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.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AM1)do you consider people who, by your definition, are acting instinctually rather than having a moral code capable of moral behaviour?
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AM2)do you rate higher in your personal hierarchy people who have a moral code (again, using your definition and opposing it to instinctive behaviour)?
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMI hadn't come across Coherent Extrapolated Value before so what I know is from a brief read of the article on lesswrong.com. I see it as the difference between low levels of the Dominate discipline from V:tM and the ninth level "Best Intentions" power from VPG.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMLeaving aside whether its worthy or not, it seems like the drunk trying to pull himself up by his bootstraps. The rationalist community will never be able to overcome, by the very nature of the beast, a (hypothetical) bias that "all things can be analysed through rational thought" or "emotional, non-conscious methods are never superior to rational, conscious one". If there's just one of those lurking within the human psyche then the project will fail as the community will expend its effort continuing to use the same tools as a matter of, well, faith. (Assuming, of course, that those biases are incorrect - with a bit more thought I'm certain a hypothetical bias that worked against rationalism and didn't require the existence of the divine could be constructed)
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMTwo, I don't believe universal rationalism is a reachable goal. It's obviously a never ending process as new people are born (though I'll admit there comes a tipping point in society where it becomes the default rather than the exception) and it just takes one charismatic psychopath to build a cult of personality around him. In essence, I think the problems rationalism seeks to overcome are too embedded within humans to ever be overturned and the inevitable Black Swan will doom the project.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMEvolution is the mechanism through which God created man. It would be like me designing a entirely automated factory that produced *looks round for inspiration* Mars Bars. It would be questionable whether I or the factory created an individual Mars Bar, I suppose, but my definition is that I did. But the core point is that if I decide to later put more caramel in the Mars Bar then I'm limited to the tools and machines I have already set up. Sure I could burn the factory down and build a new one, but I don't think either of us want that.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMNow, God's in a priveleged position of course. He knows in advance the times when he'll want to add more caramel and designed the factory in the first place based on a perfect understanding of future Mars Bar developments. And that sentence made me feel dirty.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMAs I say, we're misinterpreting and filtering through our own location and time dependant biases. And all other things aren't equal, because there is noise in the transmission. So the same method is repeated over and over again with redundancy and repeats, knowing that Paul will fail to get the first half and Moses the second.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMThat has always seemed to me to be the key point of rupture. Information theory works within the universe. God exists outside the universe. In-universe tools are necessarily inadequate for analysing out-of-universe phenomena. This applies throughout. Why can't we detect God's body heat, all the other scientific arguments for the non-existence of God (I'm carefully distinguishing Strong from Weak atheism there) fail because they're trying to detect the rainfall in Canada with a gauge in the UK. Or even a barometer in the UK.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMAnd, just to add, this isn't a failing of science today. There's noone slaving in a lab on a working god-ometer. In fact, its not even a failing. Science/rationalism/a hpst of related words are the best tools for analysing the universe. The best tool for analysing the divine is Church Tradition.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMYour problem here is that we only have a sample size of one. There is an instinctual need, I would argue, for spirtual fulfilment because we live in a world where God exists. Did we not, and the reason I posit a world without religion, that need in our soul/psyche wouldn't exist.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 10:25:18 AMYour pareidolia example suffers the same problem. Because we have only ever seen the positve effects - Tiger recognition - hand in hand with the (as you see it) negative - God recognition, we assume they are inextricably linked. I don't believe they are. God recognition wouldn't exist in a God free world, simply tiger recogntion. I think/believe that you are conflating two seperate things purely because our limited sample size has them appearing side by side.
Quote from: EphiralMu. The two are not necessarily linked; your example clearly demonstrates this.
Quote from: EphiralI view moral codes as a responsibility - those who are capable and do not put the thought into one lose a small amount of regard.
Quote from: EphiralI hope this makes sense.
Quote from: EphiralAs far as your broader point goes: It's not that non-conscious methods are incapable of being superior. It's that the odds are very poor, and they do not improve. As for it being possible to analyse everything through rational thought: If you can show me a phenomenon that we can verify the existence of which defies rational analysis, then I will discard rational analysis as a tool for working with it. Meta-rationality.
Quote from: EphiralGiven that spreading rationalism is essentially a process of education, I must ask if you think that universal education in, say, high-school level math is also impossible.
Quote from: EphiralI chose my evolution example for a reason: The process of evolution, to use your metaphor, is basically "throw random amounts of random ingredients into random machines. Is the result a Mars bar? If not, adjust the values and repeat. Is the new result somewhere closer to being a Mars bar? No? Repeat ad Mars barum." It's brute force engineering - the worst possible method that will lead to success. Your interpretation of the Holy Spirit sounds similar: "Take a random idea. Does it align with the divine plan? If not, discard it and pick a new random idea." No control whatsoever over the input is a pretty poor way to get the output you want.
Quote from: EphiralBut we're not trying to apply information theory to God, we're trying to apply it to the in-universe message. Your argument seems to be saying "This observable phenomenon is in violation of every established pattern that fits every other observable phenomenon of its type, for no reason and with no effect that I can point to."
Quote from: EphiralThing is, though, this position is ignoring the fact that we have things other than tiger recognition and God recognition to go on. We have clear-cut examples of false positives - conspiracy theorists, faces in wallpaper patterns, backmasking. Why do these things exist? It seems that the only purpose they serve is to make God-recognition questionable.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMthinking less of people who don't follow that process which is simply criticsing people for not following your thought patterns. If that's what you're doing then fine, I guess. But I personally don't think it matters what your thought process is in achieving an end, simply the achieved end. I don't give a fuck whether you completed the jigsaw by carefully doing all the corners and edges then filling in the sky or by repeatedly throwing the pieces in the air until they land correctly, what matters is the jigsaw is completed.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMWhat about if, in my frantic desire to impress you, I take to wearing a W.W.E.D. bracelet and base all of my decisions on what you would do (sending countless PMs to check when needed). My system is arbitrary but produces identical effects to yours. You would still count it as inferior?
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMInteresting. So if I've understood you right you're essentially saying that you're playing the odds in rationalism, judging that it will be the best approach for a given problem and therefore applying it?
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMI don't think your analogy holds. The simple reason is that me learning integration by parts is simply adding to my store of knowledge. My learning to eliminate/compensate for all cognitive biases involves a fundamental change to my thinking.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMIt isn't the same as a process of education because either you know when the Battle of Hastings was or you don't, and there's no way you can fake it. However, one can easily pretend to be rationalist while not actually accepting the premise of it - rationalism is a thought process not a fact - and instilling that, or any, thought process in schools is disturbing in the extreme.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMIt actually feels like we're drawing to a close of this section as we seem to be going in circles a little. It's not simply random ideas, its the same idea repeated to make up for failures in the receivers. It just looks random to us because we only have the imperfect receivers.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMAs I've said before, there are consistent streams in Christian thought and those that vary too heavily from it - Paul's condemnation of homosexuality is the example I used above - must be viewed as evidence of imperfect reception.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMAn aside I thought you might be interested inJust because it happened to occur to me while typing and I thought you might care, not because I feel it particularly adds anything to the conversation.The main problem I have in my faith is the issue of agency. I talk about the consistent message of scripture and church tradition and one of those is that if you have a problem then the best way to remove it is pray and let God sort that shit. Don't bother trying to solve it, look for ways round it, work on it yourself or make any attempt to improve your own life. God will sort that shit out if you "ask and it shall be given." Aside to the aside - Did you know that "The Lord helps those who help themselves" isn't even scriptural? 75% of American teenagers named it as the central message of the Bible, and a substantial portion believe it is one of the Ten fucking commandments. It leads to the semi-pelagian heresy, even - the conclusions of it are condemned by every Christian branch I can think of off the top of my head. There's an argument its the moral of the Parable of the Good Shepherd but if I can say that Paul's condemnation of homosexuality is an off-message blip then I'm forced by the same argument to concede that parable is the same.And I hate it. I hate the lack of control, the helplessness, it forces one to embrace, and the message that your life is entirely beyond your control.I've spent ages looking for a way round it, a way I could have interpreted all of this wrong, and I'm pretty confident is not there. I hate it and I hate the fact that not following that aspect of teaching in my day to day life makes me feel bad, but I would hate it more if I did. I have an internal fudge that I use to justofy it but its justification pure and simple. I hate it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMWe have a message from God to man. God exists outside the universe and information theory doesn't apply to Him. Man exists within and information theory does. God transmits a message which crosses the out of universe/in universe barrier then the universe/man's brain barrier. As the universe is fallible and as humans are even more so, both of those barriers create a degradation of the message.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMI don't - and here my lack of knowledge on the subject becomes more apparent - think we can apply information theory to the message because a portion of it is in a "region" where information theory doesn't apply. It'd be like - to my way of thinking - trying to trace the history of the Mona Lisa knowing only about da Vinci's life. It moves outside the area covered by the tools you are using.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 02:22:20 PMI still think you're arguing definitions a little. Lets make up some words - I'll put them in Latin root to draw a linguistic distinction from pareidolia.Tigrisvidocy is what you see as the positive side - the ability to see Tigers in the patch of forest.Deosense is the unconscious craving every human has to God - lets concede that exists for the purpose of this conversation - which manifests in people creating Gods as explanations for thunder, seasons, etc etc.Facierror is the tendency to see faces in wallpaper and other incorrect applications of tigrisvidocy. I don't like "facierror" by the way, it's hard to say. I wish I could be bothered to think up a better word.The reason I bother making up words is to try to make clear that it's simply a function of the word pareidolia that makes up lump those things together when they could just as easily be defined as three separate concepts - two related, one not - and its simply that they are all seen in the one sentient species we have access to that makes us think they're related.
Quote from: EphiralRemember, the question was if these questions can be aided by an evidence-based approach. You seem to be asking me to make the case that only an evidence-based approach is usable, which I hold as false - infinite monkeys, Hamlet, etc.
Quote from: EphiralMmm... not morally inferior, no, but it loses points for failing to engage your brain and for annoying the crap out of me. Basically, there are two key criteria as I see it: "engage your brain" and "get the right answer". The first is important because systems that depend on a few key people tend to fall into the cognitive biases of those people, and collapse or derail badly when those people are gone. Distributed thinking adds robustness against both issues. The second is important because... well, that's kinda the whole point. I think rationalist methods get to the right answer most reliably, which is why I think they're best.
Quote from: EphiralNow, if I were an oracle of perfect morality, and thus you came to me as the best tool available after examining the situation, that would be different. Related: I one-box on Newcomb's. This is not a popular answer in the rationalist groups I follow, but I hold that it is the correct one.
