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Should theistic fact claims be subjected to the same standards of scrutiny as other fact claims?
Posted: 27 August 2013 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Fatalism?

or (from wiki)

The Idle Argument[edit source]

One famous ancient argument regarding fatalism was the so-called Idle Argument. It argues that if something is fated, then it would be pointless or futile to make any effort to bring it about. The Idle Argument was described by Origen and Cicero and it went like this:
If it is fated for you to recover from this illness, then you will recover whether you call a doctor or not.
Likewise, if you are fated not to recover, you will not do so whether you call a doctor or not.
But either it is fated that you will recover from this illness, or it is fated that you will not recover.
Therefore it is futile to consult a doctor.[6][7]

The Idle Argument was anticipated by Aristotle in his De Interpretatione chapter 9. The Stoics considered it to be a sophism and the Stoic Chrysippus attempted to refute it by pointing out that consulting the doctor would be as much fated as recovering. He seems to have introduced the idea that in cases like that at issue two events can be co-fated, so that one cannot occur without the other.[8] It is, however, a false argument because it fails to consider that those fated to recover may be those fated to consult a doctor.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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LilySmith - 27 August 2013 03:17 PM
DarronS - 27 August 2013 02:40 PM
LilySmith - 27 August 2013 12:40 PM

Belief and faith both mean trust.

Not according to the Bible.

Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Yes, that is the meaning of faith in the general sense.  It is the confidence that what we hope for will come to fruition, and the assurance that things we cannot see are true.  It is trust.  We have faith in our doctor because we have confidence that he studied medicine and knows what to do to make us better.  Our faith in him gives us the assurance that he can help us be well.  We aren’t well yet, but that’s what we trust our doctor to accomplish for us.  We have faith in him and his ability.

Now you are playing semantic games. We can see the doctor’s medical degree on the wall. We have all seen modern medicine cure people who would have died of the same disease a few decades ago. Aids is now controllable, when only 25 years ago is was a certain death sentence. That is not the same type of faith as believing in an unseen, unknowable god.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Lausten - 27 August 2013 06:37 AM

If a doctor has a religious type belief in his trade, then he probably isn’t keeping up on his studies very well. If I asked my doctor WHY he is prescribing a certain medicine I wouldn’t want him to say, “gee, I don’t know why these things work, I just believe they do.” This is what I felt you were implying.

I wasn’t implying that at all and do not understand why you would think that from what I wrote, especially considering the examples in my first paragraph (post #36). The very fact that you use the qualifiers “religious type belief” to distinguish this, apparently, from other types of beliefs makes the point.

Lausten - 27 August 2013 06:37 AM

So, I “believe” in medicine in the sense that I trust the system, but I normally wouldn’t use the word “believe” for that.

I’ll bet that if I followed you around long enough, I’d find that sometimes, in some contexts, you would.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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PLaClair - 27 August 2013 04:55 PM

I wasn’t implying that at all and do not understand why you would think that from what I wrote,

Okay, no big deal.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 06:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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Apropos of recent comments on the subject of belief, here are some leading secularists on the subject:

Bertrand Russell: “I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive.” (See The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, p. 348.) See also his article in the September 1929 issue of Forum, entitled “What I Believe” at http://www.unz.org/Pub/Forum-1929sep-00129. See also: http://books.google.com/books?id=-xfxeSfz0O8C&pg=PA344&dq=bertrand+russell+what+i+believe&hl=en&sa=X&ei=PUMdUsSeCci8sATuy4DgCg&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=bertrand russell what i believe&f=false .

John Dewey: “I believe that all education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race.” [“My Pedagogic Creed” (1897), Article 1.] Dewey begins every paragraph of this work with the words “I believe.” (See http://www.rjgeib.com/biography/credo/dewey.html .)

Sam Harris: “I also believe that the conventional illusion of free will can be dispelled . . .” (From “Why Evolution Is True,” a debate between Harris and Daniel Dennett.)

