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1  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Gay Marriage Legalization Poll on: February 24, 2015, 05:23:17 pm
His argument was that marriage only exists to incentivize the best possible situation for child-rearing.  There are so many fatal problems with that argument, though.  After several people did a detailed, patient explanation of them, it's frustrating to see him arguing the same position like that conversation never happened.

It's a totally unreasonable position, so I'm disappointed to see it argued as somehow "moderate."
2  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Gay Marriage Legalization Poll on: February 24, 2015, 04:50:44 pm
Support.

Civil Unions yes, Marriage no. Though, I will say that if the SCOTUS rules in favor of it, I will be in the "its settled law, I don't like it, but let's just move on" camp, rather than the "Fight to reverse it for all of eternity!" camp, simply because I don't care about the issue enough to fight it beyond the  'lgbt-favorable SCOTUS ruling' point.

I'm still disappointed that you stopped replying to the thread where people were challenging your argument on this.  What did you not find our arguments a convincing rebuttal of your argument?
3  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: GOP caucus in Washington on: February 19, 2015, 10:32:52 pm
1. Washington was not especially close in 2004.  It was definitely not a swing state...it was almost 10 points to the left of national average, and has twice trended Democratic since.  Also, Washington is a highly polarized state, so closing small gaps is harder than in most other places.

2. Paul's people were well-organized in WA, even if the Republican Party insiders did their best to screw them over.  I have no idea if this will repeat, but it doesn't really relate to Washington's libertarian lean.  Washington may have a lot of social liberals who are fiscal conservatives in the suburbs, but those aren't exactly Paul's constituency.  Paul's strong performance in WA was about an organized operation, not the state's ideology.

3. The 2004 Gubernatorial election was a huge mess, and King County messed up, but it didn't find more votes per capita than some other (very Republican) counties.  Also, the votes that they found were publicly disclosed (the voter IDs, that is).  This was absolutely a screw-up, but using this to argue the election was "stolen" is weak.
4  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How strongly do you agree or disagree? on: February 16, 2015, 09:04:36 pm
I don't know how I could possibly vote anything besides 0 and 10 for a statement that asserts a total universal.  So, uh, zero?
5  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 16, 2015, 09:00:31 pm
Hmm, you've given me a lot to think about, which is why I've taken so long to reply. I think the fundamental difference here is the way we see morality as operating. My view of how morality works and how humans interact with it mean I just can't see a way that the difference between moral intuitions and direct religious experiences is relevant.

Or, to put it another way, yes, I think they are so comparable that I have to limit (though not dismiss, as we should all have a healthy sceptisim about things like this) your argument.

Regarding the second part, my point, though not very well made, was something along the lines that I don't think you can easily divide things into material reality obesrvations and non material observations, it's a continuum.

Anyway I'm kind of out of my depth here, so I'll bow out. I enjoyed the debate Smiley

This is complex, and I totally respect it if you want to bow out, but I don't have any particularized knowledge here.  I'm thinking through it as we go.  No worries about replying if you don't want to -- but I'd like to finish the thought.

I think your basic argument is that you see moral intuitions as our best means of deriving moral truths, which you think are fixed truths that are accessible via perception.  You also recognize that 'material' things, like the existence of an intruder in your house are fixed truths accessible via perception.  To you, the line between 'material' observations and non-'material' observations seems arbitrary.  You assume both morality and concrete materials are objects that exist, that we can perceive and intuit.  A religious experience may even blur the line further.  To you, religious truth (like the existence of God) is more like a moral 'object' than an intruder in your house -- because it may not have a concrete, chemical existence, but it still an 'object' you can perceive or intuit, and so you argue you know it's an 'object.'