Quote from: EphiralIntegration by parts is not natural to your brain - it doesn't do much to help you dodge predators and find prey on an African savannah. So I'd argue that it's just as radically different a way of thinking as running Bayesian updates.[/url]I don't think it is a new way of thinking, merely a new thought.Quote from: EphiralA deep understanding of any subject is an alteration to thought processes. I'm guessing you don't hold that schools should do nothing but rote memorization. As far as testing goes, it's actually... pretty much the same as certain strains of educational testing. Present problems that can be solved by integrating and using the information and methods you've been taught. A low hit rate is indicative of poor comprehension or utilization.OK, yes, I'll concede that. I still think instilling thought patterns in schools is dangerous though, bearing in mind my distinction above.Quote from: EphiralWhat is the origin point of the ideas? I understood that it was the fallible, limited human brain.No, the origin of the idea is God's will. The fallible limited human brain is the receiver of the idea (and may well then be a secondary transmitter as it writes shit down, but still not the origin of the idea)[qoute="Ephiral"]I have heard a maxim from students of communication: "Poor receipt is not the fault of the listener." If your audience fails to understand you, you haven't done your job in communicating effectively. Please note that I'm not saying that the perfect message does not exist - just that this universe doesn't have it.
Quote from: EphiralA deep understanding of any subject is an alteration to thought processes. I'm guessing you don't hold that schools should do nothing but rote memorization. As far as testing goes, it's actually... pretty much the same as certain strains of educational testing. Present problems that can be solved by integrating and using the information and methods you've been taught. A low hit rate is indicative of poor comprehension or utilization.
Quote from: EphiralWhat is the origin point of the ideas? I understood that it was the fallible, limited human brain.
Quote from: EphiralThe distinction is that the message does enter the universe, and thus plays by the universe's rules. The moment it crosses that threshold, information theory applies. And overwhelmingly, every single time we've put forth a theory that says "Everything works in X fashion except this case", we have been wrong.[/url]Funnily enough, this is precisely my point as well. Yes, we have been wrong. And in a vast number of cases we have been wrong because our understanding of X fashion has been incomplete. Everything obeys Newton's Laws of Motion except the case where they are travelling close to the speed of light is the first example that springs to mind but even in the process of writing that I thought of numerous more, I will spare you them. The Laws of Motion aren't wrong, per se, they are simply incomplete.Information theory isn't wrong, per se, it is simply not complete enough to include human-divine communication. More *cough*Church Tradition *cough* is needed.Quote from: EphiralPareidolia is facierror. Period. The other two - conceding God for the sake of argument - are the pattern recognition engine firing as it ought; pareidolia is what happens when this tool is applied to meaningless input. So... why would something that makes us prone to seeing invisible agency everywhere, not just where God is actually doing shit, be a requirement of being in God-world but not of being in !God-world? As I said, all it seems to accomplish is undermining the credibility of those who believe in Him.Sorry, that wasn't quite what I was trying to say. What I'm trying to say is that your argument rests on those three phenomena being related, being three facets of the same mental mechanism. I contend there are actually two there - the flipsides of Tigrisvidocy/Facierror and then, separate, deosense. So why does deosense say that thunder spirits are angry hence rain? An incomplete nature of the understanding of God. Both science and religion end the belief in the thunder spirits - be that by missionaries pointing out its wrong or hypothetical science missionaries doing same.Man, I wish I could reliably spell separate. I always wanna replace the first "a" with an "e". Same with calendar. I don't think I've ever spelt that right first time.
Quote from: EphiralPareidolia is facierror. Period. The other two - conceding God for the sake of argument - are the pattern recognition engine firing as it ought; pareidolia is what happens when this tool is applied to meaningless input. So... why would something that makes us prone to seeing invisible agency everywhere, not just where God is actually doing shit, be a requirement of being in God-world but not of being in !God-world? As I said, all it seems to accomplish is undermining the credibility of those who believe in Him.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMSadly for me it gains points both for me not having to think and for annoying everyone around me. So look forwards to an overflowing PM box :P
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMThe oracle of perfect morality is what I hold God to be. I too one box, but thats perhaps considerably less surprising.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMI don't think it is a new way of thinking, merely a new thought.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMOK, yes, I'll concede that. I still think instilling thought patterns in schools is dangerous though, bearing in mind my distinction above.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMNo, the origin of the idea is God's will. The fallible limited human brain is the receiver of the idea (and may well then be a secondary transmitter as it writes shit down, but still not the origin of the idea)
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMWith the best will in the world, Ephiral, that statement's almost meaningless. That may well be a maxim but, well, so what? It's not a rule/law/etc. Essentially you seem to be defining a failure of communication as the fault of the transmitter then saying "look, there's been a failure therefore its the transmitter's fault". You could just as easily define it as a fault of the receiver.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMIn answer to your questionHelping the poor is morally desirable. That is to say, the beneficiary of helping the poor is the helper for performing morally desirable actions, not the poor for being, you know, helped.Yeah, I know. Clearly the poor only exist so the not poor can feel better about themselves. I can explain it, I can't justify it. Its not the position I hold and its actually increasingly rare, but there's been nothing "official" to override it - where official = church pronouncement (whether you believe them to be divinely inspired or not isn't relevant in thsi case).
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 04:28:36 PMSorry, that wasn't quite what I was trying to say. What I'm trying to say is that your argument rests on those three phenomena being related, being three facets of the same mental mechanism. I contend there are actually two there - the flipsides of Tigrisvidocy/Facierror and then, separate, deosense. So why does deosense say that thunder spirits are angry hence rain? An incomplete nature of the understanding of God. Both science and religion end the belief in the thunder spirits - be that by missionaries pointing out its wrong or hypothetical science missionaries doing same.
Quote from: EphiralFunny, you told me that once before...
Quote from: EphiralThe difference being that, given the system you've described, you can't get an answer from God except over many many iterations over a long period of time. Pretty useless in figuring out what you need to do now, or tomorrow, or next week.
Quote from: EphiralThat seems to strike methods of problem-solving off of "acceptable school subjects" as a category. This is... problematic.
Quote from: Ephiralforgive me, but I'm trying to build this transmission protocol in my head. It sounds like Alice sends a message to Bob. Bob retransmits that message back to Alice, who will either accept or reject it. The rejection process takes anywhere from five minutes to several generations. If it is rejected, Bob must now try again to reconstruct it from the same data. This is... a piss-poor method, to be honest. And now I think we're getting to the core of my problem:[/url]Mmmkay. As I say, I lack the terminology so forgive me if I construct this wrong.Alice has a message she wishes to transmit. She transmits it to everybody. Some don't listen, some listen and forget - to move from transmission protocols to scripture for a moment, see the parable of the sower. But those people aren't relevant to this dicsussion. And besides, Alice already knows who they'll be, she just sends the message to show willing, so that none of them can later turn round and say "well, you never even tried to tell me". But yeah, leaving them aside.So, in effect, Alice sends a message to a group of people. Bob, Charlie, David, Ephiral, etc. Alice knows that all of their receivers are faulty and, even more annoyingly, faulty in slightly different ways. Bob's cuts out for ten seconds every minute, Charlie's gtes progressively worse after two minutes, etc. As such, Alice crafts her message - which is the same in every case - to overcome this. One bit is at the beginning so Charlie will pick it up, the next part is in a period when she knows Bob's will be on, the third at a high enough frequency that David's low-frequency-deaf receiver will get it. Etc.Bob, Charlie et al then write down the bits of their message, as best they understood it. Comparison of all received messages yields the full text. Some will have bits that are warped from the original text (as opposed to simply not received) and those bits can be identified because of their lack of cohesiveness with the remainder.Verifying receipt isn't an issue for two reasons. One, Alice can physcially "see" the receipt of the message and two Alice is a, errrrr, a time traveller. She's already seen that the message is received, there's nothing random here.Does that work? I dunno, apologies if I've mangled jargon.Quote from: EphiralOkay, so we can't receive the message without corruption. Fine. We have protocols that can verify accurate receipt nigh-instantly on the receiver's end, and in the event of error, can pinpoint that error to within a very small margin. Why is God so much worse at this than a bunch of monkeys in shoes who have been thinking about this for 70 years?Because this simply isn't a concern. This is precisely why heretics are told to repent. A good faith misintepretation carries no moral penalty. Five, ten, fifty, a trillion years from now everything I thing may well have been decried as heretical. No blame attaches to me, though, as at this time I had no way of knowing they would be. Confirmation, transit time, propagation time, etc are simply not important. Sinking and floating kitchen tables. Alice is certain we have all the information we need at this time and isn't dick enough to penalise us for not knowing stuff we haven't been told. Putting in those protocols is more effort than not doing and as there is no need for them it's easier not to bother.Quote from: EphiralIt's the fault of the transmitter because the transmitter is the one with the power to change what is happening. The receiver is essentially passive, doing little more than verifying accurate receipt (and not even doing that, in the construction you seem to be proposing). If one party is doing everything, then yes, it's on that one party to get it right.But communication is a two way street. If we're chatting, face to face, and while you're trying to tell me something I have my fingers in my ears and am shouting "la la la, I can't hear you" then its clearly not your fault as transmitter that I'm not receiving your message. Active listening is a thing.Right?As I've said, this isn't a belief I actually hold so if this explanation is a little weak then I apologise. People feel good after giving. I cited a study about this very early in the conversation and there are multiple others. People get a kick out of giving to charity that isn't repeated when paying taxes. God wants us to be happy and knows we get that kick. Hence the commandment to give to the poor.It's not usurping because the poor receiving something is purely incidental. It's like if, as a result of this conversation, some not-one-of-us-two party learns something about, well, anything. It's a benefit to them, certainly, but not the purpose. (Or maybe it is, actually. I certainly want people to understand C of E teachings better and you want people to view and scrutinise your beliefs... maybe thats a shitty example now I come to think of it. If only there was some key on the keyboard that would make it be, I dunno, "deleted". They could put it right next to "insert" where that pointless one labelled "del" currently sits. Seriously, what the fuck is that? And I why would I need a key that gives my back extra space? I'm in an odd mood. Half insane from the heat, I suspect.)
Quote from: EphiralOkay, so we can't receive the message without corruption. Fine. We have protocols that can verify accurate receipt nigh-instantly on the receiver's end, and in the event of error, can pinpoint that error to within a very small margin. Why is God so much worse at this than a bunch of monkeys in shoes who have been thinking about this for 70 years?
Quote from: EphiralIt's the fault of the transmitter because the transmitter is the one with the power to change what is happening. The receiver is essentially passive, doing little more than verifying accurate receipt (and not even doing that, in the construction you seem to be proposing). If one party is doing everything, then yes, it's on that one party to get it right.
