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Giltwist
Skeptic Friend

USA
69 Posts

Posted - 06/01/2006 :  23:57:30  Show Profile  Visit Giltwist's Homepage  Send Giltwist an AOL message  Send Giltwist an ICQ Message  Send Giltwist a Yahoo! Message Send Giltwist a Private Message
So, now that I've graduated (again), I've had some time to start reading some books that I haven't had in a while. My latest read was Martin Gardner's The Why's of a Philosophical Scrivener. I found the book to be surprisingly easy to read despite some of it's heavy philosophical content and wanted to share it with you all after my long, student teaching inspired absence. It's well worth the time and money to snag this book.

In particular, I though a salient point worth discussing was the concept of fideism to which he ascibes. The basic idea is that we know our capacity for formalised reason/logic is limited (see Goedel), so perhaps to some extent faith is justifiable. Here is a snippet from the Wikipedia article on the subject.

quote:
In Christian theology, fideism is any of several belief systems which hold, on various grounds, that reason is irrelevant to religious faith. According to some versions of fideism, reason is the antithesis of faith; according to others, faith is prior to or beyond reason, and therefore is unable to be proven or disproven by it.


A related position that Gardner takes is that, in the absence of solid proof for either case (say God or, for that matter, aliens) that one can justifiably make judgements based upon which possibility makes one feel better. Take the existence of aliens, for example. Nobody really reliable has claimed to see/know/been abducted by aliens. On the other hand, we have the infamous Drake Equation which seems to imply that we really SHOULD be able to find some evidence of sentient life. Gardner's approach seems to be, if it makes you feel better, why not take the optimistic side?

Discuss.


Edited by - Boron10 on 06/02/2006 10:46:07

dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2006 :  02:22:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Giltwist
A related position that Gardner takes is that, in the absence of solid proof for either case (say God or, for that matter, aliens) that one can justifiably make judgements based upon which possibility makes one feel better. Take the existence of aliens, for example. Nobody really reliable has claimed to see/know/been abducted by aliens. On the other hand, we have the infamous Drake Equation which seems to imply that we really SHOULD be able to find some evidence of sentient life. Gardner's approach seems to be, if it makes you feel better, why not take the optimistic side?
I don't think this position is very tenable. Reason and faith must be kept strictly seperated IMO. If there is no evidence either way you could believe whatever you want and not be in conflict with reason, but you could not say your belief was logically justified. You might be able to make the case that it would be pragmatically or emotionally justified but those arguments have no bearing on the truth or falseness of the belief.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2006 :  08:16:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
On a side note:

Welcome back Giltwist...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2006 :  09:41:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

On a side note:

Welcome back Giltwist...

What Kil wrote...!

I was wondering where you'd gotten off to; wondering was it something I'd said......?

Well done on the teaching! There are few more noble professions...




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Boron10
Religion Moderator

USA
1259 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2006 :  10:51:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Boron10 a Private Message
Topic moved to the Book Reviews forum.
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Giltwist
Skeptic Friend

USA
69 Posts

Posted - 06/03/2006 :  23:34:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Giltwist's Homepage  Send Giltwist an AOL message  Send Giltwist an ICQ Message  Send Giltwist a Yahoo! Message Send Giltwist a Private Message
quote:
You might be able to make the case that it would be pragmatically or emotionally justified but those arguments have no bearing on the truth or falseness of the belief.


I think that might be the point. Logic can only get you so far. In the real world, you are going to need to make decisions without the prerequisite information to make a logical choice. So, go with what feels best?

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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2006 :  01:04:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Giltwist

quote:
You might be able to make the case that it would be pragmatically or emotionally justified but those arguments have no bearing on the truth or falseness of the belief.


I think that might be the point. Logic can only get you so far. In the real world, you are going to need to make decisions without the prerequisite information to make a logical choice. So, go with what feels best?

Perhaps that was his point as you say, but it seems to me that people are always searching for evidence to justify their beliefs rather than formulating their beliefs from the evidence. I can understand the need some people have, to believe in an afterlife, or God or whatever, but such beliefs do not transcend logic they merely avoid it.
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