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Differences in Religion

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Resha Caner, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. KCfromNC

    KCfromNC Regular Member

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    This would be the thing most misunderstood by believers. They're so caught up in believing and worshiping that they can't even comprehend the idea that not everyone else is the same.

    How much do you worry about the void not filled by your lack of belief in a continual cycle of death and rebirth? Probably not at all - you wouldn't have even thought about the idea unless I mentioned the concept. The void not filled by your god in our lives is the same.
     
  2. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    I appreciate your attempt to explain, but this doesn't work for me either. Yes, if you had never heard of nor imagined the concept of religion then it would make sense that you had no position. But, since you are here (in this forum) - since you have obviously been introduced to the concept - I don't see how you can remain there. Like I said, if you reply "I have no opinon" or "I haven't made a conclusion," or "I don't worry about it," I could understand that. If I cold-called you and your reply was, "I never think about it," I could understand that. But to voluntarily participate in these forums - to make comments on posts about religion - and then to claim you have no position on religion just seems absurd.

    [edit] It's like a person seeing an airplane for the first time, and when someone asks what they think of it, they reply, "What airplane?" Sure, they've never ridden on an airplane so they can't speak to that experience. Nor would they understand the mechanics of flight or the mechanisms that make an airplane function. So, they can say they don't know about or don't have opinions on those matters. But they definitely have seen an airplane.
     
  3. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer

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    The problem is not that we've seen an airplane and don't know what to do with it. It's that we've been shown empty space with a claim that there is an airplane there. And rather than describe the mechanics and function, we are told that really, it's very pretty. Then we get various factions of airplane believers arguing about whether the seats are leather, fabric, or plastic. One gets the distinct impression that none of the airplane believers have ever seen the plane either.

    See also Carl Sagan's Dragon, an extract from his Demon Haunted World.
     
  4. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    First of all, what I'm talking about is really a semantics issue. I think I understand your position, but I also think that saying "I have no position" is a very poor way of communicating it. So, if you feel this is not a semantics issue, then I need a better explanation as to why. At the same time, this could quickly become a silly discussion, so maybe I should let it drop ... but not without one last try.

    This seems to relate to what I said I feel people misunderstand most about my position.

    I know that happens. But you still have a position. Let me try this several different ways (because the "non-position" position comes in many different flavors) and hope we don't stretch the analogy beyond the breaking point.

    First, suppose people only see the flying object from a great distance. They'll suggest several possibilities: it's a bird, it's a plane, no it's Superman. You may decline to choose from those options since you think evidence is lacking to make a good choice, but that is still a position. You may narrow the choices to a bird and a plane because you think Superman is an absurd option, but that is still a position. You may (as you indicated above) suspect that they didn't see anything at all, but that is still a position - basically one that denies all interpretations of an external event and ascribes it to something internal to the observer - but still a position. I can't think of any reaction to the claim that isn't a position. As I said earlier, the only way to have no position is to never be aware of the claim in the first place.

    Prior to the invention of airplanes, people had seen birds fly. From that, they imagined humans could fly as well. It led to many ideas of how it could be done even though no one had ever seen it happen. Many of those ideas were absurd, but that did not make the idea of flying absurd. And, as much as one might like to make the development of the airplane a logical, scientific progression, in fact there was a lot of guessing involved.

    As all those guesses failed, what made people keep trying was an illogical faith - maybe based on the fact that they could keep pointing to birds and say, "They've done it, why can't we?" And, further, no one ever proved that humans can't fly.

    So what is it the religious point to? I suppose that's another area of differences and misunderstanding.
     
  5. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer

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    Is the position that the other positions are unsubstantiated really a position?

    If I think that none of the viewers of a flying object have a basis for their choice, and I make no choice of my own (that the object is X), do I have a position on the object? I don't think so. Perhaps, I have a meta-position, if you'll forgive the jargon. I have a position on their positions--that they don't warrant subscribing to. I haven't made a positive statement about the object. I've said that for me none of existing positions are convincing.

