• kudos
    23
    This comes after a conversation I had with someone who expressed belief that all theistic religions were obselete and dangerous on account of individuals believing without question in something with no room for rational arguement.

    It seems that the problem is the modeling of thought. The question if an event would be equally likely to exist or not exist given some reason to believe it doesnt exist. For instance: do aliens exist? Most right now would agree scientifically its roughly equally likely and there isnt enough data to suggest one way or the other. This is well and good seeing as there is sensory reason to believe it could, but in theistic religions things are said to occur that reason would not account for as realistic. So the question is: does the belief that others should all ascribe to atheism itself necessitate a nonbelief in all things of this nature? What of things that our imaginations could not proport to reasonably exist, does it intrinsically deny the existence of all those things? I’d think this would mean a certain impermeability of imagination, where individuals become unable to imagine things that don’t already exist in the framework of physical sense.

    All men believe what they sense, but does argueing for the universal spread of atheism mean that one must systematically deny anything outside of its realms of plausibility? It seems to be poor from a philosophical standpoint, resulting in the depreciation of rational thinking.
  • TogetherTurtle
    171
    All men believe what they sense, but does argueing for the universal spread of atheism mean that one must systematically deny anything outside of its realms of plausibility?kudos

    No, it just means you have to prove what you believe. Typically first comes an observation, then the process of human imagination thinking up an explanation, and then using sensory data to prove your explanation.

    If it doesn't seem plausible, you should expect people not to believe it until you can prove that it is plausible.
  • kudos
    23
    What about the discipline of chemistry. The first atomists had no clear reason to believe for sure on their specultions based on observation, but later on come 1700/1800 individuals chose to investigate and found those ideas to be true. Those initial folks were perhaps laughed at or ridiculed that their ideas were beyond sense. Who knows of that would have ocurred had not those initial seeds been planted. How did they base what they thought on direct observation?
  • T Clark
    3.1k
    There are sound rational arguments that the universe, reality, existence, whatever you want to call it, is an inextricable weaving of the physical and mental matter, energy, thought, consciousness. I don't want to sidetrack the discussion, so I won't go into it all now. And no, I'm not talking about quantum mechanics.

    If that's true, I can also make an the case that theists have a better understanding of the true nature of reality than most atheists do. I say that, even though I have no personal theistic belief.
  • kudos
    23
    Two people observe similar lives, one believes in a G-d the other does not. One’s claim clearly has a better ‘chance’ of being right by existing rational arguement the other is much less so. Neither fully understands those observations. I say it is irrational that one should claim the right that the other is not correct to the point of taking away that liberty of speculation.
  • tim wood
    2k
    does the belief that others should all ascribe to atheism itself necessitate a nonbelief in all things of this nature?kudos

    Seems to me the answer depends on what, exactly, you decide belief is, and is for. Existence usually isn't in question when it comes to religious belief - except among the ignorant, the stupid, the vicious, the naive, the simple, the lazy, the uneducated, the non-believers, and so forth. The whole idea of belief is to allow the believer to not worry about existence, and as well to provide a personification for a wide set of ideas. This is not to say that believers are making a mistake. Indeed, the mistake about existence is mistakenly attributed to believers by people who do not understand what belief is, its nature or its function.

    The creed is, "We believe...". Not that God exists.

    To be sure, some "religious" types do insist that God exists. Pay attention, though. Such people are invariably selling something.

    And that is why a lot of atheism is foolish. It's tilting at windmills, and there is not even a windmill!
  • kudos
    23
    If something is not reasonable we could equate that to saying it is unlikely, as our reason’s function to prediction of events means this at most. To believe all theistic religion should be crushed, the basis is that this case of something being extremely unlikely should make it be considered false. The hypothesis is ‘that which is sufficiently unlikely should not occur.’ But of all things to change is unlikely as their state of rest exemplifies. Given sufficient time those of greater unliklinesses are known to diminish and the event becomes likely to occur. So the reasoning seems to contradict itself.
  • TogetherTurtle
    171
    What about the discipline of chemistry. The first atomists had no clear reason to believe for sure on their specultions based on observation, but later on come 1700/1800 individuals chose to investigate and found those ideas to be true. Those initial folks were perhaps laughed at or ridiculed that their ideas were beyond sense. Who knows of that would have ocurred had not those initial seeds been planted. How did they base what they thought on direct observation?kudos

    They observed that certain materials had certain properties and then theororized that atoms existed and those materials had different properties based on what made up those atoms. At least that's my understanding of it. Then later on people went looking for atoms and found them. You say those folks were laughed at and that's probably true, they should have been. Only after you present evidence should people believe you.

