that you don't need to listen to other people's experience of religion just because it differs from your own.

I have no problem with acknowledging that Tolstoy describes how some people approach religion. But before I claim that this is how most people, or everyone, experiences religion, I'd want to know more about how people in different traditions describe their own experiences, I'd want to experiment with what it is like to engage in those different kind of experiences. Maybe you have. Fine. But you haven't appealed to that breadth of experience in this conversation.



This gets frustrating. I feel like you are just plugging in standard responses without bothering to read what I say. So, I've never asked for "proof." I asked for evidence. You assert that I won't be satisfied with your "proof," but you don't know me at all, you are just assuming I'm some caricature of an atheist with unreasonable epistemic demands you have in your brain. You claim that you can think of a "million reasons" that you are right, but you haven't given a single one. You claim that religion can't be understood, but then also claim that you can understand its fundamental nature. Why should I take what you say seriously if you don't take me seriously?

It might help if we agree on a definition of religion. There is a difference between organized religion and religion in general. And there is a difference between the dogma of a religion and what religious people do in their daily lives. For example, based on a quick google search, 83 percent of Americans are Christians, but only 20 percent of these Christians go to church on Sunday. So then what makes them Christian? It can't be their outer behavior, since that would be in church! It must be their beliefs, or their inner behavior. So these people think they are christians even though they don't attend any form of ritual (besides church, that I know of, but I can't think of any other rituals they would attend if they are not at church). Prayer is probably the most common form of religious practice. A google search says 55% of people pray every day. There is mathematical evidence that the inner aspect of religion is more common than the outer element.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:18 PM   #47
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

It doesn't look like esspoker is reading Original Position's posts. Either that, or reading comprehension problems.
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Old 12-08-2015, 12:11 AM   #48
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

There is a third option.
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Old 12-08-2015, 12:15 AM   #49
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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There is a third option.
There's 25 options if you want. Obviously, I think 2 are more relevant than the rest.
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Old 12-08-2015, 12:20 AM   #50
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

I think three is. But i have an over developed sensitivity to bridges. So ymmv.
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