Quote from: EphiralSo pareidolia exists in both worlds. In that case, the only way that !God-world would fail to have religion is if God is a concept that cannot possibly come from the human imagination. That... strikes me as an extremely bold claim to make.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMI won that didn't I? Remind me to check.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMNo. Teaching is sufficient for the current time. Everything we need to know at the current time has been given to us already, answers aren't needed on that sort of timescale because they're already present. The answers we're receiving now relate to cloning, to genetic engineering, etc - to the problems we will soon face. Or, you know, that's the Christian view - that everything needed now is already present.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMI think you're being a bit disingenuous here. Wikipedia lists a set of core precepts rationalists must adopt, even lesswrong talks in terms of "becoming a rationalist". It's a thought system, the teaching of which in schools (or promotion of which rather, I have no objection to students learning about thought systems) I see as wrong, not simply a method of problem solving.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMBob, Charlie et al then write down the bits of their message, as best they understood it. Comparison of all received messages yields the full text. Some will have bits that are warped from the original text (as opposed to simply not received) and those bits can be identified because of their lack of cohesiveness with the remainder.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMBecause this simply isn't a concern. This is precisely why heretics are told to repent. A good faith misintepretation carries no moral penalty. Five, ten, fifty, a trillion years from now everything I thing may well have been decried as heretical. No blame attaches to me, though, as at this time I had no way of knowing they would be. Confirmation, transit time, propagation time, etc are simply not important. Sinking and floating kitchen tables. Alice is certain we have all the information we need at this time and isn't dick enough to penalise us for not knowing stuff we haven't been told. Putting in those protocols is more effort than not doing and as there is no need for them it's easier not to bother.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMBut communication is a two way street. If we're chatting, face to face, and while you're trying to tell me something I have my fingers in my ears and am shouting "la la la, I can't hear you" then its clearly not your fault as transmitter that I'm not receiving your message. Active listening is a thing.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMRight?As I've said, this isn't a belief I actually hold so if this explanation is a little weak then I apologise. People feel good after giving. I cited a study about this very early in the conversation and there are multiple others. People get a kick out of giving to charity that isn't repeated when paying taxes. God wants us to be happy and knows we get that kick. Hence the commandment to give to the poor.It's not usurping because the poor receiving something is purely incidental. It's like if, as a result of this conversation, some not-one-of-us-two party learns something about, well, anything. It's a benefit to them, certainly, but not the purpose.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 07:40:30 PMRegardless of its boldness, it is precisely my claim. !God world would have no religion because religion is an unconscious drive towards God. Lacking His presence means, well, His presence is lacking.
Quote from: EphiralAs I see it, the "becoming" is largely a matter of "applying this methodology on an ongoing basis in your life". It changes the way you look at the world, sure. So does "becoming a scientist", but we have no problem teaching science. The same could be said of "becoming a lawyer", for that matter.
Quote from: EphiralAssuming that every one of them is in communication and cooperation with every other one, and even then it will take a lot of work - certainly more than basic error correction.
Quote from: EphiralSo... exactly how is this communication at all? If it doesn't matter who hears what when... why say anything?
Quote from: EphiralAnd no - putting in those protocols is more work in implementation, but less in use. Implementation needs to be done exactly once. Use is an ongoing case. So it's a worthwhile trade if "more effort" is actually a concern.
Quote from: EphiralI... don't think I'm understanding this correctly. Are you saying that the numerous examples we have of religious groups going wrong were all malicious? They weren't listening in good faith?
Quote from: EphiralRightI suspect that you're not arguing this as well as the rest of your case, perhaps because you don't believe it, because... this seems kinda incoherent and rather offensive. "Pray away problems unless they're someone else's, then meddle away for your own benefit, because poor people have no agency - not even the agency you have to pray your problems away." This is... not a compelling argument for the soundness of religious moral reasoning to me.And yeah, I'm familiar with the feel-good of giving to charity - and the rather interesting corollary that people view this as a moral license to be a bit more dickish elsewhere in life.
Quote from: EphiralAnd here's where it falls apart to me, because extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence, etc.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMMmm, we have no issue teaching science, or law, or RE, or PE - being a professional athlete changes your worldview (I should imagine). What we - or possibly I - have an issue with is teaching people to become scientists, lawyers, priests or athletes. Because it closes doors, it limits. Teach them about it, sure. About what it means, about the works of Bentham, Hart, Aquinus and Cisse. But once you're training them to become a specific thing (at an early age, I mean. Clearly I don't object to plumber's training) you're automatically dissuading every other thing.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMOut of interest, then, how would you approach the set up I gave? From a pure information theory persepctive, what would be the ideal solution. Keeping it non-medium specific.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMSorry, I don't get your question here?
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMI think "more effort" is a concern - and here I vary from the official C of E position. You mention above that God created the world in a week, but He actually didn't. The Bible says 6 days before "resting" on Sunday. Sure, it's an etiology and not meant to be read literally but there is a common theme that while God can perform any task, he can't necessarily perform it with no effort. So, following on, effort seems to be a variable in his thinking.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMTo address your main point, this assumes that god-man communication can be precisely described by existing information theory when it can't. As the creator of the network, God would be the one who set up such protocols and clearly He felt (because anthropomorphism is fun for all the family) that they weren't needed.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMNo no no, sorry. While I'm sure there are examples of bad faith listening, all I was trying to do is say that your blanket statement that if communication fails its the fault of the transmitter is clearly not the case.
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMThis from a rationalist? It's a pithy maxim, sure, but really doesn't seem to apply in this case. First - who defines "extraordinary" in the first usage. You're lacking an agreed upon definition straight off the bat. I'm not claiming something contrary to observed facts, I'm claiming an alternate explanation of observed facts. Which I don't think qualifies as "universally agreeable as extraordinary". Really, it's more a hypothesis than a claim and I've stated falsifiable criteria for it above
Quote from: Kythia on July 13, 2013, 11:13:45 PMSecond - what evidence would you accept here? You seem to be dismissing a claim that is unprovable because there's no evidence - which, sure, I get - but then making the exact same form of claim (that God is conceivable to humans in a world where he doesn't exist) which is likewise utterly unprovable and lacking evidence. Relating to point one, I can point to that as an extraordinary claim and dismiss it using exactly the same reasoning.
Quote from: EphiralI admittedly have less problem with the idea of kids learning rationalism at a young age because I think it's right, but I'll admit it can look creepy from the outside. Religious schools sure as shit look creepy to me. (Why are those not an issue, by the by?) I'd be glad to take both off the table.
Quote from: EphiralNone of this "just keep trying" crap.
Quote from: EphiralYou've said that timing, accuracy, and specific audience are not issues. If it doesn't matter who heard it, when they heard it, or what "it" they heard, what distinguishes your message from random noise? Why bother transmitting at all?
Quote from: EphiralI'm seeing a lot of what looks like "Separate magisteria!" here. This is... an interesting reversal from a lot of the verifiable physical claims made in the Bible. Why is a firewall suddenly appropriate when we start asking pointed questions, when it wasn't in the source material?
Quote from: EphiralAll right, I'll amend: If both parties are honestly attempting to communicate, then it's on the transmitter to make sure the message is received and understood.
Quote from: EphiralYou're claiming something unsupported by observed facts, which requires an extra element that vastly increases the message length, and which offers (as far as I can see) no additional explanatory power above and beyond hypotheses that do not require this extra element.
Quote from: EphiralActually, all I'm asserting is that the idea of God is not in a special class separate from every other idea that has ever passed through a human brain, and that the human brain can encompass counterfactuals.
Quote from: EphiralAs for what evidence I would accept: The brain-function test, above, would be a huge pile of evidence, Bayesian and scientific alike.
Quote from: EphiralWhen I use this argument, I am speaking of Bayesian evidence, and in particular a stage that comes before science. This is way before trying to disprove something; it's more "which ideas are worth the effort to try and disprove?"
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMYeah, it never looks as creepy when its your own side. I absolutely do have an issue with religious schools, it's just we were discussing rationalism in schools. "Religious School" actually means something a little different over here to the US at least - no idea about the Canadian educational system - and I have much less of an issue with our variant, but yeah. They're wrong and shouldn't be allowed for exactly my reasons above.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMHere is where we differ. Constant communication from man to god - prayer - is important as is from god to man - ongoing revelation. Because the sole goal isn't to have infodumped everything on man in the first century AD, there's a benefit to an ongoing presence of God in our lives (you know, to me obviously). So this may well have been a mistake in my example. Better to say the message grows and expands over time - nothing that is said is unsaid but Alice wants to know that Bob, Charlie, etc, continue to listen to her so adds more and more into the message over time (as I say, she knows its been received and she isn't swamping earlier bits).
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMLets say SETI changes focus and starts being more active. It beams pulses of radio waves - lets say in prime numbers - to likely looking exoplanets. It doesn't matter when they aliens hear it, which aliens hear it or whether they get the whole message or just 2-17.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMI think the bulk of that argument was aimed at someone who's not me. I'm not a Biblical literalist. Some of the verifiable physical claims that are made in the Bible were intended as etiology and not meant to be read literally - modern day literalists are reading it objectively incorrectly there. The ones that weren't, and I freely admit there are some that weren't, may well have represented cutting edge science in Bronze Age Israel but now look kinda naive.Seperate magisteria isn't quite my position - as I say, my position is that science is by its very in-universe nature not an appropriate tool for ananlysing out of universe things - but I will admit the two are related. I see no issue.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMFor the record my position is that the Bible is infallible in matters related to salvation, not that it is inerrant. Returning to Paul and homosexuality, I think there are quite a lot of sections that are in error.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMThis has the strong potential to come across as an attack on you, and I want to preface by saying its not intended as such and I'll do all I can do make it clear.A common complaint against religious people relates to goalpost moving. Here, what has quite clearly happened is that as the conversation has shifted you've been forced to amend a previous statement. Which would be viewed as reasonable. But so often when a religious person does the same then they are meet with cries of "You're moving the goalposts" rather than an understanding that previous statements may well have been incomplete or incorrect. Fundamental attribution error.As I say, its not something I'm accusing you, Ephiral, of. Simply an extremely annoying tendency I've seen from atheists that this reminded me of.*climbs down from soapbox, cries when notices that two successive sentences have not only been ended with a preposition but ended with the same preposition*
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMBut OK. You and I have a codebook. If I PM you with "pictureframe" it means I've posted in this dialogue and its your turn to respond. If I PM you with "beer bottle" it means I've seen a shiny butterfly I want to chase so my reply might take a while. Leaving aside the terrifying insight into my desk implicit there, if you lose that code book and I PM you with "ashtray" then we have a) a good faith attempt to communicate from both sides but that b) has failed due to the fault of the receiver.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AM[/i]I would disagree, I don't think it is unsupported by observed facts any more than your proposal. You are saying all three of my terms are elements of a whole, I am saying there are two mechanisms. I don't see how my explanation is more or less supported by yours. The message length and explanatory power I'll agree to, but I'm not certain that makes the claim extraordinary.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMBut you've failed to prove that humans can imagine real things before being exposed to them. Medieval Europe told no tales of the aardvark nor did the Iroquois Confederacy gather round campfires to hear legends of the horse. So firstly, the statement that my idea is that God is in a seperate class doesn't hold up.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMSecondly even if those could be shown (which to the best of my knowledge they can't), as I've said before - in a vast number of cases when something appears to be in a special class its because we haven't fully understood the classes, which is precisely what I'm proposing here.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMThere is actually some evidence that thinking about God produces unusual brain activity. I'll happily admit that study is not the greatest, though, simply the greatest I know of.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 07:41:58 AMOK, I can accept this. I do feel it's a little, well, unfair though. Religion is criticised for not making solid disprovable claims, and then when it does they are dismissed as not worthy of disproving for not reaching a higher level of probability. I get the purpose of science isn't to be fair, but that does seem a particularly low blow.
