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Is your religion mythology?

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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11 July 2019 15:13
 

You are attempting to test the realm of experience with the rules of logic and science, but you will not allow your materialistic position to be tested with the tools of experience. That reveals your unjustified bias.

If I may, EN, I propose it’s not so much that the typical argument against the non-testability of religious belief relies on a materialist position, and therefore on an unjustified bias.  The problem with the argument goes deeper than that, I think—namely, the bias that in order for a belief to be worthy of the name, it must be 1) testable and therefore, in some sense, 2) tested.  As it happens, our lives are structured around the kinds of beliefs the truth of which are evident, without that belief being based on any notion of evidence related to empirical testing.  In other words, we are perfectly right to hold, in principle, certain beliefs we don’t subject to the criterion of empirical testing, and it is rational to hold them as such despite not finding their warrant there.  As such, the way I see it, to criticize religious belief because it is untestable by the usual canons of empirical evidence begs the question of whether or not religious belief is like these beliefs, i.e. it begs the question whether it is the kind of belief that should or should not be subject to empirical, evidentiary testing.

As an example of this error from developmental psychology—the error of requiring empirical, evidentiary testing before belief is warranted—consider Harry Harlow’s study of “love” in infant monkeys.  In an empirical test paradigm he asked whether the need for attachment in infant monkeys is separable from the need for food.  The details of the experiment are not important; they appropriately set up and test the research question.  What bears pointing out, however, is the utter lack of need to subject this idea to an empirical test before believing it is true.  In other words, that a need for attachment is separable from a need for food evident from ordinary experience without requiring a test or summation of evidence for or against it as a proposition.  It is something any parent can attest to, absent any empirical test.  It was already quite known.  As such, all Harlow did is scratch the butt of the obvious, and he did it with a measure of time spent relative to feeding and attachment, when it was already known the needs are separable.  In short, the study added nothing to our knowledge, its veneer of testability notwithstanding.  That he thought differential time satisfying attachment (and this with a proxy) and feeding measured “the nature of love” only adds to the foolishness of this confusion.

As a related example that’s more directly on point, consider a loving relationship—a marriage, for instance (Harlow himself brought up the nature of love, so I invoke it here).  My wife and I took a vow and maintain on faith that we will love one another, come what may.  So one could say with a straight face that our lives are structured around a propositional belief—“She/he will love me, come what may.”  Now, is this belief testable?  In a sense, sure; conditions are possible where it might not be true.  Does this testability bear on its evident truth?  Of course not.  Should I test it first as conditional warrant for believing it, meaning should I withhold belief absent empirical testing?  Not if I want to stay married.  While I could, perhaps, test this proposition, and it is in a sense subject to falsification, belief in it has nothing to do with either.  Instead, one takes on faith in the sense of belief without a need for evidence.  We both have faith in our mutual love, not because we have evidence for or against it, but because it is just self-evident in the things we do and don’t do.  My point here is that nothing about our belief finds its warrant in anything like an empirical test.  The truth of the proposition exceeds any evidence for or against it; it is taken on faith.  I maintain that our most cherished beliefs and ideals are similarly situated, and that there is nothing wrong with or inherently dangerous in that.

So, the question for religious belief is, as I see it: is religious belief related to the kind of faith we exhibit daily in friendships, parenting, marriages, etc.—where the propositions are evident without being based in evidential testing—or is it related to the kind of empirical testing for traditional propositional truth claims, aka those one finds in science?  The difference here is no more controversial that differentiating the way we structure our relationships (and activities like them) from the way we structure the acquisition of knowledge.  Where you would stand on firm ground, I think, would be to assert that demanding religious belief to withstand empirical verification aka scientific claims begs the question of what religious belief is more like—the kind of belief found in science or the kind of faith we exhibit in something like love?  It seems to me eminently defensible that religious belief belongs to the class of the latter, as opposed to the former.  In other words, it may be that faith in religion is more like an extension of the faith we demonstrate in a proposition “She will love me come what may” than in belief that “Differential time spent on attachment and feeding says indicates the importance of attachment in love.”  In any case, I would say I know the former in an entirely different way than I asses and come to know the latter.  This difference goes, I think, to the question of religious belief.

That you don’t propose your experience as evidence for others to believe is consistent with this, for I certainly don’t propose my “evidence” for my belief “she will love me come what may” as evidence for the endurance of love in others, much less for the endurance of love in general.  Like religious belief for you—if I am reading your account right—my faith in love is strictly personal, evident only to me (and her!).  I speak for no others, nor make assertions that others should so believe.

