You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 05, 2016, 09:17:37 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Religion and Science  (Read 4910 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #50 on: July 16, 2013, 09:56:10 AM »
Quote from: Ephiral
So 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?

Only 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?

Now, lucky old you, you get a diagram.  Crudely drawn because the goal here is to learn a graphics package I just downloaded.  This is my first picture with it.



So, to expand on the modification I made to your definition, all I wanted to add is that that signal originates from outside the universe and, inherant to that, involves crossing some form of barrier.

Finally, there's a concept known as imago dei - image of God, from Genesis 1:26 "And let us make mankind in our image as our likeness". It has a metric fuck ton of ramifications but the one relevant is there is some innate kinship between man and God, on a basic level some similarity that other animals, not created with Imago Dei, lack.

Are we happy to proceed?

Quote from: Ephiral
We 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

Hence "best" not "only"

Quote from: Ephiral
I appreciate you not just pointing to these medieval accounts as a fait accompli.

Ha, that wasn't actually for you.  I point to them, one of them has without my knowledge been disproved by one of the other sources you point to above.  I say, well, OK, not that one but the others.  Tomorrow a scholar disproves one of the others.  I say well, OK, not those two but the others.  Before I know it I'm defending a God of the Gaps and coming up with strained products of desperation like "well, it was clearly so common that not all of them were felt worthy of recording".  Obviously I can't rule out the possibility that some of them are accurate but given the overwhelming incentive of the Catholic Church to lie about this (to establish a worldwide mandate) it does seem kinda unlikely.

Quote from: Ephiral
I 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.

Yeah, 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: Ephiral
You don't get to define something as "this happens, no exceptions" and then acknowledge that exceptions exist without abandoning your original point.

They'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.

I don't actually believe it is the start of a new trend.  The main arguments for it being tend to revolve around new age/Age of Aquarius type theories.  Now, unfortunately I have very little interest in that whole area and, if we're honest, tend to lump it all together as "some crap involving crystals".  So I can't really put their arguments across particularly well as I wasn't overly listening when they were made.  From what I gather its viewed as a breakdown in the colossal belief systems and a return to a more intuitive understanding, but its entirely possible I've mangled or even reversed that position.

Rather 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.

Further, this isn't a universal trend by any means.  Baha'i dates to the 19th century, for example, and is monotheistic.

Quote from: Ephiral
I... 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.

Hmmm.  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: Ephiral
The 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.

Again, 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: Ephiral
All 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.

Yeah, 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: Ephiral
Time to bite the bullet: You are stating an objection to human rights laws.

Yes, obviously.  I'm not certain what you're getting at here?  Is it simply confirming I agree with the extrapolation of my ideas?

In fact, I particularly disagree with human rights laws.  For reasons that can be explained in one of my patented off topic ramblings.

Here it is
It's to do with how I view the legal system.  The legal system doesn't say I can't shoot my neighbour.  That's obviously untrue.  The legal system, to me, says "The cost for us catching you shooting your neighbour is 20 years in prison".  Which makes this a transaction.  If I want my neighbour dead more than I want the next 20 years to be out of prison, bearing in mind conviction rates for the type of crime I'm planning, then I should shoot him.  If I can make more from being a drug lord than I could in the time I would spend in prison for being a drug lord (plus, presumably, a bit extra to shield my income from being repossessed as proceeds of crime) then the legal system provides no reason for me not to be a drug lord.  I believe legal systems are essentially a price list, serving to raise the disincentives to various behaviours.

So if all we have is human rights laws, then I can be quite rational about slavery.  What are the chances of me getting caught, how much can I raise from human trafficking, is the luxury that would buy me now worth an x% chance of spending y years in prison.  What if I have an inoperable brain tumour.  That reduces the disincentive greatly.  I've never seen it so I could be wrong but I understand there's a show called "breaking Bad" with a broadly similar premise.

So I believe that if we look at laws alone we are legitimising illegal behaviour.  Just as there is nothing wrong with you devoting the next ten years of your life to building a 30000% scale model of a housefly out of toenail clippings if you believe the payoff is worth it the cost, there is nothing (legally) wrong with the slave trade if you are willing to pay the cost society attributes to it.

