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bngbuck
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USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2010 :  12:04:39  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I found this NY Times piece in The Stone provocative. (The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.)

All bolding is my response to provocation - concepts that I feel demand some scrutiny.



The God-Science Shouting Match: A Response
By FRANS DE WAAL


In reading the nearly 700 reader responses to my Oct. 17 essay for The Stone, (“Morals Without God?“) I notice how many readers are relieved to see that there are shades of gray when it comes to the question whether morality requires God.

I believe that such a discussion needs to revolve around both the distant past, in which religion likely played little or no role if we go back far enough, and modern times, in which it is hard to disentangle morality and religion. The latter point seemed obvious to me, yet proved controversial. Even though 90 percent of my text questions the religious origins of human morality, and wonders if we need a God to be good, it is the other 10 percent — in which I tentatively assign a role to religion — that drew most ire. Atheists, it seems (at least those who responded here) don’t like any less than 100 percent agreement with their position.

The issue is not whether or not God exists, but why humans universally feel the need for supernatural entities.

To have a productive debate, religion needs to recognize the power of the scientific method and the truths it has revealed, but its opponents need to recognize that one cannot simply dismiss a social phenomenon found in every major society. If humans are inherently religious, or at least show rituals related to the supernatural, there is a big question to be answered.

The issue is not whether or not God exists — which I find to be a monumentally uninteresting question defined, as it is, by the narrow parameters of monotheism — but why humans universally feel the need for supernatural entities.

Is this just to stay socially connected or does it also underpin morality? And if so, what will happen to morality in its absence?

Just raising such an obvious issue has become controversial in an atmosphere in which public forums seem to consist of pro-science partisans or pro-religion partisans, and nothing in between. How did we arrive at this level of polarization, this small-mindedness, as if we are taking part in the Oxford Debating Society, where all that matters is winning or losing? It is unfortunate when, in discussing how to lead our lives and why to be good — very personal questions — we end up with a shouting match.

There are in fact no answers to these questions, only approximations, and while science may be an excellent source of information it is simply not designed to offer any inspiration in this regard. It used to be that science and religion went together, and in fact (as I tried to illustrate with Bosch’s paintings) Western science ripened in the bosom of Christianity and its explicit desire for truth. Ironically, even atheism may be looked at as a product of this desire, as explained by the philosopher John Gray:

Christianity struck at the root of pagan tolerance of illusion. In claiming that there is only one true faith, it gave truth a supreme value it had not had before. It also made disbelief in the divine possible for the first time. The long-delayed consequence of the Christian faith was an idolatry of truth that found its most complete expression in atheism. (Straw Dogs, 2002).


Those who wish to remove religion and define morality as the pursuit of scientifically defined well-being (ŕ la Sam Harris) should read up on earlier attempts in this regard, such as the Utopian novel “Walden Two” by B. F. Skinner, who thought that humans could achieve greater happiness and productivity if they just paid better attention to the science of reward and punishment. Skinner’s colleague John Watson even envisioned “baby factories” that would dispense with the “mawkish” emotions humans are prone to, an idea applied with disastrous consequences in Romanian orphanages. And talking of Romania, was not the entire Communist experiment an attempt at a society without God? Apart from the question of how moral these societies turned out to be, I find it intriguing that over time Communism began to look more and more like a religion itself. The singing, marching, reciting of poems and pledges and waving in the air of Little Red Books smacked of holy fervor, hence my remark that any movement that tries to promote a certain moral agenda — even while denying God — will soon look like any old religion. Since people look up to those perceived as more knowledgeable, anyone who wants to promote a certain social agenda, even one based on science, will inevitably come face to face with the human tendency to follow leaders and let them do the thinking.

What I would love to see is a debate among moderates. Perhaps it is an illusion that this can be achieved on the Internet, given how it magnifies disagreements, but I do think that most people will be open to a debate that respects both the beliefs held by many and the triumphs of science. There is no obligation for non-religious people to hate religion, and many believers are open to interrogating their own convictions. If the radicals on both ends are unable to talk with each other, this should not keep the rest of us from doing so.
Any thoughts from those interested in the Religion vs. Science controversy?



