Started by Kythia, July 02, 2013, 12:39:06 AM
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Quote from: KythiaI believe that most questions/issues facing humanity are most suitable to a "scientific" approach, but (a) most =/= all and (b) I personally have always felt something of a disconnect to the sciences - though I stress that's a personal opinion and I don't want to draw wider points from that - which combine to mean I focus on the minority of issues that I feel are best resolved by a religious/Christian approach. I also think there's been some bad leadership/tactics used by prominent Christians that have led those issues to be usually either navel-gazing "angels dancing on the head of a pin" arguments or weak "god of the gaps" style excuses.
Quote from: EphiralDo you think there are questions with actual, tangible this-makes-a-difference-in-how-we-interact-with-the-world answers that are not aided by an evidence-based approach? This seems to be what you're saying, but there's room for different interpretations. If so... can you give me some examples?
Quote from: KythiaIn answer to your question:QuoteDo you think there are questions with actual, tangible this-makes-a-difference-in-how-we-interact-with-the-world answers that are not aided by an evidence-based approach? This seems to be what you're saying, but there's room for different interpretations.then I'm gonna give you a massive almost. My issue, the reason I don't say yes, is your usage of the word "aided". On a hypothetical "helpfulness scale" I think an evidence based approach will always score a positive, that it is always a net asset. So within the strict wording of your question, the answer is no. I see no massive gain to playing semantic games with you though and understand that that wasn't quite the intent of your question, I just thought it helpful to clear that up as I'll return to it in a moment.Let's take P=NP as a problem presumably close to your heart. Prayer and silent meditation has provable (references available on request) benefits to problem solving. I could pray for the answer, which - divine aspects aside - I think we can agree involves focusing one's mind on the problem. Maybe I'll get a solution, who knows. Even if I did though, I think an evidence based, systematic approach is still a better one. Just because my method paid off doesn't make it the optimum one. As I say, I think most questions/issues facing humanity are most suitable to a etc etc etc. And for those questions: on my helpfulness scale, by definition, no other approach scores more helpfulness points, and many may even cause a net loss or such a small gain as to not be worth the effort.However. Most=/=all in either of my highlighted usages (grammar aside). I spent the day laying in the sun and reading. One of the things I read was a pamphlet by the current Archbishop of Canterbury (written before his ascension) entitled "Can Companies Sin?" It was quite hard to lay my hands on actually, and thats the only reason I'm not wholeheartedly recommending you read it yourself. Very well argued. I had assumed the contents would just be the word "No" written over and over again - maybe in various sizes and typefaces for variety. But in fact, Welby believed they could and made an argument sufficiently convincing to convince me.Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this.He cited articles, had done research, all the other paraphenalia of academia. As I say, never unhelpful. Adds value, certainly. But it was, perhaps unsurprisingly, framed in exclusively Christian thought. However, it has had a real tangible-this-makes-a- etc etc etc difference on me at least. I had previously thought companies were only capable of acting amorally, now I believe that they are capable of acting morally and immorally (I'm not yet decided whether to end that with "as well" or "instead" - not yet decided whether they have three moral options or two - but thats by the by).Now, you could of course argue that religious arguments only affect me and my purchasing behaviour because I'm religious. Well, one, that's a distraction from your question and is actually a new one, but again I see no real need for sophist point scoring here. Way more importantly though is two, that people are prone to precisely the sort of value judgements that religious arguments work through. The just world fallacy springs to mind, Im certain with another couple of moments thought I could deluge you with countless others. You and I may disagree as to the root cause of that, but I assume we can agree on the statement as is. Evidence based approaches can support arguments related to changing moral behaviour, but I suspect there are vanishingly few people who have changed moral behaviour as a result purely of said approach. There also needs to be an emotional kick to it - logically there is no difference between knowing your (hypothetical) clothes are made in a sweatshop and touring the place, but most people would be far more likely to change behaviour based on the latter than the former. I've focused heavily on religious arguments because I feel they are overwhelmingly the most popular form of moral but not evidence based arguments, but they're not the only example.In conclusion - finally, I hear you sigh - moral arguments may well benefit from evidence based approaches but in order for them to have tangible-this-makes- etc etc etc effects they need more, and do not strictly need the evidence based aspect.As a brief addendum, I'm not for one second claiming that exactly how that emotional kicker is delivered is immune to evidence based approaches, in fact I think that is one of the majority of cases where that is the superior approach. But analysing why an argument works is a different issue to the effectiveness of an argument.
Quote from: EphiralPart of my problem in thinking this way is... as I've mentioned, I don't really have faith, as far as I can tell. So I've had to come up with moral and ethical reasoning that is at least grounded in evidence.As a counterpoint that's near and dear to my heart and yours, let's take feminism. I came to feminism (and subsequently to social justice on a wider scale) from a perspective that is based on evidence and utilitarianism: Causing harm is a moral negative, causing benefit is a moral positive. If we're going to separate out a group of people and treat them as an underclass, causing obvious and measurable harm along the way, there had better be a hell of an offsetting benefit or justification. So we look to the evidence and find... that there really isn't one.Similarly, your question of "can companies sin?": I define "sin" as "cause more aggregate harm than aggregate benefit", and by simply looking at their actions and the damage done, the answer is "absolutely".So... I begin to wonder what the merit is of setting aside the best tool we have for understanding the world around us and saying "Not here." Sure, I don't have all the moral answers, but I have a solid framework within which to reason my way to them, based on phenomena that actually affect the world around me in a tangible way. As far as I can see, churches have about the same, minus the "based on..." part.As far as emotions go: I think it's important to feel strong and appropriate emotional impact when it comes to questions of morality. I also think it's extremely dangerous to reason from emotions, or to craft arguments designed to provoke an overriding emotional response. So... I think emotional impact has its place, but it's at the end of the questioning process. I try to feel outrage because of an injustice, not call something an injustice because it outrages me, if that makes sense. It's not always possible, and generally difficult even when it is possible, but a large part of my approach to reasoning is guarding carefully against behaviours that are instinctual, kneejerk, and dead wrong.
