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Starman
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Sweden
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Posted - 01/18/2007 :  01:50:43  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
Debate between Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan on religious moderates and fundamentalism.

'God Is Not a Moderate'
http://www.beliefnet.com/story/209/story_20904_1.html

Sullivan's blog:
http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2007/01/debating_sam_i_.html

Also here.


"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones

Edited by - Starman on 01/18/2007 01:52:27

Neurosis
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Posted - 01/18/2007 :  02:42:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
From Andrew Sullivan in article link:

…I do not see reason as somehow in conflict with faith - since both are reconciled by a Truth that may yet be beyond our understanding.


Isn't that the point. It may be reconciled in the future by something we yet understand? It has not yet been reconciled, and more over, seems at direct odds against what we currently understand. It is therfore, not reasonable to assume it true, possible to prove, and most definitely not, to assume it is a matter of time. Instead, if we intend to get anywhere, we should just ignore faith and make decisions based on logic and data. If it turns out that fatih is reconciled with rationality, then we can start practicing faith, not before, just in case.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
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HalfMooner
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Posted - 01/18/2007 :  04:01:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
In that quote, Neurosis, note that Sullivan uses "yet" vaguely. He uses it that way, it seems, to cover two possibilities:

1) We may not yet understand his hoped-for reconciliation of reason and faith, but may later; or 2) yet this reconciliation may (ultimately) be beyond our understanding. I think this was a subtle but important mark of intellectual dishonesty.

Where a fundy would try to stand as bullet-proof to reason, as an inerrant Rock of Ages, Sullivan evanesces briefly into thin vapor to let the bullet pass harmlessly through him.

Either way, you're right: Unless and until the unevidenced is in evidence, it does not deserve serious considerattion.

It is refreshing to see a debate on this subject by gentlemen on both sides. Though Sullivan is not the mean-spirited, inerrant fanatic that one finds in a Gish, a Ham, or a Hovind, he relies on the same basis for this faith: The circular "logic" of faith itself. He calls it "mystery," to distinguish himself from the fundies, but essentially it's the same mental masturbation nonsense, only without the hatred.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 01/18/2007 04:04:49
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Starman
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Posted - 01/19/2007 :  00:45:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
Sullivan publishes a silly letter from one of his readers on his blog (He will respond to Harris to day).

The reader doesn't like that Harris suggest that religious books are just books. Sullivan sympathizes.


"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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Dude
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Posted - 01/21/2007 :  10:59:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
Sullivan is a confused man.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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marfknox
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Posted - 01/21/2007 :  15:16:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
I agreed with this criticism of fundamentalism, distinguished from criticism in moderate beliefs, especially the part I put in bold:

quote:
The reason I find fundamentalism so troubling - whether it is Christian, Jewish or Muslim - is not just its willingness to use violence (in the Islamist manifestation). It is its inability to integrate doubt into faith, its resistance to human reason, its tendency to pride and exclusion, and its inability to accept mystery as the core reality of any religious life. You find it troubling, I think, purely because it upholds truths that cannot be proved empirically or even, in some respects, logically. In that sense, of course, I think you have no reason to dislike or oppose it any more than you would oppose my kind of faith. Your argument allows for no solid distinctions within faiths; my argument depends on such distinctions.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 01/21/2007 15:17:11
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Neurosis
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Posted - 01/21/2007 :  15:44:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
Response to Starmans post

Harris Responder: Paraphrasing
Religious books are better than regular books because they have pertenent information. Since no philosopher has provided such information, they must be better than regular books. (presumably the on written by the philosophers)