Morals are what stop people doing things, not laws.  That, in and of itself, doesn't make laws bad.  It just means that I see no reason to exempt them from my dislike of enforced thought systems.

Actually, there is one exception.  Lets imagine that for some reason the UK had simply forgotten to ban slavery.  Everyone thought someone else had done it.  Or we lose our big fat book of laws and have to write them all again.  I would have no objections to the present UK government passing a law banning slavery.  My issue is that legislation can't (shouldn't) drive social change, it should be driven by it.  Because otherwise legislators are enforcing thought patterns and I don't agree with that, no matter how much I may agree with the specific thought pattern being enforced.

Of course, this is all wildly off topic.  Off topic enough that I kinda feel a seperate thread is the way to go if you feel further discussion is needed.

Quote from: Ephiral
And 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.

A 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: Ephiral
Okay, 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.

Fair 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.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #51 on: July 16, 2013, 12:23:21 PM »
Only 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?
That's fine, though it makes me curious as to what the point of evangelism is if the message can't be shared. As I said before, the key point that my arguments and use of these tools depends on is "imparted to that human" - we know how people understand and process information, and we know what more- and less-efficient methods of communicating with humans look like. For these to not apply, they would have to break when applied to humans.

Are we happy to proceed?
Absolutely.

Hence "best" not "only"
I challenge the notion that a source full of known bias and falsehoods specifically on the point we're looking for is better than sources that have no reason to lie about these things, even if the latter are less complete.

Yeah, 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?
Um, 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.

They'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.
I 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.

Rather 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.
First: 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.

Second: I could just as easily call "bad faith" (pun intended) on the self-reported Christians who believe in belief, not in God directly. The plural of anecdote is not data, but there isn't really any hard data, and in my experience, they tend to be extremely common.

Hmmm.  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.
You 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.

Again, 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.
You... 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.

Yeah, 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.
So we've imagined things both real and unreal. Still not seeing a barrier to ideas-about-God existing in !God-world.

Yes, obviously.  I'm not certain what you're getting at here?  Is it simply confirming I agree with the extrapolation of my ideas?
Pretty 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.

I would very much like to continue the spoilered discussion with you.

A 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.
Except that if I fail to apply the system properly (case A) or simply ignore its output (case B), then the result I have is not the one the system produces. Therefore, the result you get from me will not be the one the system produces, and your non-evidence-based system will fail to yield identical results to the evidence-based approach.

Fair 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.
Sounds good to me.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #52 on: July 16, 2013, 02:34:43 PM »
Quote from: Ephiral
That's fine, though it makes me curious as to what the point of evangelism is if the message can't be shared
 

Errrm, 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: Ephiral
Um, 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.

I'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: Ephiral
I 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.

Mmmkay.  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...

I 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.

Further, 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

Finally, 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: Ephiral
First: 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.

I 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: Ephiral
You 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.

Well, 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.

Two I am amazed to hear you claim that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

I'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: Ephiral
You... 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.

No.  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".

We don't seem to be able to get past this point...

Quote from: Ephiral
So we've imagined things both real and unreal. Still not seeing a barrier to ideas-about-God existing in !God-world.

Ah, sorry.  Didn't realise that was the point you were getting at, though it does now seem obvious.

Could you give me an example of an imagined real thing, just so I know percisely what we're talking about.

Quote from: Ephiral
Pretty 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.

Fair enough

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #53 on: July 16, 2013, 04:34:55 PM »
Errrm, I mention in the very thing you quote that the message can be spread from human to human and information theory applies to that.
Okay, yeah, I misfired here. Mea culpa.

I'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?
Apologies; 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).

Mmmkay.  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...
I 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.

I 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.
And 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.

Further, 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
"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?

Finally, 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.
I 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.

I 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.
Not 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"?

Well, 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.
But 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.

Two I am amazed to hear you claim that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
Absence 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.

I'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.
Okay, 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.

No.  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".
This... 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.

Could you give me an example of an imagined real thing, just so I know percisely what we're talking about.
Jules 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 KekulÚ came up with the structure of benzene the same way.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #54 on: July 16, 2013, 05:39:19 PM »
Quote from: Ephiral
Apologies; 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).

It 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: Ephiral
I 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.

Not 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: Ephiral
And 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.
 