    Two people observe similar lives, one believes in a G-d the other does not. One’s claim clearly has a better ‘chance’ of being right by existing rational arguement the other is much less so. Neither fully understands those observations. I say it is irrational that one should claim the right that the other is not correct to the point of taking away that liberty of speculation.kudos

    I think that people should be able to be religious. I just don't think they should be taken seriously until they show proof that god exists. Whatever you decide to worship or believe durring your free time is your buisness, but when you go into work or to contribute to society you put unprovable beliefs aside and work with what we can prove.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    dangerous on account of individuals believing without question in something with no room for rational arguement.kudos

    The person you were discussing this with should have had an argument re why believing in something, without question, with no room for rational argument is necessarily "dangerous." Because if that's not necessarily dangerous, it's a moot point.

    The question if an event would be equally likely to exist or not exist given some reason to believe it doesnt exist.kudos

    There's no way to figure likelihood in scenarios like that.

    does the belief that others should all ascribe to atheism itself necessitate a nonbelief in all things of this nature?kudos

    If one is proposing a normative based on rationality to that effect, then it would suggest being skeptical about all similar claims, sure. That wouldn't include claims about alien life, though, as there is good reason, grounded in scientific principles if one buys them, to believe that some sort of alien life would exist somewhere.

    All men believe what they sense, but does argueing for the universal spread of atheism mean that one must systematically deny anything outside of its realms of plausibility?kudos

    Why would you be advocating that people believe things "outside of the realms of plausibility"? That seems like a weird thing to advocate.
  • kudos
    23
    The person you were discussing this with should have had an argument re why believing in something, without question, with no room for rational argument is necessarily "dangerous." Because if that's not necessarily dangerous, it's a moot point.
    In a nutshell their claim was that now because of global terrorism, violence/oppression of women, and so on religions thenselves are causing harm and are unnecessary.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    In a nutshell their claim was that now because of global terrorism, violence/oppression of women, and so on religions thenselves are causing harm and are unnecessary.kudos

    Since there are religious believers who don't engage in terrorism, violence towards or oppression of women, etc., then it would seem that believing in something, without question, with no room for rational argument is NOT necessarily dangerous. Something else would have to be at play in the examples he's objecting to.
  • kudos
    23
    Well he claimed that the Qu’ran particularly is a call to violence, misogynistic, and that Islam itself is particularly dangerous. The Bill Maher type approach to the problem. Of course also intersperse claims that “It’s bull,” various cursing, so on. But it has got me thinking because he also believed strongly that science and theism were binary opposites. It is getting very common that we humour religious beliefs rather than scoff at them, taking our claim that their falsity is real. I am trying to find if this is in essence agreeing to deny all outside of the empirical under the presumption that there is nothing truly there.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    In other words, it was basically just some poorly thought-out rationalization to be anti-Islam.

    Nothing novel there.
  • Rank Amateur
    1.5k
    Been looking at some Karl Rahner writing last few days. So in speaking to a person who claimed they had never experienced God.

    "I don’t believe you; I just don’t accept that. You have had, perhaps, no experience of God under this precise code-word God but you have had or have now an experience of God – and I am convinced that this is true of every person."

    What he was referring to, was a concept of his theology called "pre- apprehension". Pre apprehension is the concept that it is man’s nature to search for the infinite, because he is either totally or partly, aware of its existence. This implicit knowledge is the base for knowing all things. Rahner would describe what we explicitly know of the universe as an island floating on a sea of a preapprehed knowledge of all we do not yet understand, but are aware of its existence. Man is a creature in the boundary between the physical world we inhabit and the infinite world we are innately aware of.