A few problems with this:

You seem to be assuming that morality is an 'object' that can be apprehended because you have intuitions about it.  There are a few issues with this.  First, intuitions are demonstrably not always a reflection of any reality.  We frequently have strong feelings about things we can concretely confirm (deja vu, for instance) that are not reflections of any reality.  They're just feelings.  They're just intuitions.  We're wired to have them, and we often have them erroneously.  Recognizing this does not require us to throw away all intuitions and feelings we have.  Even if you believe that morality is an 'object' we can apprehend, if there are marked variations in moral intuitions, why should we assume our own are correct?  Maybe there are moral 'objects' and we're just not very accurate at perceiving them.  Maybe we perceive them correctly, but infer their significance poorly.  What else explains the variations in moral intuitions between human beings?  Either people are being dishonest about them, they're crazy, these are feelings that don't relate to any concrete reality, or there is a concrete reality but we're not good at ascertaining it.  No matter your logic, I'm not sure how it leads to believing beyond a reasonable doubt that your personal intuitions reflect moral truth.

The other problem is in assuming that moral truths are 'objects' that exist as realities.  Why assume this?  Now, you might analogize a moral intuition to an observation of something tangible like the intruder (as Ernest sort of did) that a universal intuition can be accepted as fact, much like if everyone at dinner reports they're seeing an intruder, it's reasonable to assume a person is an object that is there.  The difference is that we don't just accept this because it's a shared feeling or intuition.  It's something we can perceive and describe.  We can see the object we're perceiving.  Generally, people trust even vague intuitions held by multiple people (like "it feels like there's an intruder in the house"), because we assume they're picking up -- consciously or subconsciously -- on some tangible manifestation of that thing.

With morality, we assume it's there because it triggers a feeling.  We don't necessarily believe that feeling is the conscious or subconscious representation of something we perceive, because we don't think that moral truth necessarily has a tangible manifestation.  You know what I mean?  With the intruder, if there's a consensus of perception, that's probably because multiple people are picking up on a tangible manifestation of the intruder -- a sound, a vibration, something.  Morality does not have sounds nor vibrations.  What would our intuitions and perceptions be picking up when it comes to morality?  I'm not saying it's impossible that we're picking up on some sixth sense, or signal from God.  I'm saying we have no reason to believe that's certain, and it's not just some bred-in feeling that's useful to our survival and well-being.  I just don't think it's reasonable to treat vague, varied "sixth-sense" intuitions the same as our universal perceptions of things that seem to manifest tangibly.

In any case, it seem to me obvious that intuitions about religious experiences are more worthy of skepticism than perceptions about physical manifestations.  Religious experiences vary more.  What they're "picking up on," if anything, is less clear.  As far as we know, they don't have tangible manifestations; they only manifest in our feelings.  Even if you don't find these as problematic as I do, don't you find them at least somewhat problematic?

Back to the intruder analogy: you're the only one at dinner that 'senses' that an intruder is present.  It was a strong intuitions, but others report having no such feeling.  Or, perhaps, other people report a strong intuition that it was the wind.  Maybe other people didn't hear a sound you think you heard.  Do you:

1. Maintain absolute, strict certainty that an intruder must be there, and perhaps derive from that a complicated description of the intruder and his qualities; or,

2. Remain at least moderately agnostic about the presence of an intruder.

I think most people would say #2.  And yet, when it comes to religious intuitions/experiences, most people behave more like #1.  Like I've argued, it can't be because religious intuitions/experiences are clearly more reliable than perceptions of things we perceive as physical.  So what is it?

Anyway, food for thought, not trying to bully further posts out of anyone.  I've never heard anyone able to address this adequately.  For now, it means I hold that basing religious belief solely on personal intuition/experience is unreasonable.  I'm open to changing my mind, though.  It's a complex issue and there's a reasonable chance I'm missing something.

Thanks for the great exchange!
6  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 15, 2015, 12:37:35 am
I italicized the relevant sentence: "A belief not reconciled with any observable reality, or system of thought derived from reality, is a delusion."  My uncertainty was due to uncertainty as to how you meant 'reconciled'.  I was taking it in a strong sense that would require that a non-delusional belief would need to include some universal truth as part of the reason for holding it, but I wasn't certain if you intended that strong a sense,

The simplest (and most relevant to this board) would be a belief in the existence (or non-existence) of God.

I'm not going to use your terminology ("universal truth") because, as I pointed out above, you've given a confusing definition and haven't clarified the question I had about it, which is pretty crucial.  Please keep in mind is that I also said beliefs can reasonably come from "a system of thought derived from reality," too.