Quote from: KythiaMy turn now, I fear.QuoteAs a counterpoint that's near and dear to my heart and yours, let's take feminism. I came to feminism (and subsequently to social justice on a wider scale) from a perspective that is based on evidence and utilitarianism: Causing harm is a moral negative, causing benefit is a moral positive. If we're going to separate out a group of people and treat them as an underclass, causing obvious and measurable harm along the way, there had better be a hell of an offsetting benefit or justification. So we look to the evidence and find... that there really isn't one.Now, caveat time. Im going to come uncomfortably close to claiming atheists have no moral centre here. Its unavoidable, I'm treading very similar ground. I just hope you can give me the benefit of the doubt when I say that's not the intent, its a similar argument but not the same. I hope, at least.I'm not arguing that causing harm is a moral negative, or the inverse. I'm asking, though (and please feel no obligation to answer) why the hell that matters? I can trace your line of reasoning from that premise to your position, but I can't trace from your other expressed positions to that premise. Why is it important if an action is moral or otherwise if you try to avoid basing arguments from emotion? I mean the question genuinely, I promise. The only negative to immoral action I can see - leaving aside a whole hierarchy of heaven and sin which doesn't affect your reasoning - is the disgust and outrage immoral acts cause. But you claim that is a bad place to start an argument from? It seems to me a partial clue is in "feel outrage because of an injustice" as that moves it from a moral judgement to an absolute one - that injustice is undesirable. But I do feel there's an initial mover missing there, that we're moving into turtles all the way down territory. I am certain that I'm misunderstanding your position rather than exposing something you hadn't thought of, but I simply don't see it.I do hope that didn't come across too close to a personal attack. Discussing someone else's morals always runs that risk and I am incredibly aware that its a favourite (and, IMHO, spurious) tactic used in precisely this kind of discussion.
Quote from: EphiralIf I want to be painfully frank, it boils down to a combination of self-interest and game and security theory. This will probably sound horrifyingly calculated, but... to touch on an earlier note, if something is trivial, I'm fine with not thinking overmuch about it and going with what feels right. If it's important, I (try to) shut up and multiply. I'm also on shaky rhetorical ground here, as this is the first time I've actually tried to express it in such depth to someone who isn't on the same page as me with at least part of this, so here goes.When we talk about "good" and "bad" actions, "right" and "wrong", "moral" and "immoral"... what we're really talking about is taboos. As a society or culture (or subculture), we place high positive value on some actions and negative value on others for some reason. I would argue that part of it is hardwired deep in our instincts, or otherwise universal - the taboo on killing another member of "us" is pretty much anywhere you care to look, for example - but the overwhelming majority of them are merely a function of humans, generally in a group, deciding that certain actions should be encouraged and others should be discouraged. So, with that in mind, let's set out to do something radical, something that is done in only a tiny minority of cases - let's put lots of thought into the set of taboos we're building. An aside: Ideally, one wants to do this *before* adopting a set of taboos, or making any other important decision. Labelling something even so much as the "current best option" tends to make it sticky - you don't reason to it, or argue its pros and cons, so much as seek justification for it. I did that to the best of my ability before adopting what I hold now, but I was far worse at reasoning then. It seems to hold up to me when I examine it today, but I know I'm not particularly immune to the justification habit, so I would very much like you to point out any obvious holes.As we've already touched on, I am not a particularly special example of the human species - there's no reason to carve humanity into "me" and "everyone else". So whatever these taboos are, they'd better be pretty universal - if Bob next door adopting my system completely screws me over, it's a pretty poor one, right? I'm looking at you, Mrs. Rand. The obvious conclusion is to formulate something that works across as wide a group of people as possible. Given that I'm one of those people, I want it to help me as much as it can - and so by extension it has to help everyone else. And we're basically there. (Game and security theory basically comes in choosing altruism over greed as a generally guiding
Quote from: KythiaInteresting...My first thought is that while that line of thinking might well lead to moral actions in your - Ephiral's - specific case, that's far from a given. I'm Bob next door, the SWM (also able bodied, cis gendered, of decent relative wealth - I tick all the privilege boxes.)My (as Bob) adopting your positions that LGB, other ethnicities, females, the disabled, etc etc etc should have the same level of power and prestige in society as I do screws me over. My relative power - and what is power if not relative? - is diminished as my privilege is "eroded". In fact, lets go further and say I'm homophobic, racist, sexist, transphobic, etc. Everyone adopting my belief system helps me immeasurably. I can have my tea on the table cooked by the little woman, pay my negroid workers in company scrip and not have to see those gross trannys - I trust you'll forgive the language. So, by what I understand as your logic, Bob/I has every incentive to not only continue his current behaviour but even intensify. He wants his belief system to benefit himself, just as you do, and his actions fulfil your criteria of not being detrimental to him if everyone adopts them.
Quote from: EphiralThat fails on two counts, as I see it: One, the entire premise ignores the part where I am not a separate category from Human as a whole. Two: So Bob's path is "take actions which benefit my subset of humanity". If everybody adopts that, it screws Bob over - there are far more people who can't tick at least one of Bob's privilege boxes than those who can. Suddenly, they're out to take advantage and get what they can at the expense of his tribe.Furthermore, by dividing the amount of effort and resources we have available into tribes, we've almost surely diminished the total amount of comfort and luxury available. Even if, after everyone's best efforts, Bob is still on his little hill of privilege, he has more relative but less absolute comfort/luxury/wealth than if we'd all been working to raise the total amount there is.