I apologize if I presume too much here, but against the churlish stupidity of some of these arguments, I’m motivated to offer a defense….

 

[ Edited: 12 July 2019 03:32 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Garret
 
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11 July 2019 15:18
 
EN - 10 July 2019 06:20 PM

An appeal to popularity is “many people believe it, so it must be true.”

My argument is “many people experience it, which is why they believe”.

Sorry, I forgot to address this.  This is an appeal to popularity.

“believe” in this context is “believe to be true”.

“Many people experience this, which is why they believe it to be true”.  You can’t believe something and think that it is not true.  Definitionally, if you believe something, you hold it to be true.  This is precisely what an appeal to popularity is.  If it wasn’t an appeal to popularity, you wouldn’t need to include “many people.”  It would be true whether one person experienced it, a hundred, or a billion.

An “appeal to popularity” doesn’t mean something is false.  It just means that this line of reasoning is fallacious.  It is an insufficient argument to reasonably conclude something to be true.  The thing can still be true, it’s just this argument doesn’t get us there.

 
Garret
 
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11 July 2019 15:28
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 11 July 2019 03:13 PM

As a related example that’s more directly on point, consider a loving relationship—a marriage, for instance (Harlow himself brought up the nature of love, so I invoke it here).  My wife and I took a vow and maintain on faith that we will love one another, come what may.  So one could say with a straight face that our lives are structured around a propositional belief—“She/he will love me, come what may.”  Now, is this belief testable?  In a sense, sure; conditions are possible where it might not be true.  Does this testability bear on its evident truth?  Of course not.  Should I test it first as conditional warrant for believing it, meaning should I withhold belief absent empirical testing?  Not if I want to stay married.  While I could, perhaps, test this proposition, and it is in a sense subject to falsification, belief in it has nothing to do with either.  Instead, one takes on faith in the sense of belief without a need for evidence.  We both have faith in our mutual love, not because we have evidence for or against it, but because it is just self-evident in the things we do and don’t do.  My point here is that nothing about our belief finds its warrant in anything like an empirical test.  The truth of the proposition exceeds and evidence for or against it; it is taken on faith.  I maintain that our most cherished beliefs and ideals are similarly situated, and that there is nothing wrong with or inherently dangerous in that.

I call bullshit.

When you said your vows, are you claiming you had zero evidence or data on which to make a reasonable belief that your wife loved you?
For example: had you never met each other?
Or did you know each other, and up to the day of the wedding, was she completely ambivalent to you at all times?
You’re right, we don’t “empirically test” relationships like we would in an experiment setting, but that is a far cry from saying that you said your vows “without a need for evidence.”

Did the of two you date?
Did the of two you show each other physical affection?
Did the of two you buy each other gifts?
Did the of two you engage in what you would consider romantic behavior?
Did the of two you have conversations about getting married and living your lives together?

All of that would be evidence that a loving relationship existed.  It isn’t conclusive proof.  It isn’t proof that your marriage could survive certain “tests”, but it is evidence that the two of you held deep romantic feelings.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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11 July 2019 17:40
 
Garret - 11 July 2019 03:13 PM

I’m not disregarding experience at all.  I acknowledge and value experience.  I cook food for friends and family because I want them to experience pleasure when we sit down at the dinner table.  It is impossible for me to know with absolute certainty how the food tastes to them, but that doesn’t mean I can’t collect and evaluate evidence about their experience eating food, and use that information to hone my cooking skills.  I make different dishes depending on my audiences.  Several people love barbecue, and so for them I will make smoked ribs.  Another friend is vegan, so if I’m visiting them I make meat-less chili.

The problem with religious claims of experience is they contain nothing that is falsifiable.  If we can’t determine if a message “written on someone’s heart” is false or not, then how can we be sure that it is from God?  The answer is of course that we can’t.  If we accept unfalsifiable claims as true, then we have to accept all of them, which leads us to believing that the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu gods are all true, despite being contradictory.

That’s the thing though. No report of experience is falsifiable. The claim of causation or significance may or may not be.

We tend to take reports of experience at face value. ‘My back hurts’. We are more skeptical about knowledge claims linked to experience. ‘My back hurts because I have rickets.’ The latter claim is falsifiable. The former is not. I don’t think we accept it on its provable merit but rather because it’s common and inexpensive.

