Comments on: That’s what they told me before/Who knows what they’ll say today? http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/ Fri, 18 Jan 2019 10:25:25 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.22 By: Sean http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3579 Mon, 10 Aug 2009 17:38:35 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3579 Janis, I’ve heard that argument advanced, to, and I think there’s something to it; sometimes, though, people try to use it as an argument for believing in God for utilitarian reasons (as opposed to having the actual conviction that God exists in reality), and I find that line of reasoning specious.

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By: Janis Gore http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3567 Tue, 04 Aug 2009 04:51:51 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3567 My Episcopalian friend also said that the threat of hell and reward of heaven has probably improved society in the long term, by moderating behaviors.

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By: Sean http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3566 Mon, 03 Aug 2009 03:16:16 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3566 Hmmm. But if it makes them happy and gives them reasons to live responsible lives, maybe it is good for them. The idea that the problems we can’t fix will be fixed eventually by a higher power is a major source of solace and inspiration to a lot of people; to them, the benefits of that may outweigh the cost of not ruthlessly testing every belief they hold for empirical verifiability.

Don’t misunderstand—I’m with you, from what I can gather from your comments: I mean, I’d rather deal with the truth to the extent that I’m capable of wrapping my limited human understanding around it, and if that means there’s no afterlife, well, tough. Deal with reality. If we can’t depend on the fullness of time to punish the evil and reward the good, that gives us more incentive to make society more just so that the best outcomes happen in the here and now. I don’t consider the trade-offs people make for their religious beliefs my business until, as I say, they start playing fast and loose with modes of argumentation.

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By: Mark http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3564 Sun, 02 Aug 2009 16:49:38 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3564 Thanks, Sean. I understand you, but I don’t think the behavior you describe is necessarily irrational. If someone actually weighs the benefits and costs of an action (and is not evading when identifying these), and decides to do a thing because it has a net benefit that he is willing to pay the price for, that’s rational. (And I certainly agree that whatever you do, for whatever reasons, is “your business” — as long as you leave me alone.)

To bring this back to the real topic of your post: No one says, “I know having faith in God is bad for me, but I choose to indulge in it because it makes me feel better.” That would be too blatant a rationalization, too clearly wrong. Religionists need to maintain the pretense that what they’re doing is good for them. That can only be done by turning off your mind in at least some areas of your life and refusing to admit that that’s what you’re doing.

To quote a lecture I heard not long ago, “There’s no such thing as ‘faith’. It’s a euphemism for ‘I’m going to blank out and pretend.’”

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By: Sean http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3562 Sun, 02 Aug 2009 15:50:32 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3562 (Sorry, Mark–I tried to answer your question the other day, Firefox was acting up on me, and then I didn’t remember it hadn’t gone through.)

Mark:
“Agree with most of this, but re: ‘No one is entirely rational, and few of us would really want to be.’ I’m not sure what you mean by the second part of this. Can you give an example of a case where most people want to dispense with being rational? And do you think this desire is legitimate?”

Well, I think the specifics are different for different people, but it’s fair to say that we all indulge in things that reason would tell us not to (smoking, a little too much drinking, falling in love with the wrong man) but get enough non-rational satisfaction out of them that we don’t mind taking the consequences, even though we suffer for them. I’m not talking about serious problems (being a full-blown alkie or having an abusive partner, say); I’m just talking about not being prudent and wise all the time in full knowledge that we’re going to have to take the consequences. And I really think, though I haven’t conducted a study, that most people would balk at the idea of always doing the reasonable thing. We intuit that it would be boring.

As for how “legitimate” it is…well, it’s part of human nature, in my view. That doesn’t necessarily make it good—a main project of civilization is improving on human nature from its raw, messy natural state. But it does mean that it has to be dealt with. As with so many other parts of life, I think the important thing is how an individual strikes a balance. If you’re the sort of person who’s constantly doing the wrong thing and expecting other people to fix things for you, that’s bad. If every once in a while you decide to do something wild and take the consequences for yourself, I think that’s your business.

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By: Mark http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3545 Thu, 30 Jul 2009 14:17:15 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3545 “Atheists say there is no God, yet they cannot explain the most fundamental of questions — how did the universe come into being?”

This is not a legitimate question, let alone a fundamental one. The universe is the totality of what exists. Any external cause would have to be non-existent.

Plus, merely going back a step to God gets you nowhere unless you want to be inconsistent and say God requires no cause.

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By: Mark http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3544 Thu, 30 Jul 2009 14:11:28 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3544 “Atheists say there is no God, yet they cannot explain the most fundamental of questions.”

Non sequitur. In primitive societies, were people who didn’t think thunder and lightning were signs of the gods’ wrath arrogant or wrong because they didn’t have an alternate explanation?

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By: Mark http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3543 Thu, 30 Jul 2009 14:05:33 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3543 Agree with most of this, but re: “No one is entirely rational, and few of us would really want to be.” I’m not sure what you mean by the second part of this. Can you give an example of a case where most people want to dispense with being rational? And do you think this desire is legitimate?

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By: Marzo http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3540 Tue, 28 Jul 2009 21:08:50 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3540 >Since there are NO manifestations of a supernatural all-powerful deity in our reality…

Well, if there is an all-powerful God Who created the Universe, then reality itself is such a manifestation. But if there is not, then it isn’t. And we can’t tell the difference!

>“God did it” is more comforting than “We don’t know that,” I acknowledge.

It likely is. But is it really an explanation? I know I can’t explain everything. I don’t know that the Universe (in the sense of “everything that exists”) came into existence. Even if it did, I don’t know that it need more explanation that the existence of God does. I don’t have any experience in creating universes; I don’t know how it works.

And I don’t know that I have explained myself here…

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By: Janis Gore http://whiteperil.com/2009/07/26/thats-what-they-told-me-beforewho-knows-what-theyll-say-today/comment-page-1/#comment-3539 Tue, 28 Jul 2009 19:43:39 +0000 http://whiteperil.com/?p=2264#comment-3539 Sorry Mr. Kinsell, The Revelation.

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