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 Sam Harris - Andrew Sullivan debate.
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2007 :  13:12:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
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 is a great quote. I love when people believe things yet see no reason to impose them on others, they are my kind of people. The problem is that Jesus commanded all of his followers (meainng Sullivan) to tell everyone about his faith, be ever ready to defend it, and blatantly stated that everyone who does not believe will go to hell and be tortured forever and ever. Any fundy worth his salt can say "Well do you want people to go to hell, god wants you to witness, god wants to use you to save that grocery store clerk (whatever), you will be accountable for your actions at the gates you know, remember Jonah and Nineveh.... blah blah blah."

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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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2007 :  13:19:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis 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.


Sorry no. Even if we didn't even know there was a brain, it wouldn't support Sullivans case. Sullivan needs his own evidence for his claims, not the lack of evidence of any other claim. His whole argument is "there is a Truth, we may not ever know it with science and reason, but it is there, and I know it because I am good like that (My magick sky-daddy tells me so)."

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.


The bible teaches faith as necessary. It also teaches that faith without knowledge is a blessed state, ie doubting thomas

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

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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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2007 :  16:09:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis

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.


Sorry no. Even if we didn't even know there was a brain, it wouldn't support Sullivans case. Sullivan needs his own evidence for his claims, not the lack of evidence of any other claim. His whole argument is "there is a Truth, we may not ever know it with science and reason, but it is there, and I know it because I am good like that (My magick sky-daddy tells me so)."

I agree that Sullivan would need to provide evidence in favor of his position and he will likely never do so, as there ain't none. But Harris seems to be taking a position that very much allows such a position. At least, that is how I read the comments by Harris and that is how Sullivan seems to read them also.

quote:
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.


The bible teaches faith as necessary. It also teaches that faith without knowledge is a blessed state, ie doubting thomas

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.


Yes, but that tells us very little on whether doubt is actually promoted in different christian movements. According to a friend of mine, those who have never doubted their faith have never questioned it. And if you haven't questioned it, according to him, this means you have never really studied your own feelings on your faith in God. So for him, doubting your faith is not only normal, but also reasonable as it makes you aware of why you believe.

I don't know whether doubt is actually encouraged in his church, although I'm willing to venture the guess that it isn't. But neither is it looked upon as something bad.

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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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2007 :  16:17:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
From my own Catholic experiences, doubt was considered normal and even somewhat encouraged, but only to a point. You were still ultimately expected to set that doubt aside and just take it all on faith.

So really, what good is doubt if you're taught to ignore it anyway? Who cares if a christian says he's had doubt about his religion if in the end his irrational beliefs remain unchanged? Such "doubt" is effectively useless, and is practically the same as having no doubts at all.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 01/26/2007 16:19:44
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2007 :  17:01:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by tomk80

I agree that Sullivan would need to provide evidence in favor of his position and he will likely never do so, as there ain't none. But Harris seems to be taking a position that very much allows such a position. At least, that is how I read the comments by Harris and that is how Sullivan seems to read them also.


We all must allow for a better explaination of everything. I still allow for a different theory about gravity, doesn't mean faith gets a shot, however. In fact, faith never gets a shot. Faith is simply assumption for the sake of assuming. Just guessing at the areas we don't yet understand. Guesses never amount to anything unless they are investigated and shown true.

quote:

Yes, but that tells us very little on whether doubt is actually promoted in different christian movements. According to a friend of mine, those who have never doubted their faith have never questioned it. And if you haven't questioned it, according to him, this means you have never really studied your own feelings on your faith in God. So for him, doubting your faith is not only normal, but also reasonable as it makes you aware of why you believe.


Yea, sure. Most people of faith who are honest about it will admit they have doubts every now and then. My point was that the bible should teach people who believe the bible how to think and act. When someone chooses a smorgesboard of options and highlights this or that from the bible and silencing this or that, it is a more overt wilfull ingnorance than the fundies. I like those people better, but that kind of doubt is not serving. Like H said, if you doubt something but act on it as if certain, what does it matter that you doubt?

The real problem is highlighted above. There is no why there is no reasoning, just wishes. If someone doubts a theory in science and then asks for more evidence and recieves none, they will not just accept it anyway. Doubt by definition requires satisfaction to be quenched. More information more evidence. If someone can doubt and then just 'get over it', then they did not really doubt in my book, but instead had faith all along.
quote:

I don't know whether doubt is actually encouraged in his church, although I'm willing to venture the guess that it isn't. But neither is it looked upon as something bad.



Churches are all different. There is no telling. I want people to think, not doubt. If everyone on the planet took a second and said "Wait, why am I doing this?" that would not matter to me unless they actually required an answer before continuing on. That is key.

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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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2007 :  20:40:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis
...if you doubt something but act on it as if certain, what does it matter that you doubt?
Nothing. It's a ruse. It's an attempt to quell doubt by pretending all concerns have already been addressed. Its purpose is twofold: 1) the person will feel stronger in their faith if they believe it has withstood critical examination, and 2) they will have some responses at the ready if an unbeliever ever questions the validity of their beliefs.

