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Old 12-20-2015, 03:24 PM   #151
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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No. I like the universe and am grateful for life and it and any creator who might of made it. And i dont even need the bribe of an afterlife in heaven for my gratitude that many believers seem to need to make life worth living and meaningful!


This also messes up your earlier thing of not being sure if God exist...If you know deep down then yeah...
I don't either. You're projecting what you've heard of some religious people onto all religious people.

My feeling of God existing is similar to when I have a strong gut feeling that my opponent has aces. I don't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet on it.
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Old 12-20-2015, 03:33 PM   #152
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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!"

When you talk about atheism, I'm just sitting here going "nope, that's not atheism." 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 religious person, you might know everything about atheism, but you can't know what atheism really is.



No, I don't think you do see what I'm doing here. I wasn't accusing you of not being skeptical, I was making an exactly parallel claim to the one you made regarding faith in an effort to illustrate how your claim was false.

So, what you say here can be echoed exactly by many of the atheists on this forum. Many of us were religious and so understand faith well from our past. We also understand faith because even though we don't have faith in God, we do have faith in other areas of life, such as that our friends and partners love us, or in the power of reason or science, and so on.

Here's your mistake. You're comparing atheism and skepticism, two negatively defined concepts, to religion and faith which are positive concepts. Anybody can understand atheism, it is just the lack of belief in God. Faith is a living, breathing thing. Like I said it is a choice, one that one makes over and over again. It's not something you make one time and then forget about. The way I hear atheists describe their faith as children, it is like they were passively believing in something their parents taught them. That's not the faith of a grown man.
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Old 12-20-2015, 04:07 PM   #153
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I don't either. You're projecting what you've heard of some religious people onto all religious people.
No im not. You desperately want it that way because of your dislike of atheists. But thats not what the words in the post say.

Its not a view i said you or all theists have. Unlike you with your big atheists are mad at God paint brush.



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My feeling of God existing is similar to when I have a strong gut feeling that my opponent has aces. I don't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet on it.
So all humans know deep down God exists but no one knows for sure, maybe he doesn't. Ok....
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Old 12-20-2015, 04:14 PM   #154
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Here's your mistake. You're comparing atheism and skepticism, two negatively defined concepts, to religion and faith which are positive concepts. Anybody can understand atheism, it is just the lack of belief in God.
You say that, but here is your stated understanding of atheism:
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I do think that atheists are angry or rebellious. I think it's a natural stage of development, like hating your parents as a teenager. Eventually people realize there is something more.
You clearly believe atheism to be more than "just the lack of belief in God". You impute to it motives and a defective, incomplete worldview.

See, here's what's going on. You're a little bit older than you were when you were younger and more foolish, and you've come this understanding:
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Faith is a living, breathing thing. Like I said it is a choice, one that one makes over and over again. It's not something you make one time and then forget about. The way I hear atheists describe their faith as children, it is like they were passively believing in something their parents taught them. That's not the faith of a grown man.
And now you think you have a revelation and understanding that you didn't have before - and you do. And you also think that if only others would go through this revelation and let go of their anger and rebelliousness, they would see the obvious truth that you do. It's the kind of simple, first step beyond being a teenager you see in not-too-bright 21 year olds, although I'm guessing you're a lot older than 21.

The way you project onto the world is clownishly simplistic, but you can think like that if you want. Just realize there is a whole world out there of thought and opinion and belief and understanding that you do not comprehend, just like there was a whole world of faith you didn't comprehend when you were an atheist. You are on the second step of many.

You *are* a step above where you were as an atheist, but you're merely on the second step. Yet you think you can survey everything about atheists. You're the living embodiment of the saying "a little knowledge/wisdom being a dangerous thing".

The truth is, as you will discover in time - is that there are both religious people and atheists far above you on the steps. I daren't say which is at the highest rung - there are some brilliant, faith-filled, philosophically deep religious people, and some brilliant, faith-filled, philosophically deep atheists (faith as a force in your life has nothing to do with believing or not in a creator). But what you do - as evidenced by your quote above - is put all atheists on the step below you, where you were.

It's clownish projection of the type that not very bright and not very self aware people do. Very basic psychology. You'd do well to become a little more self aware.

The rest of us think your projections (and your deep arrogance, which you are completely oblivious too) are a little hokey.

You're welcome.
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Old 12-20-2015, 04:20 PM   #155
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Here's your mistake. You're comparing atheism and skepticism, two negatively defined concepts, to religion and faith which are positive concepts. Anybody can understand atheism, it is just the lack of belief in God. Faith is a living, breathing thing. Like I said it is a choice, one that one makes over and over again. It's not something you make one time and then forget about. The way I hear atheists describe their faith as children, it is like they were passively believing in something their parents taught them. That's not the faith of a grown man.
Two points.