Quote from: KythiaIt does, deliberately, skip the part where you are not a special subsection of humanity and, rereading, you're right that I haven't explained why. Sorry about that, thanks for calling me on it- I'll try to address both your concerns in one, as they are linked.Lets assume that you are correct and neither you nor Bob is distinct from humanity as a whole - for reference I agree, but I'm trying to talk in the abstract. That still doesn't mean that its necessarily in Bob's best interest to work on a belief system that acknowledges that fact. Firstly, beyond a certain level of basic necessity, people don't care about absolute levels of comfort/wealth, only relative. Lottery winners are no happier, after a settling down period, than first world paupers. People compare their cars to their neighbours and people they know, not to the entire spectrum of cars. Humanity as a whole is too large to keep in your head as a meaningful comparison, your only benchmark of whether you're rich or not is those around you. If needed I can provide references but it will take me a while to dig them out. Have you read Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow"? It talks about this at some length. So while absolute levels would be raised, relative ones would be lowered and that's the problem.Now, sure, that's a cognitive bias. But avoiding that requires every single person in the world to accept your of thinking. Accepting Bob's viewpoint - that his relative wealth is important - requires no such shift. While a viewpoint that requires everyone to abandon inherant biases may be worthy, I would question its viability.So I would argue that Bob defending his tribe against all comers is still in Bob's (perceived if not absolute, but I'm not certain the distinction is meaningful in this case) best interests.
Quote from: EphiralI... think we were operating under different definitions of "relative". I thought it meant "relative to what others have", but it appears in light of the lottery winner case that you actually meant "relative to what I'm used to having". My apologies.I... would like to see some data showing that people do not care about absolute levels of comfort. Not because I think you're wrong, but because if you're right, then I have been reasoning from a massive bias I was blind to - absolute levels are critically important to me. To use your car example, I don't compare my car to my neighbour's - what he drives is of zero impact whatsoever on my life. What I compare my car to is the ones coming out now with features I wish I had. Humanity might be too large a benchmark to keep in your head, but "yesterday" and "tomorrow" are not.I... am in the unusual position of holding that my reasoning is correct but not useful, if this is the case - your refutation rests on a failure in reasoning, not in my logic, but that failure is widespread enough to make this system not usable in general.The correct action in this case, of course, is to try to change people's minds and teach them to reason well. This is a difficult task - but I don't think "It's too hard!" is an adequate counterpoint to any moral system.Let me turn the question around on you: What is the underlying bedrock of your morality?
Quote from: Ephiral(Game and security theory basically comes in choosing altruism over greed as a generally guiding principle - cooperation is the winning move in Prisoner's Dilemma if you can trust the other guy to cooperate, and... taken across humanity as a whole, you generally can.)
Quote from: Kythia on July 04, 2013, 08:51:49 PMGod's saying shag and be merry, have loads of kids. Traditionally Moses wrote Genesis. Obviously he didn't, but lets use "Moses" as a placeholder for the author of that passage, if we might. The Jews at the time of writing of this section were (probably) in the middle of what's called the "Babylonian Captivity". They were essentially slaves to the way more powerful Babylonians. And Moses' writing was influenced by the time and place he was in. He wanted the Jews (I'm actually wrong to use Jews here, but I hope you'll forgive me) to prosper, to spread, to grow in power.I believe there is the same message here. That God wants humanity to grow, prosper and be strong. Moses has seen it through his glasses as essentially what it is, Paul through his glasses as believing sex that doesn't/can't lead to procreation is morally repugnant. That's because Paul's a dick. Hardly a controversial point.So tying that together, I believe Christian morals were interpreted by man but inspired by God. Specific rules are, indeed, "designed for a completely different environment" but that's because the authors were fallible and shackled by their culture and prior notions as much as anyone else was. However, taking everything as a whole, and being mindful of those biases, a consistent message emerges - a glimpse here, a glimpse there, understanding slowly growing as time passages and Christian tradition is added to. Just as by reading the book you wrote about this conversation and the book Vekseid wrote and the book, errrr, someone else wrote and comparing the similar themes, we can get a clearer picture of the actual conversation than from your book alone.
Quote from: Ephiral on July 06, 2013, 12:37:01 AMMy turn for a double-post; I figure me addressing your arguments is probably best done in-thread.This is one of those things I just don't get. You explained in detail how Moses's interpretation was shaped by his bias, as Paul's was by his. What exactly makes Paul wrong and Moses right? As far as I can tell, the criteria seem to be "I think Paul's a dick and his argument is repugnant, but Moses is uplifting." This... seems like a pretty poor way to get an accurate picture of any sort.
QuoteTherefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey
QuoteFor there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Quote32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is[a] a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.
Quoteand consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
Quote from: EphiralI think I'm seeing the differences in our approach now - or at least starting to. For one, I've said before that evolution is the shittiest possible successful engineer, and I stand by that statement. We can do better than not failing completely. For another... I've had a hard time putting my finger on my objection to your "I should be happy" concept, but I think what it boils down to is that this system leaves no room for giving any weight or value to anybody else or what they might do or feel. This seems... problematic, to put it mildly.
Quote from: EphiralAs to the larger question of "Is this a good idea?" and whether that's worth asking: I still hold that it is. I acknowledge that it is impossible to see all possible repercussions of an idea and its implementation at the outset - but that hardly means it's impossible to see any of them. This question has utility - it makes us examine those repercussions, and see if they're actually getting us toward our goals. It is, however, an ongoing one - a key factor of my approach is that you must regularly examine and update on the evidence. Judging it as a good or bad idea when only one person holds it is valid - as long as you don't stop there. "Is this actually working?" is a question that, in my experience, is asked all too rarely when it comes to moral and ethical issues.
Quote from: MasterMischiefOne, I believe you are picking out the morals that match the ones you have already developed within yourself from your environment. They only seem divinely inspired because they match the way you think the world should be.
Quote from: MasterMischiefKythia, if I may continue to argue my understanding of your position. You believe you were unhappy because you were selfish before finding Christianity. What if you were unhappy simply because you lacked long term vision? You could have been selfish and realized your happiness depends on others and therefore you should not, for lack of a better phrase, not be a jerk to everyone.