    I am not aware of a good argument that can dismiss this very natural part of the human condition. Camus called this desire absurd, and that was an outgrowth of existentialism which says we can define this for ourselves.

    I understand these ideas in the context of their times. The advent of mechanized warfare at the turn of the century, and 2 brutal wars, a genocide, and the dawn of nuclear destruction makes the prospect of such a thing as God difficult to believe.

    But I do not find these arguments compelling against such a basic human desire.

    Rahner's second point in the quote above, if by using the word God, we inject all kinds of meanings and assumptions. None of them true to him. To him, God is better defined as a mystery. Something we have an inate understanding that exists, but one we have no real understanding of.

    Not sure I did that good a job on Rahner's theology here, I think I understand it better than I can articulate it. It is almost as much feeling as knowledge in me right now.
  • kudos
    23
    certainly AFAIK (not brought up Christian) Christianity includes the concept of Sin that we have Original Sin and struggle for redemption against our core nature. All things in in their core nature are perfect. That is, they obey least energy least work principles and tend to a state of perfect harmony. Man does not, I suppose this might be part of what constitutes this ‘pre-apprehension.’ That we need this because the nature of what we know is so miniscule and pales in comparison to what nature provides but we cannot know.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    that is why a lot of atheism is foolish. It's tilting at windmills, and there is not even a windmill!tim wood

    :smile:
  • kudos
    23
    Well I’m glad we all agree that guy was just insane. The question still remains though, is it possible to be a-religuous and not be in contradiction in believing something beyond what is plausible given the current body of knowledge? We all seem to agree that its not absurd for individuals to believe, but does this mean it is absurd not to believe there could be something beyond it all? If knowledge can only be obtained through direct observation and there should be nothing to consider beyond the agency of chance, then one can’t seriously consider a sufficiently unlikely truth and they wouldn’t believe it without observable proof. After all, they wouldn’t have any reason to seriously investigate those things they believe could never possibly be, since they too would be beyond reason; only upon a cue from some chance observation or on some previously existing train of thought.
  • andrewk
    2k
    Been looking at some Karl Rahner writing last few days. So in speaking to a person who claimed they had never experienced God.

    "I don’t believe you; I just don’t accept that. You have had, perhaps, no experience of God under this precise code-word God but you have had or have now an experience of God – and I am convinced that this is true of every person."
    Rank Amateur
    I'm on the side of those that deny that religious belief is necessarily irrational, in this discussion.

    But I have a viscerally negative reaction to statements like that attributed to Rahner.

    The level of conceit it must take to tell other people what they think and feel is simply mind-boggling.
    To go further and say that the assertion applies to every single one of the seven billion plus people in the world defies comprehension.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    The argument that 'believing in God is absurd because there's no empirical evidence' betrays a total misunderstanding of the nature of religious faith and experience. Perhaps it is only to be expected in the context of a scientific-secular culture which has little grounding in the religious or spiritual.

    I often refer back to an OP by religious affairs scholar Karen Armstrong on why "belief" in the way it is now construed could be described as a metaphysical mistake. The reasons are complex, deep, and historical in nature. But suffice to say, they originated with, first, the corralling of religious dogmas into abstract syllogistic propositions, and, second, the tendency to treat 'God' as the source of, and so an element in, scientific explanation. All this goes back to early modern Western philosophy, where Newton and others simply assumed that 'nature's laws shew God's handiwork'. But with Newton's deism and Descartes' dualism, 'God' became a very attenuated reality indeed - 'a ghost in his own machine', as one writer put it.

    Whereas, as Armstrong puts it, in the pre-modern understanding,

    myth was a programme of action. When a mythical narrative was symbolically re-enacted, it brought to light within the practitioner something "true" about human life and the way our humanity worked, even if its insights, like those of art, could not be proven rationally. If you did not act upon it, it would remain as incomprehensible and abstract – like the rules of a board game, which seem impossibly convoluted, dull and meaningless until you start to play.