First, I was commenting on your view of atheism as a social group, not as a set of beliefs or lack of beliefs. You claimed that atheism is the result of arrested intellectual development and that atheists characteristically exhibit behavior patterns of arrogance, bitterness, rebellion and so on. This description is clearly not about the logical implications of the lack of belief in a god, but rather about the psychology and social patterns of atheists. As such it is appropriately analogous to consider that your own criticism of atheist attempts to understand religious people as being like the stereotypes a racist bigot might have towards black people applies just as readily to your own comments about atheists.

It is not that atheism is not readily understandable by non-atheists--I think it clearly is--but rather that because atheism is a vocal minority group in American society there are many negative stereotypes about atheists which are accepted by people in other social groups without them seriously attempting to check their accuracy. I don't know, maybe you have survey data in your back pocket showing that atheists are really arrogant. But you're not showing it.

Second, and more importantly, I reject your entire epistemological framework. You want to claim that atheists shouldn't criticize religion because they don't understand it. Why don't they understand it? Because they are not themselves religious and so don't have the kind of experiences that are necessary to understand religion.

First, just as an empirical matter, this is based on a false premise. In fact, millions of atheists are religious (e.g. the many Japanese atheists that also follow some form of Buddhism and Shinto). Many of those who are not today religious used to be religious. Thus, insofar as being religious is a requirement for understanding and hence being able to criticize religion, being an atheist is no bar.

Second, it is not enough to show that there are experiences that people in one group have that other people do not. You must also show that such experiences are in some way evidence or justification for the claim that God exists, or the truth or value of the religion. For instance, I have never dropped acid, but this hasn't caused me to think that people who have, by virtue of their having had experiences different from my own, can say whatever they want about it and I just have to accept it.

Even worse, and this is not necessarily something you are saying, I definitely reject the claim that membership in some group automatically grants you an epistemological pass card to opine about the social, physical, or psychological characteristics of your group without being challenged by outsiders.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:01 AM   #156
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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No im not. You desperately want it that way because of your dislike of atheists. But thats not what the words in the post say.

Its not a view i said you or all theists have. Unlike you with your big atheists are mad at God paint brush.




So all humans know deep down God exists but no one knows for sure, maybe he doesn't. Ok....
First of all I have no dislike of atheists. Some of the coolest people I know are atheists and it affects my liking of them not at all.

Yeah I think we all know there is a god. I can't prove it though, so we are all looking through a glass darkly as the scriptures say.
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Old 12-21-2015, 10:02 AM   #157
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Yeah I think we all know there is a god.
LOL!!! Adorable!
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:52 PM   #158
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Two points.

First, I was commenting on your view of atheism as a social group, not as a set of beliefs or lack of beliefs. You claimed that atheism is the result of arrested intellectual development and that atheists characteristically exhibit behavior patterns of arrogance, bitterness, rebellion and so on. This description is clearly not about the logical implications of the lack of belief in a god, but rather about the psychology and social patterns of atheists. As such it is appropriately analogous to consider that your own criticism of atheist attempts to understand religious people as being like the stereotypes a racist bigot might have towards black people applies just as readily to your own comments about atheists.

It is not that atheism is not readily understandable by non-atheists--I think it clearly is--but rather that because atheism is a vocal minority group in American society there are many negative stereotypes about atheists which are accepted by people in other social groups without them seriously attempting to check their accuracy. I don't know, maybe you have survey data in your back pocket showing that atheists are really arrogant. But you're not showing it.

Second, and more importantly, I reject your entire epistemological framework. You want to claim that atheists shouldn't criticize religion because they don't understand it. Why don't they understand it? Because they are not themselves religious and so don't have the kind of experiences that are necessary to understand religion.

First, just as an empirical matter, this is based on a false premise. In fact, millions of atheists are religious (e.g. the many Japanese atheists that also follow some form of Buddhism and Shinto). Many of those who are not today religious used to be religious. Thus, insofar as being religious is a requirement for understanding and hence being able to criticize religion, being an atheist is no bar.

Second, it is not enough to show that there are experiences that people in one group have that other people do not. You must also show that such experiences are in some way evidence or justification for the claim that God exists, or the truth or value of the religion. For instance, I have never dropped acid, but this hasn't caused me to think that people who have, by virtue of their having had experiences different from my own, can say whatever they want about it and I just have to accept it.

Even worse, and this is not necessarily something you are saying, I definitely reject the claim that membership in some group automatically grants you an epistemological pass card to opine about the social, physical, or psychological characteristics of your group without being challenged by outsiders.
I'm not bad-talking atheists as people, I'm saying that the lack of belief in a higher power is a form of philosophical arrogance or philosophical blindness that is part of an earlier stage of development, and that in maturity one reaches a state of humility which can only result in faith. I just want to make that clear because I'm NOT making any value judgements on atheists as people or citizens. And you don't have to agree with me; I definitely don't expect you too But that doesn't mean we can't get along.