Emphasis: It is interesting that he includes books from lots of religious sources including Taoism and Hinduism texts. Both of which vary greatly from his chosen religion, Christianity. He then goes on to say something, maybe the Holy Spirit or whatever mankind cannot finger possessing these qualities, inspired such text. Besides the vast differences in inspiration, he has already stated that men did write those text. Seeing as how those men were, in writing religious books, were philosophers, he has lost a great deal of ground from premise one to premise two and in no way supported the importance of the religious text, as though his contrast could even be used as evidence if supported. For good measure, I suppose, he then proceeds to include all forms of art as 'spirittual', having those self same qualities as the holy books in terms of handling those 'mysteries of human kind' and being seperate from mere mortal mens works (and the artists themselves), effectively covering himself in his self dug grave. If all of art is moving men in the way that the holy texts do, then the common feature is more likely in the 'hearts' of men themselves. Another shot in the foot, the reader places judgement of the importants of the Christian texts on the shoulders of the Christians, this speeding his descent below the dirt. As his previous (in fact, his argument on the whole) statements show, It is the experiencer of the 'spiritual movement' that divides that experience into a seperate and special catagory, a subjective division.
quote:

"It is absurd to claim that whoever - one or many - who wrote, among others, the Dhammapada, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, or the Tao te Ching were just regular guys writing regular books. The only person who can say that is the person who has no sense to appreciate the ecstatic frame of mind that is a core element in the religious life, "


In this quote he blatently admits that the frame of mind of the observer determines the special placement of the experience and books.

On top of a self defeating argument, the reader seems to ignore that he has already placed the philosophers he criticized for not figuring out the 'mystery' as the writers of the holy text. Whatever 'mysteries' he is refering to in the history and future of mankind are certainly not answered in religious dogma. Instead, non answers and cop-outs are provided where they are desperately needed to ease peoples fear of the unknown. Certainly to date, no one has ever solved a problem of human society with the Genesis tale of creation or recognizing the sun god, in fact, chariots around the sun. At no time in human history thus far, has anyone created a perfect legal system by taking an eye for an eye, sacrificing doves, stoning offenders to death, or turning the other cheek. Instead, our great thinkers and philosophers, and yes even those dreaded scientist, have been the ones to solve our medical mysteries, improve our daily lives, provide economic theories, and divise laws based not on 613 theocratic laws, providing unjust and unequal punishments, tossing withches from high cliffs, consulting a holy temple atop a gas fissure, smoking a pipe for revelations, divining the truth, casting lots, or anything else not directly related to relieving the wrong that has been done, is being done, or is suspected to come up within a given society. Those philosophers that write great works of thought for us to take and build upon to make our society great are the heroes, the ones we should set apart, but rather than simply dogmatically subscribe to those ideas we should continually build upon them and recognize that they are just men and they write books. Books not so special that they are unquestionable but are special enough to be remembered. Books with ideas respected enough to be corrected and perfected.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
Edited by - Neurosis on 01/21/2007 15:50:14
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Neurosis
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Posted - 01/21/2007 :  16:28:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox

I agreed with this criticism of fundamentalism, distinguished from criticism in moderate beliefs, especially the part I put in bold:

quote:
The reason I find fundamentalism so troubling - whether it is Christian, Jewish or Muslim - is not just its willingness to use violence (in the Islamist manifestation). It is its inability to integrate doubt into faith, its resistance to human reason, its tendency to pride and exclusion, and its inability to accept mystery as the core reality of any religious life. You find it troubling, I think, purely because it upholds truths that cannot be proved empirically or even, in some respects, logically. In that sense, of course, I think you have no reason to dislike or oppose it any more than you would oppose my kind of faith. Your argument allows for no solid distinctions within faiths; my argument depends on such distinctions.




Yes, I agree totally. That is perhaps the best distinguishing factor between moderates and fundamentalist. I think he nailed it on the head. However, I don't think he accurately describes Harris' arguments when he states that it allows no distinctions. Although Harris does argue specifically about unchanging faith, faith not subject to doubt or scutiny, it is a bit more wide reaching on the outskirts. Considering his stance on Jainism and other non-violent and non-advocating religions, I do not think that Harris is totally opposed to religion. Also considering his arguments, it seems he is more interested in opposing a thought pattern, one in which a person simply assumes a proposition before the debate and then simply says "Well, I assume that Jesus said this or that and thus I have no logical problem with that statment, if you were in my shoes you would see my side of the argument."