Quote from: EphiralAll right, so God is continuing to transmit - and knows that, as of right now, we have the capacity to understand messages with complex features like blockwise integrity and hashing. So why are these features not being used to drastically increase the signal:noise ratio, and thus massively increase the bandwidth at which God can transmit while reducing the number of times the same message needs to be transmitted? The method you propose is far, far more work-intensive on both sides of the equation, slower, and far less likely to get good results.
Quote from: EphiralIt matters when and how clear, at the very least. If they hear it before they've figured out how to pinpoint the source, they're screwed. If there is so much noise that they cannot distinguish it from randomness, they're screwed.Also, the numbers being transmitted aren't really the message. The message is "We are here! Talk to us!". It's a handshake, not a message per se.
Quote from: EphiralBut you also seem to view science as a poor tool for judging anything that has ever had contact with an out-of-universe phenomenon, even if it is entirely in-universe now. This is where I have issue. Something that is entirely contained within this universe - a received message, for instance - can be studied using the tools we use to study things-of-this-universe. Even if it didn't obey the laws of the universe, that would be something that would be highly informative, which science could tell us.
Quote from: EphiralI may have misunderstood Paul, then; I thought that "you shall not be saved if you commit these acts" was implicit in his message.
Quote from: EphiralI understand your frustration, so let me open by making the distinction explicit: I was wrong in my first formulation. You satisfied its criteria; hit scored. My second attempt at formulation is trying to correct my original error.To me, at least, the key element in goalpost shifting is the refusal to acknowledge the above. You didn't really meet the goal because of previously unspecified criterion X. That, frankly, is rankest bullshit. You are absolutely not guilty of it, but I do see it from religious debaters very frequently. Cries of "goalpost shifting!" are often (by no means always) warranted.
Quote from: EphiralThis may seem a little meta, but I'd argue that it is the fault of the transmitter in choosing an extremely fragile protocol.
Quote from: EphiralWhat justification is there for carving pattern recognition into two separate categories? I'm not seeing one that can be derived from the observable data.
Quote from: EphiralFirst: In !God-world, God is not real, so imagining him does not require the ability to imagine real things before encountering them. .
Quote from: EPareidolia is facierror. Period. The other two - conceding God for the sake of argument - are the pattern recognition engine firing as it ought; pareidolia is what happens when this tool is applied to meaningless input. So... why would something that makes us prone to seeing invisible agency everywhere, not just where God is actually doing shit, be a requirement of being in God-world but not of being in !God-world? As I said, all it seems to accomplish is undermining the credibility of those who believe in Him.
Quote from: KSorry, that wasn't quite what I was trying to say. What I'm trying to say is that your argument rests on those three phenomena being related, being three facets of the same mental mechanism. I contend there are actually two there - the flipsides of Tigrisvidocy/Facierror and then, separate, deosense. So why does deosense say that thunder spirits are angry hence rain? An incomplete nature of the understanding of God. Both science and religion end the belief in the thunder spirits - be that by missionaries pointing out its wrong or hypothetical science missionaries doing same.
Quote from: ESo pareidolia exists in both worlds. In that case, the only way that !God-world would fail to have religion is if God is a concept that cannot possibly come from the human imagination. That... strikes me as an extremely bold claim to make.
Quote from: KRegardless of its boldness, it is precisely my claim. !God world would have no religion because religion is an unconscious drive towards God. Lacking His presence means, well, His presence is lacking.
Quote from: EActually, all I'm asserting is that the idea of God is not in a special class separate from every other idea that has ever passed through a human brain, and that the human brain can encompass counterfactuals. This fits all observed phenomena of which I am aware, is practically falsifiable (does the brain work significantly differently when we think "God", in a way we cannot reproduce with other subjects or other means?), and fulfils minimum message length in a way your offering does not. As for what evidence I would accept: The brain-function test, above, would be a huge pile of evidence, Bayesian and scientific alike.
Quote from: KBut you've failed to prove that humans can imagine real things before being exposed to them. Medieval Europe told no tales of the aardvark nor did the Iroquois Confederacy gather round campfires to hear legends of the horse. So firstly, the statement that my idea is that God is in a seperate class doesn't hold up.
Quote from: EphiralFirst: In !God-world, God is not real, so imagining him does not require the ability to imagine real things before encountering them.
Quote from: EphiralNecessary to your proposal is a justification for those class barriers; I don't see one that holds up at this point.
Quote from: EphiralThis fails basic rigor: What happens when atheists meditate? What about when astronauts have that life-changing look back at Earth? When non-religious people who are overawed by the majesty of the cosmos think about that? It is shown that this is different but not unique, which was a key point of the criteria I outlined.This is me not taking cheap shots at the Daily Mail. Aren't I mature?
Quote from: EphiralI don't see how it's unfair; I use the exact same reasoning to dismiss pseudoscientific claims. If you can't tell me why your idea is more likely to be true than literally every other idea possible, then I don't see why I should ascribe any more truth value to it than every other idea possible.
Quote from: Hypothetical ChristianChristianity is true
Quote from: Hypothetical AtheistThe problem is that religion doesn't make falsifiable claims
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMI'm sorry, there's a little too much jargon there for me to answer. I googled some key terms but then got caught in a wikipedia rabbit hole as I then was forced to look up terms in the explanation of the orginal terms and then terms in those second explanations and...Is there any way that can be rephrased?
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMScrewed is perhaps a little strong, and I would say even in the "before they can pinpoint the source" there is still a lot to be gained from the fact that such a message exists. It kinda feels like we're dancing around an underlying issue here but I can't really place it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMYes, I do (view science as a poor tool for etc etc etc). The way the message propogates in universe - reading the writings of the original receivers for example - is entirely susceptible to information theory. However, my point is that the traversal of the barrier fundamentally alters it enough that anything that has crossed that barrier retains - is contaminated by, you could say - out of worldness.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMAnd yes. It would be highly informative. Which yes, science could tell us. Two problems there, though. One, we can't directly interact with the message and two, presumably, the claim that it is altered is so extraordinary that you feel it not worth investigating with science.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMI suspect there's an element of confirmation bias here, I overremember the times its inappropriately levied, you the times it isn't.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMAnd if you thought up the protocol based on objects on your desk (half-finished poem about Kythia, dogeared copy of Spinoza's Ethics, machine for sucking all the joy and wonder out of the world and reducing it to cold numbers)? Would I still be in fault for agreeing to your fragile protocol?
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMOnce again, my issue here is that I believe you're being constrained by existing definitions. You're talking about carving pattern recognition into two but that only exists as a factor because it is currently defined as one. Remove that definition, or accept it could be wrong, and your objection fades.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMWe were talking about the ability of humans to imagine God and my claim that he was unaproachable to the human imagination. I don't really see the relevance of this point? It seems like I've already addressed it by specifically stating that I don't believe he is imaginable without being real?
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMNo, thats the inverse of my point. You claimed that that would require God to be in a seperate class, I claimed we hadn't defined the class barriers correctly. A justification for the class barrier is necessary to your proposal, I think they should be changed.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMOh, I know, I know. As I say, not the greatest, just the greatest I know of. To be honest its been sat in a folder on my desktop where I keep shit I really must get around to looking in to at some point for quite some time. While that research may exist - though frankly I doubt it - I'm certainly not aware of it and a brief googling didnt pull it up. I just raised it as it seemed relevant as a starting point.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMBecause a third of the world's population is Christian. While numbers don't define truth, I would suggest that any standard of "important enough to check" that rules the opinions of a third of the world out may well be flawed. That's why I feel it's worth checking.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 04:21:47 PMThe reason I feel its unfair is because a standard dialogue - not you at all here - goes:It seems like you're adding on to that "And even if it did we wouldn't bother checking them because we don't think they're likely". Which is just making the charge about falsifiable claims utterly unanswerable.
Quote from: EphiralWithout getting into specifics: We can equip the receiver with the means to determine if an error has occurred, and where the fault is to a fairly high degree of precision. This helps limit the amount of noise that can possibly muddy our signal. The amount of noise determines how fast you can communicate and how much effort this requires. God is not using these methods to communicate more easily or clearly. This seems like a Big Problem, if you think that God loves you and wants you to grok his message.
Quote from: EphiralYes, there is information to be gleaned from the existence of this message. This information has nothing to do with the content of the message. I don't think that's the case here - I presume you're not arguing that the actual message of Scripture is irrelevant?
Quote from: EphiralI... don't see the justification for this. If it retains out-of-worldness, it should behave in ways that information theory tells us is impossible. I don't see any such behaviour without sinking into circular logic.
Quote from: EphiralPartial plaintexts are still extremely informative, even in extremely small scraps. Unless you're willing to argue that not one word of the message has been deciphered thus far, lacking the original message is not an impediment to at least some forms of analysis.
Quote from: EphiralThis might sound like I'm shifting things again, but there's a counterbalancing factor that can make an extraordinary claim worth testing: If the test requires trivial effort as compared to the potential payoff. I don't particularly care to measure "proof of some form of deity" offhand as a potential payoff, but... suffice to say it's huge. Given a simple test, it's worth doing. This leaves me at "In what way can we confirm that scripture violates information theory?"
Quote from: EphiralNot really, because that question holds for any categorical boundary. "Why here?" These things have more properties in common than distinct, so why are we dividing them at this point?
Quote from: EphiralThen I ask, why not? We imagine unreal things all the time; what makes this different?