Daniel Dennett: “The middle ground, roughly halfway between poetry and mathematics, is where philosophers can make their best contributions, I believe, yielding genuine clarifications of deeply puzzling problems.” (from his book Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, p. 13)

Richard Dawkins, offering a prediction of science’s use of DNA in the future: “I believe that by 2050 we shall be able to read the language. We shall feed the genome of an unknown animal into a computer which will reconstruct not only the form of the animal but the detailed world in which its ancestors . . . lived . . .” (from his book A Devil’s Chaplain, p. 113)

We can reasonably discuss proposed distinctions between belief and knowledge but we cannot reasonably say that belief excludes knowledge. I’ve been hanging around secularist organizations for about twenty years, and have noticed an inclination among some secularists to react emotionally to certain terms, including religion, spirituality, faith and belief. By definition, an emotional reaction is non-rational. When such a reaction drives someone to make indefensible statements, the thought has become irrational. I see this over and over again among our some of our members.

In addition to being irrational, this behavior is self-defeating. We have a valid categorical critique against theism. We have specific critiques to make of particular expressions of religion, spirituality, faith and belief but we do not have a valid categorical critique against any of these. When we take them on wholesale, as some of us are strongly inclined to do, we take on an unnecessary burden of proof for no good cause at all, alienating people we need not alienate. And we certainly can’t say, with any integrity, that we are doing it for purposes of intellectual rigor. An emotional reaction to a mere word is not a good reason to reject anything. It is no better than the emotional reactions that drive theism; consistency demands that we treat it in the same way.

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Posted: 27 August 2013 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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You must be a very successful lawyer, Paul.

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Posted: 28 August 2013 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Lausten - 27 August 2013 06:37 AM

If you want us to consistently say “religious belief” when we mean that, I’d be okay with that.

Sorry, I missed this. “Religious belief” covers a lot of ground, from scriptural fundamentalists to primitivists to Ethical Culture. The term is so broad that I would be hard pressed to define what “religious belief” is, except that it is a belief associated with someone’s religion. For me, as an Ethical Humanist, my religious beliefs include the centrality of human worth and dignity, the importance of science and reason, and the usefulness of values like generosity, kindness and Love.

I’ve proposed before, and I’ll suggest again, that we say “theistic belief” when that is what we mean, broadening it perhaps to “theistic and other supernaturalistic beliefs.” That would more accurately label the subject matter as it appears on this forum, in quite a few instances.

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Posted: 28 August 2013 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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There’s more than one way to test a belief and this thread seems to be circling around the wrong one IMO.  Instead of testing a belief in a broad sense, we should test it in a specific and personal sense.

Do you, atheist, believe that you can fly? No I don’t, science does not support that belief and therefore I will not jump off this bridge.
Do you theist believe your God will spare your life if you jump off this bridge? I.e. do you believe if God wanted you to fly he could make you fly, right here, right now? If yes, Jump.

You can think of many such scenarios (for example will God part the ocean if you jump into the middle of it from this ship).  Talk is cheap for a theist. Make it not cheap and I guarantee only the nutjobs will actually have “faith” in their own beliefs.

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Posted: 28 August 2013 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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PLaClair - 27 August 2013 06:16 PM

Apropos of recent comments on the subject of belief, here are some leading secularists on the subject:

Bertrand Russell: “I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive.” (See The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, p. 348.) See also his article in the September 1929 issue of Forum, entitled “What I Believe” at http://www.unz.org/Pub/Forum-1929sep-00129. See also: http://books.google.com/books?id=-xfxeSfz0O8C&pg=PA344&dq=bertrand+russell+what+i+believe&hl=en&sa=X&ei=PUMdUsSeCci8sATuy4DgCg&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=bertrand russell what i believe&f=false .

John Dewey: “I believe that all education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race.” [“My Pedagogic Creed” (1897), Article 1.] Dewey begins every paragraph of this work with the words “I believe.” (See http://www.rjgeib.com/biography/credo/dewey.html .)