I can't really address your example because you gave me an example of a belief (belief in God) without indicating how it was derived.  If you're arguing that beliefs can be derived from intuitions that aren't based in any system of thought based in observable reality, I've been talking about that with Bore.  If it's something else, you'll need to specify.
7  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: What are your plans for Valentine's Day? on: February 13, 2015, 04:46:07 pm
What a myopic thread.

yeah when people are all like, "what are you doing this friday?" I'm all like "you should mean what am I doing about world peace, you MYOPIC BASTARDS!!!"

People who enjoy stuff are just the worst
8  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 13, 2015, 04:32:12 pm
To me, your statement implies two things, both of which I object to.

The first, which I'm not certain you meant, but is the way I took it, is that holding a belief not derived in some fashion from what I've been calling universal truth is delusional.  I don't see where that is sufficient.  Only where it contradicts universal truth would it be delusional.

1. Where are you reading me saying that?

2. Could you give me an example of a reasonable belief that does not derive from what you call "universal truth"?  I'm not sure I disagree -- just want to clarify.

The second and subtler implication is that you seem to be assuming that we can always determine with certainty what is universal truth.  While it is true that in the area of physics we've been able to achieve a fairly certain understanding of how the laws of physics work today, physics is easy.

Considering the first point was so subtle I don't think I even said it, this one must be very subtle! 

I'm not sure what you're getting at.  You said that an individual's universal truth is "perceptions of experiences that you can replicate yourself, and perceive/experience directly."  I asked you if you instead meant that universal truth is replicable by everyone, which you haven't answered.  In any case, under either definition, in what situation do you allege you can't determine "universal truth" (either the 'personal' or the 'everybody') with certainty?  If universal truth is individualized, wouldn't it just be whatever the individual perceives directly?  That doesn't preclude certainty.  If universal truth is universally replicable, then I'm also unclear on where the uncertainty comes from.

But I'm also not sure why this is relevant to anything I've argued.

Also since you brought it up, albeit for later discussion, let me address two points relating to my concept of a universal moral truth.  The first is that I limited the universe of discussion to morality within a functional society, so any such truths won't necessarily be held by those incapable of fully functioning within such a society.

OK, but I'm not sure what this has to do with anything in this thread.

The second is I that I said, "thou shalt not murder" and not "thou shalt not kill".  I can't think of any functioning society that does not have the former while few societies hold the latter.

Well, considering murder is defined as illicit killing, that makes sense Wink And, again, unless you are trying to give an example of a universal truth, I'm not sure what you're getting it.  Specify the significance, dude, seriously.  You're making this pointlessly hard on the both of us.
9  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 13, 2015, 03:11:06 pm
Is perceiving God the same thing as perceiving a bee sting hurts? I'm inclined to think it's not. God, by almost all definitions is not a material thing. A perception of God, therefore, is surely far closer to a perception about morality than a perception about what colour hat someone is wearing.

I actually disagree, because God -- at least the Christian God -- is something people claim (in a general sense) has manifest existence.  He may not have physical existence, but do people really claim that morality has manifest (observable) existence in the way they claim God does?  They claim that moral intuitions do, but I'm not sure that people claim that morality itself can be observed outside of those intuitions.  I know this is a thorny issue, since you could argue that intuitions about morality and intuitions about perception are made of similar stuff...but I think most people accept that perceptions of direct experiences are different than intuitions about abstractions like morality, and vary a lot less.  I am, after all, speaking to direct religious experiences and not necessarily intuitions about religion truth.

Intuitions about material reality, on the other hand, we accept can be wrong -- which is the basis of my argument.  It may be that perceiving God isn't the same thing as perceiving a bee sting, but is perceiving a moral intuition the same (in terms of the ability to incorporate other people's intuitions/perceptions in the calculations) as perceiving a spiritual experience that leads you to a conclusion about something manifest, either?  If so, are they so comparable that you're willing to dismiss my argument on that basis?

I hope that's clear -- it's pretty dense, sorry.

More importantly, even if I am wrong about that, it still seems that excluding moral intuitions from this argument is an example of special pleading. The distinction between something that can be materially observed (whatever that means) and that which can't is necessarily arbitrary. As was recently raised in the objective reality thread this is much more a spectrum than a hard and fast line.