Quote from: EphiralUm. One of us is not understanding the other here, and I'm not sure which. My proposition:
Quote from: EphiralYeah, see... to me, that's a poor argument for the atheist. I don't think it's particularly unfair to correct it. Again, I hold other ideas to the same standard - even actual scientific hypotheses have to pass the "Why should we treat this as more likely than 'a wizard did it'?" test. Then we get to the question of "How can we test the truth-value of this statement?". From my perspective, all things asserted as true or potentially true have to pass through both stages.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMRight, I get you. Sorry for being dense, just try to pretend you're talking to an idiot.And I think I've put my finger on the underlying issue I mentioned earlier. See, analysing this from an information theory perspective is a mistake. I'm stating how I believe the message is transmitted, you're saying that's incompatible with information theory. Well, the intent isn't to confirm or disprove information theory. I get that you're simply using as one of a number of tools, but I feel its an inappropriate one. Information theory was developed for how humans transmit information. But thats simply not what we're talking about. You say you don't see how to reconcile my statements of how the message is received with information theory, and I think we've fallen into a "when all you have is a hammer" problem here. I realise its a particular interest of yours but its simply not an appropriate tool. I say that the crossover of the barrier affects the message giving it the same characteristics as God, you say information theory still applies. You don't however, I presume at least, claim that thermodynamics applies to ensoulment. But there's exactly the same barrier crossing there. You don't, I presume, claim that aerodynamics applies to souls ascending to heaven, but there's the same barrier crossing there, albeit in the opposite direction. You don't I presume wonder why ceilings don't block God's observation of our sins. But you seem to be saying that information theory definitely applies despite it being analogous to every other human/divine interaction. It almost seems like you're defining information theory as a goal in itself, when it isn't.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMSure, we can disagree on whether a message is being transmitted and received. I say it is, you presumably say it isn't. That's an important discussion. But whether God is using a specific method to "communicate more easily and clearly" seems like the scientific equivalent of angels dancing on a pin. It's a side issue.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMNo, of course not. I was simply pointing out that your "why bother communicating at all" had easy to point to counter examples.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMSee, this is kind of what I was talking about. I've said that the message is received across generations, languages and continents without using any aspects of information theory efficiency. You say that that makes it impossible to distinguish it from noise. Well, there's your impossible right there. The key issue is whether a message is being received or not. I think your interest in information theory has led us up a bit of a dead end here.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMI state that the message is received in the way I state. You say that information theory doesn't permit that. So if I'm right then the proof is inherent from an information theory perspective, if you're right (and there is no information being transmitted) then information theory is irrelevant. Do you see what I'm getting at here?
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMThat depends on the specific meaning of some terms here. I'm claiming that the entire message has been understood. God doesn't send messages in English (or Aramaic, Latin, Greek, any of the hundreds of languages the Word could be spread from). So it depends on the specific meaning of plaintext, message and deciphered, I suppose.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMHere, information theory does seem an appropriate tool, contrary to what I said above. Sadly, I'll need to leave experimental design to you, lacking any knowledge in the field myself.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMHumans and chimpanzees have more properties in common than distinct, why are we defining them as different? Marble and granite. The Earth and Mars. Men and women. Tawny owls and Barn owls. Simply put, we define things based on their differences to similar things otherwise the only noun we'd really need is "stuff".Because dragons, unicorns and people who don't like me aren't God. I recognise you will probably find this circular but it does tie in to my previous point - God (gods) is categorically different to everything else by definition.
Quote from: Kythia on July 14, 2013, 10:19:44 PMFair enough. Thats not actually a position I'd come across before so it seems that part of my argument was aimed at someone who's not you.
Quote from: EphiralWell. Here's how I get there:God loves humans, and his message is important information for humanity. If it weren't, there would be no point in saying anything.Ergo God wants humans to get this message, as a significant priority.God might be capable of doing anything outside the universe, but inside the universe, communication intended for receipt and comprehension by a human being behaves in certain predictable patterns.We have measures of exactly how some of these predictable patterns work - what a message that will be easily read and comprehended by humans would look like, and how to send one with minimal effort. Messages which do not fit certain of these patterns will not be comprehensible, or will be prone to severe distortion and loss.Why is it a bad idea to look for these patterns, or a message that clearly was intended for human receipt and is resistant to corruption or loss but does not exhibit them?
Quote from: EphiralWell. From my perspective, there is a message in scripture, which obeys info theory as we know it. To me it seems you are saying that there is a side-channel message being transmitted through the way what we call "scripture" changes over time, which parts of Biblical history get emphasized and which forgotten. Through what lessons we take away from it over time. I'm saying "Well, if there is, let's go looking for it" and hearing "No, we can't."
Quote from: EphiralCounter example. If you are able to transmit a message, but not make that message's content distinguishable from noise (nor, presumably, reliably communicate via turning your transmission on and off, because from that, you're back to sending clear messages), then you are limited to a single bit. Barring another, clearer channel where you say what that one bit means, all you can possibly communicate with it is "I exist and can transmit this." If that's the message, then Scripture accomplishes it and there's no need for an ongoing message.
Quote from: EphiralI'm saying that even the ways it has been understood over time and generations are semi-predictable - we can track how ideas spread about God vs how ideas spread about, say, agriculture. If there is a communication about God outside of Scripture, regardless of source, we should expect ideas about God to spread with unusual speed and clarity, or in the same form from multiple groups that weren't communicating via the channels we can measure. These are still things we can look for. If they appear, then there's some solid evidence for your case; if not, then your case doesn't appear to hold.
Quote from: EphiralI'm not saying it doesn't permit that. It does. It's just that that method is extremely poor, and why would a God who a) wants his message received and b) is presumably of above-human intelligence and therefore capable of doing the math trivially, do things this way?
Quote from: EphiralI put these together, because they are basically the same point. You are saying here that ideas-about-God are a separate category from ideas-about-stuff. I'm looking for exactly what makes them so - what traits separate ideas-about-God from ideas-about-stuff? You must think ideas-about-God are different in some way, because they do not exist in a world without God, but... I don't see in what way they are different. This is getting a bit repetitive, so I'll stop now.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMBecause that argument is analogous to:God loves humans and wants them to have souls.Ergo, ensoulment is a significent priorityGod might be capable of doing anything outside the universe, but inside the universe inserting something into a body leaves physical tracesWe have xray devices and scanners that can show evidence of some forms of insertion of something into a body. If the skin is not broken in all children then clearly ensoulment occurs through mouth/nostrils/ears/vagina.etc. Children born without one of those orifices or with them otherwise sealed will be incapable of being Christians.Why is it a bad idea to check children born with birth defects for religious belief? Because that is simply not how it works. I am under the impression you would acccept that? So why then are you priviling information theory - saying ensoulment can happen through some mechanism invisible to science but human/divine communication - which is exactly the same thing - must occur in a way we can understand.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMI'm not saying no you can't, I'm saying you're trying to force an inappropriate tool to be the one that looks for it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMNot at all. The first commandment is essentially "I exist and am capable of transmitting this." Scripture was given to specific individuals in a specific time and place, there is a still a value to that constant transmission of "Still here, guys". Not that I'm claiming that is all there is, just that even if that was all there is it would still be a very valuable message.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMYour problem there, I would suspect, will be that while ideas travel they can also be thought up independantly. Agriculture existed in both the old world and new and none but the craziest of crazies attribute that to external forces spreading the idea. And because receipt isn't perfect, as I've said multiple times, it would be difficult to say that cases of independant thought (in religion I mean here) that aren't identical are elements of something different - just as old world agriculture and new world had (presumably, no idea, tbh) differences but are still both recognisable as agriculture.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMGod is, as you say, of above-human intelligenceThe way He transmits his message looks inefficient by our current understandingHence our current understanding is wrong.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMOur tools analyse all messagesThe stated way of God transmitting his message appears bad/inefficient to our toolsErgo, God - at a minimum - is not all He's cracked up to be on the intelligence front.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMThey are restatements of the same point, yes. And I agree, when a discussion reaches the point where seperate questions can be answered with little more than "ditto" it may well be that there's nothing more productive to say on that point. There are perhaps other points I could tease out - it seems to me a little that you're conflating "imagining" new things and "predicting" new things in your arguments but I'm honestly of the opinion it would do little good. You?
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMThat you felt there weren't. Obviously I took slight issue with the "aided" there but I think (correct me if Im wrong) that that can be replaced with a "substantially benefitted, to an extent greater than any other method" without too drastic a change in meaning. My example was moral questions. Your personal code may not require them but my submission is that a) the global project of "converting" - for want of a better word - the entire population to that is not viable and will, I think we can agree on this, take some considerable time in any case and further b) I actually don't - personally - approve of a global project to convert people to a different thought system.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMSo given that, in the near future at least, there will be a substantial number of people who don't share your distaste of emotional reasoning bereft of an evidence based approach - or at a minimum are willing to accept "This sickens me so it is wrong" as evidence, contrary to you - therefore there will for the foreseeable future be people whose moral code isn't based on evidence, or is based on evidence you wouldn't accept as such.We agree those people can function identically in moral decisions to you, your sole objection being that they are "not engaging their brain". I don't believe that's necessary (in the strict sense) for moral behaviour.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 11:31:08 AMSo, in summation, I believe the non-evidence based approach can produce identical benefits to the evidence based one in moral questions and, as such, those questions are not "substantially benefitted, to an extent greater than any other method" by an evidence based approach.
Quote from: EphiralBecause we don't have a coherent definition for "soul" - it is not understood and clearly demonstrable, to use your example, that a soul is a macroscale physical object foreign to the human body. Therefore, your check is useless. Information, on the other hand, is something we do have definite, observable traits for. Ensoulment can happen through mechanisms unknown because the soul is a subject unknown.
Quote"For when God speaks to man in this way, he does not need the medium of any material created thing. He does not make audible sounds to bodily ears; nor does He use the kind of 'spiritual' intermediary which takes on a bodily shape... But when God speaks in the way we are talking of, He speaks by the direct impact of the truth, to anyone who is capable of hearing with the mind instead of with the ears of the body."
Quote"It was through that Wisdom that all things were made; and that Wisdom 'passes' also into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets, and tells them, inwardly and soundlessly, the story of God's works."
Quote from: EphiralI don't see how we can find information except by using the tools we use to find information.
Quote from: EphiralActually, that's why I picked agriculture as an example: It came up independently in a whole bunch of different cultures, because those cultures were all exposed to edible plants and conditions that encouraged cultivation. We should expect the same idea to be developed independently by groups that were exposed to the conditions that give rise to that idea. You say God is communicating via side-channels other than Scripture, so where are the cultures that came up with an idea recognizable as the Christian God before being introduced to them via the normal channels?
Quote from: EphiralOr your understanding of the transmission is wrong, or the messages are not being transmitted as you claim, or God is fallible. Your logic only works by privileging your understanding above other hypotheses that fit the facts equally.
Quote from: EphiralI have probably overstated that specific conclusion. Others are equally valid; the key point was that the model you are proposing has serious problems that put several of its tenets at odds with each other.It's not that we're missing something about this method, either - we're familiar with the sort of transmission scheme you propose. We abandoned it for good reasons.
Quote from: EphiralGenerally agreed, but I'm a touch curious on that point. What is the difference between imagining something you have never seen that fits a very specific set of constraints, and predicting something based on that same set of constraints?
Quote from: EphiralI'm kinda curious on your point b here. It has, at some stage, been accepted by pretty much every culture that treating another human being as property was an okay thing to do, and sometimes even a moral obligation. Most of us are getting away from that, and exerting active pressure on others to abandon it. This is a pretty radical change in thought - it requires a complete restructuring of how you look at the Other, of a significant portion of your society, and of your economic model. I presume you don't object to this on principle?