It is good that Sullivan recognizes room for doubt. Elsewise, how can he expect to grow in his thinking and understaning of the philisophical positions he advocates (he is very courteous, also a plus).

Where I fall off of his boat is when he states that there is a truth that can be justified by faith, yet not by science and reason. The last part is not a problem because it excludes science of reason, but because it does not replace them with anything, except the thing in question. It is as faulty as disproving evolution in order to prove creationism. Disproving evolution doesn't prove anything, it disproves evolution, and in order to actually be productive, a replacement theory would need to postulated. Elsewise what is the point? Equally, there is no point in justifying something on the belief in that something alone, what can be gained from that? It is at this point that the moderates meet the fundys. As Sullivan himself said the difference is an exclusion of doubt. Here there is no doubt of the 'truths' because of faith, which is the believing of those truths:

"As the Pope said last year, I believe that God is truth and truth is, by definition, reasonable. Science cannot disprove true faith; because true faith rests on the truth; and science cannot be in ultimate conflict with the truth."

also

"I do not, in other words, see reason as somehow in conflict with faith - since both are reconciled by a Truth that may yet be beyond our understanding. "

It is his position that Faith is itself held up by the truth of the statement (of faith) even though one could never proove such thing is true. Meaning, it has no axiom. Yet, even when we discard all logic, as the two world need not overlap, the function of the faith statement does not justify the statement. It is unjustified, and Sullivan admits it may never be proven so (by any means other than simply accepting it). In this way, he is removing the possiblity of doubt, and by his definition becoming a fundy in that area. When Sullivan reaches this point he falls back into the scope of Harris' argument.
quote:

"At some point faith has to abandon reason for mystery - but that does not mean - and need never mean - abandoning reason altogether"


Of course it does. Partial reasoning is still faulty reasoning. Moreover, mystery is not a truth but instead, a lack of knowledge. A lack I will freely admit to, but from which I can conclude nothing. Nothing can be based on a lack of knowledge and certainly all theories are open to fill the mystery, provided they have evidence. Again, even when allowing faith a fair gambit, it is unable to be justified by its own merit or even the outcome of that gambit. Believing something true doesn't make it so and such a theory is useless even if it is the one in the million shots in the dark that is right on. Faith then, if viable, is missing part of its method. Until the faithful have this missing piece, we cannot allow it trial and error (6 billion strong) because it hasn't even a varifying condition established, also, we must as reasonable people (even reasonable faithful people) use what has been tried and has been true thus far.

I did like one particular statement of Sullivans:
quote:

I have no fear of what science will tell us about the universe

This is a statement from a person on our side (one who supports science). If all religious people were like Sullivan, I would not even bother with religious debate. It is only those things that effect the public arena, hurt people, or effect me directly that I care to even challenge within a person's faith.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
Edited by - Neurosis on 01/21/2007 16:29:08
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Starman
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Sweden
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Posted - 01/22/2007 :  02:06:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
Reply form Sullivan:
http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2007/01/taking_scriptur.html
  • As an atheist outsider, Sam don't know about fundamentalists as well as I do.
  • Some fundamentalists does good things.
  • We moderates take scripture more serious than the fundamentalists.
  • Sam is cherry-picking in describing the priorities of Christianity.
  • The gospels are stories about and by a man who preached the love of the force behind the entire universe, not about the things easily proven false
  • Sam is intolerant
Did I miss anything?
quote:
Blogged by Andrew Sullivan

Why can you not respect my conviction that you are, in fact, wrong? Why am I a liar in this - either to myself or to others - and you, in contrast, an avatar of honesty? Isn't this exactly the sort of moral preening you decry in others?
I think that Sullivan is mostly dodging. Can anyone find anything regarding the issue in his post?