Not 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: 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?

I actually have no idea, though I judge from the phrasing of your question that you do and they are.

How would you prefer lack of religion to be measured other than negative inference?

Xkcd 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: Ephiral
I 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.

Gotcha.  Thought it was a bit of an odd claim.

It would yes.  As would many others.  Hitchens's razor cuts both ways though, so the more likely still would seem to be that "some stuff will probably happen"  Importantly, though, the claims about the progression of religions were secular ones.  They were accepted, ever so slowly, by the church.  So I'd like to split out a couple of topics for ease here, if we might.

The secular claim that there is an observable progression in religion.

The Christian interpretation of that which ties into earlier Christian teaching about supersessionism and the like that religions inevitably approach Christianity.

Quote from: Ephiral
Not 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"?

"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: Ephiral
But 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.

Could 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"? 

I 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: Ephiral
Absence 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.

Happy to stipulate to that, yes.

Quote from: Ephiral
Okay, 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.

With 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. 

"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: Ephiral
This... 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.

Telepathy.  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: Ephiral
Jules 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 KekulÚ came up with the structure of benzene the same way.

OK.  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.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #55 on: July 16, 2013, 06:22:45 PM »
It 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.
Mmm... if it does aqcknowledge those cases as exceptions, then it does sound like you're talking about nations. And, well, the general trend there once again seems to be to abandon the idea of identifying a nation with a religion as the last step in the equation.

Not 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.
Then the appropriate response is "That has been addressed by X", not "You lack the proper credentials."
 
Not 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.
Only because the geography rule says that a diaspora is no longer the same people. You provided an example yourself: Voudun is polytheistic. The direct descendants of its followers follow a direct descent of the idea. It's still polytheistic. And it appears to have originated before inter-cultural contact, and happily coexisted while Christianity was dominating the crap out of Europe.

I actually have no idea, though I judge from the phrasing of your question that you do and they are.
Right.

How would you prefer lack of religion to be measured other than negative inference?
The same way religion is measured - self-identification.

Xkcd 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.
The chart you cite is measuring growth as a percentage of the existing body of believers. Its figures showing each religion as a percentage of the global population, extrapolated out over 25 and 50 years, show not a single religion climbing by anywhere near the 37.5 and 75% needed to beat a 1.4 per annum global population increase. So... if you're not measuring via the problematic method indicated, I fail to see how those figures come from the cited material.

"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.
The Voudun pantheon splits at the level of individual families. Why is one more split, with the underlying forms still recognizable, enough to say "Nope! Not part of the same line."?

Could 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"?
Recognizing, processing, and acting on information, of which communication is a specific subset.

I 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.
A 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.

With 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.
Not really. I'm starting from the fact that these models cover every other instance of human-knowledge interaction, and some of them cover every other instance of what constitutes knowledge. This is a huge mountain of evidence that they do, in fact, work in general. If you're saying "not in this case", then there needs to be some piece of evidence we can point to to balance the scales. There must be a way the models visibly break down when applied to Christian thought. There... isn't one.

"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.
Not terribly, I'll admit. But... why is this relevant? It's not like we're unable to examine the scholarship and writings of yesteryear.

Telepathy.  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.
Still brings us to the same problem: If you can't tell which of your thoughts are Orders from On High and which ones are your own, then the probability that you will ever follow God's will is <number of Divine Ideas>/<total number of ideas>, and cannot improve. So if people are going to actually progress reliably toward Godliness, then either the percentage of Divine Ideas is so great that they'll be psychologically unrecognizable as human, or God is forcing actions as well as thoughts, which should be recognizable as inhuman behaviour patterns.

OK.  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.
That's fine. Verne was the weaker example - there's an argument that the later inventions were inspired by him, after all - so I'm actually pretty happy dropping it entirely.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #56 on: July 18, 2013, 03:42:13 AM »
Once again, I plan to put some horizontal lines in to help me keep things straight.  I'm also gonna skip some of your points and, hopefully, address them in a more freeform style as I think the conversation is fragmenting into several smaller conversations.  Please do call me up if I have not answered something in a quote and then not addressed it in the wider discussion, and please accept my pre-emptive apology.

Please don't think I'm trying to enforce structure on you, this is simply a means of organising my own thoughts and tying some of the small quote-conversations back into what I see as the wider point.



