Thanks, Fellow Uncertain (agnostic...). Let me quote to your question at the 
end the maxim from Mark's post:
"I think therefore I am right!" - Angelica  [Rugrat]
(whatever that came from. Of course we value more our (halfbaked?) opinion  
than the wisdom of others.People die for it. 
With the religious marvels: I look at them with awe, cannot state "it is 
impossible" because 'they' start out beyond reason and say what they please. 
The sorry thing is, when a crowd takes it too seriously and kill, blow up, beat 
or burn live human beings in that 'belief'. Same, if for money. 

John M
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Stathis Papaioannou 
  Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 6:49 PM
  Subject: RE: The Meaning of Life

  I don't "know" a right position from a wrong one either, I'm only trying to 
make the best guess I can given the evidence. Sometimes I really have no idea, 
like choosing which way a tossed coin will come up. Other times I do have 
evidence on which to base a belief, such as the belief that the world was not 
in fact created in six 24-hr days. It is certainly possible that I am wrong, 
and the evidence for a very old universe has either been fabricated or grossly 
misinterpreted, but I would bet on being right. Wouldn't you also, if something 
you valued depended on the bet?
  Stathis Papaioannou

    Subject: Re: The Meaning of Life
    Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2007 18:28:25 -0500

    And you, Stathis, are very kind to assume that I "know' a right position 
from a wromng one. I may be in indecision before I denigrate...
    On the contrary. if someone 'believes' the 6 day creation, I start 
speculating WHAT "days" they could have been metaphorically, starfting before 
the solar system led us to our present ways of scheduling. Etc. Etc. Accepting 
that whatever we 'believe' is our epistemic achievement, anything 'from 
yesterday' might have been 'right' (maybe except the old Greeks - ha ha). in 
their own rites. 
    Sometimes I start an argument about a "different" (questionable?) belief 
just to tickle out arguments which I did not consider earlier. But that is my 
dirty way. 
    I am a bad judge and always ready to reconsider.

    John M
      ----- Original Message ----- 
      From: Stathis Papaioannou 
      Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 5:54 PM
      Subject: RE: The Meaning of Life


      Some people, including the mentally ill, do have multiple inconsistent 
belief systems, but to me that makes it clear that at least one of their 
beliefs must be wrong - even in the absence of other information. You're much 
kinder to alternative beliefs than I am, but in reality, you *must* think that 
some beliefs are wrong, otherwise you would hold those beliefs! For example, if 
you say you don't personally believe the earth was created in six days, but 
respect the right of others to believe that it was, what you're really saying 
is that you respect the right of others to have a false belief. I have no 
dispute with that, as long as it is acknowledged.

      Stathis Papaioannou

        From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
        Subject: Re: The Meaning of Life
        Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 11:07:52 -0500

        no question about that. What I was trying to stress was the futility of 
arguing from one belief system (and stressing its solely expanded "truth") 
against a different "truth and evidence" carrying OTHER belief system.

        BTW: don't schyzophrenics (maybe multiple personalitics) accept 
(alternately) ALL the belief systems they carry? (=layman asking the 
        IMO we all (i.e. thinking people) are schizophrenix with our rather 
elastic ways of intelligence. Beatus ille qui est "onetrackminded"..(the 9th 

        To your initial sentence: do you believe (in YOUR criteria of your 
beliefs) that TWO people may have absolutely identical beliefs? I am almost 
certain that as your immune system, DNA, fingerprint and the other zillion 
characteristics are not identical to those of other animals, the mental makeup 
is similarly unique. 
        We are not zombies of a mechanically computerized machine-identity 
(Oops, no reference to Loeb). Duo si faciunt (cogitant?) idem, non est idem. 

        John M
          ----- Original Message ----- 
          From: Stathis Papaioannou 
          Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 9:38 AM
          Subject: RE: The Meaning of Life


          You shouldn't have one criterion for your own beliefs and a different 
criterion for everyone else's. If Christians said, "those old Greeks sang songs 
about their gods' miraculous exploits, really seemed to believe in them, and on 
top of that were pretty smart, so I guess everything in the Iliad and Odyssey 
must be true", then they would be consistently applying the standards they 
apply to the Bible. Of course, they don't: other peoples' religious beliefs are 
subjected to rational scrutiny and (rightly) found wanting, but their own 
beliefs are special. 

          Stathis Papaioannou

            Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 09:17:57 -0500
            From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
            Subject: Re: The Meaning of Life


            is it not a misplaced effort to argue from one set of belief system 
ONLY with a person 
            who carries two (or even more)? I had a brother-in-law, a devout 
catholic and an excellent
             biochemist and when I asked him how can he adjust the two in one 
mind, he answered:
            "I never mix the two together". Tom is an excellent natural 
scientist and has brilliant 
            arguments in it, as long as it comes to his 'other' belief system - 
what he, quite 
            inderstandably - does not want to give up. 
            We all have 'second belief bases' in our multiple schizophrenia of 
            Some have 'Platonia', some 'primitive matter view' - it is your 
            Do you really think you can penetrate one by arguments from another?

            John M



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