    Religious truth is, therefore, a species of practical knowledge. Like swimming, we cannot learn it in the abstract; we have to plunge into the pool and acquire the knack by dedicated practice. Religious doctrines are a product of ritual and ethical observance, and make no sense unless they are accompanied by such spiritual exercises as yoga, prayer, liturgy and a consistently compassionate lifestyle. Skilled practice in these disciplines can lead to intimations of the transcendence we call God, Nirvana, Brahman or Dao. Without such dedicated practice, these concepts remain incoherent, incredible and even absurd.

    Something which is the source of a large number of the debates on this and other forums!
  • kudos
    23
    Religious truth is, therefore, a species of practical knowledge.
    It doesnt follow to me that this is a valid conclusion based on incommunicability or lack of rational proof. That faith only holds up for a multitude when gone unquestioned doesn’t mean it’s practical in nature. There are things that are irrational and not practical. What about irrational numbers? To suggest its like riding a bike is also a flimsy analogy. This is just lazy thinking like saying “philosophy is a waste lets just live, man!”
  • andrewk
    2k
    This is just lazy thinking like saying “philosophy is a waste lets just live, man!”kudos
    It's not at all like that. Your example is of a weak justification to not do something. Not doing something is consistent with the notion of laziness.

    Wayfarer is talking about doing something - in this case religious practice. Whatever criticisms one might wish to make about certain forms of religious practice, it's hard to see how laziness can be one of them. It's a lot easier to stay in bed of a morning than to get up and go to the mosque, church or temple.
  • Judaka
    232

    There are many reasons for an atheist to be an atheist, many of them are not based on empiricism. There are many reasons for a believer to be religious, many of them have nothing to do with empiricism. The main difference is an epistemological distinction between what is required for belief, truthfully, there are many things that atheists will believe despite not having sufficient proof, the alternative is too impossible to imagine.

    I meet atheists who believe in ghosts, such things are possible. I think that Christianity in particular, a lot of smart people make exceptions for it - they're still completely competent to determine the truthfulness of claims but they don't apply that rigour to religion. It is rather clear that it doesn't hold up to scrutiny in so far as "proving God exists" is concerned.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    It's a lot easier to stay in bed of a morning than to get up and go to the mosque, church or temple.andrewk

    I reflect on that whenever I sleep in instead of getting up for zazen.
  • kudos
    23
    I don’t see how we can make a clear discernment between something like ‘ghosts’ and G-d by saying “I don’t believe it can be because this is unreasonable,” and on the other hand claim that there are unreasonable things that can exist. As an arguement it would lead me to believe this atheist were more agnostic or chooses to ignore the point altogether.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    My only wish is that some kind mod will correct the spelling of the OP
  • ssu
    996
    My only wish is that some kind mod will correct the spelling of the OPWayfarer
    I think someone will have a great time with empiracism.

    Shouldn't racism be empirically proven in our postmodern times? Or does it mean that empiricism leads to racism???
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    What he was referring to, was a concept of his theology called "pre- apprehension". Pre apprehension is the concept that it is man’s nature to search for the infinite, because he is either totally or partly, aware of its existence. This implicit knowledge is the base for knowing all things. Rahner would describe what we explicitly know of the universe as an island floating on a sea of a preapprehed knowledge of all we do not yet understand, but are aware of its existence. Man is a creature in the boundary between the physical world we inhabit and the infinite world we are innately aware of.

    I am not aware of a good argument that can dismiss this very natural part of the human condition. Camus called this desire absurd, and that was an outgrowth of existentialism which says we can define this for ourselves.
    Rank Amateur

    I'm not saying this is a "good argument" to dismiss the above, but whenever I encounter someone talking about "the infinite" in this sense, I don't even know what the heck the concept is supposed to be. We get this on this board often. Someone will say something about "the infinite," and then someone will respond with something about the standard ways to parse infinite numbers, say, but the person who brought up "the infinite" will dismiss is, because it wasn't really what they were talking about. The best I can make out is that "the infinite" is supposed to be some kind of a code word for "God, where God is not subject to any logical, physical, etc. facts"--or something like that at any rate, but I also can't say that the idea of that is at all comprehensible to me, either.
  • Rank Amateur
    1.5k
    thanks - i think what Rahner was saying is, it is a part of human nature to seek for this meaning, for some explanation of why we are here, and and for some higher meaning than that which is rooted in our earthly existence. He believes this quest is based on all of us, even if we are unaware of it, having some inherent fundamental or base knowledge that such a thing does exist.

