On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 7:40 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:

>  On 5/10/2013 2:49 PM, Jason Resch wrote:
>
>
>
>
> On Fri, May 10, 2013 at 2:45 PM, meekerdb <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> 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>wrote:
>>
>>> On Fri, May 10, 2013  Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
>>>
>>>  > How could a pseudo-religion, fake by definition, be superior to
>>>> anything?
>>>>
>>>
>>> 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
>>> illogical 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 which 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 hope 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 other methods and that's what distinguishes it - not the
>> fact that it's not certain.
>>
>>
>>  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:
>>
>> http://projectwordsworth.com/the-paradox-of-the-proof/
>>
>>
>>
>  Right.
>
>
>>
>>  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 unprovable beliefs.
>>
>>
>>  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.
>


Take, for instance you belief that it's better to presume something we
cannot see doesn't exist, and contrast that with my opposite belief that we
should presume it does exist (so long as we find no reason to think it
shouldn't).  Or the belief in solipsism vs. the belief that others have
feelings too, or one's belief or disbelief in an afterlife.  It seems in
principal science (as a third-person shareable endeavor) cannot progress on
these matters, and any opinion one might have on the matter is the result
of a personal (unjustifiable) set of beliefs.  We all have them.


> The trouble is that neither you nor Einstein get to redefine words - they
> are defined by commons usage.
>

" a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the
universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency
or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often
containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. "

I think my definition as a "set of beliefs" more closely matches the
above definition
<http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion?s=t>much more closely than
"faith in supernatural revelation or religious dogma." -- which to me seems
purposefully constructed so you can claim to be free of any religious
beliefs.



>   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.
>

Science and observation can inform our beliefs but it is then those beliefs
that provide a motivation or justification to do anything.  Science is the
method for determining beliefs in a rational way.


>
>
>
>
>>  This wrong in two respects.  First, it is not necessary to assume some
>> proposition 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.
>

Are values not beliefs concerning morality?

5.     ( plural ) the moral principles and beliefs or accepted standards of
a person or social group: a person with old-fashioned values



>
>
>   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 or scientific.  What makes it scientific is that it is supported
>> by the preponderance 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."
>
>
To my point above, this is a particularly narrow definition.  There are
many beliefs most people would agree are of a religions nature: belief in
the existence of God, belief in the non-existence of God, belief on the
existence of the after life, belief in the non-existence of an afterlife,
etc.  These are not necessarily the result of some supernatural revelation
or dogma.  Do you consider them scientifically justified?  Are they
scientific beliefs?


>
>   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.
>


It is the set of all beliefs a person has that make up their religion.


>   But I guess that's a small price to pay for converting everyone to
> religion.
>

Who is being converted?  All I am suggesting is that we admit we each have
some religious beliefs.  In a sense, you might say they are those
"axiomatic beliefs" upon which all our other beliefs are founded, and are
not derivable from others.


>
>
>  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 answer 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 faith.
>>
>>
>>  No necessarily.  I can bet CTM is more likely true than an alternative,
>> without 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.
>
>
Good point.  I would consider values a special case of beliefs though,
making them part of a person's religion.


>
>  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
>

Choices are inherently unscientific.  Even if we are using some probability
model, our model could be wrong, we might have missed something, our
fundamental assumptions on reality upon which those beliefs are made could
be in error.  Making some irreversible decision leads to consequences we
cannot know, and so the best we can do is hope our decision was the right
one.

and hence every choice must be religious because it requires a certain
> belief
>

No, every choice is based on one or more unproven (and unprovable) beliefs,
not that the choice is religions.

It is the set of beliefs that together form a person's religion, and
science is a tool we can use to develop that set of beliefs (along with
introspection, reasoning, etc.).


> and every certain belief constitutes a religion.
>

No beliefs are certain.  Also a single belief alone does not make a
religion, unless perhaps that belief serves as the basis for all other
beliefs a person develops.  A religion is the set of beliefs a person has.
If you wish to be free of religion, you must be agnostic on everything and
never make any choices that might affect anyone (which is impossible in our
world).


>
>
>
>>
>>
>>
>>  I'm not sure what you mean by religion provides beliefs which cannot be
>> proved.
>>
>>
>>  I did not say that it provides them.  I said a religion is those set of
>> beliefs.  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 belief show it is not true.  So maybe
>> the reason they can't be proved is that they are false.
>>
>>
>>  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 to 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
>> subconsciously; so to say we believe some proposition is true in order to
>> act is stretching the 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.
>
>
But how can we know those unconscious decisions were not guided by one's
beliefs?


> Brent
> "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
>

What constitutes backing in the faith corner?

Jason

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