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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marfknox
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Posted - 01/22/2007 :  04:45:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Neurosis wrote:
quote:
However, I don't think he accurately describes Harris' arguments when he states that it allows no distinctions.
Harris's writing can be very confusing because of seeming contradictions. In “The End of Faith” he refers to the “myth of the moderate believer” and he often seems to equate moderate faith with fundamentalist faith. I think he makes the same mistake that I think you make below:


quote:
It is unjustified, and Sullivan admits it may never be proven so (by any means other than simply accepting it). In this way, he is removing the possibility of doubt, and by his definition becoming a fundy in that area.
I think your concept of doubt differs from both Sullivan's and mine. Accepting faith (accepting a belief without proof or the likely possibility of proof) does not automatically exclude doubt. One can hold faith and doubt simultaneously. We do something similar all the time when we are forced to act on intuition in the face of unknowns. Sometimes having a certain amount of “faith” in something gives a person enough confidence to go forward with some risky action, even though they very well might fail. In the case of moderate religious faith, I think it is about using faith only to turn off the damn feelings of existential angst so one can live one's life much more fully.

Some people have an incredibly difficult time dealing with the whole of what is unknown about the universe, life, just everything. I guess I can sympathize because I suffer horribly myself from existential angst. It has come and gone ever since I first started doubting religion when I was 13, and while adopting the solid philosophy and community of Humanism helps a little, the wretched angst over the unknown, the utter realization of my tiny insignificance in the grand scheme of things, and fear of death has never gone away, and in a way has tortured me my entire adult life, even when things were going well. It is the same angst that my agnostic brother must have, because if I so much as bring up the possibility that when we die we're really gone, he flies into a rage and soon changes the subject. It is the same angst that tortured the author of Ecclesiastes. Well, before that cheese-ball end that later Jewish scribes added on to make the book more pro-faith.

Honestly, if I could choose to have just enough faith to kill all my existential angst, but remain just as rational and humanistic in my approach to ethics and beliefs about scientific discoveries, I would happily choose to be that delusional. I think it is a useful kind of delusion, so long as it only goes that far.

Maybe that usefulness is the truth that faith “justifies”, according to Sullivan. But I disagree when he says that science and reason cannot also justify that truth, first because he never defines what the “truth” is. I think evolutionary psychology is starting to show the usefulness of religious belief and why it evolved to be an advantage for many humans. In this sense, I think science and reason and faith will all be completely in sync, though probably not in the way that Sullivan hopes.

I suspect that deep down, a lot of moderate believers, perhaps even Sullivan, are closet agnostics who actively maintain exactly the mild delusion I've described, in order to deal with painful and distracting ennui. Sullivan admits that maybe some people don't need religion. He also speaks of religious writers as having an esthetic state of mind. It seems to me that what many skeptics are missing is that there is a whole art to speaking and thinking about the

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Starman
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Sweden
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Posted - 01/24/2007 :  00:46:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
Sam is back,
quote:
Contrary to your allegation, I do not "disdain" religious moderates. I do, however, disdain bad ideas and bad arguments--which, I'm afraid, you have begun to manufacture in earnest. I'd like to point out that you have not rebutted any of the substantial challenges I made in my last post.
I think he should have focused more on the issue and Sullivans inability to address this. Now he lets Sullivan choose the playing field, giving Sullivan more opportunities to hide behind his "hurt" feelings instead.

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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Starman
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Posted - 01/26/2007 :  06:51:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
Next part from Sullivan:

http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2007/01/truth_and_conse.html

In my opinion much better than his previous one, but this
quote:
Sullivan wrote
quote:
Stated by Harris
"While I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the brain (as I am finishing my doctorate in neuroscience), I do not think that the utter reducibility of consciousness to matter has been established. It may be that the very concepts of mind and matter are fundamentally misleading us."
So you allow for a space where the logic of science and of materialism does not lead us toward truth, but may even mislead us about it, and lead us away from it. This is a big concession, and it undermines the certainty of your entire case. Such an argument must rest on a notion of ultimate truth that is deeper than science, beyond science. It must rest on a notion that allows for the rational legitimacy of my faith.
was rather silly. Where does Harris say that he thinks science is an inadequate method to eventually fully explain consciousness in the future?
How could this current gap in scientific knowledge "allow for the rational legitimacy" of Sullivans faith?

