Author Topic: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate  (Read 20334 times)

Offline Amie

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8460
    • threegeese
Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« on: October 21, 2010, 07:02:26 AM »
The sonnet debate was so popular that it sparked a whole new debate! - So I decided to split this off and put it in the coffee shop - see below:

to me its paradoxical. but then again I find any self-proclaimed athiest who adheres to anything ( humanitarianism, environmentalism, nationalism, animal welfare....blah blah blah ) ludicrous and self-contradictory. for me, its either God or nothing. if there is no God and no afterlife, the only logical consequence is nihilism and denial...rejection of everything that doesn't concern your own immediate self-preservation. honestly, I couldn't give a flying flip if my great-great-grand son is coughed out into a world without panda bears....or the ozone layer, for that matter.  

Well, that's a whole other debate, maybe best for the coffee shop, if there's any interest in it. I'll comment now though - I know where you're coming from, but I don't see such views as necessarily inconsistent. First, denial of a 'God' doesn't necessarily imply denial of a spiritual dimension or implicit ethics. Second, even if you go the nihilistic route - unless you are plannign to kill yourself because there's no point, you will want to make your existence on this planet as pleasant as possible. This might, depending on the individual and their belief system, involve lobbying for certain political systems or environmental policies or even save the panda (just because pandas don't make your life more pleasant doesn't mean they aren't a great source of joy to someone. And we don't know the knock-on consequences of panda-annihilation, it could have an impact on the individual that you haven't foreseen). I'm not a theist, but I'd champion animal welfare. Some of my reasons might be illogical, but at least one of them would be that I would find a world where people consider animal cruelty acceptable to be unpleasant. Humans are animals after all, and if you can be cruel to a cat, you could do the same to me.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 08:42:07 AM by Amie »
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Offline Mark H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 19722
  • Middleclass Machismo now available.
Re: Definitions
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2010, 08:37:54 AM »
V

All beliefs are innate. The reasons people give for their beliefs are simply ways of justifying those beliefs -- first to themselves and later to others. Imagine if you had the God gene but were incapable of establishing a reason for your belief in God! You'd go bonkers. That's why the beliefs of others seem so illogical: because they are illogical; it's a form of self delusion.

I state the above as fact, but of course it is no more than ... my own justification of my belief that beliefs are innate and delusional. But in a way that proves my point.

M
Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg

Offline cato

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 91
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2010, 09:49:02 AM »
hmm nice chin-stroker, this, especially on a slow thursday afternoon  :)

atheism refers to the absence of belief in an entity signified by the term 'god'. it is not in itself a belief, and need have no relation to nihilism, which indicates an active rejection of all beliefs, laws etc. and which in its most extreme form represents a wholesale rejection of reality.

the notion that all moral laws ought to flow (or indeed flow in practice) from religious belief is one that should only have meaning for religious people. i don't see any grounds for supposing that nihilism ought to be a 'logical consequence' of atheism - in itself this idea is paradoxical and nonsensical, since the nihilist has rejected logic (as he has rejected everything else), and can have no grounds for asserting a 'logical consequence' of his (or her) absence of belief in an entity signified by the term 'god.'

as far as mark's point about all beliefs being 'delusional' - in fact there are many things we all 'believe' which aren't controversial at all. for instance i believe that if victor throws himself under a bus, there's a fair chance he'll cop a couple of nasty scratches - i assume he agrees. as hume demonstrated, there's no way of proving the link between cause and effect empirically - we cannot observe the causal relationship - but we all 'believe' in it due to an intuitive process of induction. to answer mark's point, there's nothing 'delusional' about these kind of beliefs, it's certainly not self-deluded to refrain from throwing yourself under buses just for the hell of it - unless you're a nihilist of course  ;D

an absence of belief in an entity signified by the term god empowers us to define our own social and ethical narrative, based on sound rational principles - the kind every single one of us applies constantly in our everyday lives (such as the inductive understanding of causation).

cmb

  • Guest
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2010, 10:03:19 AM »
All beliefs are innate. The reasons people give for their beliefs are simply ways of justifying those beliefs -- first to themselves and later to others. Imagine if you had the God gene but were incapable of establishing a reason for your belief in God! You'd go bonkers. That's why the beliefs of others seem so illogical: because they are illogical; it's a form of self delusion.

I state the above as fact, but of course it is no more than ... my own justification of my belief that beliefs are innate and delusional. But in a way that proves my point.


In fact, Mark, I think many social scientists will agree with you on this point. Heck, even I agree with you here. We are born with a natural need to believe in something. And it doesn't really matter what that something is, as long as it provides you with... well... something to believe in.

I chose to believe in a higher being, a creator. And the reason I chose this, is partly because that's what I was programmed to believe in as a child. It's part of my identity.