Progression of Religions

Quote from: Ephiral
Mmm... if it does acknowledge those cases as exceptions, then it does sound like you're talking about nations

Potentially so, as I say - I'm not sure of the precise term.  I'm happy to run with "nations" for the purposes of this conversation, certainly.




In general, the consensus is that a nation - using our agreed definition, the word in the original was "menschen" meaning roughly "people" or "humans" see, for example, ueber-and unter mensch - progresses from animism/totemism to polytheism to monotheism.  The bulk of work here was done in the late 1800s.

You seem to propose a fourth step to that, atheism.  Figures for worldwide growth of atheism seem to be all over the place, to be perfectly honest, and its rare to find two sources that agree.  The University of Cambridge seems broadly typical when it claims it is falling worldwide as a function of higher birth rates in less industrialised countries and less industrialised countries typically being more religions - the Republic of Ireland and the USA frequently called out as exceptions.  But a global (relative) decrease in numbers of atheists - if, indeed, it exists -  isn't sufficient to refute your position.

As I say, the concept is with nation states and, yes, more "advanced" - I think we can both agree on what is meant there - nations tend to have higher numbers of atheists.  Which does tend towards your theory as showing a progression, the argument presumably being that the more religious, less advanced states have not progressed sufficiently along that scale for your proposed stage 4 to be seen.

My 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.

In essence, I'm saying that atheism is something different.  Rather than a progression of:

animism - > polytheism - > monotheism - > atheism

I would say that the situation is more like:



Please 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.



Side issue from progression of religions

Quote from: Ephiral
Then the appropriate response is "That has been addressed by X", not "You lack the proper credentials."

You 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.

Now.  You don't come across like that and, frankly, even if you did a pissy comment wouldn't be the best way of addressing that.  But it was irritation with that position - I hadn't realised you hadn't realised this was established scholarship and had, perhaps, viewed your questioning of it as an outgrowth of the above position -  coupled with various external factors that caused me to respond badly.  Of course, this is borderline justification - I have been both irritated and hot before and not responded badly and even if I hadn't the fault would still lie with me.  So I don't want the above to take anything away from my apology and I hope it didn't.



Voodoo

Quite 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. 



Spreading the message

Quote from: Ephiral
A 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.

My 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. 

However:

Quote from: Ephiral
Not terribly, I'll admit. But... why is this relevant?

Because of:

Quote from: Ephiral
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.

You 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.

This seems, in all honesty, such a trivial statement that your questioning it makes me think I may have misunderstood your meaning.  I have, however, stared at the statement for a while and I genuinely can't see another

Quote from: Ephiral
or God is forcing actions as well as thoughts

God isn't forcing actions - free will.  I just thought I'd make this explicit.



I honestly believe we've reached an impasse here and even if we haven't we have, with the best will in the world, reached the limits of my interest in this conversation.  It is something of a side issue to the topic, in reality, that I believe your interest in information theory and my failure to recognise what I saw as a fallacy in your position - trying to apply it in this case - has allowed to grow unchecked. 

I 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.

As I say, we have almost certainly reached the limits of my interest in this area.  If you wish I can give as full an answer as I can think of to the question "how does God communicate directly with mankind" but I am essentially uninterested in further analysis of that as it seems fruitless. 


The impossibility of imagining God did He not exist

Your submission is that there are instances of people having imagined something that, unknown to them, actually existed.

I actually felt that Loewi and KekulÚ were relatively weak examples.  My issue there is that neither was an unemployed bricklayer who suddenly woke up in the middle of the night with an idea.  Both were actively working all day on that very subject.  All this seems to be is confirmation that "sleeping on it" has benefits in some cases, which we knew anyway.  Many times I have "slept on" a problem and woken up with a solution.  This seems no different.  In essence, I think you're privileging dreams a little there - the examples would be wholly unremarkable if they had been struck with the answer on their lunch break.

Rogue planets seem, to me, the strongest example, so that's the one I'll focus on: Why are rogue planets imaginable to mankind but not God.

