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Author Topic: Religion and the Declaration of Morality  (Read 5100 times)

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Online ReijiTabibito

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2017, 06:59:22 PM »
One second.

*GOOGLE GO!*

Ah, I see.  Alright.  A few things to keep in mind.

One: the Night Crawler is part of Amerindian legend; in it, it says the crawlers are creatures that have been around for a long time, and are meant to assist in some sort of awakening, a re-connection between man and nature.  Legends always have an element of truth to them, though we may not properly understand which part is true.  The legends about dragons breathing fire, most modern experts on the subject say, came from swamp gas igniting in the air.  Those legends were written centuries ago, and we only have the knowledge and understanding to explain them now.

Two: new creatures are being discovered frequently, especially in places that we haven't been able to reach prior to lack of transportation technology...and that is merely species we don't know about.  It's an old story, but the coelacanth was a species of fish that was thought to have perished sometime during the late Cretaceous period...

...until a fisherman in South Africa hauled one onto his boat in 1938.  It took an icthyologist to actually identify the thing for real.

I'm personally reminded of the thing Van Helsing says to Seward in Dracula:

"Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are, that some people see things that others cannot? But there are things old and new which must not be contemplated by men's eyes, because they know, or think they know, some things which other men have told them. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all, and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain."

Offline Fury AphrodisiaTopic starter

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2017, 07:26:25 PM »
Mmmmn... Well, yes and no.

People, who are prideful and arrogant and brimming with hubris, are keen to say things that reflect that quote. However, science as a construct free of conviction and pride, has no trouble classifying information and events as unexplained or unknown. It is people who strive to dismiss whatever cannot be explained, let's not lay that at the feet of what basically amounts to a giant database. It has no opinion nor beliefs and cannot be swayed by such: That is the domain of humans.

That said, the reason I brought up the nightcrawler (I find a lot of American legends claim First Nations origins and I'm always skeptical. It's like the comment that you know a horror story is true because it happened to your friend's cousin or something and I've never heard of half of them from my own band. That could be because at least in the case of Fresno, well, we're a far cry from there, up in Ontario) is that there are a limited number of videos in circulation that, while they can't be substantiated beyond doubt, provide at least an interesting speculative opportunity.

I don't know what it is, I can't prove it's video editing since I see no evidence for it. Therefore, I'm forced to admit that a supernatural origin is a possibility, no matter how wide or slim a possibility I personally feel it might be. As I've said before, I'm skeptical but not a denier.

Offline Oniya

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2017, 07:48:50 PM »
Oooh!  I know those things!  I heard about them as a kid!

(Not intended to give any credence or dismissal to the actual story - but it was the first thing that popped into my head.)

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2017, 09:04:59 PM »
Mathim, could you give an example of such a thing?  I don't mean to naysay you, but having a concrete example to discuss would be useful.  Otherwise, I just get left with the Holmesian Razor.

I don't know what you're referring to, you're playing the pronoun game. And what the heck is the Holmesian Razor? I thought I explained it (if we're both talking about the supernatural) pretty succinctly and completely, and any specific example would be pointless since it would just be subject to the same explanation of its limits and self-refuting definition as the blanket term of supernatural. A few other posts here seem to  support it except where the definition is misused (but then there's been a fair bit of misuse of terms in this thread already). Unexplained does not equate with supernatural, not by a long shot, at least not in any meaningful way since it's by definition impossible to confirm something being supernatural as such. It's sort of like how people misuse 'faith' when they mean trust or hope.

Then there's the dilemma of the fact that the minute something starts interacting with the natural world, it is no longer by definition supernatural, but if no means to study it are presented, in what way is it remotely relevant anyway? Pondering it would be nothing but a waste of time. At least with a scientific hypothesis, you can theoretically find a means to test it and falsify it. The supernatural would have no mechanism by which to do anything like that. So unless the supernatural is by definition completely outside of nature and not interacting with or existing within nature, nothing as far as unexplained phenomena ARE supernatural. Perhaps paranormal would be a better term? But again, those have that cumbersome characteristic of being unable to be studied and so nothing about them can be learned or determined, ergo they're just as irrelevant as anything supernatural.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 09:10:44 PM by Mathim »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #29 on: August 11, 2017, 10:23:27 PM »
Well, since it's impossible to prove the supernatural as such until we prove alternate forces of energy or the existence of a deity or what have you, in the meantime the best approach we can take to confirming the existence of a supernatural occurrence is to kill off every alternative that we can explain. Even then, there's a big leap between being unexplained and being supernatural, and not everything unexplained will remain so and therefore that will also cut down on supernatural. Still, I would think that something supernatural would by default have to be unexplainable at least by any other means. So, it would be the logical first step to look into the unexplained, yes? For my own, I don't know of anything that's been properly studied that is unexplained in the sense that one might allude to the supernatural. Most of the "supernatural" is misunderstood natural, superstition and rampant imagination, all with explanations that are feasible and easier to believe than the supernatural.

Even so, when it's unexplained and without proof that there is no "god", no above-mortal consciousness, we must concede that it is a possibility, however small.

To be clear, I was talking about the NightCrawler, because there exists video documentation. It has not, however, been studied as thoroughly as we have the power to do so, as far as I am aware. Most of the problem with supposed supernatural or miraculous sightings and experiences are based upon anecdotal evidence alone.

I remember one night my brother and I were camping in Algonquin, on one of our long tracking hunts. We heard a sound in the middle of the night which sounded like a man screaming in agony. Unfortunately, from where we were we couldn't tell which direction the sound was coming from and it was really distorted. My brother, who has always been a man of belief even if that belief has largely been undefined, was terrified. He slept with his hand beside his bed (where his hatchet was) all night.

Turns out it was a bear. There was a long investigation, the bear was found, the sound was exactly what we'd heard and as we were there to witness the bear when it was caught, we could verify it was the sound we'd heard. However, if we'd not been there as the bear was being moved to a more isolated reach of the park, my brother would have gone home swearing up and down that a man had been murdered in the forest, or perhaps that some kind of demon was out there in the darkness.

This story reminds me of much the same way a lot of these ghost hunting shows operate. "I'll show you the shiny gadgets that could prove I'm telling you the truth, but no one can verify we didn't rig/reprogram/etc. any of it. No one can really vouch for the integrity of the "investigation". And with the attempts science has made (those like Houdini, who always wanted an affirmative answer and never found enough proof to convince him any of it was true) to study these phenomena, particularly with regard to the fact that all of them I'd ever heard of had been dismissed as charlatans, we have only the personal stories of things no one will really study (statues crying blood, for instance?). Combine that with the intense disregard that most if not all political bodies hold in regards to keeping secrets from their own people and covering up dull and mortal things, it's hard to trust that anyone is going to tell the public the truth if there is something going on. This leaves a lack of evidence that a balanced mind should, I think, accept leaves a possibility for the supernatural. Or at least, the paranormal.

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2017, 06:33:42 AM »
I think the Holmesian quote that's being discussed is..

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

On the surface, this is an obvious point of logic. The truthful explanation for an event must lie within the set of possible explanations for the event, which is logically co-equivalent with 'non-impossible explanations.'