Can I be absolutely, 100% sure that I'm right? Of course not! In fact, I'm convinced that I'm probably for at least (yes at least!) 50% wrong, but that's completely besides the point. The point being, that I need to believe. I was born that way. I chose to believe in this higher being.

Others choose to believe in themselves, in science, in... whatever. It doesn't matter. It's all good. But once a person has lost all that he/she believed in, (s)he either needs to find something other to believe in to fill that void, or lose their sanity. I prefer to be more or less sane. (But not too sane, of course. After all, I'm a writer.  ;) )


I don't really know what this has to do with atheism, though. Atheist simply do not believe in a deity, but they might very well believe in science. Or Money.  
« Last Edit: October 22, 2010, 10:17:44 AM by Nelodra »

Offline Vienna

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7389
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2010, 10:22:43 AM »
Thank Christ I'm an atheist!
Just a well-read punk peasant

Going to church makes you a christian as much as standing in a garage makes you a car!

cmb

  • Guest
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2010, 10:37:26 AM »
Then why thank a (in this case Christian) deity for that fact, V?  ;D  :P

Offline Mark H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 19722
  • Middleclass Machismo now available.
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2010, 10:50:48 AM »
...
as far as mark's point about all beliefs being 'delusional' - in fact there are many things we all 'believe' which aren't controversial at all. for instance i believe that if victor throws himself under a bus, there's a fair chance he'll cop a couple of nasty scratches - i assume he agrees. as hume demonstrated, there's no way of proving the link between cause and effect empirically - we cannot observe the causal relationship - but we all 'believe' in it due to an intuitive process of induction. to answer mark's point, there's nothing 'delusional' about these kind of beliefs, it's certainly not self-deluded to refrain from throwing yourself under buses just for the hell of it - unless you're a nihilist of course  ;D
..

I would distinguish between a belief (God is good) and an observable fact that can be reproduced (being hit by a bus will cause you damage). Your argument is an example of a straw man fallacy. I state that beliefs are delusional, but instead of arguing against that position you instead argue against the position that observable/reproducible facts are delusional, which is a distortion of what I proposed.  :)

Mark

Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg

Offline Conanthedoylarian

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
    • Conanthedoylarian
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2010, 06:59:34 PM »
I would distinguish between a belief (God is good) and an observable fact that can be reproduced (being hit by a bus will cause you damage). Your argument is an example of a straw man fallacy. I state that beliefs are delusional, but instead of arguing against that position you instead argue against the position that observable/reproducible facts are delusional, which is a distortion of what I proposed.  :)

Mark



I have never suffered injury in this way (being hit by a bus), though I am aware that some people have.  I therefore make a leap of faith that what would injure them, could well injure me*.  I would go further and say that I firmly believe that such an injury is highly likely.

Is my belief delusional?

* This must necessarily be less than certain as some people remain uninjured in circumstances that have injured or could injure others.

Offline Mark H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 19722
  • Middleclass Machismo now available.
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2010, 07:22:37 PM »
C

OK you may not have been hit by a bus, but you have experienced other things (such has being hit and hurt by much smaller objects). And, there are other experiments you can do to test your theory: throw a melon (or a poet) in front of the bus and see if that gets damaged.

I agree that in purely philosophical terms you can never be certain of anything, but that hardly seems like a basis for living your life! So how about in practical terms? Experience of life so far (and if we are unsure experimentation) shows that being hit by a bus will hurt. I feel confident that I could demonstrated to anyone of sound mind that I am correct on this point.

Now then, how about this God business  :-\ People with beliefs one way or the other will put forward their justifications, but, it all seems a bit tenuous and inconclusive (both sides of the argument). Which goes back to my original point about the innateness of belief and the way the human mind helps to justify that belief so we won't go bonkers*.

M

* A medical condition of the brain muscle.
Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg

Offline Mark H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 19722
  • Middleclass Machismo now available.
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2010, 07:31:06 PM »
C

I also meant to say, in my reply to Cato I deliberately called the bus incident an observable fact rather than a belief. He tried to lump the concepts together as I think you have done. You may use semantics to say that both are beliefs, but in practice people will understand the difference between the 2 things. I think I have shown why they are different whatever label you choose to give them.

M
Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg

Offline Conanthedoylarian

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
    • Conanthedoylarian
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2010, 07:47:03 PM »
C

I also meant to say, in my reply to Cato I deliberately called the bus incident an observable fact rather than a belief. He tried to lump the concepts together as I think you have done. You may use semantics to say that both are beliefs, but in practice people will understand the difference between the 2 things. I think I have shown why they are different whatever label you choose to give them.