Sam Harris: “I also believe that the conventional illusion of free will can be dispelled . . .” (From “Why Evolution Is True,” a debate between Harris and Daniel Dennett.)

Daniel Dennett: “The middle ground, roughly halfway between poetry and mathematics, is where philosophers can make their best contributions, I believe, yielding genuine clarifications of deeply puzzling problems.” (from his book Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, p. 13)

Richard Dawkins, offering a prediction of science’s use of DNA in the future: “I believe that by 2050 we shall be able to read the language. We shall feed the genome of an unknown animal into a computer which will reconstruct not only the form of the animal but the detailed world in which its ancestors . . . lived . . .” (from his book A Devil’s Chaplain, p. 113)

We can reasonably discuss proposed distinctions between belief and knowledge but we cannot reasonably say that belief excludes knowledge. I’ve been hanging around secularist organizations for about twenty years, and have noticed an inclination among some secularists to react emotionally to certain terms, including religion, spirituality, faith and belief. By definition, an emotional reaction is non-rational. When such a reaction drives someone to make indefensible statements, the thought has become irrational. I see this over and over again among our some of our members.

In addition to being irrational, this behavior is self-defeating. We have a valid categorical critique against theism. We have specific critiques to make of particular expressions of religion, spirituality, faith and belief but we do not have a valid categorical critique against any of these. When we take them on wholesale, as some of us are strongly inclined to do, we take on an unnecessary burden of proof for no good cause at all, alienating people we need not alienate. And we certainly can’t say, with any integrity, that we are doing it for purposes of intellectual rigor. An emotional reaction to a mere word is not a good reason to reject anything. It is no better than the emotional reactions that drive theism; consistency demands that we treat it in the same way.

Many people, too man, use the word “belief” to mean almost anything. It is the same with the word “love”. The fact that brilliant minds use it means nothing except that it has become a universal habit. I can’t speak for them, only for myself. I don’t like to use words that are ambiguous, but anyone who does should feel free to use them. It does not aid in effective communication, however.

If you don’t mind being misunderstood,or having to constantly explain yourself and what you mean, use ambiguous words. It certainly makes life “interesting.”

Lois

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Posted: 28 August 2013 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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Lois, people misuse the words “science,” “evolution” and “theory,” too. Shall we stop using them?

If you want to talk about misunderstood words, how about “atheist,” “humanist” and “freethinker.” Let’s drop those words from our vocabulary too. After all, we don’t want to be misunderstood.

Use the word “music” and most people in our culture think Top 40, salsa, rap or hip-hop. That ain’t what I mean by “music” but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop using the word because most people don’t understand music as well as I do. (If you spent some time with me discussing music, you’d understand why I say that.)

We could well make your observations of most words that describe human intentions and activities. They are all ambiguous - every single freaking one of them! - and everyone puts a personal spin on them. But the alternative to using them is to avoid saying anything about human values or human experience; that “strategy” isn’t tenable.

The worst that will happen if we use a word like “believe” from a more educated perspective than our listeners is that, if we keep talking for a few moments, the context we put around those words will make clear that we’re saying something they don’t quite get. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, because it gets people wondering what we’re talking about. We can’t change minds if we don’t do some of that.

I don’t usually have a problem being understood. Ironically, I’m probably misunderstood by my fellow secularists more than by anyone else. I don’t think it’s me; I’m not the only one with whom it happens. I think it’s the emotional baggage some of my religion-wounded colleagues bring into any discussion.

Ambiguity is not the problem here, any more than it is with most of the words in the dictionary. You said yourself that you have a “bugbear” about this word, and I’ll bet that you don’t like “faith” or “spiritual” either. We have a specific problem in secularism, with too many of our people having allergic reactions to certain words. It damages our movements and impedes our common cause.