There is a flaw in this approach, however, when it comes to including the supernatural in our list of possible explanations. If you allow for the existence of magic, how do you define the possible versus the impossible? If you have a man dead in a room with no obvious cause of death, are you prohibited from concluding that the death was natural because you cannot disprove that he was killed by voodoo?

There's another objection you can raise to adopting the Holmesian principle, which is to ask how complete is your set of possible explanations? Let's take a common example; a UFO sighting. If you say that the possible explanations are an airplane, a balloon, a cloud, the planet Venus, or an extra-terrestrial spacecraft, and you are able to systematically rule out a balloon, cloud, and Venus and conclude that therefore it must be a spaceship, you've prematurely arrived at your conclusion. Your set of possible explanations is not complete. There are entries you've omitted from the list, including satellites, drones, hoaxes, and optical illusions.

It's a misapplication of the logical principle to conclude that the explanation for the UFO (by which I mean unidentified flying object) must be an alien spaceship because that is all that remains in the original list. In addition to not being “all” that remains, it should not even be included in the list of known possibilities. The error here is including unknown or new phenomena on the list of the possible, which should only include established phenomena.

If you don't, if you allow unknown phenomena in your list of possible explanations for an event, you can have an infinite list of potential explanations. Why stop at an alien spacecraft when we can posit time-travelling humans? Or the Wild Hunt of the Seelie Court? Or psychic Bigfeet (Bigfoots?) from another dimension? Or hyperintelligent dinosaurs from a hidden world scenario testing light projection technology? Or a god?

Favoring one unknown explanation over another based solely on the absence of an established explanation is a logical fallacy we call the argument from ignorance.

Allow me to modify the Holmes quote to a less pithy but more logically valid form.

Within the set of known phenomena, once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be true. If the entire set of known phenomena are eliminated as impossible, then the solution is simply unknown until a new phenomena that can serve as a solution is positively established.

Edit to add: Something else occurred to me on this subject. There are possible things, and there are impossible things that can serve as potential explanations for a phenomenon. However, it is a shifting of the burden of proof to conclude that just because a thing has not been demonstrated to be impossible, that it therefore must be possible. Both the possibility of a thing and the impossibility of a thing are separate questions, and a person advocating either must offer demonstration or evidence to support their position. "A supernatural explanation has not been shown to be impossible. Therefore it must be possible," inappropriately shifts the burden of proof.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 07:43:17 AM by Regina Minx »

Offline Mathim

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2017, 10:18:50 AM »
I knew something had to be wrong with the Holmesian thing or I would have heard about it. Occam's Razor is far more helpful than that, in any case. But I like your re-statement of Holmes' quote and your demonstration that 'impossibility' not being established does not shift the burden of proof away from those claiming it IS possible.

Offline Silk

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2017, 01:18:36 PM »
I would get in on this. But im tired of constantly trying to argue for the positives of religion and that its not all bad. Deal with that way too much by letting myself get dragged into arguments on youtube where the same points just get spouted out over and over again in a cycle that only pisses everyone off. This has even been done here repeatedly on E. I don't even know why we still have this.

There is no real point to this argument since it looks like religion is just going to dry up and fade away eventually, and all anyone will remember is the bad side of it. But in the now it all boils down to a basic idea of "Religion is like medicine, some need it and use it to help others, while some abuse it and harm themselves and everyone around them".

A person can be moral with or without religion just as much as they can be immoral without it. There are just as many assholes and saints on both sides of the fence. And all this is going to lead to is people throwing a tantrum and getting al offended at everyone else.

I wouldn't worry Lust, Religion isn't going to fade, not as a concept anyway, just the direction. Political alignments (Both the left and the right) are guilty of the same cancerous enforced ethical code, double think, close-mindedness and abscondance of differing ideas as religions ever were for e.g.

Add-on

Also not forgetting the typical arguments of "But X does good and Y does bad" rhetoric. End of the day, people who will bash religion will continue to fall to the same set-pieces that they criticize it for and use the same defenses.  All that changes is the catalyst.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 01:21:08 PM by Silk »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2017, 06:59:19 PM »
I think I get where you're coming from Silk, and for the most part, I tend to agree. Ideologies of any sort are in danger of providing such strict guidelines that it allows for nothing else that might disagree to offer any argument, far removed from being able to present a convincing one.

I do have to disagree with the concept that anyone who criticizes religion is bvy default a victim of the same sort of thinking they criticize. I don't think that's foregone enough to be absolute. For instance, if I say that religion is scientifically inaccurate, I cannot by default be criticized for being scientifically inaccurate on the basis of my criticism alone. This is demonstrably true in the case of the Christian/Catholic bible and a general knowledge of science.

Then again, are you saying bash as in needlessly mock or bash as in poke holes in the intellectualism thereof?

Personally, if the information remains the same, I see no reason not to use the same arguments against the same arguments. In my experience, discussing religion with the religious often produces the same dogmatic responses, for which reason I don't see the use in coming up with a plethora of varied responses.

I do believe that the more we learn empirically about the world around us, the lesser and lesser space that religion could possibly occupy, given that the things explained away by deities can be then explained by experience, study and observation. Once there is no more room for the mystical to be intelligently embraced, there's no reason for it to continue in the world as a belief system. Or anything other than stories, I think.

That said, I do agree that pointing out little details about where certain ideologies fail and where they excel becomes a tedious waste of time. Unfortunately, in order to discard outdated and useless ideologies, we find that we often have to do this. Just as we do with laws, education, medicine, etc.

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2017, 07:09:28 PM »
Well, since it's impossible to prove the supernatural as such until we prove alternate forces of energy or the existence of a deity or what have you, in the meantime the best approach we can take to confirming the existence of a supernatural occurrence is to kill off every alternative that we can explain. Even then, there's a big leap between being unexplained and being supernatural, and not everything unexplained will remain so and therefore that will also cut down on supernatural. Still, I would think that something supernatural would by default have to be unexplainable at least by any other means. So, it would be the logical first step to look into the unexplained, yes? For my own, I don't know of anything that's been properly studied that is unexplained in the sense that one might allude to the supernatural. Most of the "supernatural" is misunderstood natural, superstition and rampant imagination, all with explanations that are feasible and easier to believe than the supernatural.

What you are alluding to is the Invisible Dragon problem, first described by none other than Carl Sagan in his book the Demon-Haunted World. Basically, the idea that there exists an entity that is somehow beyond the ability of science or logic to prove the existence of, but nonetheless you should believe that it exists anyway.

Religion can be a tricky subject to tackle, since the smartest theologians will attempt to point out the Problem of Induction when trying to prove their case. Ultimately it just comes down to Ockham's Razor; the simplest reason is often the best, and it's simpler to assume that no supernatural deity or phenomenon is necessary to describe the world.


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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2017, 07:19:29 PM »
Okay, play the other side - what if the simplest explanation is something like 'God did it'?

Give you two examples - the origin of life and an historical one.

Evolution can easily explain the diversity of life - that is, why there are so many species and all the variety we see in nature - but it often defaults to complex argumentation when trying to describe how life arose.  Contrast Creationism, which simply says 'God did it.'