    We can all get very caught up in words. Especially very loaded words with many different meanings to different people and some which cause some immediate emotional reaction. God is certainly one of those. While i understand that definitions are important, as a means to communication, I am more concerned about the concept.

    The concept here is, it is difficult to make a reasoned argument against the proposition that man has some in inherent need for knowledge, and understanding. And he has some need for understanding his purpose. And as far as i am aware of them, all of the philosophical attempts to define such meaning, that does not include something "God Like" are unconvincing. If it is existentialism, absurdity, hedonism, nihilism - none seem to convincing - at least to me, and I believe in general. The best individual answers i have heard on this point - tend to be a kind of secular spirituality. One that are focused on love of others, on some selflessness. Which I wont argue against, but always seem rather God centered to me - just without the God.
  • Jake
    1.2k
    I just don't think they should be taken seriously until they show proof that god exists.TogetherTurtle

    Let's reason together. Let's apply the principle you've articulated in an even handed manner to all beliefs.

    Some people believe their holy book is a reliable source of information about the very largest of questions, but they can't prove it.

    Some people believe human reason is a reliable source of information about the very largest of questions, but they can't prove it.

    No difference so far.

    Holy books have proven that they are useful in creating meaning, purpose and comfort for billions of people over thousands of years. But that fact does not prove that they are also qualified to credibly address the very largest of questions.

    Human reason has proven itself useful for an uncountable number of practical tasks that humans encounter. But that fact does not prove that human reason is also qualified to credibly address the very largest of questions.

    So, still no difference.

    Some religious people seem to be motivated to find some way to declare themselves superior to other people, while other religious people are content just to hold their private view. The same is true of atheists.

    Again, no difference.

    The supposed big divide between theism and atheism is a hoax fueled by ignorance and ego. Both perspectives are built upon faith, as neither side can prove the qualifications of it's chosen authority in regards to the largest of questions.

    I've typed this about 1,000 times on the forum and other philosophy forums too. And it makes no difference at all, because readers are generally not interested in reason, but only the appearance of reason. And this is my irrationality, a habit of persistently attempting to do something, in spite of any evidence that it will ever work.

    We are brothers and sisters, united as one, embracing illusion with equal enthusiasm. The biggest accomplishment any of us can hope to achieve is to develop a sense of humor about the absurdity of our human condition.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.8k
    myth was a programme of action. When a mythical narrative was symbolically re-enacted, it brought to light within the practitioner something "true" about human life and the way our humanity worked, even if its insights, like those of art, could not be proven rationally. If you did not act upon it, it would remain as incomprehensible and abstract – like the rules of a board game, which seem impossibly convoluted, dull and meaningless until you start to play.

    Religious truth is, therefore, a species of practical knowledge. Like swimming, we cannot learn it in the abstract; we have to plunge into the pool and acquire the knack by dedicated practice. Religious doctrines are a product of ritual and ethical observance, and make no sense unless they are accompanied by such spiritual exercises as yoga, prayer, liturgy and a consistently compassionate lifestyle. Skilled practice in these disciplines can lead to intimations of the transcendence we call God, Nirvana, Brahman or Dao. Without such dedicated practice, these concepts remain incoherent, incredible and even absurd.
    All one would have to say is "If you do such and such actions, maybe 'as if' certain things were true, or in the manner of playing along with some particular fiction, then it can have x, y and z benefits, including insights, etc." That seems to be all that's saying, really, and that wouldn't be near as controversial.--at least no more controversial than saying that people receive benefits or gain insights from interacting with the arts.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.