Ebone4rock
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USA
894 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2010 :  13:02:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Any thoughts from those interested in the Religion vs. Science controversy?


Yes, many. When I get home later I shall organize them.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2010 :  15:45:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Even though 90 percent of my text questions the religious origins of human morality, and wonders if we need a God to be good, it is the other 10 percent — in which I tentatively assign a role to religion — that drew most ire. Atheists, it seems (at least those who responded here) don’t like any less than 100 percent agreement with their position.
Since the objections aren't specified, I can only generalise...
Either we need God in order to be good, or we don't. God does not have a 10% existence. It's either there or not.
Since we have no positive evidence of the existence of God, we also have no positive evidence that morality comes God. To tentatively assign 10% of morality to something that does not exist makes no sense.

Religion is obviously also not the source of morality, since we can find moral atheists who denounce religion.

religion needs to recognize the power of the scientific method and the truths it has revealed, but its opponents need to recognize that one cannot simply dismiss a social phenomenon found in every major society.
Yes, one can.
Religion is a social phenomenon, true. But God does not necessarily have to be the source of this phenomenon. De Waal says himself later on that Communism became like a religion because "the human tendency to follow leaders and let them do the thinking".
So he himself provides the answer to why religion is a social phenomenon.
People come to religion for many different reasons, and conforming to whatever church you happen to find yourself in, is just an expression of the human need to belong to social group, clan, or family. It isn't rocket-science, but basic psychology.


The issue is not whether or not God exists — which I find to be a monumentally uninteresting question defined, as it is, by the narrow parameters of monotheism — but why humans universally feel the need for supernatural entities.
This is patently false, because the existence of atheists prove positively that humans do not universally feel that need.

an atmosphere in which public forums seem to consist of pro-science partisans or pro-religion partisans, and nothing in between. How did we arrive at this level of polarization, this small-mindedness, as if we are taking part in the Oxford Debating Society, where all that matters is winning or losing?
Is that what actually happens?
I thought it was like this:
Theists shout: "There is a God"
Scientists shout: "We don't fucking care..."

Ironically, even atheism may be looked at as a product of this desire, as explained by the philosopher John Gray:
Christianity struck at the root of pagan tolerance of illusion. In claiming that there is only one true faith, it gave truth a supreme value it had not had before. It also made disbelief in the divine possible for the first time. The long-delayed consequence of the Christian faith was an idolatry of truth that found its most complete expression in atheism. (Straw Dogs, 2002).
I think John Gray is talking out of his ass, but that's just me.
Science started out as a quest to understand the world we live in. As the method evolved, and the rate of collection of knowledge increased, as diminished the need for a God as an explanation. It may have started out as the question "How did God put xxxx together, how did he make this happen?" but it evolved to "How did this happen"? by eliminating unnecessary entities.

Those who wish to remove religion and define morality as the pursuit of scientifically defined well-being (ŕ la Sam Harris) should read up on earlier attempts in this regard, such as the Utopian novel “Walden Two” by B. F. Skinner, who thought that humans could achieve greater happiness and productivity if they just paid better attention to the science of reward and punishment.
Is B.F. Skinner a scientist? Or simply a novelist? Did he write "Walden Two" as fiction, or as a paper on psychology?
Does a majority of researching psychologists share Psychology Prof. Skinner's ideas of human behaviour?

Just because religious people consider fictional works (like the Bible) as Gospel, does not mean that atheists and skeptics consider the fictional works of scientists like Isaac Asimov as True(tm) stories.

Since people look up to those perceived as more knowledgeable, anyone who wants to promote a certain social agenda, even one based on science, will inevitably come face to face with the human tendency to follow leaders and let them do the thinking.
Emphasis mine. The US election is evidence that the emphasised section above is totally bogus. Or the general population of USA is in much worse state than I thought.
However, people do have a tendency to follow charismatic leaders, and let them do the thinking.

Conclusion:
Frans De Waal has a tenuous grip on the debate at best.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
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"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

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Edited by - Dr. Mabuse on 11/05/2010 15:47:41
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Dave W.
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Posted - 11/05/2010 :  17:05:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

religion needs to recognize the power of the scientific method and the truths it has revealed, but its opponents need to recognize that one cannot simply dismiss a social phenomenon found in every major society.
Yes, one can.
No, he's right about that: we can't simply dismiss religion, since it has power and social effects. Even anti-theists don't dismiss it, they argue that it's dangerous to society and should be done away with. It's the apatheists who simply dismiss religion, but they seem to be a small sub-set of atheists.