It's fine to criticize religion if you respect it and make an attempt to understand it first, and I know you have done that. In the acid example, if someone takes acid and tells you it's the best thing in the world, you don't have to believe them or be moved to drop acid yourself. But, you should respect what they are telling you as true for them. The world can't really get along if we are all disrespectful of each others experiences. Calling someone who drops acid and feels happy about it a "moron" or something like that is equally moronic. (Acid is a bad example since it's a proven harmful drug so let's just keep it at the analogous level). You have to respect it since while they MIGHT be completely wrong, you as a non-acid user have zero knowledge about their experience.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:57 PM   #159
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I just want to make that clear because I'm NOT making any value judgements on atheists as people or citizens.
Are you sure?

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Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
I'm not bad-talking atheists as people, I'm saying that the lack of belief in a higher power is a form of philosophical arrogance or philosophical blindness that is part of an earlier stage of development, and that in maturity one reaches a state of humility which can only result in faith.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:59 PM   #160
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I'm not bad-talking atheists as people, I'm saying that the lack of belief in a higher power is a form of philosophical arrogance or philosophical blindness that is part of an earlier stage of development, and that in maturity one reaches a state of humility which can only result in faith.
I must say you're quite effective at contradicting yourself all in the space of a single sentence.

You're referring to atheists as under-developed here.

What do you classify as 'bad-talking' if not that?

It's as if you're looking down on us from some majestic pedestal.

Yes your highness, we will do better to develop ourselves in your image, for we are mere plebs; under-developed and immature. It must be our reason: that unfortunate curse placed upon thee by the devil.
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Old 12-21-2015, 08:05 PM   #161
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Two points.

First, I was commenting on your view of atheism as a social group, not as a set of beliefs or lack of beliefs. You claimed that atheism is the result of arrested intellectual development and that atheists characteristically exhibit behavior patterns of arrogance, bitterness, rebellion and so on. This description is clearly not about the logical implications of the lack of belief in a god, but rather about the psychology and social patterns of atheists. As such it is appropriately analogous to consider that your own criticism of atheist attempts to understand religious people as being like the stereotypes a racist bigot might have towards black people applies just as readily to your own comments about atheists.

It is not that atheism is not readily understandable by non-atheists--I think it clearly is--but rather that because atheism is a vocal minority group in American society there are many negative stereotypes about atheists which are accepted by people in other social groups without them seriously attempting to check their accuracy. I don't know, maybe you have survey data in your back pocket showing that atheists are really arrogant. But you're not showing it.

Second, and more importantly, I reject your entire epistemological framework. You want to claim that atheists shouldn't criticize religion because they don't understand it. Why don't they understand it? Because they are not themselves religious and so don't have the kind of experiences that are necessary to understand religion.

First, just as an empirical matter, this is based on a false premise. In fact, millions of atheists are religious (e.g. the many Japanese atheists that also follow some form of Buddhism and Shinto). Many of those who are not today religious used to be religious. Thus, insofar as being religious is a requirement for understanding and hence being able to criticize religion, being an atheist is no bar.

Second, it is not enough to show that there are experiences that people in one group have that other people do not. You must also show that such experiences are in some way evidence or justification for the claim that God exists, or the truth or value of the religion. For instance, I have never dropped acid, but this hasn't caused me to think that people who have, by virtue of their having had experiences different from my own, can say whatever they want about it and I just have to accept it.

Even worse, and this is not necessarily something you are saying, I definitely reject the claim that membership in some group automatically grants you an epistemological pass card to opine about the social, physical, or psychological characteristics of your group without being challenged by outsiders.
I'm not bad-talking atheists as people, I'm saying that the lack of belief in a higher power is a form of philosophical arrogance or philosophical blindness that is part of an earlier stage of development, and that in maturity one reaches a state of humility which can only result in faith. I just want to make that clear because I'm NOT making any value judgements on atheists as people or citizens. And you don't have to agree with me; I definitely don't expect you too But that doesn't mean we can't get along.

It's fine to criticize religion if you respect it and make an attempt to understand it first, and I know you have done that. In the acid example, if someone takes acid and tells you it's the best thing in the world, you don't have to believe them or be moved to drop acid yourself. But, you should respect what they are telling you as true for them. The world can't really get along if we are all disrespectful of each others experiences. Calling someone who drops acid and feels happy about it a "moron" or something like that is equally moronic. (Acid is a bad example since it's a proven harmful drug so let's just keep it at the analogous level). You have to respect it since while they MIGHT be completely wrong, you as a non-acid user have zero knowledge about their experience.
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Old 12-21-2015, 09:31 PM   #162
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I'm not bad-talking atheists as people, I'm saying that the lack of belief in a higher power is a form of philosophical arrogance or philosophical blindness that is part of an earlier stage of development, and that in maturity one reaches a state of humility which can only result in faith. I just want to make that clear because I'm NOT making any value judgements on atheists as people or citizens. And you don't have to agree with me; I definitely don't expect you too But that doesn't mean we can't get along.
I'm not offended by your view of atheism, and I think it is a bit silly to go all high dudgeon over it. After all, to a large extent it is simply a result of your identification as a religious person and as a derivation from the religious principles you accept. As I've pointed out here, you don't have any empirical backing for your claims, and so no way to convince people who don't accept your priors.