The other is the Maccabean miracle - aka, the creation of Hanukkah.  This is not simply some story, either - while it may not be included in Biblical canon, that's less because it's untrustworthy and more because the Council of Trent didn't think it had anything to contribute to the Bible.  The story (though I use the term only in a descriptive sense) goes that the Maccabees freed Jerusalem and restored the temple, but could only find a small jug of oil to light the menorah with, a jug which should have lasted for only a night, yet somehow lasted eight.

Now, there could be a plethora of mundane reasons why it happened - but are they going to be less complex than 'God did it'?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2017, 07:43:41 PM »
It was the Council of Nicaea that decided which books would be included in the canon of the Bible.  The Council of Trent dealt with the Counter-Reformation many hundreds of years later.  Both were about Christianity, however.

The problem with the argument of 'God did it' is: which god?  You can replace 'God' with any number of hypothesized deities or supernatural beings or concepts, and none of it gets you closer to an answer.  This concept is thus tripped up in the same way that Pascal's wager is tripped up.

As far as I'm concerned, 'supernatural' is just a place holder for ignorance.  Anything of sufficient technology will appear as magic to observers without the knowledge to understand what they are witnessing.  That's paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke, I believe, but the point is that--if it interacts with the natural world, then its effects can be observed, and therefore it is no longer supernatural.  It should then be observable by science.  If it isn't observable by science, then the best thing to do is say 'I don't know'.  Either we will eventually gain the technology or understanding to understand it, or we won't.  If we do, we will be able to explain it.  If we don't, it isn't meaningful to our lives, because it has no interaction with reality anyway.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2017, 07:52:06 PM »
Evolution can easily explain the diversity of life - that is, why there are so many species and all the variety we see in nature - but it often defaults to complex argumentation when trying to describe how life arose.  Contrast Creationism, which simply says 'God did it.'

So you think the simplest explanation posits the existence of an immaterial, transcendent, all-power being that exists outside of time and space (what does it mean to exist out side of time and space? isn't existence necessarily temporal), who possesses consciousness, will, and that those aspects of its existence manifest without a physical body (what evidence is there that being is independent of brain?), who decided (when? I thought it existed outside of time) for unknown reasons using an unknown method to spontaneously cause self-replicating biochemical reactions to take place through a process of selective editing and heredity of protein sequencing to start out, knowing full well that the end result of this process would be humanoid life which this entity favored for some reason.

You think that's...a simpler explanation? You've answered a mystery (abiogenesis) with an appeal to a much more inexplicable mystery. The god explanation is no different and has no more explanatory power, than just saying magic.

I think your problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor isn't to say that the simplest explanation is more likely to be correct. Occam's Razor is that the more parsimonious explanation is more likely to be correct. To be parsimonious is to introduce as few assumed elements into an explanation as possible. If I come home from work and I discover an empty bread bag on the kitchen floor, and somehow I know that there are only two possible explanations for it.

1) My dog counter-surfed and ate all the bread.
2) Someone picked the lock to my front door, took his or her shoes off to not leave footprints on the rug, went into the kitchen and ate all the bread (wearing gloves so no fingerprints, and left the same way they came in, locking the door behind them.

Which requires the fewest ad hoc assumptions to accept as being true? It's 1), but not because 1 is SIMPLER. A dog jumping on a counter and a burglary are both simple, commonplace events. But barring strong evidence in support of 2), 1) is the preferred explanation because we know that my dog exists, and has counter-surfed before. A bread-eating burglar doesn't square with the rest of the evidence, and we have to do a lot of hand-waving in order to accept it.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 07:59:44 PM by Regina Minx »

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #38 on: August 24, 2017, 07:52:57 PM »
Okay, play the other side - what if the simplest explanation is something like 'God did it'?

Give you two examples - the origin of life and an historical one.

Evolution can easily explain the diversity of life - that is, why there are so many species and all the variety we see in nature - but it often defaults to complex argumentation when trying to describe how life arose.  Contrast Creationism, which simply says 'God did it.'

The other is the Maccabean miracle - aka, the creation of Hanukkah.  This is not simply some story, either - while it may not be included in Biblical canon, that's less because it's untrustworthy and more because the Council of Trent didn't think it had anything to contribute to the Bible.  The story (though I use the term only in a descriptive sense) goes that the Maccabees freed Jerusalem and restored the temple, but could only find a small jug of oil to light the menorah with, a jug which should have lasted for only a night, yet somehow lasted eight.

Now, there could be a plethora of mundane reasons why it happened - but are they going to be less complex than 'God did it'?

The issue is that, by assuming the existence of a supernatural deity (in this case "God"), you are only displacing the problem of the First Cause. Namely, who brought these entities into existence and why? If we assume that their existence is uncaused, then why can't the existence of the universe itself similarly be uncaused? But if we assume that everything has to have a cause, then you run into to infinite regress problem.

And this is where Ockham's Razor comes in; there is no reason to expect that anything else exists other than the material universe itself.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 07:57:27 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #39 on: August 24, 2017, 08:04:28 PM »
I read an article somewhere that presented a very interesting explanation for a lot of the stuff in the Bible.

Take the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The entirety of the biblical story is that God looks at the cities and decides that both are way too wicked to be left standing. I think that there's actually a scene where God or an Angel appears to Abraham and tells him that he's gonna destroy the shit out of those cities. Abraham is distraught because his nephew lives there, and begs God/angel messenger to spare the cities, claiming that even God should spare them if there's even one innocent life among them. God's answer is that if there were even one innocent life, he would spare them.

Anyways, long story short, Angels go to Lot's (Abraham's nephew) and tell him that shit's about to get destroyed, pronto, and try to convince him to leave, Lot says no, he's got a nice life going on here. Some folks see the Angels arrive ande decide that they don't like the look of them.

(Small pointer that this is what most bible thumpers hold up as testament to how much God dislikes men getting freaky with each other, but this is something that is described as being something of a common occurrence during those times, all the way up until after the Hebrews leave Egypt. Folks didn't like newcomers in the town, and decided to make it clear that newcomers aren't very welcome by way of a sound beating. Food for thought.)

Anywho, with some heavenly help, Lot and his family escape the city (Minus Lot's wife, who gets turned into a pillar of salt on the way) and Lot and his two daughters escape. Happy ending, if you're a fan of incest.

A more logical explanation can be found though. Scientists have tracked some meteorological happenings around that time. And by meteorological happenings, I mean a half-mile wide asteroid. Before it could land, it apparently morphed into a three-mile-wide fire ball before clipping a mountain range and exploding in a rain of fiery debris. But don't beat yourself up for not getting that from the Biblical account.

I'm not 100% sure about the details, but here's a few links on the topic: http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2008/212017945233.html
https://www.universetoday.com/13560/evidence-of-asteroid-impact-for-sodom-and-gomorrah/

TLDR: Well, According to the scientists, the mushroom cloud of the explosion would have reentered the Earth's atmosphere over the Mediterranean Sea, and would have flashed across the Middle East, leaving a trail of debris and superheated air in its wake. To quote the article, the heat "would be enough to ignite any flammable material -- including human hair and clothes. It is probable more people died under the plume than in the Alps due to the impact blast."

