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  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    Are you pushing the "hyperbolic =" button on your philosophical calculator again?
    Not at all. Why? Where are you not following my logic?

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    But you may want to distinguish between the belief system "The tooth fairy does not exist" and the belief system of Christianity. It seems absurd to equate the two. At a minimum, it makes the label of "belief system" meaningless, since pretty much anything becomes a "belief system."
    I put both beliefs into the belief system category. Being in the same category does not imply equivalence. It seems like hyperbole to suggest that being in the same category is the same as saying two things are equal.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    I put both beliefs into the belief system category. Being in the same category does not imply equivalence. It seems like hyperbole to suggest that being in the same category is the same as saying two things are equal.
    Okay, fair enough. I didn't realize you were focusing on my use of the word "equate." You're right--that was very imprecise.

    But again--what good is that category? If both "The tooth fairy does not exist" and the religion of Christianity can fit in it, then so can pretty much every other opinion, perception, and thought. The term "belief system" itself becomes very nearly meaningless.

    IOW, if you want to define "belief system" so broadly as to include all non-beliefs, that's fine with me. I don't care. It's just a label for a category. But what's the point, other than demonstrating your philosophical chops? It seems like just one more example of tinkering with a concept until it embraces absurdity and ceases to have any connection with anything practical or useful.

  4. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    IOW, if you want to define "belief system" so broadly as to include all non-beliefs, that's fine with me.
    Maybe your concept of "belief system" is what I would define as "religion"? I define religion as a complex belief sytem about spiritual reality.

    I don't define "belief system" to include all non-beliefs. My point is that every belief has either conscious or nonconscious cognitions and perceptual biases associated with it, and that alone constitutes a belief system.

    These are all beliefs with underlying belief systems:
    1. The tooth fairy does not exist.
    2. God does not exist.
    3. The tooth fairy exists.
    4. God exists.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    I don't define "belief system" to include all non-beliefs. My point is that every belief has either conscious or nonconscious cognitions and perceptual biases associated with it, and that alone constitutes a belief system.
    Okay, but that still doesn't answer my question: What good is it?

    Look, let's back up. We took as our example a statement that I personally consider a non-belief (or a disbelief, if you wish): "The tooth fairy doesn't exist."

    You insisted that I had to shoehorn that non-belief into a simplistic dichtomy: Either it's a truth or a belief. In essence, I responded: "For my own purposes, I consider it a truth. (If that can't be considered a truth, then what can?) But you seem to imply that it's a belief, so for purposes of seeing where you're going with this, let's call it a belief."

    Now we're at the end of the journey. You have said that "The tooth fairy doesn't exist" is now a belief system in the same category as an entire religion. Fine, but what does that prove?

    First off, having shoehorned a non-belief (in my opinion) into a narrow dichotomy doesn't strip it of it's original qualities. As far as I'm concerned, it remains a non-belief. IOW, I see a qualitative difference between "The tooth fairy doesn't exist" and a religion. Your category seems artificial and useless if it can contain such different elements.

    Second, getting back to your dichotomy, it's going to seem difficult to find many things that fall under the heading of "truth" if you consider "The tooth fairy doesn't exist" to not be a "truth." IOW, your "category" of "belief system" is going to end up encompassing pretty much everything and anything.

    What good is your "category"? I expect that in common parlance the concept of "belief system" would not include such concepts as "The tooth fairy doesn't exist." By shoehorning non-beliefs into a "truth vs. belief" dichotomy, in the end you've widened out the "category" of "belief system" to the point that it seems pretty absurd and useless.

    So again, what good is the "category" at this point? Pretty much every human thought "has either conscious or nonconscious cognitions and perceptual biases associated with it," so I don't see a whole lot of value in highlighting that as a distinguishing or useful feature of the "category."

    I'm probably going to drop this thread after this post. I foresaw trouble when the truth vs. belief dichotomy came up, but I figured I would let you run with it until we reached the natural, absurd end. I think we're there.

    I don't see this discussion shedding much light on the atheism vs. religion debate, other than to rather tortuously redefine non-beliefs as "belief systems." But why bother? Does that label really change anything? Does it suddenly mean that the tooth fairy does exist after all?

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    Okay, but that still doesn't answer my question: What good is it?
    ...
    I don't see this discussion shedding much light on the atheism vs. religion debate, other than to rather tortuously redefine non-beliefs as "belief systems." But why bother? Does that label really change anything? Does it suddenly mean that the tooth fairy does exist after all?
    I think it is very relevant. I think categorizing something either as a truth or non-belief (Is there a difference?) allows us to ignore the cognitive processes and perceptual biases which lead us to our conclusion that something is truth (or non-belief). I don't understand how it is possible to do this and remain objective.

    And, yes, the tooth fairy does exist! :steam:

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by targo View Post
    I look at various quotes in the Bible.

    You did not chose me I have chosen you

    I will not give you more than you can handle

    I knew you before you were born, planned you and i know your life.
    Comforting answers:

    1. You are not seeing the bigger picture. Temporary suffering creating an eternal weight of glory etc.
    2. You are disobeying God in one or more ways and are either being punished or allowed to bear the consequences of your wrong choices.

    Non-comforting answers:

    1. He was not talking to you in those verses.
    2. He does not exist.

    Correct answer:

    1. ?