What I've tried to demonstrate to you is that in this way your attitude towards atheists is very much the same as a standard Reddit Atheist's view towards theists. Like theirs, yours doesn't come from empirical research, but is just a derivation from prior principles. Like theirs, yours is a negative characterization of the enemy group. Like theirs, it seems arrogant to those in group being described because it describes them by assuming principles they themselves reject, effectively shutting them out of the conversation completely.

The real failure here is that you're not going meta here. You believe that based on your theory about religion atheists have certain characteristics. However, as you've said, you have relatively low confidence that your theory of religion is true. Since your derivation from that theory of religion to the characteristics of atheists introduces another opportunity for error (in particular you should be very concerned about error from various biases common to understanding the outgroup), your confidence in your description of atheists based on these principles should be even lower.

Furthermore, I would argue that the level of confidence needed to accept a claim should be higher when describing a social group than for accepting a religious belief (I think in general the more empirically testable a question the higher the evidential standard we should use and I think the potential for harm from false beliefs about other social groups is much higher than from false religious beliefs.). Thus you should be very cautious in making your assertions about the characteristics of atheists, much more so than you are here.

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It's fine to criticize religion if you respect it and make an attempt to understand it first, and I know you have done that. In the acid example, if someone takes acid and tells you it's the best thing in the world, you don't have to believe them or be moved to drop acid yourself. But, you should respect what they are telling you as true for them. The world can't really get along if we are all disrespectful of each others experiences. Calling someone who drops acid and feels happy about it a "moron" or something like that is equally moronic. (Acid is a bad example since it's a proven harmful drug so let's just keep it at the analogous level). You have to respect it since while they MIGHT be completely wrong, you as a non-acid user have zero knowledge about their experience.
I am a firm believer in the principle of charity as a hermeneutic tool and so agree with you that religious and non-religious alike should at least initially treat the various religions they are interested in criticizing with respect. Specifically, I think it is a useful heuristic to use in understanding people with views different from your own to look for interpretations of their claims that maximize truth.

However, I don't think this respect means that you have to grant that their interpretation of their experiences are "true for them." As I've said from the beginning, the core of our disagreement is epistemological, and this point is it exactly. Essentially, my view is this: I don't think subjective personal experience is a trustworthy guide to answering religious, scientific, and philosophical questions. Thus, I put a relatively low epistemic weight both on my own and other people's subjective experiences. Here's why:

1) There is wide disagreement and variance in what kind of subjective experiences people have. That is, it is not that uncommon on these questions for people to report flatly contradictory subjective experiences (eg compare Buddhist and Christian mystical accounts, where Buddhists describe the ultimate end of mystical experience being an awareness of the nothingness of everything, and Christians describe a sense of union with God.

2) The study of the mind shows that while (in Kahneman's terminology) System 1 can be useful for many functions, it is still prey to consistent biases and errors (eg most people have false intuitions about probability). I have every reason to think these problems are only magnified in dealing with questions that are further away from our ordinary experience.

3) I have and continue to personally experienced many things that I think are false. For instance, I don't think my religious experiences are veridical. I don't think my sense of self implicitly relies on false psychological claims. My experience of the physical world, such as time, solidity and so on, and my intuitions about certain aspects of the physical universe, such as causation are probably not very accurate at more general levels of physical description. I have moral intutions that are inconsistent with the basic moral principles by which I try to live.

Thus, I am willing to both criticize and disagree with the claims of people about the utility and reality of their own experiences, just as I'm willing to listen to people who haven't had my own experiences.

EDIT: I went a little too general there and forgot to reply to the specific points you are making. Yes, we know that acid causes harm. I think we have good reason to believe that some religious people and institutions cause harm as well. So the analogy holds.

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Old 12-21-2015, 09:34 PM   #163
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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I must say you're quite effective at contradicting yourself all in the space of a single sentence.

You're referring to atheists as under-developed here.

What do you classify as 'bad-talking' if not that?

It's as if you're looking down on us from some majestic pedestal.

Yes your highness, we will do better to develop ourselves in your image, for we are mere plebs; under-developed and immature. It must be our reason: that unfortunate curse placed upon thee by the devil.
esspoker's mind is going to be blown once he realizes there are levels of thought and understanding and feeling and faith above the second level he seems to have gotten to, and that those levels lead to both atheism and religion.

I've seen this often. Someone realizes something profound or has a revelation in discovering an aspect of themselves or spirituality they didn't previously know, and their newfound reality is so superior to their previous one that they think they've found the keys to life itself, and that all others who used to think like they did are unenlightened/immature/grappling with the same thing they did. It's classic projection of the most obtuse form, and one the big foundations of cults.