Now, you see that sort of stuff happening in the distance, or hear about a pair of cities being wrecked with no plausible explanation and no scientists around to explain such things as meteors, the first thing you'll think of: "Meh, god(s) did it."

Second thing you'll think of: "Why did god(s) do it?" "Oh yeah, I heard that those guys were really into buttsex. With dudes. How weird is that?" "Yeah, maybe god(s) punished them for liking butt sex?"

And you have a Bible story in the making.

There are a handful of other occurrences similar to that in the Bible that can easily be explained by people throwing their hands up and saying," Fuck it, God did it." And from there they come up with some sort of morality tale for why God did it. Faith is, in essence, giving up on trying to find an explanation past an act of an angry or merciful deity and coming up with some sort of explanation for why this deity will be getting involved in the first place. As science advances and acts of God or gods start to be explained away, people have to face the choice of trying to understand a scientific explanation for these happenings that to a lot of people (myself included) is just so much mumbo-jumbo, or the easy way out of holding to a morality tale that wraps the story up in a nice little bow on the terms of how you should be a good person according to the book in which they are.

Choosing to have faith is a personal choice, and honestly, one that I can't fault people for, but choosing faith over the scientific method is both dangerous and willfully ignorant. And having come from that sort of background, I can understand where this need comes from. There's a Bible verse among others that my folks drilled me through with memorization and catchy music that goes like this: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. At first glance this is a simple talk about how if you believe in God and Jesus and be nice to the people around you, nice things will happen to you.

But you look at it without the context and in the way that it is blindly followed, and you see that it actually means that if you believe in something hard enough, that makes it true. And that, to me anyways, is as clarifying as it is terrifying. If I believe hard enough that the Earth is flat, that makes it true. If I believe hard enough that my skin color makes me a better person than people with difference skin colors than mine, that makes it true. And so on.

The 'Fuck it, God did it' response is so common in human psychology that you see it as a deus ex machina in a lot of fictional works: "Because magic" "Because the Force" "Because the Ancient Prophecies" and it's something that few people question. It's easier than trying to find a logical explanation that you won't be able to comprehend anyways that will in turn lead to a lot more questions being asked.

Just the 10 cents from a guy that was raised as Bible thumping Christian.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 08:05:51 PM by Deamonbane »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #40 on: August 24, 2017, 08:35:08 PM »
It was the Council of Nicaea that decided which books would be included in the canon of the Bible.  The Council of Trent dealt with the Counter-Reformation many hundreds of years later.  Both were about Christianity, however.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_Christian_biblical_canon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea#Misconceptions

There's no information from the Nicene Council that they actually did any work on the biblical canon.

However, for the sake of what we're talking about, I will say this: the Council of Trent affirmed the canon that had been developed in the face of the Protestant Reformation (some portions of which wanted to revise the canon), so at the very least, Trent is responsible for the modern incarnation of the Bible we have today.

So you think the simplest explanation posits the existence of an immaterial, transcendent, all-power being that exists outside of time and space (what does it mean to exist out side of time and space? isn't existence necessarily temporal),

"The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be."  -Carl Sagan

who possesses consciousness, will, and personality that are nevertheless manifestations of a non-corporeal existence, who decided for unknown reasons using an unknown method to spontaneously cause self-replicating biochemical reactions to take place through a process of selective editing and heredity of protein sequencing to start out, knowing full well that the end result of this process would be humanoid life which this entity favored for some reason.

You think that's...a simpler explanation? You've answered a mystery (abiogenesis) with an appeal to a much more inexplicable mystery. The god explanation is no different and has no more explanatory power, than just saying magic.

Simpler in the intellectual sense, yes, in that you don't have to have an understanding of the scientific disciplines.

To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says.  Yes, saying that God created the universe and life raises a whole bunch of other questions - is God real, why did he create the universe, etc - but I have answered this question with the simplest explanation available.  Occam's Razor does not say 'the explanation with the fewest subsequent questions raised' (because any answer to anything will have subsequent questions, when you are dealing with a matter this complex) is the 'usually' correct one; it says that the simplest explanation is.

I will admit to it being a technical answer to a question that is non-technical, but I'm playing the opposite side of the field here.

And this is where Ockham's Razor comes in; there is no reason to expect that anything else exists other than the material universe itself.

Evidentiary-based arguments can be tricky, because in order to prove your argument, you either need to prove that your hypothesis is correct - or that all other hypotheses cannot possibly be correct.  Now, a lot of those arguments are not too difficult - Geocentrism vs Heliocentrism, as example - but if you want to prove that the material universe really is all there is, there isn't much other option.


Abraham is distraught because his nephew lives there, and begs God/angel messenger to spare the cities, claiming that even God should spare them if there's even one innocent life among them. God's answer is that if there were even one innocent life, he would spare them.

Ten.  This is a technical nitpick, but the book of Genesis states that if there were ten righteous men in the cities, they would have been spared.


Sodom and Gomorrah Meteorological Argument

Okay.  Question in response to that.

What if that meteor was the promised judgment?  This is not Noah, God did not say "I will destroy Sodom & Gomorrah with way X," just that he would - the 'how' is vague.


Now, you see that sort of stuff happening in the distance, or hear about a pair of cities being wrecked with no plausible explanation and no scientists around to explain such things as meteors, the first thing you'll think of: "Meh, god(s) did it."

Second thing you'll think of: "Why did god(s) do it?" "Oh yeah, I heard that those guys were really into buttsex. With dudes. How weird is that?" "Yeah, maybe god(s) punished them for liking butt sex?"

And you have a Bible story in the making.

There are a handful of other occurrences similar to that in the Bible that can easily be explained by people throwing their hands up and saying," Fuck it, God did it." And from there they come up with some sort of morality tale for why God did it. Faith is, in essence, giving up on trying to find an explanation past an act of an angry or merciful deity and coming up with some sort of explanation for why this deity will be getting involved in the first place. As science advances and acts of God or gods start to be explained away, people have to face the choice of trying to understand a scientific explanation for these happenings that to a lot of people (myself included) is just so much mumbo-jumbo, or the easy way out of holding to a morality tale that wraps the story up in a nice little bow on the terms of how you should be a good person according to the book in which they are.

Choosing to have faith is a personal choice, and honestly, one that I can't fault people for, but choosing faith over the scientific method is both dangerous and willfully ignorant. And having come from that sort of background, I can understand where this need comes from. There's a Bible verse among others that my folks drilled me through with memorization and catchy music that goes like this: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. At first glance this is a simple talk about how if you believe in God and Jesus and be nice to the people around you, nice things will happen to you.

But that was because they - as you point out - had no way of understanding what had transpired at the time.  If you or I had lived at that time, without the benefit of modern knowledge and understanding, we might have easily thought the same thing.  I did a study on the development of modern pharmaceuticals, and it took a very long time through human history to even get to germ theory - and even that was being hotly debated for a century after Hooke, the microscope, and the reveal of cells.

I bring this up because if you go back in history, you find a man named Marcus Terentius Varro - as you might expect from the name, he was a Roman citizen (most notably an equestrian) and scholar.  This was right around the time of Caesar and Pompey, as Varro commanded one of Pompey's armies in the Roman Civil War.