I mentioned earlier the concept of imago dei.   Though I'm not Catholic myself, the Catechism of the Church covers the bit I want and I (broadly) agree with the wording:

CC 355:
Quote
God 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.

it then goes in to a bit more detail on each of those cases, if you're interested you can find it all here but the expansion isn't overly necessary.  For reference, the opening is repetitive because its a direct quote from Gen 1:27 which is repetitive as it was likely meant to be spoken out loud and memorised, you see that trend a lot.

So man was created uniting the two worlds - that of God and that of Man.  This underpins a whole load of areas, its the reason animals don't have souls, for example.  It's also, not to reopen a can of worms that I don't want open, necessary for God's communication with man.  But I'll move swiftly away from that point.

This unity with the spirit world is why I say that God is an integral part of man.  Why religions are moving towards Him, for example.  God is "inbuilt".  So that's why, to take the positive half of the question, man does imagine God. 

On to take the negative half - why couldn't man imagine God without Him being part of man's basic nature.  The same reason no culture has imagined the gaumular.  What's a gaumular I hear you cry?  Well, it's a creature that bears no similarities to any other creature on this planet.  It's not a reptile, amphibian, mammal, any of the *thinks* Kingdoms.  It doesn't look like a horse, nor does it have a shell like a tortoise.  There is not a single point of reference between it and anything we've seen before.  God falls into that category.  There is no omniscient being on earth, no being who exists outside our possible perceptions, no undying being, God, in short, shares literally no characteristics with anything we have ever seen.  Sure, people - me included - sometimes talk as if He does but that's an artefact of human language.  I also say my laptop is being a cunt when it boots up slowly, anthropomorphism in short.  But I think everyone accepts that that's a limitation of human language and thought from every major monotheistic religion and all the older polytheistic has classified their God as unknowable to the human intellect.

Not to put words in your mouth, but I can see two potential objections which I'll try to clear up.

First, 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?

Second 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.

So, to return to the question, we didn't imagine rogue planets until we had the reference point of planets pretty firmly established.

I actually felt Verne was a stronger example than Loewi and KekulÚ, and clearly a stronger one than you did so I'll just talk briefly about that.  Sure, some of his ideas may have inspired research but I think its a stretch to say all of them did.  However, they fall, still, into this problem of reference.  You even mention submarines that didn't require human power - submarines were invented in 1620, a boat that didn't require human power sailed the Sa˘ne twenty years before Verne was born.  *Shrug*  I don't think there was anything remarkable about combining those.  Kepler wrote in 1610 "Provide ships or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will brave even that void." based on his observations of comet tails pointing away from the sun and Maxwell had proved that light exerted pressure a few years before From the Earth to the Moon.  Point is, all of this was known.  Not to take anything away from him for connecting the dots, but nothing new was created, just a synthesis of old things.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #57 on: July 18, 2013, 11:47:15 AM »
I have no problem with your imposition of structure; in fact, I think I'll steal it.

Progression of Religions

My 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.
You are using two different definitions of "population" there. If it is impossible "by definition" for a population to believe in many gods and one god simultaneously, it is equally impossible to believe in many gods and no gods, or one god and no gods.

Also, we have several examples throughout history of cultures that came from mixed backgrounds and operated under a general principle of freedom of religion - leading to populations in which polytheists stood side-by-side with monotheists and atheists. Classical-era Rome springs to mind.

To be perfectly honest, I still find the entire "progression" model highly questionable; my point in proposing a stage 4 to it was less about saying "This is a good idea worth entertaining" and more "This is another hypothesis which fits the presented facts equally and has equal predictive power, so it seems like you're privileging a monotheistic worldview." Which, it should be noted, research from the 1800s almost certainly was.

Please 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.
In this context, I fail to see the distinction. We have examples of animism, polytheism, and monotheism existing side by side. Using "It existed simultaneously!" to bar atheism from consideration in the same light seems to fail.



Side issue from progression of religions

You 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.
Your apology is quite gracious, and gladly accepted.

As a total aside: I hold theology to be valuable as an essentially sociological study: The study of human belief, and in particular a subset of that that seems particularly attractive tot he human brain. What I find valuable about science is actually its ability to check against reality, and adjust itself rather than trying to adjust reality when the two are in error. I believe I've mentioned before that I hold science in no special regard except that it happens to be a better tool than most; show me a theology that does a better job of conforming to the world as we know it (and adjusting when we learn something new), and it will become a major tool in my kit.