2p2ers tend to be a little more self aware than that, usually.
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Old 12-21-2015, 09:48 PM   #164
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Are you sure?
Read my post again, then read a book by Mortimer Adler called "How to Read a Book," then rinse and repeat.
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Old 12-21-2015, 09:51 PM   #165
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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esspoker's mind is going to be blown once he realizes there are levels of thought and understanding and feeling and faith above the second level he seems to have gotten to, and that those levels lead to both atheism and religion.

I've seen this often. Someone realizes something profound or has a revelation in discovering an aspect of themselves or spirituality they didn't previously know, and their newfound reality is so superior to their previous one that they think they've found the keys to life itself, and that all others who used to think like they did are unenlightened/immature/grappling with the same thing they did. It's classic projection of the most obtuse form, and one the big foundations of cults.

2p2ers tend to be a little more self aware than that, usually.
It's easy enough for him to learn these things.

For example, I have a permanent reminder in the back of my mind, whenever I'm conversing with anyone. The reminder is:

People are different. People are only different to the extent that they're likeable or dislikeable. People are not better or worse.

Sometimes the dislikeable people are smarter for example. This doesn't mean they're better in any way: simply different....in some dislikeable way (e.g., preach too much).

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Old 12-22-2015, 12:19 AM   #166
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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First of all I have no dislike of atheists. Some of the coolest people I know are atheists and it affects my liking of them not at all.
Your posts say differently.
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Yeah I think we all know there is a god. I can't prove it though, so we are all looking through a glass darkly as the scriptures say.
No. And this is one of the many reasons why the biblical God is false. He says the same. But since i know im not sure whats going on in the universe. I know the hypothetical him and you are wrong.
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Old 12-22-2015, 02:49 AM   #167
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Your posts say differently.
What's with this attitude? Just because I don't agree with someone doesn't mean I don't like them! This is a kind of troubling trend. I hope people can deal with other people not having their point of view.
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Old 12-22-2015, 05:24 AM   #168
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

I think your words in the form speak for themselves and ill leave it at that.
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Old 12-22-2015, 02:40 PM   #169
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Originally Posted by Original Position View Post
I'm not offended by your view of atheism, and I think it is a bit silly to go all high dudgeon over it. After all, to a large extent it is simply a result of your identification as a religious person and as a derivation from the religious principles you accept. As I've pointed out here, you don't have any empirical backing for your claims, and so no way to convince people who don't accept your priors.

What I've tried to demonstrate to you is that in this way your attitude towards atheists is very much the same as a standard Reddit Atheist's view towards theists. Like theirs, yours doesn't come from empirical research, but is just a derivation from prior principles. Like theirs, yours is a negative characterization of the enemy group. Like theirs, it seems arrogant to those in group being described because it describes them by assuming principles they themselves reject, effectively shutting them out of the conversation completely.

The real failure here is that you're not going meta here. You believe that based on your theory about religion atheists have certain characteristics. However, as you've said, you have relatively low confidence that your theory of religion is true. Since your derivation from that theory of religion to the characteristics of atheists introduces another opportunity for error (in particular you should be very concerned about error from various biases common to understanding the outgroup), your confidence in your description of atheists based on these principles should be even lower.

Furthermore, I would argue that the level of confidence needed to accept a claim should be higher when describing a social group than for accepting a religious belief (I think in general the more empirically testable a question the higher the evidential standard we should use and I think the potential for harm from false beliefs about other social groups is much higher than from false religious beliefs.). Thus you should be very cautious in making your assertions about the characteristics of atheists, much more so than you are here.



I am a firm believer in the principle of charity as a hermeneutic tool and so agree with you that religious and non-religious alike should at least initially treat the various religions they are interested in criticizing with respect. Specifically, I think it is a useful heuristic to use in understanding people with views different from your own to look for interpretations of their claims that maximize truth.

However, I don't think this respect means that you have to grant that their interpretation of their experiences are "true for them." As I've said from the beginning, the core of our disagreement is epistemological, and this point is it exactly. Essentially, my view is this: I don't think subjective personal experience is a trustworthy guide to answering religious, scientific, and philosophical questions. Thus, I put a relatively low epistemic weight both on my own and other people's subjective experiences. Here's why:

1) There is wide disagreement and variance in what kind of subjective experiences people have. That is, it is not that uncommon on these questions for people to report flatly contradictory subjective experiences (eg compare Buddhist and Christian mystical accounts, where Buddhists describe the ultimate end of mystical experience being an awareness of the nothingness of everything, and Christians describe a sense of union with God.

2) The study of the mind shows that while (in Kahneman's terminology) System 1 can be useful for many functions, it is still prey to consistent biases and errors (eg most people have false intuitions about probability). I have every reason to think these problems are only magnified in dealing with questions that are further away from our ordinary experience.

3) I have and continue to personally experienced many things that I think are false. For instance, I don't think my religious experiences are veridical. I don't think my sense of self implicitly relies on false psychological claims. My experience of the physical world, such as time, solidity and so on, and my intuitions about certain aspects of the physical universe, such as causation are probably not very accurate at more general levels of physical description. I have moral intutions that are inconsistent with the basic moral principles by which I try to live.