Treating women and children like property used to be "a social phenomenon found in every major society," but I'm pretty sure that de Waal would agree that the world is better off with less of such behavior. So religion's epidemic status may be a fact, but it's not one that anyone need respect. We really do need to find out why people cling to religions, and then do what we can to break them free. Not knowing the cause(s) is a major hindrance to "our side."

More from the original:
Atheists, it seems (at least those who responded here) don’t like any less than 100 percent agreement with their position.
Is there any reason to "like" things that are obviously wrong, like the idea that morality requires religion? It seems to me that de Waal's ethology ought to have informed his discussion, though it'd be nice to see the original and the comments he references (any chance of a link or two, bngbuck?).

And the idea (expressed later) that atheists may gain religious-like followings is completely irrelevant to that question, unless de Waal can show that a shared morality comes about which is different from the morals of the people before they started fawning over their hypothetical leader.
Those who wish to remove religion and define morality as the pursuit of scientifically defined well-being (ŕ la Sam Harris)...
Does de Waal understand how many atheists think that Harris is full of crap on that question? My guess is "no."

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Dave W.
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Posted - 11/06/2010 :  07:47:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah, thanks to Ophelia Benson, I came across the original piece (and it's 700 comments), and de Waal's follow-up. And here's the real gist of the pieces:
The Atheist Dilemma

Over the past few years, we have gotten used to a strident atheism arguing that God is not great (Christopher Hitchens) or a delusion (Richard Dawkins). The new atheists call themselves "brights," thus hinting that believers are not so bright. They urge trust in science, and want to root ethics in a naturalistic worldview.

While I do consider religious institutions and their representatives — popes, bishops, mega-preachers, ayatollahs, and rabbis — fair game for criticism, what good could come from insulting individuals who find value in religion? And more pertinently, what alternative does science have to offer? Science is not in the business of spelling out the meaning of life and even less in telling us how to live our lives. We, scientists, are good at finding out why things are the way they are, or how things work, and I do believe that biology can help us understand what kind of animals we are and why our morality looks the way it does. But to go from there to offering moral guidance seems a stretch.

Even the staunchest atheist growing up in Western society cannot avoid having absorbed the basic tenets of Christian morality. Our societies are steeped in it: everything we have accomplished over the centuries, even science, developed either hand in hand with or in opposition to religion, but never separately. It is impossible to know what morality would look like without religion. It would require a visit to a human culture that is not now and never was religious. That such cultures do not exist should give us pause.

...

Other primates have of course none of these problems, but even they strive for a certain kind of society. For example, female chimpanzees have been seen to drag reluctant males towards each other to make up after a fight, removing weapons from their hands, and high-ranking males regularly act as impartial arbiters to settle disputes in the community. I take these hints of community concern as yet another sign that the building blocks of morality are older than humanity, and that we do not need God to explain how we got where we are today. On the other hand, what would happen if we were able to excise religion from society? I doubt that science and the naturalistic worldview could fill the void and become an inspiration for the good. Any framework we develop to advocate a certain moral outlook is bound to produce its own list of principles, its own prophets, and attract its own devoted followers, so that it will soon look like any old religion.
And from the follow-up:
What I would love to see is a debate among moderates. Perhaps it is an illusion that this can be achieved on the Internet, given how it magnifies disagreements, but I do think that most people will be open to a debate that respects both the beliefs held by many and the triumphs of science. There is no obligation for non-religious people to hate religion, and many believers are open to interrogating their own convictions. If the radicals on both ends are unable to talk with each other, this should not keep the rest of us from doing so.
It's clear the de Waal is doing nothing more than whining about the "strident" Gnu Atheists. He's naïve enough that he doesn't realize that many of them reject the "Bright" label. The height of his silliness is that he thinks that if we eliminate religion, science has some obligation to offer a replacement, and that that replacement will eventually "look like any old religion." I don't know why he would think that. If we can provide reasonable justifications for "murder is bad" that don't rest on dogma or fake revelation, why would it look like a religious prohibition at all?