    Now I can't let this one thing pass. I know that your illustration is just a talking point. I appreciate that. I want to note however that the atheist position is that we see no evidence for the flying object at all. It's not that we see something numinous and reject all theistic claims for it; it's that we don't see any evidence of the numinous at all. (NOTE: this analogy might be wrong for flavors of non-belief such as Buddhism, but I hope the point is made.)

    So, a common misconception about atheism is that we reject the flying object (to continue with the analogy). We don't. We can't see anything there. We reject your claim that there is anything. In some sense, the specific flavor of theism is not even the point. If we can't see evidence of any god, of the spiritual, then we don't reject gods; we reject the claims of their existence.
     
  6. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    IMO, yes.

    Shrug. If you like. As I said, the argument is largely semantic. However it looks like you must jump through hoops to maintain your distinction, and sometimes even struggle with that.

    Consider the following 2 versions of a quote taken from your post.

    "We reject your claim that there is anything."
    "We reject ... that there is anything."

    I know I've twisted it somewhat, but I did that to emphasize how you're trying to walk a razor's edge. When you say it, you probably intended something like the first version, but I suspect many people hear it as the second version. Why? At least for Christians that is because of sections of scripture like Matthew 25, Luke 16, and Revelation 3.

    And what I would say is it's not that you can't see the evidence, but that you insist on interpreting it a different way. I fully acknowledge that is what I'm doing. When I'm told that my rejection of inward looking religions like Buddhism is a rejection of their experience, I disagree. I don't dispute the experiential evidence they hold up to justify Buddhism. I don't say that I can't see anything there. Rather, my position is that I interpret the experiences differently.
     
  7. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer

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    Yeah, it's semantics. I argue semantics from time to time because if we don't we get equivocation. As a joke on FB, I said "Life is a disease and it's terminal." In response, a friend said something like "what about heaven?". There was a subtle shift in the meaning of the word life where I clearly meant physical life and nothing else and he shifted it like he had a point.

    That was a trivial exchange, but here the defensiveness comes from the routine where one of us reluctantly agrees that atheists have a position and from there the responder assumes we've taken a positive stance. This is not the case. We are unconvinced of someone else positive stance. (This, of course, is not true for the self-identifying hard-atheist, or gnostic-atheist.)

    Actually, I think version 1 and 2 are essentially similar. There is a 3rd version. Let me re-write:
    1. We reject your claim that there is a god.
    2. We reject that there is a god.
    3. We reject God.

    I think 1 & 2 are indeed the same. But #3 is like a person who believes in god(s) but wants nothing to do with them. The atheist position is more "We cannot reject what doesn't exist."
    Why do you insist that we see something when we say we cannot? I could theorize but I'd rather hear from you.
     
  8. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    This reminds me of something that came up in an essay on the philosophy of science. The author of the essay once got into an argument with his wife about whether their house had mice. At one point he said to her, "Yes, I can hear something in the wall, but I've never seen one." At that point he realized how ridiculous he was being. Why was he insisting that only the sense of sight be used to detect mice?

    The human animal is dominated by the sight sense. We even use "I see" to mean other things like "I perceive," as you did above. Writing is one of my hobbies, and I once wrote a story called Dark World about beings without the sense of sight. It was fun (and incredibly difficult) to write a story where those beings never fall back on analogies of sight. It was even more fun because the main character meets another being who can see but can't hear, and I played with the difficulties of how they would find common ground for communication.

    Anyway, I'm a believer in the "gospel" idea that words have communicative power that goes beyond reason - that there is an art to words. So, the first thing (though not the only thing) I would point to that you can "see" (and yet interpret differently) is the Bible.
     
  9. Daniel25

    Daniel25 Well-Known Member

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    my ranking

    1. catholic christanity, awesome in everyway :).
    2. islam
    3. protestant
    4. sikhism
    5. judaism
    6. every other religion

    ...



    10000000. atheism.


    the difference between agnosticism and atheism is agnosticism is retarded and inconsistant, while atheism is less retarded, and inconsistant in a less superficial way.
     
  10. AlexBP

    AlexBP Newbie

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    I would supposes that in debates with atheists and agnostics, three misconceptions come up with great frequency; I can't really say which one is the most common.