Varro anticipated - by well over a millennia and a half - the development of epistemology and microbiology, having warned colleagues to avoid swamps because "there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, but which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and cause serious diseases."  But here's the thing - he had quite literally no way of proving his hypothesis, that would have to be left to people who came long after he was dead.

I agree with you, in that choosing an alternate explanation for something for which there is evidence over one which lacks any such thing is dangerous - but that presumes that A, there is an alternate explanation to begin with, and B, that there is evidence for that alternate explanation.  And perhaps C, that there is someone who is capable of understanding both the explanation and the evidence.

Take Galileo and the Catholic Church - Galileo had solid evidence that the Earth revolved around the sun, not the other way around, but the Church refused his statements because, in their opinion, they "refuted holy Scripture."  (Though I will point out that nowhere - explicitly or implicitly - does it say in the Bible anything about this matter.)

But you look at it without the context and in the way that it is blindly followed, and you see that it actually means that if you believe in something hard enough, that makes it true. And that, to me anyways, is as clarifying as it is terrifying. If I believe hard enough that the Earth is flat, that makes it true. If I believe hard enough that my skin color makes me a better person than people with difference skin colors than mine, that makes it true. And so on.

Which is why you need to take what the Bible says within the context of everything around it - and within the context of the time that it was written.  A friend of mine has a saying: "A text, without context, is pretext."  I say it this way: "you can make anything say anything you want, if you're willing to ignore all the rest of it."
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 08:37:02 PM by ReijiTabibito »

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2017, 08:38:31 PM »

A more logical explanation can be found though. Scientists have tracked some meteorological happenings around that time. And by meteorological happenings, I mean a half-mile wide asteroid. Before it could land, it apparently morphed into a three-mile-wide fire ball before clipping a mountain range and exploding in a rain of fiery debris. But don't beat yourself up for not getting that from the Biblical account.

I'm not 100% sure about the details, but here's a few links on the topic: http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2008/212017945233.html
https://www.universetoday.com/13560/evidence-of-asteroid-impact-for-sodom-and-gomorrah/

As a general rule I actually tend to be a bit skeptical with ascribing particular natural phenomena to (alleged) historic events. An asteroid hitting a particular city is improbable as is, and more often than not, it's pretty difficult to identify exactly what city the ruins once were (at least without a number of contemporarious sources; some cities were so well documented that we know exactly where they are, even thousands of years after the fact. Other cities, not so much).

After all, there is also the possibility that the events in the Bible were either made up, or grossly exaggerated, for propaganda purposes...

Evidentiary-based arguments can be tricky, because in order to prove your argument, you either need to prove that your hypothesis is correct - or that all other hypotheses cannot possibly be correct.  Now, a lot of those arguments are not too difficult - Geocentrism vs Heliocentrism, as example - but if you want to prove that the material universe really is all there is, there isn't much other option.

Not really. You would only need to prove that a particular hypothesis is unnecessary, redundant, trivial, or logically inconsistent. When it comes to supernatural phenomenon one hardly needs to go much beyond the proof by contradiction stage as I demonstrated earlier (i.e. the problem of first causes).


Simpler in the intellectual sense, yes, in that you don't have to have an understanding of the scientific disciplines.

To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says.  Yes, saying that God created the universe and life raises a whole bunch of other questions - is God real, why did he create the universe, etc - but I have answered this question with the simplest explanation available.  Occam's Razor does not say 'the explanation with the fewest subsequent questions raised' (because any answer to anything will have subsequent questions, when you are dealing with a matter this complex) is the 'usually' correct one; it says that the simplest explanation is.

I will admit to it being a technical answer to a question that is non-technical, but I'm playing the opposite side of the field here.

And this is incorrect. Occam's Razor actually has two rules; one is that, as has been pointed out, the simplest explanation is usually the best one. A corollary to that is the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely the explanation actually is. The number of assumptions that you have to include in an explanation is very important, as more assumptions will generally raise red flags. This is why most monotheists can easily dismiss the existence of multiple gods (and also why atheists can dismiss theism altogether without much trouble...)
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 09:18:29 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2017, 09:18:36 PM »
I have a few issues in technicality.

Firstly, Occam's Razor.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Occam%27s%20razor

It states that assumptions not be multiplied, in the case that if you must make an assumption to prove a hypothesis, that assumption is an undue complication. In that light, it would make the assumption of the existence of a deity something of a stronger complication, yes?

The second issue I have is comparing the time scales of historical learning to the comparative leaps that we see in today's progressions. In antiquity, the church held sway over everything, regardless of what church it was. There are pockets, small examples of information being lauded above the metaphysical beliefs, but these are few and far between. Proposing an idea that countered any accepted word of the church was tantamount to signing your own death warrant, whether it be through sentencing that would result in your execution or else in exile that would keep your society from offering you anything even in employment or fair trade. It made it nearly impossible to further knowledge and survive. Granted, that did not often cover the concept of microbiology, but lets also remember that telescopes weren't really a thing in the ancient world, particularly as they are now, and any use that might seem to mimic that of a telescope would run into the religious stymie issue that was covered before.

Galileo

In fact, the bible specifically says that the sun and moon were set by god into "the firmament of the sky" which likened it to a window or dome. This is often the cited source theologians use to "prove" that the earth is flat and that the sky is a dome, rather than the explanations the scientifically literate know to be true. I know there are other sources that are often mentioned, but for the life of me I cannot recall them at the moment.

As for the response Reiji put forward about the hows of god destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, I find it tricky to use that argument (Why could god not use a meteor and it still be his will?) when so often the same in regards to evolution v. creationism is often enough to have you screamed out of the room. I can, however, recognize that it is a decent point and acknowledge it would be difficult to prove otherwise.


Demon: While I agree with much of what you said (some points hilariously so), I also have to point out a small quibble that maybe doesn't even really have to do with the conversation at hand. While I understand the point you were driving at about trying real hard and believing real hard to make something so, I don't believe faith to be a choice, to a degree. I believe it to be a lack of understanding of conflicting evidence.

No matter how hard you try, you won't stand on a bottom stair and convince yourself that you are on a seaside cliff. I disagree that you can create belief where there is none. There have been things I have wanted to believe, absolutely, because they would have been wonderful and transformative and blah, blah, blah... But just WANTING to believe something is real and being imbued with the sort of faith that the religious and others claim to feel isn't the same thing. I honestly think it's impossible to believe something on purpose. On some level, your mind always knows that it's tricking you.

Or at least, in my experience, forced belief has been frustratingly beyond me.


Trevino: I find that skepticism is pretty healthy. However, there are a significant amount of data analysis that can tell us with relative accuracy what sorts of bodies have been present in the solar system hundreds, thousands, even millions of years ago. If they've managed to locate the place where these cities were located, then there's likely to be craters and dating methods that will tell us how old that crater (craters) is/are. If there's debris from the explosion that Demon mentioned, that, too can be dated. While it is possible that something happened "Around" the same time frame but might have missed by as small a scale as a hundred years, generally speaking that's a much smaller margin for error than that proposed by holy texts. Often these are written hundreds, even thousands of years after the issue said to have taken place. Even the bible's new testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) were written decades after the alleged death of Jesus and the supposed resurrection.