I didn't exclude moral intuitions from the argument.  You're confused about what I mean by "materially observed"?  It's true that, fundamentally, there's no hard and set way of claiming that there's objective material reality to observe, any more than claiming that there's objective moral reality to observe.  Is that what you're arguing?  If so, I'm aware, and I'm not excluding that from my consideration or anything.  If I'm understanding your explanation, I can explain.
10  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 13, 2015, 02:38:54 pm
This wasn't some highly technical "gotcha," dude, so if you're being dismissive I don't see why.

It's just that I really don't care about (apparently?) strictly defined terms relating to logic, so was using the term in a very informal sense. So the appearance of a dense block of prim black-coated disapproval was not entirely anticipated.

If an argument sucks, I generally think we should explain why it sucks, not why another, slightly similar argument sucks.

This is definitely the first time in my life I've ever been called "prim," though, so that's something!

Specifically a claim was made that religious persecution by the well-known atheist state the Soviet Union does not count because the attempt by this atheist state to impose atheism at the point of a gun was not motivated by atheism but by other considerations. Which is, for the record, total trash. This bogus and historically illiterate argument was made in the context of a claim about violence almost never being motivated by atheism (a claim that, like it or not, is untrue).

I don't dislike that claim if it's true (besides the fact that it's sad and stuff).  I just get frustrated with the tendency of arguments on this site to vaguely half-engage the opposing side, and substitute intellectual allusions for intellectual arguments.  It's like sometimes the arguments here involve posts that just say things like "lol how post-bolshevik" and I'm thinking, I'm a reasonably smart guy and I have no idea what the heck that means.  And, in this case, I actually do know the allusion you were making, and it didn't really make an explicit logical point, so it didn't serve much purpose besides tonal condescension.  I think the Atlas has enough tonal condescension as it is from idiots that our smart, knowledgeable posters don't need to be doing it too.

All of which is a bit odd because if there was a 'political' motivation to these murders it looks (I've not followed closely so could be missing several very important things) to be primarily anti-Muslim (I would use the word 'racist' but Americans get weirded out by uses of that word that postdate the 19th century).

If HockeyDude doesn't accept the connection between atheism and communistic violence -- hard to know, since you didn't really engage him on the point -- then I don't know how that claim becomes "a little odd" based on this incident.
11  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 13, 2015, 03:28:18 am
Other people's reported direct experiences are, unless you can replicate it for yourself as a direct experience, only an indirect experience for you.

OK.

Only those replicable experiences constitute universal truth.

OK, so "universal truth" is perceptions of experiences that you can replicate yourself, and perceive/experience directly.  I'm not sure in what sense that's "universal," unless you mean it must be replicable everyone to be a "universal truth."  Is that what you mean?

Personal truth includes universal truth, direct experience that cannot be replicated by another, indirect experience you believe, and the inferences you make from the preceding.

OK, so basically "personal truth" is a mix of things you personally perceive/experience, "universal truths" (pending the clarification above), and other people's perceptions/experiences that you find credible, plus the logical inferences you make from all of those things.  I wouldn't call that "personal truth" because that phrase makes no sense to me, but I follow.

For an individual "truth" equals "personal truth" because it all is valid for that person. It is the sum of that personal truth that makes their personal religion correct for them.  

Are you claiming that anything I experience/perceive, even if I am veritably incorrect, is "correct for me"?  Maybe.  It is what I believe to be truth.  That does not necessarily mean it is the same as truth, unless I believe I am incapable of being wrong.  That's why I have a problem with your use of "truth" in this context.  Even when I assert that something is truth, that doesn't mean that I believe my belief is definitionally truth.  Understand?

Also, unless there is something in your argument that I'm missing -- like in the vague definitions of "universal truth" -- it absolutely does not address the criticism I'm levying.  Your "personal truth" model incorporates other people's experiences and perceptions.  I'm not sure why you even brought it up, considering it doesn't inherently treat others' experiences/perceptions differently than my argument...

So, yeah, what point were you trying to make in response to my critique?