Thus, I am willing to both criticize and disagree with the claims of people about the utility and reality of their own experiences, just as I'm willing to listen to people who haven't had my own experiences.

EDIT: I went a little too general there and forgot to reply to the specific points you are making. Yes, we know that acid causes harm. I think we have good reason to believe that some religious people and institutions cause harm as well. So the analogy holds.

We're arguing on a forum and it's hard not to make general statements sometimes. I don't think all atheists are this way or that way. But there are a lot of examples I've seen of in-group/out-group stuff that atheists as a group are just as guilty of as some religious groups. For example I remember recently a famous comedian tweeted something about the Bible and he was bullied into deleting his tweet. So let's not call intolerance strictly a religious thing. It's going to happen as long as people engage in mass herd opinions.

It's not that I have low confidence that my theory of religion is true. It's that I try to have a certain degree of humility, at least when arguing with someone else, because that's a good place to have an argument. Call it Socratic doubt. Or charity as you said, which might be a better term for it. Arguments are like negotiations and it's good to reach some form of middle ground, and in a good negotiation both parties should be left a little unsatisfied.

When it comes to epistemology, we have a fundamental disagreement. I do not put weight on empirical studies or data when it comes to metaphysics. I also wouldn't put a lot of weight into words. For example when Buddhists as you say experience Nothingness and Christians experience God, it's possible that both are experiencing the same phenomena, but they see it through the lens of the religion that they know. That's where the failure of words comes in. I do not really trust words all that much; I trust experience. I realize that in today's scientific era this isn't going to gain me much credibility, but that's fine since I'm not a public figure and I really don't care. But guys like Kierkegaard, Herman Hesse, Nietzsche - they used their imagination and didn't rely on empirical data, and it didn't keep them from having valuable insights.

When data is used and surveys are taken, it is three steps removed from the actual experience. Going meta, there is a bias to looking at humans as objects rather than subjects. When you take the human brain and analyze it from a third person perspective, you are automatically imputing a judgement on humans. You are elevating the Scientific to a truth-standpoint and devaluing the experience of the subject. All in the service of a Faustian thirst for knowledge. It all comes down to values. We wither value the scientific and objective (which seems to have higher truth value simply because it can be agreed upon) or we value the subjective experience (which has less truth value because it is hard to verify). But the former is far removed from experience and is actually less concrete and less solid than the latter because the latter is the only thing that is actually real.
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Old 12-22-2015, 02:58 PM   #170
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
Arguments are like negotiations and it's good to reach some form of middle ground, and in a good negotiation both parties should be left a little unsatisfied.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_to_moderation
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Old 12-22-2015, 03:03 PM   #171
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Where does the evidence lead?
For me it lead to atheism.

It doesn't really matter though if you read the post I replied to.
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Old 12-22-2015, 03:36 PM   #172
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
We're arguing on a forum and it's hard not to make general statements sometimes. I don't think all atheists are this way or that way. But there are a lot of examples I've seen of in-group/out-group stuff that atheists as a group are just as guilty of as some religious groups. For example I remember recently a famous comedian tweeted something about the Bible and he was bullied into deleting his tweet. So let's not call intolerance strictly a religious thing. It's going to happen as long as people engage in mass herd opinions.
I think what it is hard about making general statements here about atheists is that there are many atheists here who will disagree with you and ask you for evidence that you don't have. You should remember that you don't have this evidence when you make general statements about atheists in fora or other contexts where there aren't any atheists around.

As for the general point, yes, I'll agree that some atheists also engage in in-group/out-group behavior just like religious people. What I was disagreeing with were your assertions about distinguishing characteristics atheists (rebellion, arrogance, arrested development, etc.). If you are withdrawing those claims then there is no disagreement here.
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It's not that I have low confidence that my theory of religion is true. It's that I try to have a certain degree of humility, at least when arguing with someone else, because that's a good place to have an argument. Call it Socratic doubt. Or charity as you said, which might be a better term for it. Arguments are like negotiations and it's good to reach some form of middle ground, and in a good negotiation both parties should be left a little unsatisfied.
We have a very different view of argumentation. I don't argue to reach a middle ground but to find out what is true. I'm not negotiating with you when I argue, I assume we are partners in this search. To me you are describing argumentation as a lawyer or sophist, not as a philosopher or scientist.

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When it comes to epistemology, we have a fundamental disagreement. I do not put weight on empirical studies or data when it comes to metaphysics. I also wouldn't put a lot of weight into words. For example when Buddhists as you say experience Nothingness and Christians experience God, it's possible that both are experiencing the same phenomena, but they see it through the lens of the religion that they know. That's where the failure of words comes in. I do not really trust words all that much; I trust experience. I realize that in today's scientific era this isn't going to gain me much credibility, but that's fine since I'm not a public figure and I really don't care. But guys like Kierkegaard, Herman Hesse, Nietzsche - they used their imagination and didn't rely on empirical data, and it didn't keep them from having valuable insights.
It is of course possible that Buddhists and Christians are having the same experience, but honestly, it seems to me the best way of answering that question is by doing science....so there's that. Of course, it is the view of many of these mystics that there are phenomenological differences in their mystical experiences (see Nelson Pike's Mystic Union for a good discussion of this).

