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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Actually, not in the least.
    He's not dangerous at all because he has made himself ineffective.

    Since he takes such an extreme tack, he only wins over people who already agree with him and will never make headway against those who oppose him. He gives them more than enough fodder to just dismiss him outright.

    I would be FAR more scared of someone who could get his enemies to listen to him.

    (and frankly, it's nothing to be "scared" about... this is about what's true, right? Not about what people want to be true? People are only scared because they're more worried about protecting what they have rather than making sure what they have is correct.)
    Sure, this is about what's true.

    And that's why Sam Harris is so dangerous - because he is internally consistent - he is morally impeccable - and he speaks in language we can understand.

    Sam Harris is simply convincing.

  2. #42
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Sure, this is about what's true.

    And that's why Sam Harris is so dangerous - because he is internally consistent - he is morally impeccable - and he speaks in language we can understand.

    Sam Harris is simply convincing.
    "True" is more than what lurks inside your head, Victor.

    And I'm not wasting my time discussing things with people who can't look at how reality actually plays out, rather than ignoring content to repeatedly voice their own abstracted theories of how they want things to be.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    "True" is more than what lurks inside your head, Victor.
    Yes, to discover what's true I need to reality test the ideas that lurk inside my head.

    I need to speak firmly to my ideas and say, "Come out you lurkers and be tested against reality!".

    Sometimes these lurkers fail the reality test and sometimes they pass.

    But when reality changes, I change my mind.

    What do you do?

  4. #44
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    And I take issue with your use of the word "truth". I agree with Elaur that many religious beliefs, e.g. the mere prescence of a higher power, are impossible to prove or disprove. Therefore, you technically don't know if atheism is "true" or not..
    With regard to some issues, the truth is obvious. Some propositions of elementary physics are an example. Rocks are either solid or not solid. With regard to issues of religious faith, it is much more difficult for us to have reliable knowledge. However, we can know some things about those matters by rational argument. This may be enough to refute what religions assert about the topic. For example, if religions make self-contradictory assertions as they often do, or make claims that are not at all supported. In short, although many religious notions cannot be completely refuted, there are good reasons for rejecting them. Therefore there is a conflict between a scientific and a philosophical approach to the issue and the religious. Although as you mention they do not always contadict each other, they disagree enough to be in conflict with one another.

    The problem I am concerned with is whether or not we want to have the simple religious folk experience such a conflict by allowing them to read scientifically and philosophically motivated works.

    Summary: In my response to you I sought to defend two claims . (1) Despite a lack of highly reliable knowledge with regard to religious topics, we have enough knowledge to reject religious assertions. (2) By virtue of point 1 we know that there will be a conflict between science/philosophy and religion, we need to solve the problem of whether or not we want the ordinary religious folk to deal with such a dissonance.





    Quote Originally Posted by murkrow View Post
    Should I also value the happiness of you more than the happiness of your descendants?

    Yes, because my happiness will influence you more than that of my descendants. The way I may interact with you is heavily influenced by my emotive states. In other words, whether or not I am happy will influence your happiness. Whether or not my descendants will be happy will not influence your happiness at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Fair enough. I don't know enough about his views I only meant to caution by use of example.

    My point was that, its not important what you base your views on because they are both sides see theirs' as fundamental truths. The religious may base their views on a profound and inherent faith. Dennett bases his on rational fact. Each will say their truth is undeniable and we are left with a stalemate. You cannot weigh faith against reason - its apples and oranges. Or in philosophical terms, fighting (what is viewed as) a priori knowledge with an a posteriori argument. Reason has little place in religion. Its pointless to use it to persuade the religious. Its like trying to convince pacificists to go to war by beating them up.

    I think there is nothing wrong with attempting to persuade others but it must be done with respect and with their consent. It certainly may be of assistance to people who are struggling with their beliefs and seek advice. And I also think the evangelists should be able to if they also keep to the same standards. But what troubles me are people that make their anti-religious views a campaign, such as Bill Maher (not that I've seen Religulous). I hate when it becomes, "lets all laugh at the foolish religious people and their ignorant backward beliefs". Religion discussion is a minefield that should not be attempted without respect.

    I ultimately thing that when it comes to religion views we must emphasize that they are beliefs not fundamental truths. People are entitled to express their religious beliefs but publically attacking and undermining those of others (if those beliefs are not harmful or discriminatory) is wrong to me.

    It seems rather clear to me that Dennett communicates his message in a respectful and in as least intrusive as possible of a manner. However, it is a fact that many do not profit from his writings. They simply get confused by them. My question is, do we want him to continue his work. Do we want to invite him to public talk shows? Publish his books in forums accessible to all? Perhaps it is better that we do not and restrict his work to scholarly forums. We can accomplish this by ensuring that all scholarly books and essays are published in forums that only academics can access. In order for one to be regarded as an academic, he or she must either have a bachelors degree (or higher), pass an entrance examination, or publish something on one of the sciences or philosophy. In short, in order to read books such as that of Dennett one must show that he can handle a critical scrutiny of ideas that are an essential part of his lifestyle and will not get confused like many do. As Moses Maimonides(Maimonides (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)) once aptly noticed, metaphysics is dangerous, he who can swim will bring diamonds from its depth, he who cannot may drown.