And then there's the call for moderation. de Waal thinks that morality is far, far older than any religions we know, and so understands that religion is not necessary for morality, and he even expresses disgust at people who think that (for example) rape would be okay if there were proof that God doesn't exist. His is not a moderate position, but he thinks that "the beliefs held by many" are deserving of some sort of "respect," and that the run-of-the-mill believer shouldn't be criticized (while it's okay to criticize religious leaders). But there's no good reason to respect beliefs (widely held or not), and failing to criticize regular Joes for believing silly things isn't a sign of respect, it means that de Waal thinks that they're fragile little flowers that will wilt at the first harsh word, or perhaps that they're so reactionary that they'll stampede towards fundamentalism. Either way, he doesn't respect them as people, since he doesn't think they can cope with criticisms (or insults).

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2010 :  10:16:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mab:
Is B.F. Skinner a scientist? Or simply a novelist? Did he write "Walden Two" as fiction, or as a paper on psychology?
Does a majority of researching psychologists share Psychology Prof. Skinner's ideas of human behaviour?

B.F. Skinner was indeed a scientist. And many of his behavioralist theories are still in use today. Behavior modification or positive and negative reinforcement is a regular practice by parents and teachers as well as psychologist. He was also daring in suggesting that the "mind" is a function of the body and not separate from the body.

B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner


B. F. Skinner

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Dave W.
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USA
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Posted - 11/06/2010 :  10:20:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh, and it's not a "God-Science Shouting Match," it's a "God-Atheists Shouting Match," at best. Framing it as God-vs-science is to ignore all the non-scientistic atheists who argue against religion, for example, or all the theistic scientists. For someone who seems to want moderation, de Waal does a horrible job of it with that title alone. Likely he just doesn't understand the situation (as evidenced, above, by his use of "Brights" and Sam Harris' stuff, as if they are uniformly embraced by scientists or atheists).

Or maybe the self-selected commenters on his piece are making a mess of things. A further thing that reeks is what he says about those commenters, without citing a single example. It's as if he expects people to read through all the comments, and read them in the same light as he does, to come to the same conclusions (or to argue against them). But that seems to be standard operating procedure these days: claim that some subset of atheists are nasty and strident, saying horrible things, without offering an example or a name. By manufacturing an evil out-group, de Waal tries to claim a "moderate" position for himself, right out of the Chris Mooney play-book.

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2010 :  10:36:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dave:
But there's no good reason to respect beliefs (widely held or not), and failing to criticize regular Joes for believing silly things isn't a sign of respect, it means that de Waal thinks that they're fragile little flowers that will wilt at the first harsh word, or perhaps that they're so reactionary that they'll stampede towards fundamentalism. Either way, he doesn't respect them as people, since he doesn't think they can cope with criticisms (or insults).

I'm going to agree with you here. They will not wilt under criticism or even insults. But I don't see a reason to go beyond criticizing the beliefs of run of the mill believers. They might be able to cope with insults, but I don't see the point in insulting them. I don't think you are suggesting that insulting them is particularly productive, but if you are, I don't agree.

Just saying...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

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bngbuck
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USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2010 :  12:14:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dr. Mabuse.....

Atheists, it seems (at least those who responded here) don’t like any less than 100 percent agreement with their position.
Response:
Either we need God in order to be good, or we don't. God does not have a 10% existence. It's either there or not.
Perhaps some need God in order to be good and others do not. However, it is difficult to quantify the percentage of each mind-set. By this perspective, God could have anything from a 0% to a 100% chance of being perceived as existing. To the extent that perception defines reality - a precept that cannot either be proven true or false - God, and subsequently morality, exists to the degree that these abstractions are perceived as reality.

Most athiests are of the Weiblen school; i.e. reality exists outside of and independent of the perception of reality. There are those(myself included) who feel that perception may actually be reality, but that there is yet insufficient evidence to make declaratory statements one way or the other. In any event, argumentation about the subject is not very productive as proof is, in fact, not possible at this time.