Quote from: EphiralAnd there's the difference - "identical". While it is theoretically possible for a system from poor priors to spit out the same results in every case, the chance of that occurring is 1/<the total number of possible outputs for every ethical system imaginable>. I don't have hard data on that number, but I feel safe in asserting that it is basically negligible.
QuoteI accept your (or what I presume will be your) point that worshipped gods vary arguably as wildly across
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMBut we only have a coherent definition for God's communication with man because you define it, repeatedly, as information and are insisting it must work the same way. You could, with the same justification, define souls as a physical thing - hell, there are some Christian sects that do that. You could say that, in this universe, things being put into a body leave a trace. It doesn't even have to macroscopic, there are blood tests, DNA tests, presumably some sort of nervous system test that could distinguish between in vitro fetuses and living children and look for the presence of a soul.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMMy point is that you are willing to concede souls work differently to everything science knows but not willing to concede that communication could as well. I'm not sure if part of the problem here is one of language? That using words such as "communication" to refer to the way God...errr...makes his message known to man makes it sound closer to the mundane, information-theory-applicable communication inter-humanity. while the fact that a seperate term - soul - exists for the travelling body in ensoulment makes it clear we are not talking about something "physical"
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMWell, the problem we face there is that the best source of information about the spread of early Christianity is Acts and the Pauline epistles which are hardly unbiased (though not, funnily enough, in the direction you might think. Paul took credit for founding essentially every single church, even ones its almost certain he didn't) and the best source about medieval spread is Catholic missionaries who made a positive fetish out of claiming to have discovered previously unknown conclaves of Christians that had never been preached to. In the modern day the question is clearly moot, there are so few people in the world who could reasonably claim never to have heard of Christianity that any such claim is pretty much instantly dismissable. The only counter examples that come to me are the various amazon tribes who keep showing up, who haven't progressed beyond animism.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMOh, related: People, universally, show a progression from animism or totemism to ploytheism to monotheism. I know the religious justification for this but am not sure it's overly relevant, there's no scientific consensus. There are, however, no exceptions. As civilisation progresses, religions follow that progression - sometimes the "old" form dies out and is replaced, sometimes it simply "evolves". It's claimed (usually incorrectly to the point of desperation, though there are a few instances that are bit more questionable) that there's evidence of this drift in the Old Testament. Dismissing it is trivial - we know from textual analysis that the text changed frequently, as monotheism took over its reasonable to assume that the text would have been altered to remove polytheistic references. If it wasn't, it frankly raises more questions than it answers given the sheer amount of revisions on other matters that were made.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMThis only starts to break down in the nineteenth century as some new religious movements started then, from a monotheistic background, embraced polytheism. For a 20th century example, see Gardnerian Wicca.But meh. Thats a side issue.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMWell, yes. Thats kinda precisely what I was saying, although I admit that not being able to think of the word at the time I was typing may ha"ve made that unclear. Ha, and I've also just noticed that I made a typo in it and said I can think of the word at the moment" when I meant can't which frankly cant have made it any clearer.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMAgain, its the premise I object to not the conclusion.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMWell, thats why I say you're conflating. There is no difference, they're both predictions. Its when it has no constraints or extremely few - cultures were free to not come up with a god, for example - that it becomes imagination.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMI do. Just because I agree with the thought process being enforced doesn't mean I agree with enforcing thought processes. I don't think Christianity should be enforced, I don't think feminism should be enforced, I don't think the belief that Kythia is the pinnacle of human perfection and she be worshipped as a Queen should be enforced (although in the last case its largely because it would be redundant. Anyone can see that, enforcing it is a waste of everyone's time)Activate to change it, by all means. Evangelize in religious terms, raise awareness or similar in secular. Sure. But when it becomes enforced it crosses a moral event horizon. For me, at least. Perhaps I phrased that badly in referring it to a "global project" - I was referring to teaching it in schools and the like by that.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMOne - I return to my proposed "PM Ephiral to check" moral code.
Quote from: Kythia on July 15, 2013, 09:55:06 PMTwo - hmmm, this is a little awkward. You asked for an example of a question that wasn't aided by evidence based reasoning. I gave one. I realise that you weren't phrasing a law or anything like that and I don't want to hold you to a question you likely hammered out in a matter of seconds. But, well, the requirement for it to occur in a non-basically-neglible number of cases didn't, to me, form part of the question. If you want to add that to the wording then thats groovy (and I refer you to (1)), I have zero interest in forcing you to stand by every single word you've said. Some may have been hastily or incompletely formed, others you may have changed your mind on during the course of this conversation. If I've misunderstood and you had meant that to be implied then I apologise for misreading you and not catching that implication.
Quote from: EphiralSo the problem is that you think there are problematic concepts bundled up in "information", and I don't see how communication is not communication because we tack "God's" on the front of it. I propose rationalist taboo: I'll drop "information" and all synonyms from my vocabulary, and you drop "communication" and all synonyms from yours. Now: What are you talking about? What traits does it actually have? The thing I'm talking about is some signal by which things not previously known by a human can be imparted to that human, and spread from one human to another. As such, it must be comprehensible by the human brain and representable by human language and communication. Is there any disagreement here?
Quote from: EphiralWe have at least three other excellent sources of information: Archaeological evidence, trade records from the era (these are very often extremely detailed and do a good job of showing who was talking to whom), and the actual records of these outsider cultures
Quote from: EphiralI appreciate you not just pointing to these medieval accounts as a fait accompli.
Quote from: EphiralI am not entirely sure what you mean by "people" here. Clearly it is not individuals, but it isn't exactly nations or cultures either. Can you clarify? The point is interesting, and I would like to address it.
Quote from: EphiralYou don't get to define something as "this happens, no exceptions" and then acknowledge that exceptions exist without abandoning your original point.
Quote from: EphiralI... I really don't want to be insulting here, but... it sounds like you start by defining a statement as true, and then building your view of reality around accepting only concepts which uphold that statement, regardless of whether they match reality. This is a poor way to understand the world-as-is, and a very good way to go extremely far off the rails extremely quickly.
Quote from: EphiralThe premise is "Humans have used the transmission protocol you described before." This is true. From that, we gret that humans stopped using it because it was extremely poor at actually communicating. The medium might be different, but I'm talking about the protocol - whether you use pulses of light or electricity or magnetic bits or ink on cellulose pulp or timed smoke clouds or furrows in dirt or scratches in clay or direct beaming to the brain is irrelevant to why this is a poor idea.
Quote from: EphiralAll right, then. I'll abandon scientific predictions as an example and turn to science fiction. We have a lot of examples there of elements that were imagined for the sake of telling a good story, which we know for certain exist now. This was in a system which, by your definition, has no constraints - they were free to not write a story, after all, or to write a different one.
Quote from: EphiralTime to bite the bullet: You are stating an objection to human rights laws.
Quote from: EphiralAnd it fails to provide the same output as my system in every situation because a) sometimes my reasoning is flawed, b) I am not a paragon of morality even as I understand it, c) I will likely get bored and stop responding very quickly, and d) before C happens, I might decide to respond badly in a relatively harmless way to demonstrate the failings of this system to you.Preemptive response to your expected response to point A: Yeah, sometimes I screw it up. Other people help correct me, either by showing my flaws directly (if they use the same system) or by providing a differing perspective that causes me to reevaluate. The system did not provide the wrong answer; I failed to use it or use it properly.
Quote from: EphiralOkay, I admit I screwed up there. "Negligible chance" is as close as I get to "no chance", because 0 and 1 are infinities in probability, and screwy things happen when you start using them casually. So I kinda took it as read that the brute-force approach - try all possible ethical systems until you arrive at a collision - was not on the table. I would like to specify an additional criterion in light of this: Humans, with whatever tools you care to give them, should be reasonably likely (lower bound 50.1%, say) to find the superior non-evidence-based approach before... let's say the death of Earth. This cuts off brute-force approaches on a nigh-infinite search space, but I figure it should leave you a reasonable amount of wiggle room.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMOnly a minor one. I have no issue as I think I've mentioned with information theory being applied to the spread from human to human. I'd draw the boundary a bit tighter at: "The thing I'm talking about is some signal by which things not previously known by a human can be imparted to that human" if that's agreeable?
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMAre we happy to proceed?
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMHence "best" not "only"
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMYeah, I deliberately used a relatively nebulous term here as if there is a precise anthropological term then I'm not aware of it.The way it was explained to me is as follows:Let's imagine that reincarnation is true. You are born, thousands of years ago, in, for the sake of argument, London (the area we in the present day would call London). When you die, your consciousness is immediately transferred to a baby born in London. And so on, until the present day. You're a celt, then a roman, then a romano-britain, then English then British. THe language you speak evolves and is occasionally replaced wholesale, ditto for your religious beliefs. It's that stream of individuals I'm talking about. Inhabitants of a place is perhaps the closest I can get to it. Does that make sense?
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMThey're not exceptions. The progression holds true without exception, my point was that there was/is an emerging trend that may be the start of a next stage - animism -> polytheism -> monotheism -> polytheism.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMRather I think there is an element of bad faith here. Not malicious per se simply that these systems are "made up" rather than "believed" - by the creators at least. Gardner is a prime example here. In essence, I believe they have tried to construct a religion rather than developed one, if you can get the distinction I'm drawing. It's interesting to note that many of these harken back to (hideously mangled) versions of earlier belief systems - Garnder and his almost complete lack of understanding of Celtic beliefs for example - or syncretism - voodoo, say.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMHmmm. I don't think I've made any statements that are contradicted by reality (or, provably so, leaving aside a presumed objection that "God exists" is contradicted by reality). Further I've made a couple of statements of potential aspects of reality that would, if shown, be a body blow to my beliefs. I'm not certain that charge is well founded, to be honest.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMAgain, I think you're being a little disingenuous there. There is self evidently a premise behind the one you state - some variant of "This is a transmission protocol recognisable by and understandable to humans" Thats the one I object to. Before you can state that transmission protocol has been used, you need to state that its usable.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMYeah, pretty much. Once the constraints get tight enough to start cutting off vast swathes then it becomes prediction, while they're loose it's imagination.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMYes, obviously. I'm not certain what you're getting at here? Is it simply confirming I agree with the extrapolation of my ideas?
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMA and B seem out of context. My point was that that system gave exactly the same answers as the one you, personally, have deduced through an evidence based approach, not that it gave an infallible moral system.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AMFair enough. There's probably something about automatic fight/flight type responses but A) that strikes me as a conversation I'm not overly interested in and B) it seems somewhat outside the scope of your question anyway. Let me put a bit of thought into this. I have a few gut feelings around certain areas - marriage and population migration are the two strongest but I'm struggling around a few issues on each of them - arranged marriages for political purposes and whether economic analysis would yield similar/better results to a desire to be somewhere else respectively, should you care. I'll develop those a little, with your permission, and put forwards any I feel are strong.
