Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

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Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  JB on Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:01 pm

comments on rd56 go here.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  MisterChristopher on Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:44 pm

In response to how people say "it takes just as much/more" faith to be an atheist, the simple answer I find is "No. In fact, it takes no faith." The long explanation I give (when necessary, I think people have just learned to stop when a theological debate is engaged around me) is saying that not believing in a god is the neutral position. There's nothing to indicate to us (outside of a series of books) that there is a god, or that we need to be on the fence over it. If we make one of the previous assertions, that's where the leaps of faith begin to taken. It doesn't take faith to actively disbelieve in unicorns, faeries, Xenu, and so on.
Oddly enough, I find myself having to give the lengthened explanation to my staunch agnostic friends, who claim atheism takes as much faith as theism, and son on

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  Sosa on Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:06 pm

I haven't heard the podcast yet but I had a long discussion with a friend of mine on this subject a couple of months ago. Especially on the validity and credibility of faith. I tried to explain to him that faith is dangerous to the mind, especially blind faith because you are open to be deceived easily and more gullible. I have called him a few times on trying to use the "faith card" in an argument. I told him that my "faith" in Hercules is just as valid as his faith in Jesus.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  Nicholas on Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:06 am

Christopher -

Essentially, yeah. This is what I try to explain to people, too (more often than not to no avail). Non-belief is like the default position. And every observation of our world in the light of science and reason points to the sensibility of non-belief. Thus, there is no "faith" needed to maintain this. There isn't even any "faith" needed to take the more hard-line atheistic stance of absolute certainty in said position, since it is essentially a logical extension of the non-belief. Where "faith" comes in is when you make a conscious decision to ignore the entirety of evidence-based information gathering and believe in something totally contradictory.

How "faith" is still viewed as a virtue is beyond me.

And the re-virginizing hymen thing? I wonder if there's a per-customer limit? What if you wanna "feel it for the first time" a few times? Wink

But seriously, Muslims keeping their sheets with the blood of their virgin wives to prove virginity? WTF. I mean, WTF. Every time I try to wrap my head around these middle-eastern cultures and their practices, and employ some level of acceptance and tolerance, I hear about shit like this...

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  MisterChristopher on Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:08 am

Nicholas wrote:

But seriously, Muslims keeping their sheets with the blood of their virgin wives to prove virginity? WTF. I mean, WTF. Every time I try to wrap my head around these middle-eastern cultures and their practices, and employ some level of acceptance and tolerance, I hear about shit like this...

Well tragically, the middle eastern/south asian regions are still patriarchal, tribal, and misogynistic. Their cultures were ahead of their time in the middle ages....but they've stagnated since. This stuff no longer surprises me. Does it still disgust me? Yes, I'm not that desensitized yet. Yet.

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Jeremy B Vs. Daniel G: on Faith

Post  JB on Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:19 pm

Hey, this is Jeremy from the podcast

Here is my response to Danielgs comments on the blog.

Danielg said “but the point that Christians are trying to make is that YOU have some primary assumptions that you cannot prove…”

In a strict sense any argument that isn’t deductively valid cannot be “proven.” But pure deduction cannot tell us anything we do not already know, or that isn’t already true by definition. Evidence from the senses, inductive reasoning, the scientific method are probabilistic in nature…we must hold to those conclusions provisionally.

Now Russell, Smith, Martin, Kurtz, Baggini, …and every atheist author I’ve ever read has acknowledged this. So if the point is to show that we too have “assumptions that cannot be proven”, I assure you…we get it.

Danielg said “if you can't prove it, that is still faith.”

But this I disagree with (and although it’s a disagreement on semantics, it is very relevant). For reasons stated above virtually nothing (except math) can be proven with 100% certainty. So if “cannot prove” = “faith” it empty’s that word “faith” of any distinctive meaning or value that it may have. As a Christian do you really want this? Jesus praised the centurion for his “great faith.” So what? By your definition of faith It took “great faith” for him to follow the directions to work that day.

It also wreaks havoc on epistemology. Do we really want to say that the person who believes in a heliocentric solar system (its just a theory after all) and one who believes the sun rides on the back of a cosmic turtle are engaged in the same intellectual process? Is market research on the same footing as well-wishing? Any theory of knowledge worth having is going to have to allow more nuance than this.

We cannot “prove” with absolute certainty that the Sun is in the center, the periodic table, germ theory or that pregnancy is caused by sexual intercourse (ya
know, could be invisible storks…screwing is just their cue). But we quite rightly take people to be fools who would doubt these because the evidence is so overwhelming that the universe would be absurd were it not true. So we can know abductively (by appeal to the best explanation) even where we cannot prove.
And we can accept some propositions by necessity even if we cannot prove—such as the axioms of logic and the principle of induction. We cannot prove them in the same way that you cant bite your own teeth. They are the very grounds on which any proof is possible. So how do I know they are true? Because I would have to invoke them to deny them.