I think the trouble with claims of religious experience is that we automatically attach a knowledge claim to them. When someone says ‘I experience god’ believer and non believer alike attach their respective biases to that phrase reflexively. What I’m trying to do is separate experience claims from knowledge claims.

 
EN
 
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11 July 2019 20:07
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 11 July 2019 03:13 PM

So, the question for religious belief is, as I see it: is religious belief related to the kind of faith we exhibit daily in friendships, parenting, marriages, etc.—where the propositions are evident without being based in evidential testing—or is it related to the kind of empirical testing for traditional propositional truth claims, aka those one finds in science?

I would think religious faith is closer to the first class - the daily faith we express in relationships.  In Latin based languages there are two kinds of “knowing”, exemplified in the Italian words “conoscere” and “sapere”.  The first relates to knowing a person, the second to knowing a thing or fact. The first is more relational, the second closer to scientific knowledge.  I don’t think a believer can legitimately claim the second type of knowledge in his religious experience, but he can claim the first.  As you say, there is no evidential testing there, but you “know” the thing that you are experiencing in the relationship is real.  You may know (conoscere) and love your wife, but in reality you don’t know (sapere) her, if you see what I mean.

 
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11 July 2019 20:12
 
Brick Bungalow - 11 July 2019 05:40 PM

I think the trouble with claims of religious experience is that we automatically attach a knowledge claim to them. When someone says ‘I experience god’ believer and non believer alike attach their respective biases to that phrase reflexively. What I’m trying to do is separate experience claims from knowledge claims.

There are many things about the experience of others that we will never know or understand.  I’ll certainly never understand the experience of a woman giving birth to a child or her feelings for that child during pregnancy and after birth. It’s beyond my reach. But I am not skeptical when women try to explain the experience. On the purely scientific level it’s just a carbon-based life form that came from the vagina of another carbon-based life form, but in experience it is apparently so much more than that.

 
Garret
 
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11 July 2019 20:49
 
Brick Bungalow - 11 July 2019 05:40 PM
Garret - 11 July 2019 03:13 PM

I’m not disregarding experience at all.  I acknowledge and value experience.  I cook food for friends and family because I want them to experience pleasure when we sit down at the dinner table.  It is impossible for me to know with absolute certainty how the food tastes to them, but that doesn’t mean I can’t collect and evaluate evidence about their experience eating food, and use that information to hone my cooking skills.  I make different dishes depending on my audiences.  Several people love barbecue, and so for them I will make smoked ribs.  Another friend is vegan, so if I’m visiting them I make meat-less chili.

The problem with religious claims of experience is they contain nothing that is falsifiable.  If we can’t determine if a message “written on someone’s heart” is false or not, then how can we be sure that it is from God?  The answer is of course that we can’t.  If we accept unfalsifiable claims as true, then we have to accept all of them, which leads us to believing that the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu gods are all true, despite being contradictory.

That’s the thing though. No report of experience is falsifiable. The claim of causation or significance may or may not be.

We tend to take reports of experience at face value. ‘My back hurts’. We are more skeptical about knowledge claims linked to experience. ‘My back hurts because I have rickets.’ The latter claim is falsifiable. The former is not. I don’t think we accept it on its provable merit but rather because it’s common and inexpensive.

I think the trouble with claims of religious experience is that we automatically attach a knowledge claim to them. When someone says ‘I experience god’ believer and non believer alike attach their respective biases to that phrase reflexively. What I’m trying to do is separate experience claims from knowledge claims.

The “experience” itself, no, but conclusions from the experience can be.
Right now, if I was “experiencing” the feeling of having a romantic relationship with Taylor Swift, someone could ask her, and she could confirm or deny it.  My “experience” would technically be true, but the conclusion of the relationship being real would be false.  The act of attempting to verify the experience also gives us more information about my “experience” and allows us to draw more accurate conclusions about what it is I am actually experiencing versus what I am claiming.

Also, I think a few people on these boards place too much weight on qualia.  It’s more of a philosophical construct IMO than an actual thing.  I think it gets at an inherent difficulty in examining our brains, but I don’t think anyone has really shown good evidence of considering qualia as a category of reality.  All the arguments in favor of qualia are purely philosophical arguments, not actual evidence derived from experimentation.  Again, doesn’t mean qualia doesn’t exist.