I agree with everything you said in a technicality standpoint, but I do point out that the bible was something that took place in a very small area of the world. It was often descriptive based off of the communities that were inhabiting a particular area at the time, and finally, it's easy to say that a meteor hitting a particular city is an improbability. Especially if you were trying to have it hit and decided that was the one before the attack.

But if I may propose a scenario I believe Demon was trying to get out?

One day, Achmed is out in the field and looks up to see an explosive force (mushroom cloud, great fire, whatever) in the distance. He wonders what it is. He tells Kalah that he saw something, and she asks, "Isn't that were Sodom was located?" Achmed shakes his head and says "No, probably Gommorrah."

Achmed and Kalah make their way to a gathering of people nearby, a village that sees the devastation and thinks to themselves "We should go to see what is happening, be sure they're alright." Achmed leaves home, travels there and finds that the whole area is utterly destroyed by a force larger than any he has seen. He asks Mohammad and Frank what they think, and neither of them has ever seen something like this before. It must be god! And he's angry. And thus the justifications that Demon mentioned.

In short, I don't think it was so much that it was a bit improbable to hit a city with a meteor, but more likely that a meteor hit, a city was destroyed and the story created afterward in order to explain it.

I'll point out that the ancient Greeks did the same thing... with echoes. And reflections. Natural phenomena explained by creating an overly complicated story that is reinforced with theological duct-tape when someone brings up a half-way decent question to challenge it.

Online Regina Minx

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #43 on: August 24, 2017, 09:27:20 PM »
To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says.  Yes, saying that God created the universe and life raises a whole bunch of other questions - is God real, why did he create the universe, etc - but I have answered this question with the simplest explanation available. 

Again, you've shown that you don't understand Occam's Razor. The phrasing of the original principle has nothing to do with the simplicity of the explanation. It has to do with the parsimony of the explanation.

Here's an illustrative example. Five people are standing in the middle of a field. One by one, they all experience a physical sensation on their torso. They look under their clothes, and they see red marks on their bodies. None of them saw anything that could have caused it. All five people try to come up with an explanation.

Abigail says, "I don't know what caused that."

Bob says, "Despite the fact that we didn't see anything, it was probably a small animal or insect bite."

Cecelia says, "It was an alien ship in orbit firing a death ray at us on low power."

Dashiel says "It was invisible elves that live in this part of the country, cursing us with magic."

Elliot says "It was God Almighty that put His hand on us."

None of the five people know what caused the marks on their bodies; they are and might remain unexplained because they lack sufficient data to justify their beliefs. Abigail is actually the most reasonable responder to the question because she's not willing to go beyond what the evidence allows, but let's pretend we must come up with an explanation.

In order of increasing probability, we have Bob. Bob is making a parsimonious explanation; accepting his theory does not require that you accept anything more than you already do. You know that there are animals that scratch, and you know there are insects too small to see.

Then we have Cecelia. Cecelia is actually posting new things that we don't previously know to be true. Aliens with death rays visiting earth. And yet, this is not a completely unreasonable explanation in comparision to what's to come. Cecelia is at least referring strictly to natural things and things that we can explain in terms of other things we know.

Then we have Dashiel. We have to make more and more ad hoc assumptions to accept his theory as true. We have to accept elves, magic, invisibility. None of this is in our pool of background knowledge, and if we exclude Abigail and Elliot, it's the least parsimonious explanation offered. It has a low prior probability of being true because of all of those new elements he's putting in.

And yet, for all that Dashiel is offering a poor explanation, it can't even hold a candle to Elliot. Elliot's explanation requires us to assume not only the same degree of supernatural belief as Dashiel, but everything in the previous list of undefined, contradictory, atypical, and bizarre elements. Mind that exists without body. Existence outside of time. Divine will which can accomplish things through undefined means.

It is by no means a parsimonious explanation. It has the least amount of support in favor of it (and might not even be provable at all in concept), and it's the one that ought to be rejected every single time.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 09:31:32 PM by Regina Minx »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2017, 09:42:22 PM »
Firstly, Occam's Razor.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Occam%27s%20razor

It states that assumptions not be multiplied, in the case that if you must make an assumption to prove a hypothesis, that assumption is an undue complication. In that light, it would make the assumption of the existence of a deity something of a stronger complication, yes?

Again, you've shown that you don't understand Occam's Razor. The phrasing of the original principle has nothing to do with the simplicity of the explanation. It has to do with the parsimony of the explanation.

And this is incorrect. Occam's Razor actually has two rules; one is that, as has been pointed out, the simplest explanation is usually the best one. A corollary to that is the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely the explanation actually is. The number of assumptions that you have to include in an explanation is very important, as more assumptions will generally raise red flags. This is why most monotheists can easily dismiss the existence of multiple gods (and also why atheists can dismiss theism altogether without much trouble...)

Except, that's not what was stated.  The statement was the initial rule that the simplest explanation is the best, leaving out the corollary.  I was able to construct and make an argument I would not otherwise have been able to make, simply because that corollary was left out.  (Yes, I was aware I was totally wrong, though I realize in this instance, I haven't any way to prove that other than to state that I know I was.)  This is why when we use tools like the Razor that it is important that we use them in their entirety, and that the person we are using them with/on/against is aware of the totality of them, as well.

Again, no evidence, just my word on it, but I'm with you guys in a lot of what we're talking about here - but when we argue, we have to avoid unforced errors like this one, otherwise the opposition can construct counter-arguments.  Now, you guys can counter-argue back - as you did, and rightfully - but to use a medical analogy - ounce, prevention; pound, cure.

Offline Trevino

Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #45 on: August 24, 2017, 09:48:46 PM »
Trevino: I find that skepticism is pretty healthy. However, there are a significant amount of data analysis that can tell us with relative accuracy what sorts of bodies have been present in the solar system hundreds, thousands, even millions of years ago. If they've managed to locate the place where these cities were located, then there's likely to be craters and dating methods that will tell us how old that crater (craters) is/are. If there's debris from the explosion that Demon mentioned, that, too can be dated. While it is possible that something happened "Around" the same time frame but might have missed by as small a scale as a hundred years, generally speaking that's a much smaller margin for error than that proposed by holy texts. Often these are written hundreds, even thousands of years after the issue said to have taken place. Even the bible's new testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) were written decades after the alleged death of Jesus and the supposed resurrection.

I agree with everything you said in a technicality standpoint, but I do point out that the bible was something that took place in a very small area of the world. It was often descriptive based off of the communities that were inhabiting a particular area at the time, and finally, it's easy to say that a meteor hitting a particular city is an improbability. Especially if you were trying to have it hit and decided that was the one before the attack.

But if I may propose a scenario I believe Demon was trying to get out?

One day, Achmed is out in the field and looks up to see an explosive force (mushroom cloud, great fire, whatever) in the distance. He wonders what it is. He tells Kalah that he saw something, and she asks, "Isn't that were Sodom was located?" Achmed shakes his head and says "No, probably Gommorrah."