And for the record: This being established scholarship does absolutely nothing to exempt it from needing to justify itself. I think it's important to question what we think we know on a regular basis - we're constantly learning new things about reality, and old ideas need to be checked against this new knowledge.



Voodoo

Quite 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.
I'm fine with dropping this just to keep the conversation from getting more unwieldy.



Spreading the message

My 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.
Probably, yeah. The reason I brought that stuff in is because, once it is established that the receiver must operate within the established framework of the universe, the sender would do well to design a message that works well within that framework. It did kinda turn into a huge digression, and I apologise.

You 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.
Point of rupture here. I intended "increasingly" as new ideas are introduced by the info-theory-violating source. The further back we go, the more things should conform; the closer we get to the modern day, the more unreliable the models should be, and this pattern should continue going forward. It's more a test of my skills as a home inspector, to torture your analogy a bit: Houses I sign off on will not fall down as quickly as ones I do not, all other factors being equal.

This is irrelevant, but I find it kind of interesting.
I 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.
The distinction generally turns out to be obvious with another game of taboo. This time, the taboo word is "soul". What are the actual properties of the thing you're talking about? And on a related note, could P-zombies exist?



The impossibility of imagining God did He not exist

Quote from: Kythia link=topic=178506.msg8594768#msg8594768
First, 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?
I'd say the limit is in the variables. The difference between God and any other creature is in the value of the variables; we simply take a human being, crank Noticeability down to 0, and Intelligence and Lifespan as high as they'll go, and it meets the traits you've described. The gaumular, on the other hand, cannot be arrived at this way - there is no existing being with a Flergle variable we can set to match the gaumular. While I agree that we have a difficult, perhaps impossible, time imagining the gaumular, it seems to me that, based on the examples presented, the dividing line is between gaumular and God, not between God and, say, dragon.

Quote from: Kythia link=topic=178506.msg8594768#msg8594768
Second 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.
I think I'm misunderstanding you, because thi argument looks inconsistent. It seems like you're saying that if something is plausible, it's a prediction, but if it's not plausible, it's too silly to be counted. This conveniently rules out... well, everything ever. Assuming that's not what you meant, and that you want something that is completely imaginary but which groups of people can believe in... well, there's all the gods that we agree are false, for a start. 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.

I actually felt Verne was a stronger example than Loewi and KekulÚ, and clearly a stronger one than you did so I'll just talk briefly about that.  Sure, some of his ideas may have inspired research but I think its a stretch to say all of them did.  However, they fall, still, into this problem of reference.  You even mention submarines that didn't require human power - submarines were invented in 1620, a boat that didn't require human power sailed the Sa˘ne twenty years before Verne was born.  *Shrug*  I don't think there was anything remarkable about combining those.  Kepler wrote in 1610 "Provide ships or sails adapted to the heavenly breezes, and there will be some who will brave even that void." based on his observations of comet tails pointing away from the sun and Maxwell had proved that light exerted pressure a few years before From the Earth to the Moon.  Point is, all of this was known.  Not to take anything away from him for connecting the dots, but nothing new was created, just a synthesis of old things.
[/quote]The submarine example, I think, is the strong one here. Ships that didn't require human power were old hat. Submarines were old hat. Vessels which required neither human power nor open atmosphere, however, were a radical new concept, and would require an engine that bore no resemblance to anything in Verne's frame of reference. I fail to see a meaningful distinction between that and "Long-lived creatures are known, but something that never dies is outside our frame of reference."

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #58 on: July 18, 2013, 11:47:53 AM »
And it would seem I've mangled my quote tags. Hopefully you can forgive me.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #59 on: August 07, 2013, 06:36:53 PM »
Hmmm.

I distinctly remember writing a reply to this and have been waiting for your reply to it.  Somewhere on my computer there is a notepad file, probably called "Untitled (11)" or something similar, I suspect, waiting for me to copy and paste it over.

Anyway.  I shall retype.

Progression of Religion

I 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).

That'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.

As 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.



Side Issue

I think this issue's closed?



Spreading the Message

Ah, that makes sense.  OK.