Now to be fair, I would treat theism the same way. I don’t expect anyone to prove 100% that God exists. All I want to see is that on the balance of evidence it is more reasonable to believe in god. And if you or anyone could do that, or show that God is a logically necessity like the law of identity, then I wouldn’t say you believe by faith—I would say you know god exists by your reason.

Now since I’ve never met a Christian with the intellectual integrity to concede this…I sometimes play the “faith” game just to get on with the discussion. Hence the “degrees of faith” argument. It’s like patting the Christian on the head and saying “ok…we can call it faith if that is going to help you” and then proceeding to talk about what reason or evidence they actually have. Yeah, its condescending and I hate to be like that. And It’s a major waste of time. But if that’s what it takes to get back to discussing real issues, Ill do it.

Danielg said “In fact, Christians would say that THEIR faith is better supported by the evidence (and hence requires 'less' faith)”

I get that too. And I’m more than willing to challenge that claim. At least that’s a discussion that can go somewhere.

Danielg said, “the difference is that, often, materialists ONLY accept empirical evidence, while Christians accept empirical evidence PLUS secondary indications.”

Only accept empirical evidence? Please. But in your defense, Daniel, many newbie atheists do claim to only accept empirical evidence. What they do not understand is that empirical evidence alone won’t get you to anything you cannot directly observe. No atoms. No black holes. No forces. Nothings we can observe by their “effects.” Nobody accepts pure empiricism anymore. Science relies on both observation and theory. Knowledge takes sensory observation and logical inference. So what you say here is only demonstrating your own ignorance of epistemology (but I guess you can take comfort that you are not the only one).

Secondary evidence? Like written testimonies? Eyewitness accounts? Since when do “materialists” not accept this as evidence? Sure, anecdotes do not make the soundest evidence in the world. But if they are plausible and corroborated by others, consistent with known facts, without vested interest or overly biased…then why the hell not?

Danielg said “But please, your accusation that atheism's 'greater' faith is somehow better, or that 'accusing atheists of having faith' is somehow a self-contradictory statement and therefore defeats the Christian accusation, is really just a word game playing on the ambiguity and multiple meanings of the word 'greater.' Dumb argument…You just wasted 10 minutes of your podcast on specious argumentation”

And you’ve wasted a lot more of my time than that. Daniel, I just listened to the track again. We didn’t say “greater” at ANY point in the discussion. A little hasty with the critiques ehh? If you’re going to accuse us of equivocation, you might want to get the words right. Just because you were not paying attention doesn’t mean it’s a “dumb argument.”

Danielg said "Is it easier to believe? is a subjective, heuristic approach…Read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.”

Hehehe. That was cute. It reminds me of when my Intro to Philosophy students pretend like their bad-ass geniuses who’ve been studying this for years. Sorry Dan. I admire your feisty spirit and your willingness to listen to and engage the other side in debate. It really is a noble quality. But if you’re going to be condescending, I can be more so.

Jeremy


Last edited by JB on Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:16 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  thebat137 on Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:07 pm

Danielg definitely has an interesting worldview, I'll say that for him. I've been arguing with him a little bit over on his blog (here) and I still haven't been able to figure out what the heck is going on in his head. For extra fun, take a look at this bit of nasty homophobia, which he claims is "smartly humorous".

[edit] Heehee, I just discovered he's also a creationist. That definitely puts a new spin on things.


Last edited by thebat137 on Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:45 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add another comment)

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  Nicholas on Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:12 am

thebat137 wrote:Danielg definitely has an interesting worldview, I'll say that for him. I've been arguing with him a little bit over on his blog (here) and I still haven't been able to figure out what the heck is going on in his head. For extra fun, take a look at this bit of nasty homophobia, which he claims is "smartly humorous".

[edit] Heehee, I just discovered he's also a creationist. That definitely puts a new spin on things.

I checked out his blog. Interesting is not a word I would use to describe what is going on in his head. Thinking is not one one of those words, either. He simply seems, like so many Christians, to have a warped sense of reality and a complete lack of ability to think critically, outside of his Bible-inspired box.