(also have some qualms with your logic re: treatment of murder prohibition being part of a "universal religion," but I'll put that aside until we address the main point.)
12  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 13, 2015, 02:58:01 am
I know you've made the argument before, Al, that the atheistic elements of the Communist Party had a lot to do with why they persecuted Christians.  I disagree, as it is quite obvious to me that persecution took place as part of an overall power struggle.  The Communists were fighting an element they thought could undermine their ideal government and society... They were not persecuting them in the name of atheism.

So now we have No True Atheist as well. Remarkable.

safasfsafdsfda.

That's not a No True Scotsman fallacy.  A No True Scotsman fallacy is an informal fallacy of goalpost-shifting, where someone makes a universal claim and then backs away from it.  He didn't do that, though, unless he made the claim that no atheists are violent.  I don't see him making that claim.  If he made the claim that no one has ever committed a violent act in the name of atheism, and then changed the definition of "in the name of atheism," that would be an NTS.  Otherwise, you're committing a syllogism error here.

'kay

This wasn't some highly technical "gotcha," dude, so if you're being dismissive I don't see why.
13  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 12, 2015, 05:41:34 pm
Maher I believe has said there is no such thing as moderate or liberal Islam and that all Muslims believe X, Y, & Z blah blah.

What quote are you thinking of?

The only one I can find of where he mentions "moderate Muslim" or "moderate Muslims" is this: "Condemning attack is not enough: unless you strongly endorse the right of anyone to make fun of any religion/prophet, you are not a moderate Muslim."

You could argue that this is an unnecessarily strict definition, but it seems totally incompatible with him rejecting the possibility of a moderate Muslim.
14  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 12, 2015, 05:37:34 pm
I know you've made the argument before, Al, that the atheistic elements of the Communist Party had a lot to do with why they persecuted Christians.  I disagree, as it is quite obvious to me that persecution took place as part of an overall power struggle.  The Communists were fighting an element they thought could undermine their ideal government and society... They were not persecuting them in the name of atheism.

So now we have No True Atheist as well. Remarkable.

safasfsafdsfda.

That's not a No True Scotsman fallacy.  A No True Scotsman fallacy is an informal fallacy of goalpost-shifting, where someone makes a universal claim and then backs away from it.  He didn't do that, though, unless he made the claim that no atheists are violent.  I don't see him making that claim.  If he made the claim that no one has ever committed a violent act in the name of atheism, and then changed the definition of "in the name of atheism," that would be an NTS.  Otherwise, you're committing a syllogism error here.
15  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 12, 2015, 02:21:51 pm
Now this post sounds a bit silly in retrospect.

Wait, so an atheist kills some people and now it's silly to call religious terrorism for what it is?  That makes zero sense.  Islam is not the only religion to be used to justify violence and terrorism.

If atheism can inspire violent acts just as much as religion, it's indeed silly to single out "religious terrorism" as a relevant analytical category.

That's not necessarily true.  There are several reasons that religion might present unique analytical problems.  First, the beliefs are involved are more likely to be fixed and not susceptible to moral appeals.  Second, if you think that religion doesn't serve an overall-positive social utility, you might see its disutility as more trouble than other beliefs, like political ones.  Third, religious beliefs and conflicts probably spread in a somewhat different way than political or ethnic ones -- which I think is worth considering.

Would you object to the separate analytical category of "political terrorism"?
16  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 12, 2015, 01:44:00 pm
1. People (like Lief) who decry assuming that Muslim-on-non-Muslim killings are ideologically-motivated, but jumped on this, are being hypocrites.

Huh?

Was your first post in the thread facetious?  I know it was mocking, but was it facetious?  If so, then sorry for using you as an example.  Although you can't blame me for assuming it was a serious statement, considering your next post...
17  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 12, 2015, 08:59:13 am
Other people's reported direct experiences are are what? unless you can replicate it for yourself as a direct experience only an indirect experience for you.  Only those replicable experiences constitute universal truth. Personal truth includes universal truth, direct experience that cannot be replicated by another [person?], indirect experience you belief what?, and the inferences you make from the proceeding what proceeding?.  For an individual "truth" equals "personal truth" because it all is valid for that person "it all"? all of what?. It is the sum of that personal truth that makes their personal religion correct for them.  I don't particularly believe in the concept of a universal religion that would be correct for all, save perhaps if one limits the universe of discussion to those people who are able to interact socially.  For example, the rule "Thou shall not murder." would be a part of such a universal religion, as murder is the killing of people that society frowns upon killing.