Quote from: MasterMischiefTwo, if the divine word can be so horribly butchered by a single, authoritative individual, I would be very hesitant to put my faith into any of the rest of it. How can I know something else is not equally butchered?
Quote from: Kythia on July 07, 2013, 07:51:50 AMWell, this is a failure of example, I think. I quoted the passage from Romans and the passage from Genesis. To reuse the example I used with MasterMischief in the companion, I gave access to two books recounting the conversation. There are many more. To give a few (this makes no attempt to be an exhaustive list, its simply what comes to me off the top of my head. All quotes are KJV and spoilered as a slight distraction):
Quote from: Kythia on July 07, 2013, 07:51:50 AMI'm not certain I follow you. I'm pretty close to my family. When they're unhappy, I am. So I put a huge amount of weight on what they do/feel and don't think that conflicts with my core values. I suspect I'm misunderstanding your point slightly?
Quote from: Kythia on July 07, 2013, 07:51:50 AM9)Meaning that as soon as it goes wild, you lack any, errrr, any leadership over what happens to it and the unpredictable ways in which it will develop.
Quote from: Kythia on July 07, 2013, 07:51:50 AM11)By the law of large numbers, really, others will have put a lot of thought into one of the ways it can develop that hasn't even occurred to you. Meaning they now hold the specialist role.12)Meaning you have no idea or control over how it develops beyond doing your best to shape it at the beginning.
Quote from: Kythia on July 07, 2013, 07:51:50 AM13)Meaning judging it as a good or bad idea before it has had a chance to be subjected to those vicissitudes is premature.
Quote from: Kythia on July 07, 2013, 07:51:50 AMSure, a single individual can butcher it. A single individual will almost certainly butcher it. Thats why we dont rely on a single individual.
Quote from: Ephiral on July 11, 2013, 12:23:00 PMIt might not conflict with your core values, but neither is it particularly supported by them. It's supported by your completely arbitrary weighting of these people's value. There's absolutely nothing in there that prevents you from doing any horrible thing you want to anybody you do't particularly care about - and pretty much nobody cares about the overwhelming majority of the world, except in extreme abstract. So this doesn't seem a terribly workable system, and certainly not one that a lot of people should adopt by any stretch.
QuoteI don't particularly care to have a leadership role, but this is very untrue in my experience. Are you familiar with the term "do-ocracy"? It's awkward, I'll admit, but it's apt for the particular type of meritocracy that tends to form in communities centered around this sort of thinking. As such, the originator of a worthwhile idea tends to get significant credit and leadership value.You seem to assume here that all of these people are working in isolation - that there is no such thing as collaboration, or even social pressure to be exerted. This strikes me as a poor assumption, given that I came to this way of thinking via a collaborative community.I reject this assertion due to the questionable premises supporting it. Further, judging it as good now does not preclude judging some variant of it as bad. For a concrete, if imperfect, example: Darwinian evolution is a sound theory. Eugenics is a horrible idea that leashes it to incredibly racist ideals.
QuoteLarge masses can also butcher it. This is why ongoing error correction (the "examine and update" bit I mentioned earlier) is crucial to my methodology.
QuoteAddendum to my last bit: Also extremely crucial (else the "examine" stage goes wonky) are explicitly stated goals in the clearest available language. This strikes me as a particular failing of holy texts as a category.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMAgain, I think we're talking two different languages here. "Workable" and "one that people should adopt" are simply not factors for me. My moral code isn't, I dunno, isn't written on blue paper, either, but I don't consider that an issue. As I've said, adopt it, adopt a different one, I'm free and easy.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMIt seems very much like your objections to my line of reasoning apply to any moral code. That your collobarative community could be replaced with e.g. a Christian Church and your (potential) do-acratic leadership applies equally to any founder? (Though, of course, some potential ideas may be harder to make stick, but that's a distraction.) I ask this not as criticism, just because I think its useful to define a split here and I want to make sure I'm drawing a line in the right place.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMDo-ocracies are an interesting point but I don't believe as strong a one as you seem to think. The Soviet Communists identified as Marxist. The Holy Inquisition (leaving aside the various protestant varieties as unhelpfully confusing) identified Christ as their leader. Eugenicists (spelling?) trace a spiritual lineage to Darwin and may even refer to themselves as Darwinists. The Nazi party claimed Nietzsche as a founder. Etc etc etc. I would say the lesson of history is that the do-ocratic leadership you seem to be relying on has time and time again been relegated to a figure and a token name check while policies and beliefs that were not intended by the founder - skipping whether they would have been desired or not - are pursued in their name. I struggle to think of a counter example where the leader/founder is not still alive and active in the movement.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMWhy is your method different? What has changed that means every single time this has been attempted it has failed, but yours will work? Is this a function of the rationality you are putting in to it? I realise those quick fire questions may have come across as aggresive and I apologise if so, they were meant genuinely.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMSo how am I getting round that? I'm skipping it. You mentioned in our PM exchange that you don't consider "its too hard" to be a viable defence for not pursuing. I do. Some things are just too hard to be feasible and I believe that maintaining a purity of vision within a thought system once others become involved is one of those. Functionally impossible. You are relying on every future thinker within your system sharing your line of thought. It just takes one Luther, one filioque, to disrupt that and, crucially, that has happened every single time before.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMI think it's too hard. Everyone has thought their system would stay unchanged, everyone has been wrong. If something is too hard to be feasible then it should be abandoned, further thought on that specific route is wasted and a simpler method should be found. My simpler method, while perhaps not the most altrusitic, is to abrogate all responsibility. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, to butcher Crowley's intentions. I have no control over how other people take and interpret what I think/believe and judging the success or failure of my beliefs by something they can have only peripheral influence on is unhelpful. If I were to say "Ephiral, I have an awesome idea for a novel. I'm going to pass it on to someone - no idea who - to write it for me" you wouldn't tell me it was a good novel. It may be a good plot, but the finished product will inevitably differ and you'd need to reserve judgement.I believe the lesson of history is that that analogy holds.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMHere I doubt we'll agree. My rather pat response would be that the faith has that (that=examine and update) in the form of the Holy Spirit - it's the reason the Gospel of Mark is scripture and the Gospel of Mary Magdelene isn't. My less pat response would be a lot more words but would boil down to essentially the same argument so I'll save you the effort of reading it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMOf course, you don't think/believe/appropriate noun that thats the case. I do, and I suspect that any further conversation on this will eventually become "Holy Spirit exists" "No it doesn't" "Does" "Doesn't" and honestly while it wouldn't take much time - I can just save "Does" to the clipboard and CTRL+V it whenever needed it still seems a waste of time. So I'll just say that I agree that ongoing evaluation is useful and, with your permission, leave it there?