Sullivan does some more God of the Gaps pleading but then he gets interesting again,
quote:
You ask legitimately: how can I, convinced of this truth, resist imposing it on others? The answer is: humility and doubt. I may believe these things, but I am aware that others may not; and I respect their own existential decision to believe something else. I respect their decision because I respect my own, and realize it is indescribable to those who have not directly experienced it.
This might very well the important difference between fundamentalists and moderates. But does religion promote or discourage such doubt, humility and respect?
quote:
You regard my opinions as inadmissible in public debate, ludicrous, a form of lying, and irrational. Yes, you are being intolerant. More, actually. The entire point of your book is intolerance. Where I respect your position, you refuse to respect mine.
And Sullivan fail to show that this particular position is worthy of respect, even though as a person he certainly is.

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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tomk80
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Posted - 01/26/2007 :  07:46:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Starman

Next part from Sullivan:

http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2007/01/truth_and_conse.html

In my opinion much better than his previous one, but this
quote:
Sullivan wrote
quote:
Stated by Harris
"While I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the brain (as I am finishing my doctorate in neuroscience), I do not think that the utter reducibility of consciousness to matter has been established. It may be that the very concepts of mind and matter are fundamentally misleading us."
So you allow for a space where the logic of science and of materialism does not lead us toward truth, but may even mislead us about it, and lead us away from it. This is a big concession, and it undermines the certainty of your entire case. Such an argument must rest on a notion of ultimate truth that is deeper than science, beyond science. It must rest on a notion that allows for the rational legitimacy of my faith.
was rather silly. Where does Harris say that he thinks science is an inadequate method to eventually fully explain consciousness in the future?
How could this current gap in scientific knowledge "allow for the rational legitimacy" of Sullivans faith?

I do not think it is so silly at all. Harris, as I read him, basically makes the claim that it is not established that materialistic reasoning, the reasoning inherent in science, may be enough to explain conscience. At least, that is how I read the sentence "I do not think that the utter reducibility of consciousness to matter has been established." But if he allows for that possibility, then this indeed allows for the "rational legitimacy" of Sullivans faith, which basically stems from the position that science does not do enough to explain the whole of reality.

quote:
Sullivan does some more God of the Gaps pleading but then he gets interesting again,
quote:
You ask legitimately: how can I, convinced of this truth, resist imposing it on others? The answer is: humility and doubt. I may believe these things, but I am aware that others may not; and I respect their own existential decision to believe something else. I respect their decision because I respect my own, and realize it is indescribable to those who have not directly experienced it.
This might very well the important difference between fundamentalists and moderates. But does religion promote or discourage such doubt, humility and respect?

I always had the feeling from conversation with some of my more moderate christian friends, that it does indeed do this. Humility and respect definitely. A number of them actively proclaimed that "when in doubt, study other options and don't just take your faith for granted". But on the other hand, still christianity by and large promotes a view that faith must be "unwavering". To me, it seems like there is a kind of doublethink going on here within the christian community.

quote:
quote:
You regard my opinions as inadmissible in public debate, ludicrous, a form of lying, and irrational. Yes, you are being intolerant. More, actually. The entire point of your book is intolerance. Where I respect your position, you refuse to respect mine.
And Sullivan fail to show that this particular position is worthy of respect, even though as a person he certainly is.