A couple other points. Sure, I've never denied that you can't have valuable insights without empirical data. I think mathematics is a clear examples of this. I just think that religion is best studied with the empirical data as much as we can.

I'm curious if you also think personal experience is the best way to study other subject areas? For example, astronomy? Physics? Biology or geology? Economics? Psychology and sociology? If not, what is it about religion that is different?

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When data is used and surveys are taken, it is three steps removed from the actual experience. Going meta, there is a bias to looking at humans as objects rather than subjects. When you take the human brain and analyze it from a third person perspective, you are automatically imputing a judgement on humans. You are elevating the Scientific to a truth-standpoint and devaluing the experience of the subject. All in the service of a Faustian thirst for knowledge. It all comes down to values. We wither value the scientific and objective (which seems to have higher truth value simply because it can be agreed upon) or we value the subjective experience (which has less truth value because it is hard to verify). But the former is far removed from experience and is actually less concrete and less solid than the latter because the latter is the only thing that is actually real.
I will happily admit to the bias you describe here. I do indeed think that science is engaged in a search for truth about the nature and working of the universe. I also think it is generally our best method for finding these truths--certainly much better than the purely subjective--and so that the best conclusions of science should be accepted by anyone who is also interested in finding the truth about how the universe works.

So if you value the truth less highly than whatever this other thing is you're getting out of subjectivity, then we are just not engaged in the same project and our argumentation is fundamentally at cross-purposes.

However, I think truth-aptness is a typical assumption of the kind of conversation we're having, so my recommendation is that when you begin a conversation with people you should start with a disclaimer, something like this:

*I am not primarily concerned with finding the truth of the thing we are discussing*
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Old 12-23-2015, 01:54 AM   #173
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Originally Posted by Original Position View Post
I think what it is hard about making general statements here about atheists is that there are many atheists here who will disagree with you and ask you for evidence that you don't have. You should remember that you don't have this evidence when you make general statements about atheists in fora or other contexts where there aren't any atheists around.

As for the general point, yes, I'll agree that some atheists also engage in in-group/out-group behavior just like religious people. What I was disagreeing with were your assertions about distinguishing characteristics atheists (rebellion, arrogance, arrested development, etc.). If you are withdrawing those claims then there is no disagreement here.


We have a very different view of argumentation. I don't argue to reach a middle ground but to find out what is true. I'm not negotiating with you when I argue, I assume we are partners in this search. To me you are describing argumentation as a lawyer or sophist, not as a philosopher or scientist.



It is of course possible that Buddhists and Christians are having the same experience, but honestly, it seems to me the best way of answering that question is by doing science....so there's that. Of course, it is the view of many of these mystics that there are phenomenological differences in their mystical experiences (see Nelson Pike's Mystic Union for a good discussion of this).

A couple other points. Sure, I've never denied that you can't have valuable insights without empirical data. I think mathematics is a clear examples of this. I just think that religion is best studied with the empirical data as much as we can.

I'm curious if you also think personal experience is the best way to study other subject areas? For example, astronomy? Physics? Biology or geology? Economics? Psychology and sociology? If not, what is it about religion that is different?



I will happily admit to the bias you describe here. I do indeed think that science is engaged in a search for truth about the nature and working of the universe. I also think it is generally our best method for finding these truths--certainly much better than the purely subjective--and so that the best conclusions of science should be accepted by anyone who is also interested in finding the truth about how the universe works.

So if you value the truth less highly than whatever this other thing is you're getting out of subjectivity, then we are just not engaged in the same project and our argumentation is fundamentally at cross-purposes.

However, I think truth-aptness is a typical assumption of the kind of conversation we're having, so my recommendation is that when you begin a conversation with people you should start with a disclaimer, something like this:

*I am not primarily concerned with finding the truth of the thing we are discussing*

You misunderstood my post. You might find some agreed upon "truth" but in twenty years it will be replaced by a newer better truth and so on and so on. And like I said it is far removed from experience. I wouldn't settle for that kind of truth.

As for why I argue, it is a way of engaging with someone. There is give and take, is what I meant. I agree that it's not like a negotiation - that was a bad analogy. But I'm not going to come out at the beginning of an argument stating that I know everything and you're an idiot. For one thing that's just unpleasant.

Physics is an empirical science so your question is absurd.

I'm not against using some studies and some empirical data if you want a broad sociological study of religion for government purposes or something like that, but let me put it this way. Whose opinion of religion would you value more highly, a guy who works at a university, maybe a twenty-five year old virgin who pumps out studies for 30,000 a year, or a guy who has lived a full life, who has read great books, and thought about life for a long time? Who would be closer to the truth?

