“Belief” has too much of an association with religion and superstition (which are, I suspect much the same thing) for any intelligent person to use it as a basis for living, it seems to me.
Right, exactly as I told you. Our adversaries use the word, so we can’t. There’s nothing rational about that, it’s just a reaction. Not to mention the way you’re mixing the word with the res: a word is not a basis for living.
You’re not going to see this until you can stop reacting. Meanwhile, I’ll just ask you to think about the cultural dynamics of language, and the way theists as a group try to gain control. Once they realize that they can control your language by using your words, they can push you where they want you to go.
My first impulse was simply to ignore this post of yours, and your previous ones, as simply too ridiculous for words, but being told ““you’re not going to see this until you can stop reacting” made me think; however, it seems to me that you’ve got it just 100% dead wrong. I’m not the one who’s reacting and not seeing, it seems to me.
And nowhere have I said “our adversaries use the word, so we can’t.” All I’m saying is that, if we use a word, we should be very conscious of precisely what we mean by it, and try to avoid ambiguity and any potential for misunderstanding. “Belief” is one of those loaded words that means very different things to different people. And how you imagine that the theists are going to take control because I’m proposing that we use words carefully seems, to me, entirely mysterious and illogical.
It’s mostly a semantic problem. The English language is an unwieldy contraption roughly bolted together from bits and pieces of dozens of European and Asian source languages; it’s beautiful - most of the world’s greatest poets wrote in English (and before anyone starts screaming, I know all about Dante and Goethe and the rest) - but it tends to lack precision, and as a scientist and an engineer this causes me concern. It’s beautiful, but messy, with the result that we have a plethora of synonyms but also, for historical reasons, we tend to attach several wildly different meanings to a single word, and to understand we have to look for context. For example, it’s obvious that to say “I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour” means something very different than to say “I believe I’ll have another beer”; the meanings are obvious from the context, and, granted, these are extremes, but in between is a vast grey area of ambiguity where misunderstandings can too easily arise, as can obfuscation and deliberate misrepresentation.
Here’s an example from this very forum. Some years ago there was a discussion about sightings of lake monsters, and there was a suggestion originally given by Bob Shaeffer, I think it was, that sightings of a herd (flock? school? - whatever) of otters, swimming in line-ahead formation with only the leader’s head out of the water, and all the rest with their heads underwater and backs humped, could be mistaken for a serpentine monster. I replied that I had seen plenty of otters, and they simply don’t behave that way. I went on to say (quoting from memory) “I could more easily believe that a large, hitherto unknown creature inhabits Okanagan Lake than that a herd of otters would swim for any length of time as Shaeffer suggests.” And sure enough, didn’t someone pipe up, “There, you see, you easily believe while Shaeffer looks for evidence!” I mean, was this deliberate misrepresentation, or was the guy just terminally stupid? Shaeffer’s suggestion was supposed to be evidence?
Your proposal to follow me around for a day was actually quite funny, and I can just imagine how it might have gone; “Aha! You stopped at that red light! That’s because you believe that a red light means stop!” “No, actually it’s because I know damned well a red light means stop, and I’ve witnessed the consequences of people ignoring it, many times. Belief has nothing to do with it.” But, really, are you so desperate to prove yourself right that you could seriously suggest such a thing? Are you really that unsure of yourself? I’ve described it as funny, which it is, but it also seems to me to border on the pathological.
I’m not sure how much I’ll be back here. I came to this forum several years ago expecting intelligent and rational discussion of ideas; instead, it seems that whenever anyone suggests something slightly at odds with the generally accepted status quo, they’re subjected to a barrage of ridicule, sneering, pointless jokes, misquotation, misrepresentation and personal insults. I’ve had more rational discussions on a Witchcraft site I sometimes post to (there, I’ve given you more stuff for you to misunderstand and throw back at me).
I described a UFO sighting I’d had, some years previously, on this CFI forum without any suggestion that it might have been an alien spacecraft; just something a bit unusual that I’d witnessed. Immediately all the other posters to that thread closed ranks; the consensus was that such things don’t exist, therefore I hadn’t seen anything. Period. Despite the fact, of course, that none of them was there whereas I was; they obviously knew better.
This attitude seems to me to be supremely unscientific. Was it not Isaac Asimov, or Martin Gardner, or one of those guys, who said something to the effect that “All real science begins with someone noticeing something and thinking “That’s odd…...”
There’s an online site that claims to describe how to recognise a pseudoscientist; one major characteristic, apparently, is that pseudoscientists start with the desired conclusion and work backwards to the evidence. This gave me a chuckle, I can tell you; isn’t that precisely what a great many people who call themselves skeptics do? “Alien spacecraft/lake monsters/ghosts don’t exist, therefore what you say you witnessed didn’t happen…..”
Allright, this has been a bit of a diatribe - or even a rant, maybe; but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and you guys just happen to be here so you get the earful intended for perhaps 90% of those who post to this forum.
I’ll stop now.