Sad, really. Shallow, for sure. But not interesting.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  thebat137 on Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:49 am

Sorry, I should have put "interesting" in sarcasm-quotes.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  LonghWynn on Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:31 am

Funny enough though, he invoked Kant's Critique of Pure Reason...which if I recall correctly, does not even deal with this topic Rolling Eyes

Leave it to creationists to quote-mine, right? And when we quote the bible, they tell us to "put it into context...it was right for the time" Evil or Very Mad

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  Neon Genesis on Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:46 pm

I wish I had listened to this episode before yesterday. Yesterday in my English class at college, we were reading Plato's allegory of the cave. My English professor is an agnostic and the topic turned into a discussion of absolute truth versus relative truth and he took the postmodern stance that all ideas are relatively true. One example he tried to use was that he claimed mathematics was created by humans and we only say it's a fact that 2 + 2=4 because humans said so, so it takes as much faith to believe 2 + 2=4 as it does to believe it equals 5. I tried to argue back that the opposite conclusion of an idea is not always equally likely to be true as the idea itself but he also claimed that logic was made by humans, and so how do we know logic works other than faith. I tried to argue back through experimentation and he said that all our experiences are subjective, so that doesn't work. Another allegory he used was of a desk in the sky. We don't know there is a desk in the sky but we don't know there isn't one either, so they're both just as likely to be true and both sides take the same amount of faith. How do you respond to the argument that every experience we have in life is subjective?

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  LonghWynn on Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:09 pm

Well, crazy that he's using logic to argue that logic is only relative. Shouldn't you point to the absurdity in that scene? Besides, if it's all relative truths, so is the claim he's making that all of it is relative truth. Reductio ad absurdum.

Or maybe all of the technologies he uses are only "relatively" real. Same for all the laws of the sciences. And I would like to see a condition where the type (not token) 2 added to itself (ie 2+2) does NOT equal the type 4. Post-modernists wouldn't accomplish much if it weren't for the rest of us with our "relative" truths make their lives work. But I'm running on a tangent, perhaps JB will do a better job explaining, since he's got years more of philosophical training than I do (about 2 college courses, and some reading on the side Very Happy )

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  thebat137 on Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:45 am

I'd say that, sure you can't know absolutely what's true and what's not, because of precisely the reasons the professor gave. However, all that tells us is that it's ridiculous to demand absolute knowledge as grounds for taking a position on issues or choosing one's actions, since absolute knowledge is in principle impossible. If you want to be able to do anything at all, you have to make the best use you can of the informational resources that are available, which means using logic and the scientific method. They may not let you Know-with-a-capital-K, but they're sure as hell better than just making up shit like desks in the sky or teapots orbiting Jupiter or invisible omni* deities without any basis whatsoever.

So I think agnosticism is kind of trivial and content-free. Obviously nobody knows anything really truly for sure, but refusing to make decisions or hold opinions about important issues on such narrow technical grounds seems kind of chickenshit to me.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  LonghWynn on Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:48 pm

I just noted one more thing. This is an ad hominem attack by the way, but your professor is English, not philosophy. I doubt he/she has seriously devoted time to reading the literature on this topic: point him/her to the Principia Mathaematica. If he/she can survive the rigorous proofs, then he/she may claim 2 + 2 does not equal 4. Then again, if he/she is too illogical to use the logic because apparently, it's only a human invention, then well, you don't need to debate these people any longer. Debates requires the "relatively true" logic Suspect

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  Neon Genesis on Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:48 pm

Actually, the professor does have a degree in philosophy and religion and he used to teach those subjects but then he went back to college and switched to English.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  snafu on Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:28 pm

You've not doubt heard of the saying "use it or lose it".
Sounds like the proff hasn't used his philosophy learnings much since gaining them.
He may well have forgotten much of his philosophy.
Like my engineering stuff - gone, sadly.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  Neon Genesis on Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:16 pm

Also, what are the rules about religious discussion in classrooms in public college? Like yesterday the professor brought up one televangelist was arrested for child abuse and he warned the students to stay away from televangelists. No one in class was offended by it and technically class hadn't started yet, but I have to wonder what would have happened if there was a Christian in class who was a member of a televangelist church and was offended. The professor is an agnostic but sometimes he'll try to find loop holes like this where he can find a way to insert his views on religion and politics in the class discussion. I wasn't sure if the rules are typically this flexible in college compared to high school or middle school, so I was wondering where you draw the line between class discussion and separation of church and state violation. The class so far hasn't been offended by anything he's said and he doesn't treat one student worse than the other because of their faith or anything like that and the students will sometimes get into debates with him and seem to enjoy the challenge. I just have to wonder where the line is drawn in college compared to high school.

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  LonghWynn on Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:06 am

Hmmm, did he become disillusioned with logic then? Pity Crying or Very sad

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Re: Episode 56 Degrees of Faith

Post  snafu on Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:39 am

This "professor" sounds like a great comedy act. One televangelist does the wrong thing, therefore stay away from all of them - my 6yo can debunk that logic.
Why don't you ask him why he is still eating food? You see he must have at one point eaten some food which caused him some vomiting/diahorrea because it was starting to go bad. By his logic, he should stay away from food then???

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