And yes, the statement of “I experience God” is a knowledge claim.  It’s a claim to have had an experience, and to have assigned a causality to that experience.  My retort to that would be that something that does not exist cannot be the cause of an effect.  Therefore, we cannot assume God is the cause of anything,  unless we can show that God exists.  Or in syllogism form:
P1: only things that exist can be the cause of an effect.
P2: we cannot demonstrate that God exists.
C: therefore, we cannot assume that God is the cause of anything.

To be clear there, God could be the cause of something, but until we can demonstrate God’s existence, we cannot reasonably assume God is the cause.

To take it to the realm of science, dark matter is a good example.  We know that something is having a gravitational effect on galaxies, but so far we have not been able to demonstrate what.  Because of this we use a place holder name, but once we demonstrate what exists that is having this effect, we will replace the name “dark matter” with whatever the actual cause is.

[ Edited: 11 July 2019 21:09 by Garret]
 
GAD
 
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11 July 2019 21:43
 

Here we go with the bullshit again. So faith in god is the same as faith in relationships. OK, so my personal experience is that the Butt Fairy, creator of the universe lives in my ass and that my ass is his prophet on earth. So per your definition’s of experience and faith my experience and faith that the Butt Fairy, creator of the universe lives in my ass is absolutely as valid and real as yours is. Now go tell your wives that your faith in them is as real as the Butt Fairy creator of the universe living in my ass.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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12 July 2019 01:26
 
Garret - 11 July 2019 08:49 PM

P1: only things that exist can be the cause of an effect.
P2: we cannot demonstrate that God exists.
C: therefore, we cannot assume that God is the cause of anything.

To be clear there, God could be the cause of something, but until we can demonstrate God’s existence, we cannot reasonably assume God is the cause.

.

I’m pretty sure that syllogism isn’t valid. I’ll leave it to the more experienced logicians.

I feel like you are injecting the point with content it doesn’t have in order to defeat it. I said nothing about proving the existence of god. That isn’t my M.O. at all. You say we can’t prove god. I accept that. You say we cannot assume god is the cause of anything. I accept that. I think we should move on.

I think I know where the confusion is. I think it’s an equivocation on the world ‘experience’. If I say ‘I experience loss’ there are at least two ways that phrase can be interpreted. On the one hand watching a loved one die in ones arms is an experience of loss. But reflecting on that death in silence a decade later is also an experience of loss. One is an event involving tangible things in the world while the other is a private mental event. Both involve experience but use the word in different connotations.

If EN says that he experiences god I interpret this as the latter because I cannot represent the former. It is a private mental event. However valid or logical or proven the enfolded concepts may or may not be. The mental event exists and possesses whatever significance it has to the subject as a matter of personal sovereignty.

Any one of us could be mistaken about the significance or causation of our experience. I think this probably happens to everyone perpetually. We are not mistaken about the subjective quality of our experience. We can’t be. If you remember eating an apple you remember eating an apple. Even if you change your mind later.

The reason I don’t drop it is because I think experience is very important. Especially experience that isn’t verifiable or justifiable. I don’t personally have any use for god but I do have a use for cognitive liberty and creative imagination. I think the ability to represent the fantastic and non tangible specifically is vital to our cognitive development and to civilization. Without that we don’t have invention or art or stories or idealism or a thousand other things.

The moment we give ourselves permission to correct another person about the nature of their private experience I think we have crossed a line. I think it’s a line worth defending. Even for and especially for people I disagree with. It’s a core facet of liberty.

That’s probably as clear as I can be.

 

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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12 July 2019 02:03
 
EN - 11 July 2019 08:07 PM
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 11 July 2019 03:13 PM

So, the question for religious belief is, as I see it: is religious belief related to the kind of faith we exhibit daily in friendships, parenting, marriages, etc.—where the propositions are evident without being based in evidential testing—or is it related to the kind of empirical testing for traditional propositional truth claims, aka those one finds in science?

I would think religious faith is closer to the first class - the daily faith we express in relationships.  In Latin based languages there are two kinds of “knowing”, exemplified in the Italian words “conoscere” and “sapere”.  The first relates to knowing a person, the second to knowing a thing or fact. The first is more relational, the second closer to scientific knowledge.  I don’t think a believer can legitimately claim the second type of knowledge in his religious experience, but he can claim the first.  As you say, there is no evidential testing there, but you “know” the thing that you are experiencing in the relationship is real.  You may know (conoscere) and love your wife, but in reality you don’t know (sapere) her, if you see what I mean.