    Does this appear to be contrary to the values of our democratic society because it is an explicit form of censorship? Certainly, however this move is not at all uncommon in our society. We are well known for preventing individuals from engaging in potentially dangerous activities unless it is clear they qualify to handle them. For example, driving a car is potentially dangerous, that is why one must first prove that he can drive before he is allowed to do so freely. Performing CPR is another example, as that also is potentially dangerous. Similarly, discussing abstract ideas is potentially dangerous so only those who prove that they can cope with the hazard should be allowed to practice such an activity.

    That is my proposal and an outline of the solution to the problem I began exploring in the OP.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  5. #45
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Does this appear to be contrary to the values of our democratic society because it is an explicit form of censorship? Certainly, however this move is not at all uncommon in our society. We are well known for preventing individuals from engaging in potentially dangerous activities unless it is clear they qualify to handle them. For example, driving a car is potentially dangerous, that is why one must first prove that he can drive before he is allowed to do so freely. Performing CPR is another example, as that also is potentially dangerous. Similarly, discussing abstract ideas is potentially dangerous so only those who prove that they can cope with the hazard should be allowed to practice such an activity.

    That is my proposal and an outline of the solution to the problem I began exploring in the OP.
    I thought this was a debate regarding self-censorship in mixed company and/or public life? Now it seems that we are debating some form of externally imposed censorship.

  6. #46
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    I thought this was a debate regarding self-censorship in mixed company and/or public life? Now it seems that we are debating some form of externally imposed censorship.
    It was a very general issue. Specifically what personal responsibility does each one of us have with regard to informing the ignorant or refraining from informing them. Part of it is the issue you mention, or self-censorship in a mixed company, but that is not the only part of it. Other parts include for instance the issue of publishing in forums that are accessibe to all. This is specifically where Dennett's work is directly relevant.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  7. #47
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I'm not wasting my time discussing things with people who can't look at how reality actually plays out, rather than ignoring content to repeatedly voice their own abstracted theories of how they want things to be.
    Oh, so you're one of THOSE people.

    ()

  8. #48
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    There is no conclusive proof about religions, however, some arguments on the subject are better than others. Those proposed by the scientists and the philosophers do not guarantee us the knowledge of the truth, though they give us much more clear indicators of what the truth is than those that are almost completely unfounded.

    In one sentence, no argument about religion or many popular myth has all the evidence on its side, yet some arguments have more evidence than others. A rational person will believe in the one that is more supported by evidence.




    It is true that religion offers insights by inspiring people to believe in things they have no reason to believe in, such as immortality of the soul. This is a deeply positive influence on many people. However, if philosophical and scientific arguments were clearly and thoroughly expounded upon, it would become clear that the reason why people believe in the immortality of the soul is just because they want to. In other words, there is simply no reason to believe in such things.
    Your argument is unfounded as soon as you step outside the realm of epistemology that knows only through logical and rational reasoning. It's fine if you're holding your entire argument within the rather large bounds of logic, and you happen to have societal values aligning with you (we're not in a day and age where mystics are valued more than earlier versions of scientists, of course) but not everyone subscribes to limiting their epistemological viewpoint solely within the realm of logical reasoning.

    Most people, for example, believe in the notion of love beyond what is necessary for biological survival (loving people that aren't their mate, offspring, or immediate community to work together to ensure survival). Some people have friends they call and visit and write to on the other side of the world because they love them. This is totally illogical; yet they feel they know there's value in that relationship.

    You are in the minority if you believe that all your epistemology should be contained solely in the dimension of logic. A distinct minority.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  9. #49
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    The stars are beautiful.
    The bible is not.

  10. #50
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    With regard to some issues, the truth is obvious. Some propositions of elementary physics are an example. Rocks are either solid or not solid. With regard to issues of religious faith, it is much more difficult for us to have reliable knowledge. However, we can know some things about those matters by rational argument. This may be enough to refute what religions assert about the topic. For example, if religions make self-contradictory assertions as they often do, or make claims that are not at all supported. In short, although many religious notions cannot be completely refuted, there are good reasons for rejecting them. Therefore there is a conflict between a scientific and a philosophical approach to the issue and the religious. Although as you mention they do not always contadict each other, they disagree enough to be in conflict with one another.

    The problem I am concerned with is whether or not we want to have the simple religious folk experience such a conflict by allowing them to read scientifically and philosophically motivated works.
    Religious manuscripts can be interpreted in ways that allow science and religion to coexist. For example, I know many people who, despite being Christian, do not believe that Christ will "come again", and believe that many parts of the Bible, including the entire book of Genesis, are essentially fables, written to give valuable lessons and not meant to be taken literally. Also, as I mentioned before, deism does not even begin to conflict with science.

    But I doubt that you're referring to the "religious left" here, so I digress.

    The final paragraph of the post I quoted is a bit... well... I'll paraphrase it, and you can tell me if I have it right:

    "There's a conflict between science and religion, and I'm wondering whether we should shelter the poor, stupid religious folk from the truth, or whether they should be ALLOWED to read scientific works."

    If that's right (and it's probably not - I'm responding to this pretty late at night, after all), then here's my response: These people should not be evangelized to. They should have all the rights that everyone else does. If history continues to repeat itself, they will become more liberal and open to science as time passes, without any specific, focused aid.

    Also, let's think about this for a second: for many people, religious beliefs are not based on reason at all. Therefore, rational argument should have no effect on it. Therefore, what good would trying to convince them actually DO?

    However, if philosophical and scientific arguments were clearly and thoroughly expounded upon, it would become clear that the reason why people believe in the immortality of the soul is just because they want to. In other words, there is simply no reason to believe in such things.
    There's always a reason. Ever read the works of Joseph Campbell?
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