I'm still a bit on a double stance on this. I'll try to elaborate later on when I have more time.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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Starman
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Sweden
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Posted - 01/26/2007 :  08:04:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by tomk80

I do not think it is so silly at all. Harris, as I read him, basically makes the claim that it is not established that materialistic reasoning, the reasoning inherent in science, may be enough to explain conscience. At least, that is how I read the sentence "I do not think that the utter reducibility of consciousness to matter has been established." But if he allows for that possibility, then this indeed allows for the "rational legitimacy" of Sullivans faith, which basically stems from the position that science does not do enough to explain the whole of reality.
Ok I see your point. Not how I read it, as matter is not the only thing that exists within the realm of science, but I see Sullivans reasoning.
Thank you, tomk80!
quote:
I always had the feeling from conversation with some of my more moderate christian friends, that it does indeed do this. Humility and respect definitely. A number of them actively proclaimed that "when in doubt, study other options and don't just take your faith for granted". But on the other hand, still christianity by and large promotes a view that faith must be "unwavering". To me, it seems like there is a kind of doublethink going on here within the christian community.
True, there are a lot of humble and respectful christians but that does not mean that christianity promotes those virtues. Did you get the feeling that these friends were humble and respectful because of their faith?

"Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly"
-- Terry Jones
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tomk80
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Posted - 01/26/2007 :  09:44:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Starman
True, there are a lot of humble and respectful christians but that does not mean that christianity promotes those virtues. Did you get the feeling that these friends were humble and respectful because of their faith?


I have no idea. The problem I often have here is that I have the idea that "faith" (or better, religion) is more a justification for things that people are going to do anyway, instead of vice versa.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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Neurosis
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Posted - 01/26/2007 :  13:04:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox

Harris's writing can be very confusing because of seeming contradictions. In “The End of Faith” he refers to the “myth of the moderate believer” and he often seems to equate moderate faith with fundamentalist faith. I think he makes the same mistake that I think you make below:


Whenever I have heard Harris speak, I have gotten the impression tha he wants to establish clean definitions and almost begs the other participants, or his opponents if there are any, to establish what they mean with as little ambiguity. I think, as you seem to, Harris is wishing for something that can't be granted. Most people don't know what they are really talking about when they use terms like faith, belief, truth, etc. These terms are naturally ambiguous. In that way I think you are right. He often does attempt to establish rational lines to peoples thought process where there very well might not be any. I am guilty of the same thing, but I know better and don't ever expect it. If someone claims X to be true Y may logically follow to be true, but that doesn't mean it is true in their mind. People can even deny Y fervently without ever admitting or realizing how proposition X would suffer tremendously.
quote:

quote:
It is unjustified, and Sullivan admits it may never be proven so (by any means other than simply accepting it). In this way, he is removing the possibility of doubt, and by his definition becoming a fundy in that area.
I think your concept of doubt differs from both Sullivan's and mine. Accepting faith (accepting a belief without proof or the likely possibility of proof) does not automatically exclude doubt. One can hold faith and doubt simultaneously.


I agree. However, Sullivan insists that his faith is true despite being untestable and illogical. That was the statement he made,

"I do not, in other words, see reason as somehow in conflict with faith - since both are reconciled by a Truth that may yet be beyond our understanding."

Both are reconciled by Truth (capital, which means faith). He asserts that faith is reconciled by something beyond us. The ultimate Truth, whether we know it or not, exists, and that ultimate truth is reconciled with our faith. This blatantly spells out, All things that we cannot know (the truth of God, spirituality, those untestables) is true regardless of our being able to reason it out, but nevertheless it lines up with our faith anf that Truth.

This is the problem. No one's faith can ever be reconciled without us being able to reason it out (or prove it in some other way). Sullivans distinction between moderates and fundys was doubt where no knowledge exists, but here he has no doubt. If the word may was inserted into his statement then I would accept it as doubting yet accepting, but then he wouldn't have faith would he? He would have hope, which is kind of the same but not exactly, the difference being the presence or absence of a little doubt.
quote:

We do something similar all the time when we are forced to act on intuition in the face of unknowns. Sometimes having a certain amount of “faith” in something gives a person enough confidence to go forward with some risky action, even though they very well might fail. In the case of moderate religious

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
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