I didn’t know the Latin origins of two kinds of knowing.  I knew French had two words, but not this origin.  Thanks for pointing it out.  If I use it, you’ll be in a footnote.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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12 July 2019 03:12
 

On the topic of experience, I’ve had two that, were I so inclined, I might find God in them.  Neither led to falsifiable knowledge, though both involved tangible things and real events in the world, and one was ‘shared’ (a friend was there too; we experienced the same events in an identical situation; but we thought of the same situation differently).  The most I would say is that what I experienced transcends the horizons not just of what I understood at the time but rather the horizons of my understanding as such.  If pressed, I might permit the world “ultimate” as an adjective for the reality of the experience based solely on this transcendence, but either way, both experiences remain to this day an experiential kind of cognizance without being based on, or satisfactorily captured by, propositional knowledge.  If pressed, I could find poetic expression for them, and that expression might refer to elements I know, say, scientifically.  But to state the experience plainly in terms of the explanations I use on a daily basis fails to do the subjective sense any justice.  The attempt would be like expecting an oxytocin and galvanic skin response reading to make sense of what occurred with me when I made my wedding vows and kissed the bride, even though, of course, changes in both occurred at the time. 

While the language of religion doesn’t work for me, who am I to say it doesn’t work for someone else, my friend included?  That is, since I can’t capture the meaning of my own experience propositionally and refute or test for myself it and what it reveals, on what possible basis could I test and refute his or someone else’s attempt to capture their own, similar experience?

In any case, to the point of Brick Bungalow’s appeal for tolerance, this experience of mine and what it taught me can, I think, be a first-hand source of not only accepting similar experiences in others, but also for tolerating the ways in which they capture their meaning.  There are many ways to try to capture what we do not understand but experience as real nonetheless, and as I see it, it takes a peculiar sort of arrogance to assert that only the demonstrably understood, the demonstrably testable, and the demonstrably certain can serve as knowledge or the source of value—even, all things considered, our deepest, rational knowledge and values. In fact, isn’t our ignorance to the contrary the basis of all creative striving, whether it be in science, the arts, or in our relationships with one another?  Or alternatively, how is the search for demonstrable, testable, rational foundations for knowledge and value any less misguided than religious explanations of the same?

As a qualifier for this attempt at foundations for knowledge and value isn’t is high time we put “so-called” in front of both “rational” and “religious”?

[ Edited: 12 July 2019 03:50 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
EN
 
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12 July 2019 03:49
 
GAD - 11 July 2019 09:43 PM

Here we go with the bullshit again. So faith in god is the same as faith in relationships. OK, so my personal experience is that the Butt Fairy, creator of the universe lives in my ass and that my ass is his prophet on earth. So per your definition’s of experience and faith my experience and faith that the Butt Fairy, creator of the universe lives in my ass is absolutely as valid and real as yours is. Now go tell your wives that your faith in them is as real as the Butt Fairy creator of the universe living in my ass.

We know your Best Friend is bullshit because we were on hand when you created him.  But that’s fine, if the idea of a Butt Fairy does it for you, go with it. I’m glad he adds meaning to your life.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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12 July 2019 04:00
 

Wait!  The Butt Fairy isn’t real?  How can an Anus live on without belief in the Butt Fairy?!

 
EN
 
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12 July 2019 07:10
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 12 July 2019 04:00 AM

Wait!  The Butt Fairy isn’t real?  How can an Anus live on without belief in the Butt Fairy?!

We all smelled it when GAD created him.  It was an overwhelming experience.

 
GAD
 
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12 July 2019 07:19
 
EN - 12 July 2019 03:49 AM
GAD - 11 July 2019 09:43 PM

Here we go with the bullshit again. So faith in god is the same as faith in relationships. OK, so my personal experience is that the Butt Fairy, creator of the universe lives in my ass and that my ass is his prophet on earth. So per your definition’s of experience and faith my experience and faith that the Butt Fairy, creator of the universe lives in my ass is absolutely as valid and real as yours is. Now go tell your wives that your faith in them is as real as the Butt Fairy creator of the universe living in my ass.

We know your Best Friend is bullshit because we were on hand when you created him.  But that’s fine, if the idea of a Butt Fairy does it for you, go with it. I’m glad he adds meaning to your life.

We are the same path again here, you start making criteria to justify your experience as special and real vs mine or others, you lost and will again if you want to go down that path. Before you said you believed the experience of the men who invented the bible because you were not there to see them invent it vs my revelation and experience here online, you want to stick with that bullshit excuse, cause I can shred you on this if you want.

 
 
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