Quote from: EphiralThat's fine, though it makes me curious as to what the point of evangelism is if the message can't be shared
Quote from: EphiralUm, sort of, but I think you're suffering from the vagueness of your concept, there. For one thing, it imagines lines of descent even when they're clearly broken - by this understanding, "inhabitants of Newfoundland" would have a line of descent that went "Native-Viking-Native-English", despite there being no meaningful connection between steps 1, 2, and 3.
Quote from: EphiralI could just as easily, and I think more justifiably, propose that if such a chain exists, it goes animism-polytheism-monotheism-nonbelief. We're about 14% of the population, a number that is on the rise and tends to spike higher in nations with strong ties to Christianity, and the overwhelming majority of nonbelievers, on an individual level (and thus showing a clear line of descent), come from a religious background - disproportionately a Christian one, in places where Christianity has taken root in a significant way. This seems to be a problem with your "all religions are working toward Christianity" concept.
Quote from: EphiralFirst: Voodoo is a spectacularly poor example for your case. It is descended from a polytheistic system, and did not abandon that. Its practitioners were introduced to monotheism, and told to believe under pain of pretty much any punishments their owners could dream up - and rejected it. They took its trappings to avoid punishment, but at no point I can see did they ever actually decide that they were wrong on the whole "multiple deities" thing.
Quote from: EphiralYou have asserted things as fact that, if true, would have observable effects on reality. Those effects have not been observed despite us having the tools to spot them. Again, at the very least, we should be able to trace Christianity back to multiple distinct and separate roots if there were a "God exists!" message being transmitted to the species as a whole.
Quote from: EphiralYou... already specified the protocol. I was working strictly from your description of it. If you're abandoning that specification, fine, but I'd like to make it explicit. That said, a protocol must be understandable and recognisable to the receiving party, else the receiving party is unable to, y'know, receive messages. In layman's terms, you can't read a letter without being able to read the language it was written in, knowing where your mailbox is, and knowing how to open an envelope. You can't listen to the radio without some understanding that different frequencies will contain different messages. You can't get on the Internet without knowing what a computer looks like. You don't have to be able to explain protocol layers or build a TCP/IP stack from scratch, but you must be able to understand what communication looks like when you see or hear it, and how to be in a position to see or hear it.
Quote from: EphiralSo we've imagined things both real and unreal. Still not seeing a barrier to ideas-about-God existing in !God-world.
Quote from: EphiralPretty much. People often grow enamored of the benefits of their ideas without considering the downsides. It's fine to bite the bullet and say "Yes, this is an acceptable consequence"; the point is to make sure you're aware of the consequences you're accepting.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMErrrm, I mention in the very thing you quote that the message can be spread from human to human and information theory applies to that.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMI'm really not sure what to say to this Ephiral. It's not my concept, there are centuries dead historians you need to take that up with (along with almost unargued current academic consensus). If you object to the premise of the scholarship then there doesn't seem much point in explaining it. You, errrrm, you seem to be on auto-attack a little there?
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMMmmkay. Yes, you could just as easily make that claim. You can make whatever claims you wish. But I would argue that you would also need to explain why you are in the privileged position to come up with the idea when decades of scholarship hasn't. This is hardly state of the art. Im not claiming that new additions to an idea are impossible, but...
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMI think you have a western bias here. The samkhya and mimasa schools of hinduism are atheistic and developed alongside more theistic branches. The various proofs of God dating back centuries show that atheism was known. Jainism is arguably atheistic. Xenophanes in the 6th century BC was an atheist. Atheism has clearly evolved alongside religion, and hence doesn't form part of the progression.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMFurther, your argument doesn't even fit the facts. The world population is growing at 1.41%, several religions are growing faster than that, meaning that on current trends atheism seems to be shrinking as a percentage of the population even if growing in real terms (unless you are claiming that the bulk of that growth rate is that both e.g Christianity and atheism are winning converts from e.g Shinto?) Again, I suspect your position is coloured a little by a western bias there. All stats are from here
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMFinally, I have always heard atheism explicitly called out as "not a religion", your final sentence seems to be arguing that it is. Personally, I agree, but its not a claim I've heard come from atheists before.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMI struggle to see the relevance of this point. I said voodoo was a syncretic polytheistic religion that had developed relatively recently and not, I felt, based on a genuine belief in its gods. You seem to agree? I'm not sure what you're getting at? It seems to me you think I'm saying that voodoo is monotheistic? If so then I apologise for being clear - that entire paragraph was, for the record, discussing bad faith belief as an aspect in the creation of recent polytheistic beliefs.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMWell, one you're trying to have your cake and eat it there, it seems. You can't argue, as you did in this post that you don't consider claims worth investigating then cry foul at me for making claims that haven't been investigated. That's precisely the unfairness I was talking about.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMTwo I am amazed to hear you claim that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMI've made repeated claims that are checkable against reality, you said I was arguing "regardless of whether they [my claims] match reality" and it does a seem a little like you've shifted your position to put on onus an me to prove the unproved claims rather than simply not make disproven ones. My theory fits all known facts and doesn't contradict any. It makes explicit predictions. What precisely do you want from me here.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMNo. This, again, is the point I keep making. You made the claim that information theory was applicable and hence what I was stating must, therefore, be translatable into information theory terminology. I didn't, in fairness to you, immediately notice the flaw with that position. But in your last post you agreed that a conversation stripped of information theory terminology would be more useful and then we are here again. Just because it works that way in human terms is no guarantee that it works that way in divine. Souls don't show up on x-rays but somehow "a protocol must be understandable and recognisable to the receiving party".
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PMCould you give me an example of an imagined real thing, just so I know percisely what we're talking about.
Quote from: EphiralApologies; I've not encountered it before. it still seems pretty flawed in light of cases like my example - yes, you can argue that a geographic region has ideas pop up in this pattern, but if there's no clear line of descent between the ideas, the idea that they're evolving or growing more refined from X to Y is laughable. It would be just as valid, on that basis, to claim that the Internet is the ultimate evolution of sheep-herding (IPoAC aside).
Quote from: EphiralI reject that "coming up with ideas" is a privileged position. An idea should be judged on its merits, not its origin; you are simply making an appeal to authority here.
Quote from: EphiralAnd monotheism has clearly evolved alongside polytheism, as evidenced by the fact that polytheistic belief systems bearing clear lines of descent to antiquity with no breaks still exist.
Quote from: Ephiral"Several" is, as you indicated, not conclusive if you're only judging lack of religion by negative inference. There's also the problem of defining "fastest growing" by percentage of the existing body of believers, which xkcd so wonderfully illustrates. Education and economic growth show a very direct correlation with lack of religious belief, on the other hand, which is pretty telling for the future. As for western bias: Are people in East Asia more or less likely to identify as nonreligious than westerners?
Quote from: EphiralI may have been unclear. My point was that "All religions are working toward their own obsolescence, Christanity included" would appear to be at least equally valid on the facts.
Quote from: EphiralNot based on a genuine belief in its gods? It was formed out of a desire to cleave to those gods despite extremely strong pressures to convert. What do you define as "genuine belief"?
Quote from: EphiralBut that's just it. Your claim carries, as a direct consequence, the idea that humans will interact with information and ideas in a way which violates the existing models. Human interaction of this type has been studied extensively, and found to fit the models - which is why the models haven't been discarded yet.
Quote from: EphiralAbsence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Absence of evidence when we're looking where that evidence should be does, however, drastically lower the likelihood that your proposal is correct.
Quote from: EphiralOkay, from my perspective: You are claiming that there is something imparting knowledge to humans which breaks all known models of human knowledge acquisition. You seem to take it as read that humans are acting on this knowledge. I am saying "Okay, so we should see human behaviour that breaks those models... but we don't seem to see that." You respond "Oh, no, those models are the wrong tools!" I ask what the right tools are, and you seem to be saying "Start from the assumption that I'm correct, and it all makes sense." But... even if we assume you are correct, as long as humans are acting based on the knowledge imparted to them, this should show as the models grow increasingly unreliable and are discarded.
Quote from: EphiralThis... isn't exactly information theory terminology. This is how perception works. If you are illiterate, you cannot understand the written word. If you don't speak English, then the BBC is of little use to you without a translator. If you are colourblind, then any message written in one of those coloured-dot charts is lost on you. If you are deaf and blind, the world outside arm's reach might as well not exist for all it's going to be communicating with you. You have to be able to a) see the message in the first place, and b) translate from message-as-delivered into your brain.
Quote from: EphiralJules Verne came up with rocket-powered travel to other worlds, lunar landing modules, solar sails, submariens that didn't require human power, and deep ocean diving. Rogue planets pop up all over the place in science fiction; we discovered them in 2011. Otto Loewi quite literally dreamed up a proof that nerve impulses were chemical. August Kekulé came up with the structure of benzene the same way.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMIt seems there is a clear line of descent in the ideas. Excepting rare cases where a population has been literally exterminated and then the area resettled, there will always be other people there. Your reincarnated baby self absorbs values from the surrounding population, values which your now-dead former self helped to shape. And so on.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMNot quite. My issue is that I consider it more likely that scholars who have spent their lives looking at the idea have already come up with an objection - one you were able to think up within hours of hearing the idea - and answered it than that not being the case.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMNot within a people, though. Yes, there are a few extant polytheistic religions and considerably more animist ones. My point was, though, that alongside a given culture's dominant religion or religions there has always been a strand of atheism. However, its only once cultures started intermixing that there has existed a polytheistic strand alongside a dominant monotheism or vice versa and these are almost universally (I cant think of a counter example but its not actually important) idealogical imports.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMI actually have no idea, though I judge from the phrasing of your question that you do and they are.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMHow would you prefer lack of religion to be measured other than negative inference?
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMXkcd is funny, sure, but its a bit of a red herring because "fastest growing" forms no part of my claim whatsoever - simply that it is growing in absolute terms faster than the world's population.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PM"Genuine belief" isn't the point of rupture, here. "Its gods" is. You say yourself that various of the voodoo loa were traditional west african beliefs that were mixed up with and covered over by merging them with Catholic saints - well, you don't say precisely that but I think we can agree to it. I'm calling "its gods" as the syncretic product of that while, it appears to me, you are using that term to refer to the underlying traditional beliefs.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMCould you expand here a little. I think I see where we've diverged but I'm not sure. "Human interaction of this type" is my particular issue - what type precisely is "this type"?
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMI suspect I'm going to say that what has been studied extensively is inter-human communication of a type you are defining as similar, but I don't want to jump the gun too much.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMWith the best will in the world, I would also characterise your argument as of the "start from the assumption I'm correct" variety. You are stating that the models are applicable to this situation and that my position that they're not is incorrect. I think we may just both have to let that slide a little.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PM"How old are these models?" would be my main question. If you're arguing that they will grow increasingly unstable and that forms a detection mechanism I think its relevant whether they were developed yesterday or before recorded history. I'm not, just to allay any concerns, going to try to dick around and answer "well, thats not long enough" to simply any answer you give, I hope I've come across as arguing in better faith than that. But I do think the question is relevant. The system Im proposing, which works across multiple generations, would seem to need to be monitored across multiple generations at a minimum in order to cause a blip on the radar.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMTelepathy. Or, rather, the ability to place an idea in someone's brain, Im not 100% clear a) if there is a standard definition of telepathy and b) if, if there is, it includes that.