[ Edited: 28 August 2013 05:50 PM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 28 August 2013 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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While I understand your comments, PLaClair, I also agree with Lois’ concerns.  Of course any word can be misused or misunderstood, however, there are certain ones that are extremely frequently misdefined.  For example, I see belief as similar to faith in that for both people accept as reality some proposition without proof or even a high probability of being correct. 

I haven’t run into anyone who misunderstands science although it is often used to describe bizarre groups of ideas.  Theory is used differently by scientists and laypeople.  Laypeople use theory to mean what scientists call a hypothesis.  When the difference is discussed most people get it and agree to the difference, but belief definition differences are far more difficult to have people accept.

Occam

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Posted: 28 August 2013 06:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Occam. - 28 August 2013 05:51 PM

For example, I see belief as similar to faith in that for both people accept as reality some proposition without proof or even a high probability of being correct.

Then why do so many secularists define faith as “belief without evidence?” That would be redundant.

Occam. - 28 August 2013 05:51 PM

I haven’t run into anyone who misunderstands science although it is often used to describe bizarre groups of ideas.

The first phrase is a jarring contradiction of reality. The second phrase palpably contradicts the first.

Occam. - 28 August 2013 05:51 PM

Theory is used differently by scientists and laypeople.  Laypeople use theory to mean what scientists call a hypothesis.  When the difference is discussed most people get it and agree to the difference, but belief definition differences are far more difficult to have people accept.

I would like to know what groups you’re hanging with, where people who don’t get the concept of a theory get it once it’s explained to them; or where people think that “belief” implies an absence of evidence.

When people use words like “belief” and “faith,” does it raise your hackles? I’ll bet the farm that it does.

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Posted: 28 August 2013 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Quoting PC:

Then why do so many secularists define faith as “belief without evidence?”

Hey, I didn’t claim secularists were any more precise or accurate than anyone else.

The first phrase is a jarring contradiction of reality.

  Sorry, I should have used quotation marks since I was talking about the word “science” not the disciplines. 

The second phrase palpably contradicts the first.

only because of my neglect to identify it as the word.

I would like to know what groups you’re hanging with, where people who don’t get the concept of a theory get it once it’s explained to them;

I suppose I could start listing the names of all of my contacts over the last forty years, but it would quickly exceed the character limit here. smile  Possibly I’m very good at oral explanations.  LOL

or where people think that “belief” implies an absence of evidence.

I believe I implied that when I said, “belief definition differences are far more difficult to have people accept.”

When people use words like “belief” and “faith,” does it raise your hackles? I’ll bet the farm that it does.

Nah, as I approach my 83rd year, I’ve become quite accepting of people’s speech and thought errors.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 28 August 2013 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Occam, I understood that you meant “science.” You’ve seen me argue this case before. We have a problem in our movements, in that many of our members react emotionally to certain words.

So even if I were to accept each of your most recent rejoinders, I would still ask you: so what? All these words are out there, whether we use them or not. All the misunderstandings that we might well agree on, are out there. The words that are most widely misunderstood, as are their related concepts quite often, are precisely those words where we can bring our approach to the table and make a difference. Among other things, language is an art. If we remove words from our vocabulary, we only limit our ability to communicate. Our using those words doesn’t add to the sum total of misunderstanding; on the contrary, it gives us an opportunity to bring greater clarity.

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Posted: 28 August 2013 10:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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Quoting PC:

Our using those words doesn’t add to the sum total of misunderstanding; on the contrary, it gives us an opportunity to bring greater clarity.

Well. . . ., yes and no.  If we can discuss a word and reach an agreement with the other person, we’ve made progress, however, if the other person insists on using a common word over and over duirng a discussion with a definition that’s not acceptable, it’s difficult to have the conversation be meaningful.  Lois’ example of “belief” ia a case in point.  If the person KNOWS that it’s synonymous with “truth” and uses it as such, it makes it difficult to carry on a meaningful discussion.

Occam

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