But if any christian ever tells you that their faith came out stronger after having been questioned, then you can be certain they didn't ask the right questions. That, or they accepted pat answers that wouldn't hold up to scrutiny themselves.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2007 :  23:50:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis
...if you doubt something but act on it as if certain, what does it matter that you doubt?
Nothing. It's a ruse. It's an attempt to quell doubt by pretending all concerns have already been addressed. Its purpose is twofold: 1) the person will feel stronger in their faith if they believe it has withstood critical examination, and 2) they will have some responses at the ready if an unbeliever ever questions the validity of their beliefs.

But if any christian ever tells you that their faith came out stronger after having been questioned, then you can be certain they didn't ask the right questions. That, or they accepted pat answers that wouldn't hold up to scrutiny themselves.





Yep. It kills me when believers say "I have tested my religion." Or "I have proven my religion to myself." What test could you possibly have done since no one yet in all of history has devised such tests to date and you would be a prodigy indeed, I tell them.

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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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2007 :  01:29:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis
Yep. It kills me when believers say "I have tested my religion." Or "I have proven my religion to myself." What test could you possibly have done since no one yet in all of history has devised such tests to date and you would be a prodigy indeed, I tell them.

Exactly.

I think part of it too is that christians have a desire to appear reasonable, as much to themselves as to others. No one likes to think of themselves as an unthinking drone or one who accepts absurd things without question. So they go through the motions of doubt so they can at least say "I only accepted absurd things after considering them long and hard." It's a lie they tell themselves to feel better about the whole affair, that's all.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2007 :  14:01:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert

quote:
Originally posted by Neurosis
Yep. It kills me when believers say "I have tested my religion." Or "I have proven my religion to myself." What test could you possibly have done since no one yet in all of history has devised such tests to date and you would be a prodigy indeed, I tell them.

Exactly.

I think part of it too is that christians have a desire to appear reasonable, as much to themselves as to others. No one likes to think of themselves as an unthinking drone or one who accepts absurd things without question. So they go through the motions of doubt so they can at least say "I only accepted absurd things after considering them long and hard." It's a lie they tell themselves to feel better about the whole affair, that's all.





That is the reason that questioning religion is taboo. People don't want to be reminded that their beliefs are baseless and stupid, equal to unicorns, magick, alien abduction, conspiracies, psuedoscience, alt meds, psychic powers, etc.

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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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2007 :  08:45:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
I have to agree with Harris on a point he makes (not specifically in this debate, but in one of his books).

To paraphrase:

Religion gets a free pass from society, it is the one thing where people automatically grant "respect" to magical thinking. This is something that we (society) should not do.



I absolutely agree.

I don't care how nice or reasonable you appear to be, if you think there is an invisible man in the sky who will pass judgement on you when you die, you are delusional. Period.

I will not "respect" those beliefs in anyone.


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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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2007 :  02:26:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I try to respect people, and I don't go around confronting religious beliefs unless it comes up, but I too find when skeptics make exceptions for religious fantasies and myths it seems like a blind eye.

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Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2007 :  03:30:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
Respect people sure. Respect crazy claims with no proof, well....

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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Starman
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2007 :  00:47:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
New post from Sam Harris.
quote:
So, while I admit that there are many different contexts in which our beliefs may be justified, and many different modes of justification, there is still an important difference between justified and unjustified belief. My previous remarks-about not knowing what happens after death, about the gaps in science, about the potential validity of contemplative experience, etc.-do nothing to change this picture. And it is the manifest failure of most religious people to observe the distinction between justified and unjustified belief (generally calling their non-observance "faith") that leaves me convinced that they are generally misled in their search for truth.
...
Not lying to oneself and others takes discipline. [...] I mean the daily and ubiquitous failure of most religious people to admit that the basic claims of the their faith are profoundly suspect. How likely is it that Jesus was really born of a virgin, rose from the dead, and will bodily return to earth to judge us all? How reasonable is it to believe in such a concatenation of miracles on the basis of the Gospel account? How much support do these doctrines receive from the average Christian's experience in church?
...
Let me close by asking you a simple question: What would constitute "proof" for you that your current beliefs about God are mistaken? (i.e., what would get you to fundamentally doubt the validity of faith in general and of Christianity in particular?) I suspect the answer to this question will say a lot about why you believe what you believe.

"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
SFN Regular

Sweden
1613 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2007 :  03:13:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Starman a Private Message
Post from Sullivan
quote:
quote:
Question from Harris
"What would constitute "proof" for you that your current beliefs about God are mistaken? (i.e., what would get you to fundamentally doubt the validity of faith in general and of Christianity in particular?)"
I have never doubted the existence of God. Never. My acceptance of God's existence - of a force beyond everything and the source of everything - goes so far back in my consciousness and memory that I can neither recall "finding" this faith nor being taught it. So when I am asked to justify this belief, as you reasonably do, I am at a loss.
A complete surrender in other words.
quote:
In fact, people of faith who are not fundamentalists may be the most important allies you've got. Why don't you want us to help out?
Harris is of course not impressed
quote:
You have simply declared your faith to be immune to rational challenge. As you didn't come to believe in God by taking any state of the world into account, no possible state of the world could put His existence in doubt. This is the very soul of dogmatism.
...
My biggest criticism of religious moderation—and of your last essay—is that it represents precisely the sort of thinking that will prevent a fully reasonable and nondenominational spirituality from ever emerging in our world. Your determination to have your emotional and spiritual needs met within the tradition of Catholicism has kept you from discovering that there is a mode of spiritual and ethical inquiry that is not contingent upon culture in the way that all religions are.
...
The whole debate is also available 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
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