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMAgain, we're speaking different languages here. It's a failing of holy texts if judged by a belief system that rejects the core principle of the holy text - that the deity in question exists. Accept that core principle and it ceases to be a failing. As touched upon above, I have little interest in a discussion of the existence or lack thereof of any or all deities. You know my thoughts, I know yours, we won't agree.
Quote from: Kythia on July 11, 2013, 02:02:44 PMAs a marginally related aside, I would like to thank you for never bringing that specific question up. I'm not sure if thats been a conscious decision or not, but it has - from my point of view - made this while dialogue more pleasant. It gets argumentative quick if we cannot both accept a different levels of belief in the divine and, to keep hammering this point, its not a conversation that overly interests me.
Quote from: Ephiral on July 11, 2013, 09:50:02 PMI must admit confusion. Why claim to have morals at all if you don't care whether or not they're even slightly functional?
Quotemorals plural of mor·al (Noun)Noun1.A lesson, esp. one concerning what is right or prudent, that can be derived from a story, a piece of information, or an experience.2.A person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do.
Quote from: KythiaI struggle to think of a counter example where the leader/founder is not still alive and active in the movement.
Quote from: EphiralJeremy Bentham is over a century dead now
Quote from: EphiralAddendum to my last bit: Also extremely crucial (else the "examine" stage goes wonky) are explicitly stated goals in the clearest available language.
Quote from: Ephiral(For the record: While the originators of ideas tend to get more credit as leaders, it is considered important in some circles - including the ones I follow - that a leader's ideas be viewed with extra skepticism, lest we descend into hero worship and akrasia.)
QuoteIt is time to face up to the important role that God plays in consoling us
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMYou seem to be adding to that definition, though, words to the effect of "and that you believe others should also adopt." That's fine. I'm not gonna criticise you for not using dictionary definitions, we both knew exactly what you meant. The reason I throw the fine folks at Mirriam Webster into the mix though is to try to show that your addendum doesn't form a sine qua non of a moral system.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMMy issue is that I don't think its possible. Again, I think we fell into a little semantic trap with my quoting your "too hard." To me, the "too" there is an absolute. Flapping your wings hard enough to fly is "too hard". "Too hard to be done", is what I read from that. "It's hard" isn't an excuse, "it's too hard" isn't just an excuse but also an absolute. So when, in a few paragraphs, I use "too hard" bear in mind that I'm using it in my sense of "impossible" not what I now realise is yours of "very hard".
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMMild DistractionYour point about meritocracies is off base a little, by the way. While the word for it may be new, the idea certainly isn't. Hell, look at Paul. He devoted his life to preaching and instruction, he was a guy who got shit done. And now Pauline Christianity is overwhelmingly the dominant brand. Throughout history, leaders of movements have been (not exclusively, granted) people who got shit done. Modern times have formalised the idea, not invented it. But that's by the by.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMI, and hopefully here is where the last part of your confusion is addressed, say that future proofing is too hard and the thought put in to that could more profitably be placed elsewhere. Specifically in altering current conditions enough that future generations have ideas I would like. Take the example of slavery. I think most people would see it as abhorent and thats a function of the world we have grown up in. Noone thinking about their beliefs today accepts it because its unacceptable and no moral code developed in the west nowadays would include it as an option. Changing the world today means that whatever people come up with in the future it will be influenced by the changes we have made today. Let the future deal with itself, but let it deal with itself within a framework made by the present.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMNot that I'm accusing you of doing nothing, of sitting in an ivory tower and ignoring present problems. That's certainly not the way you come across. All I'm saying is that I believe morals should work for the person, the time and the place, and that generalising beyond the specific is unhelpful because the factors that will affect it are unknowable to us.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMSo I guess that makes the question of whether there are attributes of a system that make it resistent to change or whether its a fluke of probability - if enough people toss a coin a hundred times, some of them will get a hundred heads, if enough people come up with ideas systems, some of them will be unchanged.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMIf the thought of Calvin's language didn't leave you crying and gently rocking then I can assume you haven't read them. Don't. Noone in the world ever has enjoyed reading Calvin's writings and Wikipedia's summary is perfectly fine. Suffice to say his language is dense, confusing, full of detours and tautology and generally just horrific. So I'm not sure that that part is crucial. I actually think volume of work (unique work) might be more important than clarity qua clarity. The sheer number of variations addressed and situations explained. Bentham also left a lot of writing. But that's just a gut feeling.He (Calvin) did, however, insist on people not revering him but rather working with and on his ideas, which links to your:I suppose the logical thing to do is to examine various idealogies and see if common strands could be extracted that does serve to future proof them. If that is something you plan to do, to devote any time to, then I would be extremely interested in being a part of that project now the idea has occurred to me. Whether as the two of us or as part of a wider group. If it is an idea you run with and you feel I can contribute anything at all then please take my willingness to be a part as read, if you don't feel I can contribute then please take my willingness in reading your conclusions as read.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AM3) I find when a lot of people, atheists, decry Christianity what they are actually complaining about is a particular brand of predominantly new world evangelical protestantism. I'm not sola scriptura, I think I've made that clear. I'm from the all consuming via media of the Catholic and Reformed Church of England. While, as I mentioned in the Religion. Ethics. Life thread that started this there are positions on which I disagree, I'm not about to get excommunicated nor am I about to schism.