I would point out though that removing religions gives us vanishingly few examples of a system of thought that has lasted for the sheer lengths of time that religion has (I can't think of one off hand but am unwilling to rule them out).  In short, at extreme lengths of time, the major data points are largely religions.  What I mean is that your models are - presumably at least - derived in part from the way religions spread and as such expecting them to break models is a little off base.

But yes.  I said I was uninterested in further conversation on this point then couldn't resist trying to get the last word in.  Why do I do that?  New, disciplined, Kythia begins... now.



The Impossibility of imagining God

I'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?

I'm going to discard of "the gods we agree are false" with a quick diversion.  There are no real world gods I believe are 100% false (I use "real world" to distinguish it from the gods of roleplaying systems, fantasy literature, etc).  All are incomplete glimpses of God.  So false is a bit of a strong word.  I also have meant to mention for a while that I've given something of a misrepresentation of my own beliefs, somehow.  My beliefs as a practicing Christian in 2013 vary wildly from those of one in 113 or 1013.  Christianity is evolving in exactly the way other religions have and it may well be that by 3013.  My belief is the current best understanding of the divine is given by Christianity but I've mentioned continuing revelation a lot and that still applies - the nature of the faith will change and evolve over time and my practices will eventually be viewed as outdated.  So when I say all religions are progressing towards Christianity, what I actually mean is that all religions including modern day Christianity are progressing to some form of perfected Christianity.  If that makes sense.

So with them out of the way:

Quote
Assuming 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.

Indeed they are.  I watched a video about illuminati symbolism in Manchester, England today (don't ask) and crazy as the man was, he certainly seemed to believe it.

But 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
Quote
gaumular and God, not between God and, say, dragon
and that's fair enough but I disagree.  And, ultimately, I think this may come down a little to where individual lines are drawn.

Finally, 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.



On topic.  Gasp!

Marriage.  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:

Quote
Marriage (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.

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?

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #60 on: August 27, 2013, 04:35:41 PM »
I 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).
Um. I'm not sure this holds. If you actively reject the core tenets of a religion in one manner, you can call yourself a member, but if you reject it in this other way, that's it, you're out? How is "There are no gods!" a weaker rejection of, say, Judaism than "I worship Odin!"?

That'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.
Most of the population of Japan would like a word with you about "mutual incompatibility", as an example.

As 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.
I'm interested in accuracy, not winning a numbers game. Negative inference is pretty weak on that, given as many variables as we have in play here.



The Impossibility of imagining God

I'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?
Okay, so your key point is coherence and depth. In that case, I'd say that Niven's Kzinti or Puppeteers seem to fit the bill nicely - the deep-rooted implications of their existence, culture, and actions are examined in depth, and there is a single cohesive idea of what they are and what they are not. This latter is very clearly not true for any God you care to name.

But 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.
The problem here is that I'm not seeing the logic behind your line. I am looking for traits that God-as-concept has which dragon-as-concept does not, or traits that dragon-as-concept has which God-as-concept does not... and not seeing any.

Finally, 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.
Not terribly well - your objection appears to be that he did not envision the precise mechanism by which these things would happen, to which I rebut: What is the precise mechanism of God spreading His message?



On topic.  Gasp!

Marriage.  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?

I'm happy with terms, but reject the idea that the choice of who to marry does not depend on evidence. How many marriages take place without an examination of the prospective partner for desirable traits? The traits may change (social class, wealth, and political connections at one end of the spectrum, personal and sexual compatibility on the other), but they're still examined. How many people marry someone sight unseen, and what is the happy-marriage rate among those people as compared to the general population?

Offline KythiaTopic starter

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Religion and Science
« Reply #61 on: September 10, 2013, 06:55:55 PM »
Sorry this took me a bit to get to.  Internet then work issues.  I'll get you the references we discussed in the discussion at work tomorrow.

The Impossibility of imagining God

Mmmkay, let me expand this back out a little.  Tying your posts together it seems to me - and apologies if I'm putting words in your mouth - that your objection focuses around the fact that God/gods don't seem sufficiently different from other things that we both agree are purely imaginary to justify my putting them in a separate category.  Am I representing your objection fairly?  The remainder of this is predicated on that so if I'm wrong you may as well skip the next bit.