    1. The misconception that scriptural inerrancy is the standard position among mainstream Christians, or that it ever has been.

    2. The misconception that the main driving force behind those choosing to live the Christian life is a desire for (or fear of) something in the afterlife.

    3. The unawareness that Jesus Christ, the person, the man who lived and died and was resurrected in Palestine about 2,000 years ago, is the unique central pillar and 'chief cornerstone' of the entire Christian religion.
     
  11. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    Hmm. Maybe we'll meet in the theology forum someday. Another misconception might be to mistake the followers for the leader, i.e. that just because a majority of people who attend churches think one way, Christ must have thought that as well. :p
     
  12. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer

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    #1: I think you missed my question. I was expecting either that you saw atheists as delusional or dissembling. I'm OK with admitting that my question should have been more direct. So, which is it?

    #2: I think pointing to the Bible is like saying "look we have this manual that says there is an object in the sky?" IOW, the text is just making the same claims as the theist. Saying "look, something else makes the same claims" is not compelling.

    I don't really want to turn this discussion into you listing things you think are evidence and me saying why I think it isn't.

    But, I am interested in #1.
     
  13. KCfromNC

    KCfromNC Regular Member

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    Ignoring the fact you're changing the question from god to religion : I don't claim I have no position on religion. I do claim I don't have any religious beliefs. I also tell you that I don't have some gaping god-shaped hole in my consciousness due to this. You can believe me or not, but it's the truth.

    It's really just myths and fairy tales that other people believe in to me. I don't feel that I missing out on anything just because I don't accept them as real.

    As soon as I see a god flying through the sky I'll let you know what I think about the experience. Until then, it's just something other people worry about.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011
  14. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    Did I? You could be right (I didn't glance back to see), but I didn't intend to.

    I believe that you believe it. Now that's a nice, twisty sentence!

    And yet it appears to make you curious in some way - possibly because you are intrigued that people could believe such things. Anyway that's what I'm assuming. You don't seem like the type who is here just because you enjoy mocking Christians.
     
  15. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    Understood and hopefully you understood me (even if you don't agree). Though I suppose we might have to bring in a bit more of the list before you understood me ... I wasn't claiming the Bible (as a physical object) can use it's own bootstraps.

    Hmm. Both words are a bit stronger than what I would have chosen, so I guess I would need a 3rd option. I suppose that over the course of my many conversations I've experienced both the delusional and the dissembling, but that isn't the root issue.

    As I would state it, I think the evidential atheist view is too narrow, and is therefore mistaken.
     
  16. Tinker Grey

    Tinker Grey Wanderer

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    I'm glad I misunderstood you. I wouldn't have thought you'd have made what appears to me to be a basic mistake.

    Yeah but the real question is can you come up with a word that continues the alliteration?!

    I meant to allow in my wording for something other than what some may contend as a false dichotomy.

    Question1: What do you mean by evidential atheist?
    Question2: What do you mean 'too narrow'?

    Thanks.
     
  17. sandwiches

    sandwiches Mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.

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    You misunderstand, Resha. I agree with you that atheism is a position. It is the position that the claims of theists are unsubstantiated. I don't accept unsubstantiated claims as true, therefore I don't accept the claims of theists. However, this is done without me deciding. I don't decide to accept substantiated claims and not accept unsubstantiated ones. At least for me, it's inevitable to believe what can be shown to be true. It's very simple.
     
  18. sandwiches

    sandwiches Mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.

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    I've heard this quite often but I'll ask you a simple question: Will you accept the same kind of evidence you're asking us to accept?
     
  19. Resha Caner

    Resha Caner Expert Fool

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    ^_^

    Someone who maintains that they are an atheist because there is no evidence to support God's existence.

    The "evidence" requested as proof of God comes from a very narrow definition of the word. It excludes data that, in other situations, would be allowed. I've had people deny that such a double-standard exists, but defending why they feel that way never seems to go very far.
     
  20. sandwiches

    sandwiches Mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.

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    Evidence such as...?