Before I reply, please clarify the stuff I bolded above.  If you're not going to be precise about your argument, or explain the significance of your statements, it forces me to infer all of those details.  It's impossible to infer those details based on a post that's as confusing as this one.

I think my objection is going to be similar to Andrew's -- I don't think you really mean "correct for them."  I think you mean "intuitive to them."  You can have intuitions that are incorrect.

I also think you are likely committing the error I referenced earlier with bore.  You note that moral axioms vary between people, apparently to prove that there's no such thing as a universal moral truth.  But the variation in claims to moral truth does not necessarily indicate that there are multiple moral truths, or -- and this makes moral truth a bad analogue to material truth -- even any moral truth.  It just indicates that people make different claims about moral truth.  In any case, unless you think there is no material truth besides "whatever people claim," again, your argument fails to provide a meaningful answer to the topic at hand.

I realize that last paragraph is dense, so let me know if you need me to clarify it.
18  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 12, 2015, 01:55:17 am
I'm not particularly interested in rebutting you, just in explaining my own position, so if you are reading my posts as principally an attempt to rebut you, that's incorrect.  To the degree they contradict your position, if any, that's incidental.

It makes it nearly impossible for me to tell because you're not being particularly clear about your argument.  You've basically made a whole bunch of declarative sentences without clearly tying together what they mean.  I've taken considerable pains to do this with my argument.  Indicating how you differ from my argument isn't just about rebutting me -- it's about helping me understand your argument.  I have no idea why you're so adverse to doing this.  You seem more inclined to give examples than actually explicate your argument, define your terms, and explain how it addresses the topic at hand.  I'll ask for examples if I'm confused, I promise!  Right now, I'm only confused because I'm not getting much besides examples.

As for the laws of physics, within historical experience, they do not appear to have noticeably varied, but I reject the implication that it is a universal truth that they have never varied at times or places outside direct historical experience. That is instead a personal truth.

Please clearly define the meaning and significance of "universal truth" is, and how it differs from "personal truth."  Seriously, please look back at your posts and consider whether any reasonable person could possibly ascertain your specific argument from them.  You've given several examples of "personal truths," but the only definitions you've given have been:

1. "not part of the direct evidence obtained by the reporter"

2. "one's worldview or frame of reference"

I gather that "personal truths" are those held for some other reason than firsthand observation.  My entire argument is about how you incorporate other people's reported firsthand observations into your own belief system, so would it be accurate to say that the model I presented above is how a reasonable person arrives at what you call "personal truths"?

You haven't defined "universal truth," or indicated whether you agree/disagree with the definition I inferred.

And, even with a definition of these terms, without you indicating their significance to this topic, I have no idea how your position addresses the concerns I'm offering.  If it doesn't, then what use is it to answering the question posed by the thread?
19  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of this exchange (from a church video) on: February 12, 2015, 01:31:31 am
Beer snobbery and Gnosticism both have at their core the belief that certain truths are incapable of being appreciated by all.

This is a form of Gnosticism because it holds that "certain truths are incapable of being appreciated by all"?  It only holds that "certain truths are being incapable of being appreciated by all" in the sense that the cartoon argues that a lot of Christians misunderstand the true value of Christianity.  so, basically: "All craft beer drinks are snobs.  Snobbery is an aspect of Gnosticism.  Therefore, all craft beer drinkers are Gnostics"?

I don't think I need to explain why that's fallacious.

My argument is more like "Craft beer drinkers are snobs", "Gnostics are snobs" "Belief in snobbery as a good thing in one area makes other types of snobbery seem better."  Hence thinking craft beer drinkers are better makes gnosticism appear to be better.