Achmed and Kalah make their way to a gathering of people nearby, a village that sees the devastation and thinks to themselves "We should go to see what is happening, be sure they're alright." Achmed leaves home, travels there and finds that the whole area is utterly destroyed by a force larger than any he has seen. He asks Mohammad and Frank what they think, and neither of them has ever seen something like this before. It must be god! And he's angry. And thus the justifications that Demon mentioned.

In short, I don't think it was so much that it was a bit improbable to hit a city with a meteor, but more likely that a meteor hit, a city was destroyed and the story created afterward in order to explain it.

I'll point out that the ancient Greeks did the same thing... with echoes. And reflections. Natural phenomena explained by creating an overly complicated story that is reinforced with theological duct-tape when someone brings up a half-way decent question to challenge it.


That is certainly true, but only if the meteorite actually left a crater. Many meteorites or asteroids will just simply explode before hitting the ground, as has happened with the Tunguska event. Now, it is certainly possible that something like that could have happened, and we might be able to determine this from the archeological record, but the task would be hugely more difficult.

But whether or not an asteroid did actually strike that area a long time ago is not that important (or if any natural phenomena was associated with any of the stories of the bible for that matter). The main issue with the bible (either the old or new testament) is that the historicity of the text is suspect. Some of its stories or accounts have already been dis-proven, and there is no evidence at all for the existence of some key figures of the bible (such as Moses or Jesus). And there is also the fact that there is strong evidence that some of the stories may have actually been plagiarized from other sources (for instance Noah's Flood and the Epic of Gilgamesh bear an uncanny resemblance).

But probably the biggest red flag is just simply the fact that many of its stories just aren't corroborated by a number of contemporary sources. Egypt has no mention of Moses that we know of, and the earliest reference to Christians comes from a Roman text, some 100 years after the supposed life and death of Jesus (the Romans thought of them as a cult as a matter of fact around this time period).

Except, that's not what was stated.  The statement was the initial rule that the simplest explanation is the best, leaving out the corollary.  I was able to construct and make an argument I would not otherwise have been able to make, simply because that corollary was left out.  (Yes, I was aware I was totally wrong, though I realize in this instance, I haven't any way to prove that other than to state that I know I was.)  This is why when we use tools like the Razor that it is important that we use them in their entirety, and that the person we are using them with/on/against is aware of the totality of them, as well.

Again, no evidence, just my word on it, but I'm with you guys in a lot of what we're talking about here - but when we argue, we have to avoid unforced errors like this one, otherwise the opposition can construct counter-arguments.  Now, you guys can counter-argue back - as you did, and rightfully - but to use a medical analogy - ounce, prevention; pound, cure.

Doesn't work that way :P. Using Occam's Razor necessarily entails going with the explanation that requires the least assumptions as a matter of principle. Otherwise you are just simply moving the goalposts, or engaging in special pleading (both of which are logical fallacies).
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 10:06:53 PM by Trevino »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2017, 10:07:52 PM »
Some of its stories or accounts have already been dis-proven, and there is no evidence at all for the existence of some key figures of the bible (such as Moses or Jesus). And there is also the fact that there is strong evidence that some of the stories may have actually been plagiarized from other sources (for instance Noah's Flood and the Epic of Gilgamesh bear an uncanny resemblance).

The bit about the Canaanites is old hat - if you read the Bible, God tells the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites because their worship of other deities will take them away from God and break their agreement (that's what the Ten Commandments were, a covenant between God and them).  The Israelites don't do this, and literally half the crap that happens to them in the remaining Old Testament is because of such, up and to the fall of the now-divided kingdom to the Babylonians.

Moses is one thing, but nearly all scholars - Biblical and otherwise - agreed that Jesus was an historical figure, though to what degree the Gospels reflect his historicity is in doubt.   At the very least, a number of figures named throughout Jesus' life - Herod the Tetrarch, Quirinius, and Pontius Pilate - were absolutely historical, as well.

As for Noah/Gilgamesh, what if both were describing the same phenomenon?  That wouldn't make it stealing from one source to write another, that would be corroboration.  There is a theory out there that dragons were real at one point in human memory, simply because every antiquity culture has something draconic.

Doesn't work that way :P. Using Occam's Razor necessarily entails going with the explanation that requires the least assumptions as a matter of principle. Otherwise you are just simply moving the goalposts, or engaging in special pleading (both of which are logical fallacies).

I know that.  You know that.  But it's a bad assumption to think that everyone knows that.  I worked in a science laboratory where we grappled with chemistry and the inner workings of the universe all day when I was in college, but some of the graduate students I collaborated with hadn't a single clue what Occam's Razor was, or had the mis-understood version of "simplest explanation is usually right."  And these were not dumb people.  If they hadn't a correct understanding of it, what chance do you think the average American has?
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 10:12:18 PM by ReijiTabibito »

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2017, 10:22:22 PM »
I'm.... sorry, Reiji, but I find I'm now completely lost on what it was you were trying to demonstrate, how the corollary is inapplicable to the situation at hand and now find myself completely confused as well about the pound, prevention, ounce, cure concept.

You said "To point out - Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.  But that's all that it says. " It was to this statement that I was referring in correcting you. That is not all it says, and the rest has to be applied in due course. Yes, I agree it's necessary to be sure that everyone understands the terms as they are put forward, the same with "Atheist" and "Theory", but their lack of information does not change the concept as it is used. My lack of understanding of something does not invalidate it as a tool.

I've never been quite clear on why it is up to me to be sure the person doesn't fall into a trap they should have been educated out of. I understand, I think, that you were trying to point out how easy it is to make a case against the one we're making, but I don't think that serves a purpose here. A case can be made against all manner of things that are simply immovable facts. That doesn't mean that they should or that we are responsible for preventing all of them.

Trevino:

I will admit to the first bit, with crater and subsequently for a lot of other evidence that could be sought and could very well simply end up not being present, though with each new method the likelihood of there being no evidence becomes lesser and lesser. However, to address your point, I understand that the skepticism, I believe, was being used as a tool to point out that explaining away the supposed events of the bible with natural phenomena only serves to reinforce some modicum of legitimacy that simply isn't necessary to address, given that the occurrence of the events haven't been adequately supported anyway. A cart-before-the-horse scenario if you will.

A complete lack of evidence is often my first observation on the subject as well, so I can concede that point enthusiastically.


Reji:

Sorry, Jesus WAS a historical figure? I'd be very much interested in that, since what I'd last heard from a papal physicist was to claim that no evidence was recognized of his existence. Or at least, not under the identity known to the modern world.

I would posit that I could make a story up about myself and the Obamas vacationing in Maui, that does not prove that I was the Vice President. I existed, and by name it would be similar, and the figures I name in this story might exist in reality, but that doesn't mean the character I create for myself exists. If you have something that might support it, I would be keen to see it.