My only point is here that, depending upon your philosophical orientation, it is not necessarily true that God (and morality) is "either there or not". When one is considering the collective, God may "be" there if there is sufficient perception that God is there. Taken to the extreme, God is "there" (exists) if only one person perceives it - but it is only there for that one person. As more of humankind perceives the existence of God, the stronger the illusion of "reality" becomes. If every single person on the face of the Earth perceived God as reality, God would indeed be reality, for humankind, at that time. Not necessarily what "reality" truly is however. We are not yet equipped to answer that question. Yet.

Dave Dubya, I await your withering reply.
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Dave W.
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Posted - 11/06/2010 :  12:38:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

I'm going to agree with you here. They will not wilt under criticism or even insults. But I don't see a reason to go beyond criticizing the beliefs of run of the mill believers. They might be able to cope with insults, but I don't see the point in insulting them. I don't think you are suggesting that insulting them is particularly productive, but if you are, I don't agree.

Just saying...
There are a couple of issues here.

One is that sometimes run-of-the-mill theists step up to the foreground and make themselves widely known through truly stupid actions or words based (so they claim) on their religion. Are they still run-of-the-mill, or by coming forward do they make themselves willing targets for apt ridicule?

Second, it doesn't matter what one says, someone will be offended by it. A lot of the insults being made by Gnu Atheist-types these days are really criticisms that weren't personal attacks, but are taken as such by non-intended targets.

In other words, no, nobody is advocating the direct insult of, say, Mary Theresa Smith of Evanston, Illinois, just because she goes to church every Sunday and has some amount of faith. She may feel insulted by some blanket criticism of Christianity, but it'd be up to her to differentiate herself from, instead of including herself in, whatever sub-group is being criticized (since there really isn't anything that 100% of self-identifying Christians believe). And if she rises up in anger and makes a stand, well, she really wouldn't be so run-of-the-mill after that, would she?

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Dave W.
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Posted - 11/06/2010 :  14:19:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Dave Dubya, I await your withering reply.
Perhaps some need God in order to be good and others do not.
Those who do need therapy, not religion.
Most athiests are of the Weiblen school; i.e. reality exists outside of and independent of the perception of reality.
How can they be independent? Reality drives perception. If this desk is really here (knock, knock), then I perceive it because it's really here. And if I'm in a Matrix-style computer simulation, then I perceive the desk because that's what the computer is programmed to have me perceive.

And if our perceptions are wrong, as in optical illusions or schizophrenia, it's either because our brains are misinterpreting things or the computer is programmed badly. Either way, reality (our brains or the Matrix) still drives the perceptions, and in no way are they independent.
Not necessarily what "reality" truly is however.
Well, as soon as you posit realities which aren't really real, you ensure that we'll never be able to answer it.

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bngbuck
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USA
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Posted - 11/06/2010 :  19:13:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dave.....

Perhaps some need God in order to be good and others do not.

Those who do need therapy, not religion.
Dr. Mabuse took a declarative position on this. I would hazard a guess that he feels that religion is an attempt at therapy by these folk.
Most athiests are of the Weiblen school; i.e. reality exists outside of and independent of the perception of reality.
How can they be independent?
In the oft-questioned hypothetical case of a non-perceived event being challenged as being a reality event (tree in the forest, etc.) You may not agree with Berkeley, but the logic of esse est percipi is difficult to contest, as you follow Dr. Johnson around kicking stones.
If this desk is really here (knock, knock), then I perceive it because it's really here.
This could be interpreted as a massive begging of the question - if it is here, it is because it is really here......hmmnn? Equally speculative is the possibility that the perception of it being here is the actual reality. Neither position has been conclusively demonstrated in the hundreds of years that they have been questioned and argued.
Reality drives perception.
Why is this any closer to Truth than the position that perception is reality? I don't understand the magic in the word "drives" that suddenly conclusively demonstrates truth.