That's weirdly obscure, but logical.  Withdrawn.
20  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of this exchange (from a church video) on: February 12, 2015, 12:46:37 am
Beer snobbery and Gnosticism both have at their core the belief that certain truths are incapable of being appreciated by all.

This is a form of Gnosticism because it holds that "certain truths are incapable of being appreciated by all"?  It only holds that "certain truths are being incapable of being appreciated by all" in the sense that the cartoon argues that a lot of Christians misunderstand the true value of Christianity.  so, basically: "All craft beer drinks are snobs.  Snobbery is an aspect of Gnosticism.  Therefore, all craft beer drinkers are Gnostics"?

I don't think I need to explain why that's fallacious.
21  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 12, 2015, 12:43:02 am
Because for whatever reason we seem to have collectively given up on the idea that when someone goes crazy and shoots people the fault of it lies primarily on the guy who snapped and it's not in a vague sense "society's fault".

Whether he shot the men because of his anti-theist beliefs or not it's not New Atheism's fault he did it unless the New Atheists told him to; it's his own fault. The same applies to Islam, Christianity, or any other religion, ideology, or negation of.

I don't know what it would mean to be a religion's "fault," but someone's actions can be influenced by sincere beliefs that they were ideologically correct, including if that ideology is religious.  I'm not sure how an abstract idea could be "at fault," but it can be a causal influence.  Or do you disagree?

I think it is clear that if a Muslim had shot a member of a different religion and their newsfeed was found to be hateful toward other religions, people would not hesitate to assume that it was likely religiously motivated, which wouldn't be an unfair assumption. It's not an unfair assumption to assume this was religiously motivated either.

Rest in peace to the victims and may the lesson be one of nonviolence from all sides.

Are we really holding ourselves up to the standards of internet news site commenters here?  Yes, there are some people who would see any Muslim killing any non-Muslim and assume it was religiously motivated.  Those people are probably idiots, since I imagine a majority of murders committed by devout Muslims have nothing to do with religion.  I have no idea how the rate of religiously-inspired murders among devout Muslims relates to the rate of religiously-inspired murders among strong atheists, but in either case, I doubt the rate is near 50% for either group.

In this case, the randomness of the attack may lend greater probability to it being an ideologically-motivated killing.  That's fine.  I don't think it makes it "obviously" a hate crime, but it makes it plausible that it's one.  Here are my problems, though:

1. People (like Lief) who decry assuming that Muslim-on-non-Muslim killings are ideologically-motivated, but jumped on this, are being hypocrites.

2. Like I said before, abstractions like religions can't really have "fault."  However, posts like Beet's ("so much for the superiority of New Atheism") make no sense for two reasons.  First, even if this guy's actions were motivated by distate for Muslims, that doesn't necessarily indicate that he believed this action were morally justified due to anti-theism; that's a little different than the average religiously-motivated terrorism.  Additionally, even if we assume New Atheism was the causal influence, it doesn't make sense to treat all ideologies the same if any people see them as justifying wrong acts.  There are simply ideologies that -- regardless of whether I personally find the interpretations of those ideologies "wrong" -- are more frequently used to justify wrong acts.  If Beet isn't trying to disclaim that idea, I have no idea what he's trying to do.

People are responding to this thread emotionally, and saying intellectually ridiculous things in the process.  Except they're responding emotionally based on defensiveness about their ideological convictions, not about concern for the victims.  I feel like a jerk lately for being down on so many threads...but sorry, this one is pretty disappointing.
22  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 12, 2015, 12:11:16 am
Indirect evidence can point to universal truth, but it can't define it. Take for example the field of physics.  It is possible (tho few would bother to do so, and in the case of some aspects few could afford to) for people to do the experiments that lead to our current understanding of particle physics and thus get direct evidence.  Most people would only have access to the indirect evidence of the reports of those who do experience the indirect evidence.  However, those reports may well contain parts that go beyond the direct evidence.  For example in particle physics, a scientist would likely assume that the laws of physics are invariable across spacetime and that objects are not acted upon by some force outside physics.  Those assumptions would be good science, as science is based upon the concept of repeatability of evidence, but those assumptions are not part of the direct evidence obtained by the reporter and hence would be personal truth and not universal truth.