As for Gilgamesh... it is supposed to be the earliest written work that has been found of any of human history. The mere writing of it is said to put the lie to the six thousand year old earth claim, since it predates what the bible claims to be the beginning of the world. How, then, could it NOT be stealing from one source (which existed in the same area far beforehand) to create the next? The theory of the draconic is a little... I don't know, suspect. I've heard it said in discussion that if there were dinosaur bones in a place, there would be dragon tales. I'm not sure how this relates to the Gilgamesh thing except as a very, VERY flimsy reasoning to believe that one thing was confirming another when Gilgamesh was written as fiction and the bible is lauded as testament.

Given that they were written at different times, set in different times, the basis of the stories were completely different excepting the part about the actual flood... I feel as though this is a nonsense hypothesis that hasn't even circumstantial evidence to support it.

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #48 on: August 24, 2017, 11:01:14 PM »
I'm.... sorry, Reiji, but I find I'm now completely lost on what it was you were trying to demonstrate, how the corollary is inapplicable to the situation at hand and now find myself completely confused as well about the pound, prevention, ounce, cure concept.

Sorry.  Sometimes I try and be clever and I end up losing the point I was trying to make initially.  To try and explain.  The corollary is not inapplicable to the situation; the medical analogy I was going for basically states an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.  To adapt it for this particular situation - it's better to, if you can, deny the use of counter-arguments to your opposition than to have an argument that will counter theirs.

Two people, X and Y, are having a debate.  Which is the more efficient, easier method?

X makes an argument to which Y has no counter-argument - OR - X makes an argument, Y makes a counter-argument against X, X makes a counter-counter-argument against Y.

Reji:

Sorry, Jesus WAS a historical figure? I'd be very much interested in that, since what I'd last heard from a papal physicist was to claim that no evidence was recognized of his existence. Or at least, not under the identity known to the modern world.

I would posit that I could make a story up about myself and the Obamas vacationing in Maui, that does not prove that I was the Vice President. I existed, and by name it would be similar, and the figures I name in this story might exist in reality, but that doesn't mean the character I create for myself exists. If you have something that might support it, I would be keen to see it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_for_the_historicity_of_Jesus

Check those.  Also, who is your source - the papal physicist?  I won't make any further judgments, but I don't want someone whose specialty is physics telling me either religion or history, or both.  As for the statement, as best as I can make of it - the guy from the Vatican is basically saying that there's no evidence Jesus was who modernity makes him out to be - IE, Son of God, crucified on the cross, resurrected, etc.  That is a different question - whether or not the Gospels support the historical Jesus, not if Jesus actually existed.

As for Gilgamesh... it is supposed to be the earliest written work that has been found of any of human history. The mere writing of it is said to put the lie to the six thousand year old earth claim, since it predates what the bible claims to be the beginning of the world. How, then, could it NOT be stealing from one source (which existed in the same area far beforehand) to create the next? The theory of the draconic is a little... I don't know, suspect. I've heard it said in discussion that if there were dinosaur bones in a place, there would be dragon tales. I'm not sure how this relates to the Gilgamesh thing except as a very, VERY flimsy reasoning to believe that one thing was confirming another when Gilgamesh was written as fiction and the bible is lauded as testament.

Given that they were written at different times, set in different times, the basis of the stories were completely different excepting the part about the actual flood... I feel as though this is a nonsense hypothesis that hasn't even circumstantial evidence to support it.

Except.

1 - several cultures have flood narratives, and some of these are cultures that would have had no reasonable contact with the others.  The Greeks have the story of Deucalion; Hinduism has the story of Manu; the Norse story of Bergelmir; the Mayans have such a story; the Obijwa (a minor American Indian tribe); the Muisca (a Southern American people who lived in what is now Colombia); and if none of that matters, the Aborigines of Australia have one, too.

2 - The Epic of Gilgamesh is usually considered the earliest known work of literature.  But, there is strong evidence to indicate that the flood story presented in Gilgamesh was actually taken from another story, the Epic of Atrahasis.  Stories about Gilgamesh were told as early as 2100 BC, during the 3rd Dynasty of Ur.  The earliest versions that we have of the Epic date from somewhere between 2000 to 1500 BC, but these are fragmentary at best and don't tell the whole story.  The 'standard' version of the Epic of Gilgamesh we have in modernity dates from around 1300-1000 BC.  In contrast, the Epic of Atrahasis is firmly dated as being during the reign of the great-grandson of Hammurabi, a time frame of the 1600s BC.

To try and use an analogy - are you familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos?

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Re: Religion and the Declaration of Morality
« Reply #49 on: August 25, 2017, 07:30:51 AM »
Moses is one thing, but nearly all scholars - Biblical and otherwise - agreed that Jesus was an historical figure, though to what degree the Gospels reflect his historicity is in doubt.   At the very least, a number of figures named throughout Jesus' life - Herod the Tetrarch, Quirinius, and Pontius Pilate - were absolutely historical, as well.

It is WAY beyond the scope of this thread to bring up the historicity of Jesus. What I am going to do is agree with your first point: yes, the consensus of those in Jesus studies is that Jesus was historical. So yes, the burden of proof clearly falls on anyone who would challenge the consensus

But that is not to say that we can't argue that the current consensus has been improperly generated. And historians, especially historians in the field of Jesus study, do make assertions out of proportions to the evidence or simply cite the consensus without checking about how that consensus was actually generated.

Richard Carrier makes this argument in his book 'Proving History.' That book doesn't attempt to argue the historicity/mythicism debate, it merely lays the groundwork for demonstrating how the consensus is logically fallacious and not based on a sound historical methodology.

The fact that proponents of the historical Jesus produce so many different historical Jesuses is an illustrative point on this topic. You have Jesus the Jewish Cynic Sage, Jesus the Rabbinical Holy Man, Jesus the Devoted Pharisee, Jesus the Heretical Essene, Jesus the Political Revolutionary, Jesus the Zealot, Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet. Jesus the Messianic Pretender, Jesus the Actual Messiah, Jesus the Folk Wizard, Jesus the Mystic and “Child of Sophia”, Jesus the Nonviolent Social Reformer, and Jesus the Actual Davidic Heir and Founder of the Royal Bloodline.

And this is not even a complete list. The fact that almost no one in Jesus studies agrees with almost anyone else about the nature of this historical person they all agree existed should lead one to question whether certainty in their own theory is really even warranted, since everyone else is just as certain, and yet they should all be fully competent to arrive at a sound conclusion from the evidence. Obviously, something is fundamentally wrong with the methods of the entire community. When a scholarly community uses, in principle, the same method of historical study, applies it to the same facts, and gets different answers in the range of the partial list above, we can be certain that there is a fundamental flaw in method.

Progress is supposed to increase knowledge and consensus and sharpen the picture of what happened (or what we don't know), not the reverse. Instead, Jesus scholars continue multiplying contradictory pictures of Jesus, rather than narrowing them down and increasing their clarity— or at least reaching a consensus on the scale and scope of our uncertainty or ignorance. More importantly, the many contradictory versions of Jesus (Jesus could not have been, for example, both a Pharisee and a Zealot) now confidently touted by different Jesus scholars are all so very plausible— yet not all can be true. In fact, as only one (at most) can be.

Again, this is a derailment and I'm not interested in having the historicity debate here. I'm merely pointing out an objection to your argument that the consensus argues for a historical Jesus ignores the fact that we have good reason to believe that the consensus was improperly generated.