On 5/10/2013 2:49 PM, Jason Resch wrote:

On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 2:45 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net <mailto:meeke...@verizon.net>> wrote:

    On 5/10/2013 12:11 PM, Jason Resch wrote:

    On May 10, 2013, at 1:24 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net
    <mailto:meeke...@verizon.net>> wrote:

    On 5/10/2013 10:58 AM, Jason Resch wrote:

    On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 12:03 PM, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com
    <mailto:johnkcl...@gmail.com>> wrote:

        On Fri, May 10, 2013  Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be
        <mailto:marc...@ulb.ac.be>> wrote:

            > How could a pseudo-religion, fake by definition, be superior to 

        Well, I'd rather be a fake moron that a real moron, wouldn't you?

            > And why should a religion be illogical?

        Because if it deals with big issues as religion does and it is not 
        then the word for that is not "religion" but "science".

    Religion is a set of beliefs which cannot be proved.  Science is a means by 
    one might arrive on such a set of beliefs.  Life requires making decisions 
but as
    science never provides 100% certainty on any idea, science can never tell 
us what
    course of action is correct.  For that we must fall back to our beliefs and 
    our decision was right.

    That's a very strange formulation?  Yes, science is a means of arriving at 
a set
    of propositions that cannot be proved, but so is astrology and numerology 
and even
    just making stuff up.  But science is right much more consistently than 
    methods and that's what distinguishes it - not the fact that it's not 

    My point is that even with good methods of arriving at beliefs (such as 
science) we
    never get certainty.

    Sure.  It's even true in mathematics and logic, which unlike science do 
purport to
    prove things:



    Yet any time we make a decision we must base that decision on some belief 
as if it
    were true, which is not scientific (but religious), as it depends on 

    You're creating a false equivalence between science and religion (maybe so 
you can
    tell John Clark he's really religious; he likes to hear that. :-) ).

They are not equivalent, but there is a relationship between the two. It is like Bruno says, science is the tool and religion the goal. Or what Einstein said, where religion sets the goals and science helps realize them:

"Now, even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

This an old rhetorical move, made most nakedly by Paul Tillich who defined "God" as whatever you value and "religion" as the pursuit of that value. So Tillich converted everyone to belief in God much more easily than Billy Graham every hoped. The trouble is that neither you nor Einstein get to redefine words - they are defined by commons usage. It doesn't take "profound faith" to bet that the world is explicable. It only takes the observation that a lot has been well explained (by science, not religion) and the curiosity to want to explain more.

    This wrong in two respects.  First, it is not necessary to assume some 
    is true in order to act.  If I bet on a poker hand I'm betting it's better 
than my
    opponents hand - but I'm not assuming or believing or depending on that 
that. I know
    I may lose.

You decision to bet is based on the belief that maximizing winnings (at the expense of others) is good (and that the move has an expected value greater than zero).

That I want to win is not a belief about the world, it's a personal value. Something I can perceive directly by introspection.

Someone relying only on science could never be certain playing poker was the correct course of action to make, for that you had to rely on some (possibly wrong) belief that it is good.

Sure every decision must be informed by some values, factual propositions are not enough even if they were certain.

      Second, basing a decision on some belief doesn't make it either religious 
    scientific.  What makes it scientific is that it is supported by the 
    of the evidence.  What makes it religious is that it is based on the dogma 
of some
    religion, i.e. is based on faith in some supernatural revelation.

Here you are defining religion circularly as the dogma of some religion.

I gave a non-circular explication of that "... based on faith in some supernatural revelation."

I prefer my definition of religion as a set of beliefs, as it is non-circular, it can be applied to non-dogmatic, and non-revealed religions, and it follows more closely with the definitions of Einstein and Bruno.

Except it makes beliefs like "McDonald hamburgers are cheap, but they're easy to find." into religions. But I guess that's a small price to pay for converting everyone to religion.

Of course, you and John Clark may not like this definition, because it shows how every rational thinker operates according to some belief and value system, which cannot be justified by science.

    E.g., if a doctor asks you if you want a digital brain prosthesis, you must 
    yes or no.  Science may lead you to believe CTM is true and the 
substitution level
    us right, but you cannot know.  Making the decision involves a leap of 

    No necessarily.  I can bet CTM is more likely true than an alternative, 
    leaping to faith in either one. If I said "yes" to the doctor I wouldn't 
cancel my
    life insurance.

A bet being the result of a belief + some decision theory.

But the "belief" doesn't have to be a set of beliefs forming a religion. It is only an estimate of the relative of probability of some propositions relevant to the decision. It is tentative and subject to test and revision. Decision theory is primarily about making decisions under uncertainty. And you left out values, which are needed as an input to the decision theory too.

In any case, the "act" is unscientific because either choice represents a presumption of knowledge, which we know we never have. Of course, the practical considerations of life in this universe compell us to make such decisions all the time.

So to summarize, according to you, no choice can be scientific because science doesn't provide certainty and hence every choice must be religious because it requires a certain belief and every certain belief constitutes a religion.

    I'm not sure what you mean by religion provides beliefs which cannot be 

    I did not say that it provides them.  I said a religion is those set of 
     How you got them is another matter.

    Of course they are not part of an axiomatic system, so they cannot be 
proved or
    disproved in that sense.   But they can certainly tested in the ordinary 
sense of
    "preponderance of the evidence".  For example many religions include a 
belief that
    pious and sincere prayers will be answered.  Double blind tests of this 
    show it is not true.  So maybe the reason they can't be proved is that they 

    Another reason is that nothing can be proved.

    I don't think believing is just an act of will that can be applied to any
    proposition though, at least that's not what I'd call believing.  You seem 
    implicitly assume that we need certainty in order to act - which is 
obviously not
    the case.

    No, we never have certainty, so certainty is not required to act.  But all
    decisions we make (consciously or not) are based on beliefs, which for the 
sake of
    the decision, we assume/hope to be true.

    No, we don't assume they are true.  In fact we make many decisions 
    so to say we believe some proposition is true in order to act is stretching 
    meaning of "believe".

As much as "unconscious decisions" stretch the meaning of "decide".

But if you assume all decisions are conscious, you concede that many acts are 
not decisions.

"Once you have backed into the faith corner, you have no
recourse against terror and repression in the name of religion,
no recourse against bigotry, demagoguery, misogyny, or abuse
posing as religion. You have no basis for criticism of cruel
religions. This is precisely because faith is not a matter of
evidence and analysis, not a matter of argument and criticism."
         --- Patricia Churchland

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