Are you arguing that it can be simultaneously true that the laws of physics are invariable and that they're variable?  If not, I'm not sure what your point is.  If you're defining "personal truth" as "beliefs that don't originate based on direct, personal experience, OK, but how does that rebut anything I said whatsoever?  Look at my post above, where I precisely respond to bore, and explain to me what part you're rejecting and why.

If you're trying to state that all beliefs are equally reasonable unless they are based on direct, personal evidence, then I've already addressed this, and no.

It would really help a lot if you were explicit about what part of my argument you're rebutting/contesting, and how.  Without that, I spend a lot of unnecessary time trying to guess what you're getting it.
23  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Atheist man opens fire on Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill on: February 11, 2015, 01:37:00 pm
err, this thread is getting weird...

Why are we assuming his actions were motivated by religious issues?  This would seem less presumptive if his feed was littered with references to anti-religious violence, or specifically seemed to target Muslims, but as far as I can tell neither is the case.  The one reference to Islam was criticizing "radical" Christianity and Islam together.  The one reference he had to violence I've seen was criticizing religion for causing it.

Of course, that makes him a hypocrite -- considering he murdered three people, probably the weakest charge against him -- but I don't really understand what here is making it so obvious to people that this was motivated by an ideological conviction relating to religion.
24  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 11, 2015, 01:02:36 pm
I do hold that morality is derived from a perception of some observable reality, but I think most people do, so my argument is still relevant. Even a naturalist utilitarian who believes the right act is the one that maximises happiness for all people is still holding moral views based on perception, because the belief that happiness is good is one that can not be empirically confirmed.

I think I understand the source of confusion here.  I think you're assuming that my definition of "perception" includes intuitions -- or whatever you want to call them -- about moral axioms, like "suffering is bad."  It doesn't.  When I'm talking about perception, I'm limiting it to things no one claims aren't materially observable: like "bee-stings cause suffering."  Basically, I'm only talking about things that can be materially observed.

My point -- and I don't think this is controversial -- is that when we want to draw a logical conclusion from a perception, we draw rational inferences from it through logical thought.  It's basically an input/output machine:

Perceptions -> System of logical inferences -> Conclusion about truth

For instance, I observe that people who are stung cry in pain; I infer that this display of pain indicates suffering; I conclude that bee-stings cause suffering.  It's basically a simple input/output machine:

Perceptions (people stung cry in pain) -> System of logical inferences (crying in pain indicates suffering) -> Conclusion about truth (beestings indicate suffering)

Or:

Perceptions (religious intuitions/experiences about x) -> Rational inference (religious intuitions/experiences indicate religious truth) -> Conclusion (x is true)

My argument, essentially, is that unless someone is incapable of perceiving, or is dishonest about their perceptions, it's unreasonable to totally dismiss their perceptions.  And if, put through the same rational inference process you use with your own experiences, that results in a different outcome, I think it's unreasonable to arbitrarily default to your own perceptions (and resulting conclusion).  I think a LOT of people do that.

For the record I think we should all have a healthy doubt in our perceptions, but I don't think we must or should go as far as your argument leads. I was attempting a basic proof by contradiction, by assuming your argument is true we arrive at a conclusion we know to be false (that we can't be certain of our beliefs on slavery) so the original argument must be flawed.

My argument doesn't lead there at all.  I think you're confusing my argument for one that asserts we can't trust anything that's dependent on perception.  It's true: that would require me to argue that, even if I perceived universal distaste for being enslaved, I still shouldn't trust that perception, because perception is flawed.  But that is NOT the argument I'm making.

The argument I'm making is that if other people I reasonably perceive to be sane and honest, and with a rational methodology to parsing their perceptions, it's not reasonable to fully dismiss others' perceptions because they're not your own.  To be clear, this would NOT lead you to accept slavery just because others supported it, or claimed that slaves preferred it.  I think I've explained why, but let me know if it's unclear.
25  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: How can anyone be sure their religion is correct? on: February 11, 2015, 11:29:36 am
An absurd and unoriginal question. Come back next time with something interesting.

Why is it absurd?  I actually think it's a pretty good question, and just took considerable time to explain why.
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