I'm not withdrawing my claims about atheism. I believe at its deep psychological roots it is a lack of full development of the psyche. Faith unleashes aspects of the psyche that faithlessness cannot grasp. As for the cause of atheism it has to do with a certain kind of pride and lack of gratitude on a deep level, but that is all based on ignorance - not a "sin" or evil nature or something like that - just ignorance of a higher truth. The pride is the pride of intellectualism, the faustian thirst for knowledge and power. And I realize this makes me sound self-righteous, which is really far from the truth. I have plenty of sins and faults, believe me.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:35 AM   #174
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Originally Posted by esspoker View Post
You misunderstood my post. You might find some agreed upon "truth" but in twenty years it will be replaced by a newer better truth and so on and so on. And like I said it is far removed from experience. I wouldn't settle for that kind of truth.
Yes, in the future we'll have even better scientific theories. However, it is still the case that today's scientific theories about the universe are better than the generalizations you can derive from your own subjective experience of the world.

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As for why I argue, it is a way of engaging with someone. There is give and take, is what I meant. I agree that it's not like a negotiation - that was a bad analogy. But I'm not going to come out at the beginning of an argument stating that I know everything and you're an idiot. For one thing that's just unpleasant.
Engage over what? Since you reject the standard forms of evidence and are suspicious of the possibility of linguistic communication at all, it really isn't clear to me what you hope to achieve by talking to people. It seems to me that on your own grounds argumentation is just a form of hollow intellectualization that mostly distracts people from what is truly important.

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Physics is an empirical science so your question is absurd.
Sure, and I think the study of religion is an empirical science as well.

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I'm not against using some studies and some empirical data if you want a broad sociological study of religion for government purposes or something like that, but let me put it this way. Whose opinion of religion would you value more highly, a guy who works at a university, maybe a twenty-five year old virgin who pumps out studies for 30,000 a year, or a guy who has lived a full life, who has read great books, and thought about life for a long time? Who would be closer to the truth?
Probably the 25 year old virgin. But I base my beliefs about religion on the strength of the arguments and evidence supporting those beliefs, not who is giving them to me, so it doesn't really matter much who is giving me the evidence.

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I'm not withdrawing my claims about atheism. I believe at its deep psychological roots it is a lack of full development of the psyche. Faith unleashes aspects of the psyche that faithlessness cannot grasp. As for the cause of atheism it has to do with a certain kind of pride and lack of gratitude on a deep level, but that is all based on ignorance - not a "sin" or evil nature or something like that - just ignorance of a higher truth. The pride is the pride of intellectualism, the faustian thirst for knowledge and power. And I realize this makes me sound self-righteous, which is really far from the truth. I have plenty of sins and faults, believe me.
Right, I have no way of responding to this. You aren't primarily concerned with making truth claims about atheists, but with preserving the immediacy of experience. Thus, I shouldn't be treating what you say here as an assertion about what atheists are actually like, but rather as an expression of some facet of your own experience. This puts me in bind--responding to the actual content of your claims is pointless, you're not actually trying to assert that it's true that atheists have x characteristics, which is why you feel no need to have evidence supporting your belief. Furthermore, any challenge to these claims ends up being read by you, not as a challenge to whether those claims are true, but rather a challenge to you as a person, to the truthfulness of your own experiences of life.
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Old 12-24-2015, 04:54 PM   #175
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Re: The Sam Harris interview from Salon

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Yes, in the future we'll have even better scientific theories. However, it is still the case that today's scientific theories about the universe are better than the generalizations you can derive from your own subjective experience of the world.



Engage over what? Since you reject the standard forms of evidence and are suspicious of the possibility of linguistic communication at all, it really isn't clear to me what you hope to achieve by talking to people. It seems to me that on your own grounds argumentation is just a form of hollow intellectualization that mostly distracts people from what is truly important.


Sure, and I think the study of religion is an empirical science as well.



Probably the 25 year old virgin. But I base my beliefs about religion on the strength of the arguments and evidence supporting those beliefs, not who is giving them to me, so it doesn't really matter much who is giving me the evidence.



Right, I have no way of responding to this. You aren't primarily concerned with making truth claims about atheists, but with preserving the immediacy of experience. Thus, I shouldn't be treating what you say here as an assertion about what atheists are actually like, but rather as an expression of some facet of your own experience. This puts me in bind--responding to the actual content of your claims is pointless, you're not actually trying to assert that it's true that atheists have x characteristics, which is why you feel no need to have evidence supporting your belief. Furthermore, any challenge to these claims ends up being read by you, not as a challenge to whether those claims are true, but rather a challenge to you as a person, to the truthfulness of your own experiences of life.
I think you're either not understanding what I'm saying or ignoring it. Looking at it from a meta perspective, when you treat religion like it is an object of research like a petri dish, you're murdering it to dissect it. How about love? Would you study love by scientific analysis? Would you trust the grad student over someone who has been in love to answer questions about it?
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