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    If lack of belief is the same as a belief system, then that means I have hundreds or thousands of belief systems. I don't believe in God, I don't believe in the tooth fairy, I don't believe in the Easter Bunny, I don't believe in elves, etc.
    Each of those indivdually is a belief. Each one on its own may be a belief system or it might not. It depends on if you are grouping the beliefs together into one system or considering them to be separate. A system can have one element in it. (Theoretically a system can have no elements in it.)

    So according to you, each of those disbeliefs equals a belief system, equivalent to your own belief system in God? That doesn't say much for your own belief system.

    To me they are just lack of belief. I don't tack any particular philosophy or qualifier onto my disbelief in God or any of my other disbeliefs. I simply don't believe in God and an afterlife the same way that I don't believe in the tooth fairy.
    I was comparing atheism to theism. I don't see where I was equating anything to my own personal belief system (or your personal belief system for that matter). The terms "atheism" and "theism" are broad enough so that they include a huge range of beliefs. And when you consider all of the variety there is only one difference between atheism and theism. While both ask the question pertaining toward the existence of some type of "divine being(s)", one answers in the negative and the other in the positive. That is the only difference. Considering that is the only difference then athiesm is really just another belief system (or more accurately a set of belief systems).

    Now if you want to compare my personal belief system to your personal belief system I'm sure we can find a huge number of differences. If you want me to accept that your beliefs on this matter are so simple that they don't really constitute beliefs then I can accept that as well. (I can't accept it in any sort of rigorously defined sense, but in a general practical sense I can.) However I was not talking about personal belief systems.

    I'll grant that there are other atheists who do build some kind of philosophical superstructure on top of their atheism or qualify their atheism any number of ways.

    But as it pertains to me, "atheism" isn't a school of thought or even a collection of people. It's just a label. Here's my thinking about that label:

    "I don't believe in God the same way that I don't believe in the tooth fairy. According to the usual definition of these things, I guess that makes me an "atheist" Fine, whatever. If that's the appropriate label, then that's what I'll call myself so that people understand my position."

    But it seems strange to hear that since I'm an "atheist," I must have a "belief system." I never understand why religious people claim that simple lack of belief in something is a "belief system." If I don't believe in ogres living in caves, is that a "belief system" too? And is non-belief in ogres on a par with your system of belief in God and in whatever religion you profess?
    These words are simply definitions. As you say "atheism is just a label". Although your response really has me asking this question: If you truely have no beliefs about the matter, then why did you post such a long and elaborate response? In fact you brought my personal belief system into the whole thing. Why do this if you really don't care?
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  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    I think it is very relevant. I think categorizing something either as a truth or non-belief (Is there a difference?) allows us to ignore the cognitive processes and perceptual biases which lead us to our conclusion that something is truth (or non-belief). I don't understand how it is possible to do this and remain objective.

    And, yes, the tooth fairy does exist! :steam:
    Well, I appreciate your good humor.

    Still exercises like this make me feel like my time is being wasted. Philosophy has some useful applications. But we're not dealing with deep issues here. I really am pretty damned sure that the tooth fairy doesn't exist IRL, and slapping this or that artificial label on my opinion of the tooth fairy doesn't change anything.

    I'm aware that at the grand meta-philosophical level I can't claim absolute certainty that the tooth fairy is a fraud. In some alternate universe the tooth fairy might in fact exist. And any thought that I have is potentially tainted by my human fallibility and personal biases. So at the grand meta-philosophical level, according to the traditional rules of philosophical debate, I have to address the issue that pretty much anything I think or perceive should be treated as a "belief," with all the appropriate belief-related appurtenances and failings.

    But to be honest, I'm not much interested in the grand meta-philosophical level. Everything becomes its opposite at the grand meta-philosophical level. All kinds of funky labels can be slapped on things at the grand meta-philosophical level. Life is airy-fairy at the grand meta-philosophical level. It doesn't matter if whole nations of people die at the grand meta-philosophical level, because death itself ceases to exist at the grand meta-philosophical level. And so on.

    INTPs like playing with the grand meta-philosophical level in much the same way that INFPs play with moonbeams, fluffy clouds, and cotton candy.

    When I use philosophy at all, I would rather stick to the more useful, down-to-earth applications of philosophy. I don't think much gets accomplished at the grand meta-philosophical level. I don't see that you've uncovered anything new about atheism. Sure, at the grand meta-philosophical level it can be labeled a "belief system" and a lot of other things as well. But in real-life application, nothing much changes. [insert reference to the "What's philosophy good for" thread started up this morning.]

    Oh well, I'm out of here. No harm done, or anything. It just seems like debates like this are a particularly INTP game (angels dancing on the head of a pin, and all that), and they're not really something I get a lot of enjoyment out of. There comes a point when I get bored and start rebelling against the rules of the debate, like I am now.

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    When I use philosophy at all, I would rather stick to the more useful, down-to-earth applications of philosophy. I don't think much gets accomplished at the grand meta-philosophical level.
    OK, understood.

    Ignoring the previous line of meta-airy-fairy discussion, how do you know your disbelief in God isn't a result of cognitive or perceptual bias in yourself? That seems like a very practical question.

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