John, We need to have some sort of system for sorting the wrong beliefs from the less-likely-to-be-wrong ones. This is what science tries to do, although of course it can never arrive at "ultimate truth" precisely because it has to be open to new evidence should it come along. But we have to have some basic standards for evidence, and if we are honest we should apply that standard consistently. If someone believes that Elvis is alive because lots of people have seen him then, IMHO, that person's standards of evidence are too low. But if someone believes that Jesus rose from the dead because it says in the Bible that people saw him, but not that Elvis is alive, then not only is that person's standards of evidence too low, he is also being inconsistent. If you believe the incredible things it says in one holy book then you have forfeited your reasons for disbelieving all sorts of other incredible things. As for values, once we have ironed out our disagreements on empirical matters on which our values depend, then all we can say is, I think this and you think that: there is no basis for saying one of us is right and the other wrong.

Oh, and the atheist/ agnostic thing: are you atheistic or agnostic about Santa 

Stathis Papaioannou

Subject: Re: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2007 09:19:08 -0500

Interleaving in bold
----- Original Message -----
From: Stathis Papaioannou<mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 4:55 AM
Subject: RE: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)
Tom Caylor writes:
 Stathis Papaioannou:
People disagree on lots of things, but they also agree on lots of things, many 
of which are on the face
of it either incredible or unpleasant - because the evidence leaves them no 
choice. On matters of values and
religion, however, they disagree far more frequently. In the case of values 
this is because they are not
actually disgreeing about any empirical or logical fact:
--who's empiria and who's logic? Are YOU the ultimate authority?--
 they are just saying this is the way I wish to live my
life, this is what I hold to be good or important, this is what I would like 
other people to hold good or important.
--Doesn't everybody. including yourself?--
In the case of religion, people disagree because they are selective in the 
evidence they accept because they
want to believe something.
--Everybody's prerogative.--
Jews believe that God spoke to Moses, but they don't believe that God spoke to 
Muhammed. I don't think there is evidence that God spoke to either of them, but 
if your standards of evidence are much lower than mine....
--who (else) told you which one is "lower"? Different, maybe. --
 and you accept one, you are being inconsistent if you don't accept the other. 
That is,
if you think the sort of evidence presented in holy books, reports of miracles, 
religious experience, strength of
faith in followers etc. is convincing, then pretty well every religion is 
equally convincing.
--Logical flaw: different religions accept different 'holy' books (their own, 
that is) you are in the joke when two people meet at the railroad station and 
one sais: I am making a trip to a distant foreign country and the other sais: 
me too, so why are we not traveling  together? --
 That is not the case if you compare the evidence for a flat Earth versus a 
spherical Earth, for example.
(Watch out: Einstein reopened the scientific allowance for not only a 
heliocentric, but a geocentric world with his NO preference in a relative world 
(math would be complicated)
As for the Problem of Evil, that's easy: there is no evidence that there is a 
God; if there is a God, there is no
evidence that he cares what happens to us; if he does care what happens to us 
there is no evidence that he intervenes in our lives; if he does intervene 
there is no evidence that things are any better than they would be if he didn't 
--Again, you consider YOUR evidence in YOUR logic. You have the right to do so, 
but so has a religious person to his own ways.
I am not an atheist, because an a-theist needs a god (theos)  to deny and in my 
belief system (based on those natural sciences I was brainwashed into at 
college) I do not condone IN NATURE any SUPERNATURAL ideas. I just wondered why 
the 'god-designers' made their idol(s) with all those human fallibilities 
(vain, seek adoration, pick favorites, no criticism allowed, are vengeful, 
irate, not impartial, influenceable, cruel, punishing even unjustly (punishing 
for things by creational flaws etc.) and assigning this world to a creator with 
such flaws...  And yes, I am an agnostic, because I am not convinced about the 
superiority of MY ideas over the ideas of others.
Stathis Papaioannou
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