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMStephen Langton (?1150 - 1228), while he was Archibishop of Canterbury, divided the Bible into chapters and verses, the system we use today. I think this was, on balance, a mistake. If I say that, in "The God Delusion", Richard Dawkins wrote:Then, assuming you didn't think I was lying (I'm not) you'd assume that I'd ripped that quote out of context. And you'd be quite right, I have. I think it's easier to spot that its ripped out of context because I can't precisely identify the sentence better than "start of the second paragraph on page 394 in the 2007 paperback printing" which makes it clear its only one line within an entire book. However, any sentence in the Bible can be precisely identified. <Book> <Chapter>:<Verse>. I think that has had the side effect of making the Bible look like a collection of statements rather than a cohesive whole. I've touched on it above, more than touched in fact, but I just felt it worth making explicit that while there may be a specific passage in the Bible that says one thing what is important is the message as a whole from both Scripture and, as I shall discuss once this seemingly never ending aside ends, Church Tradition.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMWhy work on? Well, as I say I'm not sola scriptura myself and, while I know the arguments, because I don't believe them I can't put them across fully. But some would, and do, argue that if God is so fucking smart why couldn't he overcome the biases of the authors and put it in a way that would be clear to all men throughout all time. Firstly, I believe that argument fails even within its own terms. There are numerous Old Testament passages of God telling people to do shit and them not understanding, so following that argument through leads us nowhere but "Jews are so fucking stupid that even an ominscient being couldn't get through to them, not like us" which is disturbing and, more importantly, impossible to reconcile with them being His favourite/favoured people. Secondly, sure God was capable of giving Paul instructions about how we're to deal with nucleur winter, what precisely to do about the Fourth Earth - Alpha Centuri War and how to deal with Hitler. But in order for His words to carry the emotional punch - Yey! Full Circle! - that is needed for people to follow them, they needed to be understandable. So those bits were left out, He'll tell humanity when they could understand what He was on about rather than confusing a load of first century levantines with instructions about what He thought about cloning. Not like He'll die before He gets a chance.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 10:57:02 AMBut equally, not all of Christian thought is accepted. You'll notice (or possibly you won't) I skipped Ephesus 2 in the list of accepted councils for example. So who decides what gets accepted and what not? You could argue this is to do with persuasive speakers or politics. I would argue that that is a symptom rather than a cause. That politics worked in that way, or that Athanasius was a more powerful writer than Arius, because of God's influence. That the reason we can be sure of the thought that has developed to us in the present day is because God has been watching the process the whole time (ugh, that makes me feel dirty but it'll do for the purposes of this conversation) and encouraging the correct ideas while discouraging the either incorrect or so warped by human intervention as to be unhelpful.And, finally, the part of the Godhead that does that is the Holy Spirit. The person who keeps that process on track.So yes, the Holy Spirit is a source of consistent and reliable feedback. Its a self correcting system, the ideas that are in accordance to the Divine Plan float to the top, the others sink. Perhaps you could wish it to be clearer but, meh, religions aren't there to please atheists and you kinda don't have a dog in that race, to be honest. As to how I know its judgement criteria makes sense, God exists out of time. He's not bound by the same problem we are, that we have to judge an action based on its predicted usefulness, He can flat out see the results of any action. So its criteria... well, it doesn't really have criteria in the sense you mean it. It's not limited by having to work out whether action A will support its goals so judgement criteria simply aren't relevant.
Quote from: KythiaCertainly not my smartest moment, I think we can agree on that much.
Quote from: EphiralAnything I've removed, I have no particular objections to; I generally agree on these points, so don't see them as necessary to address.
Quote from: EphiralI do think "functional" is kinda important, though - if you don't have an internally consistent and at least mostly functional system, then you're working from sheer arbitrary whim - why not just admit it and stop bothering with all this silly talk of morals and ethics?
Quote from: Ephiraland it's important to unpack them
Quote from: EphiralI see a strong need for a concrete and measurable benchmark of what "work" actually means
Quote from: EphiralSee, here's where things get wonky to me - though I fully admit I'm coming from a rather unusual perspective here. A being with nigh-infinite time and the ability to casually instantiate deterministic universes (yes, it took work, but "one week of serious personal exertion" is pretty casual when weighed against "literally all the time available") and interact with those universes later on, even without omniscience, has no excuse whatsoever for getting things any less than perfect in the final product. God's instructions were less than perfect (differing good-faith interpretations exist). Conclusion: We are not the final product, but one of the testbeds. This is... a pretty depressing worldview, and doesn't appear to line up with anything actually believed by any significant portion of Christianity.
Quote from: EphiralCritically important question time: What does a world where the Holy Spirit is not doing this look like? How does it differ from this one? If presented with two worlds which are otherwise equally plausible, one in which God exists and one in which He does not, how can you tell which one you're in?As with your rapidfire questions before, this is not meant as aggression; I'm trying to be as clear as I can here, understanding that an inferential gap exists. This question is one of the most basic and fundamental ones to ask of any phenomenon that isn't directly observable, to me.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PM*sulks*
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMCould you go into a little more depth on what "functional" means here. I have a suspicion we're arguing semantics again, but Im not sure.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMTying some of your other points together raises another question. You and I seem to agree on most specifics of behaviour. Your morals developed through rigourous application of rationality, mine not. Yet the specific expression agrees. Why is rationality important then when - and we've agreed in previous discussions that it doesn't matter what you think, just what you do - the outcome could well be the same? Why is it important to eliminate biases when every previous social justice movement has managed perfectly well with them intact?