Quote from: Kythia on July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PMOK. I'm going to ignore Jules Verne for the moment. Just so you don't think I'm asking for an example then saying I'll ignore it (or, rather, just so you know why I've just done literally that):It seems there are two classes there. Verne imagined things that later became real, the other examples imagined things that were currently real but unknown. I think the conversation would get confusing if we were to discuss the two classes at the same time. Im more than happy to return to Verne, or even start with him - the decision was entirely arbitrary - but I do think its worth splitting them.Is that agreeable? I don't want to run roughshod over your examples here and start a conversation in, apparently, bad faith by having ruled out of bounds something essential to your argument.
Quote from: EphiralMmm... if it does acknowledge those cases as exceptions, then it does sound like you're talking about nations
Quote from: EphiralThen the appropriate response is "That has been addressed by X", not "You lack the proper credentials."
Quote from: EphiralA point I have been trying to make for some time now is that the source is irrelevant to the question of whether we can use evidence-based approaches to study the phenomenon, because the destination is always a human being, and we can study that side of the equation to learn things about the message.
Quote from: EphiralNot terribly, I'll admit. But... why is this relevant?
Quote from: EphiralBut... even if we assume you are correct, as long as humans are acting based on the knowledge imparted to them, this should show as the models grow increasingly unreliable and are discarded.
Quote from: Ephiralor God is forcing actions as well as thoughts
QuoteGod created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is "in the image of God"; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created "male and female"; (IV) God established him in his friendship.
Quote from: Kythia on July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AMMy major objection to that is that atheism has always existed as a strand of thought alongside religions and within the population the religion draws from, throughout at least polytheism and monotheism - the earlier societies tended to not have written records so its difficult to be sure there. By definition, though, the population of a religion has not had both polytheistic and monotheistic tendencies, the two are mutually incompatible.
Quote from: Kythia on July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AMPlease forgive the crudity of the graph, and the layout/represented percentages are for illustration only - especially the straight line of atheism's growth which clearly doesn't match historical trends and the hard cut offs between forms of religion which don't either. I'm simply trying to convey that I believe atheism is a separate trend that, while it may come to supersede religion, doesn't form part of the same process. An illustration would be a house. Over time an extension is added, a conservatory, a downstairs toilet. Then the house is knocked down and a motorway built in its place. The modifications to the house form part of an unbroken chain, the motorway is something replacing it.
Quote from: Kythia on July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AMYou are, of course, correct. I'm sorry.I'm never certain if an explanation cheapens an apology or not. I go to and fro on this matter. As you can tell by the way I'm about to launch into an explanation I am currently fro (or possibly to, I didn't really define my terms). If you feel it would cheapen it then I ask you not to read.As you're no doubt aware there is a widespread belief that the vocal atheist movement holds scholarship and academia from the humanities in contempt. I personally blame the influence of Dawkins here, but that is simply opinion. Regardless of its source, it can be seen repeatedly. Theology perhaps coming in for particular vitriol - leprechaunology - but the pattern holds across other areas as well. I have heard it suggested that some are so enamoured of the ability of science to derive a conclusion from first principles that they find irrelevant any discipline not based on the sciences which rings somewhat true for me, but that is again mere supposition.
Quote from: Kythia on July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AMQuite honestly, I didn't expect this to be a controversial point or to generate any discussion at all, let alone the amount it did. It seems clear that I view it as distinct enough from its origins to be called something different and you don't. In all honesty, I'm not certain it matters. I am hoping we can just agree to disagree on that rather than prolong a conversation that I strongly suspect neither of us have any real interest in.
Quote from: Kythia on July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AMMy apologies, I hadn't realised that was a point you were trying to make. We spent two pages discussing the necessity of the sender to develop good protocols, etc. and I think that amount of discussion on the source may have led me to miss the fact that your underlying point was that the source was irrelevant. I'm very sorry, I know that sounds sarcastic and I have written and rewritten the paragraph a few times to try to remove that but every new phrasing fails just as badly or worse. I mean to say that I think we may have allowed the conversation to become sidetracked, then, into a different issue that unfortunately obfuscated your main point a little.
Quote from: Kythia on July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AMYou state that the mechanism for seeing our models aren't applicable would be them increasingly growing unreliable. That "increasingly" seems to imply, to me at least, that you don't view this as an instantaneous matter. As such, it seems clear to me that the models must exist for a certain amount of time - I proposed a number of generations as the message itself spreads on the scale of generations - in order to see if they are, indeed, growing increasingly unreliable and being discarded. If I say that the test of my house building skills is that my houses don't fall down it would not be unreasonable to say that one must observe my houses for a period of time before conceding that point.
Quote from: Kythia on July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AMI lack the specialised vocabulary in this area and have thus made statements that are incorrect based on a stupid attempt to mimic yours. It does seem to me though that you're being intransigent in your insistence that the models of information theory apply. Many aspects of religion should have measurable effects given the current state of science - I return again to ensoulment - and I fail to see the distinction you draw between those and this. Throughout this thread I have explicitly raised any predictions that my beliefs lead to that are, in my opinion, checkable. This, Ephiral, either isn't or, at a minimum, I haven't understood your argument. We have been discussing, a side issue as I say, for some considerable time now though and I would submit that if this is the case we have both given it a good crack of the whip.
Quote from: Kythia link=topic=178506.msg8594768#msg8594768First, you could argue that while obviously we don't know anyone omniscient we do know people smarter, don't know anyone immortal we do know people older. That is to say the attributes of God are mere extrapolations rather than new characteristics. Varying in degree, not kind. This is a strong argument, in my opinion, and in the end comes down to a matter of line drawing. When does something become different enough from the original to become something else? It seems to me from our brief discussion of voodoo that you consider that to be quite some way further than I do, but absent an agreed on definition I'm not sure how much further we can progress there?
Quote from: Kythia link=topic=178506.msg8594768#msg8594768Second you might point to the stab we've taken at xenocreatures or Adams' hyperintelligent shades of the colour blue as examples of things we've imagined that don't correspond to anything we've seen. First, loads of aliens are clearly based on humans with bumpy foreheads, they can be discarded with a wave of the hand. Planet of Hats TV TROPES LINK!! BEWARE!! The alien races that are more serious attempts, I remember reading somewhere about a hypothetical species of floaters living in the atmosphere of a gas giant which was quite interesting, are pretty clearly predictions. Given what we know of how life works, what we know of gas giants, what we know of etc. what would a life form in that situation look like. Hyperintelligent shades of the colour blue aren't a thing. No-one believes in them. No-one thinks they are or could be real while, pretty unarguably, people do think that about God. The point I'm getting at here is that no-one has ever proposed the existence of those things and worked through the ramifications because the idea is internally inconsistent. While religions, God, no matter how much you might disagree that they are consistent with the rest of the world, are internally inconsistent.
QuoteAssuming that's not what you meant, and that you want something that is completely imaginary but which groups of people can believe in... <snip> Roswell-style grey aliens. Reptilians. Bigfoot. Nessie. Ghosts. Yes, these are patently silly from our outsider's perspective - but taken as deadly serious real things by their adherents.
Quotegaumular and God, not between God and, say, dragon
QuoteMarriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal.
Quote from: Kythia on August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PMI actually don't believe I am using two definitions of population. I think the point is a little more subtle. My dad, step-dad technically, would self-identify as a Muslim. But he doesn't go to Mosque, cheerfully eats haram foods, and frankly doesn't believe in Allah. The situation is even more heightened if you look at Judaism. The entry criteria is "mother is a Jew". It's entirely possible to be an atheistic Jew, it's not possible to be a polytheistic one - at that point you become something else. And that's just the western/abrahamic religions. Schools of Hinduism and Buddhism are explicitly atheistic but adherants are still Hindus and Buddhists. In short, while I agree its impossible to believe in many gods and no gods, belief in a deity isn't and realistically never has been the entry criteria to belonging to the population of a religion. It's possible to be a UK citizen without holding a UK passport, it's not possible to be a UK citizen and hold a foreign passport. (It is, of course. My father does. But lets pretend that dual citizenship doesn't exist just so my analogy works).
Quote from: Kythia on August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PMThat's why I bar atheism with "it existed simultaneously!". Because atheism exists as a strand within religious populations simultaneously to other forms of belief, but those forms of belief are mutually incompatible.
Quote from: Kythia on August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PMAs a brief aside, this is why I was a little surprised to hear you espouse self-identification rather than negative inference as a means of counting atheists, I suspect it will cause the number to plummet.
Quote from: Kythia on August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PMI'd like to think my argument was badly phrased rather than inconsistent, your mileage may vary. My point wasn't strictly plausability, it was more depth of imagining. There are ramifications to imaginary creatures - for the sake of argument lets include all Gods in that. Dragons have to live somewhere and eat something, Gods have to have desires, ghosts have to be created somehow. Hyperintelligent shades of blue have had none of those things fleshed out, it's essentially a random string of words linked together rather than a cohesive idea. Does that make any more sense?
Quote from: Kythia on August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PMBut none of those are Gods. None even purport to be. That's my core point, and I realise you disagree. But there is no real difference between nessie and a dragon, bigfoot and unicorns. You have mentioned that you see the line as being between and that's fair enough but I disagree. And, ultimately, I think this may come down a little to where individual lines are drawn.
Quote from: Kythia on August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PMFinally, Verne. I think you're overestimating the man's engineering knowledge a little. Sure, there are engineering challenges in making a vessel requiring neither human power nor open atmosphere but Verne solved precisely none of them. There's nothing to suggest he was even aware of them. I think you're applying your knowledge of engineering to him and saying that it's totally outside his realm of experience based on a distinction he didn't know. I can "predict" massive colony ships travelling faster than light to Alpha Centauri when there are substantial engineering problems in the way of them, but I simply don't know of them. I'm not sure how well I've made that point.
Quote from: Kythia on August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PMMarriage. The choice of who to marry has real tangible effects and doesn't benefit from an evidence based approach.Lets get some terms here. I'm trying to cast nets as widely as possible, and if I rule something out that you feel should be ruled in then please shout. The first few lines of the wikipedia entry run:And I'm broadly happy with that. The other term I want to throw up - and get your agreement on - is about the degree of "choice" within marriage. Over here there's a broad distinction made between arranged marriages and "unarranged" ones. But I don't think its helpful to define that as a binary, rather as a spectrum. How much say an individual has over their marriage partner(s) ranges from "none at all" to "100%" by time, place and culture with the two extremes being no more than two points on the spectrum.Happy with terms? Shall I proceed to give my argument?
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