I personally suspect that neither subjective idealism (a form of solipsism) nor non reductive materialism accurately describes reality. And the current rather primitive state of particle physics being what it is, I think it will be some time before definitive evidence emerges concerning the nature of reality.
Well, as soon as you posit realities which aren't really real, you ensure that we'll never be able to answer it.
I have always understood that the nature of scientific enquiry involves the suggestion of possibilities followed by arduous investigation designed to increase the probability of the truth of one possibility over others - hopefully to the point of being able to approximate certainty. Axioms or postulates lacking substantive evidence as to what constitutes reality contribute nothing to answering the question. And as to the "really real", I would leave that to those who understand what that phrase means. I don't.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 11/06/2010 :  20:10:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bill:
Equally speculative is the possibility that the perception of it being here is the actual reality. Neither position has been conclusively demonstrated in the hundreds of years that they have been questioned and argued.

See. This is why I love philosophy of this kind. It's so zany. And so well worth the time people spend contemplating questions like these. But then, I'm a simple man. I'm going with the "don't drop the desk on my toe" position, whether or not it's my perception that it's there that creates the reality, or because it really is there that makes it a reality. That fucking desk is going to hurt if it's dropped on my toe either way. And if that's the case, why do questions like these even matter? I mean, sure. It doesn't take hundreds of years to jerk off, but isn't that somewhat similar activity more fun?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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Dave W.
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Posted - 11/06/2010 :  20:29:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Dr. Mabuse took a declarative position on this. I would hazard a guess that he feels that religion is an attempt at therapy by these folk.
Religion is really, really bad therapy, since it tends to blame failure on the patient.
In the oft-questioned hypothetical case of a non-perceived event being challenged as being a reality event (tree in the forest, etc.)
Reality isn't dependent upon perception, but perception is dependent upon reality. Just because we don't perceive things doesn't mean that they don't happen.
You may not agree with Berkeley, but the logic of esse est percipi is difficult to contest, as you follow Dr. Johnson around kicking stones.
Johnson's stone-kicking is utterly unconvincing.
If this desk is really here (knock, knock), then I perceive it because it's really here.
This could be interpreted as a massive begging of the question - if it is here, it is because it is really here......hmmnn?
Yeah, if you leave out some words, the meaning changes into something stupid. Bravo, bngbuck, on leaving honest discussion behind once again. Why the hell do I even bother?
Why is this any closer to Truth than the position that perception is reality?
Because we would then need to toss science out the window.
I don't understand the magic in the word "drives" that suddenly conclusively demonstrates truth.
I never said anything about my position being conclusively demonstrated truth, I was responding to your mangling of my position, and trying to set you right. But you go ahead and keep rebuilding the straw man if you like. Have at.
I personally suspect that neither subjective idealism (a form of solipsism) nor non reductive materialism accurately describes reality. And the current rather primitive state of particle physics being what it is, I think it will be some time before definitive evidence emerges concerning the nature of reality.
Since I don't think there ever can be evidence of the "nature of reality," and that one must pick a philosophical escape route out of the default of solipsism, the findings of particle physics are simply irrelevant to ontology.
I have always understood that the nature of scientific enquiry involves the suggestion of possibilities followed by arduous investigation designed to increase the probability of the truth of one possibility over others - hopefully to the point of being able to approximate certainty. Axioms or postulates lacking substantive evidence as to what constitutes reality contribute nothing to answering the question.
Scientific inquiry rests firmly on the axiom that there is an objective reality. Without it, replication of results is a crap shoot and so the whole enterprise can be thrown out the window. Ontologically speaking, we can only try to rationally justify our rejection of solipsism, we can never scientifically validate it. For example, if the Matrix is written well enough, we will never be able to discover it. If we strap on some evidencialist utilitarian pragmatic goggles, however, we find an objective reality (in which science functions pretty well) which drives our perceptions (instead of the other way around) regardless of the state of our actual being (which, under the goggles, we can never know).

Why don't you go find some evidence (since it's important to you) for perception creating reality, or at least try to justify it better than pretending that equally speculative guesses all have equal possibilities at being true. It'd really help people like the Swiftboaters, the religious, science-hating postmodernists, the KKK, millions of new-agers, etc.. They'd all love you for it.

And hey, what's all this got to do with the OP, anyway? The nature of reality (or even of God) is completely irrelevant to what de Waal was talking about.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2010 :  00:03:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
de Waal is a fucking idiot.


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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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2010 :  00:09:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On offering an alternative:


- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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