There are no cultures that have failed to come up with a god.  There are multiple ones that have failed to come up with a Dragon - and frankly eastern and western dragons are so dissimilar that if we used two different words for them noone would bat an eyelid.  Ditto for bigfoot, nessie, all the others.  There is no universal nature to those.  Look at any culture and there are things/beings/pick-your-own-collective-nouns that are immediately recognisable as a god.  Not so far vampires, ghosts, anything else I'm aware of.  We can likely agree that that's a result of something deep in the human mindset, I'd imagine its whether that aspect of the mindset is divinely inspired or not that we differ upon.  However, that is where I draw the line between "God-as-concept" and "dragon-as-concept", this universality.

I'm aware you disagree and broadly aware of the reasons why, but I hope that at least answers your confusion about where the line is.

Following on from that point, you raise an objection about the precise mechanism of God not being universal, even if you (hypothetically) agree the concept is.  No, you're quite right, its self-evidently not.    Very well.  You raised earlier, in an unrelated context, the idea of agriculture.  Chinese rice paddies, European three-fields and mesoAmerican terrace farms.  Three very different ways of achieving the same end.  Why so different?  Well, I hope we can agree its because local climates, topology, etc led to the same basic idea being interpreted/created in different ways in different places.  It's the same with social concepts, Monarchy for example, substituting societal factors for climate ones.  I assume we can agree that the same idea can arise separately in different and unconnected areas and, yes, I accept that that doesn't support my point.

But fear ye not, I'm not done.  For many cultures didn't develop agriculture, or monarchy (or either).  So god does stand alone in that respect, in universality.  Whether we know the mechanics and precise systems whereby monarchy develops in one way in one place and another in another isn't overly important.  I'm happy to assume that such models could be developed, for a given level of accuracy.  And I've made the point repeatedly that the conception of god is coloured by human perception/viewpoints.

tl;dr - The difference between religion and everything else is that religion is universal, nothing else is.  The reason its not universally defined is this issue we spent a lot of time discussing of divine messages being interpreted through human understanding.

On topic.  Gasp!

Heh, it's a brave man who gives a counter argument before hearing the argument  :P

preamble

Yes, there are a certain number of variables to examine in selecting a future spouse.  Suitor A is richer, B more handsome, C more politically advantageous.  And so forth.

Which brings us to one thread of my argument, but I'll return to it in a moment, it makes more sense to discuss the other first.

You ask what the "happy-marriage-rate" is in various cases.  There's a huge assumption lurking behind that, namely that a "happy marriage" is the universal success criteria for all marriages.  What about merging of dynasties?  Getting a green card?  Trophy wives and rich husbands?  There are in fact many success criteria for entering a marriage and whats more they need not remain constant.  Trophy wives can fall in love with billionaire octogenarians, unexpected changes or revolutions can render dynastic marriages no longer relevant.  I'm sure you can think of other examples.

So, I have - on any given day - seventy to eighty marriage proposals.  I'm pretty fucking awesome and most people want to marry me.  So I have a wide range of suitors, each with a different set of attributes.  Each with their own success criteria for a marriage, which may or may not be the same as mine.  And mine may well change in the future, as might there's, but we have no way of knowing what it might change to and, indeed, whether it will or not.

So.  By definition if I want an evidence based approach I need evidence.  Sadly not a one of the suitors camping outside my window and generally making a nuisance of themselves comes with a character sheet, so first I have no objective measure of whether Suitor #64 scores higher on the "willingness to tidy up after me" scale than #4, nor do I know whether #45 is more or less likely than #28 to eventually get bored of writing odes to my beauty.  That has to be determined experimentally.  I date them for a while, or my family weighs them up, or a third party matchmaker does, or one of any other root for determining suitability based on my current success criteria for a marriage.

"Ah ha" you cry.  "Evidence".  Yes.  But it takes more than the existence of evidence to make my approach evidence based.  I'd need to weigh it up, compare it in some way.  It'd be tough but I could do that.

getting to the damn point

So.  The crux.  I'm a scientist.  I have a state I wish to explain, and the knowledge that this state may or may not change in some unpredictable way at some unpredictable time in the future.  I have a number of theories and a vague idea of their current state, but again the knowledge that the ramifications of them could change in the future.

What would be the evidence based way of choosing one?