M

Not really.  I had narrated a process whereby a belief (never tested whatever you say about other people and objects, or my prior experience of pain) that such an event would injure me, has been formed.  And it has been formed by a process of generalisation* where similar events are presumed to have similar outcomes.  This belief now acts as a reliable organiser for my behaviour and therefore has effects in the real world outside of my head.  The belief is a separate psychological event to the experiments and observations you indicate and fits well into the acceptable definitions of the word belief.

Perhaps, when stating that beliefs are delusional, it should be a clearly qualified definition you use, otherwise it is a premise easily disproven by the "one white crow" principle.


*Whether its source is past experience as you describe, or direct observation of damage in people or objects.  Clearly the habit of allowing generalisation to guide thoughts, behaviour, and indeed how we live can be a useful tool at times, and can completely undermine mental health at others.

Offline Mark H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 19722
  • Middleclass Machismo now available.
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2010, 08:15:01 PM »
Perhaps, when stating that beliefs are delusional, it should be a clearly qualified definition you use, otherwise it is a premise easily disproven by the "one white crow" principle.

If I was writing a thesis to become a doctor of philosophy, then such qualification would be vital. However, for a general discussion, I'm happy that those involved will have understood what I meant by belief (based on the context of the discussion) and that no one will get confused and think I'm talking about the belief that I have cheese in my fridge. Of course I accept that you can choose to widen the meaning of belief (even though it is obvious what I meant) because it is easier to go off on a tangent about buses than it is to refute the original point.  :)

In general I would say it is always best to be was specific as possible and to use the most appropriate word. But, nothing but the word belief springs to mind and so I will have to rely on the wit of those involved to recognise that a belief that god exists/does not exists, is fundamentally different from a belief that cheese exists/does not exists. I'm quietly confident that my lack of appropriate vocabulary won't hinder us too much.
Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg

Offline Conanthedoylarian

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
    • Conanthedoylarian
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2010, 04:53:53 AM »
Of course I accept that you can choose to widen the meaning of belief (even though it is obvious what I meant) because it is easier to go off on a tangent about buses than it is to refute the original point.  :)

In general I would say it is always best to be was specific as possible and to use the most appropriate word. But, nothing but the word belief springs to mind and so I will have to rely on the wit of those involved to recognise that a belief that god exists/does not exists, is fundamentally different from a belief that cheese exists/does not exists. I'm quietly confident that my lack of appropriate vocabulary won't hinder us too much.

Sorry Mark, I had thought the original point to be:

V

All beliefs are innate. The reasons people give for their beliefs are simply ways of justifying those beliefs -- first to themselves and later to others. Imagine if you had the God gene but were incapable of establishing a reason for your belief in God! You'd go bonkers. That's why the beliefs of others seem so illogical: because they are illogical; it's a form of self delusion.

I state the above as fact, but of course it is no more than ... my own justification of my belief that beliefs are innate and delusional. But in a way that proves my point.

M

And the only parts I take issue with are these:

V

All beliefs are innate.

That's why the beliefs of others seem so illogical: because they are illogical; it's a form of self delusion.

... my own justification of my belief that beliefs are innate and delusional.

M

And I think that the discussion has shown some of the ways in which I disagree, using the medium of buses to demonstrate a few of the points.


Offline Mark H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 19722
  • Middleclass Machismo now available.
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2010, 05:13:59 AM »
In that case, I will simply restate my original point to add clarity.

On the assumption that beliefs fall into 2 sets, set A: beliefs that the majority would call facts (such as cheese exists), and set B: beliefs that the majority would call beliefs (such as God is good), then all beliefs in set B are innate. Blah blah blah ...
« Last Edit: October 23, 2010, 06:15:32 AM by Mark. »
Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg

Offline Mark H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 19722
  • Middleclass Machismo now available.
Re: Victor's Theism vs Ethics debate
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2010, 01:32:08 PM »
They are there, but how would it help to factor them in? I think one of the things that puts people off philosophy is fluff (like the stuff from Conanthewatsit) where instead of discussing the big questions, you quince around debating semantics. We don't have a problem using assumptions in everyday life, so we should discuss philosophical ideas in the same way. If I say to you: would you like a cup of coffee? we don't then need to have a 3 hour debate over the meaning of the word cup just to make sure I didn't mean the World Cup or the cup of a bra.

I'm sure there are some really interesting arguments against my theory (in fact I could think of quite a few myself), but trying to expand the scope of the theory so it is all encompassing and can thus be shown as false, is not one of them. Similarly, increasing the number of sets, or showing that those sets overlap at the fringes (your greyness), does not add any clarity to the situation either.

Feel free to elaborate though  :)
Buy Bristle Side Down, The Man Who Wore Brown Shoes and Middleclass Machismo here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=570142

If poetry is not your thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PueM04F0Qz8 or: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0Zm8cj9MGg