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMWhy?
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMWhat is the, ha, the "tangible, this-makes-a-difference-in-how-we-interact-with-the-world" benefit of an attempt to weed out cognitive biases? I'm sorry if it looks like I was trying to throw your words back in your face there, that wasn't the intent. I just found it amusing.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMIt's not that I particularly think you're mistaken. Simply that I've never heard a good defence of that position and think you might be the one. Every one I've heard seems to be a variant of "I don't think you should believe things that aren't true" which is dispatched with a shrug and a "I do." making this entirely a matter of personal opinion. Which is fine for (hypothetical) me, I'm not trying to build a world view on objective truths, but you are and it has always struck me as a pretty major problem.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMHumans aren't capable of withstanding direct human brain to divine communication of the type needed to put across all possible answers clearly. Dialing down the godness to a level low enough for humans to deal with it means dialling down the clarity of the message to a level where human interpretation can modify it.Which just pushes the question back a stage. Why didn't God make humans better so they could deal with that sort of contact? Well, clearly he could. And maybe there's a plant in Andromeda somewhere where the inhabitants are like that. And another one in *racks brain to think of another galaxy* the Large Magellanic Cloud where the inhabitants can survive even less contact and so the Word has been subject to even more interpretation. The analogy is with the weak anthropic principle, really, on that front.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMThere are also problems with your usage of "perfect" - "no excuse whatsoever for getting things any less than perfect in the final product". First it assumes that you know what God was aiming for and this wasn't it. If it was a clear and unambigious commnuication of his wishes then sure, imperfect. If it was something else - free will for example - then maybe that clear communication wasn't important. Maybe there's something, even, that conflicts between clear communication of the divine will and humanity progressing to the point where it can produce Kythia (Kythia in the specific, not "a modern human". Point is, the goal of humanity is me. I checked with God and he confirmed it) Finally, your usage of "perfect" fails the test on the same principles as the argument of yours I shall quote next. Is this world not perfect? What would a perfect one look like? How would we know the difference? Obviously making the claim that the world is perfect is a bigger one that that its not, but the principle holds.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMThis is, obviously, the argument I referred to in my last paragraph above.We have two parallel earths. On one of them God exists and functions in precisely the way I stated. On the other, He doesn't at all and the entirety of religion is a human construct. I'm ignoring Norse pantheon-World, Allah-world, etc, as the principle is the same. Which one of those two do we live on.Well, clearly its impossible to be sure. It is also impossible to be sure we don't live a third parallel world where science functions only because a cat in Chigwell, Essex, UK deems it so, I'm simply pointing out that that way solipsism lies if you take it too far.My main counter to the argument is to point out that its essentially a restatement of a "God doesn't exist" type argument. There's no solid testable argument I can make in favour of world one, none you can make in favour of world two. And while stating that "we don't agree and neither will convince the other" is in no way an answer to that question in the strictest sense, it is the last answer most get from me through sheer overwhelming lack of interest in the discussion.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMI don't think there would be any religion at all, I believe non-Christian faiths are a groping, imperfect as they are, towards the Christian faith (I am aware of how offensive that is to those followers of other faiths. As I have mentioned elsewhere, though, a core component of following one faith is the conviction that others are flat out wrong). The world would be different but I wouldn't like to speculate on how. Without the Catholic church's domination over Europe...well. Thats a question for the alternate history writers. My guess would be that the centre of learning would be further east, perhaps in the holy land - no pun intended. Humanity wouldn't be as advanced as it is as the developments in rhetoric, debate and all those other fields made by the Church wouldn't exist with knock on effects for any discipline that relies on sound arguments. Art and music would also have taken a fairly substantial hit. That's a very euro-centric view but quite honestly I don't know enough about Hinduism to say anything sensible about ho]w India would have developed.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 03:17:56 PMActually, a conversation about "what would an Earth without religion look like" (as opposed to one without God) could be moderately interesting, but I suspect I would still stay out as it seems like it would descend into a flame war within seconds.
Quote from: EphiralHm. Well, offhand, the key attributes I'd be looking for would be that it must be practicable day-to-day, non-arbitrary, and actually accomplish the goals you set out in creating it.
Quote from: EphiralWhy claim to have morals at all if you don't care whether or not they're even slightly functional?
Quote from: EphiralIt might not conflict with your core values, but neither is it particularly supported by them. It's supported by your completely arbitrary weighting of these people's value. There's absolutely nothing in there that prevents you from doing any horrible thing you want to anybody you do't particularly care about - and pretty much nobody cares about the overwhelming majority of the world, except in extreme abstract. So this doesn't seem a terribly workable system, and certainly not one that a lot of people should adopt by any stretch.
Quote from: EphiralOh, no, that's fine. Getting to the most correct answer with the least possible time and effort spent getting there (in all things, not just morality) is the ultimate goal.
Quote from: EphiralBut, if God is that much more intelligent than us, certainly there is a way to communicate things with less room for widespread adoption of interpretations that are completely counter to the core themes? Not saying direct-to-brain is necessary, just... something without infinite wiggle room?
Quote from: EphiralI'm not speaking of the world as a whole here - unless God directly controls every single variable, perfection is not to be expected in everything. I'm speaking specifically of God's message to man - which is clearly imperfect by dint of the existence of multiple, mutually exclusive, interpretations of major tenets of faith.
Quote from: EphiralThis isn't intended as a "God doesn't exist" argument - and for the record you will never see that absolute a statement on the subject from me. It's intended to point out that, if you literally cannot tell the influence of the Holy Spirit apart - if you can't pick the signal from the noise - then it's not exactly good feedback.
Quote from: EphiralThis is probably one of those things we will wind up just disagreeing on. I think being pattern-recognition engines makes us liable to see gods and invisible actors whether or not they're actually there - pareidolia is a powerful, powerful thing.
QuoteAnd thanks for not ribbing me about the out-of-place tag. :P
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMSeems like there's a massive assumption lurking in that last clause. I doubt most people, the overwhelming majority, actually "created" a moral code in the sense you mean it, let alone had goals in mind in doing so. I would suggest you and I are the exceptions in being able to answer that question and having put some level of conscious thought into the matter, most just "know" what they do and don't approve of, what they will and won't do. By your:
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMit seems like you're saying any person who hasn't set explicit goals for their personal beliefs doesn't really have morals and ethics (and has what? Instinctive behaviour?). In essence you seem to be arguing that only people who share your worldview are capable of having morals, straying into a "Christians lack any moral centre" there, which has the benefit of being novel, I suppose, and turnabout is fair play.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMFurther, there's a problem with your "non-arbitrary". From:it seems you would count as arbitrary any system that privileges people I personally know. Or, presumably, penalises same. Which seems fine at first glance, but at second any moral code that treats everyone the same is, by necessity, one that the holder wouldn't mind being universal. Essentially, it seems that your "non arbitrary" requirement is just a requirement for universality in another guise?
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMThis, and your other arguments in that section, feels circular to me. Utilitarianism is the best and quickest way of getting to the most correct answer where the correctness of the answer is measured by the metric of utilitarianism. I could replace utilitarianism with christianity there with no change to the meaning.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMI'm assuming you'd pick the one you have, given free reign. If that assumption is right then what is it about your worldview that makes you feel its the "best". Why, in terms seperate to utilitarianism, is utilitarianism beneficial. You've mentioned, both in this conversation and in others, that you consider an idea arrived at through rational thought superior to one that wasn't, why is the "most correct" answer determined that way. Is that simply an article of faith or is there a concrete benefit to it that you see? You mention that it avoids akrasia but that just pushes the question back a bit. Given that millenia of evolution has found akrasia either beneficial or at a minimum not negative enough for it to be eliminated, why is a school of thought that seeks to minimise it better than one that doesn't? Generosity could be viewed as akrasic, or equally it could be viewed as essential for maintaining social groups, why are you saying akrasia is bad?
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMI honestly don't understand where the "certainly" there came from? Why is that certain? I'm far more intelligent than the spider I see stood on my wall but that doesn't mean there is "certainly" a way of me communicating this conversation to it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMI think my argument still holds. Implicit in that question is a presumption that you know what a perfect communication of the message looks like, and the various other interpretations are not desired. Patly - and I must stress not an answer I actually believe - I could just say that the other interpretations are there as a test. God spend a drunk afternoon burying dinosaur bones and thinking up Sikhism to see if anyone would fall for it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMLess pat, though, is that I think you're judging God by your criteria not his. Maybe tomorrow something will happen that will make humanity thank its collective lucky stars that all these interpretations exist. There is a plan. Further, a number of them relate to the above point, about the impossibility of directly understanding the divine will. Finally, as I mention, I believe a number of faiths, particularly ones that predate Christianity, are an almost instinctive movement towards God.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMI see your point, and I apologise for the presumption. My thinking is, though, that a world sans God would be different to this one in ways it is possible to construct through thought (lacking religion, as I say, along with other indicators), and so observation tells us we're in the God one. (In all honesty, that isn't my thinking, its my, I dunno, second order thinking. My actual thinking is far more dogmatic than that - God created the world so the existence of the world is proof of God. It's circular, and I accept that, which is why I pretended to have the ever-so-slightly more reasonable position earlier in this paragraph. And then ruined it all by this parenthetical comment, maybe religion does lead to akrasia)
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMAh but paeidolia only exists because we know on some level that there is a force greater than...nah, I'm dicking with you. It is actually what I think but yeah, we're not going to agree on it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 12, 2013, 11:10:06 PMOr the out-of-place closing bracket you inserted in the last line of the penultimate quote block in your post above. I'm a veritable paragon of not ribbing. But I never proofread and you've never called me on spelling errors that are no doubt there, so you too exist as a true paragon of not ribbing. Yey us!
Quote from: EphiralAgain, here I think I've been unclear - we're conflating utilitarianism (moral/ethical system) with rationalism (method of thinking and reasoning that, I believe, strongly supports utilitarian functions.)
Quote from: EphiralHere we're getting into Difficult Problems territory - we're still grasping at concepts like Coherent Extrapolated Value at this point - but a utilitarian function under a rationalist methodology is the only one I see even trying to define "what humanity wants" in concrete and comprehensible terms, let alone work toward it. Why do I think that's important? Because I'm human, basically. What's best for humanity is highly likely to be what's best for me.
Quote from: EphiralThat's a limitation of the spider, not of you
Quote from: EphiralAt the very least, I would hope that God is a better engineer than evolution, given the ability to consciously and actively meddle in human affairs.
Quote from: EphiralI can tell you very little about the content of a perfect message, but I can tell you some of what it looks like. For one thing, minimum message length - all other factors being equal, the shorter message tends to be more correct. So it is exceedingly unlikely that a message which contains irreconcilable self-contradictions - wasted bits - is a good message. So either we're misinterpreting it - a failure of communication - or it is badly structured - a failure of the message.
Quote from: EphiralWhy would this world be designed to teach us information theory just to go "Oop, that's wrong. Please ignore the fact that it works."?
Quote from: EphiralYour last sentence I find kind of interesting. You seem to posit an instinctual need for spiritual fulfilment - why, then, would people fail to invent gods in a world without them?
Quote from: EphiralWhereas I would say pareidolia is simply a side effect of a very useful survival behaviour - the ability to distinguish patterns is the ability to tell when something's amiss, which tends to get you eaten by tigers a lot less. I don't see how your reasoning holds as even equally likely to this, in light of us actually knowing that evolution happens. But then, I'm the kind of annoying jerkhole who always looks for the evidence at the root of anything.
Quote from: EphiralI must say, this is the most pleasant conversation I've ever had on this particular minefield. Thank you.
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